Looking Beyond MIDI, What’s the Best Way to Represent Musical Notes Digitally?

Speaking in Hamburg to a terrific group of assembled locals from a variety of design backgrounds. And yes, this is the other part of my life behind me. I just seem to generally skip the years 1700-1985. Go figure. The history of music and the history of music notation are closely intertwined. Now, digital languages for communicating musical ideas between devices, users, and software, and storing and reproducing those ideas, take on the role notation alone once did. Notation has always been more than just a way of telling musicians what to do. (Any composer will quickly tell you as …

READ MORE →

Music for an Olympic Bid: Making of Antipop’s Madrid 2016 Songs

My own President Obama is this week off making his pitch for why Chicago should host the Olympic Games. Correction. Oops. I need to read the news. Chicago was eliminated first. But look out – our friends at Antipop (slogan: “antipop music for a pop music”) are using a different tool in their arsenal: music. Watch the video for some fun gear spotting, plus one vintage arcade cabinet. I could point out stuff I see, but that’d spoil the fun. Shout out in comments. There’s definitely a commercial gloss on this, but it’s nicely executed, and felt so absurdly Olympic …

READ MORE →

Upcoming Final Fantasy Album: Treating the Orchestra Like an Analog Synth

Photos by Hedi Slimane; courtesy Final Fantasy. Can you approach a symphony orchestra as though it’s an analog synth? That’s a question composers have asked since the first time they heard electronic sounds. It’s impossible to hear the 20th-century technology alongside the 19th-century technology without the one reframing your view of the other. Now, it will be tackled by the new album from composer/singer/violinist Owen Pallett, with an interesting cast of characters onboard, plus one imaginary ultra-violent farmer.

READ MORE →

Tron, Redux Redux: Trailer with Daft Punk Music, New Reaktor-Reason-Live Score

In a Hollywood overrun with remakes, a new Tron has quite a daunting challenge. The original film may be a cult hit for its 80s arcade cool, but it also was a seminal moment in the evolution of computer animation, at the nexus of obsessive-compulsive optical effects that came before and digital effects that came after. (Google Perlin Noise, if you must.) But where the bits of the effects look uneven or dated alongside the brilliant, it’s nearly impossible to top the genius of Wendy Carlos’ score. Her deft blend of choirs, orchestras, organs, and rich electronics wasn’t just forward …

READ MORE →

Designing Sound: Essential Blog Reading for Sound Designers, Plus Pixar’s Up

“UP” Sound for Film Profile from Michael Coleman on Vimeo. Miguel Isaza has created a must-read new blog for anyone interested in sound design, and much to our delight has put it on noisepages. He’s being incredibly prolific with posts, covering creative projects to get your ideas flowing, terrific overviews of leading people in the field with links to interviews and resources for learning about their work, and tons of links for learning your craft technologically and artistically. http://designingsound.createdigitalmusic.com/ Naturally, Pixar figures prominently, with some of the best sound design on the silver screen in recent years. I’m looking forward …

READ MORE →

Favorite Artists on Productivity, Process: Jonathan Coulton, New Imogen Heap Album

Food for thought: if we didn’t still make “albums,” we’d never know when the album was done. Sure, the delivery mechanism that spawned the album may be disappearing – “LP’s” in particular are long gone. But perhaps, like so many ubiquitous technologies, the album was a fortuitous coincidence of physical practicality and human scale, happenstance generating some unit of creativity that just makes sense to artist and listener alike. For Imogen Heap, the beloved artist who’s just finished her latest, it’s cause to literally dance and sing, accompanied by a generative Buddha Box. (We can dance around when we get …

READ MORE →

Game Music Making: Kongregate Collabs to Connect Music Makers with Indie Games

Speaking of games, you can expect game production to start to attract the attention of musicians and web publishers. Whereas a few short years ago, targeting musicians might mean dangling rock club gigs or album sales, now a lot of those same music makers want to break into gaming, too. Kongregate is a bit like public access, only on steroids and for games. The idea is this: get indie game makers in one place contributing games, then get lots of people playing those games, then support the system with ad revenue shared with the game makers. The model has grown …

READ MORE →

Game Music Inspiration: Amon Tobin and Sony on Infamous

Wired has a great mini-documentary on the score for the videogame Infamous. It’s chock full of sound design ear candy, not only served by the chops of composer Amon Tobin but the team at Sony Music and Sony’s entertainment division, as well. Curiously, Jonathan Mayer, Music Manager at SCEA, says explicitly that he doesn’t want composers writing interactive music. He’d prefer to have them write a conventional score and then adapt it to the interactive engine. Now, of course, around these parts we like the idea of composers finding ways to write genuinely generative and interactive scores. But in this …

READ MORE →

Scores, the New MP3s? Sheet Music Sales Online for Artists

Could the old tree-based technology and the new silicon-based technology actually coexist – or even help each other flourish? Photo (CC) Steve Wampler. While talk of notation is in the air, it’s worth noting that sheet music has a chance to make a comeback in the digital age. After all, passive musical consumption seems to have already peaked some time in the now-past 20th Century. The desire for fans to be able to play the music they love is strong as ever, evidenced by the popularity of the Rock Band and Guitar Hero phenomenon. If you really wanted to be …

READ MORE →

Sibelius 6: Notation Software Gets Magnetic Layout, ReWire, More – Details

Sibelius today gets the biggest upgrade I’ve seen from the tool in a long time, with major improvements to the way the notation package lays out musical objects on the score, and ReWire support so you can integrate it with your host of choice. This is an especially meaningful upgrade to me, as I’ve spent a lot of time with Sibelius since its first Mac release about a decade ago, both composing and teaching with it. In case you missed it Friday, I just spoke about some tips that can help with working in both education and composing: Five Sibelius …

READ MORE →