horner

Watch James Horner Play Piano, Talk Overnight ‘Aliens’ Climax

On a very personal note, I’m saddened this week to learn of the news of the death of the great film composer James Horner. See him talk about his approach to scoring Field of Dreams at top for some of his approach. Best of all, you get to see him at the piano. When I was a kid, Horner was one of the people who inspired me to investigate composition. I was entranced with the sweeping romanticism of the Star Trek II score that was his big break – an aching, yearning, but dreamy vision of the future, filled with …

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From the Heart of Belgrade’s Underground, Inside a New Festival Experience

Summertime. You certainly can’t complain about your options in electronic music festivals. But in some of the best festivals, there’s also a sameness – talented lineups, repeated from weekend to weekend. That predictability is part of the draw, part of the commercial viability of many of these events and of the artist industry they support. But where do you go if you want something different to happen? If you want a mix of music that’s different, an environment that’s different, if you want all the things that wouldn’t work elsewhere? One place to go is the countryside of Serbia, from …

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A New Book from Ableton Wants to Help You Make Music

Imagine if the Eno/Schmidt Oblique Strategies, a music theory book, and an Ableton quick-start manual all got caught in a transporter accident with a bunch of different music producers.* That seems to be what you get with Making Music: A Book of Creative Strategies. In one sense, the aim is to be none of these things. It’s not a manual. It’s not a template for music making. It doesn’t, apparently, rely much on musical theory in the traditional sense. But, then, if you know the man behind it – Dennis DeSantis, a classical percussion virtuoso and composer turned documentation czar …

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Robin Thicke Judgment: The Day Copyright Law Died, Again [Opinion]

You may not like the song “Blurred Lines” much. But if you find that tune grating, you may find the inability of US copyright law to differentiate degrees of copying even more painful. Here’s the latest strangeness. When we last joined the American courts finding extreme interpretations of copyright, an appeals court decided to blow away the de minimis doctrine for sampling. That’s “de minimis” (Latin), as in “size matters not” (um… Yoda). The idea was, there was no need to measure the significance or size of a sample in the N.W.A. song “100 Miles and Runnin’.” The court helpfully …

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Kyma-software

Kyma 7 Wants You To Discover, And See, New Sounds

Kyma 7 in Four Minutes from Symbolic Sound on Vimeo. Somewhere apart from the general purpose computer, the standalone electronic instrument, the racks of modulars, there is Kyma. For nearly a quarter century, this boutique digital instrument has opened up sonic realms to a scattered illuminati of artists. And this week, it hit a new milestone, with functionality and resources intended to make sound exploration still broader and more accessible. Three years in development, Kyma 7 is here. The buzz around modular often comes back to the same refrain: modular is cool because it’s open ended. That rat’s nest of …

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jeffmills

Jeff Mills on Audiences, Techno’s “Who Cares If You Listen”

Techno legend Jeff Mills has a beautiful quote making the rounds on social media, responding to the question of audience. He’s still making music for them, he says – but doesn’t want to get pulled into simply giving them what he knows will work. Watch from about 8:30 for the video above, in its original context (a 2010 tugobot piece). It resonates for me with the Milton Babbitt’s “Who Cares if You Listen?” (That’s a title Babbitt claimed he never used; this is a tale so familiar to contemporary music that it has its own Wikipedia entry, for those of …

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Fake Your Own Lord of the Rings with an All-Elven Software Instrument

The Lord of the Rings movies have come to a close, but that doesn’t mean the elf sonic action has to stop. Yes, there really is a sound sample library called Shevannai, The Voice of Elves. It’s 3.6 GB of nothing but elven samples, adapted to a Kontakt 5 instrument. From a technical standpoint, it shows what Kontakt can do. For any TV and film composer who suddenly gets a call from a client saying “elves!” (I’m not kidding; I’m sure that happens), it’s an emergency solution that will get you there under deadline. For the rest of us – …

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Beautiful New Music from tehn, the Maker of the monome [Interview]

Brian Crabtree, alongside partner Kelli Cain, nicely exemplifies a lot of this site’s raison d’ĂȘtre over the the past ten years. Artmaker and toolmaker are indistinct roles; they’re both flipsides of the act of making. The monome, the invention for which Brian is best known, is at first blush nothing more than a box of buttons. It’s even lifeless until connected to a computer. But in its design is a statement that draws a thread from the design of tools to the design of music. Ideas about compositional technique are embodied in the software; notions of aesthetics are evident in …

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How Gestures and Ableton Live Can Make Anyone a Conductor of Mendelssohn [Behind the Scenes]

Digital music can go way beyond just playback. But if performers and DJs can remix and remake today’s music, why should music from past centuries be static? An interactive team collaborating on the newly reopened Museum im Mendelssohn-Haus wanted to bring those same powers to average listeners. Now, of course, there’s no substitute for a real orchestra. But renting orchestral musicians and a hall is an epic expense, and the first thing most of those players will do when an average person gets in front of them and tries to conduct is, well – get angry. (They may do that …

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Eerie Resonance: Listen as a Synth Accompanies Singing Architecture

Dancing about architecture? How about singing about architecture – or architecture that sings? Burnley England’s Singing Ringing Tree is an abstract sculpture that resonates with the wind. Rising above the grassy hills of Burnley, England, it seems to live at some strange intersection between future and past – a sci-fi Stonehenge. And the project, the 2006 work of British architecture firm Tonkin Liu, makes lovely otherworldly sounds. John Keston, sound designer and the writer of audio invention recipe blog Audiocookbook, has been making a set of “duets,” coupling more conventional electronic synthesis with the wind-blown ambiences of the SRT construction. …

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