Friday, April 07, 2006

We don't need no stinkin' music

Insider Radio reports that WBEZ in Chicago will "drop all its music and non-information programming" by early 2007. This will include jazz, blues, and world music programs. How will this affect This American Life?

They're not hard news, but they're more than just entertainment. Well, the shows is moving to New York City while they're filming a television version for Showtime. When TAL made the announcement, the Chicago Reader reported that they would still be a production of WBEZ. So, where does that leave them?

There's a meatier article on the format shift in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Dancing to the sound of the earth

Here's something interesting from the dance world.

Wired reports on a new eight-minute ballet called Ballet Mori with the San Francisco Ballet in which dancers perform to a score by composer Randall Packer which samples the sounds of landslides and volcanic explosions against the backdrop of sesimic data projected against a backdrop. UC Berkeley engineer Ken Goldberg says that dancers will interact with the sounds, but since the score will be indeterminate every performance will be different.

Packer continues to say:

"For the installation," Packer recalls, "there was an algorithm that used Earth's activity to modulate sounds of landslides and volcanic eruptions. While the sounds are preprogrammed, their order is totally indeterminate." Yet a ballet isn't like an installation, where people are constantly walking in and out. "You have a beginning and an end," he says. "The piece needed to evolve." His solution was to change the library of sounds minute by minute, controlling the overall structure while leaving the details to chance.

Now this is a creative use of datasets. It was performed by the San Francisco Ballet on Tuesday, April 4, 2006 to commemorate the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Tempting fate, perhaps?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Resources for hip hop scholarship

A new resource has just been brought to my attention, namely the Hip Hop Research Portal, which is a "communication mechanism for people collecting, researching, and preserving Hip Hop culture." The site includes a citation database of books, periodicals, dissertations, and sound and audiovisual materials. The scope notes for the collection being collected and documented can be found here.

Librarian Tiffeni Fontno states that the objectives of this site are:

1) To build a community which fosters support & collaboration of Hip Hop Research & Scholarship.
2) To work together to create a network to promote,preserve, facilitate, and disseminate information about Hip Hop Research & Scholarship.
3) To support the research, study, and preservation of Hip Hop culture in schools, colleges, libraries, museums, and organizations.

There is an accompanying Yahoo Group. Those interested can subscribe at hiphop_rands-subscribe AT

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

What classical music services need

Amanda Holloway hits the nail on the head with what classical music listeners want from digital downloading services in her piece for the Times Online (U.K.). Personally, I want a site that apes the experience I got from going into the old Tower Classical store down on South St. in Philadelphia. That was heaven!

She made lots of good points, some of the best include:

1) Meaningful metadata for name, name-title searching/browsing. Roles are so important. A composer is not a performer is not an orchestra.

2) The track's not the thing, it's the whole work. The track-oriented structure of the whole market really does a number on classical. Think how many arias, recitatives, and choruses make up an opera! They need to be linked hierarchially: movements, scenes, parts, acts, etc.

3) We care about audio quality. At least CD-quality sound (44/16), esp. for live recordings.

4) Back catalog material is just as important as the newest recordings. Keep on re-releasing all those forgotten 78s and vinyl LPs!

Monday, April 03, 2006

And this shall be for music

I have more to write this week about singing, but let's start with this quote by Abraham Joshua Henschel from his 1973 work A Passion for Truth. This weekend's highlights included participating in an all-day singing convention of Sacred Harp singers in Great Falls, and attending the Washington Concert Opera's production of Tancredi.

Answers to the ultimate perplexity can not be expressed in words. Response is facilitated by song. Singing is not the mere repetition of notes or even the expression of joy or sorrow. Singing means uplifting all of existence to the level of perfection. Singing means raising oneself above all words and all ideas to the realm of pure thought. One cannot truly sing by repeating an old melody. God loves must sing a new song each time.

n.b.: The title of today's post comes from a short choral work by American composer Ron Nelson which I sang in high school.