music

The artist vs. the record label

in

One of the sad facts of the music industry that, effectively, the record label has become the enemy of the artist.

The music industry has been functioning because the audience are willing to pay artists to play music for them. We want to hear good music. So the fundamental ingredient of the music industry is the artist, not the record label. The label is a management institution that exists to support the artist in reaching his audience, to free up the artist's time and mind to focus on the truly creative task.

Questions I'd like to ask music copyright holders

  1. If I own a physical copy of the album (BluRay, DVD, CD, tape, LP), does that entitle me to freely download or stream the same album?
  2. If I purchase or am entitled to a digital copy of the album, can I lend it to my friends? my wife? my daughter?
  3. Can I store my legal digital copy on a streaming server for me to enjoy anywhere I go?

Affirmative answers to these questions would open up new ways of distributing music content that no one seems to be contemplating today.

Peaking in rock music

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Rock music is all about expressing strong emotions that consume the band. Maybe that's why most rock bands seem to peak soon after they hit the big time. I've noticed a pattern where the breakthrough album is immediately followed by their best work, only to be followed by disappointing further releases that lead to their break-up or stagnation.

I ♥ Last.fm

I've been shifting my home entertainment from TV to the Web. It makes me sometimes feel like I'm back to the days of Marconi and Farnsworth as far as maturity is concerned, but that's for another post. For now, I just want to congratulate Last.fm on the excellent job they've been doing at creating an enjoyable experience that traditional one-way radio will never achieve (unless it starts using the Internet).

The key to using Last.fm is to register an account and to feed your account's library with your favourite artists and albums.

Artists are doing it for themselves

Intelligent musicians have realized that the Internet gives them the opportunity to reach their consumers directly, bypassing the dinosauric and frankly greedy middleman, yielding a fairer deal for everyone who deserves it. Radiohead and NIN are definitely not your average teeny boppers :-)

Musicians, take a good look at this page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kentbye/1813174776/

Guitar as 2D Piano

I've long regarded the guitar as a proto-2D piano, because whereas the piano keyboard is linear, one-dimensional, the guitar fretboard has cells arranged in 2D. However, on the guitar, one hand has to pluck the string whereas the other shapes the chords. On the piano, of course, it's enough to press the keys, so both hands are used to play notes.

So I was wondering what a true 2D piano would look like, one where both right and left hands would play notes. Turns out the answer has been with us since the late 70s, when Eddie Van Halen introduced tapping. But the full realization of it came yesterday when HC showed me some YouTube vids of contemporary (and young) musicians. Check out ZackKim and weep!

Louis Armstrong and the Sphinx

I was watching episode 9 of the excellent documentary "Jazz", by Ken Burns yesterday when I bumped into this shot. I immediately grabbed it from the screen. Louis Armstrong was indeed a worldwide ambassador of jazz.

PS. You can buy me the print from the New York Times store ;-)

Music hacking

It's more fun to compute

wav2xml

Take an MP3 file, extract the instruments performing the music (as well as the singing - we're dreaming anyway) and convert this information to sheet music in MusicML format for example. The Melisma Music Analyzer seems to be performing part of this function.

The first application of such a technology would be to find music by content: humming a tune to the system, which would then search for a similar melody in its database. Or input a partial mp3 file to find its reference. This is becoming a hot topic, as witnessed by the Google results. Existing systems are starting to emerge, like this one.

Linux as Jazz

Perhaps better entitled "Open Source as Jazz, and Linux as its popular standard".

In jazz, each musician improvises his part in the tune's performance. Knowing the skeletal structure of the tune, the musician applies his knowledge of harmony, rhythm and melody, along with some social knowledge of his fellow musicians, to produce meaningful phrases, amounting to intelligible overall statements. In doing so, the jazz band collectively creates a spontaneously original variation on a theme.

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