Tag Archives | Music

How Muzak Shaped A Conformist America

Tonya Riley via All That is Interesting:

Although it might be easier to ignore in an age where nearly ever American carries thousands of songs in their pocket, the unmistakable sound of Muzak still haunts us all. An estimated 100 million people (nearly a third of America’s population) are exposed to Muzak’s background music each day, whether in an elevator, on hold with the cable company or elsewhere. Although the Muzak brand technically went bankrupt in 2009 and lost its name in 2013 after new owners moved in, its technology set the stage for almost a century of bland, instrumental music that became the soundtrack to postwar America and continues to this day.

Muzak was founded in 1934 by former Army General George O. Squier, who had led the U.S. Army’s communication efforts during World War I. Squier was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1919 after his patented multiplexing system allowed for multiple signals to be transferred over one phone line.

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The Trautonium: A Forgotten Instrument

It’s safe to say that nearly anyone cognizant of the existence of the Trautonium can easily fit under the umbrella category of “eccentric.” Yet, this electronic instrument, invented in 1929 Berlin, is a medium for sublime human expression. Before synthesizers and computers usurped what can more aptly be called today’s “music assembling,” musical instruments that used electricity but still required dynamic human input and live performance had a brief but profound era in the 20th century.

oskar sala

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zHaQPyG7u4

Formal compositions and even orchestral concertos have been written for this instrument, among which is Paul Hindemith‘sLangsames Stück und Rondo für Trautonium.” Youtube user Ghost Money also has several interesting improvisations using the organic but other-worldly sounds of the Trautonium.

Perhaps the only person that can be said to have mastered the Trautonium was Oskar Sala (1910-2002) who pioneered the instrument’s capabilities and applications.  Among Sala’s credits are Hitchcock’s The Birds, where he created the sounds of the birds among a variety of other short films. … Read the rest

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Skulls, Satan and Dave Grohl: Inside Mysterious Occult-Rock Band Ghost

Are any disinfonauts into Ghost, the band? Rolling Stone profiles the occult rockers, telling us that “the band has done more to bring blasphemous, religion-skewering devil rock to the mainstream masses than perhaps any act since Marilyn Manson rose from the swamps of Florida to declare himself the Antichrist Superstar”:

“You know, we thought we were going to be completely outed and everything was going to be over basically one week after the first record came out,” says one of the six anonymous members of Swedish occult-rock troupe Ghost. “We’re as baffled as anyone that it hasn’t happened yet. I have no idea how we’ve done it.”

Ghost performing live in Utrecht. Photo: Enric Martinez (CC)

Ghost performing live in Utrecht. Photo: Enric Martinez (CC)

 

In fact, it has been five years since the shrouded six-piece issued its debut, Opus Eponymous, an unholy amalgam of metal riffing (reference points: Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, Pentagram, Mercyful Fate), Satanic musings (first lyrics uttered on the first record: “Lucifer/We are here for your praise”) horror-church atmospherics and, perhaps most subversively, sticky-sweet hooks and melodies.

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First Great in Jazz: Jelly Roll Morton

ferdmortonFerdinand Joseph LaMothe, better known as Jelly Roll Morton is one of the greats of the roots of jazz, and is too often overlooked.  His virtuosic playing is larger than life, innovative, highly characteristic and a delight for the ears. With his salty beginnings playing in whorehouses as a teenager, he was known throughout the South and West Coast before finding success in the thriving Chicago scene. He will have been born 125 years ago this fall.

RedHotJazz.com has compiled a great many of his finest works to listen to and download for free!  Now, how ’bout dat!

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Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult

FRONT COVER FINAL_printBlack metal is fast, loud, theatrical, angry, and murderous — both musically and in the scene that surrounds it.

If you dig Black Metal, or if you like to read about things odd and dark, check out Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult by Dayal Patterson. Patterson is an expert on the scene and is the man behind Cult Never Dies. You can check out his store here.

My interview with him is below.

For the uninitiated, what constitutes Black Metal?

Well that’s a question that I’ve been exploring over two full-length books – not least because there is a lot of disagreement about its definition within the scene. So that’s a tough question! What is fairly safe to say is that black metal is one of the most extreme, ambitious, and varied forms of heavy metal… and one might argue contemporary music in general. It was born in the early eighties but reinvented itself around 1990/1991 and has continued to explode in terms of activity and popularity since then, with bands and scenes existing in almost every territory you could care to mention.Read the rest

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The Evolving Politics of Punk in the Nation’s Capital

DC Disinfonauts, are you or were you into punk? What is it about Washington that makes punk and hardcore so popular there? American Prospect investigates:

One Thursday evening in December, beyond the signs for Microsoft Word tutorials and panel discussions on language immersion, a popular local punk band named Priests delivered a blazing performance in the basement of Washington, D.C.’s Martin Luther King Jr. public library.

Bad Brains at 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C., 1983. Photo: Malco23  (CC)

Bad Brains at 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C., 1983. Photo: Malco23 (CC)

Before the doors opened, attendees gathered in a hot and crowded hallway, next to tables displaying books curated to the night’s guests: an oral history of punk, a Bob Dylan biography, a chronology of the riot-grrrl movement. When the doors finally opened, parents with children on their shoulders and teenagers with dyed-blue hair and safety-pinned jackets filed past librarians who stamped their hands with “WITHDRAWN.”

“Librarian joke,” one of them said with a smirk.

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Music, Aesthetics & Making Sense: A Conversation with Andrew Bowie

Bowie Header Adorno

This post originally appeared on four by three magazine.

What is music? Can music make sense of the world or even transcend it? Philosopher and jazz musician Andrew Bowie talks to four by three about the connection between music, aesthetics, language, and time, with reference to Adorno and Heidegger, as well as about the relationship between philosophy, the arts and sciences, asking: why does art matter?


‘Art is supposed to engage your whole being and not just your conceptual capacity’
— Andrew Bowie

four by three: The philosophy and philosophical significance of music has been a major preoccupation of much of your writing. What is it that motivates you to write philosophically about music?

Andrew Bowie: When I started doing philosophy, I used to regard my playing as completely separate from my philosophy, because I wasn’t very good at playing in any case [I still am not great, but I have got better].… Read the rest

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Ashton Robertson on Project Bring Me to Life

From the Project Bring Me to Life podcast:

In Episode 52 Selomon and Shantastic Shine speak with meditation music producer Ashton Robertson about music and vibrations such as the Solfeggio Frequencies that are said to repair DNA.

Ashton Robertson is a producer, musician and starseed and is currently working on Cloudz, a project he started with an intentional to help heal the world. You can find out more about his meditation music by visiting http://cloudz444.bandcamp.com/album/vibrational-beings.

Learn about his other project Spaceship Earth.

Don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube, tweet us @PBM2L and subscribe to our website www.projectbringmetolife.com.

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M.I.A.’s Kung Fu Fighting

dragon-girls-movieFeaturing the controversial and highly-talented British rapper and artist M.I.A.Gener8ion has just released “The New International Sound Pt. II,” from a four-track EP.

While I like the song a lot, with the video — which features no less than 36,000 students from Shaolin Tugu — the musical and visual work is highly captivating.

The footage is adapted from Dragon Girls, a documentary about three girls from China’s biggest martial arts school, located right next to the Shaolin monastery. In the video for “The New International Sound Pt. II,” young Kung fu students are shown sparring and practicing kicks, punches, open palm techniques, sword, and forms (pre-arranged sequences of different techniques and movements), as well as exercising, stretching, and hanging out or getting ready outside of practice.

However, while the choreography of the martial artists in the video is certainly impressive, what is more striking, if more subtle, I think, is the eyes of the students — full of determination, seriousness, and purpose.… Read the rest

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