You’ve heard of 8 Bit Cinema, retelling movies as old school arcade games? Well, there was this competition to compose a soundtrack to accompany a scene from Westworld …
Westworld scoring competition – Spitfire Audio We teamed up with HBO’s Westworld to bring you an exclusive competition: to download and score a scene from Westworld Season 3 for your chance to win some amazing prizes – as well as the opportunity to showcase your work to the best in the business. What happened next was extraordinary. We received 11,000 entries, in a variety of styles and re-imaginings.
The announcement of the eventual winner left many people either scratching their heads or picking up their jaws off the floor. Listen for yourself. It starts conventionally enough, but then—
It stands out, at least, which is more than could be said for the indistinguishable runners-up. But it seems not everyone appreciates this ‘dares to be different’ approach.
That Hans Zimmer ad, but it’s chiptune – CDM “In music, you’re basically having a conversation…” Sometimes that conversation is best expressed in 8 bits. … Hans Zimmer’s ad for Masterclass already felt like self parody; this just goes next level.
Like no doubt many other homes up and down the land, music is always playing here, somewhere—the kitchen radio, the kids’ laptops or Alexas, the piano and tuba even (that damned thing is so loud). But it’s been a long time since we went out to hear live music. For music fans like Rob Sheffield, that’s becoming a problem.
Life without live – Rolling Stone
This is the longest I’ve gone between live shows since . . . the Replacements broke up? I go see bands every chance I get, and I live in New York City, where there’s plenty of chances. Live music is how I measure out the next week, month, year of my life. But on a bigger scale, the shows are how we measure history. When you picture the past or the future, you imagine what musicians are doing in a room and who shows up to hear it. You can define any point in the arc of human history by who was in Fleetwood Mac at the time. (And whose hotel bed they were sharing.) So what does music fandom mean at a time when we can’t gather together to celebrate, discover, experiment?
Here’s an interesting take on the future of the kind of concerts I’ve been missing recently.
Coronavirus conditions make us rethink classical music for decade ahead – Voice of OC
So far, we’ve been assuming that there will continue to be problems that, at least now and then, require social distancing and home quarantines. It’s definitely something all these groups are going to have to consider over the next decade. Something good could come out of it, though, and that would be the end of subscription seasons as we know them. Subscription seasons, designed to attract a particular kind of listener, older, moneyed, more conservative, able to fork out for a year’s worth of tickets in advance, have long been holding classical music back from its better, more exciting and interesting self.
Symphonies silenced, sonatas streamed: The state of classical music during COVID-19 – Los Angeles Review of Books
Notwithstanding the quality of the audio — piped through his iPhone — the music felt exuberant, and also demanding and manic. “The concert halls are empty,” Levit had tweeted earlier. “Listening and experiencing music together is not possible.” It was mid-March — what feels like eons ago — and on both sides of the Atlantic, governments were starting to roll out isolation measures, suddenly putting all of us into suspended animation. With so much uncertainty in the world, his joyous performance provided a half hour of reprieve, disassociating us from the fear of contagion. Three hundred and twenty thousand users on Twitter and Instagram tuned in — more than at any venue he’s ever performed.
The way we experience music is bound to change in unexpected ways, but the strength of our appreciation of music can already be a little peculiar.
The pandemic hasn’t dulled Japan’s special love for Queen – Atlas Obscura
“Queen Day is an important occasion for Japanese fans to reaffirm the bond between Queen and Japan,” writes fan Yoko Doi of Tokyo in an email. In 2019, Doi—along with 300 others—marked Queen Day with an outdoor screening of the 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody, featuring band cosplay and plenty of Moet et Chandon, naturally (see the lyrics to “Killer Queen,” if you’re not an initiate).
Tracing Eastern Europe’s obsession with Depeche Mode – Dazed
Urbanovic, who has been a fan since 1986, runs the DM Bar in Riga, a nightclub completely dedicated to the band. There is another, non-affiliated and older club in Tallinn that has been visited by the band themselves. Both establishments are covered in Depeche Mode merchandise (from cardboard cutouts to tour scarves and lyrics scrawled on the walls in different languages) and both put on regular parties playing the band’s music as well as records by other ‘industrial’ bands. “Depeche Mode gigs in Latvia are very well-attended, especially when you take into account the relatively small population – and we get a lot of fans from other Eastern European countries who make a special trip to the bar,” Urbanovic adds.
Stranglers’ Dave Greenfield Dead at 71, After Coronavirus Battle – Rolling Stone
The Stranglers became a force on the U.K. punk scene in 1977 with the release of their debut LP, Rattus Norvegicus, which featured the singles “Peaches” and “(Get a) Grip (on Yourself),” the latter of which boasted Greenfield’s intricate keyboard lines. The group, which always faired well on the U.K. singles chart, earned their biggest hit in 1982 with “Golden Brown,” a tune that almost exclusively featured Greenfield’s baroque keyboard playing to complement then-guitarist and vocalist Hugh Cornwell’s lyrics. The track won the group an Ivor Novello award.
Little Richard, rock’n’roll pioneer, dies aged 87 – The Guardian
Richard was known for his outrageous performance style at the piano – eyes lined with mascara, pompadour hair fixed with potato starch, ferocious eyes transfixing audiences – and infectious whoops, a style echoed by dozens of performers, Prince prominent among them.
Golden Brown takes me right back to my childhood, but I think my favourite Stanglers track is Keith Floyd’s theme tune, Waltzinblack. And whilst Little Richard doesn’t feature at all on any of my Spotify playlists, this next guy does.
Kraftwerk’s Florian Schneider dead at 73 – Pitchfork
After meeting as classical music students at the Düsseldorf Conservator, Schneider and Ralf Hütter collaborated in a project called Organisation beginning in 1970. Schneider’s main instrument was flute, which he filtered through various effect pedals. In addition, he played violin, guitar, and a wide array of synthesizers.
The duo soon went on to form Kraftwerk and issued a debut album in 1970. They underwent a series of lineup shifts and, following 1973’s breakthrough Ralf und Florian, went on to release acclaimed and highly influential records like 1974’s Autobahn and 1977’s Trans-Europe Express. At the time, Schneider compared the group’s electronic technique to driving a car: “You have the control, but it’s your decision how much you want to control it. If you let the wheel go, the car will drive somewhere, maybe off the road.”
The case for why Kraftwerk may be the most influential band since The Beatles – Open Culture
Kraftwerk began as two long-haired students, Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider, who met in Dusseldorf in 1969, playing experimental music with electric, acoustic, and electronic instruments and with a variety of musicians, including guitarist Michael Rother and drummer Klaus Dinger. In Dinger’s pounding, repetitive drumming, they found their mekanik sound as early as 1970, but had not yet transitioned into pop, or the clean-cut suit and tie look, until fully absorbing the influence of British artists Gilbert and George and receiving the guidance of superproducer Conny Plank.
I’ve turned that Guardian article into a Spotify playlist, for three hours of “computerized industrial campiness”.
With fans far and wide, young and old.
Kraftwerk songs performed by string quartet – Dangerous Minds
In 1992, the international chamber group Balanescu Quartet released a CD called Possessed. It contained three original works by the band’s eponymous leader Alexander Balanescu and a composition by Talking Heads’ artguy-in-chief David Byrne, but that didn’t really matter. Practically all the attention afforded the group was justifiably hogged by the five stunning Kraftwerk covers that led off the album.
Kraftwerk’s “The Robots” performed by German first graders in adorable cardboard robot outfits – Open Culture
“Teach your children well” sang Crosby, Stills and Nash once upon a long ago, and that adage could be paraphrased as “make sure your students don’t grow up learning substandard pop songs. Give them a real education.” An enterprising elementary school teacher in Mombach, a district of the Rhineland city of Mainz, did so in 2015, dressing up his students from Lemmchen Elementary in their own handmade robot outfits and teaching them to sing the classic 1978 Kraftwerk hit “The Robots”.
German workers ordered to stay at home to help the government flatten one sort of curve have found themselves battling the emergence of another, just above the belt. Home workouts sound great, but the days are long and dull and your latest bout of Hamsterkäufe (panic-buying; lit. “hamster-purchase”) has left the fridge gloriously well-stocked. There’s always another variety of Ritter Sport to try, oder? Anyway, what’s a few kilos between socially distanced friends?
Coronaspeck is the helpful German word for the fat deposited by weeks of stay-at-home grazing. Shoppers in Germany may know Speck as a bacon-like foodstuff, perhaps found on a crisp Flammkuchen or inside hearty Swabian Maultaschen. But its broader meaning corresponds to something like the English “flab”.
Perhaps you need some exercise, but what if you can’t think of a routine or a soundtrack? No problem. This website will pair up a random move with a random piece of music.
Via the occasionally very interesting Recomendo, something that has renewed my faith in the web and shown us a glimpse of what the internet should have been.
Radio Garden is a website that presents you with a spinnable globe of the Earth. The green dots represent radio stations. Rotate the globe, click a dot and you are suddenly listening to live radio in that part of the world.
Radio Garden invites you to tune into thousands of live radio stations across the globe. By bringing distant voices close, radio connects people and places. From its very beginning, radio signals have crossed borders. Radio makers and listeners have imagined both connecting with distant cultures, as well as re-connecting with people from ‘home’ from thousands of miles away.
Pierre et le loup, a stunning, typography-filled animated story – The Kid Should See This
In 2014, Camera Lucida and Radio France teamed up to create a series of classical music-filled apps for children. One of these shared Sergei Prokofiev’s Pierre et le loup in a typography-filled adaptation by Gordon (Thierry Guernet), Pierre-Emmanuel Lyet, and Corentin Leconte. It’s a stunning version that mixes animation, musical symbols, and musicians, featuring the National Orchestra of France, conducted by the maestro Daniele Gatti.
Dazzling coronavirus painting by biologist David Goodsell – Kottke
“You have to admit, these viruses are so symmetrical that they’re beautiful,” said Mr. Goodsell, an associate professor at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. “Are bright colors and pretty stuff the right approach? The jury’s still out. I’m not trying to make these things look dangerous, I want people to understand how they’re built.”
This is wonderful. There have been a few of these doing the rounds, but I felt duty bound to share the one from my home town.
2020: An Isolation Odyssey – Opera North
When our concert performances of Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra were cancelled as the coronavirus pandemic intensified, two members of the Orchestra of Opera North decided that the show must go on – virtually.
“They sent their recordings back to us, and we added instrument by instrument, part by part, until this amazing ‘performance’ took shape”, Daniel says. “It has really felt like watching a huge building being constructed, and with Tobias’ musical vision as a starting point, the resemblance to the creative process of an actual rehearsal and concert has been remarkable.”
The Sinfonia of Leeds, the orchestra my wife ordinarily plays in, were supposed to be playing a concert this weekend. That didn’t happen, obviously, but they invited us to enjoy their programme anyway.
Their Facebook page directed us to live recordings of other orchestras performing the pieces they were going to play, and we watched along from the comfort of our sofa, starting at 7:30pm and with ice cream at the interval, as is only proper.
We had a wonderful evening (you can’t really go wrong with a Sibelius symphony), so much so that we’ve promised ourselves to create another YouTube concert evening next weekend. And it’s my turn to pick the programme.
These lyrics do not exist
This website generates completely original lyrics for various topics, uses state of the art AI to generate an original chorus and original verses.
Want some happy metal lyrics about dogs? No problem.
I am the dog in you I am the dog in you How one animal can be so tense, yet so free? Such vicious dogs in search of a trophy
This foot does not exist
The foot pic, then, becomes a commodity which the consumer is willing to pay for on its basis as an intimate, revealing, and/or pornographic (and perhaps power-granting, when provided on request) asset, while the producer may** see it as a meme, a dupe, a way to trick the horny-credible out of their ill-spent cash.
Len Solomon and his amazing DIY musical contraptions – The Kid Should See This
Making instruments can be as simple as adding different amounts of water to a row of bottles or as elaborate as creating your own pipe organ-style instruments from any object that suits a musical vision. That’s what Len Solomon does. For over 30 years, he’s invented instruments by “filing and sawing” parts like “old vacuum cleaner tubes and plastic bottles, hardware supplies like PVC pipes and copper tees, and specialty items he makes himself like rubber squeeze balls and fipples.”
It’s an iconic piece of classical music, and even if you’re not a fan of the genre you’ve probably come across it before now—Bach’s prelude from his Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major. It’s only a couple of minutes long, depending on who’splayingit (and on what instrument), but it’s perfectly constructed. To understand why, let’s take a closer look with Alisa Weilerstein. (via Kottke)
Bach’s G major prelude, deconstructed – Vox
If you hear the first few measures you’ll likely recognize it. A simple G major arpeggiated chord played expressively on the cello opens a short, but harmonically and melodically rich, 42 measures of music. Bach makes a single instrument sound like a full ensemble. How does he do it?
It’s simple, really (to some, perhaps!), just the tonic key G and the dominant key D playing off each other.
I have the pleasure (?) of living in a household with a number of brass instruments, but I’ve never seen anything like these.
Brass horns mounted in interactive sculptures by Steve Parker emit sound by touch – Colossal
Artist and musician Steve Parker’s latest interactive projects invite viewers to feel the music—literally. Activated by touch, “Ghost Box” plays randomized audio segments on a loop, including the ticks of Morse Code, the chorus of spirituals, and the blows of the shofar and Iron Age Celtic carnyx. Each time someone makes contact with a part of the wall sculpture, a new noise emits. Inspired by WWII era short wave radio, the mounted piece is constructed from a mix of salvaged brass, tactical maps, paper musical scores, wires, map pins, electronics, audio components, and an instrument case. The name even references the paranormal tool sometimes employed when people try to communicate with those who have died.
And whilst these may look loud, they’re actually listening devices that remind me of those concrete sound mirrors.
Tubascopes – Steve Parker
The Tubascope is a sculpture that works likes a telescope for your ears. Modeled after obsolete WWII acoustic locators, the Tubascope is made from reclaimed and repurposed brass instruments that have been augmented with tubing and headphones. When used, the Tubascope helps a person focus their listening on specific, far away sounds that may have been otherwise unnoticed.
Now, these mad trombone and trumpet shapes really reminded me of paintings I first came across at university (25 years ago now? goodness me), but I couldn’t for the life of me remember who they were by—murals, I think, in collaboration with school children, somehow. And for all I moan on about Google, it did come to the rescue with such vague search terms as painting, trumpets, children, mural.
Tim Rollins & K.O.S. – Institute for Research in Art
The history of Tim Rollins and K.O.S. (Kids of Survival) is a story of art and education triumphing over the hardships of life. It is a story which might have been torn from the pages of great literature. In fact, the group uses pages cut from classical literature as the groundwork for many of their paintings and as the source of imagery for their works.
Yes, that’s the one! He was a teacher in the 80s working with under-privileged kids to create art that would “transport his students from the tough streets of New York to the inner sanctums of major museums as celebrated artists”.
I do miss the early web, sometimes. Amateurish, in a good way—spontaneous, care-free, lighthearted.
The early internet, explained by one weird Celine Dion fan site – The Atlantic
Celine Dreams was a bit of a sensation. Toroptsov never lacked for dream submissions, and at the turn of the century—before the internet was a corporatized monoculture repeated across only a handful of giant web properties—a scrappy, DIY fan site could easily build an audience by climbing up search rankings and encouraging active participation. For years, Celine Dreams appeared in the first page of Google and Yahoo search results for Celine Dion—a distinction now reserved for Celine Dion’s official website, Celine Dion’s Wikipedia page, Celine Dion’s Twitter page, Celine Dion on Spotify, and Celine Dion on YouTube.
And then it shut down, blinkering out at the same time as thousands of other fan sites. The whole ecosystem slid into the digital ocean slowly, but pretty much all at once, like a famous ship.
More of these fan sites disappear all the time, and the Wayback Machine isn’t able to keep even a near-perfect record. Toroptsov’s project, and the work of his “competitors,” are vanishing in what information scientists have long been referring to as the “digital dark age.” “However widely the myth of the automatically archival Internet has spread over the past 70 years, the fact is that the system of networked computing utterly fails as a memory machine,” the UC Berkeley media researcher Abigail De Kosnik writes in her 2016 book, Rogue Archives. “The internet and computers do not constitute the greatest archive in human history, but rather the reverse.”
This applies to iconic software, too.
The last vestige of Internet Explorer dies today – Gizmodo
When Microsoft decided to use EdgeHTML, it made sense. Internet Explorer had once been the biggest web browser around and consequently, lots of web page designers focused their energies on making their sites work for IE. But Chrome had a foothold when Edge launched and Microsoft’s new browser just never gained the popularity it needed. Instead, more and more web page designers focused on making the best looking sites the could—for Chrome.
Chrome uses the Blink engine and the source code originates with the open-source Chromium project. The Edge that launches today will rely on Blink and Chromium too.
Some people are clinging on, though. I’ve been reading Joanne McNeils’s newsletter for a while, now, and her website is joyously web 1.0.
Hi, my name is Joanne McNeil and this is my Home Page on the World Wide Web. My book Lurking is out on February 25, 2020 with MCD.
And do you remember Noah Everyday from the 2000s? He’s back again, and doesn’t look a day older. Ok, that’s a lie. He looks older, we all do.
Since the 1960s, British motorways have been deliberately designed by computer as series of long curves, rather than straight lines. This is done for both safety (less hypnotic) and aesthetic (“sculpture on an exciting, grand scale”) reasons. [Joe Moran]
Gravitricity is a Scottish startup planning to store energy by lifting huge weights up a disused mine shaft when electricity is cheap, dropping them down to generate power when it is expensive. Using a 12,000 tonne weight (roughly the weight of the Eiffel tower), it should be half as expensive as equivalent lithium ion battery. [Jillian Ambrose]
Such a simple idea, though something about it reminds me of those perpetual motion contraptions.
CD sales still make up 78% of music revenue in Japan (compared with less than 30% in the UK). Japanese pop fans have been encouraged to buy multiple copies of their favourite releases to win rewards (buy 2,000 copies, win a night at a hot spring with your favourite star). One 32 year-old fan was charged with illegally dumping 585 copies of a CD on the side of a mountain. [Mark Mulligan]
You really must follow the link to that one and read more about the incredibly bizarre and manipulative marketing practices going on there. It beggars belief.
This next one reminds me of that xkcd comic about Bobby Tables.
A man who bought the personalised number plate NULL has received over $12,000 of parking fines, because the system records ‘NULL’ when no numberplate has been recorded. [Jack Morse]
SDAM (Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory) is a rare syndrome where otherwise healthy, high-functioning people are unable to remember events from their own life. There is also an exhausting syndrome called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, where people can remember precise details about every single day of their life. [Palumbo & Alain]
And I’m sure this one applies this side of the Atlantic too, as we head into the last few days of general election polling.
“Polling by phone has become very expensive, as the number of Americans willing to respond to unexpected or unknown callers has dropped. In the mid-to-late-20th century response rates were as high as 70%… [falling to] a mere 6% of the people it tried to survey in 2018.” [The Economist]