music

What I wrote last weekend while standing in front of a subwoofer at a Plump DJs concert

It’s natural to stop dancing between songs. The beat changes, the sub-rhythms reorient themselves, a new hook is presented and a new statement is made. But stopping dancing between songs is undesirable. We wish to lose ourselves in as many consecutive moments as possible. The art of mixing music is to fulfill our desire to dance along to continuous excellent music, uninterrupted for many minutes (or, in the best case, many hours) at a time. (Even if we don’t explicitly move our bodies to the music, when we listen our minds are dancing; the same rules apply.)

I don’t remember what prompted me to take that note, but it was probably not that the mixing was especially smooth.

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art, music

Music for the deaf and hard of hearing

The “Emoti Chair” as they call it is built to bring musical pleasure to the deaf and the hearing impaired. The chair has a multitude of build-in speakers and vibrating devices delicately calibrated to “translate music and sound into movement. Whether it be rocking or vibrations, the music can be heard through the movement of the chair, expressing to the person sitting, the emotion heard in sound.”

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music

Expert performance on a DJ mixer

Last weekend I had the privilege of seeing a few of my favorite electronic music DJs live. I took this closeup video of Collette working the faders and knobs on a DJ mixer, and I think it’s a great snippet of a virtuostic electronic music performance. It starts just after she’s begun to mix in a new track, and illustrates how control over the EQ and loudness of two very different songs can make for a compelling transition.

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music

Digital Orchestra concert approaches

Rulers in DCS

The McGill University Digital Orchestra is putting on their first performance on March 5th at 7:30 p.m. in Montreal’s Pollack Hall. The lovely and talented Xenia Pestova will be playing the Rulers, an instrument I invented. The piece she will be playing, which I haven’t heard yet, was composed by D. Andrew Stewart and is the first music to be written for the instrument. There will be a live webcast of the show. To watch it, launch the QuickTime application (free download) a few minutes before the start of the show, select “Open URL in New Player” from the File menu, and enter: rtsp://132.206.142.8/pollackhall.sdp

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music

Feeling jazz

Last night I heard an excellent show by my roomate’s jazz band, Jazz Warriors. It was mostly acoustic, but he used a loop pedal, delay pedal, turntable/scratch mixer, and vocal mic alongside his regular jazz kit. The turntable and vocal mic added a little hiphop flavor, but the loop pedal really changed the performance possibilities—he was able to play different and more rhythms than would normally be possible, and also self-harmonize while singing. But at the same time the functions he was using on the pedal were extremely basic: in-point set, out-point set, on/off, sample trigger, etc.

In terms of vibrotactility, the performance space was excellent because the floor was entirely wooden and hollow. Almost all the instruments in the band could be felt as well as heard. Unfortunately the tabla and keyboard were only audible, but the rest of the instruments could be felt. The upright bass (amplified), saxophone, and individual components of the drum kit seemed to be differentiable. I felt the upright bass and lower sax frequencies in the chair I was sitting in and throughout my whole body as a mostly-constant background presence. Additionally, the snare drum felt like a distinct punch in my chest and hands. But the most distinct vibrotactile sensations came from the toms, which, in different combinations, would light up separate regions of the soles of my feet. For instance, one would be felt in my heel, another in the area just behind my toes, another in the instep. To put it dryly, tom fills were mapped to spatiotemporal patterns of vibrotactile sensation in my feet. It was really fun.

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