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Archive for October, 2009

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Hey Playtonics,

Check out my review of Thursday night’s Justice concert at The Bowery Presents The House List:
 

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Hey Playtonics,

Recently I started reading Daniel Levitin’s book This Is Your Brain On Music. Levitin is a rocker-turned-neuroscientist who explores the connection between music and the human brain. Although I just started the book, I found the following passage to be quite topical and fitting for my current endeavors:

“To nonmusicians, terms such as diatonic, cadence, or even key and pitch can throw up an unncecessary barrier. Musicians and critics sometimes appear to live behind a veil of technical terms that can sound pretentious. How many times have you read a concert review in the newspaper and found you have no idea what the reviewer is saying? “Her sustained appoggiatura was flawed by the inability to complete roulade.” Or, “I can’t believe they modulated to C-sharp minor! How ridiculous!” What we really want to know is whether the music was performed in a way that moved the audience. Whether the singer seemed to inhabit the character she was singing about. You might want the reviewer to compare tonight’s performance to that of a previous night or a different ensemble. We’re usually interested in the music, not the technical devices that were used. We wouldn’t stand for it if a restaurant reviewer started to speculate about the precise temperature at which the chef introduced the lemon juice in a Hollandaise sauce, or if a film critic talked about the aperture of the lens that the cinematographer used; we shouldn’t stand for it in music either.” 

 

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The Hit Predictor

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Hey Playtonics,

Sorry for the absence of posts in the past few days but in that time I have been gathering up some interesting content to share. Last week I discussed Panora and its use of algorithms to predict what a listeners music taste is and what music they might like. This week I found an NPR article in a similar vein. The article starts with the following: (more…)

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Torture to the Ears

While I’m on the topic of how music can be made to be abrasive and obnoxious, recently, a group of prominent musicians are joining a campaign to close Guantanamo Bay and demanding the release of records about what music was used during the potential torture of detainees there and at other facilities (Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/21/music-stars-demand-record_n_329476.html). As the article reports: (more…)

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Face the Muzak

Idea of the Day” is a blog by Tom Kuntz and other editors of the Week in Review highlighting interesting writing on the web. A few weeks ago I wrote a post called “Where my Philosophical Girls At” responding to a post on “Idea of the Day” about the lack of women in Philosophy. Today, I happened upon an “Idea of the Day” post called “Must We Have Bad Music in Public Spaces?” The post highlights an article in Travel & Leisure, where Peter Jon Lindberg says the grating orchestral strains of Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” wafting through a resort dining room make him feel like the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, “holed up in that embassy, besieged by the likes of Rick Astley.” And so he agrees with those who say citizens need to reclaim “the right not to listen to music” in public spaces. The following is a great excerpt from Linberg’s article: (more…)

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What’s in a Song?

Can an algorithm guide you to music you like?

Pandora is not new. The internet radio service was founded in Oakland a decade ago. Tim Westergen, an unsuccessful musician turned business entrepeneur, started the company in 1999 with a “two tech-and-business-savvy pals.” In 2005, Pandora went online. While it is gaining popularity in large part to the popularity of the Pandora iPhone app, it is still waiting to turn a profit. So why should Pandora be of interest? (more…)

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think music

Hey Playtonics,

After a week break, I am back with “Is This Music?” According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Philosophy of music is the study of fundamental questions about the nature of music and our experience of it. In keeping with these questions, every week I will post a video or link to a piece of “music” that begs the question, “Is this music?” Playtonic Dialogues is all about sparking discourse so please make a case for why X piece is or is not music.

For the last installment of “Is This Music?” , I looked at Scrunk, a genre of music I was informed about by friend and occasional Playtonic contributor Peter Senzamici. This week I bring to you David Byrne’s Playing the Building. (more…)

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