Music Technology

How to illustrate music and process – The NYT and Disney

Accompanying an otherwise rote Jon Pareles piece about how Diplo and Skrillex made a hit with Justin Bieber, is a remarkable video. Alongside interview snippets of the three artists run graphics of the various sounds. The graphics change as the sounds change and as the track is explained and built over the course of the video. It’s a great example of using a visual medium to explicate audio. I can’t embed it here, so click this link to see it: (It’s also amazing to catch glimpses of Skrillex manipulating Ableton on his laptop. The speed and deftness the result…

Genetic Data Tools Reveal How Pop Music Evolved In The US

In modern societies, cultural change seems ceaseless. The flux of fashion is especially obvious for popular music. While much has been written about the origin and evolution of pop, most claims about its history are anecdotal rather than scientific in nature. To rectify this we investigate the US Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 2010. Using Music Information Retrieval (MIR) and text-mining tools we analyse the musical properties of ~17,000 recordings that appeared in the charts and demonstrate quantitative trends in their harmonic and timbral properties. We then use these properties to produce an audio-based classification of musical styles and…

Bad brains: some people are physically incapable of enjoying music

The Verge reports: For most people, the mere suggestion that a favorite song fails to evoke an emotional response in another human being sounds preposterous. Sure, that person might not like that song as much as you do, but they’ll definitely feel something — right? Not necessarily, says Josep Marco-Pallerés, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Barcelona and lead author of a new study that explores why some people feel indifferent to music. “Music isn’t rewarding for them, even though other kinds of rewards, like money, are,” he says. “It just doesn’t affect them.” As far as I can…

How the 808 drum machine got its cymbal, and other tales from music’s geeky underbelly

Trent Woble at TheVerge has a fascinating story from the NAMM convention on Don Lewis, a pioneer of electronic instruments and a consultant to Roland. The feature then goes on to highlight a few of the out of the way innovations on display at the convention. Look at all those knobs! See all those dials!

Fancy yourself a DJ? Don’t have space for gear? PDJ Portable Disc Jockey is for you

The annual NAAM show is on, and that means all sorts of vendors showing all sorts of new ways to play the Electric Slide to grannies at weddings. Engadget has details of an interesting hand-held mixer featuring touchscreens and buttons both. Hit the link below for more details and hands-on video. PDJ Portable Disc Jockey is a complete DJ system that fits in your pocket, we go hands-on video.

‘Boil the Frog’ – From Kraftwerk to Professor Longhair in 14 steps (via Sha Na Na)

Here’s another fun way to waste time on the web. Choose two artists and Boil the Frog will link them for you. The coder’s blog post tells you how it works. Reading that post explains how it took 14 steps from both Kraftwerk to Professor Longhair AND Roska to Professor Longhair. Each reload gave a slightly different path, mostly using different songs from the same artists. Asking to go from one long tail artist to another quite different long tail artist yields a larger number of steps. Not surprisingly, it took me 23 steps to get from Disclosure to Iris…

Is this the very first DJ system?

In 1903 French engineer Leon Gaumont was granted patents for loudspeaker systems to go with his sound on disc talking films, which used one of Berliner’s Gramophones. In 1910 Gaumont demonstrated his Chronophone system, which synchronised sound and film, at the Gaumont Palace in Paris. The compressed-air amplifier, whiuch he called the Eglephone, was just a part of the whole system. The volume was enough for an audience of 4000. Initially the longest moving picture that could be made with synchronised sound was only 200ft, due to the limited playing time of the Gramophone record. (Projection was at 16 frames…

The Great MP3 Bitrate Experiment

PoOPlist readers may or may not agree with Merlin Mann’s hatred of the mere existence of CDs, but even if you buy physical artifacts carrying your music, you probably also rip them into a more portable and virtual realm. So, how best to do it. The Great MP3 Bitrate Experiment. (Coding Horror) I use LAME 320 VBR for mp3 and then if I really really like the disc I’ll put it into FLAC.

If I see one more story about how cool vinyl LP records are, I’m going to scream

Of course, I might be a little bit jaded. Thanks to all who came to the Huge! Insane! Memorial Day Weekend Music Yardsale, it was much appreciated. I sold 3 turntables and might have sold many more had I had more available. Stories like this help, of course, but calling things cool seems to imply that they were once uncool. The Secrets of a High-Quality Vinyl Record – (possibly paywalled)

Who Cares When Your Record Was Digitally Remastered?

Excellent screed/rant by Dave Mandl over on Neatly explains the sore point of incorrect dating on music streaming and download sites. Who Cares When Your Record Was Digitally Remastered? – The Interestingly, one of the commenters says that the reason why the labels feed this incorrect information to the streaming databases is so that they get the (tiny) payment registered to the more recent release. Presumably this make accounting easier for the labels. From a cursory look around a few other services, it appears that those using the All Music API do get the dates correct.

Dynamic Range Day: Inside the Loudness War

It seems that today is “Dynamic Range Day”. I think that perhaps the effort needs a better publicist or marketer, I went to Hallmark to look for a “Happy Dynamic Range Day” card and the lady gave me very odd look. No matter, it’s an interesting and necessary effort. The Dynamic Range Day site has a number of useful and informative resources. And if you’re that way inclined, you can win a whole bunch of cool gear. Dynamic Range Day: Inside the Loudness War – CE Pro Article from CE Pro.

Updated: Google Music Beta – Request your invite

My last post was about the Amazon Cloud Player. Now Google has done the same thing. I am waiting for my invite. The About Google Music page has links so you can request your invite too. (US only for the moment) The video below gives a quick tour. Features include a playlist maker. It will be interesting to see if Google can match the clever algorithms used by Pandora, iTunes and the rest. Early reports suggest that the service lets you store 20,000 songs. I cannot tell if that is a space cap or merely a “number of tracks” cap….

Happy in the cloud – A few weeks with the Amazon Cloud Player

Engadget has a good round up of the various online streaming and cloud music options:  Streaming music breakdown: how Google Music and iCloud will affect today’s options. I signed up for the Amazon Cloud Music service the first day and I’ve been really pleased so far. 5 gigs free to start and then after I bought one mp3 album on amazon they automatically added it to the cloud and expanded my free cloud to 25 gig (mp3 items you buy on amazon can be automatically stored on the cloud player and do not count towards your space quota). I then…