Ethan Hein: Everyone Can & Should Be Making Music 

Ethan Hein: Everyone Can & Should Be Making Music

A long treatise, but worth the read.  Some big thoughts that are obvious to too few of us in the Music Ed world:

Not everyone needs to be able to play or appreciate classical music. Maybe people just need to be able to sequence basslines for their hip-hop tracks, or play three-chord rock, or understand a little music theory, or play rumbly ambient one-chord drones. The kids who want to dive deeper and move on to more challenging material can still do so. If everyone else is engaged actively with music, the pros will find they’ll have a much bigger and more enthusiastic audience. And maybe America will be a little less emotionally barren.

 And also:

If we want music not to be “dumbed down” we need to be honest about where sophistication lies. If you want to learn about functional tonal harmony, by all means go to the classics. If you want to learn about rhythm, go to Africa, the Caribbean, India, Indonesia and American dance music. If you want to learn about timbre and space, go to electronica and hip-hop. Pretending that all the answers lie in scores written by men in powdered wigs is the real dumbing down of the music curriculum.

 What I don’t get is why there aren’t more people getting out there and saying these things.  What worries me is people my (and Ethan’s) age still bristling at these ideas.

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The problem is not how they play. It’s what they play.

Slightly off topic, but a good critique of the school-grade band/choir/orchestra-music publisher industrial complex :

It was a nice enough, if completely unmemorable, piece. But why, I kept thinking, couldn’t they sing a real Elizabethan madrigal? Or how about a Beatles song? Or anything at all that has inspired and touched and sent shivers down the spine the way great art does?

Also:

If high-school English teachers stopped assigning Shakespeare and Faulkner and instead gave their students the winner of the 1991 Iowa English teachers’ novel-writing contest to read, I think we’d know where to tell them to get off.

via The Washington Post

Music Research: Drum and Bass beat detection at McGill

Who says music researchers are stodgy?  Some interesting new research going on at McGill that could someday work to improve beat detection in all kinds of music software:

An essential first step in understanding how various producers uniquely use percussion, melody, and harmony in their tracks is downbeat detection (to find the first beat of every measure). We’ve developed a style-specific method of downbeat detection catered to Hardcore, Jungle, and Drum and Bass (HJDB) by combining multiple forms of metrical information: low-frequency onset detection; beat tracking; and a regression model (SVR) trained on the timbre and sequence order of breakbeats. In a recent evaluation using 206 HJDB tracks, we demonstrate superior accuracy of our style-specific method over four general downbeat detection algorithms (including two commercial algorithms).

Read the rest at Breakscience.

Headline of the day

Pro Tools 11 Announced: Do we Care?

We’re certainly not saying there aren’t any dance producers who use Pro Tools, but, in comparison to the likes of Logic, Ableton Live, Cubase, FL Studio and Reason, the size of Pro Tools’ dance music user-base is negligible. Version 11 doesn’t look like turning that situation around.   What do you think? Is Pro Tools relevant to dance music?

No.

Via Attack Magazine

Ableton Push First Prototypes

Great interview with the Ableton Push co-creator, Jesse Terry:

That’s right, I used Lego and sugru (a silicon putty). We attached Lego pieces to MIDI buttons with LEDs, connected to a Livid Brain. So, there were many burnt fingers and burnt Star Wars pieces along the way. My wife would always hear me digging away in the Lego bin and she’d wonder if I was actually working up here! The Lego prototype made it very easy to test out ergonomic setups as we could move the buttons around. We tried all kinds of different layouts and, we were able to user test the entire thing and learn to play it before we had a hardware version to play with. I’ve been playing this Push Lego layout on plywood for 2 years now.

Read the rest for a great view from people who are trying to redefine the idea of a Musical Instrument.

Apple legitimizes Audiobus, throws Jack under the bus

One day after Jack was announced, Audiobus was officially canonized with its inclusion in GarageBand.  No coincidence that Jack was to be released on iOS and Android, possibly leveling the playing field.  I’d wager this will persuade the team behind Jack to focus less on iOS than Android – a third party (especially a niche like Audiobus) supported in GarageBand is a strong statement of preference by Apple.

It seems that Apple is then going to use Audiobus as the Rewire for iOS.  Smart move, and a big leap from where things were a year ago.  Once it’s in GarageBand, you can be assured it will be supported for some time (Apple similarly adopted Audiocopy last year along this same logic).

The simple interface exponentially increases the iPad’s value as a music creation tool by letting you do all the recording and sequencing on a single device without complex file imports, as well as enabling apps to talk to each other. For example, you could now record a synth track in Korg’s iMS-20, filter it through the Amplitude amp modeler, and record the results as a track in GarageBand.

Via The Verge