Articles

The Opposite of Brain Candy—Decoding Black MIDI

BlackMIDIbanner

“Black MIDI” refers to the moments in a piece where the notes, if displayed on a traditional two-stave piano score, are so dense that there appears to be just a mass of black noteheads. The increased density of notes also affects the computer, which is sometimes unable to process all of the notes within a particularly complex section. The goal of Black MIDI is to approach this processing failure without actually crossing that line.

Musings on the Media

tv cameras

Composers and performers today look to the media (whatever they think that might be) as a conduit between their art and the general public. As digital media and social networks continue to evolve, both the proximity and the fixed boundaries between creators and the media have been affected.

In search of Musical Integration Between the United States and the Rest of the Americas

A photo of the street sign showing the intersection of Grand Street and Avenue of the Americas with a rusty plaque of the USA on top

Today, across South America, one finds dozens of tourists from all over the world (including many from the United States) who wish to explore the richness of the region. But within the world of notated music, the situation is the opposite. In fact, we can no longer talk about Latin American as a single unit, given the lack of information that exists between its different countries.

En busca de una integración musical entre Estados Unidos y el resto de las Américas

A photo of the street sign showing the intersection of Grand Street and Avenue of the Americas with a rusty plaque of the USA on top

En cualquier lugar de Sudamérica uno se encuentra con decenas de turistas de todo el planeta (incluyendo muchos estadounidenses), que buscan explorar las riquezas de la zona. Ya está claro para ellos que no todo es selvas impenetrables, ni pequeños poblados de madera. Pero en el medio de la música de tradición escrita, también debemos hablar a la inversa. Incluso no podemos hablar de Latinoamérica como una entidad unitaria, ya que existe desinformación entre lo que hace un país y otro.

Digital to Analog: Plug and Play

Advertisement ca. 1899 (via the Library of Congress).

It is the history of music, forever communicating—what, exactly? But forever communicating, nonetheless, even as the message gets hopelessly lost in the translation to music. And it’s not a bug; it’s a feature.

“This is My Design”

Hannibal-Harpsichord

Composers need to control their materials and, to an extent, their musicians. This is true for the murderer Gesualdo and the gentle John Cage, more so for the latter. Most composers are autocrats; Cage was totalitarian. And autocracy and totalitarianism, in their view of and relationship to human beings, are the political equivalents of malevolent psychopathology.

Psychedelic Citizenship: Jimi Hendrix as Tone Poet

JSAM Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix’s “Woodstock Banner” is among the most iconic moments of rock history—a symbol of the art’s social and political potential. For Hendrix, “anthem” was not a noun, but a verb—a song in motion.

The Banjo Faces Its Shadow

banjo

The banjo’s timbre cuts to some of the deepest seams of America’s past. To a number of contemporary banjo players and composers, the well of history and associations surrounding the banjo becomes a musical parameter to be bent, subverted, or used to evoke a particular landscape or time.

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