Analysis

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.

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.

Island Exports & Descendants Broaden Jazz Expressions

RescueTeaser

Haitian rhythms were perhaps of equal importance in early jazz developments as Latin ones. And now there is a growing cadre of jazz musicians of Haitian descent, as well as other Caribbean arrivals or first gens, who openly embrace elements of their rich musical heritages.

DarwinTunes and Cultural Reductionism

silhouette in profile with musical hair

Stating that the DarwinTunes experiment proves that “selection rapidly evolves music from noise,” among other dubious claims, is problematic to say the least. Yet media coverage of the research may be perceived as a mirror of how our society generally interprets music.

Mormon Music after the “Mormon Moment”

Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Organ

With LDS names popping up everywhere else, where are the Mormon composers? Until fairly recently, Mormon composers who were known as such weren’t all that known outside of Mormon circles. Conversely, those who were more well-known as composers weren’t readily identified with their native religion.

Style Points

Assorted spices on wooden background

Looking around, listening around, culture is as stylistically non-hegemonic as I’ve ever experienced. But parallel to that is a kind of greater semiotic compartmentalization: the vast majority of cultural artifacts I encounter keenly announce their stylistic allegiance early and often.

Trauma, Meaning, and The Quietest of Whispers

Evan Ware listening to rehearsal of his music

Evan Ware suggests that his piece is an invitation for an interpretative dialog between his listeners’ experiences and his music’s ingrained symbols. Yet, even if we accept this premise, how do we evaluate the way pieces of music, and their composers, foster the formation of listeners’ interpretations?

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