We Are Sitting In (Another) Room: Improv with Architecture

countryman phase shifter

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Nicolas Collins’s Pea Soup, a piece that uses electronics to “play” the signature acoustics of a space. In honor of that milestone, Collins today unveils Pea Soup To Go, a free virtual jukebox programed with recordings of 70 different versions of the work.

Hindustani Music: Cultural Collisions (and Washing Machines)

sequence of old Coinslot washing machines

The unlikely collisions between the two musical cultures I inhabit bring up so many questions for me about musical perception: What do people from one musical culture hear in the music of another culture? How much of our aesthetic association with specific music comes from repetition and reinforcement within our musical culture, and how much is simply hard-wired into us as humans?

The Know-Nothings of Jazz

photo of woman covering eyes, ears and mouth

Institutionalized jazz is safe, museum-piece jazz, but the music still happens in basements and lofts and living room performance spaces. These are the alternative venues and institutions for a music that, by definition, is outsider music, counter-culture music.

Chicago: A scavenger hunt of world premieres

openhouse13

It was Open House Chicago this weekend. Open House is, apparently, a worldwide celebratory architectural free-for-all phenomenon that started in London. But I’ve only ever experienced it in Chicago. Here, it usually falls in late October, when each rainstorm is a tender rite of passage that strips the city of a bit more color.

Music in a Time of Snapchat: Ephemeral Contexts

busker

It’s fair to say that we yearn for more opportunities to enjoy music in less formal spaces. But can you still have a valuable musical experience while ordering a drink, chewing an hors d’oeuvre, or making conversation?

Hindustani Music: Let It Go

zoom recorder

When I began to study Hindustani music, I treated the recording of each lesson the way I would have treated the score of a Beethoven sonata, meticulously learning and memorizing each phrase, with all its subtle twists and turns. It took me years to realize that most Hindustani musicians do not practice this way.

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