Monday, March 28, 2011

Concussion Indiophones: Beer Bottles-(1979 Film The Warriors)

Concussion idiophones: sub-group of idiophones that consists of two or more similar non-flexible objects that are struck together to make sound.

I remember seeing this in a theater back in the day, and no one watching knew what that sound was when it began. Everyone tripped out seeing the beer bottles both in terms of surprise at the sound source and admiration for the inventiveness. Combined with the increasingly twisted call of "Warriors....come out to play-hay" was a perfect blend of over-the-top menacing insanity (especially after watching the protagonists running for their lives for over an hour) and cleverness.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Earth, Wind & Fire in the late 1970s

Bought this photo back in the day, I am assuming it was in San Diego in the late 1970s. Verdine White (L) is the reason i eventually became a bassist, and I cannot count the hours of joy Maurice White's (C) music has given me. Guitarist Al McKay (R) played some mean rock and rhythm, but he was replaced in the early 80s. If I had to guess I would say this was 1978 or so. Can't say enough about the powerhouse that this band was.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Beat Deafness": Study on Inability to hear beats correctly

Science News

A man lost in musical time
Researchers document the first case of ‘beat deafness’
By Bruce Bower
March 26th, 2011; Vol.179 #7 (p. 9)

The Go-Go’s had a 1982 hit record with “We Got the Beat,” but a 23-year-old man named Mathieu never got their message. Researchers have identified Mathieu as the first documented case of beat deafness, a condition in which a person can’t feel music’s beat or move in time to it.

Mathieu flails in a time zone of his own when bouncing up and down to a melody, unlike people who don’t dance particularly well but generally move in sync with a musical beat, according to a team led by psychologists Jessica Phillips-Silver and Isabelle Peretz, both of the University of Montreal. What’s more, Mathieu usually fails to recognize when someone else dances out of sync to a tune, the researchers report in a paper that will appear in Neuropsychologia.

“We suspect that beat deafness is specific to music and is quite rare,” Phillips-Silver says. She and her colleagues plan to investigate whether Mathieu takes an offbeat approach to nonmusical activities, such as conversational turn-taking and adjusting one’s gait to that of someone else.

Language lacks the periodic rhythms found in music, so it’s unlikely that Mathieu’s problem affects speech perception, remarks cognitive scientist Josh McDermott of New York University. If periodic sounds of all kinds confuse Mathieu, this problem may loom large when he confronts complex musical beats, McDermott suggests.

Mathieu does much better — although still with room for improvement — at bouncing in sync to a metronome’s periodic tone, indicating that he has a timing problem specific to music, Phillips-Silver says. Mathieu sings in tune and recognizes familiar melodies, so musical pitch doesn’t elude him.

Hearing and motor areas of Mathieu’s brain appear to be healthy, the researchers add.

They hypothesize that the young man’s beat deafness arises from disconnects in a widespread brain network involved in musical beat, rhythm and meter. Babies recognize simple musical beats within days of birth, possibly reflecting the operation of an inborn neural timekeeper (SN: 8/14/10, p. 18).

With further research, beat deafness may join tone deafness as a music-specific disorder. Researchers regard tone deafness an inherited disruption of a brain network that decodes musical pitch.

Read the post and see video HERE.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

NYT on Commercialism and Conflict in the Carnival of Trinidad

March 9, 2011
Carnival’s Louder Commercial Beat Adds Dissonance

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — To some people here, Dean Ackin, 38, with his boyish face, is an inspiration of entrepreneurship, a bearer of this country’s evolving culture. To others, he is a threat to this nation’s most beloved social and cultural treasure: Carnival.

Mr. Ackin runs one of the country’s most popular Carnival bands, the groups of people who don costumes and masquerade — or play Mas, as locals call it — in the raucous annual two-day street parade. The roughly 5,000 spots available in Mr. Ackin’s band, Tribe, sell out every year almost as fast as they go on sale. Demand has been so high since he started Tribe in 2005 that Mr. Ackin just started a second band.

But some say Mr. Ackin and others like him, who have in recent years spun profitable, year-round businesses out of organizing these bands, threaten the existence of Carnival as Trinidadians know it.

By shunning the conservative, traditional costumes for cheaper, skimpier outfits that are sometimes produced outside of Trinidad, these new bands, critics say, are distorting their forebears’ creation and sending work elsewhere at a time when the government and others are trying to turn Trinidadian-style Carnival into a more profitable and exportable industry.

“We call it two-piece and fries, the bikini and the bras,” said Stephen Derek, a traditional costume maker, referring to the skimpy costumes that have become a staple of the new bands. “The costume comes like a fast food. To them, the bottom line is profit. It has nothing to do about country or culture anymore.”

The entrepreneurial bandleaders counter that they are part of a natural evolution, merely offering what people want.

“If you really look at those people who play Mas with the younger bands, or if you talk to a visitor abroad and say: ‘Hey, have you ever heard of Trinidad Carnival? What band would you play with?’ they would call Tribe or they would call one of the younger bands,” Mr. Ackin said. “That says we are reaching out further than the traditional bands. We are reaching out to the international market.”

With few exceptions, the 1.3 million people living on these twin West Indian islands believe that they do Carnival better than anyone in the world. But the generational clash has raised questions over how today’s Carnival is shaping the country.

Is the reliance on mass-produced bikinis — a far cry from the elaborate, hand-crafted costumes Trinidadians had grown accustomed to — stifling the creative works that have been the hallmark of traditional Carnival, which the government of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has been pressing to revive since she took office last year?

Or does it reflect the country’s new energy, representative of a push beyond Trinidad’s reputation for complacency in developing revenue streams beyond oil production?

Read the full post, including photos and video, HERE.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Music Therapy Helping Congresswoman Gabby giffords

A nice little article about how music therapy is helping Congresswoman and gunshot victim Gabby Giffords to recover (plus there is a nice little dig against atonal music):

From ABC

Music Therapy Helps Gabrielle Giffords Find Her Voice After Tucson Shooting
Melody, Rhythm can Rewire a Damaged Brain

By KATIE MOISSE, ABC News Medical Unit
March 8, 2011

It has been two months since the Tucson shooting spree that killed six people and injured 12, including Arizona Rep.Gabrielle Giffords. Now Giffords, who survived a gunshot wound to the left hemisphere of her brain, is finding her voice through song.

"Gabby responds to music because she knows a lot of songs," said Maegan Morrow, Giffords' music therapist and a certified brain injury specialist at TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston.

Since Giffords was transferred to TIRR Jan. 21, reports of her singing "Happy Birthday" for husband Mark Kelly and Don McLean's "American Pie" have signaled what some have called a miraculous recovery. "The brain can heal itself if you do the right protocol," Morrow said. "It just needs lots of repetition, lots of consistency."

Protocols like music speech stimulation and melodic intonation therapy can help patients with damage to the brain's communication center, like Giffords, learn to speak again.

"It's creating new pathways in the brain," Morrow said. "Language isn't going to work anymore, so we have to go to another area and start singing and create a new pathway for speech."

Music therapy was first recognized as a tool to aid soldiers returning from World War II with brain injuries.

"It was discovered that music was more that a diversion or recreational activity -- it could be incorporated into the overall treatment of an individual," said Al Bumanis, director of communications for the American Music Therapy Association. "It could address non-musical goals in a very unique way -- sometimes coming in through the
backdoor where some therapies can't."

Indeed, a person who has suffered an injury due to stroke or trauma may have difficulty speaking but be able to sing.

"Patients can be essentially mute, unable to utter a single word but put on the Beatles' "All You Need is Love" and suddenly patients can sing. Substitute some of the words and now patients are speaking again," said Dr. Michael De Georgia, director of the Centers for Neurocritical Care and Music and Medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. "Music is very powerful."

Music Can Rewire the Brain

Evidence supporting a healing role for music in the recovery from brain injury is mounting. But many people remain skeptical, and few insurers will cover it.

"I think the name, 'music therapy,' is a barrier. Most people are like 'what is that?' It sounds childish," Morrow said. "I know that it really works. They're already seeing that healing in Gabby."

Music is very closely linked with language. Some people believe that we may have started to sing before we started to speak, De Georgia said, citing "The Singing Neanderthal: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body," by British archaeologist Steven Mithen.

"In fact, one of the reason we enjoy music (particularly tonal music like Bach, Beethoven) is that it follows clear structural, syntactical rules that we can follow, understand, and anticipate," said De Georgia. "We tend not to enjoy atonal music as much (like Schoenberg) because it is all over the place tonally and structurally. Our brains don't get it."


Read the whole story HERE.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Carnival 2011

The Atlantic has a wonderful set of carnival photos from around the world. See it HERE.

There's also one by MSNBC HERE.

NYT article on the early music performance movement

Nice NYT article on the early music performance movement in academia.

March 4, 2011
Early Music Is Enjoying Its Moment

ARTISTIC revolutions rarely happen overnight, and if they do happen quickly, they do not necessarily spread uniformly. In recent decades the early-music movement has provoked a radical shift in performance styles throughout much of the music world. As an eccentric, irrelevant outsider in cultural life, the movement has managed to transform attitudes toward tradition and has wrought major changes in orchestral practice. A movement that started in powerful opposition to modern conventions has become increasingly integrated with mainstream performance.

But New York, an early leader in the movement through the medieval and Renaissance explorations of Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro Musica Antiqua in the 1950s and ’60s, more recently lagged behind in crucial ways. Now, during the coming weeks, in a sort of serendipitous festival, the city plays host to some of today’s outstanding early-music ensembles and conductors and puts forward a leading period-instrument ensemble of its own being nurtured at the Juilliard School, Juilliard415.

Can there be any more telling indication that the worlds of period and modern performance are becoming ever more closely reconciled and intertwined than the entry of Juilliard, long a bastion of modern, machine-tooled virtuosity, onto the scene? Juilliard students are learning to perform on gut strings, wooden flutes and valveless horns in what now passes for proper period style.

William Christie, the American harpsichordist and conductor long resident in France, whose dazzling ensemble, Les Arts Florissants (some three decades old), presents music by Rameau at Alice Tully Hall on Friday and Saturday evening, has played a major role in the development of a historical performance program at the Juilliard School, now in its second year.

“We are so excited and so thrilled that we really cannot believe it is happening to us,” Mr. Christie said recently. “Here, after all the years when there was such a negative and unloving reaction to the whole idea of old instruments, we have a terrific commitment from the school and an enthusiasm that’s spreading through the students. I think everyone would say that it has created a real buzz, and the students are fascinated by the idea of what it can bring to their music-making.”

Ara Guzelimian, dean of the Juilliard School, agrees that the injection of energy has been remarkable. “One of the most surprising things about the program is how quickly and easily it has been integrated into the fabric of the school as a whole,” he said. “This year alone we are mounting two fully staged operas with the vocal arts department, and we have a waiting list of modern-instrument students who want to take period-instrument lessons.”

This wide-ranging fascination with the fruits of historical study may, as Mr. Christie surmises, be partly because “the kids see a new opportunity to earn a living.”

“But it goes much deeper than that,” he added. “They are much more sophisticated in their attitude. They show a recognition that this way of performing is now a central part of our musical lives.”

In that sense the early-music revolution, which began on the fringes, can claim to have triumphed. It has also evolved: the very term “early music,” which originally denoted a repertory (pre-Classical, later pre-Romantic) and the instruments appropriate to it, has come to stand more broadly for a performance aesthetic, an approach to music in the context of its time that has been carried into 19th- and even 20th-century repertory.

The movement’s spirit of inquiry and adventure is now completely embedded in our way of making music and thinking about it. With the added perspective of these latest gains, it may be useful to take a fresh look at how this all came about.

For the past generation pioneers of the early-music movement have worked with modern orchestras and have carried their insights into that area. At the beginning this was an occasional specialist event, a toe dipped briefly in the historical water. But the approach has become well established as part of an increasingly diverse musical mainstream. Great conductors are newly fascinated with the products of the historical performance movement.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Tom Hanks Toddlers & tiaras video

It's gone viral but the reason I'm posting it is because I've always loathed the sexy toddler/kid stuff. It's a ripe target and Jimmy Kimmel's post-Academy Awards slot has had some great skits. The kid pageants is a big fat target and hanks doesn't miss.

Adya & Geisha Do Mozart Aria Europop Style

Cherubino's Aria - Non So Piu Cosa Son Cosa Faccio; From the Opera "Le Nozze di Figaro" (The Marriage of Figaro) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It's a tribute to the tune itself that it can survive the Europop treatment.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011