Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Unlimited iTunes

This could be big in terms of getting people to think about music ownership in a different way. On the other hand, I doubt it will happen in the very near future. / Companies / Media & internet - Apple mulls unlimited music bundle: "Apple mulls unlimited music bundle"

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Song Popularity and Video Games

Seems quite directly related to what we have been saying about connections between music and the entertainment industry.

Songs included in Guitar Hero 3 see a dramatic leap in digital sales
The actual details are a bit less convincing than I thought they might be. And there could be some discussion of what it means to license music for use in a game (or in a movie, or as a ringtone). The general population seems to emphasise more of a "rights to use in any context" idea while some musicians find it important to make sure their recordings are only associated with things they can support. After all, it would probably be frustrating for a band following a "Straight edge" hardcore punk ideal to have their music used in a commercial about a Seagram-created caffeinated liquor involving images of recreational drug use, gluttonous meat eating, and promiscuous sexuality... ;-)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Speaking of Participation

An older piece about Charles Keil...

February 4, 1999-Vol30n19: Charlie Keil: he's the 'Musicking' Man: Professor's mission is fostering musical expression in youth

Open Letter to Oliver Sacks

A bit of TAMILDAA going on here. But still...

Sent the following to Oliver Sacks after listening to this radio show/podcast episode: Open Source » Blog Archive » Speaking of Music Again: Oliver Sacks.
Dr. Sacks,

Listened to Christopher Lydon's Open Source show about your Musicophilia book. Was particularly interested, as an ethnomusicologist and ethnographer, in your comments on music mediation.

At 18:30, you began questioning musical universality and mention "pygmies in the rainforest" (which does sound like a composite narrative of well-known ethnographic cases). More interestingly, though, you allow for music to be mediated: "I think I took a little bit of license in that sentence of mine you read out. I think I said, I wrote something about music not needing any mediation. I think it does need mediation, everything needs mediation. But it's a very strange sort of mediation with music and it's like nothing else." (19:27-19:46)
Wanted to thank for your honesty and thoughtfulness.
Lydon didn't follow up on the mediation point. Have you written something to elaborate a bit on the mediated character of music? It might be quite useful for some of my teaching and research activities.

As an aside... You mentioned (McGill figures) Dan Levitin, Robert Zatorre, and Steven Pinker. By any chance, did (Cambridge figures) Ian Cross and Nicholas Cook make their way into your book?

Again, thank you for thoughtful and thought-provoking statements.
My mention of Ian Cross had to do with the music in evolution chapter (preprint PDF) we read in our course. We have talked repeatedly about Dan Levitin's This Is Your Brain on Music during the semester. We haven't really talked about Robert Zatorre during this semester but his name does come up fairly frequently, along with those of other music cognition in Montreal. Nicholas Cook wrote a "very short introduction" to music, the first chapter of which sounded really insightful (as read, in French translation, on another podcast).
I also wanted to mention classics in musical aesthetics (including Leonard B. Meyer, who was mentioned in Charles Keil's article on PDs and is discussed by Keil and Feld). But I found the institutional links too interesting not to use them, even half-jokingly.

The actual Open Source radio show (and podcast (MP3)) was, unsurprisingly, focused on WAM and alluded to conceptions of absolute music. Lydon has something of an "Old School" (erudite dilettante) perspective on music. He also tends to be obsessed with transcendentalism (Ralph Waldo Emerson et al.).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Interpreting Lyrics

Just because it's funny:
YouTube - Crazy Indian Video... Buffalaxed!

But it can also be interpreted as a commentary on globalisation, if you squint real hard.
An interpretation of how the original Tamil lyrics got misinterpreted is available in a very thoughtful blog entry.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Music Wants to Be Free"

As in "free beer" or as in "free speech?"

An interesting blogpost about the death of the Record Industry:

demonbaby: When Pigs Fly: The Death of Oink, the Birth of Dissent, and a Brief History of Record Industry Suicide.

Linking this specific blogpost because it:

  • Was linked by a fellow ethnomusicologist.
  • Is rather current.
  • Contains interesting links.
  • Represents a rather clear position.
  • Mentions differences between participants in music-related industries.
  • Is followed by a lot of comments, many of them interesting and even insightful.
  • Comes from a former "industry insider."
  • Has "dissent" in the title.

On the other hand, this blogpost:

  • Is rather long-winded.
  • Doesn't present much that is really new.
  • Skips the issue of defining what music itself is (falling in the trap of equating recordings with the music).
  • Focuses too much on "music as a commodity."
  • Seems to confuse a few issues and terms (for instance "stealing" and "illegal").
  • Fails to define "label independance" (apart from lack of RIAA membership).
  • Limits itself to the "call your representative" type of action common in social politics in the United States.
  • Comes from a former "industry insider."

Still, it might be a fairly decent representation of the current consensus opinion against the Recording Industry. And it might be a good jumping board for discussions of changes in the way music is conceived.


YouTube - Hip To Be Square - Huey Lewis & The News

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Lyrics About Recording Industry

Didn't know about the song before today. Strongly-worded position against some aspects of the recording industry. Should be relevant in our discussion of Attali's Noise.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Music Scholarship Roundup

A few recent items of scholarly interest for the ethnographic study of music.

Noticed other interesting items, lately?