Daleduro from Future Sounds of Buenos Aires
I’ve been working with Mozilla‘s new Popcorn Video project to create a videomix, including a music video I shot of Darren Tatom performing his song ‘Stay’ at the Gap Filler Pallet Pavilion on Durham Street in Christchurch, along with some photos and accompanying text of the city at the time of the concert. You can make your own popcorn video by playing with it here
To watch To Stay in Christchurch (the embed code doesn’t seem to work, at least not in wordpress)
- Remix web video with Popcorn Maker, launching today (ted.com)
- Mozilla launches Popcorn Maker web video tools (techradar.com)
- Artistic entrepreneur sees opportunities in Christchurch (stuff.co.nz)
The book ‘How Music Works‘ by David Byrne has many, many interesting things to say. Highly Recommended and I’ll get around to a more complete review later, but here’s one of those fascinating bits of history I didn’t know. The earliest recording devices, from Edison and Victor, were used for home recording. You could press your own records on wax discs in the comfort of your own home, and people did!
“The early phonographs were like YouTube – everyone was swapping homemade audio recordings. Composers were even recording their playing and then playing along with themselves. Soon enough that function was taken away. I would be inclined to believe that this anti-participatory, non-egalitarian move by the manufacturers might have been urged by the newly emerging recording companies, who would have claimed that they weren’t being evil but simply wanted to market ‘quality’ recordings that would elevate the musical taste of their customers and the nation as a whole. Victor and Edison had even ‘signed’ a number of artists, and naturally wanted you to buy their recordings, not make your own. The battle between amateurs and ‘professionals’ isn’t new; it has been fought (and often lost) many times over.”
How little different that is from self-publishing, where the traditional publishers ‘own’ the ‘quality’ authors and the rest are merely scrap on the heap!
reading David Byrne’s chapter about performance in his book How Music Works, he talks about how the audience always wants to hear their favorite hits from the past, while the musician wants to play his new stuff. the artist gets tired of touring and wants to create. after all, this is why he is an artist. for painters and sculptors and writers who create permanent pieces, those favorite hits are always with them, always available to the audience like musician’s record album. for those artists, what’s done is done and it’s time to move on. I wonder if, on their versions of tours, they get sick of answering the same questions about the same old pieces. no doubt. the next thing is always the most interesting to the artist. in some ways the old stuff is just like dead matter. it belongs to the past.
This interesting interview with David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) has been on my mind the past few days. He discusses the myth of the lone artist off creating eternal works in isolation, and how, rather, every artist creates only within layers of context. These layers can be viewed from different perspectives; you can zoom in (as it were) or zoom out to these different viewpoints. You can zoom in to the artist’s current surroundings and milieu, zoom out a bit to their localized era (the ‘spirit of their age’), zoom out some more for more historical perspectives (gender, race, politics, age) and even further for more general insights into the human condition, animal being and so on. Even when you zoom in all the way on the artist in isolation, he (or she) is in fact teeming with influences from within and without, such as thoughts flitting around, emotions from circumstances past and present. As an artist develops their work, the events of every day life intervene and make their presence felt. Each piece, whether it’s of music, writing, painting, or drama, carries with it all these layers of context. Byrne also emphasizes physical context – how the acoustics of a place influence the music that is created there, how the light in a studio influences the colors a painter uses. Very interesting stuff.
The idea was driven home even further by my reading of Patti Smith’s memoir, “Just Kids”. The name-dropping in this book is jaw-dropping (but being one of those names herself makes it justified). She brought her raw self into the circles she found herself in (New York City, 1969-1970′s, Chelsea Hotel) but her raw self was shaped and molded by many powerful influences. You find yourself wishing it had been your own damn raw self that had also been dropped into that blender of space and time and that yours too had turned out so outrageously! Yet it’s not merely accident, not merely luck. You – whoever and whenever and wherever you are – also have to align yourself, and also on many levels. You have to align within yourself (be and accept who you truly are) and where and when you are. Go where you ought to be and do what you ought to be doing. Are there people who can actually do this? If so, they are some lucky bastards.
I was just glancing at some blog post about “what price should you charge for your ebook?”, which, translated into my first language, reads “bla bla bla bla bla”, and I noticed this line: “it depends on your genre.”
Do you have a genre?
Or does your genre have you?
And can you say the word ‘genre’ twenty times fast without realizing what a stupid word it is? Then say it some more and think about what a stupid concept it is.
Look, if you’re happy doing what other people are already doing, then go ahead and copy that out and worry about genre-appropriate prices and everything else that goes along with the crowd. Yes, X can sell for Y so if you do X then go ahead and charge Y.
Or maybe do something that only you can do.
Experiment and try and figure out what that is. Take your time and try a lot of different things and don’t pull our your price gun and tag everything in sight.
If you find there’s nothing that only you can do, then you probably haven’t tried hard enough or looked long enough, because for everyone – everyone! – there is something that only they can do.
As Bob Marley once said, “don’t be just a stock on the shelf”
You hear a lot about how piracy and free/cheap product is killing careers in music and writing but not so much about how the same phenomenon is also killing the porn industry. Interesting …
Yet who is arguing that in this case it’s bad, though not in the others?
Sauce for the goose?
you can listen to music you hate and it doesn’t bother you
There’s a Goodreads group thread about music and reading and writing which reminded me I wanted to make a note of the topic in here, because there are a few stories I’ve written which were heavily influenced by the music I was listening to at the time I was writing them. and I wonder if that’s something other people experience. I tend to listen to the same album over and over for a month or so – about the same length of time it usually takes me to write a story – and sometimes the two overlap completely. Of course I would never blame the musicians for the quality of the stories! And it’s only true of a few of them. For instance, when I was re-writing Rampant Pheromonix I was listening to Bjork’s ‘Human Behavior‘ (this was already 20 years ago, when I was working in the CD store). More recently, Macedonia was written under the influence of Manu Chao’s ‘Proxima Estacion: Esperanza‘, and The New Guy in Moon Base Twelve was written while I was listening exclusively to El Remolon’s ‘Cumbia Bichera‘ off of one of his fabulous free mp3 mixtape. Now, every time I think of those stories, I hear those songs in my head.