Early Morning view:

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I feel real pity for musicians sometimes | Beyond The Beyond
I feel real pity for musicians sometimes

*I mean, look at this mess. Listen to it. What the heck is left of them and their craft of music? Every aspect of production, distribution, socialization even, has been virtualized and network-distributed. Musicians have really been close to the fire there for a long time. And their troubles aren’t over, either, not by a long chalk.

*When someone chooses to halt this potentially endless digital process, a stream of ones and zeros reverberates out of a speaker somewhere. Although that artifact still strikes the human ear as music, it’s got about as much to do with analog music as an ocelot-patterned synthetic rug does with an ocelot.

I can dig that, but there is a satisfaction and joy musicians derive from playing old-fashioned analog instruments that I can’t imagine a writer to understand. Words are intellectual, they don’t contain the kick to the belly that a turn of melody or a chord change or a rhythm can give the musician. No sir, I’ll take struggling as a musician over hitting a typewriter any day. Your job is solitary, lonely, and you have no idea what it feels like to play in a group.

While it is true that music production and delivery has been digitized, that is only partially true for the actual making of music. Sure, there are plenty of all-digital keyboards and there are samples of french horns, but to actually play a french horn you still need training, experience, and lips that form the tone through the mouth piece. And while in many cases the digital french horn sample will suffice, often it does not and a player has to be called in to give a phrase life and meaning.

He ends with:

*Okay, fine. What’s done is done, right? But now have a listen to this — especially the sequence around and after 2:20. Do you hear how warm and flat and squinchy that music sounds — kind of stretched, somehow, and especially the very disturbing background rhythm under the drums, that is subtly drifting out of phase? That music could not possibly be created with human hands. That is Brian Eno manipulating analog tape loops. Yes, ANALOG tape loops, with STRIPS OF RECORDED PLASTIC. In 1974. You can still pick up an acoustic guitar and learn to play it, but you can no longer get THERE from here. The high-tech studio of 1974 is dead-media. You’re about as likely to find music of this kind now, as you are to find a jaguar stalking around downtown Mexico City.

Yes, true, but not a big deal methinks. Soon one might be able to use an iPad to control phasing-shifting. Originally phase-shifting was done by using two tape-machines playing back the same music. The proper term is actually flanging. If not properly maintained the two machines would drift apart and if this was done with studio tape recorders, the engineer might help the process by laying a hand on one of the reels, thereby slowing it down a tiny amount… I believe flange is an English term for the reel that contains the audio tape.

A great example can be found on the Roxy Music album In Every Dream Home a Heartache – the first side of the LP ended with a long phase-shifted guitar solo by Phil Manzanera. (((I watched this being performed live on German TV, with Eno using two Revox machines connected to foot-controllers that slowed down and sped up the machines. He was balancing on these foot controllers and I was marveling at Manzanera being able to keep playing with all of this happening…)))

Another thing worth pointing out is that flanging was a studio technique, not a musician-expression. It was an idea producers came up with.
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If you have any interest in Apple products or smart phones in general, you might have heard about the 4G iPhone that was stolen and outed by that rag Gizmodo (((now deleted from my RSS feed))). The best summation of the events can be found on Daring Fireball today, though this article is also worth reading and I love this post about the design. Since I am a huge Dieter Rams fan, (((a genius and arguably the most influential designer of the 20th century))) I love the new design and look forward to replacing my “old” 3G with the new phone when my two-year contract is up in September.
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There is more I want to write about, but I am running out of time. I am leaving at noon for a gig with Michael and will be back on Saturday. Won’t take my laptop.