Daddy-Daughter Beatbox Competition

A colleague of mine passed this on:

Father challenges his daughter to beatbox competition. What a talent!!!!!

Posted by DJ Aligator on Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Musical Key Reminder

Now that our daughter is taking voice lessons, and her voice teacher requires her to learn how to read music (a very good thing), Yung-Hsing and I are trying to remember our own musical knowledge. Never has the two parts of *remember* felt so resonant: I feel like I am re-gathering and re-assembling lost pieces of my mind.

One example: I used to know by sight the more common key signatures found in musical notation, but yesterday, looking at a piece of music with only one flat, and B-flat at that, I couldn’t remember what key it was. I knew it was a common one and that I had seen it many times.

Well, for those times you can’t remember the other times, there’s this:

Circle of Fifths [Click to embiggen.]

Circle of Fifths [Click to embiggen.]

Robot Drums

Patrick Flanagan works at the intersection of numbers and drum beats. He uses a pair of controllers — one a Wii remote, the other custom — to send signals into a scripting language that then talks to a Java machine running some code he himself has written:

Bach Organ Works

As long as you’re feeling your Bach, you should know that James Kibbie have made the complete collection of Bach’s organ works available for [free to download](

[The Who at Albert Hall]( Don’t know the date. Entwistle is still alive. Always a great act. Listening to the songs brings back the dreams, and the angst, of being a teenager and in my twenties.

What Tau Sounds Like

There is a movement, somewhere out there, to replace pi, the number that results from dividing the circumference of a circle by its diameter, with tau, the number that results from dividing the circumference of a circle by its radius. The argument goes that radii actually describe circles better than diameters. There is more at stake, and certainly more at stake than the simple doubling of pi, but with today being tau day, I am delighted to link to the work of Michael Blake, a musician who has turned tau’s infinitely long string of numbers into some amazing music:

Speaking of Soundtracks

Please don’t forget that there is a lot of great music out there that is already available under very generous licenses. Some folks are creating amazing bits of music and they deserve the exposure that your podcast, video, or lecturecast might give them. (What? You are not considering a soundtrack for your lecturecast?)

Here’s just a small sample. I went looking for something fairly “spare” in terms of sound, and I wanted something acoustical. Layers of a single instrument — like Bill Conti’s “Black and White x 5” — always get me:

It reminds me a little bit of the soundtrack to *Rosencrants and Guildenstern Are Dead*, which, if memory serves me, was done by Snuffy Walden, who also did some interesting soundtrack work for the television series *thirtysomething*. (Goodness, that goes back a bit.)

Google Should Buy the Music Industry

It started off as a throwaway line by Wayne Rosso, but it’s beginning to grow into something of a meme:

The latest rumor to emerge from the Google campus is that the company’s much anticipated music service is just about at the end of their rope with the major label licensing process. A source close to the negotiations characterizes the search giant as “disgusted” with the labels, so much so that they are seriously considering following Amazon’s lead and launching their music could service without label licenses. I’m told that, though very remote and my guess is that it would never come to this, Google may go so far as to shut down the music service project altogether.

Google may be starting to think that if the industry weren’t going to sue Amazon, then why would they take on Google? After all, who needs whom the most in this scenario? Could you even wrap your brain around the legal costs? As a source pointed out to me, “Larry, Serge and Eric could buy the entire music industry with their personal money”.

Deconstructing Rock and Roll

The basis for a great deal of popular music is to be found is in the multi-tracking systems that were long the bastion of the recording studio. Now, of course, almost any computer can host a multi-track setup, e.g., Apple’s iLife suite has GarageBand. Part of appreciating how this particular art form is created, then, is understanding how separate tracks are assembled to produce a compelling whole. How best to that? By un-multi-ing produced songs, deconstructing rock and roll as it were. StudioMultitracks is a site dedicated to just such an enterprise. I listened to quite a few of one of my favorites, The Who. There are a lot more bands, however. See if your fave is there and listen to the single tracks: how does it change you understanding of the song?

A Cyborg Composer?

While I am writing about new forms of creativity, I would also like to point out this terrific [profile of UC Santa Cruz emeritus professor David Cope][profile]. Cope was the inventor of Emmy, Experiments in Musical Intelligence (EMI, or “Emmy”), which was well received by some but made others uncomfortable with the questions it raised about human creativity — the short answer for me is that all the formulas Cope entered into Emmy were clearly based on work done by humans, but I don’t know entirely how Emmy works. Cope is about to release a successor to Emmy, known as Emily Howell. Two compositions by Emily are included in the article. They make for an interesting listen.

[Emily Howell Sample Composition](