birth of the gamestrument


No embed:

That is fucking wondrous.

First of all, the impact of in-browser-music-making is not trivial or obvious. You can’t be blase about it.

But beyond that, what’s striking about this particular hack is how high-level it is. It pulls the end user up several levels from decisions like the selection of video clips or specification of harmonic progressions. The user is closer to the level of a music game like Guitar Hero, except that game play is open ended. You don’t score points by playing this game, you make music.

It would be cool to use a selection of these open-ended-music-games as the DJ for a party. Maybe there would be a person selecting and queuing up the games, so that there was some kind of playlist. The overall impression would be similar to parties where the music is coming from people doing Rock Band or Guitar Hero.

Know of anything similar out there? Instruments verging on games and vice versa?

Magnetic Fields guitar tablature

Stephen Merritt of The Magnetic Fields publishes guitar tablature with lyrics and chords for his songs.

This kind of thing was almost non-existent in the days when CDs and vinyl records were synonymous with the music business. Back in the old days helping people to play the compositions for themselves was limited to helping aspiring guitar heroes to learn the guitar solos, or aspiring stars to emulate current stars. The stuff you learned was by a larger-than-life player, and you learned in order to become larger than life yourself. It was about career in the sense that a successful learner was one who established a musical career.

For performers to encourage avocational musicians to learn to play the music for themselves is a sea change in publishing. It reflects the move to a participatory and inclusive concept where it’s expected and even intended that covers will show up on YouTube.

Exploring this space is the reason why I created sheet music, guitar tablature, and MIDI for Kristen Hirsh’s song “Elizabeth June.”

marketing songs the lazy way

I have added some new formats for my song Frog in the Well.

For people making videos, I created cuts of 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and 40 seconds. I have noticed that the length of a piece of music is a big factor in choosing it, so these cuts are to increase the number of situations that this music fits.

For people doing remixes, I created a sample pack with eight clips under five seconds. I did this because chopping up a song into samples is a fair amount of work, and eliminating that work increases the number of people who might use samples for the song.

With both of these sets of cuts, the goal was to increase the potential growth of my music. The popularity of my song can only grow linearly, as the sum of listens. For each song or video that it is incorporated into, there is a multiplier on that growth curve. If songs or videos that incorporate my work are themselves incorporated into other works, there is exponential growth in the listenership for my music.

I also created a clip to be used as a ringtone. My thinking was that supporting more playback contexts, and especially a playback context as common as cell phones, would again do good things for the potential growth curve.

Lastly, I created a page which can transpose and play back the sheet music using the Scorch browser plugin. This should increase the number of contexts that the sheet music and tablature are useful in and the number of people who can follow the sheet music. Having people incorporate my musical work by learning from a piece of sheet music that I created is again a way of hitching a ride on other people’s works.

What I didn’t do was go out and plug my song. I didn’t make CDs to mail to radio, press, and booking agents. I didn’t email bloggers one by one. I didn’t post comments on other musicians’ Myspace pages. I didn’t email all my friends. All of these ways of marketing are good things to do, but I am lazy and would rather have other people do that for their own stuff and bring mine along for the ride.

I also didn’t make a new song. It’s good to keep up a steady flow of fresh work, but winner songs don’t come along all that often and once you have one you’ll probably get more growth overall by focusing your efforts on the winner.

You can see all this stuff in context on the song page for Frog in the Well.

Here is a video that used this song as background music:

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audio response to Marco’s klankbeeld

I plugged in the electric, hooked up Audacity, hit record, and flipped over to the same image that Marco used for his like a child piece. It’s a quickie job but what the hell that’s what blogs are for: Lucas Gonze – response to klaaankbeeld like a child (MP3)

On a musical level I was thinking about the bassy, jazzy, and introspective flavor of Marco’s piece, and that led to me towards Les Paul’s ballad playing in the 50s, e.g. Moon of Manakoora.

Also: FLAC and Vorbis versions. Licensing for my music here: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 unported.

KlankBeeld Raaphorst: Like a child

I like this moody klankbeeld by Marco Raaphorst.

KlankBeeld Raaphorst: Like a child

Friday, 16 May 2008


Ik heb mijzelf een opdracht gegeven: elke vrijdag een nieuwe compositie op basis van een foto ter inspiratie. Vandaag voor de vierentwintigste keer. KlankBeeld Raaphorst.



music is for playing

Guitar Tutorials Rocket Up iTunes Podcast Charts:

Chord books and music lessons still sell, but for visual learners, the best option is probably the video tutorial. … of the top 20 podcasts offered by iTunes, six are iVideosongs tutorials. The second most popular podcast on iTunes is iVideosongs’ “Beginning Guitar 101.”

The wave of interest in guitar tutorials comes amid renewed interest in the instrument, spurred at least in part by wildly popular games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. IVideosongs’ chart success comes only a few weeks after the company made its tutorials available through Apple’s service.

You have to go down to #24 on the list to a music podcast (NPR’s “All Songs Considered”) oriented towards passive listening rather than playing.