March 30, 2005

The Streets of Lhasa

From the excellent Sublime Frequencies label, comes this very different glimpse into Tibetan music; one that eschews the familiar monastic sounds of singing bowls and deep-throated chants, and ventures (as per the title) on to the streets of the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, where itinerant musicians from the countryside perform for the meager sum of one kuai per song (roughly equivalent to 10 cents). Unlike the stately music of the temples, this is much rawer fare, rooted in wailed vocals and roughly hewn melodies played on either the erhu or san xian.

The recordings on this album were made in 2003 by Zhang Jian of the Beijing music/art collective, fm3, who typically hired the street musicians for 50 kuai a session (plus free food and beer), set them up in a quiet park, then let them work through their repertoire. In the process, he managed to capture some pretty memorable performances, like this father and son duo. The parental half of the group sings and saws away on an erhu, while his son bellows all over the melody like a mad thing. Priceless stuff.

As always, the album can be purchased through either the Sublime Frequences site, or from Aquarius Records.

Posted by Warren at 12:43 AM

March 24, 2005

Animal Vs Buddy Rich

From DrummerWorld comes this wonderful old 1980 clip from everyone’s favourite puppet variety hour, The Muppet Show; in which their resident psychotic stick-creature, Animal, does battle with Buddy Rich... Limbs flail, hyperspeed drum solos erupt and, in the end, Animal can only look on in awe as one of the greatest drummers of all time rips through his chops. (via Monkeyfilter)

Posted by Warren at 09:51 PM

March 16, 2005

Feel Good Story Of The Week: Lars Ulrich, Scourge of Music Pirates, Born Again As Fair Use Good Guy

For the last month, Boing Boing has been following the story of Beatallica, a Milwaukee parody band who had been posting their Metallica-esque covers of Beatles songs on the web. Back in late February, when Sony got wind of their activities, they cried copyright violation and promptly sent a cease and desist letter to the Beatallica site webmaster, who responded by regretfully taking the site down.

At this point, something very unexpected happened. Metallica’s drummer, Lars Ulrich, stepped in… The last time Lars was involved in a public scrap over copyright was back in 2000 when he was crying foul at the “theft” of Metallica’s music by Napster users. This time, however, he was offering his support to the “violators”, and sent the band’s attorney in to bat for them.

As a result, the news has come through that Sony has decided to drop their action. So, the Beatallica site should be back up this week. In the meantime, you can download Beatallica’s raucous oeuvre from Metafilter Music.

Posted by Warren at 09:12 PM

March 15, 2005

Right Now, Someone In Europe Is Being Buried… To The Tune Of Highway To Hell

Well, maybe not right now… But, if the results of a poll by digital TV channel, Music Choice, are to be believed then this track will be blaring out at the funeral of someone on that continent in the not too distant future.

The Acca Dacca classic apparently came in third in the survey which asked 45,000 Europeans in nine different countries what music they would choose to be buried to. In front of it, were Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven (No. 2), and The Show Must Go On by Queen (No. 1) (Also high up the list were Metallica's Nothing Else Matters, and another Queen track, Who Wants To Live Forever.)

These results become even more interesting when broken down by country. In Germany, the preference was for heavy guitar anthems by bands such as the aforementioned AC/DC and Metallica. By contrast, people in Mediterranean Catholic countries tended to go for classical music or sentimental pop ballads like Let It Be or Lennon's Imagine. In Sweden, No 1 went to Tears In Heaven by Eric Clapton, and No 3 to There Is A Light That Never Went Goes Out by The Smiths.

In Britain, one in five participants opted to shuffle of this mortal coil with their tongues in their cheeks and a soundtrack provided by Monty Python's Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life. But the award for the most bizarre choice in funeral music goes to Norway who picked, as one of their favourites, Elvis' Viva Las Vegas... Make of that what you will. (via Viewropa)

Posted by Warren at 08:21 PM

March 02, 2005

Hamster MIDI... Orca Reggae... Animals Are Muslim Too

Ellroy.jpgLast Sunday, Daz became the proud adoptive parent of a cuter-than-porcelain-figurine West Highland Terrier puppy who she christened Ellroy. (Yes, there is a secret hope that he will soon be churning out doggy crime novels that get optioned for movies… It’s a big untapped market, you know.) So, to belatedly commemorate his arrival, here’s a series of animal-related posts.

Hamster.jpgThe kinetic energy of small rodents is a vastly under-utilised resource. Engineering student, Levy Lorenzo, is keenly aware of this, so when his course called for a creative application of MIDI, he enlisted the talents of scampering hamsters. He set up 3 MIDI voices so that their rhythms and note sequences were controlled by 6 hamsters caged in the perspex rodent high-rise pictured on the left. Hamsterwerk can be seen in action in this video, and the resulting music can be heard in this mp3. (via Music Thing)

Killer_Whale.jpgJim Nollman, who was featured on Music Thing a couple of weeks ago, also understands the musical capacities of animals, but prefers to let them find their own voices. To this end, he pursues killer whales off the coast of Russia with an electric guitar, and plays a nose flute for flocks of turkeys – in the hope of kicking off human-animal duets. He’s had quite a bit of success with orcas and his site, Interspecies Inc, has a minute long audio sample of one of them soloing over his languid reggae-esque guitar lines. Elsewhere on the site are some natty little loops by dolphins, seal and other whales.

Muslim_Scouts.jpgFinally, a track from Muslim Scouts in Africa. This is an Islamic kids' cartoon series that I bought a video of from a shopping mall concourse vendor (the sort who flog pirate-copy VHS’s from a table at the top of escalators) a couple of years ago. The series follows a group of Muslim Scouts (the Islamic equivalent of the Boy Scouts) as they tour East Africa; meeting locals, foiling the exploits of villainous Western rogues, and learning about the Islamic history of the region. Overall, it’s a fairly pedestrian piece of kiddie animation that’s peppered with some truly woeful musical numbers. Animals Are Muslim Too is an exception; an almost dirge-like earworm that extols the virtues of caring for animals from an Islamic perspective. Yours to download here.

Posted by Warren at 11:28 PM

Help Stop Unauthorised Performances of "Happy Birthday To You"

Apparently, “Happy Birthday To You” is a copyrighted work (and will be until 2030) that currently belongs to Time Warner. This means that any unauthorised performance of it – including a sing-along in a public place like a restaurant – is a breach of copyright. And, considering how common that sort of activity is, this must surely make it one of the flagrantly abused works in the history of modern intellectual property. So, if the stormtroopers of take-as-many-prisoners-as-possible copyright enforcement are really serious about their mission, they should do something about it NOW…

Of course, they won’t; so Benjamin Mako has taken up the mantle and provided a way for outraged citizenry to inform Time Warner about these shameless transgressions. Hopefully, his initiative will make a difference; and, in time, maybe birthday parties can return to being innocent celebrations of a life's milestones... instead of being the venues for wanton acts of egregiousness that they currently are… (via Boing Boing)

Posted by Warren at 09:08 PM