Music

The Art of Listening

This is a documentary about making music, from instrument making to playing to mixing, mastering, and listening. It was sponsored by Sony although there are only a few plugs in it for Sony gear, the rest is a variety of musicians and music producers talking about how they make and share music. It’s about an hour and 14 minutes long.

The comparison to photography is interesting:

Music: one needs a great song, well played on a decent instrument, well recorded and mastered and played on a decent audio player to channel what the musician laid down.

Photography: one needs a great image, well recorded with decent equipment, well processed and seen on a decent screen or a decent print to channel what the photographer saw and recorded.

In the photography world I like to think of Ansel Adams: he chose great subject matter (Yosemite), used a view camera (big negative, high definition), stopped down to small apertures (more detail), used filters (to get the dramatic look he wanted), and he took great care in developing his negatives and making his prints. If you’ve ever seen a large Ansel Adams print, in person, it’s a thing of wonder and you can feel that care in the print, very much like these musicians and producers talking about the care they take in making and sharing music.

[via Uncrate]

Prince playing George

Prince Rogers Nelson died today.

Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and others perform “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by George Harrison at the 2004 Hall of Fame Inductions. Dhani Harrison (son) is standing next to Petty.

Prince was amazing and while his own music was out of this world, he was a world class musician who could play anything.

This group plus more got together (minus Prince) at the Concert for George organized by Eric Clapton at Royal Albert Hall. If you like this music and these musicians and haven’t seen that, its a must.

Update: This is a piece the New York Times just posted on this particular performance and its worth a read: The Day Prince’s Guitar Wept the Loudest.

[via Devour]

Joey Alexander

This is a spectacular studio performance of “Giant Steps” by Joey Alexander (piano), Larry Grenadier (bass), and Ulysses Owens Jr. (drums). I highly recommend zooming it out, and connecting your computer to a set of speakers that allow you to really hear these guys.

The amazing thing is, Joey Alexander is 12 years old. He plays so incredibly well, gets deeply into the zone, but also is totally with the other two musicians (who are outstanding) it’s mind-boggling.

The NPR piece on Joey is worth listening to, it provides some background on him: A (Very) Young Jazz Pianist Takes Giant Steps Towards Musical Mastery.

Wikipedia has a nice entry on him too: Joey Alexander.

Bathtime in Clerkenwell

This incredible piece was made in 2002 by Russian animator Alex Budovsky with electro swing music by The Real Tuesday Weld.

This animation is based on Stephen Coates composition under the same title. This film is about The Great Revolution of the British Cuckoos, who bravely took over London, forcing all the people to move inside the cuckoo clocks.

I was moving older content over from my old web site and found an earlier post I did on another amazing Bukovsky piece: Last Time in Clerkenwell which is also a masteriece.

Here’s Alex Budovsky’s YouTube Channel. I can’t get enough of Bukovsky’s work, his imagination is out of this world (literally).

OK Go – I Won’t Let You Down

The group OK Go has produced a great music video with the release of their song “I Won’t Let You Down.” There are so many great visual techniques used in it and it’s so beautifully choreographed, whether you like their music or music videos in general it’s well worth watching.

Zoom it out, turn it up if you can handle it.

OK Go on Wikipedia.

[via The Verge]

Elijah Aaron

Watch Elijah Aaron use a loop machine to quickly put together a cover of No Scrubs. He’s such a natural, both as a percussionist and as a musician it’s astonishing to watch.

Here he is doing a cover of Paul Simon’s Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes:

Here he is with fellow musician Noah doing some percussion improv live. Most excellent:

iuka session :: drum brothers from rachel joy baransi on Vimeo.

[via Devour]

Bill Lauf at Milton Hall

Bill Lauf at Milton Hall

Milton, Connecticut. Our good friend and neighbor Bill Lauf has a “day” job that pays the bill and keeps him on the road more than he’d like. He’s also a fine musician/songwriter and every fall for the past 37 years he’s been doing a concert at Milton Hall, a small gathering place in a small town near Litchfield, Connecticut.

My wife Anne was at the very first one in 1976. I didn’t start attending until I met her in 1989 but I’ve been going every year since and Bill has become a good friend of mine.

In the past I’ve been tasked with getting some decent shots of Bill playing for album covers and liner note photographs and I’ve brought bags of DSLR gear to this concert. This year I was free but brought the Ricoh GR (my only camera aside from my iPhone) to see what it might do in the tough lighting conditions of Milton Hall. I had to get close (no zoom, 28mm lens) but was able to get a few decent shots where the audio mic wasn’t covering his face. I love this camera, it’s a masterpiece of simple design and high usability, a nearly perfect balance of form and function.

There are many things that are great about Bill’s concerts: certainly his music is at the top of the list, it’s superb and he’s continued to grow as both a songwriter and musician over the many years I’ve known him. But, the cast of characters in the audience, some of them our neighbors, some of them familiar faces to us only from this yearly event, is fine as well, and as word spreads about Bill’s concerts more people come and he now has to book the hall for both Friday and Saturday nights. The other “character” that’s in the background but an important part of the mix is Milton Hall and the town of Milton. There’s a reason Bill chooses this venue year after year: the hall has a warmth (heated by a big old wood stove that we had fired up last night) both visually and acoustically that adds character to a folk concert like this and last night there was light snow and it was cold so the place to be was inside the hall, listening to Bill.