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jason on 01/19/2010 at 11:30PM

Copyright Criminals airs tonight on PBS!

Copyright Criminals, a fantastic documentary on sampling in music, airs tonight on PBS [more info on PBS] [Copyright Criminals homepage]

I had the opportunity to preview Copyright Criminals this past October at the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit. During the Q&A and the ensuing Remix panel, filmmakers Benjamin Franzen and Kembrew McLeod talked about the difficulties in producing a documentary about illegal sampling. The film would not have been possible if they actually cleared every sample, so they tried to determine which music samples they'd need to clear, and which could be defensible under fair use. Fortunately, documentary filmmakers have a Fair Use Best Practices. We need something like this in music!

The filmmakers also found cool ways to compensate some of the key people in sample-based music who haven't gotten their fair share. One of the major plots of the film follows Clyde Stubblefield, James Brown's drummer who played the infamous "funky drummer" sample, but didn't own the rights to that recording. Rather than license the sample from James Brown's estate, the filmmakers throw down for some studio time, and Subblefield makes a new recording that he owns.

The film focuses on sampling's rise to prominence and in the "golden age" of hip-hop -- on artists like Biz Markie, De La Soul, and Public Enemy. I don't remember if it was in the film or just during the Q&A, but at some point the directors stated that if a sample-heavy album like Paul's Boutique had cleared all samples, they would have lost $20 million on the album to date.

On the other end of the debate, Steve Albini plays the role of the producer, studio-owner, and musician who uses strictly analog equipment and doesn't care much for sampling and "remix culture". His point is basically that it's easier to copy and build upon what somebody else has done, than to go and do it from scratch like he does with his own music. I agree, but I think that's kind of the whole point, right? Some people are able to build on pre-existing musical ideas to create something that stands on its own.

We need to find a way to decriminalize sample-based music, beacuse the sample-clearing process alone -- let alone the cost -- is enough to force the majority of sample-based musicians to operate on the other side of the law. Maybe it's by bringing all sides of the debate together and defining Fair Use Best Practices, just as documentary filmmakers have done. Or maybe it's a statutory license -- imagine if you could pay in advance to remix/sample based on how many copies you're making, just like the law grants anyone the right to cover a song. And/or maybe it's a profit-sharing agreement (just like sampled composers often get co-songwriting credits) under which non-profit sampling is deemed fair use. That's the dream...

If you don't own a TV, Copyright Criminals is also available for free online if you know where to look (along with everything else our culture has ever produced).

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doncbruital on 01/19/2010 at 02:30PM

Safeguarding those Sidereal Sounds

Salut, folks, what say we get to celebrating, for the era of the Time Machine is evidently upon us. Sick, finally. History--having heretofore been little more than this pesky nightmare from which music and art proffer momentary awakening or at least distraction--might affect us in a healthier way, now we've got this time travel jam in our back pockets for the loosing.

We ought to consider, I suppose, what this development'll mean for our human archiving impulse, that primordial directive that's had us scrambling to save our Progress at every turn of civilization: you know, monks copied manuscripts, the National Film Registry inexplicably chose to retain a copy of Halloween, and oh yeah, Facebook copies all yer data. Obviously the Free Music Archive itself is a manifestation of this desire, one whose mission is, thankfully, to vouchsafe what's good and worthwhile and not just anything at all. But still, if we're gonna be rocketing up and down the slipstream at will at the controls of some sweet Time Vehickle, what'll happen to our collective desire to safeguard our great works? My best guess here is that we'll move away from the overkill, the obvious, and focus on the nuance. Another way of saying this is that in our era of unprecedented and rampant reproducibility, we won't need to take any special pains to protect some bigtime movie or seminal literary work from the maw of time, and will thus be freed up to really groove on that distant sidereal matter, the ephemera, the jumbled-textural-hisses and cassettedeck clicks, the pieces of sound that, whether by hap or design, only happened once.


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herr_professor on 01/19/2010 at 10:00AM

2009 Blip Festival on your FMA

The result of months of planning and 3 wintery days in NYC, the first tracks from the 2009 Blip Festival are now online.

Blip Festival on the FMA

The collection launches this week with tracks from Nullsleep, glomag, minusbaby, tRasH cAn maN, Je deviens dj en 3 jours, The Hunters and with many more to come. For hard core fans and neophytes alike, these tracks are an amazing cross section of the international chip music scene, and a great taste of what you can expect from live shows like Pulsewave, 8static, Dutycycle, and Soundbytes, and countless others. Check out Nullsleep's track "Decade", and there's much more on the way, so keep an eye on the Blip09 collection or subscribe to its RSS feed to keep up! See you next week!

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chip music
andrewcsmith on 01/18/2010 at 04:30PM

Heave and shudder

Taken from http://www.myspace.com/audreychennatewooleyduo

There's a certain impulse among many improvisors to cease playing when it feels right. We (the audience, the performer) are waiting for that dénouement so that when it comes we can say it was good, it's over now, we know it's over, we can clap.

Cellist/vocalist Audrey Chen and trumpeter Nate Wooley had this dénouement which, as any free-improvisation junkie can guess, consisted of some trumpet howls and bow scratching followed by some long tones and softer swells. Except this came about two thirds of the way through the set. For the next few minutes, Chen just closed her eyes and waited, while the rest of us waited to start clapping. She wasn't about to allow it; she picked up the bow again and began bowing the side of her cello, as if to say that ending felt too right to be permissible.

Many improvisors will go ahead with an impulse; it seems that Chen and Wooley's impulse is to question their own impulses. The actual ending, marching off like some military parade, eventually came against all odds and logic.

Check out their performance below:

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nate wooley, audrey chen
wmmberger on 01/18/2010 at 11:49AM

Malkuth live on WFMU's My Castle of Quiet

6a00d83451c29169e20120a7c7a7d8970b-400wi Every time I stare into the maw of black metal I find something new. That mainstream media can't seem to get past the genre's origins of sensational murders and church burnings in Norway is I guess no surprise, but such tunnelvision neither accounts for, nor does justice to, the evolution of powerfully inventive, genre-bending artists such as Malkuth.

I feel fortunate to have been able to present NYC's two finest black metal bands (first Liturgy last October, now Malkuth) on My Castle of Quiet within only a few months' time.

This was quite a monumental session; Malkuth played ultra-hard, and tight as a hangman's noose, their epic songs filled with wild time-signature shifts and snaky, melodic riffage. A good brain cleansing with steel strings, drums, and screaming.

Much credit must go to our own Jason Sigal who made sure that Malkuth's mighty set turned out a mighty audio document. Thanks also to Daniel Blumin and Gabriel for popping up to the Castle and helping me out.

As several songs were rendered in continuum mode, Malkuth's six-part live opus is presented here in three distinct chunks, and labeled accordingly:

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mwalker on 01/15/2010 at 10:45AM

between the silences

I have a strangely inescapable tendency to hear music in terms of temperature – an inability to absorb an aural atmosphere without instinctively consulting the mental thermometer. If my post from last week sought a warmly glowing antidote to the oppressive start of a new winter, I suppose this week I’ve shrugged off the struggle and decided to dive headlong into the surrounding chill. Between the Silences, a work by fascinating NYC composer Tristan Perich, evokes a frigid world of austere beauty – a vast monolith sculpted out of deceivingly simple contrasts. This shared recording comes from a performance at ISSUE dating back to 10/26/08.

Scored for nine strings and nine channels of 1-bit tones (the most primitive form of digital audio, created by sending on and off pulses of electricity to audio speakers), the work dissolves a series of apparent dualities into a singular, all-absorbing tone of haunting weight. Elegant, slowly-unfolding melodic shapes are continuously fragmented, with each successive pitch dispersed to a different timbre of the 18 voice ensemble. Despite the individual, isolated space given to each instrument, the equal-sharing of the glacial melodies serves to unify the disparate voices – obscuring the division between acoustic/electronic sources and blurring all timbral distinctions into an impenetrable field of disconcerting quietude.

The pace gradually wavers back and forth between slow and static; the harmonic density expands and contracts between rich, overlapping waves of dispersed melody and thin patches of isolated sound separated by pregnant pauses of thick silence. Eventually, the work dissolves into a single violin voice, left alone to obsessively reiterate a sole, remaining pitch – casting the same muted utterance, again and again, into an impassive void. We begin to realize that the emotional qualities of the silence and the sound have become identical…the most reliably certain instance of clear-cut duality has too been blurred and absorbed into the severe expanse of cold, enveloping transcendency.

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jason on 01/14/2010 at 11:00AM

Golden Festival 25th Anniversary this weekend (audio preview)

Every January, NY Balkan music scene pioneers the Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band organize the Golden Festival - a massive two-night grassroots Balkan and East European music and dance festival at the Good Shepherd School, 620 Isham Street in the Inwood section of Upper Manhattan.

The Golden Festival is New York's largest Balkan music event, with multiple stages, Balkan & Middle Eastern refreshments, Balkan arts vendors, as well as beautiful Balkan textiles on display.  From international stars to local musicians, modern Balkan stylists to folk traditionalists, over 40 bands provide hours of ecstatic listening, dancing and partying. (via Zlatne Uste's website)

The Golden Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this Friday and Saturday, and tickets are available here.

For those who won't be able to attend but want to live vicariously, Rob Weisberg's Transpacific Sound Paradise program will broadcast live on WFMU this Saturday from 6pm until midnight NY time. The TSP broadcast will take place from one of the festival's three stages, the "Kafana" stage (Kafana is Serbo-Croatian for "cafe"; and the broadcast hq will once again be conveniently located right next to the beer line!).

To get an idea of what's in store, here are a few highlights from last year's TSP broadcast.


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lizb on 01/14/2010 at 08:30AM

Instrumental Throw-Down

In late 2009, I broke with tradition and decided to finally hold myself to a New Year's resolution. My goal was to start a podcast in 2010. Click here to subscribe to it, and click here to check out WFMU's full podcast listing.

Thanks to the Free Music Archive, there is now a wealth of great music that is pre-cleared for podcasts (14,644 tracks and counting). Podcasting music is a complicated issue, legally speaking, as record labels and publishing companies have not yet created blanket licensing schemes that address podcasting (licenses do exist for over-the-air broadcasting and webcasting). Because licensing schemes do not exist, labels and publishers could potentially sue podcasters who do not pursue clearances for each and every song included in a podcast. As a result, podcasters are left in the lurch: they can either risk legal wrath from a rabidly lawsuit-happy recording industry, or take on the burden of clearing hundreds of songs on their own.

Because most artists and labels who participate in the FMA have pre-cleared their material for podcasting, the whole game just got easier, and I'm happy to take advantage of this wealth of great material. Two weeks into 2010, I've got a few podcasts under my belt (perhaps a better success rate than many who have vowed to quit smoking or join a gym), and in searching for instrumental tracks to use as talkover music for my podcast, I discovered a great tool in the FMA's search dept.

On the search page, I filtered results both by use (for podcasting) and by type (instrumental only); both filters can be found on the left sidebar, along with many other helpful options. Not only did I find some great talkover music (thanks, YACHT!), but I put a mix together of all the great instros I found. Enjoy!

 

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BTurner on 01/13/2010 at 12:45PM

Radon 10th Anniversary bash on WFMU

Images_albums_Sikhara_-_Radon_10th_Anniversary_Jam_-_20100106122136638.w_290.h_290.m_crop.a_center.v_top Years ago I first came in contact with the Radon label via my pal Marlon, hearing a live set by Italian avant-rock composer Daniele Brusachetto, learning about his fellow countrymen OvO and then finally being sent a pile of CDs (mostly samplers) from the transient Radon head Scott Nydegger coupled with frequent correspondences enthusiastically talking about the state of experimental music made us fast friends. As I got familiar with the many facets of this label, Scott made sure that I was introduced to everyone in his orbit, and what really impressed me most is that Radon dealt with its business and artists unlike few others. Everyone was scattered around the world, because Scott just floated around meeting people and putting the music out from wherever he was (as opposed to working out of an office and dealing with the biz); anyone who shared the vision was invited in and were all friends. Fractured breakcore from Ripit, industrial tubthumping from Sikhara (Scott's outfit), introspective psychedelic drone from Fabrizio Polumbo under the name (r), and glorious ascensions from Steve Mackay (saxman then and now for Iggy and the Stooges) all intermingled under the Radon umbrella.

Through the years quite a few units of the stable has landed in the WFMU studios on various shows; Mackay put out an LP backed by some heavyweight improvisers on Qbico called Tunnel Diner culled from sessions on my show and Acapulco Rodriguez's as well (some MP3's here). Koonda Holaa, aka Kamilsky, is an eccentric Czech ex-pat who holed up for years in the high Mojave and also visited FMU (check him out on the Free Music Archive, he's terrific) and actually landed surreal opening slot for the Stooges in Moscow a few years back. Now, Radon takes a break, but to celebrate a good decade, Scott invited me down to Jason LaFarge's Seizures Palace studio in Brooklyn (in the cavernous Gowanus space where Martin Bisi also made all those great Lydia Lunch, Sonic Youth and Swans records) and we recorded a full on American/Portuguese summit jam of Sikhara, HHY & Drums of Habnom and United Scum Soundclash. It's a gorgeous, free-flowing hour of microscopic sounds, Neubauten-esque tribal percussion blowouts, scabby sampling and a simple celebration of the joy of free sound in a gigantic room. I aired the program on December 29th, but you can grab this session below.

Please also boogie over to the Free Music Archive's Radon offerings. Much excellence to be found. Somewhat saddened to hear of the label's hiatus, but other imprints like Soopa and Urck seem to be picking up some of the slack with a similar level of vision and social circles.


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Jacklebee on 01/13/2010 at 09:51AM

World's Greatest Ghosts

No Magick, the first full-length album from World's Greatest Ghosts is a nod to childhood narratives of make-believe monsters and plywood clubhouses. With lyrics referencing ghouls chasing you through mazes and houses sinking in quicksand, this album presents its nostalgic concepts with a dice-throwing Dungeon and Dragons filter. Friends reliving their clubhouse fantasies may not be such an abstract concept for this group. The Ghosts comprise of two brothers, Casey and Jesse Laney, and a college sweetheart, Emily Laney (Jesse's wife). Brandon Anderson has been with the group since its beginnings in the deep South. And now in Portland, Eric Ambrosius has joined them, replacing their long-time drummer. No Magick is produced by the Portland label Lucky Madison, run by local rocker Kevin O'Connor from the dynamic group, Talkedemonic. WWG will be playing this year's SXSW festival in Austin Texas, and be sure to check out their Myspace page at www.myspace.com/worldsgreatestghosts for updates. Long live D'n'D synth-rock.

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portland
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