DavidKant on 05/16/2012 at 01:30PM
The Happy Valley Band is the Great American Songbook heard through the idiosyncrasies of the machine ear. It is what happens when a computer tries its best to pick out the tunes by ear, writes down what it hears and demands that human performers try to play it. It combines audio separation and computer automated transcription technologies together with a twisted affection for American popular music icons.
In the process of creating the music, the original recordings are first separated into individual instruments and then transcribed by computer automated techniques. Arranging the music is an effort to parse the profusion of computer analysis data into playable form. The Happy Valley Band then plays the mercilessly over-specific computer transcriptions along to the sound of the lone extracted vocal track, offering a new accompaniment to a familiar voice.
Last month The Happy Valley Band squeezed into the studio at WFMU to deliver a set of unusual interpretations on popular music classics. Performing live on Kurt Gottschalk's Miniature Minotaurs Show, the studio quickly became an obstacle course of musical equipment—saxophones, violin, accordion, pianos, guitars, basses and drums, topped off with a Farfisa and a small army of music stands. By the end of the set, the floor was hidden beneath a carpet of loose sheet music, casualties of frantic page turns as the band carefully staggered through a set of classic songs by Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline and James Brown rendered in new, unrecognizable forms.
All software and sheet music will soon be available from the band's website. No classic recordings were harmed in the process. The Happy Valley Band is based out of New York, but you can catch them up north this summer at Electric Eclectics Festival.