It was a good thing in the 1950s when transistors started replacing vacuum tubes. Tubes are fragile, hot, heavy, noisy, power-hungry, expensive and prone to hum. Transistors are cheap, clean, and efficient; they are what make portable audio possible. So if transistors are so good, why are audiophiles willing to pay five figures for a pair of monaural tube amps?
For the last 20 years or so people have been watching The Wizard of Oz while listening to Pink Floyd’s album “Dark Side of the Moon.” They claim the two works have synchronicities that couldn’t have happened by accident. You know the kind of people I’m talking about. But I’m not here to dissuade them. In fact, I think that the practice known as “The Dark Side of the Rainbow” is a good thing.
A few of the coincidences are striking. For instance, the song “Money” begins precisely when Dorothy steps out of the black and white house into the colored world of Oz.
Neil Young has always been terrifically outspoken how the music business can hurt music quality; he’s also been doing something about it.
Coming off a successful Kickstarter campaign, he’s developing a new music delivery service called Pono. Pono promises to bring higher quality digital recordings by avoiding over-compression and by using a much higher sampling rate and bit depth.
May 22 of this year is the 100th anniversary of the arrival to this planet of Sun Ra. As a piano player, composer and bandleader Sun Ra’s terrestrial incarnation was one of the true innovators in jazz; a bridge spanning the beginnings of big band jazz to a distant world that only exists now in Afrofuturist science fiction.
April 19th is Record Store Day—an international celebration of vinyl records that caters to rabid fans and rabid collectors alike. The first Record Store Day was in 2007 and came with a hitch in the age of online shopping: The releases were only available at independent stores and you had to physically go to the store to get the records you wanted—if your store received those releases in your shipment.
Its always bothered me how listening to music can be a very passive and linear experience. Lately I’ve been checking out some interactive music videos; these might help solve the problem. Interactive Music Videos are software-driven, using input from the listener to determine the course of the images.
As much as I love classical music, there’s one thing that bothers me about going to a symphony concert; it’s that awkward moment when the music stops and people don’t know if they should clap. Symphonies and sonatas are divided into movements; the question is whether there should be applause after each movement, or only after the whole piece.
The Red Bull Music Academy is a two-week long festival of New Music that happens every Fall. There are a lot of great music festivals around the world, but this one is interesting to me because it represents how arts patronage can work in the digital age.