Music Technology Posts from July, 2007

Hearing Aids Are Now Personal Communication Assistants

Monday, July 16th, 2007

I previously posted an article about the dangers of high SPL music listening, in connection with the ever-increasing loudness of commercial recordings. If you are already experiencing hearing loss, however, there are a number of high-tech solutions currently available that can do more than simply boost ailing auditory organs.

The Oticon Epoq provides ambient sound amplification, as is to be expected of such a device; however, it also posesses the ability to stream audio directly from a mobile phone or mp3 player. This transforms it into a bluetooth wireless hands-free headset. Also bringing hearing aids into the 21st Century are Phonak, the manufacturers of the Audeo. Whilst boasting cutting-edge amplification technology, the device is smaller than a guitar pick and fits snugly behind the ear. It also comes in a range of designs and colours, but it doesn’t come cheap: expect an Audeo to set you back $3,000 to $4,000 per ear. Perhaps a bit much for a hearing aid; but probably just about right for a customised personal communication assistant.

Seattle Pi has an article about how the boomer generation are taking advantage of such technologies to help them compensate for damage sustained from Remarkably Loud Concerts…you can read it here.

Music Technology Glossary Update

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Having been away in Finland for the past week or so, I haven’t had the opportunity to post my usual music technology news updates. However, I have been working on a new music theory section for the Podcomplex DAW Guide, as well as an introduction to the physics of sound – both of which will appear on site shortly.

Liddell Takes It To The Max

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

If you are a DIY type of electronic musician, you might feel that many software applications can’t quite do everything you want them to; or perhaps they do so much that the functions you want are obscured by those you don’t.

Searching For Synthetic Synths?

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

If so, look no further than Music Thing. Here you will find links to all manner of bizarre musical hardware oddities, such as a Nord modular synthesiser made from Lego.

If that isn’t quite enough to satisfy all you facsimile fetishists out there, then perhaps you might want to purchase a cardboard cut-out 1:10 scale model of Robert Schroeder’s studio. This remarkable replica features Schroeder himself in a comfortable strumming position, and his studio includes a Roland XP-60 workstation and an Atari ST – all for a bargain price of €281.50.

If your budget is a bit more modest, why not try the elegant model synths of Dan McPharlin. Just the thing for adding a bit of extra decoration and vintage “authenticity” to a sparsely populated home recording studio.

Synth Cutouts

Setting The Tone For Mobile Music

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

As many of us are painfully aware, ringtones are phenomenally popular with teenagers, and this demographic is infested with mobile phones. Given the mp3 functionality of modern phones, it is hardly surprising that more and more artists are seizing the marketing opportunites that this new platform presents.

Performer Magazine features an article which covers several angles of mobile music distribution, including ringtones. These can now be created and distributed in a matter of minutes via a selection of online services. I have already remarked upon the suitability of independent music for such mainstream channels – no matter how much promotion or savvy marketing is behind it, some bands are just so ‘alternative’ that they will never achieve mass appeal. This is precisely why they are called ‘alternative’ in the first place…(and here we return to the argument of quality).

CD Baby have secured a deal with Veoveo, which will immediately make worldwide mobile distribution available to thousands of independent artists. Other similar services include Phone Sherpa, Broadtexter, Myxertones and Groupietunes.

77 Million Ways To Make Music

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings project recently finished a three-night run at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. The show involved music and visuals which were generative in nature; that is, rather than being pre-recorded and predetermined, they are instead enacted according to certain parameters defined by the artist, but produce sound-and-visionscapes that are unique and constantly evolving.

Eno is credited with inventing ambient music, and has been working with the concept of generative soundscapes since the 1970s. He describes his albums Discreet Music and Music for Airports as being like snapshots from longer generative works – a kind of eternal music, evolving and self-sustaining, but without being eternally repetitive. Such evolutionary techniques open multimedia onto an infinite canvas, where a performance can (practically) continue forever without any formal repetition. Thus, the listener/observer is brought on a voyage of discovery with the performance, where even the creator of the piece will be experiencing it for the first time.

Eno is currently working on the soundtrack for Spore, the new computer game from Sims creator Will Wright. True to Eno’s generative ethos, the soundtrack will evolve and respond to the player’s interaction with the environment, developing alongside the gameplay itself.

Wired have an interview with Eno here.