Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's Christmas Time in the City....

December is a time for tradition - and don't we know that most of them are terrible! From fruit cake to sickly sweet cookies, we all have war stories to tell about the holidays.

For me, one of the truely terrible traditions of the season are the painful tunes that we are blasted with day and night. You may remember Burl Ives and Dean Martin fondly, but are these guys going to perform at the Met? Not likely!

For your holiday pleasure, here are but a few examples of truely terrible holiday music that can be found for free online, in no particular order. God help us, every one.

1: Our first example comes way of Wisconsin (the land of cheese, not a coincidence!). Elmer van Lannen is an elderly organist who's been at for decades. Some of his fans at the Asp-Inn in Lena convinced him that he ought to record some music before he passed on, so he rented a studio and has now shared his gift with us! Gee thanks, Elmer!

Best Example: "Deck These Halls". (h/t Neatorama, of course)

2: Next up, MIDI Christmas songs from a site called Christmas Gifts. My god, Magnum, just because MIDI offers 40 voices doesn't mean that you need use them all. But the cheesey stylistic changes to go with each voice is almost too much for anyone to handle! Is that a shout out to Kraftwerk in the middle? No - that's just the sound of my brain exploding.

Best Example: Jingle Bell Mix

3: What happens when you cross the previous examples with one of the most successful pop artists of all time? If this example isn't it, then I don't know what is. The same man who brought us "Yesterday" bring us "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas" - although my understanding is that Sir Paul's first version of "Yesterday" began "Scrambled eggs, baby I love your legs."

Example: Paul McCartney's Christmas Disaster (h/t The Phat Phree)

4: Nothing says "Holiday" like a club song about Scrooge! Replete with joyous lyrics like:
How about a present for you,
Hmmm... a Hindenburg,
Would that do?
Or, maybe a Titanic,
That comes complete with iceberg?
Hey, if by now ya didn't drown,
What about an "all expense paid" vacation,
To Jonestown.

...this example, performed by King Arthur should be on everyone's Christmas playlist! And yes, I get the joke. That doesn't mean I like it.

Example: Bah Humbug

5: Ah, nostalgia for the past...we're all guilty of that sense of wonder at seeing TV dinners, dancing the jitterbug, listening to know, getting that "retro" feeling. Some great pop music has that feel - like the B-52's. But not this example, found at Songs of Praise. This page has the added benefit of an auto-playing MIDI version of this terrible Christmas song to welcome you. Click at your own risk.

Best Example: An .mp3 version of Retro Christmas

Well, kids, that's all for now. If you like these, I'll post more (after time to recover from losing your lunch). If you have any suggestions, post 'em in the comments.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Interactive Websites = Faulty Memory?

Via Collision Detection, a summary of a paper regarding marketing and interactivity. The study used two versions of sample websites marketing the same digital camera. The researchers introduced false information in both and the group that used the interactive site tended to be influenced by the false information.

The implication for marketing is that they might need to start testing for both positive and negative when doing market research. But for other fields, like interactive art, this study could yield interesting work. Viewing/listening/experiencing any work of art is already a test of memory, either in developing greater understanding of the significance of the work or in your later perception of the work. Music is especially sensitive to this, and some psychoacousticians have even suggested that human's musical memory is somewhere between 2-3 seconds.

Pulitzer winner Roger Reynolds has done some work tagentally related, as has Leigh Landy and his colleagues. While I'm not really interested in studies on audience perception, I am interested in creating experiences that may result in a variety of experiences for the audience members.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Rebekah and Mimi on the Radio

Rebekah Moore and Mimi Vidaver recently curated an exhibition at the Mathers Museum in Bloomington Indiana titled "Lost and Found: Art Through Recycled Objects." Local radio station WIUX interviewed the two of them, and I've placed the interview below.

The exhibit includes a wide variety of items, from sacred American Indian rattles made from turtles to hand made sock puppets. There are many musical instruments and Rebekah and Mimi even facilitated a work station in which kids of any age can make their own recycled art.

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Download an mp3 version

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Gamelan Mitra Kusuma

I occasionally perform with a Balinese-style Gamelan Gong Kebyar from Washington DC - Gamelan Mitra Kusuma, which loosely translates to the Flowering Friendship Orchestra. I've uploaded a short clip from a recent performance in Chicago of the song Kebyar Terompong, with feature dancer and musician Pak Ngurah Kertayuda. It was a great concert and I hope to get a grant to study Gamelan in Bali this summer!

Terompong is the name of the instrument that you see in front of the group. It is constructed of horizontally mounted gongs and is usually played by one musician, and tends to play the melody. A similar instrument, the Reyong, is played by four musicians and elaborates the melody with an interlocking pattern.

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