Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Virtual Concert

On September 14th the Liverpool Philharmonic will present a concert in Second Life. Reports of this event focus on the novelty of it, and I'll admit that a full symphony concert is a probably a first for SL.

How does a symphony put on a concert in a virtual world like SL? It's actually quite simple. Like most live SL musical events, the audio is simply streamed in (like an internet radio station) and in this case, live video will be streamed as well. In a sense it's like watching TV on your computer.

In SL it's very difficult (due to syncing issues) to coordinate music in-world. Usually it consists of a short audio clip that's paired with a "pose ball" (which is a device that animates your character). A few instrument makers have built solo instruments with simple interfaces that allow one to enter in melodies (like using a MIDI keyboard). Until the technology develops it is unlikely that we will hear an av *create* music live in SL in the traditional sense. Luckily these issues matter less for more avant-garde sound situations.

Maybe I'll arrange a scratch orchestra performance someday soon....

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Let Them Sing It For You

Let Them Sing It For You is a website that takes whatever text you input and then "sings" it by taking words (or bits of words) from popular music. I found myself spending hours inputting all sorts of inane banter, even writing many blues stanzas and plugging it in. It's great fun to hear the results and you can even attempt to name the source of the original (I think that "love" comes from Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love").

Check it out!

New Courses!

On the St. Cloud State University homepage a story is currently posted about some new courses that I'll be teaching in the Fall. This is part of the rollout of a new major called Music and New Media that some of us have been working on introducing for the last few years.

My basic conception of the program is that it addresses a fundamental aspect of composition - that is, collaboration. The first work I composed outside of private lessons was for a dancer. The second was for the theatre. Since then, I've had many more requests for multi-disciplinary collaborations. I hoped to create a program that introduced students to creative uses of music and technology, gave them a solid musical background, and also provided them the opportunity to learn a bit about other disciplines. We've built in about a dozen open credits that are intended to be used to develop skills in a non-musical field, such as Visual Art, English, Mass Communications, Computer Science, etc. Our hope is not to create a student that can do everything, but rather one that is comfortable with the working methods and language of collaboration. These students will be well suited for working in multimedia, web design, video games, etc, providing sound design.

This Fall I'm teaching a course called DIY Audio, in which students will rip apart cheap electronics and then put them back together in interesting and chaotic ways. Get out your soldering irons, this class ought to be a lot of fun!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Another example of sound effects in video

I came across this video today. At first glance it is a cute video that a Dad shot with his two ninja kids. Very cute! But I found myself cringing every time the dad beat up on the kids. Why is that? Simply - the synchronous sounds. They are clearly edited in later, but this is exactly what they do in cinema to make a punch sound more "real." That's right - as I mentioned in a post about the Transformers - the simultaneous impact of the visual and aural results in a perception that the Dad lands a devastating blow on his kids. It's almost hard to watch (but not to worry - the kids win!)

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