Michael Connor writes:
seemingly impossible music can be found today in a group of musicians who use MIDI files (which store musical notes and timings, not unlike player piano rolls) to create compositions that feature staggering numbers of notes. They’re calling this kind of music “black MIDI,” which basically means that when you look at the music in the form of standard notation, it looks like almost solid black:
Blackers take these MIDI files and run them through software such as Synesthesia, which is kind of an educational version of Guitar Hero for the piano, and bills itself as “piano for everyone.” It’s kind of brilliant to imagine a novice piano player looking for some online tutorials and stumbling across, say, this video of the song Bad Apple, which reportedly includes 8.49 million separate notes.
Full Story: Rhizome: The Impossible Music of Black MIDI
More info: Impossible Music: Blacked musical notation
This reminds me, for some reason, of the old Amiga demo scene.
From the blog’s description:
The objective of this blog its to post music related with Ritual music, in traditional ethnic way or on Modern side, Ambient, Tribal, Drone, Field Recordings, Dungeon Synth etc. with a strong inspier in NATURE and is cycles.
There will be a predominance of Ritual Ambient music, a sub-genre of dark ambient.
Not safe for work.
Back in the 60s, before synthesizers were commercially available, the BBC Radiophonic workshop was creating electronic music and sound effects for shows like Doctor Who. The BBC has now published a set of web-based simulations of some of this equipment, using just the Web Audio API of HTML5. The code and explanations are included.
Previously: Video: Radiophonic Style Electronic Music Improv
I have a guest post up today at Boing Boing on a subject I think will interest Technoccult readers:
You don’t play the ANS synthesizer with a keyboard. Instead you etch images onto glass sheets covered in black putty and feed them into a machine that shines light through the etchings, trigging a wide range of tones. Etchings made low on the sheets make low tones. High etchings make high tones. The sound is generated in real-time and the tempo depends on how fast you insert the sheets.
This isn’t a new Dorkbot or Maker Faire oddity. It’s a nearly forgotten Russian synthesizer designed by Evgeny Murzin in 1938. The synth was named after and dedicated to the Russian experimental composer and occultist Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (1872–1915). The name might not mean much to you, but it illuminates a long running connection between electronic music and the occult.
You can find traces of the occult throughout the history of electronic music. The occult obsessed Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo built his own mechanical instruments around 1917. The famous Moog synthesizer made an early appearance in Mick Jagger’s soundtrack to Kenneth Anger’s occult film Invocation of My Demon Brother in 1969. And in the late 1970s Throbbing Gristle built their own electronic instruments for their occult sound experiments, setting the stage for many of the occult themed industrial bands who followed. The witch house genre keeps this tradition alive today.
It’s little the surprise otherworldly sounds and limitless possibilities of synthesizers and samplers would evoke the luminous. But there’s more to the connection. The aim of the alchemist is not just the literal synthesis of chemicals, but also synthesis in the Hegelian sense: the combination of ideas. Solve et Coagula. From the Hermetic magi of antiquity, to Aleister Crowley’s OTO to modern chaos magicians, western occultists have sought to combine traditions and customs into a single universal system of thought and practice.
Electronic music grew from similar intellectual ground, and it all started with Scriabin.
A series of informative posters detailing how some of the most notable drum sequences were programmed using the Roland TR-808 Drum Machine. Each sequence has been analyzed and represented as to allow users to re-programme each sequence, key for key.
If you would like an A3 print please send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email you as soon as some become available.
Theremin saw little of the $100,000 he was paid, Glinsky says, which most likely went straight into Soviet coffers. But he stayed in the US for a while working on other projects, and engaging in industrial espionage.
"His very reason for being sent over was his espionage mission," says Glinsky. Demonstrating the theremin instrument was just a distraction, a Trojan Horse, as it were.
"He had special access to firms like RCA, GE, Westinghouse, aviation companies and so on, and shared his latest technical know how with representatives from these companies to get them to open up to him about their latest discoveries. […]
Later that year he returned suddenly to the Soviet Union, leaving his wife behind. Some people suggested he’d been kidnapped by Soviet officials, but Glinsky says a combination of debt and homesickness led to Theremin returning voluntarily.
He returned to a Soviet Union in the grip of Stalin’s purges. He was arrested and falsely accused of being a counter-revolutionary, for which he received an eight year sentence in 1939.
One of my favorite spots in Seattle - Polygraphic, the experimental electronic night at Thee Aurafice Coffee Bar - has a write-up in the Seattle Times.
I shouldn’t be telling you about Polygraphic. Honestly. You see, to publicize this splendid weekly happening also violates one of those unspoken rules among ink-stained newspaper curmudgeons: Write about things we would be irresponsible to ignore, but keep the really great gems to yourself. I probably shouldn’t have revealed that either.
Will this ruin the scene? I doubt it, though it’s crowded already. Oh well, I rarely go anyway, it’s quite a commute to make on a Tuesday night.
See also: The Electronic Beat: Polygraphic
Update: Thee Aurafice shut down, and Polygraphic is no more. Read the posthumous reviews on Yelp.