Tuesday in Santa Fe

Imogen Heap says touring’s too pricey as record industry sales slump – guardian.co.uk
You remember how people have been telling us that musicians shouldn’t worry about their songs being spread all over file-sharing networks because the real money is to be made in touring? Especially, if memory serves, people who like getting music for free off file-sharing networks?

Turns out the real money isn’t necessarily in touring.

Well, I suppose one could say there simply is no real money in music anymore. But, one has to make touring work, or, I suppose, start auditioning for reality TV.

We are lucky in that we never trusted the old music biz saying that concerts are simply advertising for CD sales and that one shold not worry about losing money on touring. We insisted on, at least, breaking even.

When the new century killed CD sales, we started cutting back, pruning everything that wasn’t essential. Every year the tree looked more like a bonsai… Touring with a killer sound system – cut. Touring with a bunch of roadies – cut. Touring with lights to replace or augment the local lighting rig – cut. Touring with a lighting designer – cut. We are now a lean, mean, no fat, music machine. The emphasis is on the performers and the music. We bring a mixing engineer and carry a digital mixing console, which we rent, and use the sound system of the venue. We use whatever lights are available and ask the promoter to provide a local lighting designer for the night. Sometimes the lighting is very cool and sometimes it is not at all groovy, but hopefully the musical performances shine bright enough that bad lights don’t cast a shadow.

I am pleased that some of the media seems to begin to get it, that the there is no easy fix for the music business. Giving away music for free – the favorite solution of Wired Magazine, ca. 2003 – and making money touring isn’t an option for every performer. And the digital income is so rediculously small that it’s funny – a while ago I posted about Lady Gaga receiving under $170 for several million plays of a song.

I don’t have a solution. The solution has to be arrived at by our culture, and it will, in time. It’s interesting to see the shifts that happened in the last decade regarding free music, pirating, file-sharing and so on. We will continue to tour, and frankly, I enjoy touring with six great people (((seven, with the bus driver))) more, than touring with two busses (((one for the roadies and one for the musicians – like oil and vinegar they don’t always mix well))), an eighteen wheeler full of gear, and more than a dozen people.

We’ll just have to play better, to erase any bad lighting cues with musical brilliance. :-)

David Byrne sues Florida governor over Talking Heads song | Music | guardian.co.uk
David Byrne is suing the governor of Florida, accusing the state leader of using a Talking Heads song without permission. The 1985 single Road to Nowhere was allegedly part of Charlie Crist’s senatorial campaign, used on a website and in YouTube ads. Byrne is seeking $1m (£700,000) in damages.

I am glad David Byrne is doing this. If politicians can’t adhere to copyright laws, how can one expect a twenty-year-old to.

Unluckily for Crist, Byrne’s lawyer is Lawrence Iser, who successfully sued John McCain for improper use of a song by Jackson Browne. “I was fairly astonished that this soon after the settlement of Browne v McCain, yet another politician with national aspirations is doing this again,” Iser said.

As if we needed more evidence that politicians are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. Most of them are a sandwich short of a picnic (((do you know more of these great American sayings? please leave them in the comments)))

Shaky Rule in Madagascar Threatens Trees – NYTimes.com
Exploiting a political crisis, Malagasy timber barons are robbing this island nation of its sylvan heritage, illegally cutting down scarce species of rosewood trees in poorly protected national parks and exporting most of the valuable logs to China.

The sides and back of my 2002 DeVoe Negra were made from Madagascan rosewood. I had heard that rosewood is becoming scarce in that country, but didn’t know how dire the situation is. Humans are so short-sighted.

HDTV Keeps Viewers Watching Longer – NYTimes.com
HD lures viewers to TV for longer periods of time. According to The Nielsen Company, high-definition households watch about 3 percent more prime-time programming than their standard-definition counterparts.

That’s just what we need, people watching more TV.
A control surface for Digital Audio Workstations for $509 (iPad = 499 + AC-7 Pro app = 9.99):

Saitara Software AC-7 Pro
(Via the music of sound)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
This sounds interesting – Stephenson is one of my favorite writers.

Neal Stephenson to launch interactive novel for the iPad | Geek Gestalt – CNET News
“The Mongoliad” was publicly unveiled for the first time Tuesday evening at the SFAppShow, a monthly application showcase put on here by the SFAppStudio, a firm specializing in developing and marketing iPhone, iPad, and Android apps.

According to Jeremy Bornstein, the CEO of Subutai, Stephenson came up with the idea for what became “The Mongoliad” after writing some sword fighting scenes in the novels that made up his so-called “Baroque Cycle.” The problem, Bornstein said, was that Stephenson worried that the way he’d written the scenes wasn’t true to how medieval sword fights in Europe actually looked and felt.

From that humble beginning, the project grew into a collaboration between Stephenson, Bear, and a group of people with experience in martial arts. They wanted to re-enact the sword fights and build a new novel around them. But why limit the story to book form, the idea seems to have been. Instead, why not produce the project on the iPad–as well as the iPhone and Amazon’s Kindle–and craft a story around the fears overcoming Europe in the year 1241 that the Mongols were going to overrun Western Europe.

Monday in Santa Fe

A few weeks ago, or maybe in April, I saw a huge tumbleweed tumbling on the side of the road one morning. I drove across the intersection, turned around and drove back to the tumbleweed, which had come to a rest in the gutter. I opened the hatch of my car, folded the rear seats out of the way and loaded up the weed, not without getting stung a few times. I thought that the tumbleweed looked a bit like a chandelier. This weekend we bought silver spraypaint (((my son’s choice, I would have picked white))) and painted the weed. Monday evening I mounted the silver tumbleweed and here are the first pics. I think silver was a great choice… looks as if the weed had been dunked into a chrome bath.

I am hoping that the silver paint will ensure that none of the tumbeweed’s stickers fall into a guest’s soup…

The Swinger « Music Machinery
The Swinger is a bit of python code that takes any song and makes it swing. It does this be taking each beat and time-stretching the first half of each beat while time-shrinking the second half. It has quite a magical effect.

I don’t know about magical. How about mildly interesting? Nothing swings like real musicians. Only a code-jockey would think that those samples swing.

Saturday in Santa Fe


Dezeen » Blog Archive » Applied Physics by Acquacalda
Italian design collective Acquacalda have applied the principles of physics to kitchen objects, including this device for pouring exactly equal amounts of wine into four glasses.

This looks like a great teaching tool!

Braun Lectron System
Dieter Rams and Jurgen Greubel designed the Braun Lectron System (1967- 69) as a teaching tool for use in schools and universities. It is made up of a large range of little bricks, like dominoes, that magnetically connect to one another. Once the blocks are organized on a conductive plate, they can form a variety of functional circuits. See this great article on it from a 1967 issue of Electronics Illustrated, where they discuss “what a drag” it is to make your own circuits, but “now it can be as much fun to put electronic circuits together and to learn fundamentals as it is to put words together when you play Scrabble.”
(Via Beyond the Beyond)


Slashdot Science Story | Copernicus Reburied As Hero
Mikolaj Kopernik, AKA Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th-century astronomer whose findings were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church as heretical, was reburied by Polish priests as a hero on Saturday, nearly 500 years after he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave. On Saturday, his remains were blessed with holy water by some of Poland’s highest-ranking clerics before an honor guard ceremoniously carried his coffin through the imposing red brick cathedral and lowered it back into the same spot where part of his skull and other bones were found in 2005.


B&W MM-1 PC Speaker reviews – CNET Reviews
The bad: sound is so detailed it makes MP3s and streaming audio of already iffy quality sound worse.

Oh, that means exactly what? These speakers show mp3 flaws, therefore one should use different speakers? Internet journalism, always sharp and informative…
Speaking of sound…

Decibel (Loudness) Comparison Chart
* One-third of the total power of a 75-piece orchestra comes from the bass drum.
* High frequency sounds of 2-4,000 Hz are the most damaging. The uppermost octave of the piccolo is 2,048-4,096 Hz. (((piccolo players are notoriously deaf)))
* Aging causes gradual hearing loss, mostly in the high frequencies.
* Speech reception is not seriously impaired until there is about 30 dB loss; by that time severe damage may have occurred.
* Hypertension and various psychological difficulties can be related to noise exposure.
* The incidence of hearing loss in classical musicians has been estimated at 4-43%, in rock musicians 13-30%. (((I wonder whether that is still true, as it seems that rock and pop concerts keep getting louder)))

Assorted Links:
Planetize the Movement
Dementia Caregivers More Likely to Also Get the Disease (Wired News)
Damian Aspinall’s Extraordinary Gorilla Encounter (YouTube Video)
Scientist inspired by Dalai Lama studies happiness

BP 4Q and full-year 2009 results | press | bp.com

Over 16 billion in profits in 2009 and more than 20 billion in 2008. I think they CAN afford to pay for the entire cost of the clean-up, especially considering that before the spill, the company spent so much time and money pushing back against government regulation and safety measures. And consider that an acoustic valve designed as a final failsafe to prevent oil spills costs only $500,000; the Wall Street Journal writes that the valve, while not proven effective, is required on oil rigs in Norway and Brazil, but not in the U.S.

John Mayer makes a good point.
Here is a video about the BP disaster. Strong language. You are warned. But you know what, it’s just strong language, and not oil that clings to our skin and feathers. I think it’s really important that this never happens again, that government regulation and oversight is improved and that BP is forced to completely clean up their mess. This disaster makes me incredibly angry and sad. The three poisons in Buddhism are: Greed, Anger and Ignorance… Got all the elements here: BP’s greed, the media’s apparent ignorance and my anger.

(Via TreeHugger)

Friday in Santa Fe

Friday evening I watched Tokyo Sonata, a Japanese film from 2008. It deservedly won the award for Best Film at the 3rd Asian Film Awards, received 2008 Asia Pacific Screen Awards nominations for Achievement in Directing and Best Screenplay, and at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival it won the Jury Prize—Un Certain Regard. And I am back on Netflix, after our local video shop shuttered its doors a few months ago…
What should liner notes look like in 2010? LPs (((you remember those, not you?))), or even better, the fold-open double LP sleeves, were excellent for liner notes. CD packages were always a little too small, as the booklets are tiny. Well, here is a preview of my liner notes for Petals On the Path: http://ottmarliebert.com/pop

The URL is printed on the inside of the CD covers.
I uploaded the April slideshow.
Check out this photo. Like a children’s story: and the evil logging company was so gready that they loaded more and more hardwood onto their trucks until one day…

Tryrant Clock – Popwuping
Taipei based designer Alice Wang’s Tyrant Clock concept. The Tyrant Clock hijacks your mobile phone and starts randomly shuffling through your contact list, calling someone every three minutes as a means to ensure you wake at the desired time. You have no choice but to get of bed or risk facing the wrath of your rapidly diminishing social circle. Clever and fun.

I don’t know, sounds horrifying to me.
This post is regards the debate about Apple’s “closed” approach versus Google supposedly “open” Android OS and store.

On ‘Curated’ Computing

Our museums are not football-field sized warehouses where art objects are indiscriminately dumped and our magazines and blogs are not amorphous containers of randomly selected articles. Our classrooms, restaurants, hospitals and indeed all our civilized institutions are firmly reliant on curation of one kind or another. The goal should be for curators to compete, not for curation to be declared illegal and unholy by the “open” zealots.

(Via Daring Fireball)

I have mentioned many times before that curators (((or curating software or filters))) are the next big thing. Too much information comes down the pike, too many albums of music are released every day (((not even money stands in the way of a person wanting to make a recording these days… don’t laugh, money used to be a considerable deterrent: no money, no studio time… and only the ones who saved up/hustled/took loans were able to record their music!)))… there is too much of everything.

You don’t make a fire by spreading light, you create the flame by focussing the light with help of a magnifying glass. Information used to be a few pages of a local newspaper, now it’s an overwhelming mountain of data. The question we each have to answer for ourselves is this: how much data do we need to make the decisions that steer our lives and how much is too much, is simply clogging our information arteries and taking up room that would be better served by experiencing the late afternoon sunshine, inhaling the scent of apple blossoms (((I missed my cherry tree’s blossoms, but returned in time to smell the lovely scent of the three crab-apple trees in my yard!))) or playing a musical instrument.

What one person calls “closed” another might consider “curated”. What one person calls “open”, one could also consider dangerous (((does this app play nice with that app, is a piece of malicious code hidden in that app and so on))) or too time-consuming.

I have lots of different software from many different vendors on my laptop and studio computer. In some cases it took a while to configure it to work properly. That’s fine as most of the applications are tools of my trade and I don’t mind spending time to figure out a work-flow. (((the recording engineer Gary Lyons, who I worked with from 1995 through 2002 always built his own computers from parts… now that’s a serious commitment of time!))) I don’t want to go through that process with a phone or tablet. I am fine with a curator selecting and testing software for them. If I no longer like a particular curator’s selection, I will switch curators.
Isn’t this wonderful?

About this Journal

This journal is a scroll, with the earliest entry at the top and the newest entry at the very bottom. It documents the process of creating our new record, Petals On the Path, from the first idea to the release of the finished album. The journal includes rehearsal recordings and photographs in addition to the writing. Nearly all of the entries first appeared in the Ottmar-Friends Backstage Journal.