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How the Millennium Falcon Got Its Hyperdrive Malfunction Sound

Old pipes? A vintage airplane? Mechanical equipment? Ben Burtt, Hollywood’s master sound designer, is remarkable for his economy and resourcefulness. That’s evident in this charming video in which he demonstrates how he evoked breaking machinery to realize the sound of the Millenium Falcon… not going into hyperdrive. The cinematic challenge is significant. It’s a bit joke, a running gag, but it has to simultaneously build tension in the film. And like the rest of Star Wars, the future is evoked by the past. (It is, after all, a galaxy long ago – and to impact audiences, couldn’t in fact be …

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The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Google Music Contract?

Google isn’t just being a little bad in their contract negotiations with indie labels. In a leak to Digital Music News, it proves to be the worst contract I or anyone I’ve talked to has ever seen, for anything music-related. It puts the “boiler” in boilerplate. F*&K It: Here’s the Entire YouTube Contract for Indies… If this leaked contract is what Google still stands by, and current analysis in the music press is correct, the deal is deeply unsettling. It blurs the lines between free and premium services by placing them all under a single contract. YouTube and its Spotify …

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Google Now On The Record With Anti-Indie Negotiating Tactics

As Beats, Spotify, and others earn praise from indies, Google is looking like music’s biggest new villain. According to independent labels, Google is ignoring their collective negotiating groups, offering poor terms in comparison to what they offer majors, and then threatening to block artists and labels from YouTube if they don’t accept those disadvantaged license deals on the company’s new service. And a Google executive today all but publicly confirmed the threats to the press. You might expect that Google would want to burnish its image in light of an upcoming paid streaming service (think Google clone of Spotify, possibly), …

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Through a Musician’s Eyes: Google Glass as Musical Teaching Tool

Google Glass meets … French Horn? Wearable camera technology could offer a new window into centuries of Classical Music tradition. That could happen not only via Google Glass but other online and camera tech, too. Sarah Willis, French Horn player, is using Glass as a way to bring young people closer to the Classical experience. And Willis is allowing people to see the point of view of an experienced artist in a symphony, watching conductors, and (depending on instruments and playing technique) the instrument itself. Sarah spoke to Berlin’s NEXT Conference yesterday, a tech conference. I spoke there, as well, …

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Dance, Mapping, Face-Stimulation, and Other Wonders: Daito Manabe’s Greatest Hits

Apply this stimulation directly to your retinas. Our friends at YouTube “curator” Network Awesome have assembled some of the best work of Daito Manabe, the Japanese visual and physical computing genius who consistently finds delightful new expressive uses for technology. And by assembling some stunning documentation, they’ve produced a playlist of excellence that can guide you through works – revisiting the best you’ve seen, finding new ones. Or as they put it: JAPANESE MEDIA-ARTIST WORKS WITH OTHERS TO CREATE GREAT COMBINATIONS OF DANCE & VIDEOART PLUS OTHER FUNKY STUFF (E.G. THAT ELECTRIC STIMULUS TO FACE THING) Markus Fiedler of Berlin …

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Dance, Mapping, Face-Stimulation, and Other Wonders: Daito Manabe's Greatest Hits

Apply this stimulation directly to your retinas. Our friends at YouTube “curator” Network Awesome have assembled some of the best work of Daito Manabe, the Japanese visual and physical computing genius who consistently finds delightful new expressive uses for technology. And by assembling some stunning documentation, they’ve produced a playlist of excellence that can guide you through works – revisiting the best you’ve seen, finding new ones. Or as they put it: JAPANESE MEDIA-ARTIST WORKS WITH OTHERS TO CREATE GREAT COMBINATIONS OF DANCE & VIDEOART PLUS OTHER FUNKY STUFF (E.G. THAT ELECTRIC STIMULUS TO FACE THING) Markus Fiedler of Berlin …

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Space Oddity, Made in Space, is Kind of Ridiculously Awesome

Canadian Col. Chris Hadfield, aboard the International Space Station, has done what you would probably want to do if aboard the high-flying orbital outpost: make a music video for David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” And he works “Soyuz” into the lyrics. (Thankfully, he refrains from making it “Colonel Chris.” The only complaint: a shame it can’t cut between the ISS and Mission Control.) Colonel Hadfield, if you can hear us and have a moment, we’d love to hear how you produced the recording. Not that zero-g means too much for sound production – though I imagine keeping the mic steady becomes …

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Google Glass Ensemble: Viola Composition Made in Glass Videos

Alexander Chen is turning into Google’s resident composer. In his latest experiment, he uses the controversial-but-buzzed-about Google Glass wearable tech as a video source for making music. Layering together a series of loops of his solo viola playing, he weaves a contemplative, modal composition. It’s a sort of overdubbed chamber ensemble in video. (The spare, parallel writing is to me reminiscent of a Copland string quartet.) There’s nothing here that couldn’t be done with a head-mounted camera, but perhaps that’s the lesson. In our camera sensor-filled lives, a big part of the design statement Glass makes is the vision of …

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Bartok, awesome, angular music, awesome, angular nose. Photo (CC-BY) cuttlefish.

Bartók String Quartet on Electric Guitar, Magic of Bluetooth iPad Page Turning

Here’s digital music of a different variety: the stunningly-modern music of Hungarian composer Bela Bartók, transcribed for four electric guitars. Where’s the computer? Glad you asked: think computer music software (Notion, which looks lovely here), and an iPad and Bluetooth page turner. There’s no way you’re playing this string quartet and turning pages, unless you have three hands. Guitarist Joe Gore – playing with guitarists Joe Gore, Joe Gore, and Joe Gore – tackles this epic score, and demonstrates just how great it sounds on electric guitar. It’s worth reading his whole story, which deservedly waxes poetic about the beauty …

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Music Made with Korg iPolysix – And Nothing Else: Live Demos to iPad Chip Music

Doing more with less, and embracing limitations: it’s oft-repeated advice in music making. Maybe it’s repeated so often that it ceases to mean anything; I can find no harm in making music using the massive possibilities of a packed studio of gear or the endless depth of a computer. So, instead, doing more with less can be something you do just because it’s liberating. It means you can make music on a budget. It means you can make music when you’re on a bus with nothing but a first-generation iPad and a copy of Polysix. It can mean, psychologically, that …

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