Category Archives: Music

Electronic Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

They Might Be Giants isn’t a group I follow or listen to although I know they’re quite popular. Somehow I love the names “Istanbul” and “Constantinople.” Don’t know why but I’ve head them rattling around in my head since I was a kid; my father’s mother came through Constantinople on her way to the US so I first heard the name as a kid no doubt. This is great stuff, love all of their gizmos and fun.

[via Coudal Partners]

Glenn Gould plays Bach

Glen Gould was a musical genius, no doubt about it. Many thought and think he was mildly autistic but whether he was or wasn’t he had odd quirks which made and in retrospect make him a fascinating character.

Gould was known for his vivid musical imagination, and listeners regarded his interpretations as ranging from brilliantly creative to, on occasion, outright eccentric. His piano playing had great clarity, particularly in contrapuntal passages, and extraordinary control. He was considered a child prodigy, and in adulthood was also described as a musical phenomenon. As he played, he often swayed his torso in a clockwise motion.

[via The Kid Should See This]

Why audio CDs hold 75 minutes worth of music

Sony’s Norio Ohga, the ‘Father of the CD,’ Dies at 81

Ohga’s connection to music affected the specifications of what became the compact disc. Ohga insisted that the CD be designed to be 12 centimeters (4.8 inches) in diameter so that it could hold 75 minutes worth of music. It was necessary for the CD to support 75 minutes of playback in order for it to be able to hold the entirety of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Sony sold its first CD in 1982. Ohga insisted CDs would eventually replace record albums, and although many scoffed at the notion, a mere five years later CD sales overtook LP record sales in Japan.

Great anecdote. Too bad Sony didn’t understand what Nicholas Negroponte was talking about in the early ’90s: “Move bits, not atoms.” Audio CDs are in fact digital (as opposed to analog LPs), but the CDs themselves are objects (atoms) and Negroponte was pushing downloading and steaming before the iPod (and Rio).

[via Malia Vatikiotis-Bateson]

Jerry Leiber, Prolific Writer of 1950s Hits, Dies at 78

Jerry Leiber, Prolific Writer of 1950s Hits, Dies at 78

Jerry Leiber, the lyricist who, with his partner, Mike Stoller, wrote some of the most enduring classics in the history of rock ’n’ roll, including “Hound Dog,” “Yakety Yak,” “Stand By Me” and “On Broadway,” died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 78.

More on Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

More on Leiber and Stoller at Atlantic Records.

Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built (DVD) with short interviews with Leiber and Stoller.

Tom Dowd & the Language of Music DVD with possible mentioned of Leiber and Stollar (Dowd was Atlantic’s genius sound engineer).

What makes the Stradivarius violin so special?

What makes the Stradivarius violin so special?

Ms Todes agrees that Stradivari’s instruments were “exquisitely crafted, the pinnacle of sound engineering”.

She says the quality of a Stradivarius is “down to someone who was always trying to do better, he was always getting feedback from players, there was constant self-criticism”.

However, Dr Whiteley points out that the shape of the soundbox is not as important as the talent of the violinist.

“A great violinist like Yehudi Menuhin could make a great sound from an old box and a piece of wire.”

Real audiophiles don’t multitask while listening to music

Whatever Happened To The Audiophile

I have a dedicated two-channel listening room. My passion is for vacuum tubes and this set up consists of a KT88 based tube amp, tube preamp, tubed CD player, tubed digital-to-analog converter that is partnered with an iMac for digital files and wonderful pair of very efficient speakers. Power to the room is on dedicated lines.

Listening to music used to be a plop-down, stay-still event. Now it’s something people do while doing something else, like eating while driving or chatting on a phone while walking. The experience of listening to music these days, says Timothy Doyle of the Consumer Electronics Association, is “not unlike personal computing: It’s a 24/7 multilocation proposition; people are taking their music with them, and as a whole, the world has changed so that there are simply fewer and fewer ‘old school’ proponents of sitting down and listening to music.”

When sound equipment moved from tubes and records to iPods and mp3/AAC we not only lost fidelity, we lost the need to single task listening to music. Portability led to using music as background noise rather than foreground signal.

To this day I cannot hold a serious conversation over music, even in the lo-fi car. I have ADD but I think there’s something else going on here: I listen to music actively and when I’m listening I’m listening, not talking. I would never consider myself an audiophile but I am a single tasker in many domains.