May 27, 2005

listening list

Luciano Berio - Sequenzas
Ornette Coleman - Beauty is a Rare Thing
System of a Down - SOAD
DJ Spooky - Optometry
Skin on Skin - The Mongo Santamaria Anthology

It was quite remarkable to listen to Berio's Sequenzas and Ornette Coleman's free jazz in quick succession. This is not the nice sensibly melodic music we are all comfortable with, but it is pretty amazing to listen to. Notes jumping around all over the place like Jackson Pollack.

Posted by halsey at 02:59 PM

May 26, 2005

military and maritime

I saw the Decemberists last night at Avalon and though I was encouraged to scream as if I was being eaten by a malevolent whale, I came away feeling much happier than that scenario would have left me.
I'm not going to say the these guys did anything overly ground-breaking (other than the whale, of course), but they put on a tight and entertaining show. Colin Meloy is a talented songwriter and despite ostensibly being from Portland, Oregon, has a bizarre Michael Stipe-ish singing 'accent' and opens his mouth wider than anyone I have ever seen. Sort of like the whale. Thankfully what comes out of that gaping hole is quite pleasant and clever at times.
I'm trying to extend the whale analogy even further past the over-use I have already put it through, but it would be mean to, say, compare the opening act, Rebecca Gates, to a whale. She was not, though during her set was when I felt most like I would prefer to be eaten alive. Yeah, it wasn't very good musically, and on top of that, it took me and my two concert-going compatriots a good ten minutes to firmly determine that she was, in fact, a she. So much for not being mean...
I am looking forward to hearing the Decemberists studio work as this show was well worth attending. Nothing wrong with a little sea-shanty rock to get you through a rainy rainy rain-ishly rainy week.

Posted by halsey at 01:41 PM | Comments (1)

May 25, 2005

sue all the children!!

This is hilarious, but I will warn you right now IT CONTAINS SOME STRONG LANGUAGE!! Actually, I take that back; it contains almost exclusively strong language. This is another way of saying that you should all check it out unless you are my parents, in which case you probably shouldn't...

Sue All the World!!

I recommend all the other 'Napster Bad' cartoons as well if you want a good laugh and a scary take on the reality of what is still happening in our world today.

Posted by halsey at 10:34 AM

May 24, 2005

the greater good

My sister is a scientist and a professor. She spends her time dreaming up new and exciting ways of furthering our understanding of the human brain. This is a vast simplification of her work, but for my purposes here, it is adequate.
Now, the only way she can tell if the research she is doing is actually advancing science is by having a clear and up to date understanding of all prior work that has been done by scientists around the globe in her area of research. This is an ever changing body of work, documented in numerous scientific journals. These journals are predicated upon the notion of full disclosure, which makes perfect sense because science is about discovering the 'truth' and one must strive to prove this elusive 'truth' by basing one's work on that which has come before it and that which has been widely accepted as correct.
So I am getting a bit long winded here. My point is that my sister and all academic researchers in every field base their research on the research of others. They build off of each other in a symbiotic way that is both incredibly efficient at uncovering the truth and also manages to reward the producers of significant advances despite the fact that they give their content to the community for free. OK, so now is it starting to make sense why I am babbling on and on about this?
Academic science flourishes because of the immediate, complete and free sharing of 'content'. Why can't our culture flourish in much the same way? Is it really all that different when a musician hears something that someone else has done and is impressed enough to reprocess the idea in his or her own way? A successful scientist does not get paid directly for having her articles published in prestigious journals. But she strives day and night to get published in those very journals because of the indirect compensation. First and foremost, recognition of colleagues plays a large role. The pride associated with having one's work influence a greater understanding as well as becoming a small link in a chain of discovery dating back hundreds of years and which will (hopefully) continue on for hundreds of years to come also must feel great. But these academics all seem to be able to pay their mortgages and support families and even occasionally go on vacations, right? How do they do it? They are paid by universities to research and teach. They are given grants. They are paid to give lectures. They write and publish books.
When my sister publishes a paper that furthers the ideas set forth by another scientist, she does not have to pay anyone for creating this 'derivative work' nor does she have to ask permission of the original creator nor must she hire a team of lawyers at great expense to clear the rights. All she has to do is cite the original author and focus on what makes her work new and therefore a worthy addition. Her peers decide this by publishing it or not. This is why scientific progress is so efficient.
Academia has created an environment in which its participants can give away the fruits of their labor for free and yet still sustain themselves personally and institutionally. Can such a system be created for artists in which we could paint paintings, write music, take photographs, make films etc etc and give them away for free and still be able to put food on the table and be fairly recognized for our creations/contributions? I've always thought that the real way musicians would make money in the future was not through the sale of cds (this would almost be a loss-leader of sorts) but through performing in the traditional sense as well as innovative other ways of entertaining.

I understand that there are fundamental differences between art and science, so my argument here (which really is much more of a brainstorm than anything coherent) does tend to break down in the details, but I still think it is interesting to think about. There are just as many 'greater good' benefits to a community of artistic creators as there are to a community of scientific creators, I would argue. I suppose the main difference is that on the whole, the financial potential for scientific creators is greater than that of artistic creators, and perhaps that's the very thing that will make these musings fall apart here at the very end.
I really don't know what is possible, but I do know that I am personally very invested in the future of culture and of the creative process, and I am fearful that the law is gumming up the wheels in well intentioned, but short-sighted and overaggressive ways. Ways that will ensure that a cultural environment like the one I describe above will have a very hard time coming into existence.
But I still say 'why not?'

These are just late night ramblings, and I apologize. Please poke holes. I am tired, but still find it interesting despite the expected gaps of knowledge, leaps of faith and inconsistencies.

Posted by halsey at 10:58 PM

May 23, 2005

betablog

This is going to make BYOV events even more fun.

BetaBrite

Ah, the fun that one can have with 560 multicolor LEDs. The possibilities are virtually endless as to what I can display on this thing. I have ideas for interactivity which could be very cool.

Posted by halsey at 05:59 PM

May 20, 2005

too bad I don't speak German

I did a phone interview for these guys this morning:

Experimental Radio - Bauhaus University

I preparation, I explored their website a bit and I encourage you to do so as well. It won't take long, but I found it interesting and exciting to have a program in a university devoted to experimental radio and "open source software and wireless culture". I'm not sure that this sort of endeavor would get funded in the US, but who knows. This article on "mini-FM" free radio in Japan was also very interesting:

Toward Polymorphous Radio

The spot on me is supposed to be broadcast on Monday the 23rd and you can stream from their site (though I've been having technical difficulty with that). If I find out the time, I'll pass that along, and either way, I should be able to post a recording of it eventually. Of course, it'll all be in German. Anyone want to translate for me?

Posted by halsey at 08:57 AM | Comments (3)

May 18, 2005

tempo

I have three parts to this song written, or at least three very basic ideas. they all feel right to me somehow; like they belong in this piece together. but the together thing is causing me problems. I have been trying all evening to figure out how to get these parts to play nicely with each other and I haven't yet figured it out. I think the problem is tempo. two of them are happy at 92bpm or so and the other settles right in at 80bpm, or maybe even slower. maybe this isn't a problem. maybe there's just a tempo shift. how bad would that be? probably not bad at all, but I have to figure out how it should happen. this is not a task for tonight. I am worn out sitting at the piano for an hour and my metronome is now annoying me.

good night.

Posted by halsey at 09:39 PM

May 17, 2005

goodbye

began a new song a few days ago. this one has been in my head for a while, but I haven't had time to work on it. the chorus has been fairly well formed - lyrics and melody - and I happened upon a great piano line that I had recorded with no particular use in mind a few months ago. now it has a use; it's perfect for this song, which I need to write while I am still employed as the topic is very much related to being employed and then not being employed. I don't want to lose the feeling that has led me to this decision. the song will be more real and immediate that way. the intentional transition and everything it takes to make this happen.

Speaking of employment, I was so frustrated today that I was speaking very sternly (and apparently with a voice that was raised enough for many of my co-workers to hear) to someone out at Headquarters who was annoying me. It seems that I laid down the law pretty effectively because when I got off, the rest of the office burst into a series of enthusiastic exclamations and appreciative claps(!) I don't think I'm the only one who is frustrated with the BIG YELLOW Predator Drone lurking over our shoulders. Ooops, did I say that? Oh yeah, who cares, I already quit!

Posted by halsey at 03:42 PM

global?

I just created this really cool world map to keep a running tally of the participation I have gotten in my filesharing song project. This is a global issue, and I really would like to demonstrate global support in this song through a wide geographic spread of contributing musicians. I hope that seeing this map and giving recognition to the participants will encourage more musicians to join us.
Plus, this map is really freaking cool how you can zoom in with amazing detail!

Check it out:

Filesharing Song Contributions

Posted by halsey at 07:57 AM

May 16, 2005

more video

I finally got around to playing more with Final Cut Express over the weekend and put this montage together from my stunning debut on FOX news a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I was only talked about (very briefly) and not talked to, but hey, I'll take whatever I can get and brag about it all.
The first ever aerial views of the Bring Your Own Voice booth are contained herein, which is pretty cool, and I had fun mixing my music in with the video.

BYOV on FOX Morning News

Posted by halsey at 11:54 AM

May 15, 2005

"I hope you enjoyed the show; even though I am old"

This is how Ben Folds ended his show at Avalon last night. He should have added "I hope you liked the show; even though I am a total dork". Yes, it turns out Ben is indeed an unabashed, old dork, but you gotta love him anyway for the way he plays the piano and the fun he has with his audience.
Ben played a number of songs from his new release, Songs for Silverman, as well as a slew of the old favorites we continue to love. The thing about Ben Folds is that he does only one thing but he does that thing very, very well. When I listened to Songs for Silverman for the first time, I felt like I had heard it before because it was classic Ben Folds percussive piano and lyric story-telling with a few signature harmonic shifts and catchy vocal melodies thrown in. He isn't breaking any new ground, but if you are already a fan, you won't be disappointed.
I had never seen him play live before, though I had heard live recordings. It turns out he is a very funny and engaging guy, in a - you guessed it - dorky way. Everything from loving the disco ball to improvising around a feedback issue (at 72KHz), to jumping up on top of his Baldwin baby grand (not an easy instrument to tour with) to conduct the audience through some ridiculous musical whims. I laughed a lot both with him and at him, and that felt good.
And speaking of laughing, I nearly fell down when the opening act, Corn Mo, launched into an admittedly 'totally retarded' sing-along-with-your-album death metal version of hava negila (which involved a MONSTER and a crap load of screaming). I don't think he was Jewish.

Mainly I liked the show because it made me feel like perhaps I am not too old or too much of a dork to ever be a rock star. What do you think?

Posted by halsey at 03:23 PM

May 14, 2005

rockin' in groton

Two evenings ago, I was the lucky participant in something that doesn't happen too often in lovely Groton, Massachusetts: people staying up after 9 PM. I can't say that the craziness extended much beyond an occasional whoop, enthusiastic clap alongs and a few momentary head- bops, but given the context, it was pretty impressive.

This was all in response to the inaugural concert in a series of folk performances presented by Wind Chime Productions held at the beautiful barn at the Gibbet Hill Grill(e).
The headliners were Eddie From Ohio with Gideon Freudmann as the opening act. Gideon was a bit over-dependent on his looper and delay pedals, but was a super-talented cellist and was really impressive how he took the cello to places it doesn't normally go. Eddie From Ohio was mainly entertaining for their between songs banter. As I have mentioned before in this blog, though I like seeing folk music, it's generally not as much for the music as it is for seeing professional musicians work together on stage and provide entertainment not only with their instruments but with their personalities as well. Michael Clem has got to be one of the stranger and oddly humorous people I have seen on stage. And it didn't for one second seem like he was putting it on. I felt myself continually wanting them to rock out a bit more and break out of their standard issue "hard" folk fare, but the truth of the matter is that they are great musicians, play extremely well with each other and genuinely have a good time at it. I'm just a snob for breaking new ground.

All joking aside, it is really cool to see a sleepy New England town pull together resources and excitement to bring some great music to the home-front. I hope that this series is a success and continues for many years to come.

And most importantly, thanks to mle and family for including me (and treating me).

Posted by halsey at 12:00 PM

May 11, 2005

public

This internet thing is crazy. Look what I happened upon the other day:

can you see the pope inside?

There are some very interesting people out there.

Posted by halsey at 11:21 AM

May 09, 2005

halseyblad

Download: Intended and Unintended

I feel like it has been so long since I've finished a song, I almost don't know how to do it anymore. I started this one way back in February while I was in the midst of album finalization. Needless to say, it progressed very slowly through the album release and the subsequent BYOV events etc, but here it is, ready for you to hear. Technically speaking, this is the first song to include voices collected in the Bring Your Own Voice booth.

FAQ

Is there anything more self-centered and egotistical then writing a song where the only words (almost) in it are your own name?
No.

Where do those weird sounds come from?

tah_hassy2.JPG

This is a Hasselblad 500c medium-format camera hand-made in Sweden in 1968. But this is not just any Hasselblad; this is the Hasselblad that took the photos on the artwork of words and voices. It is a VERY special Hasselblad. And that's saying a lot given that the Hasselblad is the official camera of space (as in outer).

Why are names important?
maybe they are not, but we all have one (or two, or three)

Did you create sentences, or did you get people to say that stuff?
I am a re-arranger. I remix people.

What is it about timpani?
I don't know, but one time I was told by a source I remember to be reliable that the timpanist was the highest paid member of any orchestra. This makes sense to me.

How does it feel to have finally released another song?
Incredibly refreshing and overly nerve-wracking. I am really hoping that with the additional time I have created for myself in the near future, I will be able pick up the pace a bit and write my next song quicker. I have so many ideas for new songs, it's hard to know what to jump into next.

Do you love your name?
When I was growing up, I hated the fact that my first name was so weird. Now I love the fact that I hardly need a last name.

Does anyone ever mispronounce your name?
of course not

Posted by halsey at 09:43 PM

May 08, 2005

MayFair updates

I've posted some pictures and audio clips from the MayFair last weekend. There's some pretty good stuff!

MayFair summarization

May 06, 2005

I am a musician...

and I support filesharing.
I am embarking on a quest to collect the voices of musicians across the world who believe that filesharing can be beneficial to musicians and can help to break the lethal hold that the major labels have on the progress and promotion of music today. I have enlisted the assistance of Downhill Battle, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting filesharing and alternative ways of helping musicians survive in the unfriendly world of big-label music.

Musicians, come out and say you support filesharing!

Please visit my site dedicated to this cause:

Speak Out: Musicians Must Unite to Keep Culture Free

If you are a musician and believe in this cause, please donate your voice, and if you know musicians who might be interested, please forward this along to them. The more voices, the more compelling the message.

Please continue reading for the email message from me that Downhill Battle sent out to their mailing lists.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Musician's voices needed for pro-filesharing music. Let your voice be heard!

What I do:
My name is Halsey Burgund and I write music based in large part on voice recordings that I collect in the field. They might be specific readings, poetry, narration, opinions etc, but in each case, the resulting song has a specific intent. I am now collecting recordings for a new song about the benefits of filesharing, specifically that it can be good for musicians. Therefore, I am collecting recordings of musicians making pro-filesharing statements which I will use in forthcoming music.

How you can help:
Please go to the following url (http://www.aevidence.com/filesharing.html) and record the text contained therein. Essentially, I want musicians saying "I am a musician and I support filesharing", but I also want your reasons and opinions on the topic.

Why you might want to participate:
Clearly you are a Downhill Battle supporter or you would not be on this mailing list. Clearly you think the current day monopolies in the music industry are not good for the future of music in our society. This is a way to help spread the word about filesharing and express your opinion in a different fashion. I will be letting Downhill Battle use the resulting music as they see fit, so you will be supporting this group's efforts at the same time.

Thank you very much for your consideration and the assistance in fighting the good fight. We, as musicians, must come together and speak out if we want to effect any change. And the more creatively we do this, the better.

Collectively, our voice will be heard.

Posted by halsey at 09:02 AM

May 05, 2005

cinco de listening list

Beethoven - The Nine Symphonies!!!
Morten Lauridsen - Lux aeterna
Shostakovich - Complete String Quartets
Moby - Hotel
Beck - Guero
Nine Inch Nails - With Teeth

This trio of new albums was fun to listen to. It's always interesting to hear the new (or not) directions that musicians go in with subsequent albums. Although I have only listened to each of these once, I can say that the Moby is really bad (not a big surprise), the Beck is totally good (even less of a surprise) and the NIN seems like it will settle in nicely as well (thank you, Trent).

(I know I normally have five items on these lists, but it would have been overload today...)

Posted by halsey at 04:09 PM

May 04, 2005

ipod-less

I was about to shoot myself at work, so I decided to go on a bike ride this afternoon to clear my head and get exercise. I had the second movement of Beethoven's 5th in my head the entire time and was thinking to myself how lucky I was to have all these great melodies floating around in my head and in the collective heads of our society. And then I started thinking about the closing down of clutural freedom that some of our lawmakers seem to be advocating in the name of capitalism and - other than getting angry - I just couldn't imagine a world in which this melody in my head keeping me going on my bike ride and giving me some happiness in an otherwise not very pleasant day wasn't free and available. I mean, no one disputes that Beethoven wrote this melody, and I doubt anyone would argue that the man himself should not have been compensated for contributing this beauty to the world, but thank god I'm not going to get a bill in the mail tomorrow from his estate for my thoughts.

Creative people do deserve to be compensated somehow for what they do. That's the only way they will be able to continue to do what they do. However, the method of compensation and the insistence on compensation for any use of any two second snippet of something will dry up our creative souls even quicker than no compensation at all. As per my thoughts yesterday, all art feeds off of previous art in one way or another and that symbiotic relationship is being put in danger, I would argue, by the direction of copyright law nowadays and the RIAA suing ten year olds.

The good news is that I quit my job yesterday, so I don't have too much longer of being forced to waste my time and be associated with such an embarassment.

Posted by halsey at 06:35 PM

ipod-less

I was about to shoot myself at work, so I decided to go on a bike ride this afternoon to clear my head and get exercise. I had the second movement of Beethoven's 5th in my head the entire time and was thinking to myself how lucky I was to have all these great melodies floating around in my head and in the collective heads of our society. And then I started thinking about the closing down of clutural freedom that some of our lawmakers seem to be advocating in the name of capitalism and - other than getting angry - I just couldn't imagine a world in which this melody in my head keeping me going on my bike ride and giving me some happiness in an otherwise not very pleasant day wasn't free and available. I mean, no one disputes that Beethoven wrote this melody, and I doubt anyone would argue that the man himself should not have been compensated for contributing this beauty to the world, but thank god I'm not going to get a bill in the mail tomorrow from his estate for my thoughts.

Creative people do deserve to be compensated somehow for what they do. That's the only way they will be able to continue to do what they do. However, the method of compensation and the insistence on compensation for any use of any two second snippet of something will dry up our creative souls even quicker than no compensation at all. As per my thoughts yesterday, all art feeds off of previous art in one way or another and that symbiotic relationship is being put in danger, I would argue, by the direction of copyright law nowadays and the RIAA suing ten year olds.

The good news is that I quit my job yesterday, so I don't have too much longer of being forced to waste my time and be associated with such an embarassment.

Posted by halsey at 06:35 PM | Comments (4)

May 01, 2005

participatory

I have always felt that the listener/viewer/appreciator of art is somehow a part of the art itself. Perhaps it's like quantum theory in that the act of observation changes what you are observing. I'm not sure, but I think that there is a very important and interesting relationship between the people who create stuff and the people who consume those creations. Clearly there is a financial dependency, but I think there also is some kind of emotional symbiosis. I guess I am just recognizing this with my music by actually bringing those listeners into the songs directly. I'm making this dependence more obvious in certain ways.
It always bothers me when artists get all offended and up in arms when it is suggested that they are doing something influenced by someone else or similar to someone else. Sometimes, I think that art, in the broadest most collective sense, is a continuously evolving thing that artists are just glomming onto. It's like a sticky rolling ball that is constantly changing its appearance and trajectory as is progresses, picking up and dropping off little bits along the way. Some little bits cause a significant wobble and others just give it a smooth blob of additional color. Of course, some don't even stick at all.
Every artist, no matter how removed from the rest of the world he or she may be, is directly influenced by prior art, and this is a good thing, I would argue, not something to be embarrassed about or to deny. It's the combination of the prior art with the individual experience and the unique creative energy of the artist that keeps pushing this collective art of human society forward.
Back to my original thoughts. I will admit that I find a lot of 'participatory art' to be crappy and unsuccessful. I'm not quite sure why I think I can make something that isn't this way too, but for some reason I have high hopes. I think that perhaps it is the fact that the participation is all filtered through me in one way or another. Though I insist on using direct expressions of people, they are almost always reading my words or answering my questions and in the process of creating the music, I clearly do a whole bunch of slicing and dicing to suit my needs best. It's like people are my raw material in some ways. People are my instruments and I do what I can to get them to behave in the ways I want, but at the same time relish in the unpredictability and uniqueness of each one. I'll admit to being a control freak, but I'll also take credit for letting my own sticky rolling ball be influenced heavily by my voices.

Posted by halsey at 10:55 PM | Comments (1)