December 30, 2005

Museum of Science

Here is the press release I just sent out to the Boston media regarding a BYOV event at the Museum of Science that I will be having next weekend. I hope to be a part of the Current Science and Technology podcast as well.

This event will also be documented by a producer from Weekend America for a piece to be aired on that show later in January.

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Halsey Burgund holds Bring Your Own Voice event at the Museum of Science

WHEN: Saturday, January 7th, 1-5 PM
WHERE: Current Science and Technology area in the Blue Wing, Museum of Science, Boston, MA


Musician, Halsey Burgund, will be bringing his Bring Your Own Voice (BYOV) booth to the Museum of Science as part of their ongoing ‘Current Science and Technology’ exhibit and presentation series.

In lieu of live performance of his music, Burgund currently ventures into the public domain with his BYOV booth - a portable recording booth used to facilitate voice recordings – which will be present and in use at the Museum of Science on Saturday, January 7th. Museum patrons will be able to participate directly in the music-making process by entering the booth and answering questions or reading pre-selected texts while being recorded. The results will be added to Burgund’s ever-growing collection of words and voices from which he draws while composing new music.

Burgund builds his music around words that are spoken and recorded in a completely non-musical context. The notion of creating music out of everyday expressions not normally considered musical is the cornerstone of his approach. By incorporating voice recordings of otherwise uninvolved individuals, this music not only explores the vast array of textures the human voice can exhibit, but also is able to offer a unique opportunity to participating individuals.

The fusion of his music, lyrics and the voices of regular people is the captivating concept that drives Burgund’s most recent CD ‘words and voices’.

According to Jeff Lipton of Peerless Mastering, "This album is super textural. It is unique, original, and has a lot of energy. Halsey's approach to composing songs with layer upon layer of voice and sound is fascinating."

The ten song album contains recited poetry, narrations as well as impromptu conversations and other readings caught on tape. Words can be used in numerous ways and the context a word inhabits can be vastly influential on the resulting meaning. The arrangement and rearrangement of words with each other into phrases, sentences, stanzas, etc. in intended and unintended ways provides the lyrical and musical basis of this music.

“The booth and these songs are another way to connect with people. I think this whole project is about making connections,” says Burgund. “I’m happiest when one of my songs makes people feel something or view the world in a slightly different way.”

Posted by halsey at 01:54 PM | Comments (45)

December 27, 2005

moving in the right direction...

I think that anything that reduces the dominance of the big four music conglomerates is a good thing for society and for musicians. According to this New York Times article, there is some strong evidence to support what we have all known for some time: that the internet redistributes and spreads out power enabling culture to spread more freely. We should all do what we can to keep up the trend. Long live independent music!

The Net Is a Boon for Indie Labels

Posted by halsey at 03:05 PM

December 12, 2005

frozen

I like drums. Really, I like percussion of all types, but there is something about the drumkit that is very exciting. I think it is simply the fact that a cranking drum beat can make just about any piece of music rock out.
I always get excited when I go to see some music and there is a drumkit on stage, waiting. Of course, when I head to Paradise or the Middle East, this is not surprising, but sometimes, I see a drumkit on stages at Jordan Hall or the Gardner Museum or other such venues reserved for more 'classical' productions. But here's the problem: I get all excited about the possibilities of getting classical music to rock out with the drums, but then I am virtually always disappointed. Perhaps my expectations are too high or are unrealistic, but I'll pretend, for now, that high expectations are what make this world progress in positive ways.
I saw Alarm Will Sound playing John Adams last week at the Gardner and really enjoyed the performance overall. However, I felt totally unfulfilled by the drums. I almost wish they didn't have them at all because then I wouldn't yearn for them to be used 'properly'. I should add here, that the percussionists in AWS were fantastically talented musicians. I have no doubt that they could play circles around me in every technical way. I think the problem here is the constraints of the score itself. If I wrote a piece that included drums, I'd just take a piece of notation paper and write 'ROCK HARD AT 110bpm in 4/4 FOR 64 BARS. THEN STOP.' Perhaps I'd add certain possible accents or suggested beats, but most of the performance would be left up to the performer, like in a rock or jazz show. Did anyone ever tell Elvin Jones exactly what to play? I doubt it.
There is something about a drummer sitting there upright and stiff, partially obscured by a large music stand, carefully studying his score that deflates any performance. The thing that is so exciting about drums is the arms flailing, the sweat dripping and the general sense of walking the line between perfect control and total chaos. With the exception of Zappa's Black Page (he's an exception to EVERYTHING, right?), I have yet to come across a piece of music that required the drummer to read a score that wasn't disappointing to me. Why can't you have a band with traditional classical instruments and a rock drummer who almost acts as the conductor by keeping time and providing a rhythmic focal point for the piece. The music would need to be simple enough that the players would be free from the page and flexible enough that they were given the freedom to improvise a bit. Unfortunately, I don't think that improvisation is taught to most aspiring bassoonists nowadays, but there must be interested musicians, right?
This is the kind of band I want to have some day. I don't even care exactly what instrumentation there is. We'll write music to fit and augment as necessary with electronics and other fun toys. We'll arrange other composers works for our style. Someone must be doing this. My friend Ari has got something similar to this going in Berlin with his Redux Orchestra (don't go to this site if you are epileptic!), but I think there is a world-wide opportunity here.

Posted by halsey at 10:26 PM

frozen

I like drums. Really, I like percussion of all types, but there is something about the drumkit that is very exciting. I think it is simply the fact that a cranking drum beat can make just about any piece of music rock out.
I always get excited when I go to see some music and there is a drumkit on stage, waiting. Of course, when I head to Paradise or the Middle East, this is not surprising, but sometimes, I see a drumkit on stages at Jordan Hall or the Gardner Museum or other such venues reserved for more 'classical' productions. But here's the problem: I get all excited about the possibilities of getting classical music to rock out with the drums, but then I am virtually always disappointed. Perhaps my expectations are too high or are unrealistic, but I'll pretend, for now, that high expectations are what make this world progress in positive ways.
I saw Alarm Will Sound playing John Adams last week at the Gardner and really enjoyed the performance overall. However, I felt totally unfulfilled by the drums. I almost wish they didn't have them at all because then I wouldn't yearn for them to be used 'properly'. I should add here, that the percussionists in AWS were fantastically talented musicians. I have no doubt that they could play circles around me in every technical way. I think the problem here is the constraints of the score itself. If I wrote a piece that included drums, I'd just take a piece of notation paper and write 'ROCK HARD AT 110bpm in 4/4 FOR 64 BARS. THEN STOP.' Perhaps I'd add certain possible accents or suggested beats, but most of the performance would be left up to the performer, like in a rock or jazz show. Did anyone ever tell Elvin Jones exactly what to play? I doubt it.
There is something about a drummer sitting there upright and stiff, partially obscured by a large music stand, carefully studying his score that deflates any performance. The thing that is so exciting about drums is the arms flailing, the sweat dripping and the general sense of walking the line between perfect control and total chaos. With the exception of Zappa's Black Page (he's an exception to EVERYTHING, right?), I have yet to come across a piece of music that required the drummer to read a score that wasn't disappointing to me. Why can't you have a band with traditional classical instruments and a rock drummer who almost acts as the conductor by keeping time and providing a rhythmic focal point for the piece. The music would need to be simple enough that the players would be free from the page and flexible enough that they were given the freedom to improvise a bit. Unfortunately, I don't think that improvisation is taught to most aspiring bassoonists nowadays, but there must be interested musicians, right?
This is the kind of band I want to have some day. I don't even care exactly what instrumentation there is. We'll write music to fit and augment as necessary with electronics and other fun toys. We'll arrange other composers works for our style. Someone must be doing this. My friend Ari has got something similar to this going in Berlin with his Redux Orchestra (don't go to this site if you are epileptic!), but I think there is a world-wide opportunity here.

Posted by halsey at 10:26 PM

December 05, 2005

listening list

NIN - The Fragile
Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Symphony Nr. 5
The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan
Joseph Hadyn - The Creation
Underworld - Everything, Everything


I love it when it is cold and snowy outside and there are Christmas lights up inside and a fire in the fireplace and there is classical music playing. This is so calming for me. The music best suited for this is choral music, I think, so I pulled out my copy of Haydn's The Creation and have been listening. This music may be over 200 years old, but it ain't bad!

Posted by halsey at 03:13 PM | Comments (42)

December 01, 2005

nature can be bright and shiny

Download: Nature...can be fabulous

This song is dedicated to my very good friend Susie. Though I don't tell her this directly as often as I should, her dedication and drive to positively impact environmental issues is inspirational to me. She knows what is important to her and through both the Earth Island Institute and the Conservation Law Foundation, she is daily making huge personal sacrifices to help make the world a better place. Basically, she kicks ass and I am honored to be her friend. I hope she likes this song! If we are lucky, she'll make a comment...

Now, the Q&A:

Did you almost record this song without any 'real' drums?
Yes. But then I realized this was silly. And now it is MUCH better.

Did that kid really say that you can sometimes be kind of good, but can sometimes s***?

No. But it's funny. I think.

What on earth are handbells?
They are tuned bronze bells mounted on leather handles and containing an internal 'clapper'. They have a slightly modified Liberty Bell shape, and range in size from an inch in diameter to six or seven for the lower notes. Check out the famous Schulmerich Handbells. I just learned that nice handbells have the ability to easily substitute clappers from soft felt to hard metal to get the appropriate sound. I also learned that they are super expensive!
Handbells always remind me of when I was a kid and I went to church with my family on Sundays. Every once in a while, they would have a more extensive music program to go with the service; these were the services I never minded attending.
The way I remember it, the chorus doubled as a handbell orchestra when performing certian pieces. There was something really amazing about a dozen singers standing at the front of this massive reverberating church hall ringing their handbells. Each singer would have one bell in each hand, so it took the full twelve people to have two octaves of bells. I would love to watch them play; there was this highly specialized technique they used, with an exagerrated arm motion and a little wrist kick at the end which seemed to somehow encourage the bells to reverberate even longer. The timing was never exact so most unisons came across as flams which gave the music a delightful imprecision. And because the full ensemble of bells was played by so many individuals, there was a distribution of the point sources of sound across the width of the chorus itself. I like the idea of each person only having control over two notes. Each player's part isn't all that interesting on it's own, but together they can be magic!
The bells are bright and shiny too.

Why did you use handbells in this song?

Because I recently was reminded of how beautiful they are.

Does this song contain the voice of a well-known public radio host?

yes!

Who might that be?
find out

Posted by halsey at 03:54 PM | Comments (1)