Mind Grenade Fifty Years On
In 1969, Harry amazed everybody with a little electronic gadget he’d built which, using the primitive digital integrated circuits of the time, generated random music, played it through a speaker, and flashed lights on its front panel. It was precisely what people expected computers to do, based upon portrayals in the movies and on television, and yet it could be held in your hand and was, internally, very simple. He explained how it worked, and I immediately knew I had to have one. Digital electronics was in a great state of flux at the time, with each manufacturer launching their own line of integrated circuits, most incompatible with one another, so there was no point in slavishly reproducing Harry’s design. Starting from the concept, I designed my own gadget from scratch, using Signetics Utilogic diode-transistor small scale integration integrated circuits which were popular at the time but shortly thereafter made obsolete by 7400 series transistor-transistor logic (TTL). The architecture was identical to Harry’s device, but I opted for more with-it and less power-hungry light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for the display instead of the incandescent bulbs he used. I built the electronics assembly on a sheet of perforated board using wire-wrap fabrication (some people look down their noses at wire-wrap today, but it was good enough for the Apollo Guidance Computer and almost every mainframe backplane of the 1960s, and my wire-wrapped electronics works perfectly fifty years later.)
Understanding Mr. Brightside
The Design of the Roland Juno oscillators
This article is a comprehensive guide to the Roland Juno’s digitally-controlled analog oscillators (DCOs). I fell in love with the Juno early in my synthesizer journey and I’ve spent the last year or so doing research on its design so that I could create my own Juno-inspired DCO, Winterbloom’s Castor & Pollux.
The Case of the Missing Hit
A man in California is haunted by the memory of a pop song from his youth. He can remember the lyrics and the melody. But the song itself has vanished, completely scrubbed from the internet. PJ takes on the Super Tech Support case.
Enter Sandman in 20 Styles
How Spotify & Discover Weekly Earns Me $400 / Month
Of course that’s not enough to support a full-time artist but that’s not what I’m trying to be. I don’t tour, I don’t sell merch and I’m not on a label. I just want to make music and Spotify is making that possible.
PC Speaker To Eleven
«System Beeps» is a music album in shape of an MS-DOS program that features original music composed for PC Speaker using the same basic old techniques like ones found in classic PC games. It follows the usual retrocomputing demoscene formula — take something rusty and obsolete, and push it to eleven — and attempts to reveal the long hidden potential of this humble little sound device. You can hear it in action and form an opinion on how successful this attempt was at Bandcamp, or in the video below. The following article is an in-depth overview of the original PC Speaker capabilities and making of the project, for those who would like to know more.
An Analysis of Title I and Title III of The Music Modernization Act
Title I is the Musical Works Modernization Act, or MWM Act, which revises the Section 115 compulsory license for musical works and establishes a new “mechanical licensing collective” to administer it. Title II is the Classics Protection and Access Act (or CPA Act, formerly known as the “Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society Act,” or CLASSICS Act), which brings pre-1972 sound recordings mostly (but not completely) into the federal copyright system. Title III is the Allocation for Music Producers Act (or AMP Act), which amends the compulsory license for digital public performance rights for sound recordings to allocate a small portion of the proceeds to producers, mixers, and sound engineers.
A 3 line diff
Unfortunately, in software development not all problems are as trivial as we think.
The hidden costs of streaming music
But that’s not actually the weird part. The weird part is that Spotify is fundamentally being sued for literal paperwork: Wixen says Spotify is legally required to notify songwriters in writing that they’re in the Spotify catalog — a fact that escapes probably zero songwriters today. A paper notice requirement made sense in the age of player pianos when songwriters could hardly be expected to keep track of every player piano roll in the country. It makes no sense in the age of Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music. The question of what would be fair to pay artists is a contentious one, but the story of Wixen v. Spotify is not so much about paying the artists. It’s really a story about how, in a time when services, labels, and artists have never been better poised to work under a centralized, automated system for licenses and royalties, everyone keeps punching themselves in the face instead.
Smells Like Teen Spirit in a major key is an upbeat pop-punk song
This bent my brain a little: if you re-tune Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit in a major key, it sounds like an upbeat pop-punk song. Like, Kurt Cobain actually sounds happy when he says “oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile” and the pre-chorus — “Hello, hello, hello, how low” — is downright joyous. Although I guess it shouldn’t be super surprising…in a 1994 interview with Rolling Stone, Cobain admits that the song was meant to be poppy.
I Love My Job: Wanamaker Organ Master Peter Conte
Here, an interview with principal organist Peter Conte, who has been playing the iconic instrument there for 30 years.
The New Millennium Blues
Remember the terrifying, tumultuous, insert-scary-adjective-here year leading up to the new millennium? Did the uncertainty of the what the future held keep you up at night? Do you feel a sense of nostalgia for NBC’s Y2K: the Movie? Did you how about the music inspired by the millennium bug? Today’s Tedium seeks to transport you back to a time when the public imagination ran wild and pop culture fed the anxiety of the masses at the dawn of the new millennium.
Lady Gaga and the Economics of Las Vegas Residencies
It’s a rite of passage that goes back to the days of Elvis Presley and Dean Martin, the hottest acts of their respective days, but one that eventually gave way to those whose careers were careening to a halt. Which is why in recent decades Las Vegas was viewed more as a destination for also-rans — where a musician goes to die, was a common crack. Not so any more.
Render Multimedia in Pure C
All that’s needed are a few functions to render artifacts — lines, shapes, etc. — to an RGB buffer. With a bit of basic sound synthesis, the same concept can be applied to create audio in a separate audio stream — in this case using the simple (but not as simple as Netpbm) WAV format. Put them together and a small, standalone program can create multimedia.
Hey Siri: An On-device DNN-powered Voice Trigger for Apple’s Personal Assistant
This article concentrates on the part that runs on your local device, such as an iPhone or Apple Watch. In particular, it focusses on the detector: a specialized speech recognizer which is always listening just for its wake-up phrase (on a recent iPhone with the “Hey Siri” feature enabled).
How the triplet flow took over rap
The triplet, often now called the “Migos flow” happens when three syllables are rapped over one beat. It’s now so popular that nearly every mainstream rap artists these days has used it, often to great effect.
What Happened to the Negative Music Review?
Critics rarely have a bad word to say about today’s albums; Out of 787 albums analyzed this year, Metacritic hasn’t given a single one a red score
Maybe pop music has just gotten really, really good?
Another example of a machine perception failure
Why Spotify Lowered the Volume of Songs and Ended Hegemonic Loudness
At the end of May, Spotify made a change to its music files that went unnoticed by almost all of the service’s listeners. What was apparent, however, to sound engineers and studio wizards was that the volume had been reduced on every Spotify-hosted track.
Actually I noticed almost immediately, I just didn’t know what was happening.