Sonar composition.

May 8, 2011

This casual music-making tool from the blog littleover. is a great introduction to composition. The premise couldn’t be simpler: click on boxes to add notes to the looping, sonar-like “strum.” As you add notes you start to get a feel for what the low (“bass”) notes bring to the piece, how multiple notes stacked together (“chords”) can add richness, and how overstacking leads to a muddled, less desirable sound. You start to hear potential melodic lines as the highest notes in a pattern begin to stand out, and you begin to appreciate the value of space and variety when planning rhythms and harmony.

The low barrier to entry is what I like most about this little widget. While aesthetically similar to Soundprism, it functions more as a tool for brainstorming and warming up the creative juices rather than formal composition. Its repetitive looping led my brother to dub it: “instant Radiohead.”

It’s surprisingly addicting, too…


Musical Birds.

October 27, 2010

A recent Gizmodo post titled “This Clip Is Proof That Birds Are Secretly Composers” features a transcription of a beautiful perched melody. The seemingly random configuration of birds on a line is, apparently, a complete pleasure to listen to.

Music Philosophy: Lyrics as Graphics

September 8, 2010

While neither philosophical nor particularly musical, the designer Mico has applied his graphic design prowess to music quotes. Enjoy. “Music Philosophy

(You can also snag poster versions of your favorite quotes over at Etsy)

Related post: “Music philosophy,” combining music and graphics

Platonic… Music?

July 9, 2010

Courtesy Jay Kennedy

“Looking at Plato’s works in their original scroll form, he noticed that every 12 lines there was a passage that discussed music.” – excerpt from  “A Musical Message Discovered In Plato’s Works

This article is fascinating to me, not because of the DaVinci Code-like revelation, but rather the emphasis on the number 12. It is a story that, yet again, links mathematics and music. It also dovetails nicely with a post of mine from January 2009 (“Twelve“), while referencing Pythagoras and the importance placed on ratio and proportion (also detailed here, “The Golden Page“)

There is no real conclusion drawn from the NPR feature, so we are left wondering why the preeminent thinker of 300 B.C. felt strongly enough about music to encode its defining principles into an otherwise non-musical work. The real takeaway here, and this is irrefutable: Plato felt compelled to draw connections between various arts and disciplines. Perhaps by conceptually linking disparate ideas, Plato believed he could reconcile the conflict and strife that always seem to arise when concepts appear at odds. (Science vs. religion, math vs. art, sculpture vs. painting, etc…)

These links and connections, as expressed through music, are what BlogSounds is all about.

The Rise of the Artist.. or, Ayn Rand’s Music Industry

November 15, 2009


This graph is from a recent entry over at the Times Labs Blog called “Do music artists fare better in a world with with illegal file-sharing?

“This is the graph the record industry doesn’t want you to see… The most immediate revelation, of course, is that at some point next year revenues from gigs payable to artists will for the first time overtake revenues accrued by labels from sales of recorded music.

The article’s logic and data parsing looks sound, though its analysis is confined to the UK music industry only. It validates an opinion I’ve held since the beginning of the demise of the music industry: that the demise would favor the artist and frown on the record men.

This will only be the case, however, for artists who were not only releasing a consistent stream of quality product, but whose careers were centered around their ability to perform. The traditional record industry was founded on the premise that artists want to make music and not negotiate deals, find distribution channels, or haggle over merchandise profit margins. And this remains true. Which means the industry in its current state favors the resourceful, talented, motivated artist, and incentivizes the remaining lot of musicians to get their act together and take the reigns of their career.

We lose, of course, the lazy but undeniably brilliant musicians who need the maintenance, guidance, and hand-holding of a great manager or producer to bring their talent to the masses. These gems are the ones we should mourn, if only slightly, as the music world shifts toward an “Atlas Shrugged” reality where the suits can no longer hop a free ride on the talent.

Earworms or Herpes

June 25, 2009


This is from the great blog Indexed in a post entitled “I will now ruin your day by mentioning Hanson’s “MmmBop”

For those unfamiliar with what an earworm is or who have never heard the song before, I apologize in advance:

Hanson’s “MmmBop

The Perfect iTunes EQ

June 18, 2009


Check out Merlin Mann’s entry over at 43 folders: “Perfect” iTunes equalizer setting