Archive for April 26th, 2012

April 26, 2012

Ken Nordine

word-jazz

Ken Nordine (b. 1920) is an American voiceover and recording artist best known for his series of ‘Word Jazz’ albums. His deep, resonant voice has also been featured in many commercial advertisements and movie trailers. One critic wrote that ‘you may not know Ken Nordine by name or face, but you’ll almost certainly recognize his voice.’ During the 1940s, he was heard on ‘The World’s Great Novels’ and other radio programs broadcast from Chicago. He attracted wider attention when he recorded the aural vignettes on ‘Word Jazz’ (1957), which features Nordine’s narration over cool jazz by the Chico Hamilton jazz group, recording under the alias of Fred Katz, who was then the cellist with Hamilton’s quintet.

Nordine began performing and recording such albums at the peak of the beat era and was associated with the poetry-and-jazz movement. However, some of Nordine’s ‘writings are more akin to Franz Kafka or Edgar Allan Poe’ than to the beats. Many of his word jazz tracks feature critiques of societal norms. Some are lightweight and humorous, while others reveal dark, paranoid undercurrents and bizarre, dream-like scenarios. Nordine was Linda Blair’s vocal coach for her role in ‘The Exorcist.’

April 26, 2012

Vocaloid

hatsune miku

Vocaloid is a singing synthesizer. Its signal processing part was developed through a joint research project led by Kenmochi Hideki at the Pompeu Fabra University in Spain in 2000. Backed by the Yamaha Corporation it was developed into a commercial product, which was first released in 2004. The software enables users to synthesize singing by typing in lyrics and melody. It uses synthesizing technology with specially recorded vocals of voice actors or singers. A piano roll type interface is used to input the melody and the lyrics can be entered on each note. The software can change the stress of the pronunciations, add effects such as vibrato, or change the dynamics and tone of the voice.

Each Vocaloid is sold as ‘a singer in a box’ designed to act as a replacement for an actual singer. The software was originally only available in English and Japanese, but as of Vocaloid 3, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean have been added. The software is intended for professional musicians as well as light computer music users and has so far sold on the idea that the only limits are the users’ own skills. Japanese musical groups Livetune and Supercell have released their songs featuring Vocaloid as vocals. Japanese record label Exit Tunes of Quake Inc. also have released compilation albums featuring Vocaloids. Artists such as Mike Oldfield have also used Vocaloids within their work for back up singer vocals and sound samples.

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April 26, 2012

Stagger Lee

stagger lee

Lee Shelton(1865 – 1912) was a black carriage driver and pimp convicted of murdering William ‘Billy’ Lyons on Christmas night, 1895 in St. Louis. The crime was immortalized in a popular song that has been recorded by numerous artists. Stagger Lee (also ‘Stackalee,’ ‘Stackolee,’ and ‘Stagolee’) ultimately becomes a folk figure of the trickster type as numerous legends accumulated around him.

Lee Shelton was not a common pimp, he belonged to a group of pimps known in St. Louis as the ‘Macks.’ The Macks were not just ‘urban strollers’; they presented themselves as objects to be observed. Shelton died in prison in 1912, of tuberculosis. Stagger Lee has become an archetype, the embodiment of a tough black man;one who is sly, streetwise, cool, lawless, amoral, potentially violent, and who defies white authority.

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April 26, 2012

Foreign Accent Syndrome

foreign-accent-syndrome

Foreign Accent Syndrome is a rare medically recognised condition which is a speech impediment that usually occurs as a resulting side effect of brain injury, such as a stroke or head trauma. As a result of the speech impediment those suffering from the Foreign Accent Syndrome pronounce their native language with an accent that to the ear of the listeners may be mistaken as foreign or dialectical.

It has many other impacts and effects, including poor memory and concentration span, as well as a feeling of loss of identity, potentially causing those affected to go through a bereavement process. Two cases have been reported of individuals with the condition as a development problem and one associated with severe migraine. Between 1941 and 2009 there have been sixty recorded cases.

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April 26, 2012

Koro

koro

Koro is a culture-specific syndrome from Southeast Asia in which the person has an overpowering belief that his penis (or other genitalia) is shrinking and will shortly disappear. Also known as shrinking penis, the syndrome is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In China, it is known as ‘shuk yang.’

For females, the belief focuses on the nipples retracting or shrinking. Though the syndrome is rooted in China and found mostly in Southeast Asia, rare and isolated cases of koro are found in people of non-Chinese ethnicity worldwide. Episodes of epidemics occurred in the endemic nations. In a different cultural setting, mass hysteria of genital-shrinkage have been reported in African nations.

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April 26, 2012

Clay Shirky

here-comes-everybody

Clay Shirky (b. 1964) is an American writer, consultant, and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. He has a joint appointment at NYU as a Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and Assistant Arts Professor in the New Media focused graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). His courses address, among other things, the interrelated effects of the topology of social networks and technological networks, how our networks shape culture and vice-versa.

Shirky divides his time between consulting, teaching, and writing on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. His consulting practice is focused on the rise of decentralized technologies such as peer-to-peer, web services, and wireless networks that provide alternatives to the wired client–server infrastructure that characterizes the World Wide Web. He is a member of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Advisory Board. In 2010, Kevin Kelly (founding executive editor of ‘Wired’ magazine) cited the phrase ‘Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution,’ and called it the ‘Shirky Principle,’ as the phrasing reminded him of the clarity of the Peter Principle.

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April 26, 2012

Orbital

wonky

Orbital are a British electronic dance music duo from England consisting of brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll. Their career initially ran from 1989 until 2004, but in 2009 they announced that they would be reforming and headlining The Big Chill, (an annual festival of alternative, dance, and chill-out music, and comedy, held in the grounds of Eastnor Castle during early August) in addition to a number of other live shows in 2009.

The band’s name was taken from Greater London’s orbital motorway, the M25, which was central to the early rave scene and party network in the South East during the early days of acid house. One of the biggest names in British electronica during the 1990s, Orbital were both critically and commercially successful, and known particularly for their element of live improvisation during shows, a rarity among techno acts. They were initially influenced by early electro and punk rock.

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April 26, 2012

Don Buchla

system11

Don Buchla (b. 1937) is a pioneer in the field of sound synthesizers, releasing his first units months after Robert Moog’s first synthesizers. Buchla formed his electronic music equipment company, Buchla and Associates, in 1962 in Berkeley, California. Buchla was commissioned by avant garde music composers Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender, both of the San Francisco Tape Music Center (which studies the incorporation of electric sound production into compositional practice), to create an electronic instrument for live performance. Under a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation Buchla completed his first modular synthesizer in 1963. The result was the Buchla Series 100, which he began selling in 1966. Buchla’s synthesizers experimented in control interfaces, such as touch-sensitive plates. In 1969 the Series 100 was sold to CBS, who soon after dropped the line, not seeing the synthesizer market as a profitable area.

In 1970 the Buchla 200 series Electric Music Box was released and was manufactured until 1985. Buchla created the Buchla Series 500, the first digitally controlled analog synthesizer, in 1971. Shortly after, the Buchla Series 300 was released, which combined the Series 200 with microprocessors. The Music Easel, a small, portable, all-in-one synthesizer was released in 1972. The Buchla 400 was released in 1982, which featured a video display. In 1987 the fully MIDI enabled Buchla 700 was released. Beginning in the 1990s, Buchla began designing alternative MIDI controllers, such as the Thunder, Lightning, and Marimba Lumina. With the recent resurgence of interest in analog synthesizers Buchla has released a revamped 200 series called the 200e.

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April 26, 2012

Suzanne Ciani

Suzanne Ciani by Caroline Andrieu

Suzanne Ciani [cha-nee] (b. 1946) is an Italian American pianist and music composer who found early success with innovative electronic music. She received classical music training at Wellesley College and obtained her M.A. in music composition in 1970 at University of California, Berkeley where she met and was influenced by the synthesizer designer, Don Buchla. She studied computer generated music with John Chowning and Max Mathews at Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Labs in the early 1970s.

In 1974 she formed her own company, Ciani/Musica, and, using a Buchla Analog Modular Synthesizer, composed scores for television commercials for corporations such as Coca-Cola, Merrill Lynch, AT&T, and General Electric. Besides music, her specialty was reproducing sound effects on the synthesizer that recording engineers had found difficult to record properly; the sound of a bottle of Coca-Cola being opened and poured was one of Ciani’s most widely recognized works, and was used in a series of radio and television commercials in the late 1970s.

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