Showing all posts tagged: music
Half the buyers of vinyl records do not have a record player
3 May 2023
Image courtesy of SanderSmit.
I was pleased to see the back of my (admittedly modest) collection of vinyl records a decade or two ago. I was not a fan of the format. The records (and their covers) needed to be handled with great care, the vinyl seemed to scratch all too easily, and, like a large number of paper books, were an imposition when it came to moving house.
Such concerns are of little importance to others though. Last year, sales of vinyl records surged by twenty percent, compared to the year before. 2022 was indeed a good year for vinyl, with sales at their highest since 1988. Despite the resurgence vinyl records are enjoying though, sales today remain a shadow of what they were during the 1970’s.
But here’s the thing, even though sales of vinyl are skyrocketing, fifty percent of buyers do not have a turntable, or a record player. This according to research conducted by Luminate, a company analysing music sales data, says Abby Jones, writing for Consequence:
Luminate’s “Top Entertainment Trends for 2023” report found that of the 3,900 US-based respondents surveyed, “50% of consumers who have bought vinyl in the past 12 months own a record player, compared to 15% among music listeners overall.” So — feel free to double-check our math here — that would indicate that 50% of vinyl buyers over the past year have no way to play those records at home.
So what goes here then? Record players are still available. So why not buy one to enjoy the music you’ve bought? Are some buyers of vinyl treating the format like a tradable commodity, and attempting to speculate on their value?
More than a Spotify genre, Glitchcore explored and defined
24 April 2023
Image courtesy of Enrique Meseguer.
Too Long; Didn’t Read: Glitchcore is a type of electronic music that features noisy digital artefacts including distortion, static, crackle, interference, and other warning sounds that means something’s not right. But there’s nothing wrong with the music itself. Read on for more of the story…
Twenty five years ago — give or take — a web design trend called “TV lines” was all the rage. Like all fads, it was short lived, but if you were a web designer who was anyone, the graphics on your website had to feature TV lines. The effect would have looked a little like the image above, created by Enrique Meseguer, and conveyed the impression your image was a screen-grab from a TV show.
Although images with TV lines have largely disappeared from the web, it can be argued their influence lingers, albeit non-visually, in the form of Glitchcore music. As the name suggests, Glitchcore is a genre that blends what are considered to be inharmonious noises, caused by errors of some sort, into the mix. These anomalies include distortion, static, crackle, interference, and other noisy artefacts. But Glitchcore is more than an amalgamation of discordant sounds, it’s also a blend of other genres, according to volt.fm:
Glitchcore is a genre of electronic music that combines elements of glitch, IDM, and breakcore. It is characterized by its chaotic and unpredictable sound, often featuring heavily distorted and chopped up samples, rapid-fire drum patterns, and complex, syncopated rhythms.
Yeech, syncopated rhythms. I sucked at syncopated strumming during my guitar playing days. But back to Glitchcore, which actually owes little to mellow, mostly unobtrusive, TV lines, than it does to boldly coloured, garish online memes, and Glitch art. Like Glitchcore music, Glitch artists make use of visual digital defects, in their artworks. And while Glitch art sounds like a contemporary movement, it isn’t. Instances of the form can be traced back to 1935, when experimental New Zealand filmmaker Len Lye incorporated analogue flaws into his short film, A Colour Box.
But Glitch art became more prominent in the early twenty-first century, when digital artists began to embrace errors and unwanted visual artefacts, spewed out by digital technologies, and crafted artworks from them. A Glitchcore musician then might look at a work of glitch art — refer again to Meseguer’s image above — and wonder how it could be rendered as a musical piece.
Musically, Glitchcore is seen as subgenre of Glitch music. Or Hyperpop, depending on who you ask. Glitch music became popular in the 1990s, but its origins can be traced back to the second decade of the twentieth century. In 1913, Luigi Russolo, an Italian artist and composer, produced The Art of Noises (L’arte dei rumori), a Futurist manifesto, which was considered by some to be the basis of noise music. Here, anything, particularly machinery, that made noise, could, somehow, be used in a musical composition.
Hyperpop (think of the music of Charli XCX), meanwhile, emerged about ten years ago, even though the term was first used in 1988 by a music writer named Don Shewey, when describing the Cocteau Twins, an erstwhile Scottish act. Wikipedia defines Hyperpop thusly:
Hyperpop reflects an exaggerated, eclectic, and self-referential approach to pop music and typically employs elements such as brash synth melodies, Auto-Tuned “earworm” vocals, and excessive compression and distortion, as well as surrealist or nostalgic references to 2000s Internet culture and the Web 2.0 era.
Glitchcore become more widely heard in 2020. And like Hyperpop, the name also seems to have preceded the music, if this excerpt from the March 2001 edition of SPIN magazine (and might they be referring to Matthew Herbert here?) is anything to go by:
Herbert is a former piano prodigy and Exeter drama student who went from touring with UK big bands to freaking clubbers with samplers and kitchen utensils, and his cozy records merge glitchcore buzz and tech-house heat.
So, there, at last we have it, an explanation of Glitchcore. Assuming the genre, subgenre, in fact exists, something Cat Zhang, writing for Pitchfork, says is debatable. And given its smorgasbord of genre ingredients, I can see where the doubters are coming from. Spotify, however, has no such misgivings. It’s a verified genre to them, as people perusing their annual Spotify Wrapped music listening reports would have noticed.
In case Glitchcore is new to you, as it was to me, here’s a small selection of the music to check out: Money Machine by 100 gecs, Ethanol by Madge, and This World is Sick by IC3PEAK. I should say a language warning may apply to some of these tracks.
And on the off chance the existence of Glitchcore is blowing your mind, and you think there’s too many music genres, and subgenres already, bear in mind some one hundred and twenty three thousand new songs are released daily across the world. That’s daily with a D. If that’s the case, there’s going be a whole lot more music genres coming to Spotify Wrapped in the future.
100,000 plus new songs released daily, so what to listen to?
4 April 2023
By some estimates, one hundred and twenty three thousand new songs are released across the globe every day. That’s surely more music than any person could listen to in a lifetime. In a seemingly arts saturated world though, American jazz critic and music historian, Ted Gioia, contends the problem isn’t necessarily with supply, but rather demand. This means creating more demand driven initiatives, in other words, finding new ways of putting this new music in front of audiences.
Yet almost every arts-related institution in the world is focused on the supply side, almost to an obsessive degree. This feels good — we love giving money to artists. But even from a purely financial standpoint, these programs don’t do half as much good as genuine audience expansion. If you offered a musician the choice between a hundred dollars and a hundred new fans, they absolutely benefit more from the latter. It’s a no-brainer. In fact, musicians probably make more from just one loyal fan.
This is something we see with fiction publishing in Australia, and likely worldwide. As I’ve written before, a first-time writer of a literary fiction novel in Australia might expect to see a maximum of two thousand sales of that book. Australia doesn’t have the biggest of populations, but surely there’d be more interest in a book than that. In a somewhat supply saturated market, granted. As Gioia says, it is demand driven initiatives that are needed.
Why do people only listen to old music as they get older?
27 February 2023
There’s all sorts of reasons, but a lack of time to seek out new compositions, and not simply a love of “old music”, is one:
One explanation for the age-based reduction in music consumption simply posits that responsibility-laden adults may have less discretionary time to explore their musical interests than younger people.
This is where good old radio can help. Switch to station that plays newer, less familiar, music, while you’re working or driving. Since radio playlists are generally repetitive, new favourites will gradually worm their way into your ear.
2022 Hottest 100 music the worst to dance to in a decade
7 February 2023
An analysis of songs in Triple J’s Hottest 100 countdown for 2022, which was aired on 28 January 2023, reveals them to among the worst to dance to in almost a decade, say Mark Doman, Katia Shatoba, and Thomas Brettell, writing for ABC News.
The same research shows 1995 to be the worst on record for Hottest 100 danceability, though a steady rise follows thereafter. This can likely be attributed to the greater presence of electronica and dance music in countdowns from the late nineties onwards, as those genres began to flourish.
The winning track — Flume’s Say Nothing, featuring MAY-A — was also the least-dancey track to win the countdown since Muse’s six-minute, prog rock epic Knights of Cydonia in 2007. Data also shows that the average tempo of the 2022 Hottest 100 was the second-fastest on record since counting began back in 1993.
At this stage the drop in Hottest 100 song danceability looks more like a blip. The long term trend shows a rise, even if 2022 danceability is markedly lower than the peak recorded in 2019.
Australian music, entertainment, music, radio
Simone Young, Knowing the Score, a film by Janine Hosking
30 January 2023
Conductors are synonymous with classical music performances, yet at the first recital I went to, a show by the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) in 2009, at the Sydney Opera House, no conductor was present. Instead, ACO artistic director, and lead violin player, Richard Tognetti, led proceedings.
To many people though, a conductor is something of a mystery. Why does there need to be someone waving a stick, called a baton, at the orchestra? Do the musicians not know what to do? Did they not practice the pieces prior to the show? The ACO manages without a conductor, why then can’t anyone else? And how on earth can performers at a distance from the conductor even discern the many, swift, and seemingly all too subtle, baton gestures?
Further, why are conductors accorded a special status? Why are they treated to a separate round of applause, upon making a separate entrance to the auditorium, after the musicians have already assembled on stage? That conductors effectively only came into being about two hundred years ago, only adds to the enigma. Prior to 1820, orchestras were similar to the ACO, and directed themselves. It was only as orchestras grew in size though, did the need for a separate person to lead the musicians manifest itself.
Knowing the Score, trailer, a documentary about the life and work of Australian conductor Simone Young, may answer some of these questions. While early conductors were the subject of derision, particularly from musicians who felt they served no real purpose, Young has also encountered her share of naysayers. Despite this, Young, presently chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, is regarded as one of the world’s leading orchestral conductors.
Knowing the Score, directed by Australian documentary maker Janine Hosking, opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday 16 February 2023. The world premiere takes place at the Ritz Cinema in Randwick, Sydney, on Sunday 5 February 2023, and features a Q&A session with Young following the screening.
film, Janine Hosking, music, Simone Young, trailer, video
Flume, Hilltop Hoods, make their mark in 2022 Hottest 100
30 January 2023
Sydney DJ and electronic musician Flume topped the 2022 Triple J Hottest 100, with his track Say Nothing, a collaboration with Australian singer-songwriter MAY-A. It’s the second time a Flume track has reached number one in the Hottest 100, a feat matched only by defunct Brisbane rock band Powderfinger, over twenty years ago.
Meanwhile veteran Adelaide hop hop act Hilltop Hoods, made countdown history by notching their twenty-third entry in the music poll, with Show Business, which charted at number seventy-one. Previously Powderfinger, and American rockers Foo Fighters, had shared the record for the most Hottest 100 entries, with twenty-two tracks each.
Australian music, entertainment, music, radio
A preview of the 2022 Triple J Hottest 100 countdown
27 January 2023
The countdown of Triple J’s Hottest 100 songs of 2022 kicks off at midday tomorrow, Saturday 28 January 2023, AEDT. To ramp up anticipation, the powers that be at the Jays have offered a few tantalising clues as to what can be expected this year:
- Twenty-three acts will be making their Hottest 100 debut
- Fifty-seven songs are by Australian artists
- Six songs were posted to Triple J Unearthed this year
- AND, at least two massive Hottest 100 records will be broken
There’s nothing like a few surprises to round out a Hottest 100 countdown.
Triple J Hottest 100 winners likely to be male acts from Sydney or Melbourne
26 January 2023
The countdown of the Hottest 100, a poll of Australian radio station Triple J’s listeners, goes to air from midday (AEDT) on Saturday 28 January 2023. Billie Eder and Lachlan Abbott, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, analysed past winners of the countdown, and worked out what it takes to get to the top. In short being male — either as a solo act, or in a group — and being based in either Sydney or Melbourne, makes a big difference:
Firstly, you’ll want to be either a solo male artist or in an all-male band – this will significantly increase your chance of winning. In the countdown’s three-decade long history, there has only ever been one solo female winner: Billie Eilish. Eilish took out the number one spot for her song Bad Guy in 2019. The win also made Eilish the youngest ever winner of the award, at just 18 years old.
I’ve been listening to the Hottest 100 for some time now, but reading that American musician Billie Eilish is the only solo female act to be voted number one, in the whole history of the countdown, came as quite the surprise. I’m not sure why this would be. The Triple J playlist is diverse and varied, so it’s not as if the music of female artists isn’t presented to listeners. This is a puzzle.
Nick Cave calls ChatGPT written Nick Cave song grotesque
18 January 2023
A fan of Australian musician Nick Cave, named Mark, asked ChatGPT to write the lyrics to a song “in the style of Nick Cave”, and sent the resulting output to Cave to look at.
Despite disliking the lyrics, Cave, who described the song as “bullshit”, and “a grotesque mockery”, wrote Mark a gracious, informative response, noting this was not the first time someone had asked the AI powered chatbot to perform such a task:
What ChatGPT is, in this instance, is replication as travesty. ChatGPT may be able to write a speech or an essay or a sermon or an obituary but it cannot create a genuine song. It could perhaps in time create a song that is, on the surface, indistinguishable from an original, but it will always be a replication, a kind of burlesque.
ChatGPT may be capable of a good many things, but being truly artistic is not (yet) one of those things.