WEB SITE OF THE MONTHMickey Tachibana's quirky and fun Drum Machine Museum (www.drummachine.com) contains a wealth of information on practically every drum machine ever made. Launched in 1998 from his San Francisco - based studio, Tachibana's site features more than 60 classic drum machines. His intention, his site states, is to create a permanent exhibit "dedicated not only to the machines but [to] preserving and archiving items representative of the sociocultural impact that electronic music has had across genres, as well as documenting the artists and music that have profoundly changed the way we all listen and live."
Drum Machine Museum contains photos and specifications for a wide range of instruments, from the venerable Linn 9000 and Roland TR-808 to more exotic instruments such as the Acetone FR-1 and Hillwood HR-2. Even more impressive is the large collection of sounds from the machines themselves. Tachibana posted hundreds of RealAudio streams, MP3s, and WAV files of cymbal crashes, snare hits, and factory-preset patterns. The sounds provide a historical document detailing the evolution of percussion synthesis.
The site also includes forums on a variety of instruments, links to drum machine manufacturers, and articles for drum machine connoisseurs. As a service to owners of older machines, Tachibana maintains a library of manuals. He will send you a photocopy of any manual he has for a nominal fee, and he'll trade you an official Drum Machine Museum T-shirt for any manual not in his collection. If you're in the mood for a little shopping, the Drum Machine Museum store carries new drum machines, effects processors, sample libraries, software synthesizers, and other related gear.
DOTDOTDOT.COMUntil now, if you were a struggling songwriter, you had to deliver your promotional material and demo tapes to music industry executives by hand or through the mail. Enter SongPitch.com (www.songpitch.com), a Nashville-based company that uses the Internet to connect record producers to songwriters. Acting as both a database and a secure Internet Service Provider, the site lets producers log on and listen to streaming RealAudio renditions of members' songs, which are cataloged by style and author. The site also provides an Online Interactive Pitch System, so songwriters can sell their work directly to producers looking for a specific type of music. . . . Atlanta's SongScope.com (www.songscope.com) provides a similar service. As part of the Vision Music Group, a collection of Internet music marketing companies, SongScope gives songwriters direct access to music publishers, record labels, and A&R people. It also produces compilation CDs, maintains a searchable database of songs and authors, and is affiliated with The Muse's Muse (www.musesmuse.com), a resource site for songwriters, and RadioWired (www.radiowired.com), an Internet radio station. . . . The International Computer Music Association's Web site (www.computermusic.org) is a valuable resource for composers, performers, researchers, and developers interested in the integration of music and technology. The site offers a searchable database of musical works performed at the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) since it began in 1974, portions of the ICMA's online newsletter, Array, and details about the 2001 ICMC to be held in Havana, Cuba, in September. Of particular note are the links on the Resources page, which include Academic Institutions, Research Institutions, Composers, Education, and Electronic Musical Instruments and Alternative Controllers.
WEBCASTThe iMusiCast site (www.imusicast.com) is the brainchild of Bryan Matheson, owner of Skyline Studios, a recording and post-production facility in Oakland, California. Matheson leased a large warehouse space next door to his studio and built a venue specifically for broadcasting live performances on the Web. The room contains everything a band needs to produce a video of its show: a large stage, P.A., lights, mics, monitors, video cameras, shooting platforms, and plenty of room for an audience. "People want compelling live content to fill up their broadband pipes," says Matheson, "and we intend to give them that live-music experience."
The Internet magic happens upstairs in the control room. The audio and video feeds from the floor go into a Trinity video production system running Globecaster software from the Play Streaming Media Group. The video director gives instructions to the camera operators, switches views, and posts title graphics like those in a regular television broadcast. The A/V output then goes into three computers (a Mac G4 and two PCs) that send out high- and low-resolution streams in Windows Media or RealMedia formats to a server farm in San Jose, California. From there, the Webcast can be accessed live by any computer in the world. IMusiCast also provides an Internet Relay Chat room so audience members can interact with the performers and each other.
Once a show has been Webcast, it is archived on the site and can be viewed later on demand. So far, the company has Webcast a capella vocal groups, electronica, heavy metal bands, and the ongoing "Acousticast" series, which features local acoustic acts.
DOWNLOAD OF THE MONTHAllegroassai (www.allegroassai.com), formerly known as Sincrosoft, is an excellent resource for composers, arrangers, educators, and instrumentalists seeking to study and perform pieces from the classical repertoire. The term allegro assai means "a very fast tempo," which is an appropriate description for a Web site that offers instant access to sheet music. Allegroassai also maintains a directory of links and news stories of interest to performers and music teachers.
The Italian company produces four cross-platform applications: Opus, an inexpensive but powerful music-notation application; Amadeus, a lite version of Opus that accepts MIDI keyboard input; Opus Editor, which lets users edit scores but doesn't accept MIDI input; and Opus Viewer, a freeware application for viewing, printing, and playing scores. Scores produced using these programs are saved in the Opus format and can be edited or played back like MIDI files. Site visitors can even add fingerings to the downloaded scores and print out high-resolution sheet music for use away from the computer.
The sheer number of pieces available in Allegroassai's online catalog is impressive. Once you subscribe to the service, you can download hundreds of scores - including 385 pieces by J. S. Bach - a number that's growing every day. Single movements from larger works, such as the opening allegro of Beethoven's Piano Sonata no. 15, op. 28, or individual parts from ensemble pieces are also available for purchase. The entire Allegroassai catalog can be searched by composer, title, instrument, or ensemble.
BAND ON THE WEB"We didn't name the band Banga Tribe after the tribe based in Nigeria," says Paul Bidault, vocalist and guitarist for Banga Tribe. "The word banga appears in many different dialects and has many meanings, ranging from sword to man to water. Our music is similar in that it has many different meanings and styles. We used the word tribe in our name out of respect and admiration for all the ancient cultures of the world."
Based in Mexico City, Banga Tribe (www.bangatribe.com) combines the efforts of Bidault and Pablo Guessi (bass and programming). The two met in school seven years ago and played in a variety of bands before deciding to try their hands at creating more innovative music.
With influences as diverse as Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Peter Gabriel, and Massive Attack, Banga Tribe blends bubbling synthesizers, processed vocals, ethnic percussion, mandolins, and electric guitars. The result is a smooth, somber, mystical sound, like a soundtrack for a thriller set in a Buddhist monastery.
Working out of their PC-based home studio, Guessi and Bidault create their tracks using a Roland MC-505 Groovebox, Boss DR-5, and a variety of effects and acoustic instruments. "These days anyone can make electronic music," says Guessi. "Just hit a couple of keys and the work is done. We believe that when using electronic equipment, the artist's input must be strong, and that the gear is merely a way to convey the music."
Three of the group's tracks - "Seven Stars," "Wind Star," and "Liquid Constellation" - have found success on MP3.com, and Banga Tribe is currently working on a CD that will be distributed through its Web site. "This is a very exciting time to be a musician," says Bidault. "Without the help of big companies or labels, we have managed to get our music heard all over the planet. The Web lets us interact with fans and get their thoughts, complaints, and opinions. It also gives us the chance to meet and collaborate with artists from other countries."
WEB APPAn attempt to make the Internet experience richer, easier, and more sophisticated, the Extensible Markup Language (XML) is an exciting new Web development.
"XML specifies the syntax, or format, of a document without specifying what kind of information the document contains," says Phil Burk, a developer of interactive music software. Among other things, Burk uses XML to store synth patches for JSyn, an interactive computer-music Application Programming Interface (API) he developed using Java. (For more details on JSyn, see "Web Page" in the June 2000 issue of EM.)
"For instance, XML lets you to define your own tags, so you can mix and match information from different applications and different sources within the same document," Burk says. "This is useful in situations where you want to organize a variety of data types that can be easily parsed. XML gives you the tools to do this whether the data is musical notation or a database."
A markup language is used to design ways of describing information for transmission to, storage in, or processing by an external program. The most familiar markup language to the average Internet user is HyperText Markup Language (HTML). Although HTML allows users to define the format of documents and includes limited hypertext and multimedia capabilities, the language describes only a single class of documents.
By comparison, XML is a metalanguage that allows you to create customized markup specification languages. Like HTML, XML is written in the internationally standardized markup language know as Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). "With XML, you don't have to invent your own syntax because it's already defined," Burk says. "By simply conforming to the conventions of the language, you can take advantage of a number of existing tools, like XML parsers."
In fact, the conventions in XML are considerably more rigorous than in HTML. For example, in an HTML file an opening tag, such as
, can often have its effect without using a corresponding closing tag, such as
. However, in XML, every opening tag must be followed by a closing tag. And unlike SGML and HTML, XML is case sensitive. This means, for example, that the beginning and end tags, and , must match each other exactly in terms of upper and lowercase letters.
Although they may seem more cumbersome, tougher rules such as that give XML its power. They make XML more flexible than HTML while avoiding the programming difficulty of SGML. In fact, XML is merely an abbreviated version of SGML.
Ultimately, XML isn't meant to replace HTML but rather to serve as an alternative for programmers who want to go beyond the limits of HTML. To successfully view XML documents, users need an XML-specific browser. Although SGML and HTML browsers accept XML documents, they do not fully recognize the contents. One option is to use Java to create browser plugins that handle XML. To learn more about XML and examine related markup languages such as XHTML, visit the useful World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) site at www.w3.org. The University College Cork Web site at www.ucc.ie/xml also has a helpful XML FAQ. - Gino Robair