WEB SITE OF THE MONTH
The issues that surround intellectual property are increasing incomplexity as music technology continues to evolve. Meanwhile, majorrecord labels and federal regulatory agencies are struggling to keepup. The Future of Music Coalition (FMC; www.futureofmusic.org) was created to address theissues surrounding copyright in the digital age and their effect onrecording artists. For anyone chasing the dream of the Big Record Deal,this site provides important information about the machinations of theindustry at large.
In its mission statement, the FMC says it will foster an opendiscussion of issues pertinent to musicians and music consumers,provide research about the record industry, and publish its findingsand disseminate the views and needs of recording artists to the mediaas well as policy makers. In addition, the FMC has posted a manifestoon its site that details three areas of concentration. The firstfocuses on the development of Internet music technologies that thwartpiracy and allow artists to be compensated for their work. The secondaddresses the conflict of interest that exists between the RecordingIndustry Association of America (RIAA), recording artists, and majorlabels. The third examines the problems inherent in the Secure DigitalMusic Initiative (SDMI).
The topics in the FMC site are well organized, with categories suchas Education/Issues, Press and News, Events, and FAQs given in the leftframe. Among the items in the Education/Issues category is Vocabulary,which provides a glossary of legal terms relevant to rights management.A list of the FMC's public filings and testimonies can be found in theBriefs category. That section also includes the organization's letterto the California State Assembly “urging for the repeal of theseven-year contract language that singles out recording artists,”which is particularly interesting.
The FMC Web site is updated regularly and includes links to relevantstories appearing in the media and a calendar of events. For example,the organization sponsors an annual policy conference.
For a little remixing fun, check out the Vocal Factory (www.thevocalfactory.com). The site has vocalsamples for you to use in a project and asks you to submit the results.If your mix is chosen, the Vocal Factory will include it on a samplerthat is presented to A&R and other record-industry folks in anattempt to get a record deal. There is one caveat: the Vocal Factoryretains the rights to all vocals on its site, so read the Terms andConditions page carefully regarding your rights to the remix youcreate…. To hear examples of naturally produced electric music,surf no further than SpaceWeather.com's site aboutsferics (www.spaceweather.com/glossary/inspire.html).Sferics (short for atmospherics), and related phenomena known astweeks and whistlers, are electromagnetic transmissionscaused by lightning. Although the overall frequency range of sferics— just a few hertz to over a million hertz — exceedspeople's hearing range, the emissions listeners can hear have anappealing snap, crackle, and pop, with an occasional glissando thrownin. The INSPIRE VLF (very low frequency) receiver at NASA's MarshallSpace Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is the source for the audioexamples on SpaceWeather.com. For additional examples, visit theINSPIRE Web site (http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/inspire/advanced.html)for a live audio stream of these intriguing sounds.
DOWNLOAD OF THE MONTH
Living Memory's CellSynth 1.6 (www.cellsynth.co.uk) is a shareware modularsynthesizer application with a built-in Automation Sequencer and audiorecorder. CellSynth comes with more than 150 example patches anda step-by-step tutorial to get you started building your own. Theshareware registration fee is $95 and is required to enable theAutomation Sequencer; all other features, including Load and Save, arefully functional in the unregistered version.
Click here to access filesreferenced in this article
You create patches in CellSynth by dragging modules onto asix-by-six patch Matrix. Any module can receive audio and control inputfrom any adjacent module, whether it be on the left, right, top, orbottom. Connections are activated by clicking triangular buttons alongthe module borders, thus eliminating the need for patch cords. Theoutput is controlled by a built-in audio mixer containing a channelstrip for each module in the Matrix. Any module can contribute to theoutput.
CellSynth's modules include three sound generators (amultiwaveform oscillator, a noise generator, and a sample looper), fourrouting and control modules (a router, a mixer, a panner, and an ADSRenvelope generator), seven audio processors (multimode, lowpass, andcomb filters; phaser; delay; reverb; and vocoder), and a stepsequencer. Each module has its own control panel for setting itsvarious parameters and managing the mix of audio and control inputsfrom adjacent modules. In addition, you can build custom control panelsfor the whole patch, complete with graphics and MIDI remotecontrol.
CellSynth can be used as a monophonic synth, but it is bestsuited for processing multiple synchronized loops. The Sampler modulehas a basic sample editor built in. For an audio example ofCellSynth, listen to the MP3 file DidjeriBell on the EMWeb site. Minimum requirements are a Macintosh G3/233 MHz, 64 MB ofRAM, OS 8.5 or later, Open Music System, and Sound Manager 3.0or later. — Len Sasso
The Pulse Sonifier is available as a subscription service. For asmall monthly fee, you get 24/7 access to Pulse Sonifier and its onlineaudio library. That is important because all of the sounds reside onPulse's server and are accessed from there as your page loads.
Remarkably, pages enhanced with the Pulse Sonifier load quicklybecause graphic elements are given priority. That lets you view thepage while the sonic elements are loading. Pulse Sonifier uses theubiquitous Macromedia Flash audio engine in your browser forplayback.
Using Pulse Sonifier is surprisingly easy and requires no softwaredownload. Just point your browser to the Pulse Sonifier Web site (www.pulsesonifier.com) and begin auditioning andselecting sounds by type and keyword. Sounds are also presented inthemed sets to help you in the selection process. Music cues androllover effects in each set are composed in the same key, which addsto a page's aural impact.
Next, type in the URL of the page you want to sonify. Theserver-based application calls up a copy of your Web page in yourbrowser so you can see what you are working on. Finally, drag and dropthe sounds you want from the library dialog box onto any text andgraphic elements on your Web page. The application lets you click onthe elements or roll over them to hear how the sounds work, withouthaving to reload or publish the page.
When you have finished adding your sounds, you are then prompted topublish the revised Web page via FTP; download the page to your harddrive; or have it e-mailed to you. That's all there is to it.
Pulse Sonifier can be used by PCs running Windows with MicrosoftInternet Explorer 5 or later (a Mac version is in development).However, Web pages sonified by Pulse Sonifier work with other browsersand computer platforms. Pulse is currently developing advancedtext-to-speech technologies and upload features that will soon allowconsumers to create their own audio content.
BAND ON THE WEB
When it comes to delivering style and substance, few indie groupsare as together as the Boston-based synth-pop trio Freezepop (www.freezepop.net).The band's first full-length release, Freezepop Forever,contains 12 tracks that hark back to the structural simplicity ofKraftwerk, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, early Depeche Mode, andthe Human League. Freezepop's songs offer clever arrangements withorchestrations so sparse that, at times, they seem almost invisible.The key element is the band's secret weapon: the Yamaha QY70.
“The QY70 is really the biggest influence on Freezepop'ssound,” says the Duke of Candied Apples, chief composer andengineer for the band. “I thought it would be great for composingwhile out playing shows or on a plane, and then in the studio, I wouldreplace all the sounds with better ones. I quickly realized that it hassome great sounds for writing blippy synth pop. So I decided to start anew synth band and limit myself to only two pieces of gear: the QY70and a Music and More (MAM) vocoder.”
The Duke's passion for the QY70 borders on fanaticism. OnFreezepop's Gear page, his correspondence with Yamaha about suggestedimprovements to the product is proudly displayed. The page also detailsthe Duke's tidy recording setup, which includes Mark of the Unicorn(MOTU) Digital Performer 2.71, a MOTU 2408 interface, a Yamaha03D digital mixer, and a Lexicon MPX-1 effects processor.
However, it's the sound of the QY70 that helps keep the music smartand clear, even onstage. “It also makes playing shows prettysimple in terms of lugging gear around,” the Duke says.“It's a great little box to use live because I can jump around alot and not be confined to a keyboard. My job during a show is tohandle the song arrangements: working in Pattern mode, I call up theverses and choruses and also mute and unmute tracks during the song tomix up the orchestration. It's a flexible way to change songs aroundlive and bring something new to them each time we play.”
The vocoder also plays an important part in Freezepop's music.Onstage, the Other Sean T. Drinkwater covers those parts using a RolandVP-330. “It is the dreamiest vocoder ever,” adds the Duke.Drinkwater also uses a Roland JP-8000 for additional synthtextures.
Vocalist Liz Enthusiasm shares songwriting duties in Freezepop. Hervoice has a charming innocence as she skillfully navigates theseductive melodies of “Plastic Stars,” “TenderLies,” and “T DJ.” Her fascination with Japanese popculture is partly responsible for the band's wonderful song“Tennis Boyfriend,” which Enthusiasm sings in Japanese.“Liz took a semester of Japanese in college,” says theDuke. “So she was able to write the lyrics and pronounce themcorrectly. And the Japanese vision of the future — from the late'60s and early '70s — is very appealing to us.”
Enthusiasm, who has a background in graphic design, is alsoresponsible for Freezepop's cohesive look, which encompasses its albumart, Web site, and merchandise. Many bands fail to achieve this kind ofconsistency in packaging, but Freezepop is a winner. The band's Webpages and CD design are attractive, free of clutter, and easy toread.
“The visuals you present to the world are so important, andthe Web site has really been one of the best ways for us to get ourmusic out there,” the Duke says. “We get a lot of commentsfrom people that our Web site is fun. We try and update it all thetime, with photos from shows, an advice column, recipes, and, myfavorite section, Fan Art.”
Freezepop's new EP, Fashion Impression Function (ArchenemyRecords), features four new songs as well as remixes of songs fromFreezepop Forever. In addition, the band's song “ScienceGenius Girl” appears in the interactive video gameFrequency for the Sony PlayStation 2.