Category Archives: music

rock on.

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pine knob - the grateful dead

remembering 50 years of magical music memories at pine knob

one of the greatest outdoor amphitheaters ever, and still rocking.

i’m sure you can pick me out here,

on a typical night in the middle of the hill on the lawn

early 70s, where i saw my first live concert, Focus, performing their one hit, “Hocus-Pocus.” 

Pine Knob. A holy musical pilgrimage for metro Detroiters for 50 years. 

The award-winning theater was christened with a matinee concert by teenage heartthrob David Cassidy on June 25, 1972 (a few days later, old-school crooner Andy Williams and Quincy Jones hosted a five-night run at Pine Knob to mark the occasion). It was the largest venue of its type in the country at the time, currently able to accommodate 15,000 patrons.

A couple of weeks later, the first rock concert at Pine Knob forced the police to shut the place down — a sign that Clarkston’s new venue had a little something for everyone. 

When the James Gang rolled into Pine Knob that inaugural summer, an estimated 25,000 “young people” tried to storm the venue. That’s according to a report in the Detroit Free Press, which noted that the rest of the “hard rock” concerts scheduled for that summer would be canceled after the ruckus. That included an upcoming show by Detroit’s own Bob Seger, who would go on to play more than 25 sold-out shows at the venue over the years.

Maybe you were at that show, or the more than 3,000 other concerts that have taken place there. Thousands have made memories at Pine Knob over the years, whether blurry-eyed ones from the top of the hill or once-in-a-lifetime front row experiences from within the comfort of the pavilion (which, admittedly, could’ve been blurry-eyed, too).

When Pine Knob changed its name to DTE Energy Music Theatre in 2001, it was those memories that kept the original name alive. Even the bands that played there and recorded live albums there called it Pine Knob. “It’s always been Pine Knob to me. I always call it that from the stage,” Peter Frampton told Billboard earlier this year. “I am really happy Pine Knob’s true identity has finally been returned.” (Frampton recorded his 1999 album Live in Detroit at Pine Knob.) For its 50th anniversary, new sponsors made the wise move to tap into that well of nostalgia by bringing back the original name and some of the retro aesthetic to the signage and logo.

“you create a community with music, not just at concerts but by talking about it with your friends.”

-david byrne

hangin’ tough.

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unexpected fun
when my friend won tickets
  to a new kids on the block concert
‘the mixtape tour”
with other ‘retro’ bands of that era
salt-n-pepa, rick astley, and en vogue
bands i haven’t seen or heard
since i took my daughter and her friend
30ish years ago
not my dream music but great to be 
in the midst of a  really happy crowd who still loved them
and who knew i’d spend my friday night dancing with nkotb?
“keep calm and hang tough.”
-new kids on the block

would you believe…?

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saw this (now vintage) ad 

from my younger days

and wondered

how many of you still owe columbia house the $1.00?

i keep waiting for someone to come to the door

looking to take back my records or cassettes.

or the dollar that i never sent in. 

“both my parents worked, so i was home alone a lot, and i would listen to their records.

they belonged to the columbia house record club, so they had records!”

-lyle lovett

tiny bumblebee.

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One of classical music’s most virtuosic piano pieces, expertly played on a tiny toy piano…(via Julian Clef)
“a mighty flame followeth a tiny spark.”

– Dante Alighieri

credit: classic fm, uk

mutual tuning-in.

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pat metheny, side-eye tour, orchestra hall, detroit, michigan

detroit symphony orchestra paradise jazz series

october 2021

amazing experience

We’re all familiar with the sense of wonder and joy we experience when we hear a song or piece of music we love, but there’s something even more magical about hearing that song performed live. Although many artists offered streamed performances online during the pandemic, these didn’t quite leave us with the same enchanted feelings as concerts. So what makes live music different? Columbia associate music professor Mariusz Kozak explains why live music is so powerful.

Live music allows us to experience what philosopher Alfred Schütz called a “mutual tuning-in.” This term refers to the phenomenon where we experience the passage of time and emotions with others. This is part of the reason humans need social interaction to thrive. When we attend a concert, we’re experiencing the tone of the music—fast, slow, happy, sad—with others around us. This creates a sense of intimacy with the crowd around us. This is also why research shows that babies who are bounced in time to music with an adult display more altruism towards that person.

This pleasurable effect gained from synchronizing with those around us is what makes live music and dance so powerful. Although most people probably relate to this feeling when remembering their favorite concert, this feeling is not limited to conventional music. It can also be experienced through collective visual synchronization. In the deaf community, facial gestures and movements are to convey emotions in music performance. The collective interpretation of the emotions behind these facial gestures also promotes a sense of unity.

The Blackfeet in North America use the same word to refer to music, dance, and ceremony, indicating the essential role of gathering to fully appreciate the benefits of music. Close friends can even experience this synchronization when walking or talking together.

Experiencing music in the presence of others cultivates a feeling of unity and empathy within us which exceeds anything we could experience by ourselves. As we head back to in-person concerts and relish this feeling once again, know that the true power of the music you’re hearing might not come from the artist, but in fact your fellow concert goers.

– Mariusz Kozak, Associate Professor of Music and Music Theory, Columbia University

 

sing for your dinner.

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i found this picture of these knives and really wanted to know more. their story is fascinating.

Knives with musical notes on the blades are known as notation knives. A notation is the written version of a physical process, such as the sound of music. Once it is written down it can be preserved and recreated.  Sung at four different levels.They are the four parts Superius (Soprano) Countratenor (Alto), Tenor, and Bassus (Bass) to be sung simultaneously as in a hymn.

These knives are etched with notations expressing gratitude for a meal. On one side of the blade the inscription translates as, ‘The blessing of the table. May the three-in-one bless that which we are about to eat’, to be sung before the meal is taken. On the other side the notation gives thanks after the meal: ‘The saying of grace. We give thanks to you God for your generosity’. The point of the knife allows meat or bread to be skewered and offered to a fellow diner. Notation knives are extremely rare.

The interesting history of notation knives is explained here on YouTube and the music has been gloriously performed toward the end of the video. It’s only 5 minutes long . Well worth the time! https://youtu.be/-mai-7WUbBo

 

 

“those who wish to sing, always find a song.”

-swedish proverb

 

credits: Victoria and Albert Museum, AHRC, Flora Dennis, University of Sussex

hidden life radio.

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listen….

Silent tree activity, like photosynthesis and the absorption and evaporation of water, produces a small voltage in the leaves. In a bid to encourage people to think more carefully about their local tree canopy, sound designer and musician Skooby Laposky has found a way to convert that tree activity into music.

By connecting a solar-powered sensor to the leaves of three local trees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Laposky was able to measure the micro voltage of all that invisible tree activity, assign a key and note range to the changes in that electric activity, and essentially turn the tree’s everyday biological processes into an ethereal piece of ambient music.

You can check out the tree music yourself by listening to the Hidden Life Radio—Laposky’s art project—which aims to increase awareness of trees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the city’s disappearing canopy by creating a musical “voice” for the trees.

The project features the musical sounds of three Cambridge trees: a honey locust, a red oak, and an 80-year-old copper beech tree, all located outside the Cambridge Public Library. Each tree has a solar-powered biodata sonification kit installed on one of its branches that measures the tree’s hidden activities and translates it into music.

According to WBUR, between 2009 and 2014, Cambridge was losing about 16.4 acres of canopy annually, which is a huge loss considering that tree canopies are crucial to cities,  cooling them down during the summer, reducing air pollutino, sucking up carbon, and providing mental health benefits.

Laposky hopes that people will tune into Hidden Life Radio and spend time listening to the trees whose music occurs in real-time and is affected by the weather. Some days they might be silent, especially when it hasn’t rained for several days and they’re dehydrated. The project will end in November, when the leaves will drop — a “natural cycle for the project to end,” Laposky says, “when there aren’t any leaves to connect to anymore.”

 

 “in a cool solitude of trees

where leaves and birds a music spin,

mind that was weary is at ease,

new rhythms in the soul begin.”

-william kean seymour

source credits: Kristin Toussaint, The Optimist Daily, WBUR Radio

the music of spiders.

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spider music

The humble spider has always been well represented in the musical world, from Ziggy Stardust to the Who and Wilco. For too long, though, we’ve refused to let them relate their experiences to us more directly. That’s now changed, thanks to the work of scientists who are turning spiders’ vibration-based perceptions into music.

Vice recently profiled the work of MIT engineering professor Markus Buehler, who leads a team that’s working to translate web vibrations into sounds we can actually hear. The project uses “the physics of spiderwebs to assign audible tones to a given string’s unique tension and vibration” through a process called data sonification.

The resulting models can be explored through virtual reality software or listened to via examples recorded by Buehler and his collaborator Tomas Saraceno. The music created by manipulating the models is incredible—an eerie approximation of how spiders understand their environments.

Buehler says that the project’s goal is both to “expand how we generate sound in music and how we compose music” and to practically demonstrate how “for something like a spider, there’s a whole different way of experiencing the world.”

“Researchers say the project could eventually be used to reverse engineer spiders’ reality and communicate with the arachnids,” Vice explains, somewhat ominously. Buehler elaborates, saying that he’s planning to play AI-generated spider sounds to the creatures and “gauge [their] reactions.”

For more on Markus Buehler And The Spiders From Earth, read the full article.

 

“is there anything more beautiful and protective than the simple complexity of a spider’s web?”

-e.b. white, Charlotte’s Web

 

 

 

source credits: Reid McCarter, Michelle Bender, Vice