Archive for the Musicians Category

Anamanaguchi: Awesome 8-bit Music

Posted in Musicians with tags , , , , on November 28, 2009 by lindahurd

You’ve probably (hopefully) heard 8-bit music, or chiptunes, even you aren’t aware of what it’s called.

From Wikipedia:

8-bit refers to a style of electronic music inspired (and performed) by the sound of old computer consoles from the 8 bit era of video games. This music will often reflect sounds from technology that is seen as primitive or “outdated” such as the Game Boy and home made synthesizers.”

 

I recently read an interview on createdigitalmusic.com from the band Anamanaguchi.  Anamanaguchi makes ridiculously awesome chiptune music from a hacked NES.

 

From Createdigitalmusic.com:

Vijith: How do you do write these sequences?

Pete: It’s a [DOS] program called Nerdtracker 2 that apparently writes music in the language that the NES can understand. It’s a really home-brewed program. It was made in 1998 by a bunch of Swedish dudes, and it never got out of beta, and it’s prone to crashing, and it has all these terrible bugs in it, half the features don’t work.

And the decision to mix it with guitars?

Pete: I started messing around with it and sending songs back and forth with a friend of mine, and in the beginning, the music I wrote kind of sounded “videogamey,” but as I continued writing, my actual musical influence kind of started to get in there. And at that point, it made a lot of sense to put it as an instrument in a full live band setting, with guitars and drums and that sort of thing. Right before going to NYU, literally NYU move-in day, I released the Power Supply EP through 8bitpeoples, which I had recorded totally by myself at my house except for one track which we recorded with James. All I had was a shitty mic and a shitty guitar and a shitty amp and just recorded what I knew, without any kind of formal training.

 

Do you write using a guitar or a Nintendo?

Pete: It’s a mixture of both. Certain songs, I’ll get the idea as a melody in my head. The music is pretty melodic, so it’s pretty transferable from instrument to instrument. Anything I write on guitar I can put on the Nintendo, and anything I write on the Nintendo I can usually play on guitar – unless it’s way too fast, which it usually is.

Recently, I’ve been getting more into making sounds on the Nintendo that can’t be reproduced by instruments, doing stuff that only the sound chip can do. But more or less I like to create a skeleton of the song on the NES. Ary, on the Game Boy, makes some absolutely ridiculous stuff that’s really fucking weird, like, really just straight-up the weirdest music I’ve ever heard. And the way he does it is not so much thinking musically, but technically. When I came into the 8-bit world, I was definitely the opposite. Any time there’s electronic music, you have people who are thinking technically, and usually that’s music that I’m not very interested in, because it’s kind of cold, usually. I came into the 8 bit world with a very musical background, being in bands growing up and stuff, as opposed to a programming background. But recently I’ve been getting really into making strange sounds on the Nintendo that, like, “Whoa, I didn’t know you could do that with that sound chip.” At the same time, I’m mixing that with that simple pop sensibility.

What I usually like to do is to harmonize everything. Why not? You have two square channels. What else are they going to do but harmonize each other?”

Another interview with Anamanaguchi from Geektro:

http://www.myspace.com/anamanaguchi

http://www.anamanaguchi.com/

Kraftwerk: Pioneers of Electronic Music

Posted in Musicians with tags , on November 23, 2009 by lindahurd

I hadn’t heard of the German band Kraftwerk until I read this Pitchfork interview with Ralf Hütter from Kraftwerk.  Kraftwerk is considered by many to be pioneers of German electronic music.  According to Wikipedia, “The signature Kraftwerk sound combines driving, repetitive rhythms with catchy melodies, mainly following a Western classical style of harmony with a minimalistic and strictly electronic instrumentation.”  Today, electronic music is relatively popular and common.  However, it was not so common 30 years ago.

Additionally, Kraftwerk uses many visual elements in their live shows.  “This included back-projected slides and films, increasingly synchronised with the music as the technology developed, the use of hand-held miniaturised instruments during the set, and, perhaps most famously, the use of replica mannequins of themselves to perform onstage during the song ‘The Robots’.”

Kraftwerk’s live show with mannequins

From the Pitchfork interview:

Pitchfork: How did the 3-D aspect of the show come about?

RH: Our music is always, as you know, very spacey– computer graphics, music, images, lyrics, and visual art we make ourselves, or that we make with artists. And it’s all synchronized. The premiere was at the Volkswagen factory when we played there in April. It went so well that we decided to do it again in the summer when we played for the Manchester Velodrome, where we had the British Olympic cycling team riding on the track and then later during the show, after our robot performance, we continued about five or six compositions with 3-D graphics and the audience put on the glasses. It was fantastic.

 

Pitchfork: Was there, when you were a young person and you were first seeing live music and performing live music, perhaps in the late 60s, was there anyone you saw that was an inspiration for this kind of multimedia show?

RH: No, nothing special. I think it was more like an awakening in the late 60s of the whole living situation– the German word is einfach musik. Everyday music, like– it’s more like discovering the tape recorder for us. Like, the world of sound: Everyday life has a sound, and that’s also why our studio is called Kling Klang studio because “kling” is the verb and “klang” is the noun for “sound.” So it means “sounding sound.” That’s really what Kraftwerk is about. Sound sources are all around us, and we work with anything, from pocket calculators to computers, from voices, human voices, from machines, from body sounds to fantasy to synthetic sounds to speech from human voice to speech synthesis from anything, if possible. We don’t want to limit ourselves to any specific sound like that was before when we were brought up in classical music. Then it had be strings, it had to be piano, blah blah blah. We wanted to go beyond, to find a new silence and from
there to progress to continue walking into the world of sound.

Pitchfork: Kraftwerk exists as not just an art object, like in a museum, but there’s always an element of popular culture, where it’s received by large groups of people. This is opposed to some people, who experiment with sound and they might do a sound installation in a museum. But it seems like there’s always been a popular element to what Kraftwerk does.

RH: Yes. That developed for us, when we started in the late 60s in art galleries and student clubs, there might have been 50 people or whatever, and it just developed this way. Then in the early 70s and with Autobahn, suddenly the world was– it was possible for us to tour around the world. Well, in France, Italy, and America. And then from there on, it was for us like a vision of electronic music as a universal language. It became our reality.

Pitchfork: Something I’ve always found interesting about Kraftwerk is that even when your music is electronic music and it’s, as you say, immaterial. It sort of exists independent of physical formats. There’s always been a strong feeling for the body in your music, that there’s always a physical manifestation of it, whether it’s through dancing or inspiration in something like cycling. Is that, the interface between electronics and the human body, is that of particular interest to Kraftwerk?

RH: Yes, I think that’s best expressed in the words the “Man-Machine”. It’s this combination of human sounds and machine sounds, so as you probably know, electronic music has been very, very intellectualized in the 50s, 60s, or whatever, and I think we always felt strong elements ourselves of these machine rhythms, repetition and charm. Like the motor humming on Autobahn, radio waves playing in fantastic melodies in the air. All these ideas have been in our minds and we try to combine them into the different albums.

 

I really like this idea of “Man-Machine”: creating music by combining human and machine sounds.  This is the foundation of electronic music as we know it today.  Even though there was electronic music before Kraftwerk, they helped to popularize it and greatly influenced the genre.

 

And to top it off, the music video for “The Robots” by Kraftwer