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Dust and Echoes

The world of video game music has blossomed in recent years, enough to support live concert tours and bestselling albums. But while most such work is licensed or contracted out to third-party composers, a rare breed make their living at a single company, imbuing entire franchises with their unique sound. And apart from Nintendo's venerable Koji Kondo, there is perhaps no dedicated gaming composer more renowned than Martin O'Donnell. From humble beginnings writing the jingle for Flintstones Vitamins, O'Donnell and longtime collaborator Michael Salvatori joined developer Bungie in 1997, penning music for Myth, Oni, and most notably the Halo trilogy -- an iconic blend of sweeping orchestral bombast, haunting choirs, and electronic ambience that became one of the most acclaimed and successful gaming soundtracks of all time. O'Donnell also helmed Bungie's audio department, managing voice actors, sound effects, and an innovative dynamic music engine, and was most recently working with Paul McCartney on the score for the upcoming Destiny. So it came as a surprise today when it was announced MartyTheElder was being terminated without cause (flabbergasted reaction: HBO/DBO - NeoGAF - Reddit). With O'Donnell following Joseph Staten, Frank O'Connor, Marcus Lehto, and other Bungie veterans out the door, what might this mean for the company and its decade-long plan for Destiny? [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Apr 16, 2014 - 26 comments

 

The Miracle of Bali: Music from the Village of Pliatan (1969)

David Attenborough introduces a half hour performance of Balinese Gamelan music.
posted by Len on Apr 9, 2014 - 9 comments

I Like Big Brass And I Cannot Lie

“How do you manage to breathe enough to play that thing?” Good question. It’s one I’ve asked myself a lot lately because until recently, I hadn’t practiced the tuba regularly in—(these are confessions from the tuba world, right?)—a decade, not since I took lessons in college. I’ve continued to play for TubaChristmas, for fun whenever my dad or brother feel like jamming, and for sundry church functions—just enough to warrant owning my own tuba. But, in January, I was asked to join a local British-style brass band for their upcoming competition in April. Not wanting to be the weakest link, as I suspected I was, I instated a weekly practice goal: a minimum of a half hour, four times a week. Let me tell you, a lot of rust accumulates in ten years.

posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 28, 2014 - 46 comments

Lucky there's a Family Guy... who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

A mashup of 43 iconic cartoon theme songs, performed by Ensemble ACJW at Carnegie Hall. How many can you name?
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro on Mar 26, 2014 - 14 comments

"I don’t really know the first thing about Classical Music."

The Anfield Wrap reviews the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 20, 2014 - 21 comments

One of the most emotional pieces of radio ever recorded

Friday November 22, 1963, at the Boston Symphony Orchestra: "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a press report over the wireless. We hope that it is unconfirmed, but we have to doubt it. That the president of the United States has been the victim of an assassination. We will play the funeral march from Beethoven’s Third Symphony."
posted by showbiz_liz on Nov 17, 2013 - 24 comments

These guys are fucking AMAZING.

Kiyohiko Senba is a composer who’s been likened to Zappa for his ambition, talent, madness, and virtuosity, but his music is considerably easier to get into. Get ready, because his large-scale orchestra project, Kiyohiko Senba and the Haniwa All-Stars, is about to blow your goddamn mind.

Let's start simple and ramp up. Hohai Bushi sounds a bit like an Ennio Morricone composition but with more electric guitar. Taiikusai is so heartfelt, yearning, and soaring that I cried when it got to the climax. They cover both Franz Schubert’s “Standchen" and Dusty Springfield’s “You Don’t To Say You Love Me” in ways that are all kinds of awesome. But the real treasure for me is this one, which begins with them playing the Village People’s “YMCA” but then transitions into Daimeiwaku, a freaking phenomenal good original piece that sounds – I don’t know how else to describe it – like James Brown and John Philip Sousa decided to play Katamari Damacy together and had a really good time. (With some klezmer and Leonard Bernstein thrown in there too, for good measure.) But wait! There’s [more inside]
posted by Rory Marinich on Oct 25, 2013 - 24 comments

And now, conducting the 'The Marriage of Figaro'....

Last week, Improv Everywhere set up the ACJW Ensemble Orchestra (of Carnegie Hall and The Juilliard School) in Herald Square in New York City and placed an empty podium in front of the musicians with a sign that read, "Conduct Us." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 30, 2013 - 41 comments

All That Meat

Somewhere in-between the space-age bachelor pad sounds of Esquivel and the gimmicky novelty of Spike Jonze sits Mel Henke, one of the most overlooked originators of the mid-century lounge sound. While most famous for versions of All That Meat, 77 Sunset Strip, and Pennies From Heaven, his largely instrumental wink-wink-nudge-nudge album La Dolce Henke is considered his masterpiece - The Lively Ones - The Twisters - You're Driving Me Crazy - Woman In Space - Farmer John - Old McDonald Had A Girl - See The USA In Your Chevrolet - Last Night On The Back Porch (Warning, historical sexism, erotic car metaphors)
posted by The Whelk on Sep 8, 2013 - 8 comments

And now, Haydn's 'Farewell' symphony

America's Orchestras are in Crisis : How an effort to popularize classical music undermines what makes orchestras great.
posted by Gyan on Sep 2, 2013 - 34 comments

HandsFree

Recently, at the BBC Proms, the National Youth Orchestra performed a piece by the composer and electronic musician Anna Meredith. The name of the piece is HandsFree. It's not your typical Proms fare. The musicians put down their instruments and commence twelve-odd minutes of clapping, stomping, shuffling, shouts and even singing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
posted by jason's_planet on Jul 6, 2013 - 22 comments

Distemper

Pitch Battles: How a paranoid fringe group made musical tuning an international issue.
The petition had its origins in one of the strangest conflicts to have overtaken classical music in the past thirty years, and many of these luminaries were completely unaware of what they’d gotten themselves into. The sponsor of both the petition and the conference that featured Tebaldi was an organization called the Schiller Institute, dedicated to, among other things, lowering standard musical pitch. ... But behind this respectable front lurks a strange mélange of conspiracy, demagoguery, and cultish behavior. At its founding in 1984, its chairman Helga Zepp-LaRouche laid out the Institute’s role in surprisingly apocalyptic terms
Originally published at The Believer.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 9, 2013 - 51 comments

There was applause, but it wasn't for the airline.

Several members of the Philadelphia Orchestra were on a flight from Bejing to Macao that got stuck on the tarmac for three hours. With nothing better to do, the musicians resorted to doing what they do best...
posted by schmod on Jun 7, 2013 - 44 comments

Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts

Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts: From 1958-1973, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein (Previously on MeFi) played live, educational concerts with the New York Philharmonic that were televised nationwide on CBS. Tapes of the broadcasts were eventually syndicated to 40 countries, introducing an entire generation of children to a wide range musical concepts, styles and composers. The first concert to air was "What Does Music Mean." [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 16, 2013 - 5 comments

Don't Be Shellfish, Share the music!

Shrimp Glockenspiel - Prawn Xylophone SLYT. That is all.
posted by lalochezia on Feb 6, 2013 - 13 comments

Recycled Orchestra

Landfillharmonic: The world sends us garbage, and we send back music -- Favio Chavez, Orchestra Director
posted by jacquilynne on Dec 10, 2012 - 6 comments

The Audition

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is one of the handful of orchestras for which musicians the world over will drop everything to scramble for a job, and the audition ranks among the world’s toughest job interviews. Mike Tetreault has spent an entire year preparing obsessively for this moment. He's put in 20-hour workdays, practiced endlessly and shut down his personal  life. Now the percussionist has 10 minutes to impress a selection committee and stand out among a lineup of other world-class musicians. A single mistake and it's over.  A flawless performance and he could join one of the world's most renowned and financially well-endowed orchestras at a salary of more than $100,000 a year. The Audition. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 5, 2012 - 90 comments

Richard Strauss' "Four Last Songs" sung by Jessye Norman

In the sixty-odd years since their composition, the Four Last Songs have acquired in many people’s minds an unassailable status as simply the most beautiful music known to them, to be listened to in a dimly lit room and a state of rapt meditation, surrendering to the extraordinary spell of profound, other-worldly calm that they cast. This is not surprising. They were, indeed, the last things of any significance that Strauss wrote, between May and September 1948, at the age of eighty-four. (previously) [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Mar 24, 2012 - 11 comments

Lux Aeterna

Does the success of Trent Reznor, Clint Mansell and others suggest an end to the dominance of the traditional orchestral soundtrack?
posted by Artw on Mar 10, 2012 - 62 comments

Here comes a Lion... oh yes, it's a Lion...

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba! It's been nearly two decades since that glorious savanna sunrise, and once again The Lion King is at the top of the box office. It's a good chance to revisit what made the original the capstone of the Disney Renaissance, starting with the music. Not the gaudy show tunes or the Elton John ballads, but the soaring, elegiac score by Hans Zimmer which, despite winning an Oscar, never saw a full release outside of an unofficial bootleg. Luckily, it's unabridged and high-quality, allowing one to lay Zimmer's haunting, pulse-pounding, joyful tracks alongside the original video (part 2, 3, 4), revealing the subtle leitmotifs and careful matching of music and action. In addition, South African collaborator Lebo M wove traditional Zulu chorals into the score, providing veiled commentary on scenes like this; his work was later expanded into a full album, the Broadway stage show, and projects closer to his heart. Speaking of expanded works, there were inevitable sequels -- all of which you can experience with The Lion King: Full Circle (download guide), a fan-made, three-hour supercut of the original film and its two follow-ups. Want more? Look... harder... [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Oct 1, 2011 - 22 comments

Instruments Online

If you want to read about the history, construction, sounds and playing techniques of, say, the tympani, or any other instruments of the classical symphonic orchestra, Vienna Symphonic Library's Instruments Online pages are good reading and a handy resource for orchestrators.
posted by Wolfdog on Sep 30, 2011 - 4 comments

Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra

American vs. British News Themes - from Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra
posted by lemuring on Sep 28, 2011 - 12 comments

"Ooooooooooooooooooooh girrrrrrrrrrrllllllllll. It was at that time that I lost my mind."

What then happens is an unbelievable series of Kafkaesque email threads, out-of-office messages, invented holidays, bizarre threats, secret handshakes. If you’re lucky, and very very persistent, you might end up with a CD of it, along with a note saying that “this never happened” and “don’t tell anybody you have this.” Nico Muhly on the difficulty of listening to one's own work.
posted by villanelles at dawn on Sep 10, 2011 - 11 comments

Kitchen sink? Chuck it in!

I Feel Love, Kids in America, Pinball Wizard, Let me Go, Maid of Orleans, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, I Need you Tonight, Big In Japan... The Benelux based Night of the Proms concerts have spend the last couple of decades or so pairing pop singers - often the ones we might remember best from dance floors - with large choirs and orchestras. This is now one of Europe's largest music events. [more inside]
posted by rongorongo on Sep 7, 2011 - 14 comments

You can bang your head to Beethoven

George Mason Green Machine athletic band plays Killing In The Name Of... Welcome To The Jungle played on two cellos. One by Apocalyptica. The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain plays the theme from Shaft.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Jun 10, 2011 - 16 comments

Top US orchestra faces bankruptcy

One of the US's world-class orchestras ... has decided it must re-organize to survive. 'A big orchestra has never done this before.' Led by Stokowski, the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded the music for Disney's groundbreaking 1940 animated feature Fantasia.

The 111-year-old ensemble acquired a top-notch reputation while under the baton of Eugene Ormandy between 1936-1980. There's been "a 'tremendous decline' in audiences over the past five years." And $33M in revenue won't cover $46M in expenses.
posted by Twang on Apr 16, 2011 - 48 comments

Free, High-Quality Musical Instrument Samples

Do you need a free library of high-quality, carefully-recorded samples of a wide variety of musical instruments? The University of Iowa Electronic Music Studios' Musical Instrument Samples page has got you covered, from alto flute to violin. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Mar 31, 2011 - 32 comments

Blodes Orchester

8 years in the making, ~200 antique appliances comprise Michael Petermann's Stupid Orchestra (SLVimeo).
posted by Lutoslawski on Mar 29, 2011 - 10 comments

The Definitive Look at the Diversity of Our Planet

Five years ago this week, the BBC started broadcasting one of the most extraordinary documentaries ever to grace television: Planet Earth. The culmination of five years of field work, it employed the most cutting-edge of techniques in order to capture life in all its forms, from sweeping spaceborne vistas to shockingly intimate close-ups -- including many sights rarely glimpsed by human eyes. Visually spectacular, it showcased footage shot in 204 locations in 62 countries, thoroughly documenting every biome from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the lifegiving waters of the Okavango Delta, a rich narrative tapestry backed by a stirring orchestral score from the BBC Concert Orchestra. Unfortunately, the series underwent some editorial changes for rebroadcast overseas. But now fans outside the UK can rejoice -- all eleven chapters of this epic story are available on YouTube in their original form: uncut, in glorious 1080p HD, and with the original narration by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Click inside for the full listing (and kiss the rest of your week goodbye). [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Mar 7, 2011 - 69 comments

Strum me a tyrannosaur

Here is the all-guitar orchestra playing Jurassic Park you were looking for [more inside]
posted by bicyclefish on Jan 31, 2011 - 27 comments

Carla Bley's "Escalator Over The Hill"

It is simultaneously unlike, and above, every other record. ... Because perhaps it tells us what a trivial pursuit music really is, and at the same time how indispensable to a meaningful existence it in fact is. ... No one, least of all Carla Bley, has subsequently come even within an orbit’s distance of its achievements. ... It is, in the most literal of senses, untouchable. - Marcello Carlin
posted by Joe Beese on Sep 11, 2010 - 42 comments

Don't get caught in a bad hotel

Bad Hotel - a FlashMob direct action for San Francisco hotel workers' right to health care by Pride At Work, Sleep With The Right People, and the Brass Liberation Orchestra. [more inside]
posted by koeselitz on May 12, 2010 - 47 comments

Music!

Music! - A 1968 documentary by the National Music Council of Great Britain, featuring folk singing, The Beatles, and even early electronic music produced by tape splicing. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.
posted by Artw on Mar 7, 2010 - 8 comments

Bottle Band Battle

Nine bands enter, only one emerges sober • Timelapsed, three college-age kids play the Theme to Tetris around a table on beer bottles • The Magic Blow_ob Ensemble plays Shostakovich's "Jazz Suite #2" on beer bottles • Two Polish Buskers play Greig's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" on beer bottles • The Bottle Band (also from Poland) performs "The Entertainer" on beer bottles • The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra plays the Victoria Bitter beer jingle on Victoria Bitter beer bottles • St. Luke's Bottle Band plays Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Reed Flutes" on beer and other bottles • The Bowen Beer Bottle Band [previously] performs "Do You Hear What I Hear?" on beer bottles • An ensemble wearing matching clothing plays "Mamma Mia" by ABBA on beer bottles • The J2O Bottle Blowing Choir performs "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (they are too young for beer) • [more inside]
posted by not_on_display on Feb 4, 2010 - 10 comments

ringtone

Helsinki Mobile Phone Orchestra playing Phones in C [slyt] by Otto Romanowski
posted by infini on Dec 23, 2009 - 11 comments

The Crazy World of andernestborgnineasdominic!

A strange, cryptic compact disc was found while hiking in Joshua Tree National Park. [more inside]
posted by gcbv on Nov 24, 2009 - 85 comments

It's a concerto with a cat. So it's a CATcerto.

Mindaugas Piečaitis has performed his "CATcerto," an original score written to accompany Nora The Piano Cat's piano improvisation. Here's the video of kitty with orchestra. [more inside]
posted by jbickers on Jul 25, 2009 - 20 comments

The Trombone

Last week was International Trombone Week. But what is a trombone? Can you recognize the many types of trombone? [more inside]
posted by winna on Apr 13, 2009 - 66 comments

Palestinian musician expelled from West Bank

Wafa Younis is an Arab Israeli musician who organised a youth orchestra in the Jenin refugee camp. She recently brought her orchestra to play for Holocaust survivors at an Israeli old age home. The performance was strongly criticised by Palestinians as a hostile political act. Now the orchestra has been disbanded, its performance space sealed, and Ms Younis has been expelled from the West Bank. [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia on Apr 2, 2009 - 49 comments

Plucked Spaghetti

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain travels south of the border
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 2, 2008 - 20 comments

Free music!

Celebrating 120 years, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is offering 10 symphonies as free downloads, available until November 24! [more inside]
posted by LooseFilter on Oct 20, 2008 - 17 comments

Carrots might unlock the secrets of the universe

People who make music out of carrots via The World Carrot Museum, enjoy some vegetable music on a Monday afternoon. Flute N Veg. Ivan the Chef drills a carrot. The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra. Carrot Pan Flute.
posted by grippycat on Oct 6, 2008 - 7 comments

Plunka-plunka-plunk, plunka-plunka-plunk, plunk, plunk, plunk.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain performs the theme to "Shaft" (SYTL). Really, is any description needed? [more inside]
posted by WCityMike on Oct 4, 2008 - 46 comments

Your favorite conductor sucks.

“Another Rosenberg Executed”? Classical music critic Donald Rosenberg may be the reigning expert on the Cleveland Orchestra, having written an entire book on the esteemed ensemble. But failure to fawn over conductor Franz Welser Most has gotten him booted off his newspaper’s classical music beat. People are beginning to notice… [more inside]
posted by Faze on Sep 23, 2008 - 16 comments

Elephants + Instruments = Thai Elephant Orchestra

The Thai Elephant Orchestra. Founded by Richard Lair and Dave Soldier [previously] at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang, Thailand, a former logging camp. • Listen to tracks from the Elephants' two releases: Thai Elephant Orchestra (2001) and Elephonic Rhapsodies (2004) [They're the 6th and 7th albums on the page] • A New York Times Article from Dec 16, 2000 • A National Geographic segment (audio) that accompanies a larger piece (video) about the changing lives of elephants in Thailand • A full-length documentary (.mov format) • Youtubery: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 [#4 is a beautiful animation which also incorporates paintings made by the elephants at the Center.] [more inside]
posted by not_on_display on Sep 16, 2008 - 16 comments

The low-down

Two 20th century additions to the comparatively small body of concertos for double bass and orchestra: Einojuhani Rautavaara's Angel Of Dusk (II, III), from 1980, and the 1948 concerto of Eduard Tubin (II, III). Those are courtesy of YouTube, but if you're not sated you can hear still more from bassist Phillip Serna, and a great deal more, from the fine Contrabass Conversations podcast.
posted by Wolfdog on Aug 24, 2008 - 4 comments

Conducting an orchestra. How hard could it be?

The theory is one thing - but if you have ever dreamed of having the chance to conduct a full, professional orchestra at a major concert then you are almost certainly (*) out of luck. Sorry. Unless you are a celebrity in which case the BBC might fix it for you (full program trailer on YT). Giving it their first go are actors Jane Asher and David Soul, Drum and Bass star Goldie, Blur bassist Alex James, broadcasters Katie Derham and Peter Snow, and comedians Sue Perkins and Bradley Walsh as they compete to be the "Maestro" [i-player link for UK only unfortunately]
posted by rongorongo on Aug 13, 2008 - 25 comments

Conducting? Hell, a robot could do it!

ASIMO Conducts The Detroit Symphony Orchestra
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jun 26, 2008 - 26 comments

The Rhythm is Going To Get You

The Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela have won the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts. It might be in part due to their charismatic conductor, or very probably due to their unique style. What sets them apart from most orchestras, though, is their System, which the NYT referred to as "the most ambitious program of music education and orchestra training in the world". [more inside]
posted by micayetoca on May 23, 2008 - 7 comments

Orchestral Maneuvers in the dAKAH

In LA, a 63 (70!)-piece orchestra blends the styles of Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington with hip-hop, European classical music, and free jazz. Spend some time with the dAKAH Orchestra and it's founder Geoff "Double G" Gallegos.
posted by mikoroshi on Apr 23, 2008 - 9 comments

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