The Art of Possibility

Book: The Art of PossibilityA few years ago my wife Amy was encouraged on short notice to attend a lecture by Benjamin Zander; due to non-existent publicity for the event they needed seat fillers at UNC’s Memorial Hall.

Despite the limited audience (Zander writes that he is equally enthusiastic when speaking to five people as he is 1500), Zander’s message of enthusiastic optimism and positive tranformation had her calling me on my cell phone before she even got home.

I read the book from which the lecture was given shortly thereafter, and I, too was moved by its inspirational messages. Last night, as I prepared to listen to James Ehnes play the solo role in Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky’s always-dazzling Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 35 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thompon Hall, I thought again about the many lessons of Zander’s work and how they are more relevant than ever.

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Welcomed home by Stanley Jordan (and Bob Edwards)

Joi Ito invited me to be a speaker at the 2008 Ars Electronica Symposium and Festival, held each year in Linz, Austria. I chose to speak about Music, Software, and Sustainable Culture, tying together my free software and free culture sensibilities. But after discharging those responsibilities, and after meeting tons of new people and sharing lots of new information, it was time to come home.

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Seeds of Shakti grow in Durham

John Heitzenrater teaches sarongPage counts and advertising revenues may be down at our local newspaper, the News and Observer, but we still subscribe because it still brings us a lot of good news, reporting, and commentary.  This morning I read a particularly inspiring article about John Heitzenrater, an expert in South Asian instruments.

The article begins by noting that Heitzenrater’s roots are Swedish, his accent American, “[but] when John Heitzenrater fiercely strums the sarod, the music resonates, transcending geographical and ideological boundaries.”

It turns out that Heitzenrater was inspired by one of the great boundary-trascendents, John McLaughlin

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Music Producers Institute hosts Radney Foster (and invites you)

Radney FosterThere are a growing number [1] [2] of stories lately about music studios opening up to a new way of doing things, namely the total integration of performance and experience that I call co-production.  Here’s another story from the Music Producer’s Institute and their upcoming session with Radney Foster.

They advertise:

“Whether you are studying recording in school or on your own, let MPI show you the producer’s side of recording’s creative process, from start to finish: from pre-production to mastering. Founded by Grammy-winning producer Steve Fishell, MPI teaches you producing techniques that apply to all musical genres, from popular to fringe, indie to mainstream.

“Hear and see a real-world, master-level recording session as we track with world-class singers, musicians and engineers. Gain first-hand experience watching Grammy-winning industry pros at work at the Sound Emporium Studios, Nashville, TN.

“Hear daily special guest lecturers share their studio know-how, insights, tips and wisdom gained from decades of experience. Foster contacts with music industry pros and insiders.”

I think they’ve got an absolutely wonderful idea here…

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Peter Gabriel to adopt music co-producer model?

The Big Room @ Real World Studios David Rose tipped me off to this story titled Peter Gabriel Considers Allowing Fans Into Recording Studio.  The source for that story reports:

“The Incredible String Band wrote to their fans on their website and sold admission to their recordings… and that gave them the budget to purchase the studio time. They created a mini-economy based on 120 people.”

Props to Peter Gabriel for being able to manage the crush of 120 people in his studio (or at least be game to do so)!

Actually, I think this could be a significant turning point for the recording industry…

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Linda Ronstadt had her chance…but who’s going to get it now?

Growing up in the 1970s, Linda Ronstadt was one of the first female vocalists that made me want to spend more time on the Rock and Roll side of the FM dial and less time listening to classical music on our local NPR affiliate, WMHT. But a few weeks ago, completely by chance, I heard her talking about her experiences in the Music industry as a special guest of the NPR news quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, and the course of the interview practically wrote a blog posting for the Miraverse concept. Here’s my transcription of the relevant stories:

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Sound familiar? A recording experience opens in Nashville

While looking at how Parlor Productions are put together, I came across a link for a creative workshop for event planners:

The event involves Hit Songwriters from Nashville who gather together in small groups with the attendees, and write a short song or jingle about the company. Then the separate groups come back together in the studio, and surrounded by lots of laughter, record their individual masterpieces.

The highlight of the evening comes at the end, when the hit songwriters do a performance of their biggest hits in the intimate setting of the studio.

What a great opportunity for people to see how their own create works draw, consciously or unconsciously, from the culture that surrounds them.  And what a great opportunity for professionals to raise their game through this collaborative experience.
I wish Parlor Productions and their clients much success!