Monthly Archives: September 2004

My “3 Notes” Entry

3 Fingered

[ listen ]
[ download ]

In response to the issue I ranted about recently the folks at Downhill Battle (the folks who gaves us the Grey Tuesday protest) are holding a remix contest whereby the entries must use the infamous “three notes” that NWA sampled from George Clinton which got them sued.

In order to comply with a strict reading of the fair use clause of the U.S. copyright system, entries must be 30 seconds or less and (not sure why) can not use any other sounds in their entry. (The original clip and the NWA sample can be found here.)

The site includes a mini-rantish on why sampling matters that makes three separate points. The first two may be required for some legal context that I don’t claim to understand but the last point — that remixing is an entire form of artistic expression that has been outlawed — is the only one that seems to be necessary to me.

As of this writing my submission hasn’t shown up yet on their site but you can hear all 30 seconds of it by clicking on Vincent.

Ableton Live UPDATE

Thanks to Matt at Beatmixed for alterting me to an important bug-fix update to Ableton Live available tonight. The new version is 4.03 (even though this thread talks about 4.02 — complete with release notes (!) with lots of groovy bug fixes). To get the update open Live, click on the “Help” menu, then select “Check for Updates…”

Spooky on,,,

The Creative Commons site is featuring an interview with DJ Spooky (along with some doper hippie named Roger McGuinn).

Spooky is one of the great remixers of our time and he tends to use material already found in public domain (or so he claims) which means the rest of us out of excuses for relying on yet-another-James-Brown-break.

Probably my favorite part of the exchange:

CC: What do you consider to be the social and cultural significance of your changes?

DS: It’s a remix!


Green Ears

The Acoustic Ecology Institute has a great compendium of site links that feature environmental and experimental sound clips. One of my favorites is the “part guaranteed conceptual failure” Audio Recordings of Great Works of Art. (Perhaps it is considered a failure because it took me four mintues to get the RAM files to play.)

The sites that did have more playable clips had various licensing schemes but then what’s three notes between friends when you’re sampling. Even if those three notes lasts seven and a half minutes.

A true time waster if there ever was one.

Beware SP2

The sad irony of a system robust enough to enable a system restore feature is the fact that you need it. For all the crazy-ass freebie plug-ins I install and uninstall on my DAW, I have never needed to reestore to a point before one of those installs. Then I installed the official Microsoft upgrade to Windows.

I don’t have the most powerful DAW in the world and the combination of Live, sfz+ (sound font loader), ns7_kit drum sound fonts and Waves plugins had been straining my 3 year old system already. But installing Windows XP Service Pack 2 required enough extra memory to put my system over the edge. I could no longer open projects in Live without completely crashing my system.

If you do have the pang to upgrade then get more memory and enable the System Restore feature before you install SP2. Or get a Mac.

Lennon’s Jukebox

This week’s Great Performance series on PBS is an hour on John Lennon’s Jukebox . The segment focuses on a portable suitcase jukebox that held forty 45s that Lennon travelled with. The song list is here.

The hour is a splendid history of R&B in the early sixties showing the direct lineage from these 45s to the Beatles’ own records — lick for lick — and is the best showcase for how art builds upon pervious incarnations of itself. Vocal, guitar, harmonica and piano riffs are lifted directly from these records and (as Lennon himself says in interviews laced throughout the show) “shoved all over the place” into Beatles’ music.

Bobby Parker

[ listen ]
[ download ]

One of the most striking examples is Bobby Parker’s guitar riff from “Watch Your Step” that was used note-for-note in literally dozens of hits throughout the 60’s and 70’s including the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine.” If you play guitar you have played this riff.

Updated iinterviews with Delbert McClintock, the Isleys, Steve Cropper, Gary “US” Bonds, Fontana Barrett, Leiber and Stoller and even Parker are all presented with the actual jukebox and comment graciously and generously on their records and the influence on the Beatles.

This is a serious piece of music history, not celebrity, not show-biz, not rock-stars (except for Sting) — just real musicians talking about the vital creative process that today has been hijacked and criminalized by some of the most facist power-brokers this side of the Inquisition when they burned musicians at the stake for playing a tritone.

Once a Criminal…

Matt over at Beatmixed is pointing to the Wired story about a US Federal court that overruled a lower court’s decision to allow the use of samples “even minor, unrecognizable snippets of music.”

The case was brought by representatives of one of my childhood heroes George Clinton for use by an NWA track of three notes of a Clinton guitar riff that was re-pitched and looped to a 16-bar phrase.

Hero or no, genius or no it’s depressing to see Clinton take these kinds of actions. Over a fucking guitar riff. So it’s perfectly legal to use James Brown’s horn licks as inspiration for 100’s of your records (assuming you’re just using, you know, minor, unrecognizable snippets and then manipulating them to be your own) but you’re a criminal if the next generation of musician’s dare use three notes of your guitar riff. Fuck you.

A Web Site You Should Read

Brad is pointing to TweakHeadz Lab Guide to Home Recording. This is easily one of the best resources on the web (or anywhere) for anybody doing recordings out of their house.

Sites like this just bring home the idea that the days of requiring a huge big-ass studio to make professional recordings is already here. The bigger the studio the more specialized they will become and the mid-size and smaller (“budget”) ones will simply disappear. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you have a few hundred dollars you can make professional sounding demos. If you have a few thousand you can make pro records. Pretty much all inside your off-the-shelf computer.

From Rich (a.k.a. Tweak):

The studio pros used to shake their heads at all this software stuff, till a few years ago. Now even they are on the software bandwagon.

Continue reading