Digital Distribution of Music for Various Reasons

(This is the bit with the words. If you are looking for the music click here or scroll to the bottom of the page).

Daniel Levitin paints a world in six songs. Without undermining his research, I propose some additions:

5 compilations of pure music for:

  1. Time Management
  2. No Particular Reason
  3. Pixels
  4. Poems
  5. Professional Development

These works were made over the past fifteen years while trying to pay rent by reinforcing other people’s sound. It didn’t take fifteen years to make. It was an in-between-other-stuff kind of thing.

Music for Time Management, for example, has seven works in it. It was made in seven consecutive sittings of about four to six hours each. From composing to recording, to releasing.

Music for poems is a collection of music composed with David Gros as responses to poems. It took about six months.

Music for pixels is works for the screen, that of the cinema, the television or the phone. The works are either for my images or for someone else’s vision. Some took half a day, some several weeks.

The other two are self explanatory, but the point is that making the music was an exercise in navigating reality and managing my time.

My day job includes setting the parameters around technical production in the arts and media.

Most people will be familiar with the look of big control boards with lots of flashing light and buttons at the back of the venue drooled over by tired looking people dressed in black. It looks complicated. And it sometimes unnecessarily is.

To simplify things, let’s assume for a minute that a stick is a technology primarily designed to get apples off a tree.

Today, modern civilisation have advanced so far, that the standard stick can not only get apples off a tree, it can extend to coconuts, be used as a walking stick, a weapon, help steer the boat and connect to the wifi for reasons only a lucky few understand.

At work, I get to use various fancy ‘sound stick systems’. The challenge is, most commonly, managing time.

One can spend a lifetime discovering the wonders of such technological advancements. I’m getting paid to apply the wonder within the constrains of a show, time, budget and conflicting opinions.

In the arts industry, technology is more elusive than it is in the domain of sticks.

it is no longer about getting the apple or coconut off the tree; it’s about how smoothly it is plucked, who own the land where the tree is, the quality of the spin as it falls and the number of people attending the occasion.

In short, it is about opinions, aesthetics and expectations.

Jacques Attali wrote about the political economy of music. He described the structure of interferences and dependencies between society and it’s music. Particularly, how music is used by power to:

  1. Make people forget (the general violence)
  2. Make people believe (in the harmony of the world, order in exchange and legitimacy in commercial power)
  3. Silence people (by mass-producing deafening music, and censoring all other human noise)

The idea that music is a form of violence, is startling, but the arguments put forward are remarkable. Am I being violent by releasing my own music online?

The listener can answer this question themselves. But I think that it doesn’t meet Attali’s criteria, because the listener can choose how loud it is and how much of it they are exposed to.

Free choice.

Did it come from the invention of the internet, or is it all just an illusion? Too philosophical to address this post…

Being able to record and distribute music from the comfort of my home, without getting a record deal, pressing records, printing ads, or embarking on a world tour is a huge individual power enabled by technology which was not available thirty years ago. I have the advantage of the internet, access to musical instruments, recording equipment and some level of music literacy to speak to the world.

Am I using my privilege to force my musical agenda at the world or Is it just harmless self expression? Isn’t the fact that billions of other have the same power renders my free speech meaningless?

as Neomi Klein puts it in No Logo:

“Free speech is meaningless if the commercial cacophony has risen to the point that no one can hear you”.

Where is the line between art and entertainment? Where is the line between art and violence?

Attali wrote ‘Noise’ in the seventies, oblivious to the future rise of internet. But Cory Doctorow, several decades later, described how information doesn’t want to be free. And if we are not carful, the newfound ‘freedom’ of the internet will be heavily controlled to make people – believe, forget and silence them.

The reasons for choosing Bandcamp for digital publishing and distributing my music was inspired by Doctorow’s analysis of the role of intermediaries in the digital world and how existing intellectual property laws are being challenged by the economy of scale brought about by the popularity of the internet.

Music is violence when it’s inescapable. When it’s forced upon someone who doesn’t want to hear it.

At a festival that bombarded the entire city with sound, someone in the office said that the difference between art and torture is consent.

So my music is offered for free. Under a simpler, but still very complicated Creative Commons license. I don’t fully understand it, but it seems friendlier.

If you wish, you can also buy it. I still need to pay rent.

The accessible price of $1 per track was accurately crafted by teams of successful people in suites, to reflect the true value of the music according to an ancient economic formula known only to the suite people. Some believe the sacred knowledge is hereditary, some believe one can learn it on the internet.

Disclaimer – You may not get your dollar back if you didn’t like my song. (Unless you put a really strong argument forward, which I will consider.)

Of course, in a modern world with music and sound systems everywhere, the most priceless of sounds, is that of silence.

Aviation acoustics expert Mike Goldsmith tells a history of noise and how it shaped our cities and social norms. It highlights the value people identify in silence and how different the world once sounded like.

Without silence, music is continues noise.

If I can easily access silence I am truely free.

Daniel Barenboim starts his book, Music Quickens Time, by saying that it is impossible to speak about music.

It’s kind of like trying to eat a recipe.

Of course, you can try to describe it. But no description could ever give you the shivers of a magical moment of music, or the warmth spreading through your body when you bite on a perfectly baked apple strudel.

I admire performers with conviction. But I have no regrets for spending most of my time in reinforcing the voices of others. I take pleasure in giving the service of listening, and providing the most important thing in music – silence.

My favourite button is MUTE. But it’s also the hardest to press. Because as Nietzsche wrote: “Without music life would be a mistake.”

These, and more are some of the various reasons for the digital distribution of the music on this site. I hope you won’t think it’s a mistake, (although it probably partly is), and that you’d feel comfortable to share it with others.

I hope it will be a friend to accompany you in times of unwanted silence, or as a shield from other noise.

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