Internet Killed the Late Night Talk Show Star

Alex Ross author of The Rest is Noise and New York Times music critic writes on a recent his The Rest Is Noise Blog New York Times article on late night TV: “….[T]he median age of [Jay Leno’s] viewers has crept up to 55.6 from 46.6. Mr. Letterman’s audience is slightly younger, at 54.7.” The latest findings by the League of American Orchestras, drawing on their own studies as well as the most recent NEA study of arts participation, indicate that the median age for the classical audience is forty-nine. In fact, that’s younger than the median age of the entire prime-time television public. Yup, so classical music is younger and hipper than late night TV. The demographic that fondly refers to themselves as “baby boomers” and likes to think of themselves as revolutionary likes late night TV more than classical music. Now most would think of classical music as […]

Song of a Weakling Child: The Dispute Between Aphex Twin and Stockhausen is over

This clever video fuses two masters of electronic music together: Aphex Twin‘s “To Cure a Weakling Child” and Karlheinz Stockhausen‘s “Song of the Youth”. In 1995 BBC Radio 3 recordings from several electronic artists including Aphex Twin, Plasticman, Scanner and Daniel Pemberton for a story called “Advice to Clever Children“. What Stockhausen had to say about Aphex Twin: I heard the piece Aphex Twin of Richard James carefully: I think it would be very helpful if he listens to my work Song Of The Youth, which is electronic music, and a young boy’s voice singing with himself. Because he would then immediately stop with all these post-African repetitions, and he would lookfor changing tempi and changing rhythms, and he would not allow to repeatany rhythm if it were varied to some extent and if it did not have a direction in its sequence of variations. And Mr. Richard D James’ […]

Hit Instrumental Songs

Regularly, instrumental songs became a #1 hit from Billboard’s inception in 1950. That is, until 1985. It has been 25 years since an instrumental charted that high. The last time an instrumental made the top 20 was 1996. What does this say about our culture today?

Paint By Number Culture

Walking in any shop by the magazine aisle now feels like a Philip K Dick novel. I see magazines featuring people with mentions of going-ons in their life: a new baby, an argument with a spouse, a disruption of lifestyle. While these events are important to the person experiencing them, they matter little to a stranger. All these people on the magazines are strangers– I have no idea who they are, what they do and why I should care. Sometimes I feel as if I have slipped into an alternate universe where things are a bit different, such as Dewey defeated Truman or Buddy Holly is alive. I feel like a character in a Philip K Dick novel wondering how I ended up here and if I’ll need a canister of Ubik. I wonder who these people are and why they are famous or important. No one– even adoring fans– […]

Rewire: The Postal Service

Alright, I confess: I still write and send actual, physical letters to people.  People I know even.  For non-special occasions, not even as a ritual or an outdated formality.  I’m a sucker for physical objects, what can I say. As often as I think that I’m the last non-corporate entity who still uses the post office, there’s still that enormous line at every sad outpost of the U.S. Mail.  Weird.  Who are these people? Before this devolves into a pointless antiquarian rant, let me get to the meat: there’s an article brewing that I want to get a conversation going about before it starts. Topic: how would you go about making the postal service relevant? Included in this would be the issues of improving the user experience, competing with email for ease of use, making all those hackneyed storefronts do something and running it all without just digging a big […]