Electronic Music Documentaries

On Saturday @lingmops tweeted:

Just spent an hour reading amount Delia Derbyshire and musique concrète thanks to @fireholly99 FACINATING THINGS I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW EXISTED

and then I lost the rest of the day watching music documentaries, so I thought I’d blog the very incomplete list to make sharing easier.

Alchemists of Sound
Looks at BBC Radiophonic Workshop from its inception, through its golden age when it was supplying music and effects for cult classics like Doctor Who, Blake’s Seven and Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, and charts its fading away in 1995 when, due to budget cuts, it was no longer able to survive.

Sculptress of Sound: The Lost Works of Delia Derbyshire
The broadcaster and Doctor Who fan Matthew Sweet travels to The University of Manchester – home of Delia Derbyshire‘s private collection of audio recordings – to learn more about the wider career and working methods of the woman who realised Ron Grainer’s original theme to Doctor Who.

Synth Britannia
Following a generation of post-punk musicians who took the synthesiser from the experimental fringes to the centre of the pop stage.

Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany
Between 1968 and 1977 bands like Neu!, Can, Faust and Kraftwerk would look beyond western rock and roll to create some of the most original and uncompromising music ever heard.

To which I would add a sideorder of Minimum Maximum by Kraftwerk

Pump Up the Volume – The History of House Music
From its early days as NY disco to the massive european (and international) scene it has become, via the major people and clubs who pushed it forward.

The Shape Of Things That Hum
From an 8 Part TV series looking at cult electronic instruments that have shaped modern music: Minimoog, Vocoder, Yamaha DX7, Fairlight, Simmons, Roland TB-303, Roland TR-808 and the Akai Sampler.

and some extra links:

Bassline Bassline
A video essay that investigates the invention, failure and subsequent resurrection of the mythic Roland TB-303 Bass Line music machine in the last two decades of the 20th century.

Can I Get An Amen?
A perspective of perhaps the most sampled drum beat in the history of recorded music, the Amen Break. It begins with the pop track Amen Brother by 60’s soul band The Winstons, and traces the transformation of their drum solo from its original context as part of a ‘B’ side vinyl single into its use as a key aural ingredient of Drum’n’Bass.

The Hip Hop Years
Charting story of Hip Hop, from the streets of the Bronx to taking over the mainstream.

Ada Lovelace Day – Alice Taylor

I’ve been a gamer for a long time but some of my fellow players have a reputation for being less than friendly towards female players. So its great to see someone high profile both as a player (including some time spent as a member of the UK Quake team) and on the development side who is female.

Her Wonderland blog is on lots of people list of gaming blogs worth reading. Her work at the BBC and Channel 4 showing how gaming can be used by a traditional broadcaster both for entertainment and education, all long before the current gamification buzz.

In between all this she also created the avatar service stortroopers, which is still online. Her current project MakieLab, a startup developing customisable, 3D-printed, game-enabled toys, sounds very interesting so far. I can’t wait to see the results.

Skud also deserve a special mention for her tireless work and thoughtful comments in the nymwars.

Previously 2009 and 2010.

Three MiFi Version Two (Huawei E585)

I’ve been thinking about getting some sort of mobile broadband for a while now. Both as a backup for my home connection and to use out and about. My orginal plan was to upgrading my d420 to a netbook with builtin 3G, particularly the samsung n230 but since it does not look like the 3G version will be out in the Uk anytime soon I’ve just went for a MiFi instead on pay as you go.

So the orginal Three MiFi did sound quite useful but the lack of display and being a little fiddlyly to use put me off. So when I heard about the new version having seemed to address most of these problems, that reingnited my interest with two very positive reviews from Hayles and Ian Betteridge.
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Thoughts on APB

After a little prompting by Wrestlevania on twitter, I’ve written up my experience so far on All Points Bulletin (APB).

For those who have not been following the games development, APB is an MMO created by Realtime Worlds, set in the near future where vigilantism have been legalised, so a big game of cops and robbers in an urban setting. You can play as ether an Enforcer or as a Criminal, with Clans and Parties, all normal MMO features. Dave Jones (creator of GTA) is one of the main people behind the game and Realtime Worlds, and off the back of Crackdown it has been much anticipated. It use a different payment model to most MMOs, playtime can be purchased per hour or 30 day unlimited (GameSetWatch has a nice article on the Psychology of this.)

All this is all based on the Keys to the City event, so only on ten hours or so game time, also this is the first MMO, I’ve experience apart from a little tour of Everquest by my brother in-law, so I may be a little off on common MMO features.
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European Hacker Culture

I just started a new Open University course, most of the first few weeks is about the history of open source, mostly the book ‘Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution‘. Which was a nice refresher on open source even if its a little dated now but I do have to take issue with ESR‘s essay, A Brief History of Hackerdom, saying Europe had no equivalent culture to the Berkeley/MIT/Stanford.

Europe didn’t have the cheap local phone calls, so BBS‘s took longer to be come popular (which are documented in Jason Scott‘s great series) but I would say the demoscene and the cracker culture it grew out of was our starting point. Lots of (especially) game developers got their start in the scene and provided that same focus mostly around the Amiga. Giving european hackers culture a different style and shape.

Still little known outside graphics geeks and old 16bit people, as hacker culture has become more global, overshadowed by the current billion dollar Silicon Valley startup’s, the demoscene is still healthy and producing some wonderful art.

A Postscript to Ada Lovelace Day

Mostly for me, I thought it would be useful to list who else blogged about Limor Fried for Ada Lovelace Day this year:

Ada Lovelace Day – Limor “Ladyada” Fried

Continuing the hardware theme of last years post. This years is about Limor “Ladyada” Fried and not just because of her nickname.

Limor has made some great contributions to Open source hardware and has a good set of tutorials for the Ardunio, which were useful when I was first looking at playing with them.

Formerly she was at the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center but now is a successful entrepreneur at Adafruit Industries which has been profiled on make, lifehacker and interviewed by Streampunk Workshop for last years Ada Lovelace Day.

Electronics like VLSI is one of those area that is seen as the dirtier end of technology all workbenches and soldering iron but women are making contribution and running successful businesses in these areas, so don’t be put off, get involved.

Honourable Mentions: Jane McGonigal for her great TED talk on why we need gamers, Gina Trapani for lots of cool productivity tips, Pippa Buchanan for the great DIY Masters.

Letter to Harriet Harman about the Digital Economy Bill

So following on from the letter to my MP, I’ve also written to Harriet Harman, the current leader of the house of Common to ask for a debate, some background over at BoingBoing and Richard King’s excellent letter, writing your own only takes a few minutes.
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