Archive for the ‘music’ Category


Use of language


“Opening the brand aperture” and disappearing right up it, the Sci Fi Channel uses several paragraphs of run-on sentences and abstract nouns to explain their decision to reduce even further the amount of science fiction they actually show. Sadly, it doesn’t explain why they didn’t just have the guts to rebrand properly, instead of to a mockable homophone; maybe they should have asked Dave for advice.

Meanwhile, a substantially more coherent and moving piece of writing has bobbed up on various forums, Karl Paulnack’s 2004 welcome address to the parents of new students at the Boston Conservatory.

And a surprisingly informative debate took place yesterday in the House of Lords, saying what a jolly useful chap that Darwin fellow turned out to be; ideal for passing the time on your next long trip up the Amazon, perhaps.


Michael, is that you?


I am in the camp that thinks that the next Trek score is in good hands with Michael Giacchino.

As far as I am aware, none of the trailers to date have had his music on them, so they can’t really be used to judge what he’ll do.

But perhaps the (mono, tinny) background music on the main part of the Flash presentation that passes for the Star Trek movie’s official site is a clue. It sounds a bit Lost-y at the start, then opens up into a fairly straightforward romantic-ish melody over what seem to me to be strongly Goldsmith-y chords (with maybe some Horner-y tritone steps).

On the one hand, I think the arrangement could be more smooth and subtle, especially at the start. On the other hand, the music as a whole is growing on me.  Although it’s not a patch on Goldsmith’s gorgeous romantic themes for Ilia or First Contact, it’s definitely more appealing to me melodically than, say, Horner’s clunky “Wrath of Khan” theme.

I don’t know if this is actually Giacchino’s work, but I’m not familiar with it, and what else would they be playing on the official Trek movie site at this point? Still, I’ll appreciate when there is a real confirmation of the composer.

(A side effect of wanting to listen carefully to this music is that I learned to use SWF Tools to extract the MP3 file from the Flash presentation.)


Where no $x has gone before


Apparently not an early April Fool’s joke, three Star Trek fragrances are coming out soon.

The smell of fear

Presumably, if those do well, more will follow. I’d propose calling one Khaaaaaaaan! , but I believe Brent Spiner has won any possible naming contest .

In a more subtle and practical way, here are two of the best home-made MIDI controllers ever, with one having a design based on the LCARS touchscreens seen in Star Trek: the Next Generation.


Making a four-string canoe in C


I apologize for the stilted, tiresome narration and the incongruous sounds of synthesizer testing in the background, but this two-part video might still be of interest to string instrument fans.

I’m disappointed that the luthier doesn’t use lasers to set the bridge, though, or that the sound post isn’t made from titanium. I’m not disappointed that the script’s quips don’t stretch to ‘resin-ance’.

Also, the instrument sounds very harsh to my slightly experienced ear holes, but it seems like they’re going more for an Albert Hall filler than an intimate, chambery tone. A whole section of these might prevail in a drowning-out contest with the trombones (plus, at a pinch, they’re probably better lifeboats).


Now that’s criticism!


I just received the first tranche of six volumes of Essays in Musical Analysis by Donald Francis Tovey, which are en-poste to me from a sprinkling of Amazon Marketplace vendors, and the opening of Tovey’s essay on Harold in Italy by Hector Berlioz has already justified my modest outlay:

There are excellent reasons for reading Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. But among them I cannot find any that concern Berlioz and this symphony, except for the jejune value of the discovery that no definite elements of Byron’s poem have penetrated the impregnable fortress of Berlioz’s encyclopaedic inattention.

So much more witty than just saying: “Berlioz seems to have ignored Byron’s words when writing his music.”


In search of the Higgs Chord


Rapper-physicists herald the end of music as we know it on September 10th. Also, the world.