Sunday Mar 29, 2009

Mobile Phone Orchestra

My cousin, Kia Hadipour, a graduate student in music at Bloomington, Indiana, points to this video of "Standford's Mobile Phone Orchestra"—a cool fusion of art and technology.

Friday Jan 30, 2009

Modern Rendition of a Classical Theme

I blogged about it here.

Thursday Oct 02, 2008

Classical Persian Music

Naim has collected a series of photos on Classical Persian Music.

To the left is a photo of Saba Kamkar, a member of the Kamkar Ensemble, playing dayerh.

(In Persian, dayereh means "circle")

To the right is a photo of Bahareh Fayazi, playing tar.

(In Persian, tar means "thin thread".)

Sunday Jul 22, 2007


Don't let the trailers fool you.  Once, a movie from Ireland, casts a cinematic glimpse at the passion and art of music making. It refreshes the concept of the musical cinema while weaving multiple stories about separation—the enigma and engine of all art and drama (to restate a maxim first stated by the British art critique John Berger.)

Once mixes music and movement ("movie" = a little thing capturing movement) to appeal to the intelligence of its viewers. It "is," and "is not," simply a wonderful musical. It "is" because it is a movie with music and about music. It "is not" because it defies the Hollywood tradition of the musical containing large amounts of dance although it fills the space with simple movements of everyday life. 

If you like music, play an instrument, have been separated from instruments or people you love, or have made music with others, you shouldn't miss it. For more comments about the movie, see here. Other sources include: an NPR interview. It is also worth reading the official Once press kit to see how this John Carney movie came together.

Once: Winner of 2007 Sundance Film Festival, World Cinema Audience Award, Dramatic. Excellent piece of work. "R" rating for some use of four-letter words but no sex and no violence. A great story, very creative composition and magnificent music presented in a simple space.

See the Washington Post  ("For 'Once,' A Musical Strikes the Right Cord" and "Breaking into Song, Bursting with Ideas") and the Associated Press ("'Once' deconstructs and reinvents the movie musical intimately, brilliantly") reviews. I have given some more review links elsewhere.

Tuesday Jun 26, 2007

If one day you journey away ...

A French Canadian has produced an interesting rendition of Faramarz Aslani's "If One Day You Journey Away ..." (Agheh Ye Rooz Beri Safar) song in the original Persian. Her next goal should probably be works by Dr. Mohammad Esfahani, say the ones in his recent album Barakat.

The only problem is we cannot hear her play her guitar here. For that, we may consult the young duo of brothers playing the song:


Thursday May 17, 2007

Labels, The Internet and The Musician


Internet, as a giant copy and distribution machine, may and should continue to afford artists with greater autonomy well into the future. Reports of musicians' success in using this copy-and-distribution tool continue to pour in.

For example, Wall Street Journal's John Jurgensen writes about how musicians use the Internet to promote their work ("Singers Bypass Lables for Prime-Time Exposure," May 17, 2007, WSJ, B1). The report focuses on the case of singer and musician Ingrid Michaelson, "a 26-year-old Staten Island native who ... was discovered on MySpace by a management company that specializes in finding little-known acts and placing their works in soundtracks for TV shows, commercials, movies and videogames."

Many shows will only pay unsigned artists about $1,000 for the use of their music on TV, while artists on major labels might garner more than $30,000. Since she has been signed to Secret Road [Music Services, not a label], Ms. Michaelson has been paid up to $15,000 each time her music has been featured on a show or commercial, according to someone familiar with the deals. Secret Road says its cut of Ms. Michaelson's income is in keeping with industry standards of between 15% and 20%.

TV, of course, has become an increasingly powerful force for driving music sales. Apart from "American Idol" and "Saturday Night Live," possibly the most coveted TV slots for musicians are on "Grey's Anatomy," which has helped make songs like "How to Save a Life" by the Fray into top sellers on iTunes. A finale spot on "Grey's" is considered a particularly plum slot. Last year, the finale allowed Scottish band Snow Patrol to break through to a broad audience and played a role in making its featured song, "Chasing Cars," a hit.

Because Ms. Michaelson doesn't have a record-label contract, she stands to make substantially more from online sales of her music. For each 99-cent sale on iTunes, Ms. Michaelson grosses 63 cents, compared with perhaps 10 or 15 cents that typical major-label artists receives via their label. So far she has sold about 60,000 copies of her songs on iTunes and other digital stores. Ms. Michaelson is pouring most of her profits into pressing her own CDs and T-shirts, hiring a marketing company to produce promotional podcasts and setting up distribution for her CDS.

The fact that much good music today is discovered on the Internet before it ever makes it to the labels demonstrates that the labels need to reconsider their full "supply chain" and continue to review their policies and rules governing the protection and distribution of cultural content they come to license ("for a limited time").

On the same day as the report above, The Wall Street Journal also reported a significant move away from DRM which indicates the labels are recognizing the role of the Internet as a means to build networks of fans for artists through low-cost copy-and-distribution of content:

EMI Group PLC, the world's third-largest recorded-music company by sales (and the fourth-largest in the U.S. market) announced yesterday it would license its catalog to Amazon's DRM-free service. The three other major music companies haven't said publicly whether they expect to play ball with Amazon, but people close to all three companies said they don't expect to license content to Amazon in the near future. That means consumers shopping for downloads on Amazon will be able to buy tracks from EMI artists like Norah Jones and Coldplay, but are unlikely to be able to find music by most other major artists, including, for instance, each of the top-10 selling albums last week. Another complication: Apple's iTunes is moving toward offering music without copy protection, and also plans to release EMI's catalog in that format.

Much of the early use of DRM technologies has focused on limiting the power of digital copy and distribution of content.

Tuesday May 08, 2007

May It Live Multiple More Millennia

Having downed my wine glass filled with orange juice at one of the JavaOne parties, I left San Francisco for San Jose on 280 at around 11 pm Tuesday night.

As I was reflecting on the day and all the stimulating conversations I had had with my colleagues at Sun and with people from companies as widely different as IBM, Zimbra, Amobee, Funambol, Oracle-Tangosol, Hyperic, RedHat, JBoss, Ericsson, Motorola and others, and with people who are using PostgreSQL and Java DB I was also flipping through the albums on the iPod connected to the car stereo and landed on the first track of Kayhan Kalhor's Nokhosteen Deedar-e Bamdadi ("The Original Dawn Visit"). This is the same Kalhor of the Silk Road Project, and the track I believe to be his best work by far. The genius Kalhor has gathered and focused in this album should be sufficient to let Kamanchech (a multi-millennial Persian string instrument) speak to future generations for multiple more millennia (far longer than any computers or computer languages can survive).

I should point out that the faint-hearted may have some difficulty grasping the work. However, our daring to stay the course of drawning ourselves in Kalhor's musical expressions will prove rewarding as we open the locks we habitually put on our minds.

In summary, Nokhosteen Deedar-e Bamdadi demonstrates Kalhor's genius most convincingly and proves that the living tongue of the Kamancheh can proudly speak volumes to modern audiences for the foreseeable future.

(I believe I obtained the album in a summer trip to Iran in 2005 and unfortunately I do not find it on the Amazon CDs from Kayhan Kalhor to make a good recommendation.)

Friday Dec 01, 2006

Fake vs. True Sharing

Lawrence Lessig writes about fake vs. true sharing.

The fact that Lessig has to use an adjective to qualify sharing may be another proof of how little words have come to mean in common usage. You cannot be said to be sharing your bread unless the party you're sharing it with can also eat from the part that has been shared. Otherwise, you're only sharing the right to watch the bread, not any rights to eat from it. 

Much of the videos posted on YouTube are posted with an intention to share them completely. Users should be able to copy and mix such video quite freely. As Lessig has noted, disputes regarding this model continue.

A sharing that doesn't grant any independent use rights can hardly be called sharing.

Wednesday Sep 22, 2004

Cat Stevens, Terror Suspect

My wife (my best source of news) informs me that Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) was denied entry to the U.S. today.

Photo from:

Reports of this incident appear on Reuters, The International Herald Tribune, the BBC, The Malaysia Star, CNN, Washington Post, San Jose Mercury News, Seattle Post Intelligencer, The Australian, Gulf Daily News, NBC, U.S. Newswire, The Independent, Guardian, Culcutta Telegraph, Billboard, Houston Chronicle, Cat-Stevens.DE. . .

You may find more on this incidence on Yusuf Islam's web site:

This should be about "Art," and I'm posting it under that category, but it belongs in its real unfolding to my "Society" category, a mismatch which simply demonstrates the limits of categorization.

When we deal with real-world events, they can only be understood in their totality and fail to fit into artificial digital divisions.

In the aftermath and in a wonderfully written essay for Asia Times Online, Maliha Masood, a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University started with Yusuf Islam's story and moved onto Rumi's popularity in the U.S.




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