Archives for category: Music

If  you didn’t know now you know… Although most Electronic Dance Music is mislabeled by the uneducated masses as “Techno” this could not be further from the truth. The worldwide appeal of music like House and Techno is widely celebrated in just about everywhere in the world…, but not so much where it was created; the good ol’ US of A. Waxpoetics comes with it in a rare dance issue. Dope/sad to see how a small black counter-culture spawned a world phenomenon that now, largely gets associated with ravers from the burbs. Put your hands up for Detroit.

Wax Poetics » Issue 45.


This makes me happy… period. If you don’t know, Sam Cooke was one of the greatest singers of his time (dare I say of all time). One of my favorite cities, Chicago; is giving a little recognition to one of its biggest stars . Good look.

Cooke was shot to death in an Los Angeles motel at the height of his fame in 1964 under circumstances that still baffle. But his music continues to resonate nearly a half century later.

Cat Stevens, Luther Vandross, The Pretenders and countless others have remade or referenced Cooke songs over the past 40 years. Cooke songs have turned up in 20 different movies and television shows over the past two decades, according to Internet Movie Database.

Twisting the Night Away was featured in that awful Green Hornet movie earlier this year. They played Shake in an episode of HBO’s The Wire. And I still get the chills when Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come is played in a pivotal scene toward the end of Malcolm X. (It begins at 2:34 in this clip.)

Sam Cooke’s latest honor came Saturday at 2pm when a stretch of 36th Street in the city’s Bronzeville neighborhood will be renamed Sam Cooke Way, marking the place where the late, great soul singer spent his formative years. The renamed section begins at Cottage Grove and runs east, passing the site at 36th and Ellis where Cooke’s boyhood home once stood.

Cooke’s great-nephew Erik Greene spent four years advocating for the honorary street renaming. Greene is also the writer of a Cooke biography called Our Uncle Sam. I asked him a few questions about Cooke and his legacy.

Q: Why is this honorary street important?

A: I was born and raised in Chicago but never had an appreciation for the rich musical history of Bronzeville until I researched its history for what would eventually become Our Uncle Sam. It was then I learned Bronzeville was home to not just Sam, but Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington, Lou Rawls, and a host of other musical greats. Sam had already been recognized on the Bronzeville Walk of Fame, but his exclusion on a 35th and State Street mural commemorating famous Bronzeville residents gave me the impetus to make his street naming–a more permanent form of recognition–a reality.

Q: His music is still appreciated, isn’t it? Even my teenage daughters and a couple of their friends are fans.

A: Good music is eternal and has the ability to transcend all age barriers. Sam adopted a simple, straight-forward songwriting style, and he wrote songs the common man could relate to. As a result, his music is timeless–easily appreciated and understood by all ages and generations. This type of pure simplicity is a long-lost art form.

Q: What will tomorrow’s street-renaming ceremony look like?

A: Sam’s street naming ceremony will consist of recognizing Sam’s legacy and the importance of this particular street by myself, my cousin Eugene Jamison who will speak on behalf of the Cook family, Bronzeville political representatives, and Gregg Parker, CEO of the Chicago Blues Museum. I formally met Gregg after the street naming had been approved by the Chicago City Council, and his musical interest in Sam and the Bronzeville neighborhood fueled the event to its current prominence. A City of Chicago proclamation will be read, and local celebrities may be on the program as well.

Q: One last question. For decades there has been talk of a Sam Cooke movie. If one were made, who’d play Sam?

A: Ever since Sam’s death, talk of a movie based on his life has heated up on several occasions only to fizzle out and go nowhere, and “Who should play Sam Cooke?” is an age-old question that’s been kicked around by Sam Cooke fans for generations. In the early 70s, talk of Marvin Gaye portraying Sam was squashed when Gaye declared himself not worthy of the honor. Actors from Blair Underwood to Denzel Washington to Will Smith have been discussed more recently, but because Sam died at 33, these actors have invariably grown too old. Having been fooled by the several false-starts over the years, I’ve stopped speculating as to who could play Sam on the silver screen, but still smile at some of the suggestions.

Singer Sam Cooke gets street renamed in his honor.

Words escape me, this looks so amazingly interesting I can’t wait for it to come out of the prototype phase. The video features Linn playing with an early prototype and a very simple synth patch but makes it sound like a clarinet. The expression he plays with would be difficult (to say the least) to recreate in any other way. Wow. #mindblown

The latest iteration; image courtesy Roger Linn Designs.

Moving beyond touching a screen as two-dimensional plane, Roger Linn’s concept music controller, the Linnstrument, adds tactile response and expression. Roger calls it “3D Note Expression,” but in lay terms, it means pushing harder on the controller makes it respond differently, as you’d expect from a physical instrument.

Roger this week posts an update on how his development is going and what he imagines – good timing, as this week we also saw another design on the same lines, the Soundplane. The sensing methods are different, enough so that I can easily see room for both, but the upshot is the same. Randy Jones in that story also reflects that, once these things are invented, what will really be essential is musicians to play the things and develop lots of interesting software that can use the controllers. See, previously:

A Glimpse of the Soundplane Controller, Innovative Tactile Multi-Touch, in the Lab; Call to Action

The major change in Roger’s latest update, apart from adjusting the form factor to something longer and more spacious, is the addition of different overlays, including traditional keyboard “manuals,” fret-style grids, and honeycomb-patterns hexagonal grids like the one at top.

It isn’t just a blank slate any more – certainly not in Roger’s mind, at least. Linn, a guitarist by training, has an extensive schema worked out for a grid that would function like the frets on a guitar neck. Movements in any direction can make an adjustment, impacting timbre (perpendicular to the front edge), pitch bends (parallel to that edge), and loudness (pressure).

It’s still all concept, with one working prototype; Roger’s professed style is to work in big-picture concepts. But I’d love to see some of these ideas reach fruition.

I’m still hopeful that a simple, inexpensive, open source option could evolve from this landscape. I hope for that not necessarily even because of a philosophical belief in open source so much as the sense that such an open field could lend itself to experimentation by, say, the people who read this site, not only in creating software but building the instruments. In the case of Roger’s design, unlike the more novel approach used by Randy, patent questions are less of an issue. And a community of people experimenting in such a way could simultaneously yield software that could be compatible with the proprietary and commercial projects.

Lots more ideas and reflections – including detailed notions of how you’d play this thing – on Roger’s site:
Preview: LinnStrument – A New Musical Instrument with 3D Note Expression

And here’s a new video, entitled, cheerily, “Gloomy Sunday” (the music of Rezső Seress):

via Create Digital Music

This little thing is pretty sweet. I remember having a little Casio keyboard as a kid that was little more than a toy. At nearly the same size, the OP-1 from is a full blown production unit (albeit an extremely limited one). I have to admit, it sounds pretty good too. It would be nice to have a little device to tap out song ideas on w/o having to get out my laptop and firing up Ableton Live. At $849 USD I will have to just admire from a distance for now.

Wow…, lot of realness in this one. Adult content….

A Graphical Analysis Of Those Who Forgot About Dre