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What I decided to write about was the music Access Model.  Basically there are two models in the music industry right now, music ownership and the Access Model. Ownership can be seen in the sale of CDs, vinyl, Mp3s, etc. The idea to accumulate commodified music. While the Access Model has a history in radio, and now in music streaming services (such as Spotify).

I’m curious (and this won’t end up in the paper) whether you buy music or whether you stream it. If you stream it, what service do you use? Spotify? Rdio? Pandora?

If you do stream music, what aspects of streaming music appeals to you as a consumer?

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Our discussion on genealogies sparked a few ideas on the Interaction paper. I’m thinking about researching the genealogy of music ownership (owning CDs or downloading Mp3s) and the genealogy of accessing music (streaming music through services like Spotify). The goal of the paper would be to reveal these genealogies, and provide a better understanding for interaction designers when developing music related software or platforms.

From what I understand, and this is something I used to blog about frequently in 2007, music access has roots in live performances, days prior to recorded music, radio, and services that we pay for (such as electricity or running water). Accessing music thrives on community (via social networking) and views music as something we tap into or engage in. Because accessing music encourages community, you find services like SoundCloud that encourage people to record their music and share it with their friends, and provide an engaging commenting system.

Music ownership views music as a commodity. Its roots are in printed sheet music and player pianos. While certain forms of music ownership (such as vinyl) encourage community, it has largely become an individualistic experience. Music ownership didn’t replace music access until vinyl exploded in the 1950s.

While music ownership will continue, through vinyl and Mp3 collections, there are more and more signs that people are once again viewing music as something they access. As interaction designers, we should be aware of the differences between these two genealogies.

I would like to view these two genealogies through the lens of the Lev Manovich reading, and discussing the semiotics involved.

In 2002 an Icelandic band, Sigur Ros, recorded an album that became known as The Brackets Album. The album was purposefully untitled, and the artwork for the album revealed a pair of brackets. Subsequently, each of the songs were also untitled. Jonsi, the vocalist, sang the songs in a made-up language called Hopelandic, which was based off the phonetic sounds of the Icelandic language (source). The pages of the album booklet were blank, encouraging listeners to create their own meaning of the songs. The album is often described as a post-modern masterpiece.

As is common with Sigur Ros albums, The Brackets Album, is emotionally evocative, with most songs slowly building to a crescendo of intensity. The album received critical acclaim, drawing praise from critics around the globe.

Considering that the artists were intentionally creating art that would be received in subjectivity, I find it interesting that we can still critique the album objectively.

While the album invites us to establish our own subjective meaning to the songs, it is through an objective critique that we can judge the aesthetic qualities of this album. We judge it according to how the listener receives the album, paying special attention to the depth of the emotions that are evoked (this gives us insight in the songwriting quality). We also judge it according the time and place that the album was recorded (we can’t judge it according the albums recorded in the 1960s, for example). And we judge it according to the quality of the audio recording and mix of each song.

I have been to quite a few concerts in my life.  From childrens’ harp recitals to symphony orchestras, from high school battle of the bands to famous pop bands.  Last night I attended the Ben Folds concert at the IU auditorium.  Here I will discuss the opening act and a little about Ben Folds’s style or play and performance.

One of the most interesting things for me to see was the way the opening act captured the audience who, prior to seeing her on this stage, had most likely never heard of her.  She began her short set with a song that was somewhat unoriginal and in line with many of popular artists such as Colbie Caillat and Missy Higgins.  It was a pleasant song, but nothing original in terms of lyrics or styling.  The audience was not engaged at this point.  People were still filtering into the auditorium, and conversations continued.  She went into the next song explaining that it was an expression of her sadness for missing out on the 60’s.  As before, the audience continued their conversations until she surprisingly went into short operatic runs that seemed like brief spastic interruptions in an otherwise run-of-the-mill song.  When she did one of these for the first time, there was a hush over the crowd and all eyes turned to her.  The song finished and there was enigmatic applause as opposed to the weak half-claps following the previous song.

As her set progressed, she told stories about how she came to write each of the songs she played including a story about an 8 year old boy who waited in ling on a hot day for her to autograph his underwear.  At this point, she started to remind me of artists that incorporate humoristic undertones in their music such as Lilly Allen, Katy Perry, and punk bands such as Bowling for Soup, Blink 182, and even Rasputinas(FYI some of these are rated PG-13 – R… just sayin’).  Her second to last song was prefaced by her saying it was about a man who broke her heart several years ago.  To my surprise, and I’m sure the surprise of everyone around me, the song was about how he wanted to be her friend on facebook!  She finished her set with a song much like the first.  Following each song after her second, in which she brought elements of humor, the applause and cheers she received became increasingly vivacious.  It was clear that she captured the audience and held their attention with her unique and unrelinquishing humorist character.

Unlike the opening artist, Ben Folds had a slightly easier job to do.  He was already loved by the audience, and a majority of the audience could sing along with each and every song that he played.  None-the-less, I was still amazed at his unique style.  He practically plays concert piano while singing lyrics that would fit into the Alternative music genre.  It reminded me of the way in which Looney Tunes introduced classical music to children’s cartoons as background to the scurrying craziness of chases between Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd, Road Runner & Wiley Coyote, and Daffy Duck & Yosemite Sam.  Only in this case, it is an exposure to the classical piano style for 20 somethings.  Further, he often takes the power stance seen with rock stars, suggesting that the piano can be an instrument just as cool as an electric guitar.

In addition to Ben Folds’s big-picture style, I also noticed many elements of detail that evoked a feeling that I appreciated.  For space sake, I will save my favorite.  I noticed that several of Ben’s songs end in a cord that sounds rather unfinished.  At first I was a little disconcerted by this tendency, then I noticed a pattern.  The songs that had lyrics that told the story of characters, such as Annie Waits, Still Fighting It, and Zak & Sara were the songs that he left unfinished.  Once I noticed, I was shocked by this and pleasantly surprised.  It made me reflect on how the stories of how the characters weren’t finished, but rather left for us to resolve.

For those of you who don’t know Ben Folds, here’s a song of his that really exemplifies his concert piano abilities.  Here he is also playing with and orchestra.

I just found Yo-Yo Ma’s talk about his passion, people & music. It is a so insightful talk. I listened to this clip over and over and finally decided to write it down. I think he really does a great job in interpreting music from a phenomenological perspective.

Yo-Yo Ma’s talk about his passion, people & music

“[…] that my great passion in my life is not about doing anything but it’s actually people, over and over again figuring out where people come from, what they do, why they do it, and who they are, how they view themselves, and how others view them. And through that, music finally makes a lot of sense to me because I could then look at any music. […] Music is expression of people. Always […]”
“I always think music is some form of expression that does travel through time and space but using energy. Sound is something that is a form of energy. It is energy that moves through air molecular. Therefore, we hear the sound. We interpret the sound. I think that the sound that humans make inevitably is reflection of their both inner thinking patterns, feeling patterns, thought patterns, as well as their physical patterns. […] I think that sound as expressed by people will inevitably reveal internal working of people.”
“I think music does somehow express the inner working, the inner life of human being the way speech does, the way writing. If you read someone’s letters from three hundred years ago, you know the letter between John and Abigail Adam, you can really feel who they are as people. I think music is no difference. If someone wrote something in Philadelphia in 1700, you get a sense of who they are and what their influences were and deeply what they are trying to say. And I think that’s it’s by discerning what the patterns are in they choose and how they use melody, how they use different forms of rhythm and harmony. You get a sense of what the priority are and those priorities will reveal what their inner life priorities also are. ”

I got Jeff’s comment on my writing outline this afternoon. I decided to sit back and think about my feelings, instead of my cognition, while I am reading academic articles and reading for pleasure.

When I read a novel, I think I tend to forget myself as a reader and treat myself as one of characters in the novel. Therefore, I feel and think the way that that character feels and thinks. (I think I do not separate myself from a novel or an author when I read a book for pleasure.)

In the meantime, when I read an academic article, I think I feel like I am in the process of a job interview under a strong pressure. If an interviewer (the author) asks easy questions or talks about easy topics, I will be so excited and ready to answer the questions (more engagement in conversation). However, if an interviewer (the author) asks difficult questions or talks about very difficult topics, I will be getting to be so nervous and try to remember something I prepare for interviews.

What else am I feeling while I am reading academic articles??