Friday, December 23, 2011

On Sleigh Bells

I've been trying not to hate the sound of sleigh bells. 

I can't help but equate sleigh bells with Christmas music and the Boston Pops. Are they forever doomed to be a tiny jangly demon in a Leroy Anderson christmas nightmare?



Prokofiev uses them to similar effect in Lt. Kij√©, which is better, but still a bit too Christmas-y for me. 

I am always amazed by artists who use sleigh bells in their music without seeming to care about this elephant-in-the-room musical reference. Brave. We need to reclaim the sound of sleigh bells! I'm sure there is some great, gnarly piece of 20th century modernist music that uses sleigh bells in a startling way, but I can't think of any right now. Below are some examples of sleigh bells in the right hands, though I'm sure there are plenty more. 

Carl Orff's usage in Carmina Burana is much more secular - an ode to women's use of makeup to lure men (skip to 5:00 to hear them):



John Coltrane - sleigh bells seem to start every song throughout Interstellar Space:



or The Beach Boys - sleigh bells permeate God Only Knows:



Then there's the rock band Sleigh Bells, who sound to me a lot like The Ting Ting's (who sound a lot like the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, but I digress...). I don't think there are any literal sleigh bells up in here, but because of their name it seems worth mentioning:


I don't want to dilute a popular meme by saying "occupy sleigh bells," but let's re-appropriate them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The CD Re-Issue is the Massage

I've been reading Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media, so my curiosity was picqued when I read on Boing Boing that a label called Five Day Weekend will be re-issuing the 1967 LP based on McLuhan's Medium is the Massage.

Some of text is from The Medium, while other bits are definitely from Understanding Media (and some is in both). McLuhan's ideas may have been prophetic in 1967, but they are an eerily accurate description of our relationships with technology today. I was initially shocked at how dense McLuhan's writing is in Understanding Media compared to The Medium is the Massage, but that's probably why The Medium is the Massage and this album, were made...

It's an interesting collage - though more Beatles than Stockhausen, it's a bit Robert Ashley, a little Schaeffer, some Cage, a touch of Oswald... You can listen to the whole thing as MP3's on Ubuweb. It was an LP, and so is divided into 2 sides.

There are also YouTube "videos" of the audio!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Entering Blogosphere!

This is the beginning of Auscultations, a blog about music!

I'll be posting videos, music, articles, etc. that I find interesting and hope others might as well. I'll occasionally put in my own rants or promos, too, but don't worry - I promise not to go overboard.

To start things off right, here's some Louis Andriessen! His Symfonie voor Loss Snaren (Symphonie for Open Strings) is for a 12-person ensemble of scordatura (retuned) strings.