it's educational

I recently got to talking to Harold, who plays bass in Screentests, about some classic synth sounds, among them the famous orchestra hit sample that showed up in Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock and, subsequently, practically every electro and electro-inspired song of the early- to mid-80s. You know, the one that plays about 0:16 into this video:

Well Harold forwarded me this article which discusses the sample a bit more. It was made by a Fairlight CMI, which is generally credited as the first digital sampling synth. And while the Vice article is pretty informative, I suggest that the true obsessive read Robert Fink’s in-depth academic article tracing the history of the sample.

And while you’re at it, you should check out this meticulously digitized archive of 12 issues of Synapse magazine, an old electronic music magazine, from 1976-1979. There are interviews with Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Devo, Jan Hammer, Patrick Gleeson, and more, plus lots of discussion and analysis of (then-)brand new technology.

And when you tire of reading about synthesizers, why not actually play one over at Patchwerk, a web interface that allows you and up to nine other nerds enthusiasts to tweak some knobs and toggle some switches on the massive Paradiso modular synthesizer at the MIT Museum without leaving your desk. (Though you really should leave your desk every once in a while, what’s wrong with you?)

The lady is fond of telling me that I’d make a terrible detective. And, despite said limitation, even I can recognize that there’s some truth to this characterization. In this particular instance, the thing I’ve been busy not noticing, despite being a music fan and music maker in this city for several years, not to mention having represented many NYC nonprofits as an attorney, is the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Indeed I knew nothing about it until I happened to walk by.

The Conservatory, housed in a striking Victorian mansion in Park Slope, offers a wide variety of classes and lessons–classical, jazz, and contemporary; theory, ear training, vocal, instrumental; etc.–for, as its site says, “students ranging in age from 18 months to adult.” And as if taking the lead in training today’s musically precocious toddlers weren’t enough, it also runs several outreach programs and hosts concerts; one tip: if you go in for the trad jazz thing and live in the NYC area, you should check out Kenny Barron on March 27.

Basically, after doing some research and stopping by to check the place out, I’m left wondering how I failed to notice such an amazing resource until now. So to make up for lost time, I’ve already enrolled in a Music Technology class, where I’m learning lots of sequencing and recording tips and tricks. I guess that what I lack in sleuthing skills I hope to make up for in audio engineering ability.