Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘music’

23 MARCH, 2011

YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011

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What 101 classical musicians have to do with honoring the past while appreciating the present.

Nearly two years ago, Google initiated the world’s first online collaborative orchestra, which we featured as one of three fantastic examples of orchestra innovation. They invited the world’s best amateur classical musicians to audition for 90 spots on the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.

Last year, the YouTube community, with the help of leading orchestras around the world, selected 101 musicians from 33 countries to perform in an extraordinary concert at Sydney Opera House, streamed live on YouTube. The complete concert, running close to three glorious hours, is now available online and is an absolute force of collaborative magnificence.

On the project page, you can explore the global winners by instrument and location, and play with Experiment — an innovative augmented-reality musical instrument. (Get the marker here.)

Combined with Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir, the YouTube Symphony bespeaks the incredible potential of technology-enabled collaborative creation, one of those things that make us thrilled to live in the era we’re living in.

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22 MARCH, 2011

3 Iconic Film Directors Interpret Classic Operas

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What arias have to do with Cousin It, cinematic pathos and eccentric Germans.

To celebrate six years of collaboration between Sky Arts and the English National Opera, Sky Arts commissioned an unlikely trio to produce Sky Arts Opera Shorts — three opera short films by three of today’s most celebrated film directors: Dougal Wilson, Sam Taylor-Wood and Werner Herzog. The films are set to a popular aria of ENO’s 2008/2009 season, capturing each director’s distinct visual style. And, as big proponents of the cross-pollination of the arts and the creative intersections of past and present, we’re loving them.

DOUGAL WILSON

Rossini’s The Barber of Seville may be among the world’s best-known, most widely loved operas, but when Dougal Wilson (we’re longtime fans) reenvisions it in his characteristically mischievous fashion, it’s a different kind of treat entirely. Hovering between classic silent film, hipster music video — that is, after all, Wilson’s specialty — and Adams Family reunion, the film is equal parts quirky and delightful.

I’m used to working with artists such as Goldfrapp and Will Young, so working with ENO presented me with a really fresh challenge. Directing an opera short allowed me to apply modern artistic disciplines to a traditional source to hopefully create a really engaging piece of work.” ~ Dougal Wilson

SAM TAYLOR-WOOD

British filmmaker and conceptual aritst Sam Taylor-Wood never ceases to amaze. Last year, we were head-over-heels with Nowhere Boy, her poetic chronicle of John Lennon’s little-known early life. Here, she brings that same cinematic pathos to a simple yet powerful interpretation of Pagliacci’s Vesti la Giubba (On with the Greasepaint).

I’m really happy to be involved in such a great project. I think by capturing one of opera’s most moving moments in a film short, we have put a modern spin on the aria.” ~ Sam Taylor-Wood

WERNER HERZOG

Our long-running love for Werner Herzog continues unabated as the eccentric German director brings his signature this-is-looking-very-bizarre-and-I’m-not-quite-getting-it-but-can’t-stop-looking touch to O Soave Fanciulla (Oh you vision of beauty) from Puccini’s iconic La Bohème.

I’ve no doubt that the film shorts will generate interest from a whole new generation of music lovers — the results are fantastic. Filming in High Definition in Africa allowed us to juxtapose the traditions of opera with a real innovative setting, the uniqueness of which is hopefully reflected in the final film.” ~ Werner Herzog

via Coudal

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21 MARCH, 2011

Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad on Sound, Science, and Mystery

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I’m an enormous admirer of WNYC’s Radiolab and its producer, Jad Abumrad. In this excellent talk from PopTech, Abumrad shares some fascinating examples of how sound has been used to facilitate scientific discovery and how audio can serve as the trial-and-error mechanism fundamental to scientific inquiry. From what a monkey brain sounds like when playing rock-paper-sciessors to how crayfish “hear” their way to survival, Abumrad takes us on a delightfully geeky journey into the biological basis of behavior.

You will find scientists who will tell you — and they deeply believe it — that we’re quantifiable. We are knowable. That if I can take a high enough resolution picture of all of you — not just your outsides, but your genes, your DNA, all the way down to your atoms — I can know everything about you and everything that you will be. There are people who believe this. And what this tells me is, no. No! All the way down, to the bottom of our thoughts, there’s just more mystery.

For more on the intersection of sound, science and being human, don’t miss our selection of 7 must-read books about music, emotion and the brain from earlier this morning.

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