Playable violin made of 16,000 matchsticks

In 1937, Polish bricklayer Jan Gwiżdż made a matchstick violin that traveled Europe as a curiosity. When Jan's grandson Hubert Gwiżdż took possession of it, he decided to get it rated for concert performances.

Read the rest

Youtube artist SamuraiGuitarist does music from Final Fantasy VII

I've been a huge fan of Steve Onotera, a Canadian Youtube vlogger and musician, since David posted his earlier video last year.

I decided to support him on Patreon, and as one of the perks of my support, I got to choose a song for him to do a version of. Of course, I chose Final Fantasy, specifically the Bombing Mission theme from Final Fantasy VII. Not only did he do an awesome bluegrass rendition for me, he presented it complete with in-game combat visuals!

Patreon has been a great way to support independent artists across a huge spectrum of genres, and a great way to discover and support musicians, authors, artists, and makers.

See more of SamuraiGuitarist's work on Patreon, or his Youtube channel for more of his videos. Read the rest

Listen to some amazing high school kids perform excerpts from the Guild Wars 2 soundtrack

It's no secret for anyone who knows me that I happen to be a long-time MMORPG player, but no game has grabbed my attention as completely as Guild Wars 2 has, due in no small part to the beautiful visuals and the incredible soundtrack. I'm a huge fan of video game music, having been to my share of Zelda and Final Fantasy concerts when they've been in the area.

Today, the ArenaNet folks have shared this amazing performance of excerpts from their Heart of Thorns expansion, performed by the Evergreen Philharmonic, in Issaquah, WA.

What makes this performance extra special is the composition of the orchestra itself: It's composed primarily of high-school students from the Issaquah area.

The Evergreen Philharmonic has been active since 1988 and has been an audition-only orchestra since 1991. Evergreen Philharmonic functions as an honors youth orchestra within the Issaquah School District, and has students from all three Issaquah High Schools. Evergreen has performed in a variety of venues, such as the Washington State Ferries, the University of Washington, the University of British Columbia, Disneyland, and the University of Southern California. The orchestra has also travelled to perform in Paris, London, Quebec and Boston. In May of 2011 Evergreen Philharmonic played at Carnegie Hall, New York.

Read more about the Orchestra, this performance, or Heart of Thorns. Long live high school music programs! Read the rest

Dom Flemons, late of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, plays music that makes me very happy

I was listening to the latest Judge John Hodgman podcast today (as I do every week!) which was performed live in Washington DC; as with every live show, there was a musical guest, and this guest was so completely awesome I made a note to post about him when I got home. Read the rest

Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" played on a Korean gayageum

In her latest video, Luna Lee, master of the gayageum, plays a stunning version of the David Bowie classic.

Read the rest

11 obscenely optimistic songs for ukulele

Jeremy Messersmith writes, "I have a new record coming out on Friday and I've released it early as a songbook over at my website (free with an email). It's called '11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs For Ukulele: A Micro-Folk Record For The 21st Century And Beyond.' It has songs about kittens, unicorns, wealth redistribution, critical thinking, and the power of love. I wrote it to be an antidote to all the toxic news as of late; a musical unicorn chaser. I'm also embarking on a 50 show, Atlas Obscura inspired sing-along tour; all free and in scenic public spaces. I've compiled a collection of songs that fans have covered so far into a YouTube playlist over at my website. Thanks for considering!

Read the rest

A comprehensive history of "the DJ"

First there was Wolfman Jack.

Then came this very special Tanner.

After that? Bless the rest for helping make bar and bat mitzvahs very special. Read the rest

A handy 'Coin drop into an electric windmill' tutorial

It may only be April but if you want to look super cool at the office holiday party this December it is time to get to work! Read the rest

Just a clown singing Pinball Wizard to the tune of Folsom Prison Blues

Puddles Pity Party is a pinball wizard. (via Marginal Revolution) Read the rest

Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away" covered by one person in the style of 20 different bands

Anthony Vincent brings his "20 Different Styles" genius to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away," as if it was performed by the Beastie Boys, Guns N' Roses, David Bowie, Naughty By Nature, Frank Zappa, Bob Marley, and many more.

Behind the scenes:

Read the rest

Turn your tracking number into music (but don't share it)

Soundtrack turns your FedEx tracking number into music and an animated depiction of the package's journey. If you don't have one, you can generate one; it's like a synthy toy where the controls are weights, measures and coordinates. The results are kinda MOR—think library music tracks overlaid upon one another rather than the raw beauty of generative melody—but if you told me 61290980541920196578 was the new face of EDM, who am I to disagree?

Chances are you will have a 14-digit tracking number, which it will refuse due to the 12-digit limit. Skip the first two characters.

Also note that the animation of your ghostly package ends close to the address it was delivered to. It would be easy enough to determine the real-world locations, despite the abstract representation. Share your song URLs at your peril. Read the rest

About half of musicians who reach the charts are one-hit wonders

In the 50 years between 1955 and 2005, 47.5% of artists who had a song make the sales charts never made it again. HighSnobiety looks at the reasons why. Read the rest

Watch the '60 Minutes' episode "The Rastafarians" (1980) with Bob Marley

Not long after Bob Marley's death, Dan Rather heads to Jamaica, bringing with him the misinformed view of Rastafari that was common in the United States then (and, well, now).

Read the rest

Shout halleluyah, come on get happy!

Fantastic version by the always amazing Ella Fitzgerald.

Of course, there is that time Hugh Laurie sang it... Read the rest

Country Mike's Greatest Hits: when the Beasties recorded a C&W album

In 1999, the Beastie Boys privately recorded a gag country and western album called "Country Mike's Greatest Hits": as C&W albums go, it's pretty good!

Country Mike's Greatest Hits is the legendary full-length country album recorded by the Beastie Boys. Never officially released, it was originally only given out to family and friends of the Beasties as a Christmas gift back in 1999, and bootlegs started showing up a few years later. It has proven to be a very hot collectible, supposedly fetching as much as $400 on eBay.

The only official reference to the album appears on the Beastie Boys compilation The Sounds of Science, which also includes two songs, "Railroad Blues" and "Country Mike's Theme". In the liner notes, Adam Yauch explains:

"At some point after Ill Communication came out, Mike got hit in the head by a large foreign object and lost all of his memory. As it started coming back he believed that he was a country singer named Country Mike. The psychologists told us that if we didn't play along with Mike's fantasy, he could be in grave danger. Finally he came back to his senses. This song ("Railroad Blues") is one of the many that we made during that tragic period of time."

(via Neatorama) Read the rest

Smokey and the Miracles went to a Go-Go

Not the greatest audio but a lot of fun to watch! Read the rest

The Sounds of the Junk Yard, a 1964 vinyl record

Last week, I posted about The Sounds of the Office, a 1964 vinyl record released by Folkways Records of field recordings by Michael Siegel. This week, it's The Sounds of the Junk Yard, another 1964 Folkways collection of Siegel's field recordings, ranging from an Acetylene Torch to Alligator Shears to a Paper Baler.

Moses Asch founded the incredibly influential Folkways Records label in 1948 to record and share music and sounds from around the world. Along with bringing the music of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lead Belly, and Elizabeth Cotten to wider audiences, Folkways, acquired in 1987 by Smithsonian, also issued incredible sound recordings from the Ituri rainforest, Navajo Nation, Peru, and many other locations and indigenous peoples across the globe. (In fact, the label provided several tracks for the Voyager Golden Record, now 12+ billion miles from Earth! Researching that project with my partner Tim Daly, a DIY musicologist himself, I've become absolutely enchanted by Folkways. If any of you dear readers have Folkways LPs collecting dust, I'd give them a wonderful home.) Along with music, Folkways released LPs with poetry, language instruction, nature sounds (frogs! insects), and other field recordings. The Sounds of the Junk Yard reminds me of an Einstürzende Neubauten album but was issued a decade before the birth of "Industrial Music" was born.

"Some junk yard equipment is common to all of them, some is more specialized," wrote Siegel in the album liner notes. "All these sounds were recorded in yards in Warren, Pennsylvania."

Hear more samples at the Smithsonian Folkways page here. Read the rest

More posts