What is the slowest music humanly possible?

While the typical answer is 33 beats per minute, musician Adam Neely's answer morphs into a great primer on the "perceptual present," a concept widely discussed in both the philosophy of music and of consciousness. Read the rest

Magnificent book about pioneering musicologist/photographer/designer Charles Duvelle

Decades before the term "world music" became common parlance, Charles Duvelle was traveling the globe recording the sounds and sights of indigenous people around the world. The material that Duvelle collected, and his design sensibilities, avant-garde for the time, were communicated to the public through Disques Ocora, the record label founded in 1958 by musique concrète pioneer Pierre Schaeffer. Duvelle was an intrepid musicologist and explorer, living for long periods as a researcher in West Africa, Central Africa, Indian Ocean, Pacific Islands, and Southeast Asia. Tragically, many of the incredible cultures that Duvelle introduced to the world are on the verge of extinction.

To enable us see the world through Duvelle's eyes, Sublime Frequencies' Hisham Mayet in collaboration with Duvelle have released The Photographs Of Charles Duvelle - Disques OCORA And Collection PROPHET, a lavish tome contains field photographs from 1959-1978, an interview, complete discography including Duvelle's post-Ocora label Collection Prophet, a report he prepared for Unesco in 1978, and two CDs of music. Of course my favorite track on the compilation is "Cengunmé," a recording of Mahi musicians in Benin that was included on the Voyager golden records launched into space forty years ago this month. (The track has always been misidentified in title and location in writings about the Voyager record but Duvelle provided me with the accurate information for inclusion in the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition that I co-produced.)

The Photographs Of Charles Duvelle - Disques OCORA And Collection PROPHET is not only a magnificent monograph but also an important one. Read the rest

Old-timey mass evangelism and the phonograph

The Grammy nominations were announced today and along with Beyonce, Drake, Adele, and Kanye there was a nomination that went to music recorded by Ira D. Sankey, Winfield Weeden, Silas Leachman and the Rittersville Singing Club. No, those are not artists from today… In fact, those performers lived 125 years ago and their recordings have been newly compiled by a husband/wife team dedicated to bringing back to life the music of the post-Industrial Revolution 19th century.

Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey have one collective dream, and that is to preserve, expose and celebrate the earliest eras of recorded sounds for new generations of listeners. Their label Archeophone Records has produced dozens of releases showcasing music created even before electricity got in the way. These are acoustic recordings created when the music industry was still “cutting wax” and "the business” was in its infancy. John Phillips Souza’s marches were chart toppers, along with sappy ballads and jocular tunes. The world was introduced to “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,” and of course, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”

Richard and Meagan collect the cylinders for each release, digitize the music found in the 100+ year old grooves, painstakingly master the tracks, rabbit-hole copious amounts of research about the recordings, the artists, and the era, and bring forth a truly amazing product that takes any listener back to a time long forgotten..an almost alien world.

And while in many circles they are known for their Grammy-winning expert work, nothing can prepare an enthusiast for their latest epic deep dive. Read the rest