Good evening. I’d like to share this great opportunity for DC Black and Latino area youths sent to me via the DC Robotics list from @philshapiro. PLEASE RETWEET THIS WIDELY. All the info is below! It’s my understanding that the class is being offered to Black and Latino youths only.
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2010 15:05:53 -0400
From: Phil Shapiro
Subject: [DCRobotics] Android classes for minority teens DC
Hi DC Robotics community,
At a recent meeting of the DC Area Androids Users Group, I met a
very smart geek, Leshell Hatley, who is getting her doctorate in Human
Computer Interface design at the Univ. of Maryland. Leshell applied
for and won a grant from the Macarthur Foundation to teach Android
programming to Black and Latino teens in DC. These classes will take
place on Tues. and Thursdays from 4 pm to 6:30 pm at Howard
University. The classes are free. Teens need to apply to be accepted.
The announcement of these classes is appended below. Thanks for
forwarding this email to anyone you know who might be interested in
applying for the classes. I’d hope some of our very smart teens from
Banneker Academic High School (across the street from Howard Univ.)
As a graduate of Howard University myself, I’m thrilled that
Howard is offering space for these classes, too.
You can also read about Leshell Hatley’s many talents and
accomplishments on her web site.
Winner of the MacArthur Foundation 2010 Digital Media & Learning
Competition, Youth APPLab is designed to teach Black and Latino high school
students in DC how to design and create mobile Android applications (apps).
Classes are starting soon and will be held on the campus of Howard
University. If you or someone you know is interested, please send an email
to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and a student application
package. Space is limited, so reply now. For more information about Youth
APPLab, please visit http://www.youthapplab.org
Classes will go until May/June with an app competition for internships
at the end.
Phil Shapiro email@example.com
Hope all is well with you. I’ve finally gotten around to Pt 2 of this series. In Part 1, I gave a brief history of sampling and, specifically, the tools used in the early days; and the explosion of sampling in the 80’s and 90’s that was fueled by the music of James Brown. Since then, not only has sampling evolved greatly with the advent of sampling technology, both in hardware and software tools, but it’s also taken on the form of a different kind of sampling – taking a song’s basic arrangement and feel (usually the hook) and creating a new song from it. One example that immediately come to mind in the last decade is Kirk Franklin’ s radio version (remix) of “Stomp”. When this release first hit the airwaves, it was quite noticeable to the listening public that the song’s groove was reminiscent of a very popular song by Funkadelic, namely “One Nation Under A Groove”. The interpolation comes into play as the tempo of “One Nation Under A Groove” (the verse section) was slowed down and the bass track was extracted for the main groove for “Stomp”. Whosampled.com shows a side by side comparison of the two. In this particular case, Kirk took the obtained permission and provided reference and credit to Funkadelic in the liner notes of his release. Before, during, and since then, there have been many instances were permission was not granted, resulting in copyright infringement lawsuits. While I’d venture to guess hip-hop holds the record for the highest count of sampling lawsuits, especially with the landmark case involving Biz Markie’s “I Need A Haircut” sampling of Gilbert Sullivan’s “Alone Again Naturally”, Kid AdRock of The Beastie Boys claims they hold the first sample lawsuit.
The laws of copyright infringement in cases like those above span far and wide and, to many, are still open to interpretation. I came across an interesting article (I’m sure there are many more out there) written by an artist on Twitter named Sean Grey. His article Thinking Out Loud: How to Legally Sample Songs For Free, provides some interesting questions for consideration, as well as feedback from other readers. While it’s not my intention to delve into the legalities of sampling in this post, it’s an area with depth that continues to be revisited time and time again. One of many good resources on this subject is here. Disc Makers also recently posted a good article entitled Sampling Safely â€“ A Primer to Avoiding Lawsuits.
As the late 80’s progressed into the 90’s, Sean “Puff Daddy (bka Diddy)” Combs took arranging and composing based on sampling a step further and actually obtained permission to use the actual masters (not samples or interpolations) of songs to compose songs for releases under his artists Junior Mafia, Biggee Smalls, Little, Kim, Lil Cease, Faith Evans, etc. Popular hip hop songs were produced that used actual hooks from Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out”, Herb Alpert’s “Rise”, The Police’s “Every Step You Take”, even Jeff Lorber’s classic fusion track “Rain Song”. You may be able to associated each song above with the hit Diddy produced.
This type of new song arranging and composing hit it very big, and still continues to do so, with the likes of Kirk Franklin using the hook to Patrice Rushen’s “Haven’t You Heard” for his 2005 hit “Looking For You”.
The topic matter in this particular post is nothing new. The question I have is, as of late, is there any merit to what I call “gross sampling” (using the actual song itself, (in the case of what Diddy and Kirk have done)? I would submit that there is some skill level, maybe some would say an art, to composing new (and I use the term loosely) songs. What, if any, are your thoughts? As an artist, songwriter, composer, and producer, I have my own but will reserve them until I finish this series.
In Part 3, I’ll give my perspective on sampling, sample packs, the tons of vendors that make them, the use of them in music composition, and related issues.
I hope this post finds you well. The topic of this post is something I’ve been meaning to write about for quite some time. Sampling has been a long time tool and methodology of music composition. I’m almost certain everyone reading this post is familiar, in some form or fashion, how sampling has found it’s way into modern day music creation.
While there are MANY articles and multimedia on this subject I’ll give a little background as a foundation to the reason why I’m writing this post – my own perspective on sampling: where it came from and and where it is today and some of my own opinion as a musician, songwriter, and producer. It’s not my intent to write about the chronological history of sampling (though I begin by citing its early days), but to talk about how I use and the reasons why, as I compose my own music. To give added perspective from others, I’ve also got a short interview with an artist on Twitter that uses sampling in her compositions, as well as an excerpt from an podcast I recorded, interviewing another artist on Twitter who is a sampled-based composer. You can check these out in future parts to this blog post.
Without going too far back to the first non-commercially available samplers, such as the Computer Music Melodian or EMS MUSYS, the first commercially available samplers actually came on the scene as the second wave of samplers. These are the more recognizable machines such as New England Digital’s Synclavier (’75), the Fairlight CMI (’79), and the Synclavier II (’80), While these samplers were to be found on many album liner credits, they cost in excess of $25,000 and obviously were only in reach of the top music superstars.
By the mid-80’s, the advent of sampling technology allowed for less expensive machines which were also smaller. Popular models of this era included the keyboard based Ensoniq Mirage and it’s rack version, the Mirage Rack, the Akai S612 (which used the least popular 2.8″ QuickDisks (same as some typewriters used), the Sequential Prophet 2000, the Akai S950, the Yamaha TX16W, and Roland S-550. These units boasted 12-bit sample resolution. You can hear the Mirage sampler usage all over Janet Jackson’s “Control” album, for example, the digital horn blasts on the hit “When I Think Of You”. I owned both the Yamaha TX16W and Roland S-550 samplers and participated in the Roland S-Group Sampler forum. Though the forum is pretty much non-existent these days, I still have a set of samples I uploaded to their archives in the late 90’s (ahh the good old days!). My primary use of the S-550 was to use snippets of samples I’ve created (mainly in the hip hop and dance genres) for use in my own compositions. Strangely enough, I never did any live sampling via a unit’s mic input, but instead used various Mac audio editing apps to convert audio to S-550 format.
It’s a well known fact that by the late 80’s, the E-mu SP1200 became the premier choice of samplers for commercial and indie hip-hop producers worldwide. Introduced in 1987, The grimy 12-bit sampling resolution and 10 second maximum sample time proved to have it’s limitations but despite that, it became the hallmark, signature sound of old-school hip-hop and house music. The SP-1200 was SO popular that it got reissued and manufactured through 1997. All the major hip-hop producers out of NYC, from Lord Finesse to Marley Marl to Pete Rock used the SP-1200 has their weapon of choice. Below is indie beat maker Surock showcasing a track done on the SP-1200.
In 1988, Roger Linn (known for the famous Linn Drum (think Prince tracks from Purple Rain), created partnership with Japanese corporation Akai and created what is probably singlehandedly known as the greatest machine made for creating hip-hop music: The Akai MPC Music Production center. Scores of hip-hop legends from DJ Premier to Pete Rock dominated this machine and made it the center of hip hop production. The MPC-60 began a long heritage of MPCs such as 2000, 2000xl, 3000, 2500, 1000, 4000, 5000, 1000 and 500. The MPC is known for its TIGHT timing and swing that is a staple of 90’s hip hop, still incorporating, as a 12-bit sampler, that grimy sound both associated with and loved in, hip hop. Here is a history of the MPC in video format:
As a songwriter, musician, and composer, I grew up playing in R&B bands as a teenager. The drum machine found it’s way into my composition tool box way before an actual computer did. By this time, the same vendors that manufactured hardware samplers, also manufactured drum machines that had internal sounds based on PCM samples of various drum kits. I became, like many, accustomed to programming drum tracks on these machines which have pads just like the MPC. As my studio grew, it wasn’t until about two years ago that I finally got around to incorporating a MPC 1000 into my setup. What I enjoy about using the MPC is not only the availability to load and edit samples for tracks, but I much more enjoy programming drum tracks with pads via using a keyboard.
With the availability of the sampler in mainstream music production, it exploded in the area of hip-hop, with artists “crate diggin” for the most obscure tracks on vinyl to create the next banger. It turns out that the most sought after, used (and frankly exploited) tracks came from one artist, the hardest working man in show business: James Brown. To get an idea of just how much of his music was sampled in hip-hop (and beyond) check this link out. While the use of JB’s music greater exposed him to even music fans (young and old), there’s always been the issue of legality in sampling his tracks and tracks of the artists he produced. I’ll touch on legality issues in a subsequent part of this post. Suffice it say, I’ve heard some of the most ingenious and creative results of sampling Mr. Brown over time, some being the hottest tracks ever created. There is no question that James Brown and his music provided the fuel to propel hip-hop forward in many ways. Once again, barring the legal issues, the skill and creativity of hip-hop producers in the sampling of JB’s tracks, paid him great homage (and still do).
That’s it for now. In Part 2, I’ll give my thoughts on sampling vs interpolation and touch briefly (as if it hasn’t been touched on enough), the legalities of sampling.
Hope all is well with u. Sitting in The Lab this rainy Sunday evening, thinking about the various projects I’m working on, and testing out a new WP plugin called Twitter Tools (which will hopefully work to auto-post this, since Bird Feeder was not updated to work with Twitter’s recent OAuth configuration).
AfterSix Productions: We’re close, very close after *years* of working on this project. Currently looking at a new male vocalist to complete this duet I wrote, then it’s off to mixing and prepping tracks for final master. The next three months are pretty much laid out in our project file. The website is 99% done and looks good. Just need to make final decisions on the mastering facility, distribution, etc.
contempojazzsoulhop: Cross Country Collective. This is the genius of Fave and The Big La. The single “Give To Ya” has been released and well received in the US and abroad. Head nod to both these prolific musicians for allowing me in on this project…stay tuned.
SFTF: Yep, your man…this is my project, various original tracks and songs I’ve been working on, as well as remix projects I’ve been done and will continue to do.
The Nikki Ruth Project: This is the brainchild of another prolific songwriter and producer, Ms Tina E. Clark. Very versed in the music business, she has the Midas Touch with everything she lays her hands on. I’ve been asked to participate on this project and she’s released the first track entitled “Pearl” available on iTunes.
Sphere of Influence: Smooth jazz keyboardist and long time friend, Tim Watson is working on a new release. I had the good fortune of providing the guitar tracks for the title track of this very hot CD. Always a pleasure working with Tim, a musician with a heart of gold.
Various remix projects: The latest I’ve done was a remix for “The Most Impossible Plan”, from The Skatterbrain EP, The Basic Condition Of Life. Headnod to Dan Weatherall for allowing the Twitter community to take part in his latest EP. One thing I’d love to become is a great remixer. Luckily there are plenty contests and projects out there on a regular basis.
I’ve got a new personal project that I plan to launch in 2011. Domain is registered, host in place. Stay tuned.
That’s it for now. Enjoy the evening.
::: oceans of rhythm :::
PS: Big thanks to Gadget Girl for helping me to get Twitter Tools to work.
Some of you know about a remote collaboration I’m involved in called C3. C3 is the brainchild of Fave and The Big La. Here’s the scoop in case you haven’t seen it:
I am pleased to share with you the debut single, “Give it 2 Ya” from our upcoming EP, Contempojazzsoulhop.
Produced by The Big La and Fave
Lyrics written by Fave
Drums and Sampling: The Big La
Electric guitar: Fresh
Keys and Vocals: Fave
It is (and continues to be) a blessing to work with such open-minded, talented and tech savvy brothers. You may download the single using the title link above or from our website. Feel free to share it among your social networks (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
So, how does C3 do it…how do we make this music happen when I’m on the East coast, Fave is down in the Big T and The Big La on the West coast?. We all use Apple’s Logic Studio to compose music on our individual and collective fronts. This little chat transcript is of example of how we make the magic happen…this is me and Big La on GMail chat not too long ago:
Sent at 9:33 PM on Wednesday, August 11 me:Â yo….
todd:Â sup man what’s goin’ on?
me:Â U man…! I saw the tweet and the email traffic about Bra Strap…where
is the project uploaded…wanna do a lil somethin wid it
todd:Â ha ha. yeah
it’s at: (upload directory)
thought you’d HAVE to do a instrumental solo version
me:Â ha….I’m on my way
todd:Â in the “C3 Sessions”
todd:Â just rock the guitar on top of it
me:Â u know it
todd:Â some nice reverb and echo, super quiet track…it’s still just a proof of concept
me:Â i heard the original….sensual bruh…I’m feelin that
todd:Â haven’t tracked it out to 3-4 minutes
me:Â no prob…u know how we build!
todd:Â fave has an updated one be plays on but haven’t got that session yet
me:Â oh ok, I saw the tweets about it, we can grow it all eventually
todd:Â wait. i’m late on tweets…ha ah
todd:Â trying to get a few tracks done before my creative phase gets put on hold again
me:Â i’m there! sup with the other session…more C3 under development?
me:Â man, you and Fave…i gotta grow to be like y’all
Â todd:Â think that’s from fave
Â me:Â my creative phase has been Â on lock! haha
Â todd:Â yes it is from him
Â me:Â ok cool
Â todd:Â that’s the one i did before bra strap. i think fave funked it up. downloading now
Â me:Â cool ima get that too
Â todd:Â yup GET TO WORK!!! lol
Â me:Â u know it!!!…gotta get on that insomniatical night owl tip again…hahahah
Â me:Â Ok, I’m out your box…I’ll get back to you. peace.
Â todd:Â aight. peace!
There you have it….leverage technology and the net to compose, engineering, mix, and produce this EP. Stay tuned.
You’ve seen the commercial – I’m a Mac, I’m a PC. Well, I’m a Mac…frankly, a Mac user since 1991. I do own a Toshiba Satellite laptop loaded with Vista that I bought brand new some years ago for family usage. Since my wife’s work VPN operates on XP, I ended up buying her a very reliable, but used Dell laptop which fits the bill, functionally, for what she needs to do.
Over the years, I’ve been increasingly frustrated with Vista on this laptop, because it works sooooo slowly. Enter stage left, my super computer geek coworker with some great, but common information to share about getting better performance out of a Windows Vista or XP machine. While I know about streamlining the Mac OS to do this, I never gave thought on how to similarly do this for Windows. That being said, I thought I’d share the information with you, should you care to try the same process I will finally embark on this weekend.
Windows XP Setup
— to get some decent speed from Windows.
Clean-up, after Installation,
1. Remove the Trial and Extra Software that is part of a (e.g., Toshiba) Recovery Disk
(Start, Settings, Control Panel, Add or Remove Software)
All AOL stuff
Microsoft Office (30-day trial version)
Yahoo Music Engine
Any other trial software
2. Disable unused Windows components
(Start, Settings, Control Panel, Add or Remove Software, left-column Remove Windows Components)
MSN (microsoft network)
Messenger (microsofts built-in)
Outlook or Outlook Express (e-mail)
Expand Accessories, remove Internet Games
(you get about 10% to 15% speed-up on WinXP)
3. Update Internet Exporer and Media Player from Windows site
4. Get the latest WinXP Service Pack (SP3 is old from Jan 2008)
5. Free Software to download and install
Microsoft Security Essentials (anti-virus)\
Windows Defender (anti-spyware)
Firefox web browser (safer and faster than Internet Explorer)
VLC Player (the DVD player that includes foreign DVD formats)
Windows dot-Net Framework 3.5
Paint.Net (requires .Net Framework, free photoshop program)
Google Picasa (maybe, if you want a photo organizer)
6. Check-out Blackviper’s website about turning off unnecessary Services
(Start, Programs, Administration Tool, Services
Or Start Settings, Admnistration Tools, Services)
Technology…the continuing boon of mankind, especially in the advent of wired AND wireless communication. I use four primary wireless communication devices: A Mac G5 Dual processor desktop and/or Mac G4 desktop, a laptop (Toshiba Satellite and Powerbook G4) with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, my Blackberry Curve smartphone, and an iPod Touch 2G. The creation of the Air Force’s Global Positioning System, or GPS has allowed anyone on the earth to determine exactly where they are on the earth. Since then, many vendors have manufactured GPS-enabled devices to harness this technology. Fast forward to today with the many uses of wireless devices and software applications developed for and embedded into cellphones, pdas, etc and you have the capability to now share with the world a very accurate representation of where you are in a very small envelope of time. Many of you reading this use this “apps” on a regular basis: Brightkite, Ubertwitter, Loopt, and tons of others allow not just people on your social networks, but the entire world, know where you are, depending on how you have your communication prefereneces configured for the location awareness app(s) you use. Many, if not all, of these apps allow you to send maps of where you are located based upon associated latitude and longitude coordinates given by the GPS system. You can send photos with your camera enabled device also associating your location. Frankly, I think it’s a fascinating aspect of communications technology that definitely bares its pros.
Last year I read a VERY good article in Wired Magazine about an iPhone user who decided to conduct a little experiment using the location awareness capability of his iPhone. The experiment was very interesting and for anyone interested in the social aspect of location awareness, I suggest it as recommended reading…the article is here.
As freely as it is used, I believe there should also be some thought in how freely one does use it. I’ve heard of many occasions where people tweeted, or otherwise posted there location over some timeframe which yield unfortunate results. One example was a business man who tweeted he was going on a business trip for a week and the location for the trip, only to return home and find his house…..robbed. Coincidence, maybe…but making your location easily aware to the public, along with the ancillary information u provided with it, should at least garner some thought as to what the consequences could be.
It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post, so….hello! LOL.
For the last week or so, I’ve been in a rental car while my regular ride is in the body shop. While I miss my regular auto and all the amenities therein, I really miss my satellite radio.
Mannnn….with the variety of programming provided by satellite radio, I really have found out how much I miss it when I start listening to…………urban contemporary radio. I’m really not hatin’ and yes I am post 40 years old but….where… is the talent in today’s urban contemporary R&B??? Somebody? The keyword, I believe, in this phrase is “contemporary”, which in itself (by default) describes the state of today’s R&B…most of it anyway.
Technology has made it such that anyone with some modest computer skills or (hardware and/or software) can compose music (if you want to call it that, in some instances)…or “beats” (ugh). Ok, a good deal of you reading this know I am a musician. I play three instruments, guitar, bass, and keyboards, in that order. Beats…..are what I know to be the drums and percussions in a song. Me, I like to make “beats” as part of my songs. Am I clownin’ the phrase “beats” (a term that has become all encompassing in computer and electronic music production systems), yeah…I am. I’m clowning it only because making popular music today, especially in the urban circles, has been really watered down and devoid of any true musical knowledge of theory and arranging. Gone (in urban music) is “the band”…the only known remnant of such today would be….The Roots. In no other genre (save genres of electronic dance music which never had bands anyway, except in the early days with the likes Devo, Kraftwerk, etc) of music is “the band” really dead, especially rock and country music. I think that fact draws a direct correlation to the lack of *musical* talent in popular urban contemporary music.
Is there anything *wrong* with where urban contemporary music has evolved to? No, I don’t think so. I do think that the music has evolved, but incompletely…the “talent” was left behind for the most part. I believe hip-hop has had the greatest evolution of any genre that I have listened to (especially being a listener BEFORE it went commercial radio). The evolution of those in charge of A&R has a great deal to do with where the music is as well. For years the marketing of R&B as long been about what the street says is hot…flash and show vs talent. Long gone are the long multiyear contracts for artists for various reasons, but with that leaves the great anticipation of your favorite artist coming out with a release of jams every year (I know some of u remember this….(wink)).
The music industry has evolved, as a whole, not necessarily for the best (in my own mind). I don’t think listeners in their 20’s would necessarily agree but, just as I was, it’s what you’re are continually force fed (as is said) or exposed to commercially that you determine as normal, and even good.
I’m sure my parents and yours would probably expound on the state of music I grew up on as teenager/young adult, in the same way I am in this post. I think the difference here versus then would be the inclusion of actual musical talent in what I was growing up listening to, versus what is prevalent now. There was a surge of “neo soul” that was big, seems like we just came off the “throwback” era of current artists bringing back that true soul sound (I actually like Raphael Saadiq’s “100 Yard Dash), etc…but they don’t appear to be fueled by the record industry with respect to what is “hot” and selling.
In defense of urban contemporary music, I would never say it takes no talent to create what is in heavy rotation. It does take talent to leverage the technology of recording to manifest the end product, it’s the theory, love and joy of learning to compose on a musical instrument that is lacking. I, too, am an electronic musician as well and love some of the genres that are strictly electronic (hence my features of such on my weekly podcast). I think the advent of technology will continue to make such a desire to learn an instrument diminish as times go by…IF…such a desire is not kept alive through various means (people and programs, etc).
As for satellite radio and especially internet radio, they both give a welcomed alternative to commercial radio. Couple that with the state of music distribution via the internet, the entire recording industry IS evolving. I miss my XM, not just because I dont have to deal with commercials every 10 mins either. I hope to have my ride back next week.
In my recording studio, I have a very old sampler, a Yamaha TX16W. This sampler has a 3.5″ disk drive that reads Yamaha’s proprietary format sample lilbrary. I have at least three cases of sample disks that I’d like to convert before possibly selling them with the sampler. I really didn’t want to fire up the sampler, connect a MIDI keyboard, play the sample, record the audio into my computer, and save it…but…that would seem the only way to do it….UNTIL…I remembered that I could use an old app called Sound Converter to read the sample disk and do the conversion for me. The problem was these disks are ALL 3.5″ DSDD floppy disks. A-ha…no problem – I can buy USB drive 3.5″ floppy disk reader. Drive purchased, disk inserted…no cigar…the drive only reads HD 3.5″ floppies….bummer. Light bulb goes off…pull out ye olde Power Mac 7100, and hook it up….it has an internal CD-ROM drive *and* internal floppy drive that reads 3.5″ DSDD and HD floppy disks….voila! Fortunately, since I started music production on this computer like 10+ years ago, it’s still running Mac OS 9.1, and has Sound Converter installed as well. Cool!
I set it up, hooked up a spare flatscreen monitor, an iOmega Zip drive and again was in business, like the old days! Fortunately, I was able to find the app PC Exchange on an older Mac OS system update disks that had the DOS Compatibility app software on it which allows me to read DOS formatted floppy disks. I popped the first sample disk in, opened the file with Sound Converter, and did the conversion…good to go. Now to do the other gazillion disks!
Definitely paid to keep the old hardware around. Yeah, for those who know, the samples are 12-bit (as opposed to 24-bit today), but I love samples….the bigger my library, the better…they sound pretty decent for a sampler from the 80’s 😉 It’s 3:13am Saturday morning….thankful I can sleep in and late for once! Good night!