Sunday, October 21, 2012

Robot from Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" in the Film and TV museum


Pop Art in Berlin

Kaitlin Gould pondering Warhol's "Mao"

Freitag: Time to Explore

Today is the day set aside for us to spend it as we see fit. Some are going to the major Catholic Church in Berlin - St. Hedwig - while others are going to the art museum Hamburger Hauptbahnhof, the shopping area of Nikolaiviertel, or perusing local museums that are part of our 3-day museum pass. The cultural opportunities of Berlin beyond the musical performances we are hearing are far reaching and in some cases, not to be missed. We had the chance on Friday to visit the Pergamon Museum (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), where amongst other amazing and massive sites within the museum walls, we were able to see the Ishtar Gate (built around 575 BCE under King Nebuchadnezzar II):

Dereik Domerese and Mariah Thompson at the Ishtar Gate

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Ramones in Berlin! Ah yes!!!

As we explored Oranienburger Strasse today we found a fun stop for coffee and punk! The Ramones Museum of Berlin!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Varieties of Musical Experience

We've been delighted to experience the formal settings of music - last night in the form of a musical theater show Tanz der Vampire at the Theater des Westens and tonight in the form of an opera Orpheus at the Komische Oper - as well as the informal settings of music - whether a violinist trio in a subway station or a trumpeter, violinist or an accordion player on the street.  It was agreed that our musical experience last night, though sung and spoken entirely in German, was hugely impacting and satisfying, given its rich set design, amazing light work and incredible sound engineering. The ability to look at the structure of a work when not overly focused on the language of the piece allowed for a new kind of spectator perception.

From music to street art, Berlin is awash in spontaneous expressions of creativity. Take this massive work that is across the street from our hotel:



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Unique Dining Experience

It is not every day, much less every year, that you get the chance to dine in a public place where you cannot see the hand in front of you - literally. We had the pleasure and privilege of dining at the Unsicht-Bar here in Berlin, a "dark restaurant". Our servers were all blind, thus expertly equipped to add us through the experience of navigating the world of forks, glasses and conversation in total darkness (for 2+ hours).

We chose this restaurant for our first night so that we could all experience together a few moments of non-ocularcentrism (that is, a de-privileging of the eyeballs as our dominant sense organ). As this class is focused in on the listening and hearing of music and sound, this proved to be an ideal environment for attuning to our surroundings and one another in ways we all agreed was fresh and excitingly "eye-opening" for our ears. What would it be like to hear an opera without seeing it, having to follow the performers with our ears across stage? How do we, as sight-dominated people, choose to orient towards the world, and in particular music and sound, through our ears?

Day One, First Stop: Brandenburg Gate

Berlin October 16 2012

The listening begins on the plane as we each insert our earbuds and we create individual listening worlds within a collective travel experience. As we cram our bodies and bags into small, shared spaces we find comfort through what hear; headphones allow us to choose what we listen to and attempt to drown out unwanted sound, for example, babies crying, a neighbor snoring uncomfortably close, inane conversations between those who know each other too well or those who've just met and are trying a bit too hard. Yet what listening experience are we truly engaging in? Do these little worlds close us in or shut everything else out? I found for me it actually allowed for a more singular focus offsetting the awkwardness of mass transit. I don't know if this is true for all, but I finished the ride with copious, reflective notes that energized me as I prepare to immerse myself in the musical adventures of Berlin.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ocarina & Project Oke

The Machine That Makes You Musical






If Beethoven shifted the way the Western world thought about music from craft to art, and if recorded music ushered in an era when listening to masterful pros trumped amateur playing, Wang suggests that we may now be at another historical moment. “It feels like we’re at a juncture where the future is maybe kind of in the past,” he says. “We can go back to a time where making music is really no big deal; it’s something everyone can do, and it’s fun.” Full story

Monday, September 19, 2011

Clean Your Ears

Here is a piece of advice from decades past to assist you in your listening reflections:


The best way to increase your listening skills is to do some “ear cleaning.” Canadian environmentalist, composer, writer and educator R. Murray Schafer created ear cleaning exercises in the 1970s to help people get in touch with their audio environments and raise their awareness to the dangers of noise pollution. Today, there are many ear cleaning activities to get your ears tuned up and in tip-top shape!
Try some of these activities:


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

40 Noises That Built Pop

Posted in Word Magazine by Rhodri Marsden on 9 July 2011 - 8:51am.

"Modern technology has made it incredibly easy to emulate the sound of a rock band. Plug the right guitar into the right amplifier and you're already on your way to sounding like Kurt Cobain. In fact, you don't even need the amplifier. Just plug the guitar into a computer and choose the "Kurt Cobain" setting on your favourite music software. Almost every sound in rock and pop history that's caused your ears to prick up, or your eyebrows to raise, has been sampled or digitally reconstructed for our music-making convenience. But these sounds all started somewhere; a musician or a producer made a noise - often by mistake - and someone in the studio piped up and said, "Hey! Actually, that sounds quite good!" And so the palette of rock and pop music was formed - a series of happy accidents, developed, refined and combined, mixed down and presented to us. Here are some of the most distinctive and, in no particular order, the records that best showcase them."

1) Piano Glissando - Jerry Lee Lewis: Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On (1957)



2) Power Chord - The Kinks: You Really Got Me (1964)



3) Hammond Organ & Leslie Speaker - Booker T & the MGs: Hip Hug-Her (1967)



4) Fretless Bass - Japan: Talking Drum (1981) 



5) Theremin - The Beach Boys: Good Vibrations (1966)



6) Guitar Feedback - Gang Of Four: Anthrax (1981) 



7) Mellotron Flute - The Beatles: Strawberry Fields Forever (1967)



8) Palm Mute Guitar - Billy Bragg: A New England (1983)



9) Reverse Tape - Yes: Roundabout (1971)



10) Slap Bass - Stanley Clarke: Lopsy Lu (1974)



Look here for descriptions of these techniques & recordings in addition to the other 30 noises.