Professor Thomas Dolby – Johns Hopkins University’s First Homewood Professor of the Arts

Business is adapting readily to digital communications. The academic world has also evolved to support the demand for this specialized type of workforce by creating new curriculums and programs centered around digital media. As a result, the practical relevance of the digital domain has fortified the need for professionals and thought leaders trained in different disciplines of digital business operations. Some notable courses offered by esteemed institutions such as the Harvard Business School focus on digital communications, online marketing, digital journalism, and the economics of online businesses.

One such thought leader is a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) a person who helps a company drive growth by converting traditional “analog” businesses to digital ones, and oversees operations in the rapidly changing digital sectors like mobile applications, social media and related applications, virtual goods, as well as “wild” web-based information management and marketing.[1]According to a study by Gartner, it’s predicted that 25% of businesses will have created and filled the Chief Digital Officer title by 2015.[5]

When it comes to the arts, film, music and technology it is a comfort to see that academia is investing in the future of enhancing digital arts and technology sector. I first wrote about the significance of this topic when I discovered that Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre had contributed $70 million towards the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation

Next week, Thomas Dolby will be named the Johns Hopkins University’s first Homewood Professor of the Arts. This  position will enable him to help create a new center that will serve as an incubator for technology in the arts. In my mind’s eye I see Professor Thomas Dolby as the Chief Digital Officer for this major initiative that will embrace sound on film.

The center will be housed in two projects totaling about $35 million and being jointly overseen by Hopkins, the Maryland Institute College of Art and the Maryland Film Festival. The former Parkway Theatre at 5 W. North Ave. is undergoing a $17 million renovation and will become a three-screen, 600-seat theater. Just down the street, an Art Deco building at 10 E. North Ave. is being converted into classrooms and office space at a price of $18 million.

Read more:,0,4292987.story#ixzz2uiNQq5iS


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The Animated Picture Disc – Plastic Infinite by Sculpture

The next dimension of the picture disc has been achieved. Embrace and feel the sensory titillation of Plastic Infinite from the Opto-musical agglomerate known as Sculpture. It will envelop you in an audio/visual immersive experience. In the day we would say about an experience like this, “Let’s go trip out to the Plastic Infinite” 😉

The preferred listening+ method is to witness the engineered result of Plastic Infinite as follows.  You will have to play the 7″ EP on your turntable and view with either a strobe @25 flashes per second or a video camera @25fps, very high shutter speed, progressive.

I presently don’t have these options at my disposal but I believe my son can help me here so I will get with him when we have a copy of the second pressing as their first pressing of Plastic Infinite has sold out!

Thankfully Sculpture has made a music video of Plastic Infinite. I have watched it in jaw dropping wonder several times now. I love the Numark turntable it’s playing upon, I want that for my audio system. Hey Now!

Sculpture the Opto-musical agglomerate is Dan Hayhurst: (media devices, electronic instruments) and Reuben Sutherland: (video zoetrope turntable, animation, optix).

Their technique uses zoetrope.

A zoetrope is a drum shaped optical toy that makes a series of drawings appear to move. The drum sits on a stand upon which it can be spun. Its sides are pierced with a regular pattern of slits. The drawings, the number of which corresponds to the number of slits, are printed onto a strip of paper which is placed inside the drum. These drawings differ only slightly from one another and follow a logical sequence.

The drum is spun and the viewer watches the images through the slits where they appear to move. The zoetrope is an optical toy that can be enjoyed by several people at the same time.

It was invented by W. G. Horner in 1834, and later developed by Milton Bradley who patented it in the USA in 1867.

See more at:

So much attention is being focused on the Plastic Infinite recording which is Side A, we are overlooking Slot Hum on Side B. Give it an audio spin

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Steven Wilson’s Software Instrument – Ghostwriter

Steven Wilson makes another innovative contribution to digital music production by introducing his own software instrument, Ghostwriter. Co-produced by Steven Wilson and Doug Rogers from the world’s leading software instrument company EastWest. This music software solution is designed for music, film, games, and TV composers. Ghostwriter can be ordered directly from East/West SoundsOnline. It is packaged on a Western Digital USB3 (with USB2 compatibility) hard drive (Available at no extra charge!! ($70 value) until 1/31/14).

According to Steven Wilson:  For the first time ever this makes some of my signature sounds available to other musicians, as well as replications of recognizable classic sounds originally created by other producers and engineers. These sounds can be used as part of the fabric of complex music productions, or as the basis for cinematic soundtrack-based music, providing a ready-made selection of sonic building blocks.

Mainly I’ve tried to create sounds that you won’t find in any other software instrument or sample library, but in addition more straightforward raw drum, bass and guitar sounds are included, which can be manipulated via the powerful Ghostwriter instrument interface (which includes an amp simulator, SSL EQ, 2 compressors, echoplex tape delay, a powerful reverb, filter and envelope stages) to create your own unique sounds.

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The Echo Nest – The Intelligent Music Metabase Architecture

The Echo Nest continues to enhance its leadership role as the open music metabase architecture. The software engineering team is total genius. I urge you to read their latest blog post, The Future of Music Genres Is Here. Everything you thought you understood about genres of music will be blown away as you take the jump to light speed.

I have developed an appreciation for music subgenres (e.g. Main genre:Blues, subgenre: Blues Rock, Country Blues, Rhythm & Blues)  the past couple of years. Now I am able to explore and listen to 800+ music genres.

The Echo Nest approach to genres is trend-aware because their intelligent music metabase listens, analyzes, then delineates the granularity of the genre/subgenre being heard.

This is superior to the static hierarchical metabase that Gracenote supplies. I am very curious to test beatsMUSIC next week to see if they hitched their wagon to Gracenote or The Echo Nest metabase. Gracenote will make their cloud music solution “closed and fixed” vs. “open and dynamic” as The Echo Nest allows.

To get a better “visual interactive” feel for the Open Genre API Methods try playing with this “proof of concept” demonstration. I almost want to call it Mother Popcorn a.l.a. James Brown ;). Try it and you’ll see why I am thinking like that…

1) Music Popcorn

ZimZamZim – Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Last August I made a contribution to the Arthur Brown Pledge Music Project. I was motivated by a commitment to technology and the modern day artist’s never ending quest to create, innovate and entertain.

Arthur Brown was the first artist to use a drum machine live back in 1973 with his band Kingdom ComeThe Crazy World of Arthur Brown is again in the forefront of music technology innovation with Arthur Brown’s Psycho -sonic Thought Control Headgear. It was premiered to UK audiences on stage at the Hard Rock Hell Festival on 28th November 2013.

Arthur Brown explains the technology, ‘In relation to music, the headgear will first deal with triggering sounds by thought. It will not just trigger sounds that are preset. It will create sounds in real time just as a Theremin does, or as do the voices of a human choir. Then it will develop to include body energies. Next will come the energy of feeling. Then the sexual energies will begin to be accessed. After that, the energies of the spirit and soul will become instigators of sound. Eventually, the energies of the whole human being will be used.’

Arthur Brown’s ZimZamZim project on audio CD reached my front door step from England yesterday.


I am excited by what Arthur Brown is accomplishing. Bear with me as I digest the music, presentation etc. I plan to get back to you with an updated perspective.

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Jaron Lanier To Lecture at Sacred Heart University

I greatly admire and respect Jaron Lanier. I am jubilant to learn that he is conducting a lecture in our backyard next month, I must attend. I last blogged about him in 2010, Jaron Lanier – Visionary Musician

Jaron Lanier
Jaron Lanier (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

Jaron Lanier will lecture on “Who Owns the Future” at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut on October 9th at 7 p.m. This presentation is associated with the 50th Anniversary Lecture Series on Libraries: The Future is Open – Or is it? It is sponsored by the Ryan Matura Library and will take place at the Schine Auditorium.

His latest book, “Who Owns The Future?”, will be available for purchase and signing after his lecture.

Raspberry Pi and Music Hacks (Raspberry Beret – Prince)

I am both a music and techno-geek. I have been employed in information technology for 32 years now. My interest has become refocused on software design and development. Call me a digital music wonk 😉  Just like my computer network management students I too want to hack.

I have followed the Music Hack Days actively for the past two+ years now. I have finally found the niche to pursue as a music hacker in earnest with a stated purpose and direction.

My tool of choice is to buy a Raspberry Pi credit card computer ($25-$35) and accessories (TBD)  that allow me to exploit the media center and music hack options. I am eager to emulate, test and then build upon that learning to create a music hack of  merit.

(I freely associate music songs with ideas and vice-versa, so the song by Prince, “Raspberry Beret” continually comes to mind when I think about Raspberry Pi and music…)

Raspberry Pi is a “hot” phenomenon with the ever-growing Linux crowd. It is the lowest cost way to teach yourself how to program in the Python programming discipline. First and foremost its a great toy that you can feel free to experiment with and make a modicum of success right away.

Like most technology revolutions Raspberry Pi has forged a community of enthusiasts that want to succeed together at the low-end of the spectrum for now.

Mark my words it is my “mind’s eye” prediction that Raspberry Pi designers/developers a.k.a hacks will produce commercial electronic solutions worthy of attention and initial sales by the time the Consumer Electronics Show happens in January 2014. Raspberry Pi is poised for exponential growth.

Here are just a few of the early music hacks I have discovered with Raspberry Pi.

1) How to Hack your Raspberry Pi to Play Music Wirelessly from any IOS Device

2) Raspberry Pi Synthesizer

And when all else fails, remember we Got The Beets LOL!

3) BeetBox