Onlinebeatmachinemadness

Have you been wanting to use the Internet to make some funky beats? Now you can. Here are some killer on-line beat boxes to keep you bouncin’.

Sheepbeats is a Flash site created by my pal Becca Nesson. Its Roland 808 programming meats Old McDonald! Baadassss! Baa ram ewe! The Beaterator and Rhymerator from Rockstargames.com let’s you make your beats on an old school beat machine and even gives you help with the rhymes. The BBC (oddly enough) has a whole virtual studio including a step sequencer and a Fatboy Slim Remix game. If you want to move into the realm of the 8Bit Peoples (cc) and other gamebeat makers, check out the Beat Machine from Dimmen’s Games which seems similarly abstract to me. (Can you imagine making your beats on a Game Boy?)

If you need the real thing, check out The history of the beatbox at Broadway Music (where I lifted the logo above) or the vintage synth explorer for starters. But the ultimate old school beat box site is probably the one at the keyboard museum (an organization after my own heart for sure).

For the final solution, has anyone made a nickelodeon that plays sample triggers? The closest I can think of is the Monkey Drummer video by Chris Cunningham. Let’s get on that one people.
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Wayne checked in and pointed to some additional info about Sheep Beats etc. on his righteous blog. Get the backstory behind the farm beat flash ap that swept the Internet!

College Radio Rules!

del.icio.us / tag / vinyl Was sent to me by David Crawford who quickly followed up with http://www.richcolour.com/mastermix which emphasized the connection between Hip Hop and radio archives! Somehow all this reminds me that…college radio rules!

First of all. It was the college friends (and the friends of the college friends — like David) that really helped many of us lock in our budding high school vinyl addictions. Moreover, college radio remains a bastion of non-commercial broadcasting in the face of increasing media consolidation.

Since I am a graduate student at Boston College, I need to give some respect to my own local station WZBC. Some of their documentation suggests that WZBC was the first station in the country to have a Hip Hop show (???). At the bottom of the page under random factoids they state, “our DJ Magnus (Monday nights 7-10 PM) was the first DJ in Boston to play Hip Hop on the radio, and the first DJ in the country to have a Rap/Hip Hop show”. I need to do some beat research here because it seems so strange given the emergence of Hip Hop in NY. But I was reminded that Magnus used to tell me he had the first Hip Hop show in Boston (which I thought was cool enough when I worked with him at an antique store in the late 1980’s). Also, Boston was an “early adopter” of Hip Hop and WZBC was always out ahead of the curve so I guess it is possible that no one in NY got a show first. I would love some clarification here if anyone has it.

Later, I wound up playing old school Hip Hop on WZBC on the Beyond the QE2 radio show with DJ Duo “the skipper” and Carlos B “the navigator” (pictured below on left with me at the decks) and remembered Magnus at the helm on Dub Hop with undergrads reading poetry over rare dubsides. Hmm.

Moreover, all the Beat Research kids like DJ Ripley, Wayne and Wax, Flack, etc.////have been on there. While you are at it. What is up with the Book of SFX crew on WZBC? Some mad found sound archivery for sure. Last but not least, WZBC was the one time home of Yamin’s Beats Not Bombs show and is the current home to Brian Coleman’s killer Funk to the Folks/Schoolbeats show on Mondays. Since Brian is also the author of the new book Rakim Told Me (which is next on my list after Joe Shloss’s massive Making Beats) I must give huge respect to WZBC and all college radio for its continuing non commercial potential. Whew.

In any case, the college connection with David is that he and I used to live in Fort Point with this cat Morgan Cohen who went to Hampshire with this dude who does this site www.weirdsville.com (an incredible internet radio archive of audio madness that I have been wanting to share).

Verstehen?
Its all about the networks. And media. Don’t belive me? Heard of Googlezon?

That ought to convince ‘ya.

Reagan Flexi-Jam

I wanted to see if I could get myself to do a really short post. So here’s my new track: The Reagan Flexi-Jam. Its basically a live DJ mix of a classic Reagan cut-up flexi-disk from 1981 called Reagan Speaks for Himself.

Originally created by Douglas Kahn (who is now the Director of the Technocultural Studies Department at U.C. Davis) using plundered Reagan vocal material, this crazy little gem was released in Raw Magazine Vol 1. 4. Here’s a cool WFMU blog with more info on this and other Reagan cut ups and an Indy Magazine, Winter 2005 article on the history of Raw Magazine.

Since we seem to be in some dark parallel time warp with Star Wars nostalgia running high and the white collar plunder-thon in full gear, it seemed like a good moment to remix this Reagan cut up. The track here was done live on two decks with a breakbeat record and the Reagan Speaks for Himself flexi-disk. I did edit out a few long sections, so it is not TOTALLY live. But it sounds more edited than it really is because that darn flexi-disk was skipping like crazy (i guess I forgot to put the penny on it). You ever tried cutting with a flexi-disk? It skips like mad, dude.

Enjoy.

Early Radio Space Archive

This just in from Steve Provizer of the Citizens’ Media Corps who found a nice listing/discussion of early radio broadcasts on wax. It is amazing that people were recording radio broadcasts (of Morse code no less) as early as 1913-1915. Some of the recordings are at the Library of Congress. I don’t know if there are audio examples on line, but it would be nice to hear them.

Somehow, the idea of sitting and recording radio transmissions seems very “hip hop” to me. Recording them directly onto an acetate seems INCREDIBLY hip hop (whatever that means).

Perhaps this is a form of retrospective sensemaking. Because sampling and scratching with radio and television broadcasts has been a staple of hip hop DJ/production techniques since early on, it goes without saying that the people who recorded them were representing a nacent hip hop aesthetic. Joe Schloss makes a similar point in his amazing book Making Beats about how crate diggers define breaks functionally and even imagine that these pre-existing “breaks” lie buried in layers of musical sediment, just waiting to be unearthed. I certainly do. Thus the desire to archive. Somewhere, in all these hours of radio transmission might lie the “perfect break”. (For my take on the evolution of breaks, check out Love 1.3)

If this notion tickles your fancy, have no fear. All the radio broadcasts that have ever been transmitted are archived for all eternity…in space. (While I just realized this myself, my pal Rob Chalfen has log recognized the archival potential of space/time as source for “lost” jazz recordings.) The only hitch is that you need to be able to travel faster than the speed of light and have a super strong directional antenna. In that case, you could get out past the leading edge of the expanding bubble of radio waves representing the date of the first broadcast on planet Earth. Fire up the old sampler (if you can find an AC plug out there) and stay tuned for a real time retransmission of the whole history of broadcasting. How will the RIAA control that one?

The other nice thing about Steve’s e-mail is that it reminded me of my personal history of recording the radio. Specifically, I remember spending hours upon hours making pause tape mixes of radio shows as early as grade school. The trick to these mixes was to try to anticipate when the MC was coming back on the air by reading the length of the pause between songs. When you accidentally recorded some talking or a song you didn’t like, the goal was to rewind to a good punch in spot and put the machine back in “record/pause” in time to start recording again at the next punch in spot. I remember sitting there, stairing at the radio, waiting for songs I loved. I think these little “radio remixes” were my modest articulation of the universal artistic/romantic desire to remake the world in your own image. To be the DJ.

Do kids still do this? (How do you even record the radio if all you have is an IPod and a laptop?) Has the “mixtape” and podcasting taken over this function? If so, what does it mean that the FBI is busting folks who are distributing mixtapes and that podcasting is probably illegal too? Should I turn in my 1979 (?) tape of Charles Laquidara’s madcap “Duane Ingalls Glasscock Instant Radio Spectacular” radio show on WBCN? How about Troy Smith’s amazing collection of hip hop tapes? Can we all listen to them?

Welcome

Welcome to the LOVE BLOG.

I’ll be using this spot to post shorter entries, make announcements and generally keep you updated on developments at LOVE. Our permanent digital “stacks of wax” are www.libraryofvinyl.org. There are a few great new developments at LOVE that deserve mention.

Last week we received a grant from the Somerville Arts Council to produce a Hip Hop History (H3) block party. This will be a wonderful kick off event for LOVE as the Hip Hop Nation is one of our core constituencies. The event will feature a series of sets featuring DJs, MCs, dancers, graffiti writers and video artists all collaborating to represent the evolution of Hip Hop. It is also our first grant! Very exciting. Thanks to amazing photographer Robert Rosenheck for letting us use an image from his Love Book. (If you have not seen this book, you need to!)

Equally wonderful, Steve Provizer of The Citizens’ Media Corps has agreed to serve as our fiscal agent. We have already received several in-kind contributions of Internet hosting and vinyl. Now we can now offer tax deductions to our contributors. Please contact us if you want to make a donation.

In August, I will be performing under the banner of the Library of Vinyl Experience at the Academy of Management’s Fringe CafĂ© in Hawaii. I will be talking about how DJs operate as an action research community and using this case to make connections between organizational network and action research theories.

Finally, the latest LOVE website is up including a link to this LOVE Blog and two new pages of “wax”. I look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts about any and all of this!

Stay tuned for some new tracks coming soon.