Archive for January, 2011

Wallace Berman - Verifax Collages

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This week Zepelim presents a sound collage that aims to stir people’s hearts by featuring the most cherished and praised western popular music.  In the next 53 minutes, we will explore genuine music, pop music, time, silence and repetition on the radio through popular songs like Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, hits on the Billboard Charts,  the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and The Most Wanted and Unwanted Music.

10 Banned Albums Burned Then Played

This episode starts with the sound of burned records. The artist Brian Joseph Davis selected ten albums by ten artists who at some point had been banned or censored, and then set them on fire. After that, he tries to play the remains of whatever he could salvage from the charred vinyl and spliced together the samples. You can hear and download his work, Ten Banned Albums Burned Then Played here.

Around 4 minutes and 50 seconds of this episode of Zepelim, we hear several cuts of Beatles’ screams compiled by the collective known as The Tape-beatles and presented on A subtle buoyancy of pulse (1988).

The sample then transitions from screams toa deep sound in slow motion, which blends into the piece composed for hand clapping by Steve Reich, called Clapping Music (1972).

Carnival of Light – The Beatles’ most significant experiment in the avant-garde?

January 5, 1967. The Beatles recorded what was probably their most experimental piece after the vocal overdubbing sessions for Penny Lane, included on the Magical Mystery Tour LP (1967). In December 1966, the designer David Vaughan, who Paul McCartney ordered to paint a psychadelic design for his piano, asks McCartney if he would contribute a musical piece for the upcoming art festival The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave, organised by Binder, Edwards & Vaughan as a showcase for electronic music and light shows. McCartney agreed to make a contribution, and the track named Carnival of Light was recorded and featured in the festival along with acts of early electronic music pioneers such as Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson.

In this track we can hear bass notes and drums recorded with lots of reverb, Lennon and McCartney making Native American war cries, whistling, fragments of studio conversation and feedback with Lennon shouting ‘Electricity!’. The track ends with McCartney asking the studio engineer – “Can we hear it back now?”

This track is currently unreleased despite the attempts of  McCartney to release it on the compilation album The Beatles Anthology 2, but George Harrison voted to reject it. The track is travelling through the dark alleys of the web. Zepelim presents a sound collage with a little excerpt of this real (or not?) mythologic Beatles’s track – Carnival of Light.

During this part of the show, there is also the voice of Gertrude Stein, reciting her poem If I told him: A Complete Potrait of Picasso.

The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

Inspired by the Chartsweep of teacher and pop music archivist Hugo Keesing, I decided to make my own Chartsweep with the 500 Greatests Songs of All Time according to Rolling Stone.  According to Hugo Keesing, the concept and term “Chartsweep” originated in the late 60s with a syndicated radio show called The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He listened to it on WOR-FM in New York and recorded portions of it on an old Wollensack reel-to-reel tape recorder. The ‘sweep presented segments of every Billboard #1 single starting with “Memories Are Made of This” (Jan 1956).

In this Rolling Stone’s Chartsweep, 2.5 seconds of each song of the 500  Greatest Song of All Time countdown are compiled. The Greatest Song of All Time countdown comes on around 21 minutes. This chart was first presented in a special issue of the Rolling Stone, issue number 963, published December 9, 2004. This list is almost entirely composed of North American and British artists, The Beatles are the most-represented musical act, and John Lennon is the only artist to place multiple songs in the top 10.

Demographic Art: The Most Wanted and Unwanted Music


Komar and Melamid

Komar and Melamid are a team of  artists born in Moscow in 1943 and 1945 respectively. Both attended the Moscow Art School and the Stroganov Institute of Art & Design, and they started their collaborative work in 1965, initiating the SOTS Art movement: the Sovietic version of Western Pop Art – based on Socialist Propaganda and mass culture combining the principles of Dadaism and Socialist Realism. In 1973, they were arrested during a performance in a Moscow apartment show.  Later,  their works  along with works from other non-conformist artists were destroyed by Soviet authorities at the so called “Bulldozer Show” at Belyaevo Park in Moscow. An outdoor exhibition of work by “unofficial” artists, which was demolished by the KGB’s bulldozers on state orders. Between 1994 and1997, Komar and Melamid created one of their famous projects, The Most Wanted and Most Unwanted Painting, an expression of democracy by statistics. Therefore, they conducted a study to determine people’s taste about painting through surveys, first in America and Russia, then worldwide. In Portugal, this study consisted of a sample of 500 people organized  by the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkia. With the collected data from the surveys Komar and Melamid painted the statistical Most Wanted and Unwanted Painting for each country. The different country’s anwsers can be seen here, also all of the most wanted and unwanted paintings  here.

Portugal’s Most Wanted Painting: (dishwasher size)

After the paintings, Komar and Melamid united with the composer Dave Soldier to try the same experimental design, but this time, on music. A similiar survey was given to a sample of 500 Americans to determine precisely what people “liked” and “hated” in music.  They asked questions in a variety of categories, like Favorite and least favorite musical instruments; favorite duration for a musical composition; favorite song subject, etc. Here is a Powerpoint file with the statistical Figures.  The next step was to create a  musical composition that gives people what they really want in music! The conclusions are:

1. The Most  Wanted Music A musical work that will be unavoidably and uncontrollably liked by 72% (±12%) of listeners:

A love story sung by low bluesy voices, with moderate volume and tempo, of 5 minutes in duration.

2. The Most Unwanted Music – fewer than 200 individuals of the world’s total population would enjoy this piece:

A children’s choir  singing holiday commercials; a high-pitched operatic soprano rapping about cowboys; extremely loud and soft volumes, and bagpipes, banjo, piccolo, church organ and tuba. It has a temporal duration of 20 minutes.

Carlo Patrão


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