AU Musical Events: The Music of Steve Antosca

Events, events, events! AU’s Dept. of Performing Arts sure knows how to end a semester. This weekend brings several events, which I will further cover this week. The first comes this Friday night: AU Workshop’s Spring Concert. Led by saxophonist and AU musician in residence Noah Getz, AU Workshop is a large ensemble that plays in whatever genre or style they feel like in the moment, often meshing popular music with jazz and avant-garde style.

Titled “The Music of Steve Antosca,” this is the latest in the Workshop’s “Living Composers Series” which highlights, well, living composers. Steve Antosca is a D.C.-based composer who blends live instrumentation with electronic processing to create improvisatory technological soundscapes. According to the facebook page for this event, his work has been described as “spectacular and wonderfully provocative” by the Washington Post. Side note: this guy taught me as an adjunct prof during my first ATEC class here at AU.

Back to the topic at hand, this should be a really exciting event! It’ll be cool to hear the ways that our student musicians adapt to the strange and adventurous compositional style of Antosca’s works.

The event will be this Friday (April 17) at 8pm, in the Abramson Family Recital hall in Katzen. Come to hear the very reverberant walls echo with warped instruments and space sounds!


Sony’s New Super Cassette

Until today I thought that the cassette tape, while cute and ~aesthetic~, was 100% unnecessary, the Latin of music-listening technology. The general population listens to music digitally, intense music fans dig vinyl, and CDs still come in handy when you’re driving a pre-audio-jack automobile. However, Sony just announced a new product that will kick the old medium back to life.

This is a new tape, Sony revealed this weekend at the International Magnetic Conference in Dresden, which can hold an astounding amount of data. Here are some jawdropping statistics, courtesy of Consequence of Sound:

-148 gigabytes of data per square inch (185 terabytes total)

-74 times the normal storage capacity of a cassette tape

-the equivalent of 3700 blu-rays, 64,750,000 songs, or 18.5 times the entire Library of Congress.

The Consequence of Sound article linked above also explains the mechanism by which the new tape is able to carry so much data, but I don’t really understand it so if you’re technically-minded, feel free to learn more after that jump.

Sony says that this tape is meant more for high volumes of industrial level data storage, rather than simply listening to music. Makes sense – imagine having to fast forward through this thing to your favorite song among 135,000 days of music… yikes! But I do think it’s cool that Sony were able to reimagine such a nostalgic medium for a new purpose, in an invention that will probably make tapes necessary again, at least for a little while. Plus, it’d be really cool if the world’s major corporations stored their valuable data on a copy of C86. That’s how it works, right?

NPR’s Interview with Music Producer/Hero John Congleton

This guy is truly all the rage these days. I’ve seen his production credit on more 2014 albums that I can remember, and all of them (including albums by Speedy Ortiz, Cloud Nothings, Earl Sweatshirt, Swans, St. Vincent, Angel Olsen, and more) have been super quality.

What’s more impressive is that all of the above artists (and the scores more he has worked with) are extremely different. His greatest skill as a producer is to bring the best out of whoever he’s in the studio with, and he’s done it time and time again, no matter what kind of music is being recorded.

Producer, engineer and musician John Congleton.

NPR just had him on All Songs Considered as a guest DJ, speaking to him about his musical interests and influences, as well as some of his favorite recordings, such as “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes (thanks, Phil Spector!), Suicide (the band), The Jesus Lizard, and “Mother” by Pink Floyd. Wide range, huh?

My favorite part was the discussion of his musical taste, influenced by John Peel: he assumes that if he doesn’t like something, the problem is with him, not the music itself. This open-minded approach hints to his success with producing a variety of different styles of music.

This segment/interview should be of great interest to anybody who likes audio production, the modern music scene or simply the appreciation of good-sounding and well-written music. And if you were truly inspired, come check out St. Vincent’s self-titled, which he produced!

AU Musical Events: Sound Collage, 4/27

Concert season rolls on and on, enriching AU’s community with art and giving me more to write about! We already talked about Unfinished Business, AUSO&C’s final performance of the semester. But that’s just Friday and Saturday! What about Sunday? AU Workshop’s got you covered.

AU Workshop (formerly AU Jazz Workshop) is like the evil twin of our Jazz Orchestra (in a good way). While the Orchestra, as the name suggests, focuses mostly on traditional big band arrangements, the Workshop explores the history and future of jazz. Student-written bossa nova charts rub shoulders with arrangements of Kool & The Gang and Radiohead.

The Workshop is no stranger to collaborations with the Audio Tech department- band director Noah Getz welcomes electronic improvisations just as much as improv on instruments. This semester’s show,  called “Sound Collage,” includes a collaboration with ATEC professor William Brent, using electronics to enhance the Workshop’s out-of-time vibe. There will also be arrangements of works by composers as diverse as John Cage and Led Zeppelin. Sounds like a surreal dream.

The show will be in Katzen at 3 pm on Sunday the 27th, perfect to catch after your bottomless brunches! Tickets are $5 for AU community members and $10 for the general public.

Here’s the event page:

And the facebook page:

Sweet New Arrivals: Sound City

Hello everyone! We’re introducing yet another new column to our blog. You may be familiar with our usual practice of listing our new arrivals on this page. However, this column, “Sweet New Arrivals,” will focus on a specific new item that we consider to be a true catch. This week’s Sweet New Arrival is a very special DVD: Dave Grohl’s documentary Sound City.

Sound City tells the story of a legendary recording studio in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley (this staff contributor’s homeland!). Founded in 1969, its combination of divine room tone and a one-of-four-in-the-world Neve console led to scores of incredible recordings. Some of the best rock/pop albums of all time, including Neil Young’s After The Goldrush, Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled album, and Nirvana’s Nevermind, were recorded there, the latter two in particular sporting incredible drum sounds.

Foo Fighters frontman/Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, who of course experienced the studio firsthand when recording Nevermind there, fell in love with it. When the studio closed its doors to commercial business in 2011, Grohl decided to immortalize it in a documentary, and thus was born Sound City, a highly emotional retrospective of the studio’s career, featuring interviews with legendary musicians (Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Kurt Cobain (Archival), Stevie Nicks) and producers (Rick Rubin, Butch Vig) and a soundtrack featuring collaborations of many other musicians who once recorded at Sound City. All in all, Sound City a very exciting arrival for anybody interested in the recording industry, and for anyone who wants to know a little more about the history of modern rock n’ roll recording.

Also, the soundtrack features a song composed and performed by the surviving members of Nirvana alongside Paul McCartney. Strange, huh?

Cool DC Events: New Music Ensemble @ National Gallery of Art

Hello all music library readers! Have a little extra time this weekend that you’d like to fill with some musical activity? In this new column, “Cool DC Events,” we at the library will do our best to share DC’s awesome musical happenings with you, so that your regular weekend schedule of rigorous studying and/or partying can be enhanced with a bit of sweet, sweet music.

Our first official Cool DC Event is coming this weekend at the National Gallery of Art! The Gallery’s New Music Ensemble, a collective of avant-garde composers and musicians, will be performing on Sunday, 9/29 at 6:30. The performances, from modern classical pieces to electronic sound manipulation experiments, will echo through the NatGal’s East Building auditorium, rattling the modern art pieces on the walls above.

Coolest part of this: AU faculty are included among these performers and composers! Our very own DPA department chair Fernando Benadon has a piece, Cotxes, on the setlist, and AU Jazz Workshop leader Noah Getz will be performing on saxophone in another piece, Steve Antosca’s my end is my beginning. So come out, support our faculty and the burgeoning DC experimental music scene, and spend your Sunday evening not trapped behind a book, but lost in strange musical rapture.

Official event page after the jump:

1878 Edison Audio Features World’s First Recorded Music


For 78 seconds you–a part of the modern masses–can listen to the world’s first recorded music.  The recording starts with a man’s voice reciting “Mary Had a Little Lam” and “Old Mother Hubbard.”  The recording was made on a sheet of tinfoil ( 5″ x 15″) and was placed on the cylinder of the phonograph that Thomas Edison had invented in 1877.

For more information about the tinfoil “sheet music” click here.

To listen to the actual recording of the music, click here!