Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Garage Band Creative Commons, Bird Songs

Originally posted on October 18, 2007

I stumbled on an interesting website yesterday that you may not know about. It’s called garageband.com and it is part of the Creative Commons movement. In this case, various bands and their labels (if any) have volunteered to suspend royalty payments so that you can listen and download selected cuts that promote the music. It looks to be a very large holding of free MP3 downloads with all kinds of genres involved, from Folk to Blues to Punk and Experimental Rock. I’ll be checking some of it out in the future and let you know if anything blows my mind. Meanwhile bands are invited to get involved. Who knows, it might give you the exposure you need.

You may think I’m a little nutty but I’ve been listening to a three CD set called Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs—Eastern Region (Time Warner Audio Books). Why? I grew up listening to the birds in my backyard. Then my old buddy Fuzzbee turned me on to the French composer Messiaen and how he used bird calls in his music. (Beautiful stuff, by the way.) Then I also discovered John Cage, who many people might dislike, but he is nevertheless important, not only for his music, but for the idea that your sound environment, whether garbage trucks compacting their loads outside your door, or the sound of crickets at night . . . that it is all a work of art to be appreciated. R. Murray Schaeffer, another composer, wrote a book called “The Tuning of the World” that talks about those sorts of things as well. So this CD set has a generous helping of the songs and calls of every bird you could think of from the Eastern US. Some of them are beautiful, some funny (those ducks), some horrid (Black Vulture), but it is all a gas to hear. Now if I could get my guitar to sound like some of them, that would be a trick!

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