Category Archives: autotune

PERFORMA: LOUDSPEAKER – MAY 17

Auto-Tune Matriarch Cher, age 13
[Auto-Tune matriarch Cher, age 13]

On Friday May 17th, I will be speaking at Performa’s LOUDSPEAKER: A Symposium on the Voice. I will discuss Auto-Tune — check my 2009 Frieze essay — as well as Gbadu and the Moirai Index, my upcoming performance for four vocalists and the stock market. LOUDSPEAKER is free with email reservation.

They say:

An Experimental Event on the voice in contemporary performance featuring artists and musicians Joan La Barbara, Jace Clayton, Florian Hecker, and Alex Waterman.

Friday, May 17, 2013
4:00 – 6:30 pm

The Cooper Union
Frederick P. Rose Auditorium
41 Cooper Square
New York City

Free admission with reservation, rsvp@performa-arts.org

more info

MUSIC FROM SAHARAN CELLPHONES: INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS KIRKLEY


Fantastic, ear- and mind-opening radio show this Monday, thanks to special guest Chris Kirkley of SahelSounds and the Music for Saharan Cellphones comp (among other projects).

Got some great feedback from this show, like this email: “your interview with Chris Kirkley was inspiring …great job ..its amazing because each time he played something i wanted to ask him a question and you asked the same question right afetrwards…i like his method of finding weddings by taxi ..what an optimist !! I love the idea that music ends up being spread by whatever technology is widely available in this case via the shitty speaker of a cell phone …soundwise not so different from transistor radios 40 years ago …some great music he found …hes a brave man”

you can listen up here :

As always, you can subscribe to the Mudd Up! podcast for downloadable versions, issued about a week after FM broadcast: , Mudd Up! RSS. Also useful: WFMU’s free iPhone app. We also have a version for Android (search for “WFMU” in the marketplace).

BEYOND DIGITAL MOROCCO: JUNE 2011 VIDEO

I’m very excited to present this video. It’s a short Behind The Scenes look at our Beyond Digital: Morocco art project. You can also check out my series of Fader posts, and the BD website itself, but this video is by far the best summary and explanation of what we were up to in June, and in so doing it provides glimpses of what’s to come: an incredible photo series by John Francis Peters; poignant video essays by Maggie Schmitt and Juan Alcon Duran; my free Max4Live audio tools suite, Sufi Plug-Ins; Maghrebi percussion sample pack & music by Maga Bo; and more… We are also doing an event in Tangier on September 9th, info next week.

Auto-tune lovers take note: the video previews a snippet from the best auto-tune interview ever, when we spoke with Moroccan pop star Adil El Miloudi in his home.

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Adil El Miloudi: “Autotune gives you a ‘me’ that is better.”

BEYOND DIGITAL: OLD VINYL AND NEW POP IN CASABLANCA

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[M'hamed Tijdity at Le Comptoir Marocain de Distribution de Disques, photo by John Francis Peters for The Fader]

Head over to The Fader to check out the first of my weekly Morocco updates for the month of June, accompanied by photos from John Francis Peters and, of course, music.

excerpt 1:

Forget Bogart. Casablanca is an utterly modern city, North Africa’s largest, with traffic-choked roadways and upscale neighborhoods and swaths of shantytowns whose residents have satellite dishes but no running water. While most tourists skip Casa to spend their dirhams in more scenic towns, the gritty magnet metropolis pulls in folks from all over the country looking for work, and powers Morocco’s music and art scenes. I’m here for a month with FADER photo editor John Francis Peters and an international crew of six others. Music brought us. . .

excerpt 2:

This next tune is a song halfway between traditional Berber songs from rural Morocco—popularized in the 1970s by Le Comptoir’s main artist, Mohammed Rouicha—and our Auto-Tuned, pixelated tomorrow. It’s by Adil El Miloudi. Adil performs across Europe and tells me that this summer he’ll be making appearances in to Florida and Boston, for the first time. His breakthrough song, “Nothing Nothing”, has well over a million YouTube views. Adil lives in Kenitra and performs regularly at a Tangier nightclub called the Morocco Palace (free entrance but they gouge you on shisha and drink prices).

The Palace has a light-up disco dance floor and really good subwoofers. Everything else is covered in intricate Islamic pattern woodcarvings, except the enormous flatscreen TV right above the stage, which is set to a music video channel and is never, ever turned off, even when live bands are performing underneath it. Adil rolls around town with a phalanx of young guys whose primary duty seems to be handing him various cellphones at the appropriate moment. I know this because, after calling several of those phones, I found myself, along with Maga Bo, at Adil’s house at four in the morning a month ago. “This is Tom,” he said, pointing at his manager. “And this is Jerry,” he said, pointing at his cat.

Adil El Miloudi, “Track 2″ by The FADER

BEYOND DIGITAL: KICKSTARTER HOME STRETCH & ADIL EL MILOUDI

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I’m going into the wormhole. At least 120 of you are coming with me.

On Monday night at around 3AM, I received an email from our Barcelona point-man Carlos: I finally found out exactly who the guy is that sings that awesome Amazigh song that you played on Mudd Up! last night and is also on the Beyond Digital trailer thingy. It’s Cheb Adil El Miloudi (he says his name/big ups himself at the beginning of the song). I like his Dad-sweater!

Excited, I went over to the video, as nearly 1.5 million people had done before me:

Beyond Digital yielded its first fruits — my friend IDed an unknown singer on a semi-legit CD I purchased in Paris (containing no tracklist), and our favorite jam turned out to be that of a massively popular Amazigh vocalist – عادل الميلودي – with millions of Youtube pageviews and zero English-language biographical info online. CONTEXT! NAMING NAMES!

Even better: as I listened to his song, I learned that our Kickstarter project had just reached its funding goal! Which is a wonderful affirmation of not only Beyond Digital but the collaborative aspect of it that “crowdsourcing” (but we’re not a crowd, it’s more of an open community; the distinction is key) brings to the forefront. More generally, I feel like we’re all exploring this stuff together…via discussions on blogs and face-to-face recording sessions, via giving musicians props and excavating useful info, by being careful listeners and enthusiastic newcomers (like me) and in countless others ways — supporting this particular project among them.

As of this evening, more than a hundred people have contributed, ranging from $1 donations to some wise kids near Philly who pitched in $1500, a sum that secures them a DJ Rupture party there next month…

And it’s not too late to help out.

We’ve got 6 days left on the Kickstarter, so act fast if you would like to get mailed 3 extra-awesome CDs from Marrakesh ($25) or want Maga Bo and I to make a mixtape whose theme/topic/angle you pick ($750), or desire any of the other rewards — from an original photographic print by John Francis Peters to the have-Rupture-play-yr-party #swag #afrosheen option.

As we mention, the Kickstarter goal covers just a portion of our budget. We’re being super-efficient & frugal with our expenses, gearing up to do the maximum on a shoestring budget. Grant applications and other fundraising options are in process, as is the move to become a proper non-profit organization so we can continue Beyond Digital well beyond our June time in Marrakesh.

What I’m saying is: we can still use your support, we’ll put it to good use, and we would like to offer a huge thanks to everyone who has donated or helped spread the word thus far.

To close, here’s another Abil El Miloudi video. This one is more like the song from our Kickstarter video: Abil El Miloudi’s auto-tune vocals shimmer above bird songs (Amazigh pop loves rural signifiers and so do I) and the lovely, root-like (in appearance) acoustic guitar-type instrument called an ‘utar’ (my extremely limited Arabic/Tamazigh vocabulary gets transliterated into Spanish phonetic spelling, that’s how I learned from Abdel and Khalid in Barcelona, sorry!).

BEYOND DIGITAL: MOROCCO

Earlier this year I tweeted: New Africa Proverb #137: It takes a village to make a crazed Auto-Tune fieldwork docu-art project. Well, I wasn’t kidding.

I’m teaming up with Maga Bo, Fader magazine photo editor John Francis Peters, and Taliesen Gilkes-Bower to explore musical innovation in Morocco via collaboration, teaching, documentation, and digital storytelling. It’s a monthlong art project, going down in & around Marrakesh this June.

Our focus? How creative adaptations of global digital technologies in Morocco — such as Auto-Tune use in Berber folk music — are helping to transform youth culture and suggesting powerful alternatives to Western concepts of digital literacy. To learn more & help out :
Beyond Digital: Morocco

WE ARE ALL T-PAIN + FUTURE TONE CLOUDS

My essay on Auto-Tune published in Frieze magazine earlier this year concluded with:

“Auto-Tune is a contemporary strategy for intimacy with the digital. As such, it becomes quite humanizing. Auto-Tune operates as a duet between the electronics and the personal. A reconciliation with technology. This development was sparked by a sexagenarian pop star and spread like wildfire across genre, language, and geography. We live in a world saturated by electronics and we’re finding ways to make that situation sing. T-Pain and the software manufacturer, Antares, are currently at work on bringing Auto-Tune to your mobile phone. The intimacy – or is that an invasion? – deepens.”

Well, the “I am T-Pain’ iPhone app has arrived! I love the idea of artists collaborating on strange new iPhone apps. For $3 one can now go cyborg to the backing beats of T-Pain hits… I wonder how much longer before a mainstream/viral hit is produced entirely on a cellphone – from beats to vocal recordings.

Perhaps another R&B singer will attempt to replicate Tallahassee Pain’s unprecedented success by embracing a different form of digital audio voice processing — in a left-field turn, The Dream starts putting his choruses through granular synthesis algorhythms [this involves cutting sounds into tiny slivers, and twisting those slivers about with lots of math] – ushering in a new era of Hot 97 radio hits defined by bristling tone clouds, diva voices gone spectral…

Subwoofer sales die down, replaced by exorbitant ‘tweeter battles’ where high-end definition replaces low-end whoomp and treble starts signifying blackness/corporeality instead of bass.

Beyonce sparks scandal by demanding her full cameo rate while only delivering atonal washes of sound containing, allegedly, her voice split into 144,000 forty millisecond slices each with distinct pitch, speed, and phase parameters. Disgusted, her ‘husband’ comes out the closet (as a Republican or bisexual, the future remains unclear) and continues making music by sampling old vinyl records and rapping into expensive microphones in expensive studios wearing tailored suits.

Britney Spears partners with AudioMulch (a bit too late, the initial hype has died down) and Fennesz moves to Los Angeles to work on his tan while co-producing Salt N Pepa’s comeback album – which turns out to be largely indistinguishable from Endless Summer. Acid makes a resurgence (apparently granular delays synergize indescribably well with the retro psychedelic), Nicolas Bourriaud writes a book – in Ebonics! – called ‘Durational Aesthetix’, and Lil B enrolls at Mills College.

Until these things come to pass, we have T-Pain + Antares teaming up to tune you electric. After 45 seconds of promo talk, the video becomes kinda awesome:

PITCH PERFECT

The Berbers, cracked audio plug-in software, Donna Haraway circa 1991, Jody Rosen contemplating drained negro emotionalism, a high-end recording engineer, Tallahassee Pain, a Muslim producer named Wary: AUTO-TUNE UNITES US ALL.

ATEvo Graphic full

This is another way of saying: check out my essay on Auto-Tune for the current issue of Frieze Magazine.

Auto-Tune is something I’ve been thinking about – and chasing after – for awhile now. It was a great pleasure to be able to condense my thoughts on it, which began a half-dozen years or more, picking up auto-tuned Berber music in Barcelona & Madrid.

Vocal purists hate Auto-Tune. They hear in its robotic modulations some combination of sugar-rush novelty, bulldozed nuance, jejune synthetics, loss of ‘soul’, disdain for innate vocal talent, teen-optimized histrionics, emotional anemia, and/or widespread musical decline. It’s ugly.

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HAFIDA

Back in Brooklyn with a CIAFRICA woodcarving + at least a full day’s worth of north African music. Not to mention hours of interviews, but that’s another story.

Here’s new Moroccan Berber music from Hafida. Henna, check. autotune, check. animated butterflies, check. If you like these 2 songs you’ll like the entire self-titled album, it’s pretty much an extended jam.

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And no, dear Hafida never turns off her autotune. If that’s not love, what is?

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Hafida – Tifrkin Tena Ourtahlin + Ghayli Ghayteflt (buyable)

& video of a medley from the same album


Hafida ” Ayan dar illa zine ifkas lkhatr…”