Filed under “Music”

November 5, 2013

Check out this creative teenage hip-hop artist in Nashville

I don’t usually link to other people’s stuff on here. But when I stumbled upon this guy’s videos on YouTube and saw that they only have a couple thousand views, I thought he needed a larger audience.

His name is Matt Morris. I first saw him starring in this funny video that came out shortly after the iPhone 5S was released. It shows off some of the phone’s new video features in a creative and amusing way, and features catchy music that’s actually remixed from the iPhone’s built in ringtones:

Out of curiosity, I Googled to see who the heck this Matt Morris guy is and that’s when I found his YouTube channel. I didn’t know until I hit play on the first video that I was going to hear him rapping, and it turns out his lyrics are really clever, and his videos are quite nicely produced.

Take for example this video about that angst of not being sure your night out with a pretty girl is a date:

And the songs are really catchy. Here’s “Regular Guy”, which you’ll be singing along to before it ends:

I think some of my favorite lyrics are in “Art Official” which was Matt’s first video. “Lost my keys in the Prius now I’m in the car diggin’. / Lookin’ like my grandpa in my cardigan.”

What impresses me about Matt is that he’s only nineteen years old but he has the skills, confidence, and tools to do something like this. The songs are funny, catchy, and inoffensive.

Oh, and he has collaborators who shouldn’t be overlooked (and probably should have been mentioned sooner). Matt writes the lyrics, but the music is by Ben Worley (who also did the remixed iPhone ringtones tune). The videos are by Nick Serban.

I asked Matt for his story and he said, “Right now I’m just a 19 year old kid in school and working and hoping something happens with the music. Lived south of Nashville my whole life. That’s the story in a nutshell I guess.”

July 11, 2011

Inventor Portrait: Ernest Nussbaum

[cross-posted from my photography blog]

This is Ernest Nussbaum, inventor of the Practicello.

The Practicello is a full height cello that breaks down to fit in carry-on luggage. It’s not intended to be good enough to play in a concert, but its just meant for cellists who want to practice while they travel without needing to pay for an extra seat on the airplane to bring their instrument. And since it doesn’t resonate as loudly as a cello with a full body, it’s not going to annoy the people in the hotel room next door.

Here are some more photos from our shoot:

July 2, 2011

100 Year Old Patriotic Song Revived for 4th of July

This bit of fun with the public domain happened over on my other blog SundayMagazine, but I thought it was cool enough to share here.

I posted an article from 1911 about a new patriotic hymn written by the Music Director of New York City’s Parks and Recreation Department (does that job still exist?). The article included sheet music and lyrics for the song:

[Click here to download PDF]

The man who wrote it was Arthur Farwell, and he had pretty high aspirations for this song, considering it more of a global than national anthem:

“It is a world-hymn rather than a patriotic hymn in the old-fashioned sense.

“I have strictly avoided all the paraphernalia of phraseology of the old sort of narrow and egotistic patriotic hymn, and doubt very much if there will ever be another successful hymn of that kind written.

“The cry to-day is world federation, and the ‘Hymn to Liberty’ is addressed to the nations of the world, especially in its first and third stanzas, in behalf of the idea of liberty for the race, as springing to birth in a new sense with the creating fo the American nation.”

I’m not very musical myself, so I couldn’t imagine what the hymn sounded like. And I couldn’t find any recordings or references to it anywhere else online. It’s not even listed in Farwell’s page at the International Music Score Library Project. It seemed to have been long forgotten.

But my readers are more savvy than I am, and now we have two versions to listen to.

First, a reader named SamECircle used Noteflight to create a midi version of just the choral lines. That was pretty cool and gave an idea of the melody.

Then another reader named Daniel Dockery made an arrangement which he posted on his site. He wrote, “No choir on hand, I’ve reset the four voices in a direct, one-to-one setting for string quartet following the traditional arrangements, so the music is the same though the instruments differ; the piano line remains unchanged.”

Be sure to visit his site and give it a listen.

March 25, 2008

Idea: The Wikroll

A Wikroll is when a person rudely interrupts an on-line conversation to provide a link that seems to have nothing to do with the topic at hand, claiming that it goes to the video for Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” But the link actually goes to a Wikipedia article that adds relevant insight to the discussion.

For example, lets say I write a blog post about macaroni which prompts discussion in the comments about the origins of macaroni and the best tasting brand of macaroni. Then someone leaves this comment:

Hey, everyone. I really like that Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up” so I thought I’d post a link to the video on YouTube so everyone can watch it. Click here to check it out:

Did you click on the link? Snap! You’ve been Wikroll’d!

August 23, 2006

Idea: The “O Fortuna” Short Film Festival

In 1981, the movie Excalibur used an exciting piece of music from Carl Orff’s 1937 cantata Carmina Burana called “O Fortuna”. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, you’ve heard the music, because it has since become a cliché wherever exciting music is needed. Movies including The Doors and Natural Born Killers used it. HBO Boxing Specials used it. Those Capital One commercials with the vikings used it. I think I even heard it used on an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond once. The dramatic piece of music has become so pervasive that it almost parodies itself at this point.

So I thought it would be fun to have an on-line O Fortuna Short Film Festival, and invite people to set that song to whatever visuals they wanted, and for whatever effect they wanted — comedy, drama, action, etc — with a few simple rules: 1) The film may be about absolutely anything. 2) You don’t have to use the entire song, if you want to edit it to a shorter version, but keep in mind rule 3 which is: 3) Your movie may only be 20 seconds longer than the song. For example, if you use 3 minutes of O Fortuna, your movie may be up to 3 minutes and 20 seconds long (not including credits). This way, most of your movie is set to the music, but if you need a little bit of set up or something, you can do it.

I began planning a short film of my own for this blog entry, to introduce the idea of an O Fortuna Short Film Festival, but when I began searching on-line for a public domain recording of the music to use in my film, I realized that O Fortuna is not yet in the public domain and won’t be for some time. And apparently, the rights owners are sticklers about who they’ll license the music to. It seems Capital One and Ray Romano are worthwhile, but marching bands aren’t. I’m sure that’s what Orff had in mind when his will stipulated creation of a foundation to “preserve the artistic estate of Carl Orff and to maintain the legacy of his spirit.”

So we’ll have to wait. The copyright of works created in 1937 should expire in 2032. So check back then and we’ll get that film festival going.

[Note: This isn’t a call to arms to violate anyone’s copyright. Please respect the rights owners. But if you can get them to grant you a license for an on-line short film, let us know.]

March 22, 2006

Idea: An album of Misirlou covers

(This entry’s alternate title: What do a surfer, a belly dancer, and a Rabbi all have in common?)

MisirlouIn January, I heard an incredible story on NPR about the song “Misirlou.” You know the one. You heard it during the opening credits of Pulp Fiction. It’s the surf-guitar song by Dick Dale. It goes “Dow di-di-dow-dow dow di-di-dow-dow di-dowwwwww…” Yeah, that one.

Well if you didn’t already know (I sure didn’t) Misirlou is actually even older than Dick Dale (no offense, Dick). It’s been recorded in different manners, with different instruments, and different tempos, by dozens of people over the years. It’s a Rabbinical chant, an old Greek tune, a belly-dancer’s song, and eventually a surfer hit.

You owe it to yourself to listen to the Weekend Edition story and hear snippets of different versions. And you can even hear Dick Dale explain how and why he turned that song into the surfer classic it’s become.

I wanted to hear more. So I put together an iMix in iTunes with every version that wasn’t just like the one before it. So here, for your listening pleasure, an album of Misirslou covers (iTunes required).