Broadway sings blues over synthesizer invasion

Originally posted at AFP via Slashdot.

IMG_1295While audiences at Broadway‘s “West Side Story” thrill to the on-stage drama, musicians in the orchestra pit are fighting a battle every bit as vicious as the Sharks-Jets rivalry.

This is gang warfare of a high-minded sort, pitting some of New York’s best live musicians against a synthesizer they fear will usurp the job of playing Leonard Bernstein‘s pulsating score.

Sophisticated synthesizers and computer-manipulated recordings are increasingly taking over orchestras. Sounding almost like real players, while costing much less, they’re especially popular with provincial or touring companies.

But until mid-July — when “West Side Story’s” producers announced that a synthesizer was replacing three live violinists and two cellists, or half the orchestra’s string section — staff violinist Paul Woodiel thought that at least the classics would be immune to the trend.

“It was the last straw for me,” Woodiel told AFP.

“I was a student and a friend of Leonard Bernstein and it’s almost certain he wouldn’t have allowed this. This isn’t dinner theater, it’s not Las Vegas. It’s Broadway and Leonard Bernstein was the greatest American musician.”


Yahoo’s New Artist Pages Aggregate Online Music From Across the Web

The Web has transformed and spread around music content – people can find music at, iTunes, and YouTube, among dozens of other services. MySpace has become the epicenter of the music scene and the preferred platform for artist web pages, but it doesn’t bring together all of the platforms for music distribution available on the Web.

Yahoo’s relaunched Artist Pages, however, do just that. From one webpage, users have access to a dashboard filled with content related to their favorite artists. YouTube videos, the iTunes music store, Pandora,, concert information, and Flickr photos are all available in one simple and clean interface.

It may not be as flashy or image-heavy as a MySpace Music page, but it certainly gives MySpace a run for its money in terms of functionality and customization, and Yahoo’s plans to open it up to third-parties makes it an even more appealing option to music artists.

The Yahoo Artist Page Interface

The interface bares no resemblance to the old Yahoo Music artist page or even the MySpace Music page. Instead, Yahoo seems to have opted for a cleaner, simpler interface that boxes up the key content.

The top links users to videos, discography, tracks, photos, or concert information, although all of that content is available from the start page. Concert information is viewable via a Yahoo Upcoming widget and vdeos are available in the center column, both from Yahoo and from YouTube, just for starters.

See the full article at Mashable.

Boxee Continues To Innovate With API And New Alpha Version

image Free entertainment hub Boxee keeps on getting better and better. A couple of hours ago, the venture-backed startup released a full API that allows developers to build applications for the open-source platform using a set of API calls in Python and writing the GUI using XML. At the same time, the company is laying the groundwork for a richer App Box, which it refers to as an open application store where they are not the gatekeeper (like Apple for its iPhone App Store) but rather a facilitator.

Heck, they’re even prepared to act as middleman for connecting freelance web developers with companies looking to leverage their API. Hard not to love that type of company.

Boxee is today also introducing a new test version of the Boxee alpha version for Mac and Apple TV (get it here for Intel Mac OS X 10.4+), adding two applications that were built using the brand new API. The new Boxee alpha comes with a lot of music goodness as it includes both Pandora, the popular music streaming service, and RadioTime, which enables their users to access over 100,000 traditional radio stations from across the globe.

This comes right off the heels of the introduction of a (basic) iPhone application.

See the full article at TechCrunch.

Loudcrowd Marries Gaming And Music In A Virtual World

image Startup Conduit Labs has launched Loudcrowd, a online community that integrates a virtual world with social gaming and music. Loudcrowd users can create their own virtual world with avatars and access music playlists while playing a series of music-themed games with friends. Loudcrowd is launching with 50 artists and over 250 songs featured on the platform, including music from the Indie rock bands Justice, Phoenix, Santigold, and Friendly Fires.

Loudcrowd wants to create the feel of an online concert or dance club for users. The site will feature social games that will be played simultaneously with music tracks as well as daily playlists from guest DJs. Loudcrowd’s feature Dance game is similar to the popular game Dance, Dance Revolution and is pretty innovative. Loudcrowd says that the dance game has been played more than one million times since they entered private beta, with over 25 percent of users visiting the site more than 100 times a month. The games are all built on Flash and the animation is disarmingly good.

See the full article at TechCrunch.

Music that makes you… dumb?


Virgil Griffith, a CalTech grad student did a study to see how SAT scores and music preferences correlated to each other. Obviously SAT scores aren’t a true measure of intelligence, and really not too much about this chart is overly scientific – yet it still remains interesting. [ed]Where did I put that Beethoven CD? :-)[/ed]

See the full chart at Virgil’s site.

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