“What makes the thing play?” That’s the simple question asked by Charles Amirkhanian early in the first of two hours of interviews he and Bill Schechner did with player-piano enthusiasts back in the early 1970s. They’re now available as a pair of MP3s from archive.org (MP3, MP3). A few sentences into the answer from a member of the Automatic Musical Instrument Collectors Association (AMICA), Amikhanian asks to back up a bit, from the mechanisms of playback to the recording process itself. He compares the piano rolls to a mix between Torah scrolls and computer punch cards, and the conversation quickly gets into the realm of “impossible” music produced on the player piano, of composers interested in “doing piano work separate from the pianist,” things that even things two pianists working in tandem couldn’t coordinate. It’s a great glimpse not only into an early form of high-tech home entertainment, but into the passions of the vacuum-powered form’s preservationists. And the recordings include the audio of numerous old rolls.
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• October 13, 2016: This day marks the start of the 250th weekly Disquiet Junto project.
• November 16, 2016: I'll be sharing the mic at Adobe Books in San Francisco with my fellow 33 1/3 author Evie Nagy for an evening hosted, from 7pm to 10pm, by Marc Kate (facebook.com).
• December 1, 2016: A likely speaking engagement. Details to come.
• December 13, 2016: This day marks the 20th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 5, 2017: This day marks the 5th anniversary of the Disquiet Junto.
• Ongoing: The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
• My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury, is now in its second printing. It can be purchased at amazon.com, among other places.
disquiet juntoThe Disquiet Junto is an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making space in which restraints are used as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto. There is an FAQ. ... These are the 5 most recent weekly projects: • 0269 / Duet Portion / Record half of a live duet. • 0268 / Walking Music / Take a stroll and describe it in sound, paying tribute to the late manga great Jiro Taniguchi. • 0267 / The Metronomic Society / Create a theme song for a fictional organization. • 0266 / Vocal Cuts / Use segments of your own held vowel to make music. • 0265 / Kitchen Music / Record a piece of music that uses items from just one drawer.
... And there is a complete list of projects at disquiet.com/junto.
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