May 14, 2011
The Eigenharp is Mezmorizing in its Own Way: SF Music TechThe Eigenlabs guys were over from the UK for SF Music Tech last week. Says many a' musician: "It allows me to do things I wouldn't normally do with a solo instrument." The Eigenharp is the flagship, an idea that started on a farm in Devon in England. The Alpha is their high-end product, priced at over 4K (pounds), but the level of functionality is significant. It allows the musician to play and improvise using a limitless range of sounds with virtuoso skill and is available in a variety of custom finishes. Sub-$1K is the Eigenharp Pico, which has 18 playing keys and 4 mode keys, a strip controller and breath pipe. Below is a demo of how it works AND more importantly, how it sounds.
May 13, 2011
Thinglink Changes How People Interact With Photos: SF Music Tech
I had a chance to chat with the Thinglink team at SF Music Tech last week. They're a provider of image interaction tools, which aims to change how people interact with photos by transforming them into a navigational surface for search, commerce, and social connection. In other words, you can mouse over images or objects within images and have them convert to clickable links. (think singers, songs, instruments and more).
90+ billion photos online offer rich opportunities for in-image links to engaging user experiences that will transform how we interact with images. Have a listen to their explanation below on the show floor at San Francisco's Kabuki Hotel.
March 29, 2011
Eoin Harrington Hits YOSHI's on April 22 for CD Release Launch
With the release of Eoin Harrington's second album "Confess" following on the heels of his
breakout success from "Story," Harrington is set to make a huge impact on the industry with his new release, which he'll be previewing on April, 22, 2011 at Yoshi's in San Francisco, CA.
His last EP has been getting airplay across the country in Ireland and he will be releasing "Confess" over there at the same time. Having made many appearances on KFOG, KGO, NPR, KPIX, Alice and KRON4 and having recently completed a US tour, Eoin has also shared the stage with many successful acts including The Fray, The Counting Crows, Alanis
Morissette, Train, Sara Bareilles, and Brandi Carlile.
Harrington has a passionate vocal style and an energetic stage presence; his next musical chapter “Confess” at Yoshi’s should be a memorable experience.
If on the west coast, here's a link for tickets, and more information on Eoin can be found on his site, Facebook and Twitter.
March 28, 2011
WOMEX for International Music Scene in Copenhagen
WOMEX is a very cool music event being held in Copenhagen, Denmark this October. The event highlights the most important international professional market of world music of every kind.
Think of it as an international fair, which brings together professionals from the worlds of folk, roots, ethnic and traditional music and also includes concerts, conferences and documentary films. It contributes to networking as an effective means of promoting music and culture of all kinds across frontiers.
Since it started, there have been significant milestones including its current state:
- 2,440 delegates and 1,360 companies from 94 countries.
- 850 concert and festival bookers.
- 600 labels, publishers and distributors.
- 700 managers and 350 producers.
- 350 national and international journalists, incl. 170 radio broadcasters.
- A bustling Trade Fair with 260 stands and 650 exhibiting companies.
- 59 Showcase acts with 300 artists from 38 countries on 6 stages.
- More than 60 speakers in 20 Conference Sessions; a Mentoring programme; a new Matchmaking service for publishers and Country Speed-Dating.
- A festive Opening Concert – The Chaosmos of Korean Music: Heaven, Earth and Human – presenting three of the finest bands on the contemporary Korean music scene.
It will be held from October 26-30, 2011 in Copenhagen although check out information on Virtual WOMEX as well.
March 08, 2011
Video: VentureBeat, Mashable, The Next Web & ReadWriteWeb DO Karaoke on the #Democon StageMashable's Jenn Van Grove, IDG's Pat Kenealy, The Next Web's Hermione Way and ReadWriteWeb's Mike Melanson do it up with karaoke at late night DEMO in Palm Springs.
And while we're at it, VentureBeat's Matthew Lynley, Owen Thomas, Anthony Ha and Matt Marshall can also sing.
Below, Anthony Ha sings while Owen Thomas dances in the background.
February 28, 2011
JetStreamHD Streams Movies, Music, Photos & Other Digital Content to the Palm of Your Hand
JetStreamHD, the world's first consumer electronics product to stream all of your digital media stored anywhere on a home computer network to the iPad, was announced today at DEMO Spring 2011.
JetStreamHD enables iPad users to instantly access and stream any video, song, or photo from their home network while traveling for business, visiting friends and family, or simply relaxing anywhere – without upfront planning, conversion headaches, download time, sync hassles, or iPad memory limits.
Consumers own an enormous and expanding volume of digital media and are increasingly using mobile devices to enjoy it. Consequently, the market potential for mobile media streaming devices is exploding: according to IDC, the global smartphone market recently surpassed the PC market, with over 100 million units sold in Q4 of 2010 alone. Research firm iSuppli forecasts cumulative sales of iPad and other mobile media tablets to exceed 600 million units by 2015, while a recent InStat survey reports that 50% of US home network users are interested in products that enable video streaming.
Using JetStreamHD, a person at a coffee shop, on the train, a business trip, or at a friend's place, can use their iPad to easily find and instantly play videos, listen to music, or show-off some photos from their home-based media collection – at the highest possible resolution without stuttering.
HOW IT WORKS:
- Plug and play setup in minutes – you simply plug the sleek, quiet JetStreamHD box into your home router and download the free app to your iPad. Within a few minutes, it discovers all of the media that resides in any format, including 1080p HD, on any computer, media server or NAS attached to your network. All of your media is immediately available for viewing on your iPad.
- Easily and quickly find any media with the beautiful iPad app – powerful search, sort and filter controls make it easy to quickly find any item in the largest of libraries. You can quickly sort and filter by movie, genre, rating, date added and much more, and JetStreamHD takes it a step further by automatically adding media cover art, plot summaries and other important data to ensure a rich viewing experience.
- Instant access to your media without any upfront work – as anyone who has worked with digital video knows, video format conversion and streaming is computationally intensive and time consuming. With JetStreamHD, just one touch on the app starts the selected media playing in the best possible resolution without stuttering.
- The best possible mobile viewing experience over any connection – JetStreamHD's powerful hardware takes care of everything automatically as it streams in real-time: converting any format to accommodate your mobile device and adaptively adjusting the streaming bit-rate to make best use of your available Wi-Fi or 3G connection strength. Unlike other solutions, you don't consume one of your home computers to act as the streaming server.
- Support for Apple TV lets you enjoy your JetStreamHD mobile media on the big screen – JetStreamHD streams any video from a home-based media library to any local Apple TV unit using AirPlay, so you can enjoy your media on the iPad or the big screen.
- Multiple iPads, music and photos all at the same time – unlike other solutions, JetStreamHD multitasks as much as you do: more than one iPad user can stream media at the same time or listen to streamed music while also viewing streamed photos or using another iPad app.
JetStreamHD for the iPad, to be priced at $199 USD, is available starting today for pre-order in Canada and the United States at the time-limited special price of $119 USD from the JetStreamHD website (www.JetStreamHD.com). Additional mobile formats will be supported and announced later this year.
Note: I am a consultant to JetStreamHD.
February 22, 2011
TEDxBerkeley 2011 Performers: From A Cappella, Cello & The Hang to Harmonica, Guitar & Piano
While we're talking TEDxBerkeley, there was an amazing group of performers in addition to the inspiring list of speakers who inspired close to 1,300+ people in Zellerbach Hall last weekend.
Moses Sedler and Sonja Drakulich teamed up and performed a cello soloist duet. Sonja is most well known for her work in the internationally acclaimed world music ensemble, Stellamara and Moses is a composer of music for concert stage, modern dance, and film, as well as a concert cellist and recording artist.
Below is composer & multi-instrumentalist Matt Venuti, who played the first “viral instrument” and arguably the most beautiful and captivating ever, the Pan Art Hang, a handmade "sound sculpture" from Switzerland.
Singer/Songwriter Eoin Harrington's wonderful Irish accent mixed with a l'il grand piano wowed the crowd. Playing all originals, his album, Story, has been met with critical acclaim in the States and in Europe.
Noteworthy is a student-run, student-written, all-male, excessively-hypenated a cappella group on the UC Berkeley campus who added humor to their lyrics in both songs they performed in the first session.
Former news reporter and syndicated media critic for the Mercury News, Brad Kava also plays a mean blues harmonica. He teamed up with record producer, songwriter and guitar player Peter Stanley who fronts the blues band Doghouse Riley.
February 21, 2011
David Silverman on Animation and the Tuba
Most known as the animator for directing numerous episodes of the animated TV series The Simpsons, as well as The Simpsons Movie, David Silverman walked out onto the TEDxBerkeley stage playing a tuba last Saturday.
He gave a very funny historical summary of the tuba and why he started playing it as a teenager.
The main reason that he started playing the tuba is that he thought it would be funny.
He learned how to draw all the instruments in the orchestra and showed a number of his sketches from piano books ranging from Alfred publishing to tuba characters and Bart.
The video of his talk and tuba playing should be up on the TEDxBerkeley site sometime in the next couple of weeks.
February 04, 2011
Pandora's Tim Westergren Shares Lessons LearnedPandora's founder Tim Westergren kicks off the VatorSplash event this past week in San Francisco. Whether you succeed or not, Tim subscribes, depends on how great your team is....and how quickly they can change course and embrace that change smoothly when necessary. He also adds, "People are really stingy with equity. I'm a big believer in having a smaller piece of a bigger pie." Below is his talk in a two-part video.
January 31, 2011
The Power of Fire, Drumming, Chanting & Vortexes
I'm certainly not new to dancing, nor am I new to drumming and chanting. That said, I experienced a powerful ritual recently that merges exercise, expression, empowerment, psychology and spiritual worship all under one roof. (or the stars in some cases).
Imagine an event/ritual with this combination: the fun and creativity of Burning Man expression (face and body painting if that's what you want to do), the humanist element of spiritual worship (regardless of your religion -- gratitude and love is what holds court, not God), psychology (because your schtuff can all come out through movement not sitting on a couch talking to a PhD -- I'm not condemning this btw, just suggesting there are other ways for healing and growth), exercise and physical movement (to keep toxicity where it belongs, moving through you and not staying stagnant inside you), and lastly, empowerment through chants and language that elevates not reduces you.
I have chosen not to mention the place or name of this event for confidentiality purposes and to respect the space attendees consider sacred and private. Respecting the privacy of what comes up at these events is an essential part of what makes it all work, or purr as I like to say when something is really working.
A lot of preparation goes into the event itself, such as learning the guidelines of what certain words or noises mean, how to know when silence is more powerful than sharing something, or how to pay attention to the beautiful relationship between the drummers and the dancers. In most cases, you'll do both, so it's important to know what to 'give' the dancers when you're drumming and vice versa, in order to make the experience purr.
Once cleansed, you line up in two lines and face each other, and then slowly you fold into the middle of the circle and move up the middle to re-enter the building, almost in a wedding-like receiving line fashion.
There are some aspects to the early part of the ritual (the quiet, meditative part at the beginning) that is very similar in experience to the Labyrinth Walk, a non-denominational ritual that involves movement on a spiritual journey - towards and always in motion. Some of the earliest forms of labyrinths are found in Greece, dating back to 2500-2000 B.C.E. and early Christian labyrinths date back to 4th century, a basilica in Algeria.
With the fire circle ritual, there is often a fire in the middle of the circle and a border to the circle around it, where movement takes place inside the circle. In our case, since it was inside and there were fire regulations, we had a massive metal bowl propped up on an iron stand, filled with water and floating candles.
The circle itself was closed in by a glowing white chord that lit up in the dark, roughly an inch or so thick. When inside the circle, you are walking into your 'foundation' which is an area of focus.
It could be unconditional love, peace, or frankly, anything you choose. Outside the circle, you prepare yourself for that place so that when you walk into it, you are in that place, feeling it, breathing it, being your authentic self, whatever that is.
Movement felt forced to me in the beginning although over time, once I got out of my head, nothing but natural flowing energy moved me to do whatever I did inside the circle. Some people skip, others move in stride -- slowly, quickly, flowingly, energetically, happily, spiritually, all depending on where they are at any given time. Some people just walk. The key is to keep moving since movement is a symbol of life and how we live life. Have you ever noticed that how people do anything is how they do everything?
This is why constant movement inside the circle is so important just as it is inside any vortex. The ritual's guidelines/rules keeps you in motion even when you feel like you want to stop. When you stay in motion even when you're feeling stuck, things begin to open up and get clearer - both in your head and your heart.
We explored the energy of vortexes, where we looked into the early work of Viktor Schauberger, who was an inventor of what he called "implosion technology." Schauberger developed his own theories based on fluidic vortices and movement in nature. He coined Observe Nature and then Copy Nature and was known for observing fish and their behavior in rivers. In his work with vortexes, he realized that everything is affected by the 'vortex' and believed that all life IS a vortex.
The circle we moved in and around was a vortex just like tornadoes and water are vortexes as is our inner ear. When you change the pattern and direction of a vortex, interesting things happen. Sure, there's turbulence, but there is also an inner calm that occurs as has been evidenced by objects, such as a birthday cake, being swept up in a tornado and then being spit out unharmed and untouched.
Tornados breath everything in its track IN and then spits everything OUT. Refer to a great book called Sensitive Chaos, which explains the simple flowing phenomena of water and air, and how we can use that understanding to "read" the living meaning of water.
All of this comes back to the importance of keeping things moving inside the vortex, in this case, the humanity "fire" circle where the attendees' job was to keep everything flowing: our hearts, our minds and our bodies.
There are two directions you can move in the fire circle and you can choose what each direction means for you. For example, moving counterclockwise towards the inside rim of the circle could mean holding on whereas walking clockwise in the inner part of the circle could mean letting go and releasing.
Dynamics of the group participating inside the circle change frequently, but it happens with respect for what others want to experience. Being in touch, listening and allowing silence creates the space to understand that dynamic.
You could be moving to a mid-tempo beat, then the drum energy may simmer down and someone may start to recite a piece from Shakespeare or Eckhart Tolle. Later, it may move into a chant or a silly song. Ultimately, this means that the entire fire circle is organic and its energy depends on the players in the circle at any given time.
When someone starts to sing a song, people often chime in. If someone begins a poem, people may just listen and respond to it through dance or movement, and a chant often takes on a life of its own. Example: I am the power and I honor you and I empower you to be who you are. The energy is almost always positive and from a place of love and gratitude.
Gratitude is a big part of the ritual. Whether you go into the process wanting to give gratitude or think about it or not, you can't help but leave the circle feeling grateful for the people around you and most importantly, for yourself.
Isn't self love, or rather lack thereof, a known factor, that holds us back from becoming our full potential? (by full potential, I don't mean becoming a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a professional athlete), I mean stepping into your 'true' self, rather than holding back that gift and trying to replicate the "sameness" around us). Sometimes I think Sesame Street said it best. (aka, the most important person in the whole wide world is ......)
That brings me to other senses and modalities. In addition to verbal mantras and reinforcements, there's a visual component. Women typically dress in flowing clothes, often with clothes and hats, sometimes with decadent jewelry and face paint. There were other visual expression props you could add to your persona for the ritual such as angel's wings, funky and romantic hats and shawls. Some men dressed up in cultural clothing from other countries (Egypt, China, Japan, etc), others wore robes, and some just wore loose clothing.
The altar to the west is dedicated to image and reflection and on that altar were mirrors and candles. Remember that in ancient times, mirrors were believed to hold your reflection and if a mirror was shattered, it was said that your soul would be shattered. (that's where the 7 years of bad luck came from). Reflections represent why you 'showed up,' what you want to accomplish, what direction do you want to go and what is your intention along the way?
There are four altars in total and everyone pays respect to each -- north, south, east and west -- at the very beginning of the ritual. Typically two people say a few words about it and more candles are lit along the way.
The altar to the south is about experimentation and considered a laboratory of sorts. In this particular fire circle, laboratory coats were hung on a coat stand to symbolize exploration and experimentation in life.
The altar to the east is about play and there, hung hats, scarves, coats and shawls. Play sister play. Women tended to use the props here more than the men although all the men in my group had an aspect of play to their personalities. (note: our group was roughly 50 in size although fire circles can range from 20 to over 1,000 in size).
There was also a hoola hoop in this area which some used to play on their own while others used it as a prop in which to dance and play together.
And lastly, the altar to the east is about connection. This altar was the most cluttered of all and included flowers, candles, one tangerine, bones and necklaces. If you felt a particular connection to someone throughout the process, you could let them know by hanging one of the necklaces around their neck to symbolize that you shared something "kindrid" and meaningful with them.
The coolest part for me was the dynamic between the drummers and the dancers, and the mutual sharing of expression that came from a place of true authenticity and vulnerability. Even at Burning Man, albeit authentic and fabulous, it's more about art, expression and experience than it is about being vulnerable and showing your true interior -- sans drugs -- which could change by the moment, by the hour or simply not at all.
It's also about becoming more and more okay with silence but not having to do it through some form of formal or informal meditation, so it's great for people who are not naturals at meditation.
Lastly, the drumming circle itself. Dancing to it while respecting the organic nature of what is being created on the fly is as magical as drumming for the dancers is, with an intention of creating a magical experience for them along the way.
Since the drumming circle is lined up as an arch, there is a circular area in front of the drummers where a dancer can come in and show gratitude by dancing wildly or softly (typically there's more energy than less) in front of them. And this, my friends, is a very very cool experience, as a drummer and as a dancer.
A few links and resources to check out more information on fire dances and circles for those interested in learning more.
- Phoenix Fire – the West Coast's largest fire-circle gathering happens every August under the redwood trees in the Santa Cruz mountains
- Winter's Flame – weekend events held in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Fire Tribe Hawaii – circles every solstice and equinox on the island of Oahu
- Forestdance – circles in Massachusetts every August
- Vegas Vortex – hosts Mysterium, May Fire, and Fall Fest in and around Las Vegas
- Spirit Fire – circles in July in upstate New York
- Fires Rising – features a fire circle at this event every May in Pennsylvania
- Rites of Spring – a week long pagan festival with fire circle in every May in western Massachusetts
Photo credits: BoulderssResort, FireFamily, InventorSpot, FreeExtras, DrinkingDiaires, Celebratewomantoday, and VortexHouse.