(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘MTV

“I can kind of envision maybe one person with a lot of machines, tapes, and electronics set up, singing or speaking and using machines”*…

 

radiophonics

 

In 1957, just before the broadcast of a radio show called Private Dreams and Public Nightmares, a warning was sent to BBC engineers. “Don’t attempt to alter anything that sounds strange,” it said. “It’s meant to sound that way.” The BBC was also worried about the public. Donald McWhinnie, the programme’s maker, made an explanatory statement, ending with the cheerful signoff: “One thought does occur – would it not be more illuminating to play the whole thing backwards?”

Radiophonic sound was now in the public domain. A year later, to the bewilderment of many, the BBC dedicated a whole workshop to this avant-garde stuff, even giving it a home in an old ice rink: Maida Vale Studios. Years later, the Queen, shaking hands with the Workshop’s creator, Desmond Briscoe, would confirm its universal success with the words: “Ah yes, Doctor Who.”**

But what is radiophonic sound – and why did it need a workshop? Radiophonics owes everything to the invention of the tape recorder. Once you could capture sound, using a workable material, you could play with it: slow it down until it thundered, feed it back on itself until it shrieked and echoed, or simply slice bits out. However extreme these experiments became, there was always something eerily familiar to the ear, because they were made from real objects or events…

The story of the BBC’s storied Radiophonics Workshop: “Now for a lampshade solo: how the Radiophonic Workshop built the future of sound.”

* Jim Morrison in a 1969 interview, when asked about the future of music

** For the story of the remarkable Delia Derbyshire [left in the photo above], who arranged and performed (on an oscilloscope) Ron Grainger’s composition for the theme of Doctor Who, see here and here.  And not that you need reminding, hear the original Doctor Who theme here.

###

As we appreciate audio, we might recall that it was on this date in 1981, with the words “Ladies and Gentlemen, rock and roll,” that MTV premiered.  The first video featured on the new cable channel was The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.”  Indeed.

source

 

Written by LW

August 1, 2018 at 1:01 am

“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake”*…

 

In the wake of the conventions of the last two weeks, and the Fourth Estate’s first draft of history, we might pause to ponder the task facing more traditional historians.  Consider, for example, “How Do Smithsonian Curators Decide What to Collect at the Political Conventions?

* James Joyce, Ulysses

###

As we revel in the falling balloons, we might recall that it was on this date in 1981, with the words “Ladies and Gentlemen, rock and roll,” that MTV premiered.  The first video featured on the new cable channel was The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.”  Indeed.

source

Written by LW

August 1, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn”*…

 

Via Io9, news of your correspondent’s alma mater, Colossal Pictures

We don’t know just how long MTV has been releasing old Liquid TV shorts on their website, but what we do know is that this news is pure, uncut awesome. After years of watching crummy youtubes of the most f-ed up cartoons and shorts ever made, MTV has finally decided to release all the contents of Liquid Television online. Which means, all the Psycho-Grams and Winter Steele episodes you want!

So many wonderful things came from this late night animation and puppet variety show: Æon Flux, Beavis and Butt-Head, heaps of They Might Be Giants music videos, and more. It was just solid crazy-person programming…

email readers click here for video

Hours of fun at Liquid Television.

* Norman McLaren

###

As we color outside the lines, we might recall that it was on this date in 1929 that Walt Disney released El Terrible Toreador, the second cartoon (following the epic The Skeleton Dance) in the Silly Symphony series (which, unlike Disney’s other consistently character-themed series, like Mickey Mouse, had no continuing characters; rather they were whimsical accompaniments to pieces of music– in the case of El Terrible Toreador, a snatch of Carmen).

email readers click here for video

 

Written by LW

September 7, 2015 at 1:01 am

Video killed the radio star. Film, not so much…

 

Before MTV, and long before we could stream music videos on our cell phones, mid-1960s American hepcats gathered around 500-pound, 7-foot-high contraptions to watch 16-millimeter Technicolor films of B-list pop stars gyrating to their latest hits. The contraption in question was usually a Scopitone, one of several audio-visual jukeboxes found primarily in bars. Their reign, if you can even call it that, was brief, and by the end of the decade, the novelty of these then-high-tech devices had faded entirely…

Scopitone films were deliberately exotic, designed to appeal to a target audience of men on the prowl in bars. “They had to grab people’s attention from across a room… They are the only type of film produced for people who aren’t watching them. In general, nobody is choosing to look at the Scopitone machine. They’re mostly guys hanging out in a bar. The wild colors, suggestive dances, and bikini girls in the films were supposed to distract men from their drinking long enough to put more money into the machine to see what else might be in there.”

One Scopitone classic is Neil Sedaka’s “Calendar Girl.”…It’s just Neil in an ever-changing assortment of dinner jackets surrounded by a bunch of Las Vegas showgirls in very elaborate costumes, each themed for a different month of the year. It was guaranteed to get people’s attention in a bar in 1965…

The inside of a Scopitone machine: up to 36 films were mounted on a carousel, which rotated until the consumer's selection was aligned with the projector.

Read the entire Scopitone saga at Collectors Weekly… and check out more Scopitone “singles” at Bob Orlowsky’s Scopitone Archive.

 

As we make our selections, we might recall that this is the anniversary of different sort of public musical performance: on this date in 1892 “The March King” John Philip Sousa and his newly-formed band (post U.S. Marine Band) performed publicly for the first time, at the Stillman Music Hall in Plainfield, N.J.

Sousa and his civilian band (source)

 

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so*…

 

source

From Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at Cal Tech and author of From Eternity to Here, a report from Setting Time Right, a conference that he kicked off in Norway late last month…

“Time” is the most used noun in the English language, yet it remains a mystery. We’ve just completed an amazingly intense and rewarding multidisciplinary conference on the nature of time, and my brain is swimming with ideas and new questions. Rather than trying a summary (the talks will be online soon), here’s my stab at a top ten list partly inspired by our discussions: the things everyone should know about time. [Update: all of these are things I think are true, after quite a bit of deliberation. Not everyone agrees, although of course they should.]

Sean’s list– like his books, clear and provocative– is at “Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Time.”

* – Douglas Adams

 

As we wind our watches, we might recall that it was on this date in 2008 that two of Carroll’s ten points– #4 (“You live in the past”) and #9 (“Aging can be reversed”)– were illustrated, as MTV threw the full weight of its VMA Awards behind Britney Spears’ comeback.  Spears performed on the telecast and won three awards, including video of the year for “Piece of Me.”  The following year she completed her highest-grossing global concert tour.

Oops!… I Did It Again (source)

 

Click the Head…

 

Click the Head (or here)

 

As we ponder life in a state of grace, we might recall that it was on this date in 1981, with the words “Ladies and Gentlemen, rock and roll,” that MTV premiered.  The first video featured on the new cable channel was The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.”  Indeed.

source

%d bloggers like this: