30 January 2011

Goodbye, Ensonic

Goodbye, old friend. Sad news. On Valentine's Day, Ensonic Radio is closing up shop. If you are able to take up the enterprise, it is for sale on eBay.

17 January 2011

The Voice and Calm Power of Dr. Martin Luther King

Today the U.S. nation celebrates the life and work of prominent civil rights activist, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Here are three speeches by Dr. King. The first is King's infamous "I Have a Dream" speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963.

The second is a speech given January 14, 1968, at a demonstration supporting anti-war activitists, including singer Joan Baez, imprisoned at the Santa Rita Prison in California. The recording of Dr. King's speech was produced by Colin Edwards for KPFA radio the day after the demonstration. (BB1460 Pacifica Radio Archives)

The third of King's speeches presented here is from March 16, 1968 at the event "Men and women in the arts concerned with Vietnam" in Los Angeles, California. The speech is prefaced by a six-minute introduction by novelist, playwright, and poet James Baldwin. The recording was made in the audience and aired on KPFK on April 4, 1968. (BB4661 Pacifica Radio Archives)

His final speech, referred to as the "Mountaintop" speech was delivered in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was assassinated.

All three speeches can be found at the Free Music Archive.

Portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Betsy G. Reyneau [public domain]

06 January 2011

The Underappreciated Kinderklavier

The toy piano is historically more than just a plaything. Quality toy pianos stay in tune, because they do not employ strings. Toy pianos offer a unique timbre unlike a piano and more like a celesta or a member of the harpsichord family. It is this unusual sound has been the key appeal to a small number of composers and performers through the centuries.

A German boy born into a toy-making family, Albert Schoenhut (1848-1912) created the ancestor of the modern toy piano. The hammers on his early toy pianos originally struck sounding bars made of glass, as opposed to the strings on real pianos. The glass bars proved to be too fragile for shipping, so Schoenhut soon opted for metal bars, making the instruments more durable.

In 1866, when he was 17, Schoenhut set sail across the Atlantic heading to Philadelphia where he had a job repairing toy pianos. By 1872, Schoenhut had developed his own toy manufacturing business. The Schoenhut Toy Company still makes quality toy pianos today.

Can't get your hands on a fine toy piano, but would like to play one? You are in luck! Pascal Ayerbe, a fantastic toy performer, offers an antique French Michelsonne toy piano to play online.

Modern composers and performers of music for the toy piano range from John Zorn to the Dresden Dolls [Amazon selections]. One super fun and quirky artist who is breathing life into the instrument today is Twink, billed as "the toy piano band." Since French label MonsterK7 ("Monster Cassette") sold out all copies of their toy piano compilation, Une Ode au Toy Piano, they have offered it for free download.

The Free Music Archive is also home to several works featuring the toy piano, including a full-length serious work by Aestrid Byrne titled Duff (Music for Toy Pianos) and a spoken piece by Edoheart named "Monsoon in Ibadan."

photo of toy piano by Allison Felus [license]

05 January 2011

Most Interesting

There's this algorithm running in the Free Music Archive system that generates a list of the tracks from the library of more than 30,000 mps that users find most interesting. It factors in how many times visitors listen to, download, favorite, and comment on tracks. Oddio Overplay delivered almost one-quarter of the top 45 in the Most Interesting in 2010 (22.22%). That's pretty cool! Cheers to all the artists appearing in this list and to all artists who share their music online.

01 January 2011

Ringing in the New Year

Happy New Year, music friends!

As of January 1, 2011, Oddio Overplay has made 1,452 contributions to the Free Music Archive. That is the number to beat for activity in 2011. How about fulfilling a resolution right now to be a part of that most excellent free music community? As the byline reads, "It's not just free music; it's good music!"

Later this month, Oddio's netlabel for children, Kazoomzoom will relaunch with a new look and a larger catalog. This is a very exciting time for us, as I have wanted to really kickstart that slowly developing project. I'm full of enthusiasm, hope, and big plans for 2011. I hope you and your family will be a part of an exciting new year at Kazoomzoom!

Here are a quick five from the most recent additions Oddio has made to the FMA that you may have missed. Happy New Year and Happy Listening!

TAGGED AS: hard rock, spanish, metal, spain, los cuatrocientos golpes, rock, hardcore

TAGGED AS: old-time historic, cylinder, stage music, victor herbert orchestra, operetta, classical, instrumental rock, light orchestral, orchestral

TAGGED AS: latin america, pop, spanish, lido pimienta, columbia

TAGGED AS: classical, francesco lettera, instrumental, italy

TAGGED AS: modern composition, 20th Century Classical, toy instruments, ireland, aestrid byrne, toy piano