Song for Creative Commons

After reading The Culture Club, I was encouraged to read further and got Audio Culture, edited by Cristoph Cox and Daniel Warner, a collection of readings. One of the most potent essays in it
is Bettered by the Borrower by John Oswald. As I read it I jotted down ideas and later thought they would make good lyrics.

I'm in the process of recording the song but thought I'd share the text:

We share in ears
vibrations in air
it's more primal than blues
this form we share

I am a sound
a song that is true
this music that flows through me
can flow through you too

Gentle borrower
transform me
gentle borrower
transform me

Brainstorm elation
marks transformation
save condemnation for
straight imitation

There are more than these notes
there are more than these keys
an infinite soundscape
needs your diversity

Gentle borrower
transform me
gentle borrower
transform me

For me the lyrics pick up on my enthusiasm for Creative Commons as much as my desire to see everyone make music. I often say that music is too much fun not to have a go. And then there's the strength that can be taken from music, not to mention its application for purposes of propaganda like advertising.

What I like about Creative Commons is the idea that every endeavour relies upon building on existing ideas. Jared Diamond has an awesome chapter in Guns, Germs and Steel (I think it's called Necessity's Mother) that discusses how much we seem to like the idea of a single creator when the truth is more often the case that progress relies on developing existing research. He gives a bunch of examples, like James Watt's improvements to the steam engine.

Anyway, I'm drifting off track. The thing with music is that, of all the possible combinations of notes, only a limited number sound good together. So, really, we have no choice but to recycle (at a fundamental level) and some of the ideas that get promoted to protect copyright are really petty. Like, can you imagine being taken to court for making a video of someone singing Happy Birthday?

Post script: I've put the song I recorded with these lyrics up for remix. Grab the parts and have a go.

My PR for RPM

Local artist rises to international challenge

The RPM Challenge, now in its third year, encourages musicians to record an album of music in the month of February. Last year 850 albums were produced, including one effort made entirely on a Nintendo Game Boy!

The idea is a simple kick in the arse for musicians to stop dreaming and procrastinating and to realise their songs.

Or, as the RPM Challenge entry in Wikipedia puts it:
There is no winner of the challenge, which functions solely to give musicians a needed push towards finishing original material and help them achieve a sense of satisfaction.

For Jason Richardson of Brucedale (recording under the name Showcase Jase) this has meant a number of sleepless nights. "It's almost funny but probably a bit dysfunctional. Last year I decided to take time off work to get hands-on with raising my children and have a sabbatical. I picked up the guitar again, rediscovered the joys of composing and now find myself sneaking off to to scribble lyrics or tweak my mixes."

His passion for music isn't entirely new. In the last three years Jason has released two albums of electronic music (under the moniker Bassling), as well as performing as part of Wagga Wagga's 2006 Unsound Festival, contributing to the Ninja Trax mixes curated by and exhibiting in ABC Online's Poool project for regional artists and at Charles Sturt University's HR Gallop Gallery in 2007.

"The internet cops a lot of bad press for people pirating music but there are many, many, many musicians collaborating and distributing online. It's been acknowledged there are probably more people making electronic music now than people buying it. And I think that's great - music is way too much fun not to have a go."

One of the benefits of personal computing has been people are now able to have a home recording studio. "I was listening to demo tapes from a Canberra band I played in during the mid-90s and, in comparison, the quality you can achieve with a PC is brilliant," says Jason Richardson.

Of course, there have been a few technical issues. Jason's soundcard broke prior to beginning so he's had to improvise with other equipment. But that's all part of the challenge, according to the blog entry of another musician. "I went into the Challenge last year with no experience for recording an album with actual songs," writes 19-year-old participant Mian Laisa, of Littleton, Colorado in the United States.
"I came out of the challenge with a new understanding of how the process worked."

Post script: Here's a video I've made about my experience with the RPM Challenge