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Archive for Friday, May 7, 2010

Net Worth: Technology allows even the least talented to dabble in ‘artistry’

May 7, 2010

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Everything is so easy these days.

With the click of a button, you can become a “musician” or an “artist” or an “experimental filmmaker.” Talent and skill seem like outdated commodities. No long months of learning a craft, developing your prowess, paying your dues. It’s all instant gratification, thanks to your latest computer software or Internet engine.

Maybe this is why the recording industry is in such turmoil.

Can’t sing? Don’t worry, this Auto-Tune device will cure that for you.

Can’t keep a beat? Drum loops, my friend.

Can’t play a lick of guitar? No worries, “Guitar Hero” will make you convinced you’re as good as Eddie Van Halen. Now you can perform “Eruption” in your sleep.

So in deference to today’s Net Worth theme (and/or whine), I thought we’d explore two sites where you can indulge in your own artistic urges without having to really do much.

If you’re too cheap to purchase GarageBand or one of its many counterparts, then might I suggest MoreCowbellDJ.

Based on the Will Ferrell-penned “SNL” sketch from 2000 — has it already been 10 years? — the site has taken the immortal catchphrase “more cowbell” to new heights. As you’ll recall, the initial setting was a faux “Behind the Music” episode supposedly capturing the studio session for Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Now you can indulge in the mantra spouted by guest host Christopher Walken, and add cowbell to any MP3 you want to upload.

The site employs an application called the Echo Nest Analyze API, which “uses a perceptual model of human listening to generate detailed XML descriptions of a song’s structure and musical content to power music applications.” OK ...

In this case, you can insert the iconic percussion instrument into songs that don’t exactly warrant the accompaniment. Recent posts include “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls, “Take a Chance” by Abba and “Mother” by Danzig. Who knew doom rock could sound so snappy?

If you’re too confused by how to operate iMovie or its cohorts, then try out YouTube Doubler. This helps facilitate the popular mashup concept, in which two unrelated videos are played simultaneously, with the combined result altering the meaning of each. Sometimes this works in a manner that enhances actual artistry, as in one titled “Drum N Bass vs. Speed Piano,” which features a dude offering a brisk kit groove spliced with a gal executing Dohnanyi’s rigorous “Sixth Concert Etude.”

Others use the mashup for comedic effect, as evidenced by videos titled “Snoop Dogg vs. Carl Sagan,” “Riverdance vs. Sony robot dance,” “Nickelback vs. a crowing Rooster” and “David Hasselhoff vs. Tickle Me Elmo.”

Inevitably, someone will next develop a simple way to pit MoreCowbellDJ vs. YouTube Doubler.

— Entertainment editor Jon Niccum explores facets of pop culture that have established a unique niche on the Internet. He can be reached at 832-7178.

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