How I Created My Mister Rogers Remix

I promised the other day that I would walk through how I went about taking part in the challenge by PBS Media to remix loops for its Mister Rogers project. (You may know that PBS has created some great remix of Mister Rogers’ videos by using auto-tune and music loops — setting the television host’s messages to a beat).

First, when I was done, this is what I created:

In hopes that you might dive in, too, here is how I went about the remix process.

First, of course, I had to learn about the remix invitation. I can’t remember now where I first heard of it, but I think it was a tweet that someone in my Twitter stream shared out. I’ve had “remix” on the mind lately with the Teach the Web MOOC, so I was intrigued by what PBS Media was inviting folks to do. I headed to the site, and found that they had established a group in SoundCloud, where PBS was sharing out a collection of musical loop files. You could take one, or more, or the entire collection. I took everything as a .zip file to my desktop. It was pretty fun going through them – listening to drum beats, Mister Rogers’ voice talking about loving music (the overarching theme), and other things like tubas. Yep, a blast from a Tuba was in the mix.

Second, I considered using Garageband, but to be honest, I still find GB a bit funky to use at times. So I turned to my old trusty Audacity for loop editing. I choose a bunch of loop tracks (not all) and moved them into Audacity. Here’s where the real work and the tricky part began. The fact that the remix probably should have a consistent beat puts the remixer into the role of music composer — lose a beat, and the effect can be pretty jarring to the listener.

Mister Rogers Audacity View

I spent a lot of time moving, shifting, repositioning, listening, re-repositioning, moving again, lining up and doing all sorts of tinkering with the tracks to make them fit. There was a moment when I could sense that it was coming together finally, and that the pieces were fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle of sorts. As a remixer, that’s a glorious moment, right?

Finally, I was done, and I uploaded the track into my Soundcloud account, and then shared it over with the PBS Media group (as they requested for remixes). I also played around with Popcorn Maker as a way to add my remix soundtrack to the video, but in this case, my music was not in sync with the movements in the video. Of course, my intent with the remix was for audio, not for video, and I realize now that my process would have been different if I had video on my mind.

All in all, it was a fun experience. Sure, it took some time, but it was time well spent. Now, I have my Mister Rogers Remix. How about you?

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin

 

The Mister Rogers Remix

PBS Media puts out some interesting remix versions of classic Mister Rogers clips, and it recently invited folks to borrow some of the loop tracks from its archives, including the voice of Mister Rogers, to create a remix version. How could I resist? I’ll share out the process of how I created the remix tomorrow (and offer up some suggestions for your own remix). Today, here is the remix that I created:

I also took the audio remix and used Popcorn Maker to layer it in as the audio track for the video from which the loops come from. Unfortunately, it does not sync as well as the original. But still …

Peace (in the remix),
Kevin

 

Teachers Who Rock the Stage

At our school talent show this week, a group of us teachers learned the Philip Phillips’ song, Home, and performed it live (with bubbles!) on the stage after all of the students had performed their own magic. The kids love seeing us teachers in the lights, and in a different light, too.

Peace (in the live music),
Kevin
PS — That’s me on the left side of the screen, playing guitar.

That’s a BIG guitar

Kevin at Guitar Exhibit
I took my son and a friend to an exhibit at a local museum. The theme of the exhibit was the guitar, in all of its glory. It was pretty cool — they had a bunch of famous electric guitars on display, a history of the guitar and a bunch of hands-on activities for kids. The best was “the biggest playable guitar” in the world (according to the brochure) — a 43-foot-long Gibson that you could pluck and make notes on. I won’t say it sounded all that great but that was beside the point. The guitar was HUGE!

I shared the photo with my band, and then it was put on our Facebook page with a snarky comment about saxophone players needing to learn to play guitar on big instruments.

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Peace (along the strings)
Kevin

The Animated (GIF) History of Music

1999. ¬†Napster is launched. ¬†Vast amounts of music had never been closer to peoples’ fingertips. ¬†Also it had never been free-er. ¬†This made many bands very angry, especially Metallica, who filed a lawsuit against Napster.
The lawsuit ultimately succeeded, and Napster declared bankruptcy.  But it was too late.  The music industry would never be the same.

I am loving this site. Music History in GIFs, in which a musician tracks the development of pop music through animated GIFs that resemble old 8-bit gaming systems, is fun and informative, and just cool to check out when his updates come through my RSS feed. Yesterday, he posted an image about Napster and music file sharing, and how it upended and continues to upend the music business.

But this other one from last week, about Prince, was pretty nifty, too, and a nice use of animated art.

1993. ¬†Prince changes his name to an¬†unpronounceable¬†symbol later dubbed¬†Love Symbol #2. ¬†At first everybody laughs, but then they remember he’s Prince and he can pretty much do whatever he wants anyways.
Also, Prince’s label had to mail out a bunch of¬†floppy disks with the custom image on it. ¬†That fact makes me laugh.
And a little DEVO anyone?
1978.  Devo releases their debut album, Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!.  Their stage antics are full of wacky dancing, sci-fi outfits, and just all around amazingness.
Also their songs are so, so good.
 Check out Music History in GIFs and get rocked.
Peace (in the music),
Kevin

Ben Folds Five and … The Fraggles?


My kids never really got into The Fraggles, for some reason, but anything Henson is OK by me. Here, Ben Folds Five includes the Fraggle cast in a music video. The bigger idea is how the resurgent Henson Company is tapping the Muppets and their kin back into the pop culture discussion, after years on the outskirts (Thanks a lot, Disney). Plus, it’s Ben Folds. ‘Nuff said.

Peace (in the tune),
Kevin

 

DVD Review: Rush – Beyond the Lighted Stage

“We were always overreaching.” — Geddy Lee

I can’t say that I grew up a huge Rush fan, but I had plenty of friends who were, and who would listen to 2112 religiously, and even had a bass playing friend who took on the task of learning as many Rush songs as possible. (It turned out … not too many … have you ever listened to Geddy Lee?) I am, however, a fan of rock and roll documentaries, so I took a chance on Beyond the Lighted Stage, which showcases the band through the years and how their individualism and musicianship stood them well in the face of a music industry that, as one band member say, “didn’t know what to do with us.”

There’s something to be said for bands that refuse to kowtow to a record label. I don’t know if there are enough of them anymore, although maybe the shakeup of the industry is finally leveling the field a bit. Maybe there are more bands that can tell a record company where to go when they say “we need a hit” and still survive by carving out an audience. I sure hope so.

After watching Beyond the Lighted Stage, you have come away with admiration for the three members of Rush (OK, so if you listen to them and think, that’s only three guys? That still remains an eye-opener for me. Or ear-opener.) Their musicianship remains impeccable, their ability to weave narrative and story into songs is a worthy goal (even if they do, in fact, overreach), and their friendship through the years is something that I find admirable. One storyline of drummer Neil Peart (who is sort of a god-like drummer to most of my drummer friends and also the main lyricist for the band) is particularly wrenching, as Peart loses his daughter and his wife within a short period of time, and in a bit of escapism from the world, hops on a motorcycle for a year of traveling and reflecting. The band came to a halt, as his bandmates worried about him. The movie shows Peart’s re-entry into the life, and into music, with the help of Rush.

Watching the documentary reminded me of a webcomic I created around a bass player in a band. The main character — Bassman — considers Geddy Lee to be a god, and starts a viral compaign to get Rush into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I think that Geddy Lee reference comes from memories of my friends, and the fanatical view of Lee as a bassman extraordinaire.

Bassman5
Bassman6
Bassman7
Bassman91

Peace (in the bass and beyond),
Kevin

 

So Long, Andrew Love (of the Memphis Horns)

It’s becoming a sad year for legendary saxophone players.

First, Clarence Clemons passed away last June. Now, it is Andrew Love.

If Clemons is more well-known to you as a name (for his work with Bruce and his larger-than-life stage presence), I’ll wager a bet that Love’s saxophone sound and arrangements are a sound you know all too well, even if you never realized it. As one half of The Memphis Horns section, Love and partner Wayne Jackson (on trumpet) created the wall of horns on most of the R&B tracks from Stax Studios and more that became the soundtrack to much of the 1960s and 1970s. Love passed away a few days ago, after battling Alzheimer’s.

The Memphis Horns even won themselves a Lifetime Grammy Award a few years ago.

 

So Long, Andrew Love. Your sounds will remain.

Peace (on the saxophone),
Kevin