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Off Notes: It’s a Party!

Off Notes Party

Happy Friday!

This week’s Off Notes is a festive one. We’ve got a series of musical celebrations lined up — from a subterranean hullabaloo over Bach the elder’s 330th birthday, to the upcoming global observance of music’s newest holiday, Piano Day, to an awards show for a digital age — we have a lot to look forward to in the weekend and weeks ahead! So read on for more revelry, some industry news, and the normal Friday frivolity from the depths of the musical internet.

What we’ve been reading

  • Did you know tomorrow is Johann Sebastian Bach’s 330th birthday? In celebration of this momentous occasion, Bach in the Subways is organizing concerts in public transit stations all over the world! Check out their map and find one near you. [Bach in the Subways]
  • In case you’re having trouble getting in the spirit, let The Piano Guys show you the way with their insanely cheesy disco-dance delight, “I Want You Bach”:
  • More to celebrate: one of our all-time favorite pianists, Nils Frahm has announced that henceforth, March 29th shall be known as Piano Day! []
  • This Wired article is a gem. A physics professor decided to go about crafting a pop hit featuring every 3-note musical combination possible so that he could claim copyright infringement on all songs written in future. It is hilarious. [Wired]
  • is a new tool that lets you write sheet music right in your web browser. It looks super useful and very pretty. []
  • Room for Debate covered the “Blurred Lines” copyright case and its implication the music industry and brought in some really interesting perspectives. And if you missed it, be sure to check out Ian’s list of lessons musicians can learn from the case. Now, fingers crossed, that is the last time I’ll need to talk about Robin Thicke. [NY Times]
  • The same drum set was played by the same guy, in the same way, in a zillion different environments, and what happens to the sound is fascinating:
  • Yet another celebration: Monday is the second-ever Youtube Music Awards. We’re intrigued by what the changes to the show spell for the future of consuming and celebrating music. This year’s event is totally unlike the live production hosted last in 2013. They’ve embraced the transparency of the internet, announcing the 50 winners, chosen by viewership data, weeks ahead of the show. The show itself will be produced by Vice, webcast, and used as a platform to simultaneously and exclusively launch nine new music videos by winners. [Youtube and Rolling Stone]
  • The Bob Moog Foundation released 15 new schematic drawings from when he was inventing the synthesizer. For the engineers out there, I’ve heard these are really interesting. For plebs like me, they’re still really pretty to look at. [Wired]
  • It turns out, we’ve been going about teaching piano ALL wrong. If you’re interested in truly advanced techniques including the “B-knuckle-7th” and the “Mijor Major chord” you’ll want to spend some time studying with a master:
  • The Daily Beast explored the untold story of how classic jazz label Verve Records got swallowed up by hip-hop and pop label Interscope and no one noticed. This does not speak well to the state of jazz. [The Daily Beast]
  • Happy Friday:

What we’ve been listening to

  • Kendrick Lamar. A lot.
  • Pitchfork put together a playlist of female-focused songs by applying the Bechdel Test to music. Ladies make some killer jams. [Pitchfork]
  • This listen isn’t so much musical as the absolute opposite: a BBC reporter gave up all music for lent (going so far as to remove his ringtone and wear sound-canceling headphones to the grocery store to block out the radio). He talks about what he’s learning from the experience here. [BBC Radio 4]
  • One of our Twitter followers asked us to check out their music and we’re really glad we did. Polkadot Mayhem is a fantastic band name, and their new track is pretty great:

And finally, an apology. I’ve been writing Off Notes for nine weeks now, and I hadn’t yet thought to revisit the single most critical, seminal example musical reinterpretation in the history of YouTube. I am deeply sorry.

Here is… Benny Lava:

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Zoë Young

Zoë is an internet enthusiast and writer who wants to empower everyone to find the knowledge they need to pursue their dreams through the magic of the internet. When not working on web tools and articles to support the Soundfly community, Zoë cooks up a storm and plots ways to recapture her former glory as a third grade recorder soloist. Follow her @parsnipsbk.