Kagura, making music with your body

Brian Eno once said, “The problem with computers is that there is not enough Africa in them.” The interfaces we use to interact with computers are too digital, not fuzzy enough to sense analog inputs. We’re stuck with mouse and keyboard.

Kagura is a game that runs on a laptop and uses the camera to detect movement of the players as they interact with musical instruments projected on the screen in front of them to play along or riff on a musical track.

Part Dance Dance Revolution and part Guitar Hero, the UI is intuitive and easy and fun to pick up. All that’s required is a Windows laptop (Mac coming later) and they launched a Kickstarter today to fund the final development and release in August.

Shunsuke Nakamura, the inventor of the game, stopped by the SmartNews offices on Friday to show us how the game works. He’s been working on the concept of using your body to make music for 14 years but only now has technology reached a point where his dream could be realized.

We truly live in amazing times.


As the world around us transforms to the digital, we are increasingly drawn to the analog. Check out Swedish musician Martin Molin from the band Wintergatan make music from his marvelous, human-powered marble machine.

Italian Foo Fighters Fans Wishes Granted

1,000 Foo Fighters fans gathered in a field in Cesena, Italy to play Learn to Fly to get the band’s attention and to listen to their plea to play a concert in Italy. Maybe you’ve seen the video which was all over the ‘nets. It’s pretty awesome.

The band noticed, later posting Ci vediamo a presto, Cesena…. xxx Davide from their twitter account. Google Translate tells me it says, “See you soon, Cesena”

Today Dave Grohl, the band’s leader posted this video response in Italian.

In awe.

Where do you get your music?

How we pay for music, 1983-2014
How we pay for music, 1983-2014

Digital Music News put together a visual showing the mix of revenue streams for music over the past 30 years. CDs, which represented only 0.5% in 1983 grew to the dominant medium in 2003 when it was 95.5% of revenue.

In 2004 downloads appear on the scene (or begin to be counted) at 1.5% and are, in 2013 more than the CD with both downloads and streaming/subscription revenues eating away at CD market share.

2013 Music Revenue Mix

Those other headphones look like medical equipment

This interview with Jimmy Iovine on the eve of the announcement of Beats Music goes a long way towards explaining how Beats and Apple might work together. Appreciation of sound and the ability to call bullshit on existing music recommendation engines (at 23:00),

I put in the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan as my two favorite groups and asked for 10 songs.

What I got back were 3 John Entwistle solos, 1 Keith Moon solo record, 1 Mick Jagger, 1 Moby Grape, and 1 John Lee Hooker record.

What am I going to do with that? That’s the math solution.

“iTunes is great but it needs a step forward. . . most technology companies are culturally inept. . . we’re trying to marry math with emotions.”

Commercial Sync

It used be one of the lowest forms of selling out when a musician signed over their work to a brand campaign. Such was the stigma, Nike was sued for using The Beatles’ Revolution in one of their commercials. With declining revenues for recorded music, touring and merch remain the main sources of income for a working band. For older musicians that have family and want to stay close to home, Commercial Sync, or composing music for a brand campaign, can be a lucrative alternative.

A long way from the earworm jingles of the 60’s and 70’s, television advertising has become a way to not only earn the equivalent of months of work for 30 seconds of art but also a way for relatively unknown artists to break into the charts. Apple introduced America to Feist with the launch of their iPod Nano. It’s good money for the bands and if the product is right, playing back up to a brand can actually augment the band’s image and their association with a cool brand.

In the same way that Dissolve held a mirror up to the use of stock video in today’s commercials, Canadian musician Jon Lajoie has laid it all out plain as day in his video Please Use This Song. Brands are the patrons of the 21st Century.

Thanks to @jr conlin for the pointer