Monthly Archives: March 2009

A Brief History of Electronic Music

Posted by PH on March 31, 2009
Music & Technology / 1 Comment
Raymond Scott

Raymond Scott

1992 found me studying Music Information Technology at City University under Jim Grant and Simon Emmerson. As part of my dissertation I wrote a long piece on the history of electronic music. It sat around on the old paulhazel.com for a while, but I recently revised it and updated it for my own students, and, for those who are interested in such things, I’m including it here.

I think it remains useful. It is only a brief history but it covers a lot of ground, technological, artistic and political. It finishes around the time synthesizers entered the mass-market and just before MIDI, but it goes right back to the medium’s real beginning. Contrary to what most people think, “music technology” didn’t begin in the late 1960s with Bob Moog: as far back as 1906 Thaddeus Cahill had a working polyphonic additive synthesizer that transmitted pure electronic music over a telephone network. Talk about being ahead of your time…

The Telharmonium

The Telharmonium

A Brief History of Electronic Music (372kB .pdf)

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Quote of the Month

Posted by PH on March 23, 2009
Quote of the Month / No Comments

One late evening, about 10pm London time, I was sitting on the crew bus with the rest of my crew. We had just arrived home from the States on an unusual schedule: normally the flights from there come in overnight and arrive in the morning.

Anyway, it was a nasty night with drizzle and occasional heavy rain. The bus had to stop at a control point before crossing an active taxiway. As usual at that time of night the taxiways were busy, and on this particular evening we sat in the stopped bus beneath the wingtip of a 747-200!

We sat there with the airport lights shining at us through the rain, the bus wipers swishing, the traffic lights illuminating the interior, and this enormous aeroplane just next to us with its large engines humming at idle. I looked up at the cockpit but was unable to see anyone because of the dimmed lights I knew they’d be running. I thought: there are just three men sitting there listening and alert who would be flying this lovely aeroplane all night to Africa.

It was one of the most impressive visions I’ve had of the 747 and what it was like to operate it, despite all the training, walking through it and around it, and knowing in detail how it works. I just wish I could have a picture, somehow with the sound, to show you and to keep myself. Obviously I will always remember it, but the thrumming and gentle rocking of this monster almost at rest, itching to go into the night when it was given full power—oh boy! I’m glad I don’t have to do it now.

Just a memory, from me to you. Keep well please.
Dad.

Edwin Hazel 1933-2009

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Hello World

Posted by PH on March 22, 2009
Web Design / 5 Comments

Welcome to the newly revamped paulhazel.com. Boy, did it need it, sitting here virtually untouched for six years: all I’d really done in the interim is remove pages. I hang my head in shame…

The Problem
To be fair, I had attempted two redesigns in the last couple of years, the first an all-css design, the second a full-on Flash showcase. Neither got anywhere near completion, and for two reasons. The first and obvious one: the lack of time. A full-on job, a PhD on the go, two young children. You get the picture. Secondly, and not so obviously, is the question of what format should the new site take? The big problem with paulhazel.com was that there was no pressing need to update it daily, even weekly—it had no raison d’être.

In the meantime I’d been keeping a blog called 3282 on blogger.com. An excellent service, and very easy to use, but having a very limited range of visual options. Also, because I had a lot of multimedia content on it, I found I also needed to maintain my own server space to keep it all on (which kind of defeated the purpose of having this so-called one-stop solution).

The Solution
To cut a long story short, then, the obvious way forward was to combine them in some way. I’d been mulling over my options for this when I got into a conversation with one of my third-year students, Rob Chalmers. Somehow finding time to do commercial web design work alongside his Major Project, he was waxing lyrical about the possibilities offered by WordPress.

Perfect: open source, powerful, and it would allow me to import the contents of 3282 more-or-less at the click of a button. I could keep my existing personal webspace and self-publish. Sure, I would totally lose the contents of the existing paulhazel.com site, but a) most of that was well past its sell-by date and b) I’d already started to put the good stuff onto 3282 anyway.

Sorted.

Doing It
Wordpress promises a “5-minute install.” Well, yes, it does only take about that long to download the .zip file, extract the contents and get it onto your server, but actually getting the thing up and running takes a good deal longer. You have to set up a database, get your WordPress install talking to the database, and, crucially, reset file access permissions to folders on your server (you’ll need to consult your web provider to get the correct UNIX codes). Thanks to Gaynor Thomas at SMU and Nick Byng at BPWEB for their help on this issue.

The documentation is certainly extensive, but I found it far from useful.  You find yourself getting sent from one page to another to another to another, without always finding exactly what you want. The best one-stop tutorial I found is Gav’s Guide.

Importing the content from 3282 was a doddle. I then went through every one of the 665 themes in the WordPress library and eventually settled on the one you see here, Big City by AOE media GmbH (which I’ve personalized a little). Compare this with Blogger’s 16 templates…

That’s when the work really began: changing the addresses of all the internal links, adding category definitions (which Blogger doesn’t use at all), and a whole slew of other minor formatting issues that had to be resolved for every single post. Of course I did it all wrong the first time—and the second time—and I had to trawl through every post at least three times.

Now
It all took a lot longer than I thought but here we are, about six weeks later, live. I’m thrilled to be back in action—I’ve really missed blogging—and I’m delighted to have resolved the issues with my online presence. I feel I’ve hardly scratched the surface of what is possible with WordPress (which, despite my earlier comments about the documentation, I am very impressed with) and I’m looking forward to developing the site further. Hope you like it.

Ciao!

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