Susan Rogers talks about Prince and music

Susan Rogers at Loop 2017Susan Rogers is a remarkable person. After a successful career as a music engineer and producer, she retired from the industry, using royalties from producing the Barenaked Ladies to become a scientist. She earned a doctorate in psychology from McGill University, studying music cognition and psychoacoustics, and currently teaches at Berklee College of Music. Prince fans know her through her work during the period that produced a series of amazing, famous albums. The opportunity came about by chance when Prince hired her as his audio technician during the making of Purple Rain. She rapidly transitioned to become his engineer, effectively taking part in the creation of music by one of the most significant musicians in our lifetime. In an engaging interview at Loop 2017, she addresses wide-ranging topics about music. Continue reading →

What happened to our music habits?

Music habits by revenueIf you’re interested in what’s happened to our music habits over the past four to five decades, look at this graph from the the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It tells an interesting and sobering story about how technology has changed our habits. The graph represents music revenues in inflation-adjusted dollars between 1973 and 2018. This is the income that songwriters and recording artists receive from sales of their music. Record labels take the biggest chunk of this income, of course, but you can see how overall revenue has dwindled after its peak at the millennium. Continue reading →

What happens when music unleashes demonic forces

Demonic music and the apocalypseSeveral horror novels explore the theme of music as a gateway to the demonic. The trope of dangerous music has been a fixture since antiquity. Plato believed the Lydian mode enfeebled the mind. Musicians during the Middle Ages avoided the tritone interval—for example, C and F#—because of its dissonance and association with the devil. Genres from blues to jazz to rock to rap have been labled “devil music” and accused of furthering the downfall of civilization. The following novelists take this fantasy to the limit, and show us what happens when music actually unleashes demonic forces. Continue reading →

Charlie’s Angels meets Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom in Angels of MusicThe Phantom of the Opera has become one of the most well-recognized icons in the horror world, alongside Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Dracula, and more modern creations such as Alien. The Phantom keeps recurring in literature and film, staying alive in our imagination and spawning a host of other masked terrors like Jason, Michael Myers, and Ghostface. While most people probably know about the Phantom from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, the novel Angels of Music by Kim Newman offers an inventive reimagining of the Phantom and his habitat. I’ll get to that in a moment. Continue reading →