“Love Born from pain is the real thing,” is the central lyric and chorus to singer-songwriter Matisyahu’s newest single “Love Born”. Co-written and produced by Matisyahu’s long-time bass player and friend Stu Brooks, the song melds a strong roots-and-dub-Reggae feel with a lyrical narrative that weaves through moments of pain and despair to the strength of pushing through and seeing the love within the struggle.“‘Love Born’ is about accepting pain and learning to transform it. It’s the ability to look back at one’s history and bring close those moments of pain and confusion and work with them in the present to evolve with strength to one’s future,” explains Matisyahu, who takes this same approach on stage focusing on improvisation with his band every night. Life has no cushion, music has no net. This approach requires trust, patience, and a leap of faith that each player will listen to, and absorb what is happening around them, and be able to transform it into a collective whole.Take a listen to “Love Born”:For fans of Stu Brooks, catch him play an all-star Tribute to J Dilla at the second annual Brooklyn Comes Alive festival in Brooklyn, NY alongside Borahm Lee, Adam Deitch, Adam Smirnoff, Nate Edgar, and more, on October 22nd. With musicians from Dead & Co., The Disco Biscuits, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, The String Cheese Incident, Dopapod, Lettuce and more all performing,this event looks to be one of the best! More details here.
Maybe you’ve seen it at a party or a family gathering: groups of people crowded around a TV screen—some wielding various toy instruments, vamping, jumping around. Players follow along with prerecorded songs, trying to match their respective parts as perfectly as possible, perhaps injecting a bit of style into the proceedings. They do it for points and the roar of a virtual crowd.These video games—two competing ones, Guitar Hero and Rock Band—offer players a chance to experience musicianship without ever having to practice an instrument. Or even leave their living rooms. Is this creative? Is it cheating? What does it mean for real-world musicianship? Why don’t these players just pick up a real guitar already?Ethnomusicologist Kiri Miller, R.I. ’11, a Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute and an assistant professor of music at Brown University, tackles these and other related issues in her current research; she’s writing a book about it, Playing Along: Digital Games, YouTube, and Virtual Performance (forthcoming, Oxford University Press). On Wednesday, Oct. 6, as part of the Radcliffe Fellows’ Presentation Series, she presented some of her research in a lecture titled, “How Musical Is Guitar Hero?”The musicality of Guitar Hero has been hotly contested since the game’s introduction. Clearly, the players aren’t really making the music—but they’re not just listening, either. “We don’t really have a big working vocabulary to account for forms of musicality that fall between musicianship and listenership, between production and reception,” Miller points out.Is a player just an automaton, or does he or she bring creativity to the game play? With a video excerpt, Miller introduced her audience to Freddie Wong, a video game virtuoso (he played Guitar Hero and Rock Band professionally for a stint) whose YouTube performances have garnered millions of hits. Whatever one thinks of his musicianship, the performative aspect of his game can’t be denied.Miller conducted ethnographic research—including interviews with players and game designers and a Web-based survey—to explore how virtual performance is changing what players think about creativity, musicality, and performance.Only time will tell whether Miller’s “virtual virtuosity” will prove to be what James Parker of the Atlantic called “another coup for the forces of unreality.” In the meantime, though, what 36 million players agree on is how very fun these games are: They continue to pick up their plastic guitars in the name of rock.Some of them may even learn to play a “realtar.”Read more about Kiri Miller’s work on her research blog, Playing Along.
In December, USC’s newest school, the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy wrapped its first semester with its first class of 31 students. The Academy’s curriculum was developed by its director, Dean of the Roski School of Fine Arts Erica Muhl, focuses on three areas of study: art and design, engineering, business and venture management. The programming also emphasizes collaboration and innovation.“Our goal is to ensure that the Academy is the most collaborative educational program in the world,” President C. L. Max Nikias said in a statement.The Academy, which was founded by music producer Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young, known by his stage name, Dr. Dre, is made up of 31 students, each selected for the program for “proven ability in original thought,” according to the school’s website. The curriculum includes independent applied techniques and technology classes, courses on innovation and cultural change, and skills-based courses.“The thing that I had hoped most for the students in the Iovine and Young Academy is that they would find a couple things when they came to USC,” Muhl said. “First, the Trojan family, but also an environment that encourages who they are as individuals as well as highlighting the strengths in teamwork.”According to Muhl, the garage, located on the fourth floor of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, provides the ideal environment for fostering the kind of learning the Academy strives to maintain.“The garage as a facility has proven to be everything that we had hoped,” Muhl said. “The facility, not only as an instruction but also as an ideation space, allows students both inside and outside class to be constantly envisioning.”The environment that has been created in the Academy’s first semester extends beyond the physical.“As we can see so far, one of the most successful aspects of the Iovine and Young Academy as a whole has been the strength of the cohort we have built,” Muhl said. “Each time I walk into the garage and see groups of Academy students working on projects that are not necessarily assigned with such enthusiasm really reinforces what I had hoped to do with this program.”The Academy has already made headway toward completing its first-year goal of introducing students to cross-disciplinary study. Students have learned about the history of disruptive innovation, and courses have both integrated the core disciplines of computer science, business and venture management and taught their skills individually.“I believe that the precise experience that the Academy offers was very welcome to a certain type of student and it is exciting to have been able to build that,” Muhl said. “The students are learning from us but we are absolutely learning from them.”In this way, the innovative and collaborative aspects of the Academy’s curriculum carry over into the development of the program. A successful first semester might be somewhat attributed to the adaptive nature of the program and its students.Amri Rigby, a freshman majoring in arts, technology and the business of innovation explained that the application process for the Academy includes a proposal video and interviews in addition to the Common Application.“My experience has been amazing. I am surrounded by a lot of talented people with a diverse set of skills,” said Rigby. “I am thankful for the opportunity. I’ve grown so much after only one semester.”Muhl attributes the program’s success to its ability to adjust to change.“The Iovine and Young Academy is a brand new program, so we knew there were going to be surprises,” Muhl said. “We have learned a great deal already, both in terms of how to perfect what might not be one hundred percent and to expand upon the many good ideas that are already in place. The program was built in such a way to be able to respond with great agility.”Muhl, as well as the faculty and the rest of the administration of the Academy look to the future as applications for the next school year are submitted this month.“Our applications for the 2015-2016 academic year look spectacular,” Muhl said. “We are up in application numbers and the pool, once again, looks very talented and really well prepared for this type of an experience.”The future for the Academy, according to both its students and its faculty, looks bright as the program and curriculum continue to grow and develop.“I am just hoping that each year we can learn more than we did the year before,” Muhl said. “I believe we can build upon not only the strength of our exceptional faculty but upon what students are able to bring to the program.”Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Academy founders Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young contributed to the development of the program’s curriculum. The founders were not involved in curriculum development. The previous version also stated that the class was made up of 25 students. There are 31 students in the program. The Daily Trojan regrets the errors.