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HA RMONIC Music for All the Folks: how folk music shaped both Texan and American culture Scene and Heard: A look at the blues, folk, and “indie” scenes in Austin

Seminal groups that had profound impacts on today’s various scenes


To Our Readers: Hello! since reading this magazine you are probably interested in music and what goes on in the music scene. We are here to create a magazine informing you about music and influences that come from the Austin culture in this magazine. We initially created this magazine to express our common interest in the music and the stuff that goes on behind the big names. By reading this, we will inform you about many new and upcoming tracks and artists as well as the bigger names that are currently trending. Being as we live in the music capitol of the world, music greatly influences our lives and we are constantly surrounded by the thriving music culture that consumes the streets of this great city. With this being said, we hope to inform and entertain you about what interests us the

most! Enjoy!

k Swite Jacob

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HARMONIC. December 2013.

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Table

Of

Contents

2

4

Letter from the Editors

The Roots of Modern Music

23

6

Staff Biographies

Music For All The Folks 10 Bandcamp’s Big Boom

Surfin’ On Sine Waves...since the 20s.

18 Scene and Heard: A Look At Austin’s Music Scene

3


The Roots of Modern Music By Jacob Switek

There are an amazing amount of similarities between current musicians and ones from the last decades. Much of music started with basic instruments but it has developed over the years with the help of many important people. With the first computers, a lot of new possibilities became available and the way music could be made was completely changed. Here is a look at those artists that changed modern music and the ways they did it.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of mxdwn.com

Kraftwerk were the defining German electronic band. They only used electronics for their music and were one of the first bands to get the genre popular. A writer for The Observer said that “no other band since the Beatles has given so much to pop culture� and that is very true. If you look at many current bands, you will see the many influences of Kraftwerk. The rhythms that they use in their music and the repeated lyrics have been used in many other artists’ work.

HARMONIC. December 2013.

The Velvet Underground was created in 1964 and nothing in rock music has been the same since then. They were very underrated when they first started but now have been cited as one of the most influential bands of all time. Lou Reed, the lead singer, experimented a lot with different ways to tune a guitar, and he actually invented a method that is still used currently. The lyrical content of the album is also seen as revolutionary because most of the subjects, such as drug use and prostitution, had never been used by a band before.

Can was a German rock band that was later called one of the first krautrock bands. Krautrock is a genre of rock that started in Germany that involved the usual rock instruments and also lots of synthesizers. They used a lot of improvisation in their music and then took that music and used it for their albums.


A photo of the members of Kraftwerk, courtesy of matthewsmithvb.wordpress.com Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Kypetrak.com

Though the full name of this group cannot be written in this magazine, that does not mean that their influence is not existent. When their first album, Straight Outta Compton, came out in 1988 they started a whole new genre of hip hop. Before, lyrics had not been about violence and gangsters but soon after, there was a large trend with those kinds of content.

Brian Eno is a well known musician and producer. After leaving Roxy Music, he produced music for very popular bands such as Talking Heads and Devo. His third album was some of the first ambient music and he is seen as a pioneer of the genre. He took electronic music and combined it

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Beach Boys are a rock band that started in the early 60s. Their eleventh album, Pet Sounds, was very important for the genre because of the creative instruments that were used and the lyrical talent on the album. The lead singer, Brian Wilson, used lots of irregular instruments such as bicycle bells and dog whistles and he also wrote most of the songs. The English rock band The Beatles have even said that their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, took a lot of inspiration from The Beach Boy’s album.

5


music

for the people by the people

from the people

Woody Guthrie wrote many songs in the standard American folk canon, such as “This Land Is Your Land” and “The Big Grand Coulee Dam.”


Music for all the Folks By Noah Simon

The Reverend Gary Davis. Blind Willie Johnson. Dave Van Ronk. Bob Dylan. Peter, Paul And Mary. And of course - The Grateful Dead. The passionate shout of, “If I had my way, I’d tear this old building down!” During the chorus of Samson And Delilah brings America and its people together. All the way from isolated, rural Mississippi in the 30s to the young, hip and countercultural Greenwich Village in the 1960s and 70s - and everywhere else. Folk music is the identity of a society, in a way - since it is from the people and for the people, it reflects every aspect of the person. Since ancient times, music has been a huge aspect to culture. “I’ve sung all my life. I guess the first time I really got into singing folk music with other people was when I was a boy scout. When we went abroad we had to sing Scottish songs wherever we went.” Scottish-born KUTX DJ and musician Ed Miller said. When Miller entered University, he took part in its folk-song society, which was in fact one of the earliest folk clubs in Britain. It was here where he really started

to hear folk music from all around the British Isles and America. He occasionally was paid to play sets but didn’t have a professional career until he came to the United States, in 1968. “We heard a lot of American performers back then. They had a huge influence on the development of folk music in Britain, and some of them are still my heroes. I remember listening to people like Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie.” Miller said. Many of the American folk singers popular during the 1950s and 1960s were highly political and controversial. Many, including Pete Seeger and Alan Lomax (a hugely important field collector of folk music), were blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Many of these people were bringing working-class songs to the public attention, and by doing so, of course, struck fear into the pure, noble, and patriotic heart of Joseph McCarthy’s America in the 1950s and 1960s. These people all influenced Bob Dylan, who spearheaded the folk revival in the 1960s and is widely regarded as one of the finest songwriters

of the past century. Dylan was part of a highly political folk movement during the 1960s, which was a sort of precursor to the hippie movement and the Woodstock Generation, which included Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, as well as the Canadian songwriter and composer Joni Mitchell. These people incorporated rock elements and even jazz elements (especially Mitchell) into their songs. Janis Joplin, although usually associated with the California scene, in fact played Woodstock. As well as being involved in the Woodstock scene, Janis Joplin spent part of her early career as a singer in Austin, performing regularly at Threadgill’s on North Lamar. The Texas folk scene was bustling at the time, but of course folk music in Texas had been developing for a while before this. Some early figures of Texan folk music were Blind Lemon Jefferson (The Father of Texas Blues), and his student Lightnin’ Hopkins, a blues guitarist and singer from East Texas. Later, in the 60s and 70s, Kenneth Threadgill (owner of Threadgill’s), Guy Clark, and others were popularizing an eclectic form of music in Austin.

The Carter Family was an early 20th century folk group known for pioneering what would become bluegrass music.

Courtesy of rootsweb.ancestry.com

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“Southwestern culture gives [Austin’s folk music] a gritty cowboy sensibility along with the sounds and legends of the Mexican, Germanic and Slavic influences particular to the region.” -KUTX DJ Kim Simpson “What happened here in the 1970s, which for me was a really crucial time, was the mixing of everything from country music, to tejano music, to blues, to singer-songwriter and folk music all coming together and producing all kinds of people… Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark… just phenomenal songwriters, tremendous, and they all seem to come from west Texas, for some reason.” Ed Miller said. Townes Van Zandt was an extremely important Texan songwriter. Born into a wealthy and prominent Texas family, Van Zandt’s career started in the late 1960s. He released five albums during this period, which include lots of his signature songs. His 1972 album, “The Late, Great Townes Van Zandt,” include “Pancho and Lefty” and “If I Needed You,” two of his most well-known songs. Many of these songs were performed and recorded by other artists, such as Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, and Bob Dylan. However, he still had a small fan base and spent his life struggling with alcoholism and heroin addiction until his death on New Years’ Day in 1997. One of his most enduring songs, “Pancho And Lefty,” is influenced (lyrically, at least), by tales of the old west and Mexico, as is much of Texan folk music. “Southwestern culture gives [Austin folk music] a gritty cowboy sensibility along with the sounds and legends of the Mexican, Germanic and Slavic influences particular to the region,” KUTX DJ and musician Kim Simpson said. Texas is the crossroads of the southern United States. It has southern culture from the east, Mexican culture from the South, and, of course, Cowboy music everywhere. Tejano music is popular in many places around Austin. For instance, at The White Horse, a honky-tonk in east Austin, a conjunto group called Conjunto Los Pinkys plays weekly. Many places in Austin, such as the Stage on 6th, host performances of country music and cowboy music often,

HARMONIC. December 2013.

Courtesy of wikipedia.org

Townes Vant Zandt was a sognwriter and guitarist from Ft. Worth, TX. He penned many famous tunes, such as “Pancho And Lefty (recorded by Willy Nelson and Emmylou Harris) and “If I Needed You.”


Ralph Stanley was one of the defining bluegrass banjo players in the mid-twentieth century. He is still alive and still a hugely prominent figure in the bluegrass scene. He contributed to the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack.

Courtesy of wikipedia.org

This is a mandolin-banjo, a hybrid of two signature bluegrass instruments.

Courtesy of wikipedia.org

as well as on the radio, which has been hugely important in shaping the scene in Austin as well as the rest of the country. “From the earliest days of radio, we’ve seen how technology has paradoxically served in preserving traditions of the past. “Hillbilly” music, thanks to the radio and recording industries, sold big in the early 1900s, and I like to think that radio still keeps traditional songs, sounds, and stories in circulation,” Simpson said. “Hillbilly” music refers to bluegrass, a sort of subgenre of folk music characterized by banjo, fiddle, dobro, double bass, guitar, mandolin, washboard, and tight vocal harmonies. The Carter Family and The Stanley Brothers, in particular, pioneered bluegrass music in the early and mid-twentieth century. The genre is still hugely popular today; the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack brought it into the mainstream in 2000, and many radio stations and festivals specialize in bluegrass music. In all of the United States of America, folk music has played a huge role in shaping the nation. It existed before records, before radio, before any sort of recorded music. Not only is it older, but it has stayed popular and important through all the changes in media that music has gone through. It is the music that is the most ingrained in our society, and, therefore, all of us.

“From the earliest days of radio, we’ve seen how technology has paradoxically served in preserving traditions of the past. “Hillbilly” music, thanks to the radio and recording industries, sold big in the early 1900s, and I like to think that radio still keeps traditional songs, sounds, and stories in circulation.” - KUTX DJ Kim Simpson 9


Bandcamp’s Big Boom By Jacob Switek

The most important website to buy music from was created in 2008 after the creator had trouble with trying to buy music from one of his favorite band’s website. After he was able to pay for the music, he never got the download so he emailed the band members about how he was not able to get the music. Bandcamp has been very important to every small band that is trying to get the world to know about their music. Sufjan Stevens, a very popular folk musician uses the website to sell his music and social media plays a large role with how his and other people’s music is sold. The website will stream entire albums, not just snippets, and users are able to get a wide variety of formats for the music that they just bought or downloaded from the musicians.

“This just kills me, because here’s a relatively unknown band that deserves all the success in the world, made the admirable decision to do an entirely independent release, yet was tripped up by the sorts of aggravating technical issues familiar to anyone who’s ever tried to build out their own website. What choice did they have though?” said Ethan Diamond, the CEO of Bandcamp, after he saw that the band was trying to sell their music, but they were having trouble with selling their music on the website. After seeing this band struggle with trying to make a website to host their music, Diamond decided to start Bandcamp to help small bands host their music without having the same trouble as he had with the first band’s website.

Photo courtesy of Bandcamp

Bandcamp’s logo

“This just kills me, because here’s a relatively unknown band that deserves all the success in the world, made the admirable decision to do an entirely independent release, yet was tripped up by the sorts of aggravating technical issues familiar to anyone who’s ever tried to build out their own website. What choice did they have though?” HARMONIC. December

2013.


A couple years ago Sufjan Stevens, released an EP. A release date had not been given and it was randomly released on a Friday in August, using Bandcamp. There was no buzz around the music, so not a whole lot of people knew that the album was going to be sold. In an interview, Stevens said that

they first emailed their mailing list about it, because they are the most dedicated fans. That seems like it would be the most helpful strategy because if they know the band enough to be on the mailing list, they’ll care about the music and want to share it with their friends and using their social media pages to tell

Photo Courtesy of Josh Higgason

Sufjan Stevens performing live

Right after the EP was released, “Sufjan Stevens” became a trending subject on Twitter, because so many people were talking about his music and about the new release. Even though it was only put out on Bandcamp, social media was able to get it to large popularity. In an interview with Diamond, Stevens said,

“I think it really helped that people could stream the whole album. My personal theory is that people can stream anything in its entirety anyway; YouTube is essentially a giant ondemand playback setup ala Spotify these days.” This was said about how the whole EP was able to be streamed on the website. 11


“We keep your music streaming and downloading quickly and reliably, whether it’s 3am on a Sunday, or the hour your new record drops and Pitchfork gives it a scathingly positive review. “ Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

With musicians using Bandcamp, social media is important to how their music gets popularity. Since most musicians who use the website are not signed to a label, they do not have people who will promote their music and make ads for them. “You tweet, your friend clicks, and boom they’re listening to the record. If they like what they hear, they can buy it right away. That’s pretty cool,” said Stevens in an interview with Ethan Diamond of Bandcamp. The musicians are able to let their fans listen to their music straight through whatever social media the band is using. That is very helpful because it does not take a long time to get to the HARMONIC. December

2013.

Sufjan Stevens playing live in 2011

music or to even download it. On the website, the whole album is able to be streamed. This is much different from other ways that music is sold, like iTunes. On iTunes, only small portions of songs are able to be listened to while on Bandcamp, you don’t have to actually buy the album to listen to the entire time. Then, if people like the music, they are able to buy it very easily. “We keep your music streaming and downloading quickly and reliably, whether it’s 3am on a Sunday, or the hour your new record drops and Pitchfork gives it a scathingly positive review. “ said Diamond.


Photo courtesy of Sounds Familyre

No matter what, the music is always able to be downloaded and listened to on the website. That’s very important to bands and the way that music is streamed now is very different from Diamond’s initial attempts to download music from the website of one of his favorite bands. 85% of profits of the music that is sold on Bandcamp goes to the artists, and that raises up to 90% after selling more than $5,000. Since most of the money goes to the artists, that can improve motivation to buy the music. If someone knows that almost all of the money they are paying is going to the person that made the music, not the person who markets it and puts out ads for it, that can make the person want to pay even more than is required for the album. On Bandcamp, there are more than five formats that music can be downloaded in. There is MP3, FLAC, AAC, Vorbis, and

Sufjan Stevens

Apple Lossless. “About 90% of fans leave the download format set to its default, which is a 320k mp3. Amongst the other 10%, the most popular format is FLAC. That may sound low, but it represents the überfans, and they’re a very vocal minority. They’re happy to pay for quality, and they tell all their friends about you and where the best place is to buy your music.” said Diamond in an interview with Adam Plfeider. 320 is the most common because it is the way that most P3 players and other ways of listening to music are able to use. FLAC isn’t usually downloaded, but it is very different to be able to download it. There are not many other websites that it is possible to download that format off of, and it is fairly exclusive to Bandcamp to let users get the high quality format that they offer.

“We’re not yet another site wanting to host your tracks alongside the trailer for High School Musical 4: I’m Pregnant,” said Ethan Diamond, the CEO of Bandcamp. 13


Gweezer And The Screakses, the critically acclaimed anonymous ska-core orcastra, is releasing their long-awaited BOX SET!

Five Star Freakout Records


Screaks

Features every Gweezer LP, plus their first UNRELEASED single: “Leaked Leach Leeks!”

SCREAKS

Contains all the early demos, plus screaks costumes from 2056


SCENE “I love the local and regional music that is centered in Austin. Austin is particularly made unique by the music and all of the cultural influences it has on the Austin area.Just walking down the streets of downtown Austin, you feel the diversity between each musical venue but it all comes together to create a sense of cultural unity and an all around feeling of being together.� -Millah Erwin Patty Griffin performing in Austin for a charity concert. Courtesy of aceshowbiz.com HARMONIC. December 2013.


AND HEARD By Mallory Royal

PSYCH T

his is a much newer, more technologically based genre famous in Austin. Austin is very well known in this genre for the austin psych fest that happens every year along with the booming amounts of venues showing this genre.

FOLK

B

eing as Austin is the in the heart of Texas, the country folk scene is very prevalent in the city. Many folk singers live and perform in Austin, such as Patty Griffin and Robert Plant. There is a very wide variety of performers in this genre. The diversity between the local groups and the big names creates a feeling of warmth and friendship throughout the whole scene.

S

alt ROCK

taying true to the keep austin weird motto the alternative genre of music falls into this almost everywhere you go in austin. This slightly newer genre is advertised and performed everywhere in austin. The bands that perform are typically not locals but have a very big influence on the local music being produced due to the mass amounts of music being performed in this genre.

BLUES

W

ith the variety of thriving cultures in austin and the diversity as a whole, the blues and rock scene is a very prominent musical genre. Texas has had a long history with blues and blues rock - as early as the 1930s, Texas was home to guitarists such as Lightnin’ Hopkins, who was known for his “eleven and a half bar blues.” Stevie Ray Vaughn has also played a huge role in the austin blues scene. He was an influential american guitarist, songwriter, and record producer that many have set out to be like in Austin. 17


Sufrin’ on sine waves...since the 20’s By Noah Simon

Smooth, polished cuts of walnut and maple. Sleek black knobs and switches. All these pieced together with the utmost care and effort by professionals, creating some of the world’s best musical instruments. However, these aren’t guitars. They aren’t pianos or violins, either. This factory in Asheville makes some of the world’s best synthesizers. But, contrary to popular belief, these synthesizers are not at all cold and emotionless. They are full of warmth and color, just like a guitar or a violin. Like most other instruments, the synthesizer has undergone many changes, from the Telharmonium, Theremin, and Ondes Martenot, to the classic modular synthesizers, to the digital synthesizers stored on laptops that we use now.

1930s The Ondes Martenot used vacuum tubes to generate sound. Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead recently popularized it.

courtesy of wikipedia.org

courtesy of wikipedia.org

1928 - Leon Theremin invented the Theremin, named after him. The Theremin is a musical instrument that is controlled without being touched. The antennae sense movements around the instruments and convert them into sound. Theremins are notoriously hard to play.

HARMONIC. December 2013.

1970 The Minimoog, released in 1970, offered a compact and small version of the modular synthesizer that was less expensive and easier to use.

courtesy of synthfind.com

courtesy of wikipedia.org

1964 The Moog modular synthesizer was one of the first voltage-controlled synthesizers. Wedny Carlos’s record “Switched-On Bach,” which is a recording of the Brandenburg Concertos on a Moog Modular, brought it to public attention in the late 1960s.


“I was never worried that synthesizers would replace musicians. First of all, you have to be a musician in order to make music with a synthesizer.” -Robert Moog

Kraftwerk’s “The Man Machine” album, released in 1978, was a very important work of electronic music. Kraftwerk were the first pop group to make music solely with machines. They themselves actually built many of the synthesizers they used!

Courtesy of musicstack.com

This is a schematic for a theremin, drawn by Robert Moog, inventor or the Moog synthesizer.

Courtesy of expose.org

Courtesy of schematics.ca

1976-1977 Engineers at Dartmouth college developed the Synclavier, one of the first digital samplers.

courtesy of wikimedia.org

courtesy of wikipedia.org

1975 Moog released the Polymoog, which was one of the first polyphonic synthesizers.

Wendy Carlos (formerly Walter Carlos) brought the Moog synthesizer into the mainstream with the release of his “Switched-On Bach” album, which featured inventions, sinfonias, and the 3rd Brandenburg Concerto.

1979 Fairlight develops the Fairlight CMI, which competed with the synclavier. Kate Bush is known for using one extensively on her album, “Hounds Of Love,” in 1985.

courtesy of wikipedia.org

courtesy of wikipedia.org

1978 Korg releases the MS-20, which is a semimodular synthesizer known for its extremely thick and full sound.

courtesy of wikimedia.org

1980 Roland released the TR-808, which went on to become a hugely iconic drum machine, especially in the hip-hop world. Most hip-hop music still uses it today. It is known for its lowfrequency bass drum sound.

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The Knife Shaking The Habitual The first new album in 7 years


Includes “Full of Fire” and “A Tooth for an Eye”

Available on iTunes and as a 2xCD and 3xLP


END OF AN EAR RECORDS

AUSTIN TEXAS


The Contributors Noah Simon lives a dreary life. He goes to school every day, eats an orange and a sandwich for lunch, and tries not to fall asleep in his classes (because really, he loves his classes). He listens to a lot of music, because that’s what he digs. Some of his favorite bands and/or artists are Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, The Knife, Joni Mitchell, Antony and The Johnsons, My Bloody Valentine, Prince and the Revolution, Bjork, Neil Young, Throbbing Gristle, Janelle Monae, The Smiths, Nick Drake, Mississippi John Hurt, Parliament/Funkadelic (and the Bootsy Collins Rubber Band, of course), Coil, Califone, Sunn 0))), Melt-Banana, The Decemberists, Belle & Sebastian, Baths, and The Pogues. The first CD he ever bought was The Go-Go’s’ “Beauty And The Beat.” He enjoys swimming - especially butterfly - and he likes to hang out with his sisters, his dog Rosie, his kitty-cats, and his bearded dragon and play the piano and the guitar.

Jacob Switek goes to school every day and loves to read and listen to music in his free time. He also does not enjoy doing homework and likes to play video games. Some of his favorite bands include Mount Eerie, Lil Ugly Mane, Wild Nothing, Pixies, LCD Soundsystem, Mac Demarco, Modern Baseball, Swans, The Knife, Talking Heads, Andrew Jackson Jihad, Neutral Milk Hotel, teen suicide, Sunn O))), Boards of Canada, Macintosh Plus, Car Seat Headrest, Jai Paul, Jamaican Queens, Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains, Panda Bear, Oneohtrix Point Never, Taylor Swift, Chvrches, Animal Collective, elvis depressedly, and Spiritualized.

Mallory Royal is a fun-loving person that centers her life around music and the thriving music culture in Austin Texas. Some of her favorite bands are Washed Out, Neon indian, M83, Radiohead, Small Black, and Father John Misty. Mallory enjoys performing music and is constantly on the look out for trending new tracks. She is is from Louisiana and the cajun culture is a very big part of her life as well as the musical influences that come from this culture. Mallory is just now embarking on an incredible journey at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy and constantly strives for greatness!

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HARMONIC.