The music and entertainment world reacted with shock this morning following the announcement of the death of Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman and singer Chris Cornell. Cornell, who was just 52, died by suicide late Wednesday having performed earlier in the evening with Soundgarden in Detroit.
Tributes to the singer poured out across social media. Rock and Rock Hall of Famers Robbie Robertson and Nile Rodgers called Cornell a “brilliant vocalist” and a “great artist.” Speaking to the BBC ahead of the Ivor Novello Awards in London Thursday night Rodgers said the news “broke my heart.” “Our friendship was probably based on mutual admiration for musicianship, but we were just friends hanging out. We were much more friends as regular people than we were musical colleagues but if we picked up guitars together we’d be killing,” Rodgers said.
Led Zeppelin guitarist and founder Jimmy Page said he was “incredibly talented” and would be “incredibly missed.” Posting an image of himself with Cornell, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry said it was “a sad loss of a great talent.” Actor and Spinal Tap member Michael McKean said the singer was the “real deal.”
Chris Cornell was a brilliant vocalist. Incredibly sad news.
Rock legends Peter Frampton, Elton John and Paul Stanley of Kiss also took to Twitter to express their sadness and respect for the singer. Frampton said Cornell was a “brilliant artist on so many levels.” John said as well as being a great singer and songwriter Cornell had been “the loveliest man.”
Shocking news Chris Cornell passing last night in Detroit. Brilliant artist on so many levels. I am in shock. My condolences to his family.
Country music group Zac Brown Band, who worked with Cornell on their 2015 hit “Heavy is the Head,” said Cornell was a “true talent and gentleman” who had “touched so many” with his music.
Canadian singer and former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach said he had tears in his eyes as he reminisced over several tweets about touring with Cornell, drawing attention to Cornell’s own final tweet posting last night in Detroit.
Drummer Mike Portnoy, of progressive metal rock band Dream Theater said Cornell was “one of the benchmark vocalists of our generation,” a sentiment echoed by Smashing Pumpkins’ drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, while Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Linda Perry called him a “gifted, sweet, loving soul with a voice as chilling and deep as the ocean.”
Chris Cornell touched so many & we were fortunate to have worked w/ him. He was a true talent & gentleman. Our thoughts are with his family.
Halestorm lead vocalist Lzzy Hale paid tribute to the singer on her Instragram account. Hale said Cornell’s influence on her would always show itself in the music she created. Hale said: “Chris we thank you for the loudness, the guts, blood and the sweat you gave us in this life. We will all carry your legacy forever.”
Other tributes poured in from across the entertainment world, including Alex Gaskarth, frontman of U.S. rock band All Time Low; British punk rocker Billy Idol; former Red Hot Chilli Peppers member Dave Navarro; Hollywood actor Elijah Wood; filmmaker Ava DuVernay; British pop band Duran Duran; Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale; U.S. singer-songwriter St. Vincent; Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell; L.A. rock duo Best Coast; and British musician Julian Lennon. Posting an image of Cornell on his Instagram page Lennon said the singer was “without question unique.”
Rest easy, Chris Cornell. One of the best. Thank you for years and years of great music.
When Chris Cornell entered a room, the air seemed to hum with his presence. All eyes darted to him, then danced over his mop of curls and lanky frame. He appeared to carry himself carelessly, but there was calculation in his approach—the high, loose black boots, tight jeans, and impeccable facial hair his standard uniform. He was a rock star. He knew it. He knew you knew it. And that didn’t make him any less likable. When he left the stage—and, in my case, his Four Seasons suite following a 2009 interview—that hum leisurely faded, like dazzling sunspots in the eyes.
That presence helped Cornell reach the pinnacle of popular music as front man for Soundgarden. It allowed him to tour the world with that band and as a solo artist. It factored into Grammy Award nominations and wins, songs for major Hollywood films. It made him a target of paparazzi. It helped make him famous.
But there was more to Cornell than his magnetism, his musical talent, and that unmatched, pliant voice his fans yearned for. He was a mentor and loyal friend. He elevated other artists just by being around, in the rehearsal space, in the apartment. For those he bonded with, the impact was much greater. He helped shape their personas and careers. And his relationships with two other band leaders—Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder—singlehandedly shaped the Seattle-centered global revolution that was grunge.
Cornell’s band was the first of the major “grunge” acts, and the others were inevitably influenced by the Soundgarden front man. His prowling, carnal stage presence inspired many, even while it irked others. His no-holds-barred vocals encouraged the raw usage of the human instrument that became a hallmark of the genre. His all-in showmanship demonstrated that stardom could be embraced without sacrificing one’s artistic integrity. And he provided an example of how to stretch beyond one’s perceived creative wheelhouse. Grotesquely, it’s easier to connect the dots now that Cornell is gone. The pioneering. The influences. The dark lyrics. The impact on our city—both its history and future. His death in the midnight hour of May 18—designated a suicide by authorities, a finding contested by his wife—left a black hole in fans’ and friends’ hearts and in Seattle’s music community. You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, the song goes. I think we did know what we had in Cornell, but like all things, we took him for granted, wanted more Soundgarden, more Temple of the Dog, more shows, more of his octave-crushing howl—without considering the toll it all took on him.
Looking back at my hotel-room talk with Cornell, it’s also easier to see that he felt compelled to create just as fervently as people wished he would. Through half of our conversation, he was kicked-back, cool and indifferent. He ran fingers through his hair. He shrugged. He spoke in short bursts of flat syllables. Soundgarden was split at the time, and he showed no interest in getting the band back together. He showed little interest in many of my questions. Until I noted he had a pattern of daring creative expression outside of Soundgarden: Audioslave’s softer side; bluesy solo efforts; the guitar-eschewing Scream with beatmaker Timbaland.
At this, Cornell’s eyes sharpened. He sprung forward and became fully engaged. He got up and brought me an unsolicited bottled water, then paced a bit, talking all the while. About needing to stay unpredictable. About always trying new things. He told me that he wrote many songs “in character,” outside of himself. He said, “I’m not trying to find my musical identity, because the moment I find it, I then become a painter or a novelist or something.” It was obvious that the man was fueled by music, that he was always seeking the next sound, not a singular Chris Cornell sound. He joked that Seattle’s weather helped with that pursuit, providing cold, dark places to write about cold, dark things. Hindsight, though, suggests that was fabricated levity.
Over the years Cornell battled addictions, but what he ultimately succumbed to was intangible and internal. His creative passions, I believe, punched holes in that cold interior darkness, offering hope even as it let more blackness flood in. As he sang in “Reach Down,” unquestionably assuming the character of his late friend Andrew Wood: “Love was my drug, but that’s not what I died of.” It’s an uncomfortably apt coda for Cornell’s own life.
Cornell’s love, we’re now given the unfortunate opportunity to understand, fostered much of the music and culture born here in the late ’80s and ’90s. Here are five distinct ways the mercurial artist changed Seattle’s music scene and identity—and therefore shaped the planet’s culture—through his ceaseless ambition, bravery, and friendship.
A young Soundgarden. Photo by Mark Seliger
His Band Started It All
Soundgarden formed in 1984, well before the city’s golden age of rock began, and before most other notable guitar-heavy acts were playing, with the noted exception of Green River (which would split into Mudhoney and two-fifths of Pearl Jam). In the band’s infancy, Cornell sang from behind the drum kit, flanked by bassist Hiro Yamamato and guitarist Kim Thayil. A year later, the vocalist deferred percussion duties, and the move changed the dynamic—and the trajectory—of the band. Ironically, Cornell decided to focus on vocals after watching Matt Cameron drum for the band Feedback. As he recalled thinking in Mark Yarm’s book Everybody Loves Our Town, “Oh, that’s what a good drummer is supposed to play like. Maybe my talent lies elsewhere.” His epiphany opened the door for Cameron to join the band in 1986—and proved to be quite an understatement.
In that year, Soundgarden’s first recordings were pressed into wax. The now-legendary Deep Six compilation featured the songs “Heretic,” “Tears to Forget,” and “All Your Lies.” Though even the record’s producers admit its sound quality and sales disappointed, the compilation proved to be the flare signaling Seattle’s rise. Soundgarden and the comp’s other five bands gained local notoriety simply by being recorded. It brought coverage in influential music paper The Rocket, and more live shows.
Soundgarden impressed most people who saw the band play, including Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman. The former had been issuing an underground fanzine and compilation cassettes in Olympia, then Seattle, since the early ’80s and struggled to release Green River’s Dry as a Bone EP on his fledgling Sub Pop label in 1987. The latter was a musician and KCMU (now KEXP) host with, as he said in Everybody Loves Our Town, “like $15,000” in savings bonds and a strong desire “to do a record with Soundgarden.”
Pavitt and Poneman joined forces, according to Poneman, to “make Sub Pop an ongoing concern.” Their first order of business: Soundgarden. They released the band’s first single, “Hunted Down,” backed with “Nothing to Say,” and then its Screaming Life EP. The releases kindled early success for both band and label. KCMU DJ Faith Henschel included “Nothing to Say” on an A&R-baiting cassette titled Bands That Will Make Money—and her assertion would prove true with Cornell’s band. Interest from multiple majors followed shortly after. And Sub Pop, owing its formation to Soundgarden, would soon start making its own money.
Early Soundgarden drew comparisons to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. The band’s chemistry was palpable to all who witnessed it. Their heavy and intricate songs—as well as Cornell’s voice and physicality—blew listeners away. As recounted in Greg Prato’s Grunge Is Dead, members of Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees, Guns N’ Roses, Faith No More, and other acts were inspired by the man and his band. Kurt Cobain was so enamored, according to then-girlfriend Tracy Marander, “He actually thought about quitting Nirvana. He wanted to try out for [Soundgarden], because he liked them that much.”
No other local vocalist or band influenced others so early and so clearly.
His Band Broke Taboos
Soundgarden’s impression on major-label representatives was equally profound. In Everybody Loves Our Town, Epic Records’ Bob Pfeiffer said, “I was nuts about that band. I thought I saw God.” He wasn’t alone; a bidding war ensued. The band signed with A&M in 1988, and became the first Seattle act of the era to get a major’s backing. But it wasn’t that simple. Soundgarden had already recorded its debut full-length, Ultramega OK, and agreed to release it on storied independent label SST. The band shrewdly kept both obligations intact, thus avoiding a delay in getting their music into fans’ hands.
Signing with A&M turned off some of those fans, though. As Thayil told Seattle’s Jeff Gilbert in Guitar World magazine in 1995, “In the beginning, our fans came from the punk-rock crowd. They abandoned us when they thought we sold out the punk tenets. People thought we no longer belonged to their scene, to their particular subculture.” But where previous enthusiasts gave up on the band, new ones filled in. Their A&M debut, Louder Than Love, reached more people in more places, and Soundgarden toured internationally to promote the record.
Bassist Yamamato was a casualty of the move. As he said in Grunge Is Dead, “We got bigger than I ever imagined we could have—I wasn’t really ready for that at the time.” His role was soon filled by Ben Shepherd, invited into the fold by Cornell, who admired the rhythm-player’s aggressive style and creativity.
By 1991, Soundgarden was a major act gaining fame across the globe with the sharp, fierce Badmotorfinger. Cornell’s band was the biggest one in Seattle. As such, they took a supporting role for one of the few American bands that was bigger: Guns N’ Roses. That decision proved even more divisive than signing with A&M. Soundgarden’s decidedly metal sound didn’t align with the pomp and strut of the headliner. Their approach and purpose didn’t, either. As Shepherd noted in Everybody Loves Our Town, “We weren’t party monsters. We were there to play music. We weren’t there for the models and the cocaine. We were there to blow your doors off.”
Opening for Guns N’ Roses, and later Skid Row, let Soundgarden do just that in cities they wouldn’t have succeeded in alone. That formula worked later for Alice in Chains, which opened for decidedly sunnier bands Van Halen and Poison. And Pearl Jam, which supported melodramatic Smashing Pumpkins and then-funky Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Cornell at Avast! studios in 1993. Photo by Charles Peterson
He Reclaimed Rock Showmanship
Not since Robert Plant had anyone stood before their band and owned the stage like Chris Cornell. His early decision to focus on his singular, true talent—that octave-busting voice—thrust him into the position, and he quickly became exactly what every classic-rock enthusiast not-so-secretly admires: a beguiling, charismatic, shockingly good singer and band leader. He had the voice. He had the look. And by the way, he played guitar.
Part of Cornell’s early Soundgarden persona was baring skin. He pulled off his shirt onstage and revealed a body showgoers of all persuasions desired—either to aspire to or touch. As every pop star has proven in the past several decades, sex appeal is part of the act; Cornell knew that, and used it to his advantage. In classic Charles Peterson photographs, the topless frontman graces the cover of both Screaming Life and Louder Than Love. You didn’t have to see a Soundgarden show to understand the visceral delivery and intensity the man brought to his performances.
Cornell’s bare chest was just as polarizing as the band’s move to the major-label mainstream. Fans loved it. Others were less smitten, including former bandmate Yamamoto. “It was one of those things that kind of made me quit,” he said in Everybody Loves Our Town. “ ‘Could you not take off your shirt tonight?’ He wouldn’t even answer. Or he’d walk out of the room.” Mark Arm, of Green River and Mudhoney, said, “This might be coming from a place of jealousy, but the shirtlessness seemed contrived. I think I might have respected it more if he just came out onstage without a shirt at all.” Perhaps in satirical response, Mudhoney appeared shirtless in several promo and album photos in the early ’90s.
In a more pained pose, Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley would go on to sing sans top. Eddie Vedder climbed stage girders and dove into crowds barechested. Maybe it wasn’t completely original to perform that way, but Cornell’s look and attitude certainly influenced other bandleaders seeking their own identities in Soundgarden’s wake.
Cornell and his band did stray from their contemporaries in one significant way while touring in the early ’90s. Had other bands followed their lead, Seattle may have been known only for its brooding hybrid of punk and metal and not also its substance-related deaths. Thayil, in Everybody Loves Our Town, is said to have declared “We’re all about sex and drugs and rock and roll! Except minus the sex and drugs.” Unfortunately, Cornell, who long ago admitted to drug use at age 13 and to subsequent related struggles, would lapse again in the late ’90s. By then, two of the other voices synonymous with “the Seattle Sound” had been silenced (Cobain) or rendered near-useless (Staley) by drugs.
He Made Pearl Jam Possible
Andrew Wood would have been as famous as Cornell, Axl Rose, and Eddie Vedder. The eccentric singer and bassist befriended Cornell when fresh out of rehab. The Soundgarden leader—who was strictly sober at the time, and wanted to help—asked Wood to be his roommate. The two formed a fast bond, and fueled each other’s creative passions and processes. As Cornell said in the 2005 documentary Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story, “Andy and I would do a lot of home taping, four-track recording. He’d write 10 songs in the time it would take me to write two. These diamonds would come out so freely, all the time.” And in 1988, more people started to notice both artists’ work. “In a period of a few months, we went from being these two roommates in these obscure bands—now we’re both getting all this attention from big labels. It was really cool to have that happen to your friend, so you could just be excited together.”
Wood’s death in 1990, just prior to the release of Mother Love Bone’s major-label debut, Apple, devastated Cornell. It also pushed him to write songs in tribute to his late friend; what started as “Say Hello 2 Heaven” and “Reach Down” became Temple of the Dog. Cornell asked Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard of Mother Love Bone, Cameron of Soundgarden, and freshly minted Pearl Jam (then Mookie Blaylock) guitarist Mike McCready to record a single self-titled album. The collection’s rich, measured pace and extended jams were the first sign that Cornell was reaching for more, that Soundgarden alone would not sate his creative needs.
The Temple record was one of the most influential of the era. It predated Pearl Jam’s Ten, Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, Nirvana’s Nevermind. (While it didn’t initially have the impact those records did, it rolled in like an aftershock upon its 1992 reissue.) And with “Hunger Strike,” it highlighted another powerful voice most hadn’t yet heard.
Vedder, up from San Diego, had been rehearsing with the future Pearl Jam for about a week when Cornell and his friends were recording their dedication to Wood. As Vedder recalled in Grunge Is Dead, “I got to watch these songs, and watch how Chris was working. I could hear what he was trying to do [with ‘Hunger Strike’], so I walked up to the mic and sang that other part, ‘Going hungry, going hungry.’ ” Cornell was impressed and Vedder’s contribution made it onto the track. The resulting anthem also impressed modern rock fans, becoming one of the era’s touchstones. “I’m indebted to Chris time eternal for being invited onto that track,” Vedder said.
The Pearl Jam front man’s gratitude can’t be overstated. Not only did “Hunger Strike” mark Vedder’s first presence on a record, Cornell’s friendship eased the outsider’s transition to Seattle. As with Wood, Cornell sought to support Vedder, to help foster his success as both a musician and a person.
It’s entirely possible that Pearl Jam could have folded due to Vedder’s initial shyness and lack of standing in the local scene. Cornell helped shatter both potential shortcomings with “Hunger Strike,” but even more so by walking the man onstage for Vedder’s second Mookie Blaylock show. As Soundgarden manager Susan Silver recalled in Grunge Is Dead, “Chris carried Eddie onto the stage—on his shoulders or something. It was another one of those super-powerful moments, where it was a big healing for everybody.” It had been only nine months since Wood’s passing, and local crowds still missed Mother Love Bone. But with Cornell’s endorsement, Vedder “came out as this guy who had all the credibility in the world.” That started with “Chris bringing Eddie out, and pointing at him, as much to say, ‘This is your guy now.’ ”
Nearly 30 years later, Vedder is still our guy. But there’s no question he’d rather not be in that spotlight alone.
He Made Music for Music’s Sake
Cornell always sought wider creative expression in and outside of Soundgarden. That band’s albums were loaded with different textures and pacing, varied vocal patterns, lyrical twists. But those minor stretches weren’t enough.
There was the looser, far less urgent Temple of the Dog, brought into existence solely to celebrate a lost friend. There was the acoustic, contemplative “Seasons” on 1992’s Singles soundtrack. Then there was the bluesy, soulful Euphoria Morning in 1999, Cornell’s first solo album, released two years after he had put an end to Soundgarden. It didn’t sell much by Soundgarden’s standards, but that wasn’t the point. As Cornell told me, the record was a curveball by design. “It was, ‘Whatever I do on this album, I want it to not be like [Soundgarden].’ ” Exploration was Cornell’s MO.
Accordingly, in 2001, he joined members of the defunct Rage Against the Machine to form Audioslave. The union resulted in three solid albums marked by Cornell’s sandpapery, in-the-red vocals and guitarist Tom Morello’s trademark inventive chords. The band garnered Grammy nominations. They played a massive show in Cuba. But within six years, Cornell yearned again for something new.
He refocused on his solo work. 2007’s Carry On featured a Michael Jackson cover, the theme song to a James Bond film, and folk and orchestral arrangements. A year later, he began stretching further than ever before—and experienced a not-unexpected backlash. Internet response to his teaming with hip-hop producer Timbaland was harsh. People assumed that he was trying to regain relevance, hoping to cash in on the beatmaker’s popularity. They were wrong.
Cornell made Scream for the experience. “I wanted to sort of rinse myself of any of the knowledge that I have or that I rely on to write and record albums,” he told me. “I wanted to basically go in ignorant, like being thrown into the deep end of the pool not knowing how to swim.” Judged solely on the record’s sound, Cornell got his wish. And he didn’t care that many of his fans were mystified. Didn’t begrudge other prominent artists who slammed him for the collaboration. Didn’t indulge the haters. Instead, he stayed positive in his social-media posts, and enthusiastically toured to support the record.
Over the past seven years, Cornell had multiple irons in the fire. He reunited Soundgarden to nearly universal acclaim. He revisited much of his catalog on the stripped-down acoustic Songbook. And his 2015 album Higher Truth featured bluesy and folk-inflected guitar work. Its forward-looking tracks like “Before We Disappear” and “Our Time in the Universe” saw Cornell contemplating eternity—or the lack thereof. “Time ain’t nothing if it ain’t fast/Taking everything that you’ve ever had,” he sang. “Giving nothing in return/But a cold bed in the quiet earth.” You have to wonder if the man was edging an existential crisis or just speaking in melancholy character. Either way, his last effort bore the stamp of his singular drive. He’d once again made music that suited his sensibilities, that fulfilled personal needs.
This pattern of fearless creativity may have rubbed off on Cornell’s contemporaries. Think of Alice in Chains, several years after Staley’s death, continuing with a different vocalist. Of Vedder releasing a solo record based entirely on ukulele chords. Of Screaming Trees drummer Mark Pickerel going solo with a twang, and frontman Mark Lanegan singing to New Wave-y electronic beats. Soundgarden’s Cornell set the precedent; whether or not he influenced others directly, his example and passion was impossible to ignore.
A fan places flowers during KEXP’s memorial. Photo by Alex Garland
Would there have been a local and international “grunge” revolution without Chris Cornell? Perhaps. Would Sub Pop have become a juggernaut? Maybe. Would the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have embraced Nirvana and Pearl Jam? Hard to say.
What there certainly would not have been was the challenging, in-your-face Screaming Life or Scream. There would be no Soundgarden or Temple of the Dog. No crowds of thousands unabashedly singing Cornell’s lyrics with him. No “Jesus Christ Pose” or “Black Hole Sun” or “Finally Forever,” the song covered by dear friends at my 2008 wedding.
And that’s what ultimately would be missing from Seattle without Chris Cornell: a community of dear friends united by a common creative thread that traces back 30 years. Together, they shook and shaped the world. The truest testament to Cornell’s influence of and connection with other artists is surely forthcoming. As he breathed life into Temple of the Dog for Andy Wood, his fellow musicians will undoubtedly remember him in the months and years to come. With song.
in the autumn of 2009 i sat down and wanted to decipher and reevaluate what musical education meant to me. the frustrated musicologist in me went ahead and completed the educational biophilia which since has been taught all around the world and is now a permanent part of the scandinavian curriculum
i also wanted to question how i felt about musical documentation, when cds were slowly becoming obsolete, i was curious about the difference of midi (digital notation) and classical notation and enthusiastic in blurring the lines and at which occasions and how one would share music in these new times. what is the difference of karaoke and the lyrical recitals of the 19th century? can one meet at bonfires and sing techno songs? (well icelanders do obvs) maybe i should share digital notation that people could connect to their synths or do harpsichord versions of electronic beats to enjoy in the living rooms and hopefully families singalong to
100 years ago most music was shared through scores, does that even apply to today? and if so how?
from these questions i started working with jónas sen on gathering together my string, choir, vocal and brass arrangements through the years and arranging them for different keyboards such as organs, pianos, celestas and harpsichords.
i also talked to my longtime collaborators m/m and asked them to design a font for notes in the same way they would for letters. that of course became technically almost impossible but we believe we have now somehow found a program were everyone can design their own fonts to align gracefully to their music
and last but not least: as a soft feminist stance i decided to put importance on my arrangements through the years (i feel still today most people are not aware that i have done the majority of the choir, brass, string and vocal arrangements myself through the years) by doing concerts where we have transformed all these arrangements over to strings to emphasize that part of my work. so far we have played albert hall, harpa hall in reykjavík, the auditorio in mexico city and will be playing the disney hall on the 30th of may. and i will be singing on top
i hope you like it
On June 5, the award-winning Icelandic artist will publish 34 Scores for Piano, Organ, Harpsichord and Celeste with Wise Publications, the result of an effort that stretches back to 2009’s Biophilia album and multimedia effort. (On May 19, the book will be available early—exclusively at the Björk Digital exhibition in LA.) Longtime collaborator Jónas Sen was tapped to assist in the effort. He explains, “There are three levels to these keyboard arrangements. In one we simply transcribed the songs from the original to the keyboard. In the next level we arranged them so they sound different from the originals, yet convincing for the keyboard instrument in question. On the third level the songs are radically different from the original, almost like they are new compositions.”
For the accompanying notes, French design house M/M (Paris) was asked to create a new font, and it has all been put together by Notengrafik Berlin.
Björk also today debuts the track list for 34 Scores for Piano, Organ, Harpsichord and Celeste, which spans her debut album all the way through her most recent release, Vulnicura. Check it out below:
The Anchor Song – Debut Sun In My Mouth – VespertineVenus As A Boy – Debut Desired Constellation – MedúllaCover Me – Post Oceania – MedúllaIsobel – Post Pleasure Is All Mine – MedúllaBachelorette – Homogenic Where Is The Line – MedúllaImmature – Homogenic Gratitude – Drawing Restraint 9 OSTJoga – Homogenic Declare Independence – VoltaNotget – Vulnicura The Dull Flame Of Desire – VoltaUnravel – Homogenic My Juvenile – VoltaI’ve Seen It All – Selmasongs Pneumonia – VoltaNew World – Selmasongs Vertebrae by Vertebrae – VoltaAurora – Vespertine Atom Dance – VulnicuraMother Heroic – B-Side to ‘Hidden Place’ Black Lake – VulnicuraVespertine Stonemilker – VulnicuraPagan Poetry – Vespertine
Watch the most recent music video from Vulnicura, “Notget VR,” above, and click here to see more of Creators’ ongoing Björk coverage. Pre-orders for 34 Scores for Piano, Organ, Harpsichord and Celeste are available here, but the book will be available starting May 19 exclusively at the Björk Digital exhibition in LA.
Jesse Engel is playing an instrument that’s somewhere between a clavichord and a Hammond organ—18th-century classical crossed with 20th-century rhythm and blues. Then he drags a marker across his laptop screen. Suddenly, the instrument is somewhere else between a clavichord and a Hammond. Before, it was, say, 15 percent clavichord. Now it’s closer to 75 percent. Then he drags the marker back and forth as quickly as he can, careening though all the sounds between these two very different instruments.
“This is not like playing the two at the same time,” says one of Engel’s colleagues, Cinjon Resnick, from across the room. And that’s worth saying. The machine and its software aren’t layering the sounds of a clavichord atop those of a Hammond. They’re producing entirely new sounds using the mathematical characteristics of the notes that emerge from the two. And they can do this with about a thousand different instruments—from violins to balafons—creating countless new sounds from those we already have, thanks to artificial intelligence.
Engel and Resnick are part of Google Magenta—a small team of AI researchers inside the internet giant building computer systems that can make their own art—and this is their latest project. It’s called NSynth, and the team will publicly demonstrate the technology later this week at Moogfest, the annual art, music, and technology festival, held this year in Durham, North Carolina.
The idea is that NSynth, which Google first discussed in a blog post last month, will provide musicians with an entirely new range of tools for making music. Critic Marc Weidenbaum points out that the approach isn’t very far removed from what orchestral conductors have done for ages—“the blending of instruments is nothing new,” he says—but he also believes that Google’s technology could push this age-old practice into new places. “Artistically, it could yield some cool stuff, and because it’s Google, people will follow their lead,” he says.
The Boundaries of Sound
Magenta is part of Google Brain, the company’s central AI lab, where a small army of researchers are exploring the limits of neural networks and other forms of machine learning. Neural networks are complex mathematical systems that can learn tasks by analyzing large amounts of data, and in recent years they’ve proven to be an enormously effective way of recognizing objects and faces in photos, identifying commands spoken into smartphones, and translating from one language to another, among other tasks. Now the Magenta team is turning this idea on its head, using neural networks as a way of teaching machines to make new kinds of music and other art.
NSynth begins with a massive database of sounds. Engel and team collected a wide range of notes from about a thousand different instruments and then fed them into a neural network. By analyzing the notes, the neural net—several layers of calculus run across a network of computer chips—learned the audible characteristics of each instrument. Then it created a mathematical “vector” for each one. Using these vectors, a machine can mimic the sound of each instrument—a Hammond organ or a clavichord, say—but it can also combine the sounds of the two.
In addition to the NSynth “slider” that Engel recently demonstrated at Google headquarters, the team has also built a two-dimensional interface that lets you explore the audible space between four different instruments at once. And the team is intent on taking the idea further still, exploring the boundaries of artistic creation. A second neural network, for instance, could learn new ways of mimicking and combining the sounds from all those instruments. AI could work in tandem with AI.
The team has also created a new playground for AI researchers and other computer scientists. They’ve released a research paper describing the NSynth algorithms, and anyone can download and use their database of sounds. For Douglas Eck, who oversees the Magenta team, the hope is that researchers can generate a much wider array of tools for any artist, not just musicians. But not too wide. Art without constraints ceases to be art. The trick will lie in finding the balance between here and the infinite.
The Allman Brothers Band co-founder died at age 69 over the Memoral Day weekend.
Gregg Allman, the legendary singer-songrwriter and co-founder of The Allman Brothers Band, passed away “peacefully” at his home in Savannah, Ga., over the weekend. He was 69.
“Gregg struggled with many health issues over the past several years,” read a statement on Allman’s official website Saturday. He was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1999 and underwent a liver transplant in 2010. “During that time, Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans, essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times.”
The soulful singer-songwriter and rock ‘n’ blues pioneer composed such classics as “Midnight Rider,” “Melissa” and the epic concert jam “Whipping Post.” He fronted his band for 45 years, first alongside brother and co-founder Duane until the latter was killed in a motorcycle accident in November 1971.
“It is with deep sadness we announce that Gregg Allman, a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, passed away peacefully at his home,” read a tweet from the official Allman Brothers Band Twitter account.
It is with deep sadness we announce that Gregg Allman, a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, passed away peacefully at his home pic.twitter.com/8g0pAT3kky
The music world was quick to react with grief upon hearing the news. Allman’s third and ex-wife Cher shared a photo of the pair with the caption “never forget….gui.” Earlier she tweeted, “I’ve tried, words are impossible.” The pair were married from 1975 to 1979 and have a son, Elijah, together.
See the tributes, including from some Hollywood stars, as they pour in on social media below.
Chris Cornell (conceived Christopher John Boyle; July 20, 1964 – May 18, 2017) was an American music artist, singer/songwriter, and lyricist. He was best known as lead vocalist for the groups Soundgarden and Audioslave. He was a two-time Grammy winner (out of 14 nominations) and was likewise known for his various solo works, soundtrack commitments since 1991 and as author and frontman for Temple of the Dog, the coincidental tribute band committed to his friend, the late Andrew Wood.
Cornell, who is viewed as one of the designers and influencers of the 1990s grunge development, is notable for his broad index as a musician, for his about four-octave vocal range, and for his capable vocal belting procedure. He discharged four solo studio collections, Euphoria Morning (1999), Carry On (2007), Scream (2009), Higher Truth (2015), and the live collection Songbook (2011). Cornell got a Golden Globe Award designation for his melody “The Keeper” which showed up in the film Machine Gun Preacher and co-composed and played out the signature tune to the James Bond film Casino Royale (2006), “You Know My Name”. The last solo discharge by Chris was the philanthropy single “The Promise”, composed for the consummation credits for the film of a similar name. He was voted “Shake’s Greatest Singer” by perusers of Guitar World, positioned fourth in the rundown of “Overwhelming Metal’s All-Time Top 100 Vocalists” by Hit Parader, ninth in the rundown of “Best Lead Singers of All Time” by Rolling Stone, and twelfth in MTV’s “22 Greatest Voices in Music”.
As per Nielsen Music, over his whole list (Soundgarden, Audioslave and solo vocation), Cornell sold 14.8 million collections, 8.8 million digital songs, 300 million on-request sound streams in the U.S. furthermore, sold more than 30 million records worldwide starting at 2017.
Cornell was discovered dead from suicide in his Detroit lodging room, early morning of May 18, 2017, after a Soundgarden show the prior night.
That’s the Chris everyone will read, but Chris was far mora than that. As you will start hearing from more in-depth testimony from his band mates, touring members, managers or anyone that had the privilege of knowing Chris will tell you he had a far bigger heart. Take this video from Pete Thorn:
The impact and influence Chris had not only in rock but music itself is obvious with all the tributes of all different types of genre, one of the best covers I’ve seen is from Norah Jones:
This haunting interpratation from Cody Jinks:
or Nouela’s version of Black Hole Sun used for the movie “A Walk Amoung The Tombstones”:
How could we forget Peter Frampton’s cover (although there was a better one he’s done before just couldn’t find it v.v):
Music is fresh and great vibes for a night drive or at the beach.
Versatile and Clean for Logic, the samples used are great and recognizable, yet modernized.
One of the Best Concept Albums in Hip Hop done in while.
The Bad Part
TOO SHORT! Not Enough Tracks!
The Freshest thing out in 2017 Guaranteed!
A Solid Profound Album
This is Logic's latest masterpiece as he tries to spread love in an era where hate, racism and ignorance is dividing the world. It is a record that will humble you and remind you of what you are sent here to do.
Leave it to Logic to deliver the album, I’ve been waiting for a quarter century. I knew the message would have to come in a simple, mainstream friendly and consumable yet exploratory way. This is the album Tupac or Biggie would have eventually release with their wise minds observing how the world has progressed (or regressed) in recent years.
It’s about me being black and white, and seeing life from two sides. It’s about the cultural evolution and how you can go from the darkest of skin to the lightest of skin. -Logic on Harmontown podcast
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, no worries its not that you’ve been living under a rock, Logic although loved by radio hosts is not stuffed down your throat as much as Coldplay or Beyonce. He’s a clean cut rapper that stresses more over meaning and lyrical content than looks, much like his peers J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar.
Give it a listen and let me know what you think!
Just to give you a taste of what this album is all about:
So yesterday I posted up some VSC love here’s another stunner throwback, love the video cinematic. If you like what you hear so far, be sure to Pre-order REVIVAL, the debut album of Vancouver Sleep Clinic:
No Mana is back with Zashanell with another banger, although it starts off nice and slow with Zasha’s melancholic robotic voice. It builds up into a guitar over-driven bridge and drops you off for a breather before picking it up again at 3:20. It reminds me of Massive Attack’s Teardrop with a touch of Brand New’s Daisy on the vocals and guitar build up.
I just revisited Mutemath recently and fell in love again with their Changes album and the titled track as well. It seems that everything is about chill and relax these days, but Mutemath nailed it with Changes. Definitely in love with the vibe it brings, very unassuming and natural you can just pick it up on freeway as you drive to the Beach.
Here’s the detail on Mutemath Changes:
In 2015, Mutemath released the album Vitals, and followed it up in 2016 with a remixed version of the album, aptly titled Changes. That album’s title song “Changes,” with its warped synth stabs and hard-clicking drum track, is the only new song in the set.
The song, written about the way things (and sometimes people) are cavalierly and prematurely thrown away, made its public debut at a 2013 acoustic piano set by lead singer Paul Meany including an extended bridge that was eventually removed from the song.