November 16, 2001

On The Wire

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Yes, I must admit — I am one of those people who turn down the radio (and usually unnecessarily step on the break) to quiz my friends when an obscure hit surfaces on the airways. Usually, my seemingly annoying questions are met with moans and groans and reluctant attempts to answer my obscure inquiry. I must also admit, though, that I am proud of my music prowess. Perhaps this habit stems from the music quizzes that I received as a child (and still do today); if my dad wasn’t a physician, he would have readily become the next rush hour disc jockey, and whenever we are in the car I am usually expected to know the title and artist (and sometimes even the record company and year) of various songs.

In any case, music fanatics all over the world can congregate now in various locations on the Web. While there are myriad sites that have dominated mainstream online culture, there are also those that quite often remain unnoticed. On, one can find answers to even the most atypical rock and roll questions; it is a site for music obsessives worldwide to assure themselves that they are not the only people in the world who are privy to obscure and often random information.

Imported from London (and we all know the high value of imports), this Web site, created by Barney Hoskyns in 2000, entwines both the exclusive members’ section “The Library,” and free section “The Magazine.” With free interviews and information about both enduring rock icons and one-hit-wonders who have come quickly and gone just as fast, this Web site is perhaps one of the most comprehensive music locations on the Web. While the most recent news of George Harrison’s waning health and the dedication of a New York City street corner to the late Joey Ramone can be readily accessed by the public, the archives of past music history are a more private source of music information.

Nevertheless, the “This Week in Rock” section relays even to the common Web browser a factual music timeline. I’m sure that most of you did not know that on today, November 15th, in 1955, Sam Phillips, owner of Sun Records in Memphis, sold Elvis Presley’s recording contract to a partnership comprised of “Colonel” Tom Parker and Hill and Range Song Publishers. I guess that’s an interesting piece of info.

Perhaps what most enticed me to delve further into the site were not all the obscure facts about obscure people, but the feature stories involving two of my most favorite bands. One was an exclusive interview with Dave Matthews about the evolution of his music, the influence of a racially integrated band, and his views on the “poison of paranoia” in America since Sept 11th. The other article provided a commentary on the legendary stature of the Grateful Dead. Both great articles only confirmed the quality and legitimacy of RocksBackpages.

With the ability to shop on the site for CDs, videos, DVDs, and music literature, this site also contains more mainstream evidence of contemporary music culture, and is thus accessible to a wide audience.

But for those who are not satisfied with these historical archives of music history, and who think that they can create better music than what is sold in stores today, there is a revolutionary Web site that allows its visitors to make their own music. On, you can “create your own chaos” through original fractal music.

By choosing particular instruments and selecting the scale and other musical settings, all the participant really has to do to create their own song on this Web site is plug in numbers. While fractal music is based on a mathematical equation that allows for fluctuating numbers, and thus fluctuating sounds, the actual “math” behind it isn’t all that imperative to comprehend. Rather, the refreshing, and yet disturbing sound of fractals is what makes this music so entirely unique. The Web site explains creating fractal music as follows: “Assign each note in a scale to a unique number — ‘do’, ‘re’ and ‘mi’, for example, might be given the numbers 1, 2, and 3. When the answer to a fractal equation equals 2, you play the note ‘re’. The nature of the equations are such that every time you solve one, you get a new number and play a new note.” It is the sound of chaos, yet a chaos that is an organized and impending genre in futuristic music. This site introduces the music maverick to a bold and unique style, while allowing him or her to dabble in her own music adeptness.

While there are numerous music Web sites that endeavor beyond the mundane, these particular two incorporate both interest and participation in the realm of music. While introducing their visitors to innovative music forms and lesser-known musical phenomena, they provide any individual with that obscure query to impart upon a friend.

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