Think STEAM not STEM

Translation of Bauhaus Curriculum Diagram (1929).

“I believe that art and design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century like science and technology did in the last century” (Maeda, 2013, p. 2).

STEM + Art = STEAM

Former Rhode Island School of Design president, John Maeda states, “Innovation happens when convergent thinkers, who march straight ahead towards their goal, combine forces with divergent thinkers – those who professionally wander, who are comfortable being uncomfortable, and who look for what is real” (2013, p. 1). I first noticed Maeda’s name reading Casey Reas and Ben Fry’s wonderful Processing Handbook (2014). I later checked out his (equally wonderful) book Creative Code: Aesthetics + Computation (2004), a work that grapples with such issues as information visualization, interaction design, and education. For more on Maeda and the current gap between art and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), check out this article, as well as, The Steam Journal.

Cognitive Operations

The distinction between convergent and divergent thinking was first popularised by creativity theorist J.P. Guilford (1959). Both are cognitive operations, discreet – and, importantly, measurable – components of thought. Convergent thinking describes cognitive operations that aim to narrow down possibilities in the search of a solution to a set problem. Divergent thinking, on the other hand, logically generates alternatives that branch off from a common starting point. Both operations are necessary for creative thought.

Whilst convergent thinking is not necessarily the go-to mode of thinking of STEM scholars any more than divergent thinking is for the arts, what can be said is that historical and cultural trends informing postwar intellectual life in the West have given rise to certain tacit biases and identifications that have fragmented the knowledge base and led to the valuing of specialisation over integration, and analysis over synthesis. Lets face it, divergent thinking has been theorised and discussed for some 60 years now. And yet, so many people still have trouble distinguishing between divergent thinking and its country cousins “thinking outside the box” (how I loathe that phrase) and “brainstorming.” Be honest. Can you tell the difference?

Institutionalised

The manner in which higher education institutions are structured according to groups of related disciplines results in a tendency for research and knowledge to remain isolated within de facto boundaries of relevancy. Great creative leaps are all too often inhibited, rather than facilitated, by the necessary structures and conventions of what have become mini-cultures in their own right. Just try getting peers from different arts departments to collaborate, or even speak the same language, let alone for humanities scholars to collaborate with those from STEM backgrounds. As for socialising with groups outside of one’s own discipline. That seems just downright weird.

Examples whereby disciplinary barriers have been intentionally broken down – such as the Bauhaus School during the short-lived Weimar Republic – stand as a testament to what can be achieved when integration is valued as much as specialisation. New emerging interdisciplinary fields such as humour studies, popular music, and record production are yet further examples. Be warned however, even in these latter interdisciplinary instances, the danger remains that blind orthodoxy can replace rational discourse once effective means of study have become firmly established.

Perhaps, a mandatory tearing down and rebuilding of disciplinary conventions, along with a removal of its gatekeepers, every once in a while could be an effective way of letting new ideas through. This, along with its DIY ethos, was a key motivation informing the rise of punk music in the 1970s. Moreover, tearing down and rebuilding does not necessarily equate with iconoclasm, but can also engender inclusiveness, communal activity and longevity of diverse cultures so often threatened by the thrill and shock of the (hegemonic) new. This is the case with the Ise Jingu grand shrine in Japan, which has been torn down and rebuilt every 20 years for approximately 1,300 years.

Less and better

As Maeda notes, the 20th century was defined, in part, by great technological leaps. Unfortunately, humanity is now in the unenviable position of having to sift through the good, the bad and the useless, before working out how to actually use [or even find and focus on] all this stuff. Industrial design is one area that considers how technology can best interface with real humans, and their very real needs.

If you’ve ever used a product by a certain computer company (beginning with an A…) whose design ethos was influenced by, amongst other things, architect-turned-designer Dieter Rams, you’ll get the point. In fact, in a recent article Rams laments that, if anything, such design efforts have been too successful for society’s own good. Record production scholar Simon Zagorski-Thomas (2014) likewise discusses the significant ways in which technological devices covertly influence creativity via their design ‘scripts.’

It’s apt that the above 2018 film titled Rams (by film-maker Gary Hustwit) features an original score by self-confessed ‘reductive’ creative Brian Eno. My own research into creativity (2015) found that a reductive approach to creativity (whereby all but a few core elements are filtered out as options as a means of concentrating mental energy) is a necessary condition of the playfulness so often encouraged by innovative practitioners belonging to a wide variety of fields (Heiser, 2015). Therefore, designers should always consider how their design scripts influence the inner experience (phenomenological state) of the user as well as the usual ergonomic and aesthetic considerations.

Inspired by Mother Nature

Before signing off, I’d like to draw your attention to quite a different, but awe-inspiring, example of the fruitful application of the STEAM approach (in this case, an Engineering-meets-Art approach): The famous kinetic Strand Beest sculptures of Dutch artist Theo Jansen. Once you’ve been featured in the Simpsons, as Jansen has, then you’ll know you’ve made it. Enjoy.

(c) 2019 Marshall Heiser

References:

Feynman, R. P., Leighton, R., & Hutchings, E. (1985). “Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a curious character. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

Guilford, J. P. (1959). Three faces of intellect. In American Psychologist, 14(8), 469-479.

Hadamard, J. (1945). An essay on the psychology of invention in the mathematical field. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Heiser, M. S. (2015). The playful frame of mind: An exploration of its influence upon creative flow in a post-war popular music-making context. (Doctoral dissertation). Brisbane, Australia: Griffith University.

Koestler, A. (1964). The act of creation. New York, NY: Macmillan.

Maeda, J. (2013). STEM + Art = STEAM, In The STEAM Journal: 1(1), Article 34.

Maeda, J. (2004). Creative Code: Aesthetics + Computation. New York, NY:  Thames & Hudson.

Reas, C. & Fry, B. (2014). Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists (Second Edition). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Zagorski-Thomas, S. (2014). The musicology of record production. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

You’re Welcome.

Every now and then, a band comes along to remind us what really matters about making music and performing for an audience (which is what we do whether or not it’s in front of a crowd or alone at home working with a Digital Audio Workstation): stripping away all that is superfluous and foregrounding the fun-da-mentals! Thank you Peelander-Z!!

The best band in the world today, bar none. I kid you not.  Don’t forget to see their movie “Mad Tiger.”

The best band in the world today, bar none. I kid you not.  Don’t forget to see their movie “Mad Tiger.”

The best band in the world today, bar none. I kid you not.  Don’t forget to see their movie “Mad Tiger.”

The best band in the world today, bar none. I kid you not.  Don’t forget to see their movie “Mad Tiger.”

The best band in the world today, bar none. I kid you not.  Don’t forget to see their movie “Mad Tiger.”

If you want flowers, think soil, manure, water, and sunlight: none of them look like flowers.

PART ONE:

DURATION: 8:03. Don’t be put off by the cheesey video introduction or the word “mystic.” What you have here is simple wisdom about the process nature of life and the larger systems, the web of life, within which we humans operate. Nuff said.

PART TWO:

If you enjoyed that refreshing insight and would like to hear more then check out the following session presented at Sanders Theatre, Harvard Medical School on May 14 this year. DURATION 1:27:57 Think of it as the movie-length version of the “trailer” above. What interests me here, as a play scholar, is Sadhguru’s discussion of the interdependence of intellect and identity as seen from the yogic perspective, and how the intellect serves to protect and support that identity (click here to view). One of the benefits of approaching tasks in a playful manner is that it can help loosen such fixed identity constructs and the free up the rigid thinking patterns that are associated with such fixed frames. Enjoy.

 

 

Godley and Creme: Playfulness, pastiche and the grotesque.

“We tend to treat the studio rather like a sort of sophisticated sandpit. So it’s just a place to play around in. Which is how we usually work. We get an idea, which might be a word or a lyric or an idea for a sound and we play around with it. We literally do play with the sound. We enjoy ourselves with sound and music. And we construct tunes and songs in that manner.” (Kevin Godley in Oakley, 2008)

Regardless of the medium or era, most of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme’s creative output is notable for its playful, imaginative take on subject matter, its eclectic nature, and a love of the silly and grotesque. As detailed in the above quote, it also emerges from an atmosphere of fun.

In a 2012 article, the interviewer commented that Creme’s old band (10cc) came across on record as enjoying themselves and having fun. Creme responded: “SOME fun?! A LOT of fun! We certainly didn’t take ourselves seriously in 10cc at all and I think that it does show in all of our records” (Man On The Moon, 2012). The same can be said for Godley and Creme’s subsequent work. Ex-Beatle, George Harrison has referred to the duo as “a couple of loonies, especially Lol” (Badman, 2001, p. 358).

Godley and Creme’s musical output consists, as often as not, of pastiches of musical styles that usually don’t feature comfortably in a post-Beatles hit parade: showtunes, Doo-wop, movie soundtracks, Gershwin-esque “spiritual” choirs. In particular, the duo relish resurrecting genres and stylistic conventions that have not aged so well, playing up (though affectionately) past the point of parody into the realm of absurdity (Lol’s impersonation of the female object of the singer’s desire in the bridge of “Donna,” 1972 – their first hit as members of 10cc – is a case in point).

Godley and Creme are mostly widely known as:

  1. writer/directors of seminal music videos for acts including The Police, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Duran Duran, Herbie Hancock, Elton John and George Harrison,
  2. producers of their own videos and songs as a duo (for e.g., the hits “An Englishman In New York,” 1979, and “Cry,” 1985), and
  3. members of the band 10cc, along with Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart.

This list accounts for only a small portion of the team’s creative output since meeting as teenagers in the late 1950s (to collaborate on a homemade 8mm film of “Dracula”). Since that time, Godley and Creme have worked professionally as creatives in a variety of media, including: print, film, cinema/TV advertising, and musical instrument-related design/manufacture (Blair, 1988).

Diverse Creative Output

A small sample of Godley and Creme’s creative output between 1969 and 1988 includes:

  • book design for Pan publishing (including cut-out 3D models, designed and/or illustrated by the duo)
  • album cover design for bands such as The Alan Parsons Project
  • writing and illustrating a satirical, quasi-fictional memoir
  • the invention, production, and marketing of a mechanical musical device called the Gizmotron that bows the strings of an electric guitar (see photo). This device’s launch was accompanied by a separate three record-set concept album called Consequences, 1977, that showcases the wide variety of musical and timbral possibilities it’s capable of producing
  • the writing and directing of TV commercials for Wrangler Jeans, Nissan, and Yellow Pages (among many other notable clients)
  • the writing, storyboarding, and signing a deal for the production of a Hollywood feature film (never put into production)
  • playing as session musicians for a wide variety of clients including Neil Sedaka, (“bubble-gum” producers) Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffrey Katz, Mike McGear, Hermin’s Hermits and others (Inoue, 2014)
  • Click Here for an up-to-date and exhaustive listing of both Godley and Creme’s creative output.

Notable works

A selection of Godley and Creme’s work follows (both audio and audio-visual), demonstrating the scope of their imagination, sense of fun, novelty, and irreverence. It spans their time with 10cc (1972-1976) and as a duo (1977-1989):

“Hotel” (1974): The 80 second-long introduction features a jungle soundscape created by Lol Creme using a moog synthesiser to emulate bird sounds and unidentified cooing animals, in addition to exotic-sounding melodic fragments. Complete with ominous, muffled, distant drums, this piece wouldn’t sound out of place in a 1940s Hollywood Tarzan feature.

“I Wanna Rule The World” (1976): This record production comes across as pantomime-like exploration of the motivation behind a would-be dictator. The music features (once again) clichéd Hollywood musical signifiers, this time adopted from the war movie genre (for e.g., snare drums and timpanis). It’s also notable for a maniacal Hitler-esque rally rant and some cartoon-esque “villainous” organ chords. Lol Creme’s lead vocal sounds not unlike a young Woody Allen playing the role of fumbling, would-be ruler-of-the-world Jimmy Bond, from the James Bond spoof Casino Royale (Hughes, Huston, McGrath, Parrish & Talmadge, 1967).

“Seascape” (1977): The first minute of this piece–the opening track of the triple-album Consequences–is an evocative musical representative of the ocean, featuring undulating musical waves and intermittent splashes of sonic surf. All musical sounds heard are created using multi-tracked electric guitars fitted out with Godley and Creme’s mechanical bowing device called the “Gizmotron.” The piece is something like a movie soundtrack without visuals to pin it down. It’s therefore, a poor attempt at program music in the Romantic-era sense (but that was never the point): the last two minutes suffering from a lack of sufficient extra-musical cues to bring much-needed coherency. The sounds and atmosphere of this track are nonetheless stunning.

The following track “Wind” (1977) was used in a Benson and Hedges cigarette commercial in the late 1970s, and in that context, gains greater coherence as a result of the visual narrative. The track “Stampede” (1977) works better as program music, with a strong melodic figure adding formal strength, along with the musical signification of charging animals being stronger than the more abstract elemental themes of water, wind, fire and earth.

 

“This Sporting Life” (1978): Consider the following words spoken as if over a telephone receiver (at 4 minutes, 17 seconds into the song): “This is the Bad Samaritans. Hello, loved one. Sorry there was nobody here to take your call personally. However, we understand what you’re going through. How you’ve travelled life’s highway with your smile on upside down. And now you think you’ve found the ultimate answer to all your problems. Don’t be hasty. Why waste a life. Wait ‘til there’s a crowd down below. Give a little when you go.”

I Pity Inanimate Objects” (1979): A simple premise with fascinating-yet-grotesque results. A study in dissonance and distortion anchored by a one-bar acoustic guitar ostinato. The vocal is fed through a digital harmoniser and contorted to all manner of whimsical pitch leaps and contours. A piercing, improvised solo electric guitar obbligato adds much-needed contrast between most verses.

“The Problem” (1981): Lyrics: “If a man, A, who weighs 11 stone, leaves his home at 8.30 in the morning in a car whose consumption is 16.25 miles per gallon at an average speed of 40 miles an hour to his office which is 12 miles away and he stops for coffee on the way for 15 minutes…”

“Cry” (1985): This video has a simple premise. A wide variety of faces, ranging from striking to unexceptional are photographed close-up in black and white, steadily dissolving from one into another as their owners mime the song lyrics. The use of digital audio sampling (then a relatively new gimmick) to create an impossibly high-pitched, corny, and emphatic “Mickey-Moused” major-chord vocal arpeggio finale is hilariously incongruent and grotesque, given that up until that point it was a brooding, yearning, and quite serious song.

No Money Down” (1986): This video was directed for client Lou Reed who had requested not to be in it. In a way he isn’t and yet, is. The video is unnerving from the very beginning as, at first, its not clearly evident if the single visible figure is Reed or not. Once it becomes clearer that it’s in fact an animatronic double, it isn’t long before “his” own hands start violently tearing away his prosthetic face, tongue and jaw. Grotesque yes, but also very funny.

Mondo Video” (1989): This piece was conceived, directed, composed, and performed by Godley and Creme as a fully integrated audio-visual whole (it was never released in an audio-only format). The edits and movements on screen each correspond to musical motifs in such that way that it’s difficult to detect which came first. The visuals adopt a similar approach to that of audio sampling techniques popular at the time. Divorced from any clear context, they’re triggered and retriggered continuously. There’s no message or narrative here, other than a combining of synchronised visual and sonic elements for the sheer delight of doing so.

It’s as if Godley and Creme are saying: “Here are some motifs, visual and sonic, and this is what we did with them. We not only played them, but we played with them.” Of all Godley and Creme’s creative output, this piece stands out as one of the most playful (defined by Lieberman, 1977, as a fun observable element occurring within specific instances of play). It’s more like an etude (a “study”) or experiment rather than a composition done with paying audiences in mind. “Mondo Video” comes across as a by-product of playfulness: an “artefact of play.” Click here to watch Goldey and Creme discuss the project with Terry Wogan (notice Lol’s emphasis on the importance of having fun with the project).

Regarding the grotesque in creative practice

Along with Eno, John Lennon, and Bob Dylan, Godley and Creme’s love of the grotesque is a quality observable in the work of many creatives. Consider the following quote taken from Getzels and Jackson’s (1962) study of “gifted” students:

“The stories, the drawings, and in a measure the autobiographies of our highly creative adolescents demonstrate quite clearly that the world of fantasy contains anxieties as well as delights. It is a world that may be entered to escape the mundane, the pedestrian, and the trivial aspects of reality–a secret chamber providing solace to the Walter Mitty in everyone–but it is also a world containing the shock of the unexpectedly grotesque, a carnival funnyhouse in which the daydream may be transformed into a nightmare. Although it is customary to portray the “dreamer” as the person who shies away from the battle of practical affairs by retreating from the onslaughts of reality, there is a special sense in which he [sic], the explorer of his own fantasy, may exhibit a courage unknown to those whose vision remains focused only on the means and ends of everyday existence.” (p. 104)

Their own words regarding their creative process

Kevin Godley: Click Here to buy Kevin Godley’s new multimedia e-book Spacecake (2015). It’s part memoir, part discussion of his creative works over the years. Importantly, in it he gives a contemporary re-appraisal of Godley and Creme’s formidable Consequences (1977) album.

Lol Creme: Click Here to read a 1997 interview with Lol Creme regarding the making of Consequences. In the interview he states (regarding the album’s commercial failure): “I didn’t give a shit, I really didn’t. And I never have, to me it’s the doing of something that’s the vibe, it’s not necessarily the result” (Booth, 2015).

Creme has described here what Apter (1991) calls the paratelic (playful) frame of mind where “the activity comes first and the goal is secondary and chosen in relation to the activity” (p. 16). Within the protective frame of a playful (paratelic) mindset, incongruous categories no longer seem to create the anxieties they would for a “reasoned” (telic) frame. In the paratelic state, the future results of one’s thoughts and actions are pushed aside. Therefore, incongruities–along with the high arousal that they produce–are not only tolerated but also experienced as enjoyable and exciting. In the telic frame of mind the situation is reversed.

My favourite Lol Creme quote regarding the making of Consequences says so much about the inter-relatedness of science and art: “To us, doing ‘Consequences’ was like a laboratory of music, a scientific experiment but instead of being built on fact, it was built on emotion” (Doherty, 1977, p. 45). Nuff said.

(c) 2015 Marshall Heiser

Please note: Portions of some of the articles and postings contained in this website were presented in thesis form in fulfillment of the requirements for the PhD of Marshall Heiser from Griffith University (Qld. Conservatorium of Music).

References:

Apter, M. J. (1991). A structural phenomenology of play. In J. H. Kerr & M. J. Apter (Eds.), Adult play: A reversal theory approach (pp. 13-29). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger.

Badman, K. (2001). The Beatles–The dream is over: Off the record 2. London, England: Omnibus Press.

Blair, I. (1988). The weird and wonderful world of Godley & Creme (or how two old friends took to multimedia wizardry like ducks to water). In Pulse!, 66-72.

Booth, G. (2015). Lol Creme’s interview for Uncut magazine, 14th December 1997. [Web log post] Retrieved from http://www.suppertime.co.uk/blint/lol.shtml.

Doherty, H. (1977, September 24) The things we do for art. In Melody Maker, 10-45.

Getzels, J. W., & Jackson, P. W. (1962). Creativity and intelligence; Explorations with gifted students. London, England; New York, NY: Wiley.

Godley, K., and Creme, L. (1978). This sporting life. On L. [Vinyl album]. London, England: Phonogram Ltd.

Godley, K., and Creme, L. (1981). The Problem. On Ismism. [Vinyl album]. London, England: Polydor Records.

Hughes, K., Huston, J., McGrath, J., Parrish, R., & Talmadge, R. (Directors). (1967). Casino Royale [Motion Picture]. USA: Columbia Pictures.

Inoue, K. (2014). The works of Godley and Creme. Retrieved from http://gcworks.web.fc2.com.

Lieberman, J. N. (1977). Playfulness: Its relationship to imagination and creativity. New York, NY: Academic Press.

Man on the moon. (2012). Lowdown Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.thelowdownmagazine.com/Man_on_the_Moon-4918.html

Oakley, A. (2008, February 27). Lol Creme & Kevin Godley interview 1980(ish) [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbNBygTzjlo.

Inspirations 1: Alvin Lucier’s “Music On A Long Thin Wire” (1977)

One of things I find most frustrating about life on this planet is how humans tend towards setting up scenes and communities, with all of their inherent rules, shared values, mythologies and hierarchies, only to eventually become enslaved by the very institutions they perpetrate. Neitzsche argues that the urge to join together, so as to exert greater influence than one might alone, is fundamental to the human condition: the [communal] “will to power” (Neitzsche, Kaufmann & Hollingdale, 1968).

Fair enough. It’s nice to be part of something, to feel a sense of belonging and to enjoy all the rewards forthcoming when you do good according to the (often unspoken) rules of the group. The problem, as Huizinga (1949) puts it, is that ‘the feeling of being “apart together” in an exceptional situation, of sharing something important, of mutually withdrawing from the rest of the world and rejecting the usual norms, [all too often] retains its magic beyond the duration of the individual game’ (p. 12).

When we can no longer distinguish where (and when) the boundaries of such games are located, or don’t want to because the perks are so good, therein lies the danger. Many are unaware perhaps that such boundaries even exist at all. And for those who would question the rules of the game-clan, ostracism usually awaits.

‘It is curious to note how much more lenient society is to the cheat than to the spoil-sport. This is because the spoil-sport shatters the play-world itself. By withdrawing from the game he [sic] reveals the relativity and fragility of the play-world in which he had temporarily shut himself with others. He robs play of its illusion-a pregnant [sic] word which means literally “in-play” (from inlusio, illudere or inludere). Therefore he must be cast out, for he threatens the existence of the play-community.’ (p.11)

I prefer the term spoil-sport to that of iconoclast since the former shows up the status quo for what it is – just one of many possible games people play. Arguably the most influential artistic spoil-sport of the 20th century was Marcel Duchamp, followed closely by John Cage. Their example paved the way for a new wave of artists and composers such as the Fluxus and minimalist movements, likewise eager to challenge the self-important gate-keepers of the “art world.”

Alvin Lucier is one such individual whose work opens our ears to an array of beautiful sonic experiences only made possible by filtering out so much of what is assumed to be fundamental or necessary to music. Importantly, his work shares with the two former “movements” an accessibility and a playful, child-like, sense of wonder.

A case in point is Lucier’s ‘Music on a Long Thin Wire.’ The piece is generated by suspending a taut long wire (up to 80 feet in some cases) between miked up bridges (the musical sort, not the ones you drive over) and allowed to vibrate with the help of a magnet and oscillator set at a fixed frequency. The system is highly susceptible to the slightest influence – ‘Fatigue, air currents, heating and cooling, even human proximity could cause the wire to undergo enormous changes’ (Lucier, 1992).

I first heard this piece in a Materials of Music class when studying at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. According to my lecturer, in the late 1970s the piece had been broadcast on public radio for five straight days and nights without interruption and  New York cabbies had tuned in en masse. This meeting of the avant-garde and mundane fascinated me and made a big impact on my musical ideas ever since.

In an interview with Jason Gross (2000), Lucier explained his inspiration for the piece: ‘I was sharing an acoustics class here at Wesleyn with a physics instructor. We were doing the Pythagorian experiment with a monochord on a table. We had an electro-magnet that was driving the string and an oscillator.  It was sort of a cut-and-dry sound experiment. I just got the idea to extend that in size-to have an really extraordinary long wire would really generate something amazing. When I started making the piece, I just didn’t bother to do any analysis or learning about the wire tension, mass and weight. I just set it up between a couple of tables and discovered that the imperfection of the way it was installed made a very interesting and wonderful sound. It was always changing. That’s the interesting thing about it- it isn’t fixed like a string on a piano. It’s subject to all kind of internal and external things.’

You can buy Alvin Luciers’ “Music on a Long Thin Wire” at Lovely Records HERE or just listen at youtube.

References:

Arts at MIT (2015, June 5). Evan Ziporyn interviews minimalist composer Alvin Lucier [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daDdiITVuWU.

Gross, J. (2000, April). Alvin Lucier on “Music on a long thin wire.” Perfect sound forever [Online magazine]. Retrieved from http://www.furious.com/perfect/ohm/lucier.html

Huizinga, J. (1949). Homo ludens: A study of the play-element in culture. London, England: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Lucier, A. (1992) Liner notes. In Alvin Lucier: Music on a long thin wire [CD]. New York, NY: Lovely Music.

Nietzsche, F. W., In Kaufmann, W., & Hollingdale, R. J. (1968). The will to power. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Tube Amp Theory: Uncle Doug and his dog Rusty

WARNING: Never attempt to open up your tube amp chassis or repair/modify it in any way, as lethal voltages may still be present for extended periods after the amp has been turned off and unplugged from the AC wall socket. Instead, take your amp to a qualified technician for inspection or servicing.

PLEASE NOTE: The following links and resources are provided strictly as items of theoretical interest only. I have no control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites or material referred to.

How many times have you searched youtube for concise, accurate and clearly-explained information about a topic that’s important to you, only to be greeted by some frenzied bozo desperately trying to squeeze their fifteen minutes of fame out of the internet like dregs from a tube of toothpaste. Music blares, graphics swirl: you’re implored to subscribe in booming robotic voice. Ok, no problem, you’re on a quest with a mighty thirst for knowledge and willing to put up with whatever it takes.

You wait, wait, wait some more (2 minutes in and this fool is still talking about his holiday in Bermuda)….still nothing. Fast forward a bit. Was that something there? Rewind. You discover 15 secs of (inconsequential) information deeply nestled within the 9 minutes and 53 seconds-long “tute.” Unfazed, you gain your composure, click on the next offering….another bozo…uggh! (Yes, I’m aware this introduction has similarly delayed you on your quest, but be patient…treasures abound below).

If your topic of interest is tube guitar amplifier theory, then have a look at these videos by Uncle Doug, a former teacher who actually knows how to…..wait for it…teach! But don’t go thinking you’re going to fall asleep without all the usual CGI generated graphics and (phat) Techno beats supplied for those of with the attention span of a….(no need to finish that, those concerned would’ve moved on already), Doug’s diagrams may be drawn in pencil, but they’ll address most of your burning tube amp theory questions, and furthermore, Doug’s ever-faithful sidekick, cameraman and general bon-vivant Rusty will keep you in stitches exactly when you find the need to take some time out.

So, I hope you find these tutorials informative and enjoyable. Happy trails.

…and much, much more at Uncle Doug’s youtube channel HERE.

Amp Books: Tube amp publications and online technical resource.

amp-books

WARNING: Never attempt to open up your tube amp chassis or repair/modify it in any way, as lethal voltages may still be present for extended periods after the amp has been turned off and unplugged from the AC wall socket. Instead, take your amp to a qualified technician for inspection or servicing.

PLEASE NOTE: The following links and resources are provided strictly as items of theoretical interest only. I have no control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites or material referred to.

If you’re interested in tube amp theory and design considerations, then you might like to check out the “Amp Books” website. While it’s primarily a vehicle for promoting Richard Kuehnel’s books, it also features a swag of interactive goodies and analyses including: “[online circuit] Calculators, Tutorials, Technology, and Classic Vacuum Tube Designs for Guitar Amplifier Circuits.” What I like about this site is its clear, methodical, modular approach to classic circuit analysis.