Thursday, March 12, 2009

YouTube As A Musical Instrument - Kutiman's Thru-You

If you were to hand me an object and there was anyway in which to make a sound with that object, I would try to make that sound. Take me down the soda aisle at the grocery store and I will find it difficult not to tap as many two liter bottles as possible. They sound like bells.

I'm not saying that I am special or anything. This is just my thing. I like to make sounds. For a gazillion years, people have been making sounds. First drums, then whistles, and flutes, and stringed things, and xylo-what-nots. Anytime a new technology or substance comes along, people try to figure out a way to make music with it. Synthesizers came around because of the electronics they are made from. Oh look, a light sensor, let's make a light controlled theramin. The examples are infinite.

It only makes sense that eventually people would begin to think of recorded music as an instrument. Maybe it started with the Mellotron, that beautiful keyboard that uses actual tape loops of different instruments. After that, people started sampling songs, turning other peoples recordings into instruments that they could use to create their own works. Why not? A piano makes a piano sound, a record makes a different sound. For as long as there have been scissors, people have been making collages.

Last night, Ken, hipped me to a new sampling technique. Welcome to the insane new world of Thru-You by Kutiman. Kutiman has turned YouTube into an instrument. By taking an assortment of clips from other people on YouTube and editing and cutting them to make them fit, Kutiman has created some jaw-droppingly beautiful collages of audio and video. Maybe he takes a clip of a woman singing to her baby, he then cuts up a video of someone playing the organ to make them play the same melody. Take a video of a kid filming himself play the drums, add in a snipped up bit of a school recital by a string quartet and he's created a whole new composition.

It's perfectly brilliant. It's one of those how-could-I-not-have-thought-of-this-things that makes perfect sense and seems so obvious now that you've seen it.

But when you watch these clips only part of the enjoyment is in thinking about the process. Certainly it took an unthinkable amount of work to put these pieces together, but what really stands out is the true artistry of the works. I literally got shivers during parts of these. Especially the somehow heartbreaking last bit of "I'm New". Make sure you watch that one and make sure you watch it until the end. Turn it up loud.

I'd love to hear what the different musicians, who are unknowingly featured in the performances, think about it. There's a full documentary right there pretty much already written for you. Make it.

I hope you enjoy the videos. I only posted two here but you can learn and see more here: Thru-You

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