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All Songs Considered

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Hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton spin new music from emerging bands and musical icons.

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Biophilia: Bjork Visualizes Music

October 11th, 2011

Episode 365 of 730 episodes

Bjork is a visionary. Sit down with her, and she'll tell you how today's technology gives her hope and allows her to be intuitive and emotive. Talk about music, and the Icelandic singer will tell you how the chorus in a song is like a wide-open space and how the verse is a constricted, narrow tunnel. Launch her collaborative iPad/iPhone application, and you'll see how this vision of music takes shape, literally.Here is the conversation we had in an office in New York City.And here are a few quotes of interest."I found in the touch screen a way to visualize how I see a song when I close my eyes.""For me, this project's very much about solving things, solving riddles. I guess you could say that it is sort of about finding a new angle; how the electronic and acoustic could work together. How nature and technology could work together ... trying to find a fresh point where the listener and the music maker exchange music.""A lot of the times on this project, him (Damian Taylor), me and my assistant James, we were in a house for a year in Puerto Rico. So we were basically waking up together, programming together, making music together, getting drunk together, swimming in the ocean. So it was a very good way to be totally immersed in the project. Then we were making pendulums out of buckets and string and rope and we ordered pipe-organ pipes, really cheap ones from eBay, and were plugging the touch screens to that. Basically, what we were making was coming out of those pipes.""I found in the touch screen a way to visualize how I see a song when I close my eyes."So basically each app has a theme, a musicology theme, and this app (accompanying the song "Crystalline") is about structure.In the beginning, I thought I would make a music house in Iceland, a music museum for children so each song was a room. So you go to one room [and] you get to play with the lightning, you write a song; you go to another room, there are crystals there, and so on. That didn't happen. ... And then we thought maybe this is a 3D movie, and that may seem like a big jump, but actually for me, going from each song being a room to being a scene in a movie, isn't that much of a jump.You can use the tool of Western civilization and be impulsive and intuitive and emotional — and that, for me, creates a lot of hope.

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