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Townshend and Generative Lifehouse 67

reformhead writes "Just found this article over at Canoe about how The Who's Pete Townshend is planning on releasing 3 box sets of his rock opera "Lifehouse". The third box set will be a limited edition that will include a software key you can use to import personal data about yourself that will in turn be used to generate an individual piece of music for you. " 1. Pete Townshend==God. 2. Generative Music==Cool. 3. The original Lifehouse was based on this same idea, but its pretty cool that its finally gonna happen. And if any of Townshend's PR people stumble on this, I wanna interview Pete for Slashdot.
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Townshend and Generative Lifehouse

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  • I love The Who and got most of them records (in MP3 form, mind you...), and im surely looking for to this new extravaganzic(?) production, but ...
    Generative Music sounds to me a bit strange... why would i like music based on my personality but done by someone else? and who would make this music? Townshend himself would read all that data or some software would automagically output some digital sounds based on my input?? If the latter is true, then i would say - no thanks!
    But even if it would be human-made, isnt the entire concept in conjunction with the whole idea of music - listening to what OTHERS has to say, and to the why they want to say (or sing...) it.
    If i wanted music based on MY personality, I would have created the music...

    Oh, and yes - Townshend==GOD?! , more likely Reed==GOOD!
  • Many people found it through the excellent Broadway production

    As opposed to the excruciatingly embarassing film. But seriously, The Who parted with many of their early fans over what was seen as a pretentious folly when Tommy came out. It also didn't endear them to a generation of punks (myself included), despite the fact that `Live in Leeds' can be seen as a seminal influence on both punk and heavy metal.

    Chris Wareham
  • A few points:

    1. Pete made demos of just about all the songs he wrote for The Who. That's Pete Townshend playing everything - in the beginning just guitar and vocals (overdubbed for multiple parts), but later everything - bass, drums, piano, synth, etc... Some of these demos can be found on Scoop and Another Scoop.

    2. A few Who tracks used the basic tracks from Pete's demos - Baba O'Riley, Won't Get Fooled Again and Love Reign O're Me being a few notable examples. This is how The Who's version of Baba came about. Pete recorded a demo version (over 13 minutes long) with synth, guitar, drums, piano, etc. It didn't have any vocals. The synth and piano tracks were later used for The Who's version. This long instrumental version was edited down (to 10 minutes?) for one of Pete's "Baba" LPs.

    3. Most people confuse the title of "Baba O'Riley", calling it "Teenage Wasteland". It turns out there actually *was* a song called "Teenage Wasteland"! I still have yet to hear it, but it's on the new box set. Looking at the lyrics to it at Pete's site, it looks like he decided to take some of the lyrics from that song and put them on top of his "Baba O'Riley" demo. The demo version of "Baba" with vocals will be on the box set as well - a sound clip is on Pete's site.

    4. While it's been commonly quoted that Pete entered statistics of Baba Meher into a computer to come up with the "Baba O'Riley" synth track, I believe Pete actually just wrote and recorded the synth track how he *thought* it would come out if he fed the info into a computer...

    BTW, I'm a bit bitter...I submitted info on Pete's new site and the box set over the weekend and it was rejected. Grr.
  • I'm no Who expert so I can only guess. Could this be minimalist Terry Riley?

    I don't have a link handy, but if anyone's curious, Riley most famous work includes

    • In C , serious
    • A Rainbow In Curved Air leaning pop, major label
    • and his collaboration with John Cale Church of Anthrax which I mention mostly cos Velvet Underground is my god band.
    A lot of his older ("seminal" and "important" in minimalist circles) has recently been reissued. I saw him live once in the 80s -- very repetitious, not thrilling IMO.
  • >It also didn't endear them to a generation of
    > punks (myself included), despite the fact that
    > 'Live in Leeds' can be seen as a seminal
    > influence on both punk and heavy metal.

    But if you look at it another way, The Who weren't really punks...they were more Mods than punks, although they did have an influence on everything. I think the Broadway version was fantastic, at least with the original cast. The cast I saw the night it closed was pathetic up until Pinball Wizard. But either way, Tommy is still an excellent piece in its own right.


  • Baba comes from Pete's avatar, Mehrer Baba;
    O'Riley comes from one of the album's engineers.
    It's actually Terry Riley, who turned Pete on to electronic music.
    But, in fairness, I can't remember if the track came from an audience member's stats, or Mehrer Baba's.
    The intention was for it to be Meher Baba's stats. However, the technology wasn't available in 1970/71, so it's really Pete's version of what he *thought* it would sound like.
  • Lizardking - Quadrophenia is perhaps one of the finest works to come out of The Who
  • Do you mean A Quick One?

    yeah... I never pay attention to the song titles. I just assumed that was the title :)
    It is a great one.
  • the site http://www.eelpie.com/ referred to in the canoe article is returning a listing:

    cgi-local/ 09:35:43 AM 01/22/98 0.5Kb
    local.cshrc 09:35:42 AM 01/22/98 0.1Kb
    local.login 09:35:42 AM 01/22/98 0.6Kb
    local.profile 09:35:42 AM 01/22/98 0.5Kb


  • Meher is pete's guru, considered by some(most?) to be an authentic avatar. He's more famous for saying, 'Don't worry, be happy!'

    On the other hand O'Riley is a analog synth pioneer who, last I heard, is still playing shows.

    If you're really interested you can do a few web searches, which I'm probably gonna do on O'Riley (of course I dont remember his first name).
  • Eons ago (in pop music terms) Roger Waters released an album called Radio Kaos [amazon.com] that is/was errily reminiscent of Lighthouse and -well- everything Townshendish. Seriously, Rob, you should get a copy of this one!

    Yeah, I'm a Mac programmer. You got a problem with that?
  • I really can't see what else it can be but a system of arbitrary thresholds for someone's personal stats. Not that I'm saying I'm not dying to hear my 'essence' coming out of an old ARP synth.

    Height and weight doesn't really fit neatly into music theory. I'm sure after a dropping a hit or two it starts to make sense, "Yeah, if you're fat than you're all bass notes, man."

    "Small chested girls, definately B-flat."

  • Are Who fans typically Styx fans? And what are some songs that people interested in the Who should seek out?

    Max V.
  • You mention that this was part of the original Lifehouse concept. For the curious, it was going to work (I'm pretty sure) by using your vital statistics a parameters to an old-style analog music synthesizer (such as PT's Arp) of early '70s vintage.

    I'm fairly sure that the 'continuo' synthesizer part to "Baba O'Riley" (on Who's Next) is an example of how this was supposed to work.

    Notice my qualifications in the claims above; further information/confirmation would be appreciated.

    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • I'm waiting for the obligatory,

    "Who does Townshend think he is?! Using my personal info to make a song! What ever happened to privacy in this country?!"

    The article didn't mention that both Tommy and Quadrophenia, more so the latter, were based on each memeber of the who's personality, not just those two songs listed.

  • I love the 3 Who albums I have (Quadrophenia, Who's Next, and Tommy). Are there any others that are any good? My personal favourite band is Jethro Tull. I think that Ian Anderson is a genius and a poet. Nothing like a little Tull while you're coding :)
  • Baba O'Riley is an early example of this AKA "Teenage Wasteland", during an early concert of this song, someone ( Baba O'Riley ) was taken out of the stands and some of his personal data was entered into the synth to come up with the backing track, this is some pretty cool stuff, and i need to clarify something, CLAPTON is god, Jimmy Hendrix is his archangel, and Townshed is his only begotten son. ;)
  • Well, Who By Numbers has always been a favourite of mine, but i would go for "The Best of The Who" to get a nice comprehensive "Best of" collection, if you're looking for "epic rock" i would go with Tommy
  • I'm just curious about how this whole generative music thing works. The original post by Black Parrot is somewhat informative...but I'm sure we'd all like to know how it comes together in detail. If anyone knows more...I'd certainly be interested in the down and dirty details. Sounds pretty cool.
  • I think that PT finishing and releasing Lifehouse 30 years after is way, way, cool. However, I have to point out that his first (failed) effort to finish Lifehouse resulted in Who's Next, the all time, coolest, kick-a**, best rock and roll album of all time. (So there). One can only hope for an equally successful "failure" this time...
  • This Who fan always liked Styx, but didn't go quite so far as being a Styx fan.

    For Styx fans, definitely start with Who's Next. Just listen to the whole thing (or at least the 9 original tracks, if you have the remastered CD with the bonus tracks). Then probably Who are You.

    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • I love a lot of The Who's output, but the rock operas like Tommy and Townshend's solo stuff leaves a lot to be desired. Definitely something for the hardcore fans only.

    And for the guy who reckons Weller is better songwriter than Townhend - well your wrong. They're both insanely good songwriters. (And that's coming from a Goth ...).

    Chris Wareham
  • I'm fairly sure that the 'continuo' synthesizer part to "Baba O'Riley" (on Who's Next) is an example of how this was supposed to work.
    "This was a number I wrote while I was doing these experiments with tapes on the synthesizer. Among my plans was to take a person out of the audience and feed information - hieight, weight, autobiographical details - about the person into the synthesizer. The synthesizer would then select notes from the pattern of that person. It would be like translating a person into music. On this particular track I programmed details about the life of Meher Baba [who the heck is that? -tms] and that provided the backing for the number." - Pete Townshend on "Baba O'Riley", from the liner notes on my handy disk "My Generation - The Very Best of The Who."
  • The WHO played at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit concert over the weekend in Mountain View, CA. They rocked. Here's a review. [sfgate.com]
  • Big fan of The Who. Not a big fan of Styx, although every time I hear that song "Come Sail Away", I have to sing it all the way through...

    For general 'Interested-in-The-Who', but not necessarily fans of any particular band, "Who's Next" is definitely their best single album, but if you've got a few extra bucks, pick up "30 Years Of Maximum R&B", the four disc box set they put out four or five years ago.

    It has most of "Who's Next" included on it, plus highlights from "Tommy", and the relevant singles including "Magic Bus", "My Generation", "The Kids Are Alright", plus a lot of live stuff and previously unreleased material, along with the standard box set book that details the history of the band. It's a little bit of overkill for the casual fan of The Who, but you can pick it up for about 50 bucks and not have to worry about ever buying another album unless the box set turns you into a die-hard fan.

    - Orange Julius
  • POint the first--Aside fromt eh broadway tommy I love most things Pete does. Hes a creative guy and trys to tell storys. You do remeber storys? I mean yea mastery of music is nice and good, but without a good tale to tell its mostly mastorbatory fluffings. Im sure that appeals to some of the more narrow focused cretins here, but i aim a tad higher.

    Point the B--Why is it that in a place such as slash dot the first reactions of many, not all, to something slightly off the charts or beaten paths is negative? You would think slashdot has become a haven for closed minded fundamentalists to read some of the posts surrounding new things.

    Petes track record should speak for itself. This Third Disc generative thing is either going to be utter cheese that the reocrd company is foisting on him or something amusingly cool.

    Why are, in this place, are there not more stabs, regarddless if they fail or not, at making new evenues of expression?

    Has the clacification creeped in such a tight weave that its all restritive motions?

    --just a though

    bell boy, got my lip buttoned down

  • ..is one of the best albums ever made. Paul Weller is certainly a genius and an extremely worthy soul. But would there have even been a Jam without the Who? In any case, I can't beleive that either of them even slightly worry about it. I imagine that there's just mutual admiration.

    "Trying to forget your generation...your generation don't mean a thing to me."

    Sham 69
  • They actually played Dayton. Oh. on their Who's Next tour. Woulda been around 1970. Kicked some serious butt! Hey, anybody remember Can't Explain or The Kids are Alright? These guys have been up there in the "best of the best" league for a _long_ time!
  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Tuesday November 02, 1999 @06:45AM (#1569481) Homepage
    Deep within the nestled chroot()'d directories of Rob Malda's Precision Cut Head lies Slashdot...but nobody knew where this ever growing tumor of a side project turned major stock came from from. Nobody knew...until:

    And if any of Townshend's PR people stumble on this, I wanna interview Pete for Slashdot.

    Slashdot is just a gigantic ploy to let Rob Malda satisfy his lifelong wish to talk to Pete Townshend!

    "...and thus it was written in the Book Of Dot, 'O Lord, How May I Speak To Your Musical Prophet', and the Lord replied, 'Yea, ye shall verily speak with thy prophet, but spread far and wide my message of openness and birds that do fail to fly. For that is the way to happiness; the road to bethlehem is with the Geek!"

    Yours (Hopefully) Amusingly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research

  • In the song Forgiven, the "Cello Cello Cello Cello Cello Cello.." part was supposed to be played with... you guessed it, a string section. But the record company would not spring for the cost to bring in extra musicians... so Townshend thought it would be funny to mouth the part instead.

    Well, it cracks me up at least...
  • Pete doesn't rule, I seriously doubt that generative music is going to rule. Can we have a special section for "aging rockers trying to be hip" so I can remove it from my preferences?
  • I am sorry for Rob Malda, but Eric Clapton is God. Pete is just an anthromorphic personification of the Holy Spirit. I just had to set that strait. Remember, they have been wrting that Eric Clapton was God since the 1960's.
    Would be nice to hear a piece of music based upon my stats, but it would be even better to hear one based upon Pamela Anderson's stats. I wonder how curvy and melodic it would be?
  • Howdy!

    Rock/Opera fans in or around the Boston area can check out the first production ever of the Pretty Things lesser-know but highly esteemed rock opera, SF SORROW [geocities.com]. The music will be live and loud and the show features some great talent.

    Please check it out!

  • I'd imagine it is much like what Douglas Adams described in The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul ( or was it Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency )... so, based on the current project I'm working on I might get to listen to death march music... yeah!
  • Is generative music life imitating art? or the other way around. All too often I see a group of people who define their attitude, their culture, and even their beleif systems upon a muscian or band (Townshend = God... hmmm). What are the social ramifications of having music based on your personality?

    I can name a couple albums, or sounds or even muscians that have changed who I am and even broadened my perspective through music. Not only through the lyrics but thought provocing instrumentals. Although generative music is a cool concept, what about the sharing of idea through music. Music based on one's current self is a bit stagnant, and could have the social implemintaion of inbreading. Just re-enforcing your current ideas untill they mutate into dilusions. Of coarse I am going way out on a limb here.

    Now back to the people mentioned previously, I think that in some cases certian people lack self esteem to the point that their identity souly defined by the music they listen and to some extent the music that is popular at the time. Generative music may be a tool that can be used to open a path to self-relization. Answer the questions honestly, or really express yourself truely and the end result may suprise or enlighten you.

    As a muscian I use music for self-enlightenment, to share ideas, and to grow. I enjoy making music according to my own tastes, but listen to everyone elses compositions for inpiration and creative prosparity. I could also see genertive music being used as a tool to form compositions around muy feelings easier than playing an intrument, but then again leanring an instrument is a disciplin that is VERY charecter building. I know I am conflicting in all my arguments, but I have the firm beleif that music isn't just always playing around. Its very much a foundation of society, and can influence it in negative ways.

    Oh well... so much more to say, but I feel I have made enough grammatical and spelling errors tonight.

  • Which is the chicken and which is the egg?????
  • > Meher Baba [who the heck is that? -tms]

    That was PT's personal guru. (He couldn't go off and chase the same gurus the Beatles and Stones did, now could he?)

    I don't know Meher Baba's precise religous stance. I think he was associated with Sufiism. He was most famous for a vow of silence, and spent much (most?) of his adult life without speaking a word. I believe there are some references to this in PT's music, but possibly only in his non-commercial work (i.e., the albums bundled into the Meher Baba set described in the article).

    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • Tommy is not only one of the finest pieces that Pete and Co. ever produced, but it's one of the most well-known Who pieces ever, the only possible toppers being "Who Are You" and "My Generation." Tommy itself was pretty much the first attempt at "serious" rock music writing; the subject on which it was based is autobiographical. Much of Pete Townshend's early life was nearly "autistic" in a way. Tommy's definately NOT "only for the hard core." Many people found it through the excellent Broadway production from 1993.
  • by Nick ( 109 )
    I have been a near life long advocate of the Who and for years have been professing the most divine wisdom of the Who and their highness as the 'greatest rock n roll band on earth'. Now I have something to say to the naysayers who reply with useless fodder as 'Who? The Who? (har har) haven't they not done anything in decades?'

    All hail the ayatollah of rock'n'rollah, the one, the master, Pete Townshend!
  • I always wondered what they were singing there before the "do my eyes
    decieve me? ..."

    "I can't believe it"

    Let's granulate the flame war: Reverse side of "A Quick One" sucks! Side A rules!

    Run Run Run!
    Boris The Spider!!!
    I Need You!!!
    Whiskey Man!!!
    Heat Wave!!
    Cobwebs and Strange!!!

  • Quadrophenia is perhaps one of the finest works to come out of The Who

    Including the tracks not written or performed by them ... Although it's a soundtrack album more than a rock opera.

    Chris Wareham
  • i need to clarify something, CLAPTON is god

    Not trying to start a flamewar, but in the words of someone whose name I've forgotten (Charlotte, perhaps?):

    ``Clapton ain't dead, but Yngwie is God.''
  • All this high-tech sound and "music" makes me sick. Lets bring back the good old days when you could listen to a data casette for hours on end. I guess now we have data compact discs, but its just not the same. Give me the screetching of computer data over "New Kids On The Block" any day!
  • Yngwie, now THATS funny!
  • > that provided the backing for the number

    I forgot to mention... prior to the familiar version of "Baba O'Riley" (popularly known as "Teenage Wasteland"), there was an extended, instrumental-only version that PT did in his home studio. The synthesizer part appears to be identical to the published version, albeit substantially longer. PT overdubbed guitar, bass, and drums similar to what appeared on in the published version, but no vocals at all. (Thus the already obscure vocals need not necessarily be relevant to the fact that the music was generated from Meher Baba's vital statistics. PT always recycled his music.)

    The version of "Baba O'Riley" described above appeared on various bootlegs, and perhaps even on one of the non-commercial albums dedicated to M.B.

    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • Do you mean A Quick One? I always wondered what they were singing there before the "do my eyes decieve me? am i back in your parts? am i back in your heart?" (or somesuch) part. The 'cello' bit makes sense given the situation. Brilliant, funny song. Guitar, bass and drums. Awesome!

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin