Tuesday, December 05, 2006


"A Singular Christmas" is the work of one Brian Whitman, a smart-aleck from one of America's premier science academies, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As he describes it, "...what is special about Christmas music? Let’s take the objectivist view– that there is something in the composition, construction, timbre or production in every popular Christmas song that makes it fit into the genre...What I could do is try to distill holiday music down to its barest essentials. My hypothesis was that if we could figure out the dominant components of Christmas music...then yes, we’ve cracked the code — we can have Holiday Forever, a Singular Christmas." He then uses computer talk incomprehensible to me to describe what he did, but ultimately "Dozens of holiday records went into the machine, and out came the sixteen tracks you can hear today."

I suspect the song titles reflect the tracks' ingredients, e.g. "Faithful Clear" might have used "O Come All Ye Faithful" + "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear." Upon listening to these tracks, however, I was amused to find that there's nothing "Christmas-y" about them. (So much for "cracking the code.") Nonetheless, it's a nice collection of Eno/Fripp-ish ambient/industrial/drone loveliness.

Brian Whitman: "Currier and rum king" - way too short at 47 seconds - I listened to it 3 times in a row.
Brian Whitman: "Grand hotel pout twice" - beautiful shimmery-ness; also too short (1:26)
Brian Whitman: "Pum pa chestnut pies" - hypnotic drones fade in and out; a kind of "Music For North-Pole Airports"

1 comment:

Chester said...

I liked the idea and started downloading the tracks from "A Singular Christmas" but then I started listening to them. No thanks! I was expecting more of a mashup type output with recognizable soundbites but no such luck. The true "Christmas Code" is far to complex to be cracked by some MIT student and his computers. :-)