Music and experimentation in Second Life

nnoiz Papp in the flesh
nnoiz Papp in the flesh

Drax Files: World Makers 43, released on Wednesday, February 1st, takes us back to the world of music in Second Life; specifically that of nnoiz Papp. As someone who has a deep appreciation of classical music, and who very much enjoys music with an electronic flavour and can wrap itself around Middle Eastern and Far Eastern themes and ideas, I have to say that the piece came as something of an eye-opener to me, as I’ve somehow managed to miss nnoiz’s music thus far – but having seen the segment, it is something I’m liable to be keeping an eye out for in the future.

nnoiz’s life very much revolves around music. His physical work has him providing sound and music for the animated television series, Sendung mit der Maus  (The Show with the Mouse), which has been running since 1971,  and is Germany’s longest-running animated children’s show. With a strong educational leaning, it has won 75 awards over the years. and has drastically altered perceptions around the value of television as a tool for learning with youngsters in Germany. nnoiz first became involved in it in 1984, and also works on the spin-off series Die Sendung mit dem Elefanten (The Show with the Elephant), aimed at pre-school youngsters, which launched in 2007 – the year he also got involved in Second Life.

Nnoiz Papp in the pixels
Nnoiz Papp in the pixels

In-world, he is able to bring together an engaging mix of classical-based, electronically inspired music which he describes as organic. It’s a description I’d agree with, intertwining contemporary, electronic / industrial beats with the more assured, mature influences of classical pieces and middle-eastern influence to produce something entirely harmonic, pleasing to the ear and very much alive.

nnoiz is very much an experimentalist within music – and Second Life is perhaps an ideal environment for such experimentation. Not only does it offer the chance to reach a global audience through in-world concerts and gigs, it is also a unique environment in which music and sound can be played with physically.

The original plug & play - nnoiz working at his modular synthesisers
The original plug & play – nnoiz working at his modular synthesisers

In his liner notes, Drax draws a line between nnoiz’s work at that of Wendy Carlos, and it is not in any way a stretch. For me, on hearing the excerpts of nnoiz’s music, together with learning about his work with modular synthesisers – something which carried me back to reading about and listening to the late Isao Tomita. Again, both men share similar ground in the avant-garde of music, whilst remaining true to some of the great composers of the past (I particularly enjoyed catching J.S. Bach woven into one of nnoiz’s pieces, Bach also being a favourite with Tomita).

This is a World Makers piece which largely speaks for itself – although non-German speakers should ensure they have subtitles enabled when watching! – and as such, extensive commentary from me risks adding hyperbole to what really is an excellent piece.

nnoiz's other alter-ego (who shares billing with nooiz): The Singing Cat
nnoiz’s other alter-ego (who shares billing with nooiz): The Singing Cat

That said, and in case you do find dealing with sub-titles a little difficult, I do urge you do watch the segment through to the end. From the 3:45 mark nnoiz offers some pithy insights into clichéd views on Second Life, included the tired old (and wholly incorrect) view that you “cannot” understand Second Life without entering into its smuttier side. As nnoiz points out, it is possible to visit a city and entirely its seedier side, unless that is your intention for visiting – which is something else entirely. So the idea that SL is “all about the sex”, or any exploration of SL “must” include sex, is a very erroneous position to take.

As this segment of World Makers again demonstrates, SL is so rich and vibrant a melting pot of experiences, ideas, explorations and opportunities, that someone entering it doesn’t necessarily have to jump into its “dirty corners” in order to fully and roundly appreciate it.

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3 thoughts on “Music and experimentation in Second Life

  1. Inara thank you for the write-up. I want to add a bit of context real quick because some folks have responded about the “Sendung mit der Maus” aspect in the following way: “…well if he is just adding a bit of clickety-clack to the mouse feet all day OF COURSE he will want to hang out in SL where he has freedom!”

    The fact is that nnoiz is doing QUITE a bit more for the Maus and Elefant shows: several hundred [!!!] of original musical compositions over the years, many many original musical accompaniments for the live-to-tape portion of the Elefant show [feat. actress Anke Engelke] and indeed: sound effects creation and post-production which at the rapid pace this show is produced is no small challenge!

    The reason we do not show more in my video is quite simple: we were not able to obtain the rights to use more than we are! Sad but true: the rights are owned by a public TV entity but the licensing of that content is fairly straightforward in commercial terms, unobtainable for a small time virtual documentarian like myself!

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    1. I’m surprised that’s the response from people.

      Speaking as one who was entirely divorced from this segment – no conversations between you and I or anything else, so I was coming to it as fresh as anyone else (I actually didn’t see it until the finished cut), it seemed pretty clear to me that nnoiz’s work is WAY more than “adding clickety clacks”! Music composition is mentioned – and that alone requires time that can far exceed the actual air-time of a show. Given that each programme is also an entirely bespoke production, requiring considered use of music, effects, etc., to correctly balance the show, and each must meet the deadlines of a rolling TV series (just because it is animated / children’s series does mean production values / time-frames are any less rigorous than found in other shows). So, colour me surprised by people’s reactions, and thank you for adding the context!

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