Thursday, December 8, 2016

DAVID FOSTER - Award-winning Musician And Composer

English: David Foster speaking at a ceremony f...
David Foster speaking at a ceremony for Andrea Bocelli to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Born November 1st, 1949, David Foster is an award winning producer, composer and musical arranger, and has won 14 Grammy awards – and been nominated for 42 – over the course of his career. As a member of the musical group Skylark during the 70s, Foster gained the opportunity to work closely with many high-level celebrities and musicians, including: John Lennon, Josh Groban, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Andrea Bocelli, Madonna, Gordon Lightfoot, and many, many more!

Foster was also asked to compose the score for the film St. Elmo’s Fire, and gained several additional hit singles off the movie’s soundtrack release. Through his own record label, Foster produced debut albums for several well-known musical artists who have since moved onward to very lucrative musical careers, such as: Josh Groban, The Corrs, and Michael Buble. His label is known as 143 Records.

Foster was married in 1991 to Linda Thompson, and although they are no longer together, Foster and Thompson worked together on several pieces such as the song “I Have Nothing” from the soundtrack to The Bodyguard in 1992. This song was nominated for both a Grammy and an Academy Award, and in 1996, Foster’s composition “The Power of the Dream” with Kenneth Edmonds became the official theme song for that summer’s Olympics.

As an attempt to get into television, Foster and his two step-sons began a reality TV show called The Princes of Malibu, where Foster played himself, trying to convince his sons to shape up and make their own way in the world. The show failed, and was canceled soon after its debut. More recently, Foster was featured as a guest on the television reality show American Idol, as a mentor to competitors. He was also a judge on the show Nashville Star, as well as Celebrity Duets, a show created and produced for Fox-TV.




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How to Play the TRUMPET - The Business Is the Buzz

Trumpet player
Trumpet player 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Some musicians, like guitar players, have it easy. They can make a great tone just by plucking a string. In fact, anyone who plucks Eric Clapton's guitar string will produce a tone nearly identical to Clapton's own. But if you want to play the trumpet, making a good tone is a little more complex. Trumpet players spend their careers practicing and focusing on their tone. As a beginning trumpet player it's important to recognize this fact and be diligent, yet patient in creating good tone.

Good tone is an essential, often elusive component of trumpet playing, and is best achieved by learning correct technique from the very beginning. One reason many trumpet players struggle with their tone is because of the way they learned to form their embouchure, or muscles of the lips area when playing. A poor embouchure set easily becomes habit, and the longer it persists, the more difficult it is to change. We'll take a look here at how to form your embouchure to produce a nice, clear trumpet tone.

A short disclaimer here - learning to buzz and produce a nice trumpet tone by reading about it is like having someone describe the colors of a rainbow. The concept may come through, but the real thing needs to be experienced. That's why a good trumpet teacher or quality video lesson is recommended. Resources are available below. Now on with the details...

The way you produce a sound on the trumpet is by buzzing your lips together. The buzz is a concept that might be illustrated by going back in your memory, recalling a time when you were about 5 years old. Maybe you were frustrated or angry and you wanted to spit. You went - "ppft". Not an adult type of spit with lots of fluid and maybe a loogie (okay, sorry about that), but just a lips-together, relatively dray "p-p-p-p-p-p-p" kind of spit. Try it now without the trumpet by starting with a relaxed face. Then flex the corners of your lips and draw them back only slightly, stopping short of a smile position. Try to make a flat surface of the front of your lips. Now hold that position, keep the corners nice & firm. Take a deep breath, and blow, making a long, buzzing spit sound. Done correctly, this will sound somewhat like a bumble bee or mosquito, and might tickle the lips.

Your first efforts might result in a rough buzz sound with lots of spray, but keep practicing, and remember to keep the corners firm and the front surface of you lips flat. You don't want a pucker shape like you're kissing your Aunt Tilly. And even though I used the spit reference, you're not really spitting and you don't want a lot of spray. Look at your self in a mirror and make sure that the underside of your lips, or the wet part, aren't visible when you make that buzz. Just like when you say 'mmmm..'.

Think about the mosquito buzz sound in contrast to a dirt bike. Sometimes the idea of spitting out a hair or a seed can help get the right concept. If you find that your buzz is pretty rough, really focus in on clenching those corners and keeping them nice & tight & firm.

The next step is to put a trumpet in front of the buzz. Keeping the corners firm, place the trumpet gently to your lips and play the buzz into the mouthpiece. Are you keeping firm corners? Without pressing any valves, you're likely to play one of two notes, C or G. Either is fine. Be sure though that you're not pressing your trumpet into your lips with brute force. You should be able to make a tone just holding the trumpet gently in place and using good, steady air. Pressing that horn into your lips is one common mistake that beginners make, and if it becomes a normal habit for you, it will really hold you back and hinder your ability to improve.



Practice making nice, long tones on any note that you can produce. Don't try to play too high or too loud, just aim for a consistent tone. Sounds simple, but that's a pretty tall order for a brand new player, so do your best with it.

This is just one note for now, but if you can start by playing one note really well here early on, you're way better off than playing 20 notes badly.

Back to the disclaimer, a written description on hoe to play the trumpet has limitations. The best investment a beginning trumpet player can make is in trumpet lessons, either in person or on video. A live personal teacher is great, but that can be expensive. Technology now allows for a good alternative in video trumpet lessons delivered online. Check your local resources and the internet for options that are right for you.



Download Sheet Music at Musicnotes.com

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

LEARN TO SING Correctly Every Time

Portrait of Harry Belafonte, singing, 1954 Feb...Portrait of Harry Belafonte, singing
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kids tend to find singing very amusing and never miss a chance to show off their singing talent.  For some kids, the desire to sing does not wear off by getting older. In some cases, it grows even stronger and it becomes a passion they wish to pursue as adults. In this case, singing becomes a bit more challenging. It's one thing to make singing mistakes as a kid and quite different to become embarrassed in a karaoke contest. In fact, many people give up singing as adults, simply because they are afraid of the harsh criticism they may get.

If you can identify with the above situation, you'll certainly be glad to know that you can, in fact, learn how to sing properly, every time. Sure, good genes are factor if you want to become a star, but anyone can learn how to sing impressively well if they devote the time and energy required to master the technique. Hence, the most important step you need to take, is to decide if you are really determined to learn how to sing and everything else will follow with studying and practice.

You will have noticed that the word "studying" was mentioned in the above paragraph, along with practice. You see, in order to sing properly, you definitely need to learn some of the principles of voice production. Singing is a highly physical activity and professional singers know that. That's why they seem to be singing with their entire body rather than just their vocal chords. Pro singers can manipulate three types of singing voices, which are usually common to all people. The chest voice, the middle voice and the head voice. 

The chest voice is the voice you use when you speak. With this voice, you can create a rich, full-bodies sound. The head voice is usually used for higher pitched notes, most frequently by female vocal artists. The middle voice acts somewhat like a bridge between the chest voice and the head voice. You can think of these different singing voices as the ABC of singing. Only after you've studied and learned your ABC does it make sense to practice. And if you practice with some solid guidelines in mind, be sure that you can learn how to sing correctly, every time!




Monday, December 5, 2016

SAXOPHONE Giants: DEXTER GORDON

A Big Man With a Big Sound
There have been many great tenor saxophone players throughout the history of jazz, but one of my favorites is Dexter Gordon.  Perhaps what I like best about Dexter Gordon is his big, beautiful sound.  He stood 6' 6'' tall, and he had a saxophone tone to match his stature with  a warmth and body to it that was unmistakably his own.

English: Dexter Gordon in Amsterdam (2). 1980....
Dexter Gordon in Amsterdam  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Under A Doctor's Care
Gordon was born in L.A. In 1923.  His father's name was Frank Gordon, and he had the distinction of being one of the first African American doctors practicing medicine in Los Angeles.  As luck would have it two of his patients were jazz greats Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.  Dexter began playing clarinet when he turned 13.  He soon switched to saxophone, and by his senior year in high school this amazing talent was offered a job in the Lionel Hampton big band.  Never hurts to have an in.

Paris Without Regret
After the Hampton band Dexter did stints with Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson and Billy Eckstine.  In 1960 Gordon started to record for the famous jazz label, Blue Note Records.  During this period he recorded many acclaimed jazz albums including one of his favorites, GO.
In 1962 Dexter moved to Europe to work and live and resided mainly in Paris.  Many notable jazz musicians of this era did the same because they were appreciated and respected more by the Europeans and experienced much less discrimination.  He remained in Europe for the next 15 years until returning to the U.S. In 1976.

Round About Midnight
Upon his return to the States Dexter made a much heralded appearance at the Village Vanguard in New York City and finally achieved the recognition as one of the great jazz tenor players that he had deserved for years.

In 1986 Gordon was nominated for an Academy Award for his starring role in the jazz film, Round Midnight.  The role was tailor made for Dexter as the movie was about an expatriate jazz musician living in Europe.





Musician of the Year
After coming back to the U.S. Dexter signed a deal with Columbia Records who promoted him heavily along with other jazz artists.  His new found notoriety and his high level of jazz saxophone playing led to his being named Downbeat Magazine's Musician of the Year in 1978 and  1980.
Dexter Gordon died in 1990 at the age of 67 from kidney failure after a lifetime of producing some jazz's greatest tenor saxophone music.

    By Joel Krett
    Joel Krett is currently playing tenor saxophone and harmonica with The Subway Show Band out of Morgantown. WV. and is an avid jazz fan.

    Article Source: EzineArticles




Sunday, December 4, 2016

MUSIC : The Source, The Life Force

Since humans first walked this Earth we have been banging inanimate objects and noticing tonal harmonies in all that we do. Music evokes such a deep rooted emotion in us, connecting with our inner being on an infinite number of levels.


From the depths of depression to the awesome high of life itself there is a music which can touch us in a profound manner at every single step of the way.

Someone once said to me "I don't like music" ... I simply couldn't fathom this concept of actually not liking music. I could obviously see how one could dislike a certain type of music but to not like any music at all was a totally alien idea to me.

I was lucky I suppose, growing up, I was privy to the tastes of my "60's generation" parents and all that hippy stuff, along with a fine selection of very early blues, reggae, jazz and some really raw grooves which have all but been lost to our super fickle modern generation. In fact my Father owned one of the first copies of the first 45 from a label named Chess. Worth a fortune now no doubt. Music has always been a big part of my life.

So why does music reach us at this most basic level? What is it about the human being that makes us crave this "soul food"? Well, music is a multifaceted means of communication. It is possible through music to create all the acoustic features that we use in our everyday language. Furthermore, these acoustic features can be generated in a very definite way. This makes it possible for composers to reach us at our most primeval state, simply by structuring the music according to predefined patterns. 

The most basic musical element that we respond to is a rhythmical beat or pulse. If you need proof of this then notice how a newborn baby will begin to rock or move to the beat without prompting. This is the human instinct naturally reacting to a rhythm, the roots of which are deeply imbedded in all of us. This is the case whether you like music or not.

The next level of musical recognition is the conscious awareness of the interval between certain vibrations or frequencies. In other words the musical scale. It was not long before humans realized that certain notes work together and certain notes do not - harmonious sequences and discordant sounds.

In fact, not all that long ago a discordant sound was associated with the work of the devil because it made the listener feel quite uncomfortable. These days we have moved on with many modern jazz musicians purposefully using discordant sounds - something which horrifies the purists.

One level up from the musical scale is the combination of many different types of musical instrument. This is what we know today as pop music, orchestral music and many other genres. It pleases us when we hear harmonious combinations of many different types of instrument. These chords and harmonious sequences connect with us at our most basic level. It is these musical progressions which can evoke such strong emotions in all of us.



To this day, there are no generally accepted definitions of this musical complexity at a logical and objective level. Many people report that when they hear a piece of music they really like and which touches them emotionally they will feel the hairs on their arms stand on end. This is hardly a scientific observation but is one of the only indicators we have telling us when somebody is emotionally moved by piece of music.

To be perfectly honest, maybe the scientists should just leave it alone - I believe some things were not meant to be explained. Music is music and it makes us feel the way we do because of some ancient connection handed down from generation to generation. The best thing to do with music is just enjoy it! 

Without music the world would indeed be a very dull place.