Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Keyboard Sonatas of MOZART

Family portrait: Maria Anna ("Nannerl&quo...
Family portrait: Maria Anna ("Nannerl") Mozart,
her brother Wolfgang, their mother Anna Maria (medallion) and father, Leopold Mozart
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mozart, born in Salzburg on January 27, 1756, was christened Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus. Born on the feast day of St. John Chrysostomus, his first two names honored the saint, and Theophilus came from Johannes Theophilus Pergmayr, his Godfather. Theophilus is Gottlieb in German, a name Mozart sometimes used, and Amadeus is Italian, the name Mozart preferred and the name with which he is identified by in the world of music.

Leopold, Mozart's father, was a fine musician and had a wide reputation as a wonderful violin teacher. It is he who was Mozart's first music instructor and who introduced Mozart to the public. At the age of five, with his father's guidance, Mozart began to give performances.

Mozart was a prolific composer of opera, keyboard works, vocal pieces, symphonies and chamber music. He was a gifted pianist, violinist, and conductor. Nearly all of his compositions were commissioned works, no commission being too small or too large. Mozart's music is a depiction of the man himself, ranging in moods of comical, noble tragedy, simplistic elegance, courtly majesty and heroic works full of the spirit of freedom.

In December of 1774, Mozart traveled to Munich where he composed a set of six sonatas, K. 282 in E-flat Major included. These six sonatas represent Mozart's earliest surviving works in this genre. Mozart's early works are a light, cheerful style associated with the Galant movement in Italy. The Galant movement was an emphasis on classical simplicity (such as less ornamentation, an increase in the importance of the melody, musical phrases of a regular length and so forth), as compared to the complexity and ornate nature of the Baroque era.

Mozart also modeled his compositional style after many of his contemporaries, including Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach, Johann Christian Bach, and Franz Joseph Haydn. It is Haydn's influence that is particularly noted in K. 280, 281, and 282.

Mozart's keyboard sonatas were not originally intended for the concert platform, but instead for a more private context. They were valuable tools for teaching and they also provided repertoire material for Mozart's performances in the homes of patrons.

The Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 282, begins atypically with an Adagio movement. The movement is in a two-part form or binary form. This first movement, in the key of B-flat Major, is very expressive melodically and demonstrates a strong interplay between forte and piano.

The second movement consists of two minuetts, in the keys of B-flat and E-flat Major. The first of the two minuetts is simple, yet energetic, and reminiscent of Haydn's style. The second of the minuetts has a livelier left-hand accompaniment and "snap-rhythms." This second movement also exhibits the same striking contrasts between forte and piano.

The third movement, in the key of E-flat Major, is in miniature sonata allegro form with a very short development and a full recapitulation. The upbeat motive recurs in a variety of forms, giving an impression of compact unity to the whole movement. This motive also serves as the thematic basis for the development section. The recapitulation begins exactly as the exposition. The coda, tail/ending extends the opportunity to show off the pianist's technical ability and ends almost as an afterthought. It is as though the pianist has stopped, but the music continues on.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Exploring REGGAETON Music and Dances

Ivy Queen
Photo  by ElNene2k13 
Reggaeton is a type of urban music that has become widespread in popularity among young music lovers in Latin America, North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Reggaeton music originated in Panama and caters to Hispanic youth, with rapping and singing often in Spanish. The music is a blend of Jamaican style music such as dancehall and reggae and Latin America style music such as salsa, bomba, plena, merengue, bachata, hip hop, bolero, R&B, and Latin pop.

Reggaeton music boasts its own specific rhythm and beat. The rhythm of reggaeton is often referred to as "Dem Bow." The name Dem Bow references the title of a dancehall song from the 1990s by Shabba Ranks. Though the music genre of reggaeton is mostly associated with Puerto Rico (where this style of music was popularized and became famous), the lyrics are more hip-hop type lyrics than dancehall. 

The Beat of Reggaeton

It's the reggaeton beat, or Dem Bow, that drives the music and dances. The beat is described as a drum-machine track that originated with Jamaican dancehall rhythm. Reggaeton combines a syncopated snare and steady kick drum to create an unusual rhythm. There's a 4/4 beat emphasized by the kick drum, and the snare starts with the "and" of the 3rd 8th note and right on the 4th 8th note. There are about 95 beats per minute, and the result is a magnified "boom-ch-boom-chick" sounding beat.

Reggaeton beat sounds are usually synthesized electronically. There are also simple melodies created with electronic instruments, keyboards, and electric guitars. The beats are versatile and can be based on the bolero, hip-hop, salsa, merengue, bachata, or other similar beats. 

The Reggaeton Dance

Sensual (and controversial) dancing can often be seen in reggaeton clubs or on music videos. The perreo type dance is a form of grinding dance derived from Puerto Rico. The dance puts women in control of the dance and is very provocative in its nature. Perreo moves are popular in dancehall, rhythm and blues, and hip-hop music as well. A slightly calmer form of reggaeton dancing is cumbia, which was originally a folk dance and music from Colombia. Like perreo, the cumbia dance is flirtatious in nature with the women luring the men toward them and then pushing them away.

Some of the leading artists in reggaeton include CandyMan, Esko, Fito Blanko, Nicky Jam, La Fabrica, Don Miguelo, Daddy Yankee, De la Ghetto, DJ Blass, Baby Rasta & Gringo, Don Chezina, Lito & Polaco, Eddie Dee, Adassa, El Chombo, and Tony Touch. Some popular producers of reggaeton music are Eliel, Luny Tunes, and Noriega.

With the widespread popularity of reggaeton music, there are now many radio stations specializing in this type of music. There are also online radio venues where fans can download music, listen online, or watch the reggaeton music video of choice. The major benefit of online radio is fans can listen to their favorite music or watch their favorite videos around the clock.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Theater Arts – Italian Opera

Le Prophète : illustration de presse de la scène du couronnement lors de la création londonienne de l'oeuvre au Royal Italian Opera (1849)
Photo: Wikimedia
Italian opera is the earliest known opera form. Although the Greek and Roman Theater had inspired it, it inspired many countries around the world, including most of Europe. Some say that the word opera has been derived from the Italian words “Opera in Musica” which means work in music. The evidence of the very first opera performed in Italy was at the wedding of Marie de Medici and Henry IV of France. The Italian opera had three stages namely the baroque, the romantic and the modern. 

Baroque period is the name of that period of Italian opera that originated in Italy in the beginning of the 17th century. The voice used was very high pitched along with the instrumental music. This style was known as monody and was developed by Giulio Caccini and Jacopo Peri. It was reflected in the opera Euridice that was based on the story of Eurydice and Orpheus. When there were no dialogues during the performance, there were songs with music. This type of opera inspired many other writes, one of them was Claudio Monteverdi who wrote La Favola D’Orfeo that had the monody style. It was his first play and it still is famous with the audience today. Monteverdi worked hard on synchronizing instrumental music with the words and showed this effort in Mantua, with large choruses with nearly forty instruments that created a really good effect.  He was named as the Maestro Da Cappella in Venice in the year 1613.

The first opera house for the public was opened in the year 1637. Monteverdi wrote many compositions for this theater and his works L’Incoronazione di Poppea and I Ritomo d’Ullise in Patria were prominent out of the many. He even brought the Bel Canto and Buffa styles into Italian opera. Bel canto had a more even tone and eased the singing stress. Buffa had more comic touch with amusing and mocking elements. All these acted as the stepping-stone for many other later composers. At the end of the century, there were three hundred and fifty opera created for the theaters of Venice alone. Many young artists were inspired to work in these theaters and bring out their talents. People came from outside Italy too.    

In the 19th century, romantic opera began to rise and Gioacchino Rossini was responsible for it. The romantic opera involved lots of emotions and imagination along with lots of music and arias. This music was so fine that it overshadowed the blunders in the stories. His composures such as La Cenerentola and Barber of Seville are famous until today. Many others such as Vincenzo Bellini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Gaetano Donizetti followed him.  

Giuseppe Verdi changed the way opera was written at that time. Nabucco was his first work and it was a very big success because of the great choruses along with enormous liveliness in the music. He even wrote Va pensiero, a chorus presentation to inspire the warriors at the time of Italian independence struggle. The works, which followed this had a more patriotic theme and were also based on older romantic works. He began to venture into different musical forms and finally his creation Otello replaced Rossini’s opera. His last work Falstaff finally changed the conventional form of theater and made music and words more free-flowing. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

GIACOMO PUCCINI - Musical Unifier

Puccini standing, facing slightly left; wearin...
Puccini  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Giacomo Puccini was born on December 22, 1958. His hometown was Lucca, Italy, a charming town in Tuscany surrounded by Roman walls. His family had a long lineage of musicians and he soon became an organist at a local church. He was inspired to write opera after seeing a production of Aida. He had to walk almost twenty miles to Pisa to see it. It is fitting that Aida was his inspiration. Written by the current reigning king of Italian opera, Giuseppe Verdi, it marked a turning point in that composer's musical language in which he started broadening his horizons eastwards- towards German specifically and Richard Wagner. Puccini would continue to both embrace Italian style but expose himself to the musical language of the Germans, French and new sounds that were coming out of the Orient.

It is also very fitting that his first successful opera, Manon Lescaut, was written in 1893. That happened to be the same year that Verdi wrote his last opera, Falstaff. Although Falstaff is unquestionably a masterpiece, listeners of the day must have found it to be somewhat old-fashioned after hearing Manon Lescaut. Puccini takes the story of the courtesan and creates voluptuous sonorities. He employs new instruments and chords not to mention a compelling sense of drama.

Manon Lescaut now behind him, he turned to a story by Murger about a bunch of bohemians. Written in 1896, La Boheme would become one of the most popular opera ever. It was revolutionary in its day for the naturalness in which the characters spoke. Instead of gods and goddesses, these characters dealt with banal issues such as paying the rent. In other words real life. This was a part of a movement in Italian literature called verissmo. (I pagliacci and Cavalleria rusticana are other examples.) Boheme was lauded for its musical language and its gripping theater. The story is about a seamstress who meets a young poet and embarks on a love affair despite knowing that she is dying of consumption. Although many find the Broadway musical Rent to be a bastardization of this opera, it is an effect updating because T.B. was a very stigmatized disease in its day much like AIDS was in the 80s.

in 1900 Puccini wrote Tosca a bloody opera about corruption and abuse of power. The opera comes from a play by Victorien Sardou written specifically for the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt. The character of Tosca seems a good fit for any prima donna because, in part, it is about a prima donna. Puccini at this point was becoming interested in the new sounds that came were coming out of France at the time, notably orientalism. In an opera that takes place in Rome, he had almost no opportunity to use it in a credible way. The did manage to insert a whole tone scale, a sequence of notes that is now a cliche for Chinese music.

He had no trouble incorporating orientalism in his next opera, Madama Butterfly. Written in 1904 the premiere was one of those legendary disasters that can only happen in opera. The public didn't seem to want to give it a chance. It may be apocryphal, but the story goes that Arturo Toscanini was both conducting the premiere and having an affair with the soprano. In act II when Butterfly brings out the illegitimate son she had by Pinkerton, the American soldier, a heckler screamed out "It's Toscanini's." Needless to say, there was no way to restore order after that. Puccini went on to revive it twice in the ensuing months and its final version has become a beloved favorite. Hearing the original version it is plain to see that it is flawed. It is a testament to Puccini's humility that he would take that disaster and try to examine how he may have failed as a composer and try to improve his work.

His last major premiere was Turandot. Taking place in mythical China this was the perfect opportunity for him to explore new sounds and create atmosphere. The story centers around an icy princess who has a penchant for decapitating her suitors. One eventually wins her over and they live happily ever after. Dramatically the work is flawed but in terms of glitzy theatrical spectacles, there is nothing better. It includes the great tenor opera "Nessun Dorma." Puccini never completely the opera. The task went to Franco Alfano. Toscanini was disappointed with it and revised his version giving us what we recognize today.

Puccini dies in 1924. A chronic chain smoker, it was throat cancer that did him in. It is ironic that someone so devoted to the human voice should die such a way. The passage of time has not diminished the immediacy and timelessness of his operas.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

ELECTRONIC KEYBOARDS - Their History and Development

English: Yamaha electronic keyboard Français :...
Yamaha electronic keyboard  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The term "electronic keyboard" refers to any instrument that produces sound by the pressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, in some way, to facilitate the creation of that sound. The use of an electronic keyboard to produce music follows an inevitable evolutionary line from the very first musical keyboard instruments, the pipe organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. The pipe organ is the oldest of these, initially developed by the Romans in the 3rd century B.C., and called the hydraulics. The hydraulis produced sound by forcing air through reed pipes and was powered by means of a manual water pump or a natural water source such as a waterfall.

From its first manifestation in ancient Rome until the 14th century, the organ remained the only keyboard instrument. It often did not feature a keyboard at all, instead utilizing large levers or buttons that were operated by using the whole hand.

The subsequent appearance of the clavichord and harpsichord in the 1300's was accelerated by the standardization of the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys found on all keyboard instruments of today. The popularity of the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed by the development and widespread adoption of the piano in the 18th century. The piano was a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards because a pianist could vary the volume (or dynamics) of the sound the instrument produced by varying the force with which each key was struck.

The emergence of electronic sound technology in the 18th century was the next essential step in the development of the modern electronic keyboard. The first electrified musical instrument was thought to be the Denis d'Or (built by Vaclav Prokop Dovis), dating from about 1753. This was shortly followed by the "clavecin electrique" invented by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The former instrument consisted of over 700 strings temporarily electrified to enhance their sonic qualities. The later was a keyboard instrument featuring plectra, or picks, that were activated electrically.

While being electrified, neither the Denis d'Or or the clavecin used electricity as a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented such an instrument called the "musical telegraph.," which was, essentially, the very first analog electronic synthesizer. Gray discovered that he could control sound from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, and so invented a basic single note oscillator. His musical telegraph created sounds from the electromagnetic oscillation of steel reeds and transmitted them over a telephone line. Grey went on to incorporate a simple loudspeaker into his later models which consisted of a diaphragm vibrating in a magnetic field, making the tone oscillator audible.

Lee De Forrest, the self-styled "Father Of Radio," was the next major contributor to the development of the electronic keyboard. In 1906 he invented the triode electronic valve or "audion valve." The audion valve was the first thermionic valve or "vacuum tube," and De Forrest built the first vacuum tube instrument, the "Audion Piano," in 1915. The vacuum tube became an essential component of electronic instruments for the next 50 years until the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.

The decade of the 1920's brought a wealth of new electronic instruments onto the scene including the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, and the Trautonium.

The next major breakthrough in the history of electronic keyboards came in 1935 with the introduction of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the first electronic instrument capable of producing polyphonic sounds and remained so until the invention of the Chamberlin Music Maker, and the Mellotron in the late 1940's and early 1950's. The Chamberlin and the Mellotron were the first ever sample-playback keyboards intended for making music.

The electronic piano made its first appearance in the 1940's with the "Pre-Piano" by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). This was a three and a half octave instrument made from 1946 until 1948 that came equipped with self-amplification. In 1955 the Wurlitzer Company debuted their first electric piano, "The 100."

The rise of music synthesizers in 1960 gives a powerful push to the evolution of the electronic musical keyboards we have today. The first synthesizers were extremely large, unwieldy machines used only in recording studios. The technological advancements and proliferation of miniaturized solid state components soon allowed the production of synthesizers that were self-contained, portable instruments capable of being used in live performances.

This began in 1964 when Bob Moog produced his "Moog Synthesizer." Lacking a keyboard, the Moog Synthesizer was not truly an electronic keyboard. Then, in 1970, Moog debuted his "Minimoog," a non-modular synthesizer with a built-in keyboard, and this instrument further standardized the design of electronic musical keyboards.

Most early analog synthesizers, such as the Minimoog and the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, capable of producing only one tone at a time. A few, such as the EML 101, ARP Odyssey, and the Moog Sonic Six, could produce two different tones at once when two keys were pressed. True polyphony (the production of multiple simultaneous tones which allow for the playing of chords) was only obtainable, at first, using electronic organ designs. There were a number of electronic keyboards produced which combined organ circuits with synthesizer processing. These included Moog's Polymoog, Opus 3, and the ARP Omni.

By 1976, additional design advancements had allowed the appearance of polyphonic synthesizers such as the Oberheim Four-Voice, and the Yamaha series CS-50, CS-60, and CS-80. The first truly practical polyphonic synth, introduced in 1977, was the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5. This instrument was the first to use a microprocessor as a controller and also allowed all knob settings to be saved in computer memory and recalled by simply pushing a button. The Prophet-5's design soon became the new standard in the electronic keyboards industry.

The adoption of Musical Instrumental Digital Interface (MIDI) as the standard for digital code transmission (allowing electronic keyboards to be connected to computers and other devices for input and programming), and the ongoing digital technological revolution have produced tremendous advancements in all aspects of electronic keyboard design, construction, function, sound quality, and cost. Today's manufactures, such as Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are now producing an abundance of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and will continue to do so well into the foreseeable future.

    Preston Champion is an Internet researcher and consumer product and services, reviewer. He is also a musician and a music industry professional.
    Preston provides unbiased, informative product reviews of many of the most popular and best selling electronic keyboards on the market on his website: http://electronickeyboardsreview.com.
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


English: Photo Stradivari Português: foto stra...
Stradivari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Remarkable craftsmanship is evident in the Italian violins of old. The devotion of the early Italian luthiers to this instrument is evident. One only has to listen or gaze upon a violin made during this era to see that it has earned the reputation of a "holy grail" of violins. In this article, a brief look at three master crafters from the Italian school of Cremona will be examined.

Nicolo Amati, born 1596, was the son and disciple of Girolamo Amati. He is considered the finest luthier of his family. Among the many beloved attributes of Amati's violins is their brilliant varnish in shades from yellow-brown to a golden red. Equally captivating is their tone which is penetrating and sweet but, because of the higher arching, lack the sheer power of a Stradivari. The length of his violins was mostly 14 inches or slightly under. Many of his family were lost to the plague, but Nicolo survived to become the master of the greatest violin maker who ever lived, Antonio Stradivari. Nicolo Amati died in 1684.

Antonio Stradivari was making violins up to the year of his death in 1737. He often inscribed his age on the labels, with one displaying "d'Anni 93" as a reference to his age of 93 at the time of the violin's creation. Born in 1644, Stradivari was described as a tall, lean man wearing a white wool cap with a leather apron. This description was given by the violin virtuoso, Polledro. Stradivari violins show evidence of being a pupil of Nicolo Amati. It is alleged that Amanti began to teach him at 11 years old.

Carlo Bergonzi, born 1676, worked in the workshop of Antonio Stradivari (in whose house he lived after 1746). It is said that he was the favorite pupil of Stradivari. Bergonzi's violins have a magnificent, brilliant tone capable of reaching the corners of the largest concert hall and are well-liked as concert instruments. Bergonzi inherited all the working materials of Stradivari in 1742. Bergonzi died in 1747.

The Cremona school of violin making is highly esteemed in the violin world today and it is due in no small part to the love of the violin demonstrated by these three Italian luthiers in their workmanship which has stood the test of time.

    By Daniel Wright
    If you're browsing for violins, be sure to consider one of the fine Italian violins available at Ye Olde Violin Shoppe such as the Amati violin. Home to the master luthiers of yesterday and today, as well as a violin forum!

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

MANDOLIN BANJO - Music-Instruments of the World

Mandolin Banjo - Music-Instruments of the World

Monday, January 29, 2018

KLEZMER and Tango - World Music Or Ethnic Music?

Klezmer band playing on Decatur Street, French...
Klezmer band playing on Decatur Street (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tango and Klezmer musical influence worldwide has been and continues to be actually notorious. Both music genres have had a great impact all around the world. Both music types are still played and heard in the most important concert halls around the globe. Both have become part of the international world music scenes, and have thousands of followers. It is true that on the one hand, we are dealing with attempts to counter the cultural globalization by preserving the feelings of an authentic and clear identity.

However, on the other hand, the world has long become the musician's source for all sorts of musical set pieces, enabling them to experiment with and develop their music in a way that would never have been possible in a culturally more rigid and confined environment.

There are Tango, Klezmer groups, bands, singers on professional, semi-professional, and amateur levels all around the world. In addition, there are also millions of people striving to learn how to dance the tango or go deeper into klezmer music. What is more, many people can even travel long distances to achieve those goals. Therefore, this fact demonstrates the great relevance, as well as the important place both genres occupy in the musical world nowadays.

Tango and Klezmer cannot be classified as ethnic music. Both genres are spread all around the world and are played by musicians of all origins. Although klezmer is considered as a Jewish music it is played by numerous non-Jewish players.

Ethnic music connects a community to a selected component of its past, and obviously, there is no Tango community nor a homogenous Jewish entity.

To conclude, both tango and klezmer genres have made great contributions to the music world. Both with their similar as well as distinct characteristics have been internationally influential, and have also found the way to success through the years. Their music lives on and it will certainly continue like this for years to come.

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Springsteen performing on the Tunnel of Love E...
Springsteen performing on the Tunnel of Love Express at the Radrennbahn Weißensee in East Berlin on July 19, 1988. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The embodiment of the American dream
Bruce Springsteen, an influential American singer-songwriter, and guitarist was born in 1949 in a small New-Jersean town. He made up his mind to be a musician at 7, having seen Elvis Presley’s concert on TV. His parents were rather poor, and Bruce’s mother had to take a loan to buy him a good guitar. That is why the main themes of Springsteen’s music are people living from hand to mouth and politics. Bruce started making performances in 1965, in 1972 he gathered the E Street Band, though for a couple of years it was not called so.

Springsteen and the E Street Band worked together for many years, though parted in 1989. Bruce Springsteen is best known for his albums Born To Run and Born In The U.S.A. He has multiple Grammies and an Oscar for the Philadelphia soundtrack. He is also the inventor of lo-fi music that became the cult genre now among indie-rockers. In the early 2000s, Springsteen reunited with the E Street Band. In 2007 the artist recorded Magic, his long-awaited and first in about 5 years album with the E Street Band.

Magic: magically good
Magic contains 10 brand new songs by Springsteen and one already heard, Long Walk Home. The first single from the album, Radio Nowhere, is a very touching composition with deep lyrics. Girls In Their Summer Clothes is a very good rock song with the E Street Band have done their best. A very beautiful work is for sure Gypsy Byker, it has an upbeat romantic melody reminding of traveling at high speeds on the American highways.

Magic, the title track of the album, can boast of a wonderful arrangement and meditative melody, creating magical atmosphere thanks to the rhythmic tinkling of the tambourine. The final track on Magic, Devil’s Arcade, is the only one that deals with politics. It has a very strong lyrics and powerful images that are sure to leave no one calm. This song gives a perfect insight into Springsteen’s origination and his political views. Moreover, after listening to it leaves everyone with a clear own view on these questions even if you are far from it all.

New masterpiece of the American rock-idol
Magic is the less politically oriented album by Springsteen in the last decade. The several previous albums (both with the E Street Band and without) were dedicated to the protests against George W. Bush as a candidate at the presidential elections, the Iraq War and the tragedy of September 11, 2001. The reason for such change is not commented by the musician. Maybe he just got tired of politics. Moreover, Magic was recorded in an extremely amusing way - during two months the E Street Band recorded on weekends, while Springsteen and his producer Brendan O’Brien worked over the vocals and made the dubbing on weekdays.

It can be said about the result that this album is also the most guitar accentuated of all Springsteen’s creativity. And as for the sound, there are more romantic and pop moments on Magic that were not typical of Bruce recently, though were very usual on his very first records. Anyway, it is an extremely good rock record by Springsteen and his friends from the E Street Band that has great moments and for sure features, some of the best songs Bruce has ever written.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Fabulous Facts on the ORCHESTRA

Philharmonic Orchestra of Jalisco (Guadalajara...
Philharmonic Orchestra of Jalisco (Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Going out to the Orchestra, Opera, Musical Theatre or Mass is a past time which many people enjoy. Music plays a great part in many peoples lives, whether it is to listen to or take part in. These groups mentioned earlier all consist of an orchestra. So, what is an orchestra?

The word Orchestra comes from ancient Greek. It originally meant the semi-circular space in front of the stage in a theatre where the chorus in a Greek play danced or sang. Later, at the beginning of the seventeenth century when the first Italian Operas were performed, a small group of musicians accompanied the singers and were seated in a similar space in front of the stage. And so the word Orchestra came to mean a body of musicians.

There are various types of orchestras. The group size may be large or small and a conductor usually directs them.

Large orchestras of around one hundred musicians are seen in most large cities and perform in a variety of settings. They are often called:

1. Symphony Orchestra because of the symphonies they play which require a large number of musicians. They also play a wide range of other music.

2. Philharmonic Orchestra which means 'loving harmony of music"

Smaller Orchestras come in varying types and styles and include the following:

1. Chamber Orchestra: This orchestra usually consists of about twenty players who can comfortably perform in a large room of a mansion, hence the name. music performed consists of works from the eighteenth century eg from Bach and Mozart, and also more modern works.

2. Small Orchestra: This orchestra is slightly larger than the chamber orchestra and plays more modern works.

3. Theatre Orchestras: These orchestras accompany musical theatre, opera, ballets and can consist of up to sixty players.

4. String Orchestra: This orchestra consists of around twenty string instrumentalists only. Music played is classical and modern.

5. Jazz and Concert Orchestras which play and record light music.

It is interesting to note that a group of wind instrumentalists playing together is usually called a Band eg Symphonic Band

So what are the instruments of a typical Symphony Orchestra?
There are four main groups of instruments which play in a symphony orchestra.

String Instruments take up about two thirds or three-quarters of the entire orchestra. They consist of around 32 violins ( first and second ), 12 violas, 10 cellos and 8 double basses plus one or two harps.
Woodwind Instruments consist of flutes, clarinets, oboes, and bassoons. There are usually around 2 to 4 players of each of these instruments. One player from each instrument type may double up to a higher or lower version of that instrument eg flute players double up with a piccolo which is a shorter, higher flute.

Brass Instruments consist of trumpets, horns, trombones, tuba(s) and sometimes a cornet. The numbers vary depending on the work performed. Some modern works can use 6 trumpets, 8 horns, 4 trombones and 2or 3 tubas.

Percussion Instruments consist of 4 to 5 players. The instruments are varied and are shaken, rubbed or struck Examples used in a symphony orchestra are the timpani, tam-tam, cymbals, triangle, tambourines and various kinds of drums.

Where do these instrumentalists sit?
A typical symphony orchestra has a seating plan in the shape of a semi-circle ( from the original meaning of Orchestra ) with a conductor in the middle front on a raised stand. The layout can vary according to the conductor used.

The violins sit to the left of the conductor in order of first violins near stage edge and second violins next to the firsts. the cellos (stage edge ) and violas sit to the right of the conductor, with the double basses behind. The woodwinds sit in the middle with the flutes ( front ) and clarinets ( back ) to the left and oboes ( front ) and bassoons ( back ) to the right. The brass sits behind the woodwinds. And the percussion sit at the back of the orchestra

What does the Conductor do?
The conductor directs the orchestra with use of a baton and their arms. They indicate to the musicians all sorts of things like music speed, rhythm, an expression like loud and soft playing and bringing in the instrumentalists at the correct place. In rehearsal, they correct musicians on these aspects. The principal violin, who is the leader of the orchestra, is responsible for the discipline of musicians during rehearsal.
As you can see, there are a variety of orchestras which have varying numbers of people and instruments. A symphony orchestra is just one type of orchestra and consists of a large number of string, woodwind, brass and percussion players. Orchestras usually have a conductor who directs the musicians and gives the music spark.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Your SINGING Career

Singing Girl - Photo: Pixabay
As a former talent booking agent with the William Morris Agency, I know the struggles and the emotional whirlwinds that often face young singers attempting to find their niche in the music industry.   Satisfying the desire to become successful in the music industry is not easily achieved or obtained, but those who make it, are well aware of the rewards.

In an effort to increase your odds and to obtain any “real” recognition in the music industry, whether as an artist, jingle singer, or just plain session singing, let’s take a closer look at a few factors that might increase your odds.  Notice, I didn’t say do this or that and it’s a done deal.  If you’re familiar at all with the music industry you are well too familiar that some make it with virtually no talent at all and others, with incredible style, look and drive, never even get the slightest nod from music industry executives.

To begin with – What’s your career blueprint look like?  What are you doing from a pre-determined game plan right now?  Have you actually taken the time over a cup of coffee and sat down with a pad and pencil and jotted down 

1) your goals, short-term, and long-term 
2) your overall game plan and 
3) how you are going to implement your to-do list to get to your end goal?  

I’m surprised to learn how few really get this far.  Sure, many sit in the car or on the couch “thinking about life and their career” and have a general idea, but until you put it down on paper and follow through with a course of action, you might as well forget it.  Start by writing down your goals with a course of action and break it down with what you can do this month, this week and what I can get done today -  This will help you to not only stay focused but give you the boost when you feel like giving up.

Next, now that you’ve figured out what you want to do and how you’re going to go about doing it with a set blueprint, what does your demo sound like?  It can’t just sound pretty good – And yes, this does take time and money - $75 demos won’t get the job done.  Good and pretty good won’t get it – It has to knock their socks off and turn the heads of the listeners.  Yes, as I mentioned earlier, some with virtually little talent get in, but what I’m talking about here is reflected in an overall picture of what’s being sent to the A&R director, producer, etc.  Not only does this demo sound great, but “Should we use it as the final mix in the CD, because it’s already in the pocket and we won’t have to spend any more production money re-cutting any of these songs.”   That’s how good your demo’s should be – And as an aspiring jingle singer, don’t settle for a “mom and pop” or car commercially sounding demo reel.  Your jingles ought to sound like they’re national TV and radio spots like you’ve already arrived.

The next important element, almost as important as the music itself, is your press kit and how you present yourself to industry professionals.  I will break this up into 2 segments the first on the artist press kit and secondly phone calls and interviews.  Anything that you send out in print or on your CD, has got to look like you’re established and you’ve already made it.  Make sure that your CD covers are printed on gloss paper with high-quality photographs of you or the band.  Managers, producers, and A&R directors alike are more inclined to pick up an act that looks together.  They don’t have time to figure out if this poorly imaged act has what it takes or not – And they very well might – But they don’t have the presentation.  In here lies what I consider to be your greatest ally.  If you will spend time and money to have your artist press kit not only look professional but with an edge, you can convey 1) your image, 2) your marketability, 3) and your dedication and sincerity – This is not a fleeting moment or idea for you.  You’re in this for the long haul and your presentation states that.  Make anything in print that you send out, shine.

The next part of your presentation is in the phone calls, meetings, and grin and grip events, whether concerts, showcases or otherwise.  If you don’t have a natural ability to interact with individuals, you are going to have to practice.  And furthermore, there’s nothing wrong, and I would suggest, writing down on paper anything that you want to come to mind before a phone conversation even begins.  If you’re bad with names, as many of us are, have those names written down, easily obtained in the middle of a call.  Prepare as much as you can before the conversation and be honest.  Honesty goes long ways with people.  Most in the industry have “heard it all” and it’s so refreshing to hear somebody state, “I’m not sure, but I’ll find out.”  Speak with sincerity, honesty, but with confidence as well.  After all, you’ve got something unique and it’s your vocal career.  You need to sell them, but they also need to recognize the obvious, and that is that they’ve just discovered the next…

So as you begin or at least start looking at your singing career, look at these simple to implement principals that we have just looked at and know ahead of time that you are going to be specific, analytic, and purposeful in your singing career strategies.  Take a look at your strengths and weaknesses and be honest.  Ask others.  Don’t be afraid to change course or look at other singing alternatives as well.  We know that short articles are difficult to present every point of the equation, so don’t hesitate to contact us should you have further questions.

Author: Tom Gauger

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The greates CELLO player PABLO CASALS

English: A centenary statue of Pau Casals at M...
 A centenary statue of Pau Casals at Montserrat, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pablo Casals was a past master of the cello. He was the virtuoso of the 20th century. he was a Spanish cellist, pianist, composer, conductor, and humanitarian. As a solo cellist he was known for his beautiful tone and intellectual strength, and he introduced Bach 's cello suites into the baroque repertoire. He was considered by many as one of the world's truly great artists, who plays for them on his cello in the garden of the Governor's palace. Casal not only was Spanish, but he also had some latino blood in him, the renowned cellist who was born in Spain to a Puerto Rican mother, and later on in his life, he did a few concerts in San Juan de Puerto Rico in honor of his mother.

Pablo Casal, the celebrated Silesia-born maestro is known not only for his musical excellence but also for his humanitarian involvement (he has, for instance, taking part in peaceful demonstrations -- something that is rather unusual for a conductor) and his kindness.  He was such an amazing human being an artist that they created in his name, The Pablo Casals Festival. A Music Festival that is now dedicated to chamber music and takes place between July 26 and August 13, attracting the most renowned performers as well as major ensembles. Most concerts are performed in the medieval monastery of St. From the perspective of responsible promotion, the International Pablo Casals Cello Competition awards prizes and scholarships and arranges international performance opportunities for the top prizewinners.

Pablo Casal as a great cello performed played at the United Nations (1958) and the White House (1961) and conducted a celebrated concert of some 80 cellists at Lincoln Center (1972).

Although later in his career he became most noted for his choral and other church-related compositions, he also left a large body of instrumental music for solo instruments and ensembles. While his popular reputation was eclipsed by the fame of his sons, he was revered by musicians and composers.

One of the things that I like the most about the personality of Pablo Casal, is how he was such a humanitarian of deep principle. He even refused to play in Hitler's Germany, Casals was implacably opposed to Franco's regime (Spanish dictator) and in 1939 – threatened with execution if he returned to Spain – he went into exile in southern France.

After World War II, feeling that Britain and America were appeasing Franco, he abruptly stopped playing in public – breaking off a London recording session with Haydn's D major Concerto two-thirds done. Casals was an ardent supporter of the Spanish Republican government, and after its defeat vowed never to return to Spain until democracy was restored.

He settled in the French village of Prades, on the Spanish frontier; between 1939 and 1942 he made sporadic appearances as a cellist in the unoccupied zone of southern France and in Switzerland.  When Casals died in Puerto Rico in 1973 at the age of 97, the Casals Festival was 16 years old and attracting the same class of performers who appeared at the Pablo Casals Festival in France, founded by Casals after World War II.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Great Composers: JOSEF HAYDN (1732 - 1809)

Josef HAYDN /1732-1809)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Melodic Sounds of the TRUMPET

Trumpet player Maynard Ferguson
Trumpet player Maynard Ferguson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The trumpet is an instrument that is a member of the brass family, though it has also been referred to as a wind or an aerophone instrument, and has the highest register among all the brass instruments. The trumpet is made out of brass tubing that is narrowest at the mouthpiece and widest at the end.

This particular instrument, like other brass instruments, is played by blowing into the mouthpiece through closed lips to create a vibration. The instrument as three keys or piston valves that work to alter the sound produced, often creating a lower pitch. Each valve will lower the sound the trumpet makes as it is pressed down by the musician. There are also different kinds of trumpets that are tuned to different notes. The most common trumpet played is known as the B-flat trumpet. Other types of trumpets that are played but are not as common are the C, D, E, F, G, and A.

Surprisingly enough, the trumpet has been around for a very long time, even if the earlier trumpets did not look like the trumpets people are more familiar with today. The earliest proof of the existence of trumpets goes back as far as 1500 BC, though it is believed that trumpets could have easily existed before this as well.

Another interesting note about the trumpet is that it was not originally used for music. Instead, it was used for signaling purposes for religious ceremonies or military use. It really was not until medieval times that the trumpet started to be used more as a musical instrument instead of being limited to previous purposes. In fact, it was even seen as a special talent, which those who played would keep to themselves because it was regarded as a guarded craft. It was after this time that the trumpet really started to change, as improvements and adaptations were made to have the trumpet keep up with its demands. Even with these improvements, the addition of the valves on the trumpet did not occur until the early to mid-1800s.

It appears that few young people will take up the instrument instead of popular instruments like the guitar and the piano. A common misconception is that it is really simple to play, but the truth is that it can be a little complex. One has to have good control of the air that they blow into the trumpet in order to get the right sound. Some will take an interest in the trumpet because they appreciate its bold and bright sound. It is common in marching bands, in the military and is also common in schools.

It is a relatively inexpensive instrument to play in comparison to others, so school bands will sometimes be able to teach students who want to learn it. Its drawback for many people is that it does not have a wide range of sounds and many who want to learn how to play an instrument are looking for something that can create a variety of different sounds.

    Victor Epand is an expert consultant for used CDs, autographed CDs, and used musical instruments. 
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