Thursday, June 7, 2018

Bach Stradivarius TRUMPETS and Imitators

Trompete der Firma Bach
Trompete der Firma Bach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For years, the Bach Stradivarius Trumpet has been the mainstay of the performing trumpet world. Sure, there were other trumpets out there, and in the Jazz world, many of them were very successful. In the classical world, the Bach reigned supreme for many years.

Today, the Bach is still the dominant instrument, but it has had its setbacks. The Bach strike a few years ago had a major impact in the Bach reputation. The strike lasted for a couple years, and many horror stories were told about poor quality trumpets being made after the strike. Also, the price increased substantially after the strike ended.

The end result of everything...the Bach trumpets made now are as good as they have been in many years, and many people think they are even better. I played on several trumpets at a convention recently, and they played better than any Bach I have played in years. I would not hesitate to recommend them right now. Bach trumpets have always played much different from horn to horn. In the past, you might get a good one, or you might get a great one. You seldom saw a bad one. A friend of mine remarked recently that even though the current crop of Bach trumpets all still play differently, they are all great horns. That is a definite positive change.

Since Bach was the predominant trumpet on the market, many companies produced trumpets that shared many of the same features. Yamaha started things with their Heavywall series...the 6335HS. The large bore version was the 6345HS. The "H" is very important in that designation. They also produced 6335 trumpets of totally different styles that did not use the "H" in the model number. These trumpets played more like a Bach, than any other trumpet up to that time, but it still did not have the Bach sound that most people liked in the classical world.

Yamaha later brought out the Xeno line of trumpets which is still made. Their model number is the 8335S. These are quite comparable to Bach trumpets. Yamaha is also considerably more consistent in their manufacturing processes. Yamaha trumpets pretty much all play the same.

The most recent addition to the Yamaha line of classical trumpets is the artist series. These are truly exceptional trumpets. Yamaha recently hired Bob Malone to design their trumpets, and he has totally revolutionized the line. These horns are some of the best available today.

The B&S Challenger line is also another option today in Bach-like trumpets, and it's a good one. There are quite a few professional players using them today, and depending on the current exchange rate, the price is often close the price of a Bach.

The Getzen custom line is also another option. The custom series is comparable to Bach and Yamaha instruments. Getzen has always been known for their valves. Once you try Getzen valves, you'll probably always like them.

There are many other copies out there, but for truly good Bach or Bach-like professional horns, this pretty much rounds out my list. They all play very well.

    Harry Richardson has been a band director for 14 years with college degrees in trumpet performance and music education. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Do You Want to Learn the CLARINET?

Clarinet with a Boehm System.
Clarinet with a Boehm System. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The clarinet is the second highest sounding instrument of the woodwind family which consists of flute, clarinet, oboe, and bassoon. It was invented by Johann Denner around 1690 and in the 1800's Klose adapted the Boehm flute system to the clarinet making it playing in all keys. It came into general use around the time of Mozart and beyond. Here is some information to help you decide if you want to learn the clarinet.

The clarinet has been made from a variety of materials including wood, plastic, hard rubber, metal, resin, and ivory. Grenada is a popular material used by professional musicians and most modern inexpensive clarinets are made form resonite ( plastic resin ). It looks like a long cylindrical tube with keys down the length of the tube covered by keys. The upper end is shaped like a mouthpiece and the lower end opens out like a bell shape. One side of the mouthpiece is flattened to allow the single reed made up of a single piece of cane to be fixed to it.

Clarinet players hold the instrument in front of them and produce a sound by blowing through the single reed on the mouthpiece, thus making the reed vibrate against the mouthpiece. The various sounds are created when the player presses down the keys and hinged rings such that movable pads cover the holes, in different configurations or finger patterns. The clarinet produces a mellow tone with a brilliant upper sound. The range of notes the clarinet can produce is over three octaves from E below middle C on the piano upwards to a C three octaves higher.

There are more than twelve types of clarinet with varying sizes and pitches, hence they make up the clarinet family. Many are rare or obsolete. The most common ones used today are the clarinet in Bb and clarinet in A. Both are used in orchestras depending on the key of the piece.

Clarinets are used in jazz and classical ensembles eg the orchestra, concert bands, in chamber groups, and as a solo instrument. They are rarely used in rock or pop music. There are usually two to three clarinet players in an orchestra each having different parts and changing between the clarinet in A and clarinet in Bb. A popular chamber group which the oboe takes part in is the wind quartet which consists of 1 flute, 1 clarinet, 1 oboe, 1 bassoon, 1 french horn. And it is combined with other instruments in various groupings.

Some famous clarinet players include Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Sabine Meyer, Julian Bliss, Richard Stoltzman.

Gearbest Clarinet Reed Trimmer
Clarinet Reed Trimmer

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

TRUMPET - Music-Instruments of the World

Trumpet - Music-Instruments of the World

Monday, June 4, 2018

Types of SAXOPHONES - Which SAXOPHONE is Right For Me

English: Size comparison of B-flat curved sopr...
Size comparison of B-flat curved soprano, E-flat alto, and B-flat tenor saxophones.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If one is looking at purchasing a used saxophone, two presumptions or considerations may arise: first, that the person purchasing must get the item which will give him the best value for his money; second, that the person is using it for playing music. The importance of the second point is that saxophone, as a musical instrument, comes in different kinds. The difference lies in the music and pitch being produced by each type of instrument, sizes, and shapes, as well as considerations which are related to the skill level of the player of the instrument.

Therefore, to be able to make the best decision as to which saxophone best suits any player of the instrument, it is important that one has a working knowledge of the different types of saxophones as well as the corresponding differences that distinguish one from the other. In doing this, one can effectively discriminate and choose the saxophone that best suits him.

There are generally four types of saxophones available in the market today. The first type is called the soprano saxophone. The soprano saxophone is tuned in the key of B flat (or Bb). It has the highest tune or pitch among all the other types of saxophones. Consequently, playing the instrument requires some skill because the pitch, being high, is more difficult to manipulate and manage. Therefore, most of the players of this type of saxophone are already adept at playing the instrument and are what can properly be considered as professional saxophonists.

The second type is the Alto Saxophone which plays at the key of E flat (or Eb). The position of this type of saxophone's bell allows its player to hear more of the sound produced by the instrument than by the other saxophones played. Most pieces composed for practice are also tuned in the key of Alto Saxophone. Consequently, it is considered as most befitting beginners and anyone whose skill level in saxophone is elementary.

The third type would be the tenor saxophone. It is larger than the alto saxophone and the sound it produces is closer in range to the human voice. This is also the best type of instrument for playing jazz and some rock.

The fourth type of saxophone is the baritone saxophone. It has the lowest range among the other types of saxophone and is usually used in the bass section in soul music or tunes. It is also the biggest and heaviest among all the other types of saxophone.

All of these types of saxophones are best in their own respect. One just needs to identify precisely the use of the saxophone to be played or purchased. So if one is a beginner, it is strongly suggested that he starts playing the alto saxophone first. It also depends upon the sound that the player is most interested in. If one prefers to play jazz tunes, then the tenor saxophone is recommended. But if one is more into bass range sound, richer and deeper tone then the baritone is the best choice.

One may also take into account the size and the weight of the saxophone which will affect its manageability and overall comfort in playing the instrument. There are, of course, no hard fast rules applicable in determining the best type of saxophone. The person has to weigh in different factors in the process of trying to get the saxophone which is just right for him.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

CRESCENDO Now, Pay Later

In the hierarchy of musical priorities, dynamics have often appeared to me to be relegated to fairly low niche and left there to languish, their immense potential for beauty and expressiveness being overlooked and ignored. Even in recordings of professional orchestras, it is not at all unusual to hear a crescendo or diminuendo begin and end without any unified idea of where it is heading. Concerts or recordings where the music making is otherwise of a very high caliber all to often approach the dynamics with far less care and intelligence than other musical matters.

Every musician knows what dynamics are and will tell you that when they see an mf on the music, by golly they play mezzo forte! And when they see a crescendo to an fff, watch out, buddy!

Crescendos (or crescendi, for our purist friends) seem to bring out a primal Darwinian, survival of the fittest impulse in many of us. If you can do it, e.g. low brass, most percussion, etc., then do it. If you can’t, e.g. low register flutes, middle register clarinets, etc., then get out of the way. It is quite understandable. After all, you flutes and clarinets get all the great melodies and technical calisthenics while we timpanists and trombonists are stuck back here counting rests. So, when we are finally allowed to speak, our voices will be heard! Then to our delight and to the delight of our audiences, excitement happens! Everybody wins, right? Absolutely. The only casualty is the music.

I don’t wish to claim any tremendous pre-eminence in this area, but I have listened to what others have to say on the topic and have explored a number of approaches on my own. I also don’t wish to suggest that any of my findings are original with me. Au contraire, anyone with keen musical sensitivities would be very apt to make similar explorations and discoveries on their own. So with your kind indulgence, perhaps we can investigate a few of these principals together. If you find something here that might squeeze your own creative juices, then my fondest hopes will have been realized. If not, then I recommend you demand a full refund from the author.

Why don’t we continue flogging the subject of the crescendo for just a moment or two? Most of them seem to have a destination or a specific point in the music when the energy and momentum gathered by it is released in a heightened moment of drama or intensity. Obviously, for the full dramatic potential of the passage to be realized, there has to be general agreement exactly where and when that moment will arrive. If a few people in the ensemble peak on the crescendo prematurely the effect is spoiled, and the audience slinks out of the hall feeling violated and unclean.

A question that is too rarely asked is, “What should the shape of the crescendo be?” The written symbol has two converging straight lines, yet in most instances, to shape the crescendo like a trumpet bell would be musically and dramatically much more effective, i.e. very little crescendo at first, then gradually increasing the volume, saving the final 50% of the crescendo for the last 10% of the passage. You may wish to experiment with this idea in a few select passages to see if you agree with the results. My guess is that you will be heralded as a genius and promoted at least as high the custodial staff.

Another oft-neglected question is, “Who should crescendo when?”  May I offer a suggestion here, also?

A typical passage containing a crescendo might consist of the melodic material in the upper voices, the harmonic or accompanimental figures in the middle voices, a bass line, and some rhythmic figures in the percussion. If you were to encourage the melodic instruments to begin the crescendo first and the accompaniment to construct their crescendo entirely in support of the melody, but never upstaging it, you will find that the melody will maintain its primacy. Now, if through coercion or perhaps even bribery, you can appeal to the percussionists’ better angels and make them aware of the ever-present danger of premature gesticulation, you may have created the ideal crescendo. If the percussionists save a solid 80% of their crescendo until the last couple of beats before its apex, they will provide the perfect dot for the perfect “i” and prove once again, even to the most skeptical, that, except in certain one-on-one disciplinary actions, intelligence and sensitivity trump brute force every time.

It is my fervent hope to continue to lobby for the liberation of the crescendo. If there is any true justice I have recruited you to become a like-minded zealot to this noblest of causes.

Any comments about your own glorious victories you might wish to contribute would, no doubt, serve as an enduring inspiration to us all.

    Carl Hammond Ph.D. composes all sorts of music, plays piano, and as you've seen writes a mean, entertaining article. He's the CEO of  where you can download purchased sheet music for concert bands, choirs, chamber ensembles, jazz groups. See it, hear it, download it, rehearse it.   FREE Newsletter and FREE Special Report written by Carl Hammond a 35-year international music veteran.

    Well written interesting music for your groups to play right now via download. Score pages, MP3s to help you decide suitability.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

3 Simple But Powerful SONGWRITING Tips

Songs & Songwriting_1647
Photo  by Sterling College 
Do you feel frustrated or unfulfilled with the songs you have written? Do you think your songs have to conform to a certain standard before they are any good? If so, what exactly are you comparing them to? You may find you have an unrealistic expectation of yourself or what you think a song is or should be.

If you are unhappy with the songs you have written or think your songs are not what they should be, examine these three songwriting tips to focus your attention on clarifying what you think you want to gain from your songs.

1./ Why Do You Want To Write A Song?

What do you want to communicate? Don't dismiss this, answering this question is more important than you think. If you know why you are doing something, your path will be a lot clearer. For instance, do you see yourself performing on some late night TV rock show with the audience going wild for more, or do you want to write a romantic love song to impress your partner? Or maybe you want to perform an acoustic set down at the local bar? The answer will influence your behaviour and your writing style.

2./ Write About What You Know And Do What You Know.

Do you know how to put chord progressions together on the piano and improvise over the top or do you know how to link drum machines and turntables together to a whole plethora of midi equipment to pump out the biggest, worst beats this side of Georgia? There is no difference. Your song will have more style and impact if you can find the courage to be yourself and use those talents you have today, not in what you think you should be doing, or what your song should sound like.

3./ Develop Your Habit Of Songwriting.

How are you coming up with your ideas? Repetition increases the likely hood of repetition, that means the more you do something, the more you are likely to do it. The more you get into the habit of writing down lyrics in a notebook that you carry with you at all times, the more likely you are to write down lyrics in a notebook that you carry with you at all times. Get into the habit of writing down your thoughts when your inspiration strikes because ideas always strike when you least expect them.

Your inspiration could be in the form of a lyric, a sound you heard in the street, an unusual chord change you heard on the radio or a rhythm your mum was tapping out on her coffee cup. By doing this, you can consult your own wisdom as and when you need it. These are the gems that will determine your style and show you your way forward. 

Disciplining yourself to these three songwriting tips will give you confidence in yourself and your music. Realize that to write a song,  you do not need to be anybody other than who you are, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Whether you are beating out a rhythm on a pair of spoons or bowing an upright punk guitar accompanied by someone tap dancing in a different time signature, songwriting is subjective. Someone somewhere will love whatever you do, someone somewhere will absolutely trash it as the most unbelievable pile of garbage to ever appear on the music scene in the history of music. The most important question you need to ask yourself at the end of the day is, do you like it?

Thursday, May 31, 2018

A printed musical notation - SHEET MUSIC

English: Sheet music of composer W. J. D. Leav...
Sheet music of composer W. J. D. Leavitt. Three piano pieces, including 'Villagers Dance.' Published 1884, dedicated to Miss Grace E. Leavitt.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A sheet music is a form of musical note either in a printed form or is hand written. There are many musical notes that are kept in a booklet. Generally it is a normal sheet with musical notes written over it for concerts. When musicians play or take part in concert then they require these sheet music so that they can read the notes and play the music because a concert generally has more than 30 musical notes. These sheet music helps in recalling them the music they have to play.

With development of technology these days these sheet music notes are also available on the internet which can be downloaded and kept on the computer screen. Many big directors and movie makers use the computer based sheet music to add musical notes in movies. Music composers make music notes and write it on paper. These become sheet music and are complied in the form of a pamphlet or a booklet. A sheet music is different from a recoding therefore the word sheet is used to imply music notes on paper either printed or written in hand. If we see any musical concert we will see a booklet with sheet music placed on the podium for quick reference.

Portrait of a Musician, detail: hand and sheet...
Portrait of a Musician, detail: hand and sheet music booklet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A sheet music has many terminologies which we should be familiar with. Score is one word which is very commonly used in sheet music. Sheet music can be used as a form of guidance, for concert to perform. In fact many music schools teach their students how to write musical notes on the music sheets. These days unlike the older version of sheet music the modern format of sheet music is different. Generally when a single person is playing or performing then there will be one sheet music but if there are multiple players performing then each person has a separate sheet music and each person concentrate on their own part. Generally there are many musical stores that print famous music notes on sheet music and then publish it.

Sheet music is really very helpful as they help in remembering music notes and by reading sheet music we can slowly but gradually we can read music notes too and make our own music. Once we become experts then we can create music and write our own music on music sheets. Every singer has his own sheet music and it differs from person to person how they write their music pieces. Sheet music is generally seen kept over pianos.

Pianos have a stand to place this sheet music so that we can easily read them in front of us while playing the piano.

Generally people learning music too can write their music pieces on sheet music and refer it later to practice. We just need to know how to read these music pieces so that we can write it and refer it later for practice till we perfect it. So just keep writing on sheet music and keep filling your music booklet with your music pieces.

    Mary Ashley is the author of this article on Piano Music. Find more information about Piano Playing here.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

LEARNING OBOE - 5 Essential Techniques

English: Niels Eje with oboe
Niels Eje with oboe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As with the studying of any musical instrument, learning oboe is all about technique. There are a number of technical aspects related to playing the oboe which needs to be understood and applied if you are to become an oboist. The human body was not designed to play musical instruments. Instrumental technique is, therefore, the way in which we overcome the body’s resistance to what we are forcing it to do.

This article is aimed especially at oboe for beginners and will explore five particular areas which need to be carefully developed. These are Posture, Breathing, Embouchure, Tonguing, and, finally, Hand & Finger Position. Both the understanding and application of these aspects are vital when learning oboe.

Posture Good posture is the basic foundation on which everything else is based; - bad posture = bad oboist! Good oboe technique requires that the feet are about shoulder-width apart with the weight evenly distributed. The head should be upright and the oboe raised to an angle of about 60 degrees.

Breathing This is the most important single technique of all, especially as we are looking primarily at oboe for beginners. Breathing must always be from the diaphragm, not the chest, and breaths should always be taken through the mouth, not the nose. Shoulders should remain level and relaxed throughout and not lifted. Slight dizziness is experienced by some young oboists as their bodies get used to the deep breathing so important to oboe playing.

Embouchure This is the term we use for the way we form the mouth when playing. The oboe embouchure always looks very tight to the unknowing eye, but, in fact, is very relaxed around the reed. The pulling back of the lips is simply to bring the muscles around the edge of the mouth into contact with the reed. The oboe reed cannot be controlled with the red part of our lips. Beginner oboe players often experience a slight burning sensation in their cheeks. This is just muscle tiredness.

Tonguing on the oboe produces a clear and precise start to each note. The tongue touches the tip of the reed and interrupts the air flow. As the tongue pulls away, as if pronouncing a “Tuh”, it allows the air to rush into the reed making the cane vibrate and producing the sound.

Hand & Finger Position This is very important for young oboe players when their hands are still rather small. If you let your hand hang passively at your side you will see the hand at its most relaxed with the thumb straight and the fingers slightly curved. This is the shape we are trying to replicate when playing.

So, as with any instrument, learning oboe requires a methodical approach which puts the acquisition of good technique first. Although this article gives a brief outline of the basics of playing the oboe, I would recommend a proper course of oboe tuition with an experienced oboe teacher. This is especially important for young oboists.

If you can develop fully the techniques necessary and learn to play the oboe well, you will have a skill which will enhance your life as a player of one of the most beautiful of all musical instruments.

    Robert Hinchliffe is a professional oboist, composer, teacher, conductor, and music director. This article is based on over 35 years of both playing and teaching the oboe. If you have found this article helpful and would like to know more, please visit

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

MESSIAH of HANDEL - An Example For the Charitable Engagement of an Artist in the 18th Century

Portrait of Georg Friedrich Händel Deutsch: Ge...
Portrait of Georg Friedrich Händel Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With his "Messiah" Georg Friedrich Handel (1685-1759) created his most widely acclaimed and most popular composition. No other oratorio has received so much general admiration. One of the reasons is certainly the amazing richness of content, the depth and variety of the musical expression and in the unprecedented grandness of the artistic creation.

Charles Jennens, a well-known art lover, compiled the textual part, which in itself is a masterpiece in form and construction, from quotations of the original, English text of the Bible. To what extent Handel himself was involved in the compilation is not documented but the influence on the lyrics' character is undeniable.

The storyline is developed along a line of images that depict the life, passion and the resurrection of the Saviour, who is announced in the Old Testament.

English: Portrait of Charles Jennens
Portrait of Charles Jennens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Assuming the actual content as known, it uses the names of the solo parts, marked only with the voice they are written in, and thus avoids the introduction of any real person that could lessen the sublime effect of the religious text.

According to his own words, Handel composed the music to the "Messiah" in London in only 24 days. He started August 22nd and finished on September 14th, 1741. As the oratorio was firstly composed for Dublin, it was adapted to rather modest conditions Handel had to meet there. The choirs were written for just four voices and the orchestra limited to a smaller range of instruments than was common in London.

After Handel's arrival in Dublin on November 18th, he organized twelve concerts within the next 5 months, and let the much-awaited new oratorio be announced in April, to be performed in support of three different charity institutions.

The final rehearsal taking place on April 8th, Handel himself conducted the first performance on April 13th, 1742 at the Dublin "New Music Hall". The success of the oratorio turned into a triumph for the composer. The first London performance took place in March 1743 at the Covent Garden theatre, after many changes and additions to the score. Handel organized during the years of 1749 to 1758 annual performances at Easter in support of a London orphanage, these were continued with undiminished success even after his death. The first German performance took place at a private concert in Hamburg in 1772.

Monday, May 28, 2018

SWEET HOME ALABAMA - one of the greatest conservative ROCK SONGS

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The song "Sweet Home Alabama" by Southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd (Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd) is one of the most popular and controversial rock songs in history.  The song first appeared on the band's second album, Second Helping in 1974. Sweet Home Alabama was the bands first hit single, reaching the top ten of the US charts in 1974.

Lynyrd Skynyrd's hit song makes references to the songs "Southern Man" and "Alabama" by Neil Young, defending Young's statements in those song's lyrics regarding the South's racism in their historical treatment of black people. Despite popular belief, there was no rivalry or feud between the artist-- more so the opposite, in mutual respect for each other.

In addition to the song's defense of the south, the song contains some controversial political references, mainly a verse in the song that possibly references segregationist George Wallace. Whether or not the true intent of the verse by the song's writers was to support racism has been debated on both sides of the argument. The National Review ranked the song number four on its list of 50 greatest conservative rock songs in May 2006.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Learn How to LINE DANCE

008 14-07-2012 Line Dance auf der LGS Löbau
Photo  by LineDance90As 
There is a style of dancing that is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. While you are far more likely to see a line dancing contest at Gilley's than on ESPN or any other sporting event network, it doesn't make it any less valid as a dance or even as a method of bringing fitness back into the everyday.

Line dancing has been associated primarily with country music for long time-best estimates say since the 170's. The good news with line dancing is that there aren't too many rules other than keep trying and don't spill your beer if you can help it. Otherwise, if you are willing to get stepped on forgoing the right way or being stepped on by those going the wrong way, it's a great way to spend an evening.

Line dancing is great for many laughs and a lot of fun. It is, however, much more fun if you go in a group rather than going it alone. This is one form of dance that you truly must try before you can decide whether or not you will like it. I can honestly say that watching others participate is not nearly as fun as being right in the middle of them all and watching them participate.

The good news for those who aren't clued in as to the latest steps, twists, turns, and maneuvers, is that most other line dancers began their journey somewhere else as well and are rather patient and often willing to teach those who are less knowledgeable. Of course, if they are anything like me, they are so delighted to find someone less knowledgeable that they are almost giddy at the prospect of sharing their knowledge.

Even better for the utter novice is that most clubs offer lessons before things got really hopping. In fact, most of these clubs will offer these lessons for no extra charge in hopes of selling you a nice cold one or two before prime selling time kicks in. You can also find local groups that often offer line dancing classes in an alcohol-free environment for those who consider this an important consideration and for some of the younger crowd that might find line dancing to be of interest.

Line dancing is a style of dance that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. This is one thing that makes it so widely appealing. You can find line dances at county fairs, local festivals, and even church raffles on occasion. Line dancing is quickly becoming a 'heartland' sort of entertainment that is enjoyed even by those who aren't traditional country music fans.

Believe it or not ladies, line dancing is also an excellent way to talk your fellow into dancing with you. Believe me when he sees you on the line with all those other guys he's most likely going to want to step up and stake his claim. Of course, it's also a great way for couples to have fun together even in the middle of a crowd. Line dancing is great fun almost any way you look at it. If you are new to the notion of line dancing there is no time like the present to head out and get acquainted. You just might find a great new hobby that also happens to burn a few calories in the process.

Friday, May 25, 2018

A New MUSIC OF THE ORIENT: a Touch of the West and a Dash of the Divine

Photo  by max_wei 
A new musical fusion has arisen in New York and it's not the kind you can catch for ten dollars at a club in the West Village. For the many thousands of Chinese immigrants trying to stay afloat in a new world and for those westerners who have always wanted to understand the Chinese but have shied away for lack of a way in--for anyone who has wondered where the two civilizations connect, the answer may lie not in words, but in music.

Lisa Li is a master of the pipa (Chinese lute) and a graduate of the Chinese Conservatory of China. She has composed and performed across Europe, Asia and the United States, and her playing was featured in the Academy Award-winning movie The Last Emperor.  Now, as one of the lead composers for New Tang Dynasty Television's Chinese New Year Spectacular, a grand scale performance of traditional Chinese dance and song, Lisa has created what she believes to be a new kind of sound--based on ancient Chinese folk and religious music, but going beyond either of them. 

“Music is alive because, in the view of the Chinese ancients, every single object in the world has a life. In fact, in Chinese, when we refer to a musical note we call it a ‘live note,’” she explains. But according to Lisa, it must be composed and played from the heart—sometimes in ways that sound foreign to the western ear. 

But the melodies are far from random. Lisa’s music, like all traditionally composed Chinese music, is based on a series of pentatonic (5-note) scales. This system has its roots in Taoism, which teaches that all matter is formed from the five basic elements of metal, earth, wood, fire, and water. It teaches that in order for a being to be healthy, it must have all of these elements in balance. So, from the Chinese perspective, a song or piece of music must also contain a uniquely crafted balance of these elements. There are also eight note scales that relate to the Taoist symbol called the Bagua, which is most commonly known in the West as part of the practice of Feng Shui, or geomancy.

An example of this is the piece she wrote for the dance “A Dunhuang Dream.” The dance is set against a backdrop of thousands of caves carved into the sides of cliffs as they are in the Moago Grottoes in the Dunhuang region of China. Seated at the mouth of each cave is a Buddhist or Taoist deity. As the dancers emerge, one can hear from the orchestra pit the voices of the erhu (Chinese violin) and guzheng (zither), but these are soon joined by the more recognizable resonance of cello, bass, oboe, and brass.  The result strikes the ear as achingly otherworldly and yet also solidly familiar. 

In fact, the specific ya yue used in the score is the same as that found in the ancient pipa music written on scrolls that were discovered by archaeologists in the actual Dunhuang caves years ago.

“I feel very deeply that music is a heavenly language, a divine language,” Lisa says. “It is able to uplift people’s hearts and minds. It is good for the soul.”

Thursday, May 24, 2018

How To SING From The Diaphragm

Diaphragma - Photo: Wikimedia
You must have heard people saying "Sing from your diaphragm", but what exactly do they mean? How can your diaphragm sing? What they actually mean is to use your diaphragm to control your singing breath.

Well, you must actually practice with good vocal exercises to perfect your singing breath. Singing from the diaphragm is a complex muscle/breath coordination that many singing teachers find it difficult to their students in words effectively. That is why there is so much confusion on this topic.

Just to give you an idea of how your diaphragm works when you are breathing, try this breathing exercise. Stand up straight with a relaxed posture, and then take a big yawn - Ahhhhhh! While you are taking that big yawn, notice how your tummy expands outwards? That is the diaphragm at work, pushing out your tummy so that your lungs can drop lower so that you can take in more air.

Now the diaphragm muscle is also used for the control of airflow by sending the correct amount of air to the vocal cords. As you sing the higher notes, less air is required for the vocal cords. By sending the correct amount of air, your voice quality will be stable and relaxed and the overall singing voice will sound so much better.

However, you need to practice with the correct vocal exercises until "singing from the diaphragm" is an ingrained habit so that you don't even have to think of it when you are singing because you are automatically using this singing technique. You don't even need to remember how much air to release to your diaphragm because you will be releasing just the right amount of air naturally.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need breathing exercises for singing to strengthen your diaphragm! The muscles in your diaphragm are already strong enough already as it is. This is because your vocal cords are very small and delicate muscles and thus do not require too much support.

Since this is an article, it is not possible to show you the vocal exercises breathing technique demonstrations. However, you can get a feel for it by experimenting with this exercise.

Now put your palms lightly on your tummy. Take in a deep long breath. As you are breathing in, extend your tummy outward and sideways as the air comes in. When you breathe out, pursed your lips together to release a controlled stream of air and at the same time, with your tummy becoming smaller and back to its natural state as air is being released. Now, this is how you will feel when you are singing from the diaphragm.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Theater Arts – History of OPERA

Interior of La Fenice opera house in Venice in...
Interior of La Fenice opera house in Venice in 1837. Venice was, along with Florence and Rome, one of the cradles of Italian opera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the 1600s Opera started to flourish in Italy. French opera was popular for adding the element of dancing to opera other than the already existing elements such as singing and music. In Italian, opera means works and in Latin, it means the plural of labor. This means that there can be a duet, trio, and group singing. It also utilizes various aspects of the spoken theater, like costume and backdrop.

Greek was the first known theater artists especially people from Athens. Their theater plays included all the elements like acting, dialogues, singing, scene, dancing, chorus and music. This art was cultivated by different civilizations having few or all the elements. One of them was the opera. The western classical theater arts which involve conveyance through singing and dancing and not through dialogues is known as Opera. Composition by Jacopo Peri, Dafne, was written in 1597 and was the first known composition specifically meant for opera although it was inspired by Greek theater arts, it no longer exists. Euridice composition by Peri wrote in the 1600s was the first recorded composition which is available till this date.

The performances are most of the times accompanied by chorus and instrumental music. The libretto is the word in opera and there have been great composers who have written famous libretti like Richard Wagner. Handel was the famous German composer who wrote for theaters in England. Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte are famous for the great musical works which were played during the opera performances.

There are two types of singing in opera. The first is recitative in which the story is being narrated in a non-melodies style and the second is an area, where the performers were more melodious. Chorus is used as a commentator and sometimes as a narrator. Subcategories of recitative are secco or dry recitative and Accompagnato or stromentato in which orchestra accompanies the performance.  Opera can be further classified as a singspiel, operetta, semi-opera and opera comique. In these types of opera, dialogues are used on the contrary, instead of recitative. Arioso too is replaced by semi-melodic passages.

Opera started with court performances and then shifted to royal theaters. In 1637 this performance was open to the public when the idea of opera festival in Venice was brought up by Monteverdi. It was then known as Baroque opera which had a mixture of both the tragic and comic elements along with some education. This started a reform which was promoted by Venice’s Arcadian Academy. Metastasio was a part of this academy and his libertti became famous till the end of the eighteenth century in Italian opera. And this mixed with baroque opera was known as opera buffa.

The characteristic of Opera Seria is that it had a high tone along with secco kind of recitative. It was greatly liked due to it highly stylized form and the singers at that time were very popular and Opera Seria was in great demand all over Europe except France. The hero had the castrato voice such as Farinelli and Senesino and the heroines had the soprano’s voice such as Faustina Bordoni. Alessandro Scarlatti, Porpora, and Vivaldi were some of the great Opera Seria composers.

But Opera Seria had few loopholes. It concentrated more on drama and left music, singing, and ballet behind.  It was Francesco Algarotti who brought all these elements back with his composition Essay on the Opera. He was then followed by other great composers such as Niccolo Jommelli, Tommaso Traetta and the most successful, Gluck. He used a rich orchestra and vocal lines and brought a reform in Opera Seria.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What Is a POWER SONG and Where Do I Get Mine?

Native American "conjuror" in a 1590...
Native American "conjuror" in a 1590 engraving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Power Songs are oral prayers expressing your true self, your nature, your individuality, your power. All cultures have power songs but you can have your own power song too. We think of the power in a hymn or an African chant, a Shamanic ceremony song or even in the howling of a wolf. And there is definite power in sound.

All Shamans have several power songs because the vibration of the notes in the voice and in the fourth chakra of the throat stimulate sympathetic vibrations in the universe to respond. Everything is connected. What you put out comes back to you. When a butterfly flutters his wings in Cost Rica the winds of Africa are stirred. And when a sound is offered, the universe responds.

Power songs are used in preparation for journeying, healing, offering Reiki, praying, grounding, for protection, for celebration, for solace, anytime you want to connect with the universe in this very special way.

To demonstrate the power of voice and musical notes I would like to you try this exercise.

The fourth chakra is the note FA as in Do Re Me FA. Find a piano and discover the sound of this note if possible. Or find your own closest approximation to it. It is important to find the sound of FA. It is the F key above middle C on the piano but any F key in any octave will also work.

The fourth note or sound of FA is also the note of manifestation or creation upon this planet. So if we want to manifest healing, for example, we can send our intention out upon the note FA into the universe and healing will resonate with our voice of FA and become manifest where we are intending. It really is that simple.

Don't try to complicate it like so many others have. This little simple secret is one that some people have paid thousands of dollars for. Some people have made millions creating musical tapes based on the sound of Fa, subliminal, holosync tapes that offer healing are based on the sound FA. But now you know how to do it yourself.

The visual symbol for the universe made manifest is the square. This symbolizes the power of thought and vibration becoming solid and material in this apparent world. So let’s combine the sound of Fa with the visualization of a square.

Get yourself someplace comfortable where you will not be disturbed for a while. Close your eyes and visualize a square. Intone the sound FA and watch the square and see what image appears there.

You can also do this backward by visualizing the person you want to heal in the square and intoning the sound of FA. Or anything that you would like to manifest for the good of yourself and the world.

Shamans use this technique all the time. The last ingredient the Shaman uses here is desire or strong will. He or she really wants this healing to happen, they can really feel the wish, they put all their emotional energy into the intent.

I often get to dancing and rattling while I intone my power song and bring my whole body into the act of intending a healing for someone. The more feeling you put into it, the stronger the vibration.

Have you ever listened to a Native American song? There is usually one major tone for the song, isn't there! Now you know why!

As a final thought, each note in the scale represents a unique vibratory pattern in the universe. You could do a study to find those out if you would like to know more about sound.

So you see the need for your own power song. Create one this week. it is usually just a line or two repeated over and over. You can use words or vowels or an imaginary language. As long as you create it with FA as your base and emotion and intent, it will be perfect. Power songs are usually kept private and seldom sung in public. The only time they are sung in public is when a group of Shamans has gathered to do a combined healing. It is your prayer to the universe.

    Come Walk With A Shaman Indigenous Traditional Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls offers an introductory course starting with the history of Shamanism around the world. You learn about healing herbs, finding your totem, what Shamanic ecstasy is and how to achieve it without drugs, how to meditate and many actual visualizations to help improve one's skills and much more. To Start Today visit: Article Directory: Article Dashboard

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Ferry Corsten biography

Ferry Corsten was born on 4th December 1973 in Rotterdam City in The Netherlands.

After initially releasing records for the Dutch hardcore gabba scene, Ferry became interested in house and trance and began to release uplifting tracks under various monikers. One of his earliest releases was a housey track called "The Show" - a collaboration with Peter Nijborn under the name Discodroids. Hiding on the b-side of this release was a track called "Interspace", an uplifting trancer that gives an idea of the direction Ferry's work was heading in. In fact, "Interspace" was re-released as a single in its own right the following year.

Ferry released another slow-burner in 1997 - "Galaxia" under the name Moonman. Big chords, big breakdowns, and big synth sound all helped to make this a popular track for mix CD's at the time and helped to make his name as a producer. This track was another that was later re-released with some larger mixes in 2000.

In 1999 Ferry has his most prolific year to date, releasing trance smash after trance smash under numerous different names. In fact, in that year it was difficult to find a trance compilation that didn't have at least 3 or 4 of his productions on it!

Tracks of particular note included "Out Of The Blue" by System F, "The World" by Pulp Victim and "I'm In Love" by Starparty.

He also had several fruitful collaborations that year, including productions with Tiesto under the name Gouryella ("Gouryella"), and Vincent De Moor under the name Veracocha (the huge "Carte Blanche").

Even with all these fantastic productions of his own, Ferry's largest track in 1999 was actually a remix. William Oribit had produced a version of Barber's Adagio For Strings (which was used in the film Platoon) and his record label asked Ferry to produce a remix of it. Ferry did so with some aplomb, producing an emotional trance monster with melancholy strings and uplifting synths weaving in and out of each other as the track progresses.

With such a prolific year it was not surprising that Ferry was named "Producer of the Year" at the Ericsson Muzik Award in London.

Ferry changed his style slightly when he finally began to release tracks under his real name - "Punk" is an electro-breaks track, although still containing his trademark builds and drops.

Ferry is still producing tracks to this day, along with releasing mix series "Trance Nation" for the Ministry of Sound label and running his own Tsunami imprint.

Aliases: Gouryella, Veracocha, Vimana, Starparty, System F, Moonman, Albion, Pulp Victim, Discodroids

Wikipedia Information 2018: Ferry Corsten

Saturday, May 19, 2018

How To Hold Your DRUMSTICK To Produce The Best Sound

Traditional Grip Detail
Traditional Grip Detail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The way you hold your drumsticks plays a vital role in the quality of sound that you produce and the length of time that you will be able to play your drums. Unfortunately, the proper holding of the drumsticks is one of the most ignored and neglected protocols when it comes to playing the drums. If you are one of those drummers who has not really been holding your drums, you will most like hurt yourself in the long run so start paying close attention to how you hold your drumsticks. Always remember that your drumsticks are extensions of your hands and not just an accessory that you use to hit the drums with.

Gripping Your Sticks

If you are still a beginner and you still have not established a way of holding your drumsticks, it would be best for you to ask your music teacher to show you how to hold your drumsticks properly and practice that kind of grip. Learn the right way to hold your drumsticks right from the start. Always remember that unlearning something is a lot more difficult than learning something for the first time to make sure that you start your drumming lessons in the right direction.

Different people have different ways of gripping their drumsticks. The most common way of holding the drumsticks is the matched grip. The matched grip is very easy and is very popular especially among those drummers who are into pop music. When using the matched grip method of holding your drumsticks, you just simply hold both sticks in the same way with your palms facing downward. All your fingertips should rest lightly on the drumstick. The good thing about using the matched grip method of holding your drumsticks is that you can use the same gripping style when playing other instruments such as the timpani, chimes and other types of percussion instruments. 

Another popular way of holding the drumsticks is the traditional grip which allows you to hold your drumstick with your palms facing up with your fingers gripping the sticks from underneath. The traditional grip is very popular among jazz drummers because this allows better dynamic control. If you are aspiring to become a jazz drummer, it would be a good idea for you to practice holding your drumsticks in this manner from the very start so that you will be able to get the hang of it.

However, if you have no plans on concentrating on jazz music, it would be best for you to use the matched grip. Note that if are using a bigger drum kit, the traditional grip may make it difficult for you to move around especially if you are using a bigger drum kit. You may find it quite awkward to hit your cymbals in this position.