Friday, November 30, 2018


Ástor Piazzolla with his bandoneón in 1971.
Ástor Piazzolla with his bandoneón in 1971. - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Astor Piazzolla's Oblivion was composed in the year 1982 as a chamber ensemble. This beautiful music piece was one of Astor Piazzolla's most famous Tangos, and it became most popular when it was released on the soundtrack of Marco Bellocchio's film Henry IV, the Mad King. Oblivion has been recorded in many different versions, including being rewritten for the klezmer clarinet, saxophone quartet, oboe, and orchestra.

It starts out with violins and cellos and is a beautiful, haunting piece that speaks of tragedy and love. It's one of the most famous Tango work ever done by Astor Piazzolla and remains one of his best. The string section enters instantly, with a subtle, arpeggiated accompaniment, and the melody is extremely melancholic and almost depressing. With long notes and beautiful, alternating notes and elegant figures, Oblivion is a song that spins a sad tale of love and woe. It is a beautiful piece, very elegant in structure, and sounds like a sad song.

Halfway through the song, the melodies change a little, with a contrasting theme, not as intense as the previous notes and melodies though. Astor Piazzolla's Oblivion is one of the tangos that he wrote with almost no jazz or rock influence, like most other of his pieces from that time. It is a piece that is very true to the original Tango, and Piazzolla keeps it at its roots. It has a bit of harmonic sophistication and elegance, and it sings a beautiful song of Tango and emotion.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Adding String Parts to a ROCK Or POP Track?

For decades, from Motown to Funk, through Disco, Indie Rock or music by singer/songwriters, one of the elements which have made some tracks successful is the addition of stringed instruments to the mix. When used skillfully, this medium can lift a piece of music, giving it a unique character and sound, lending power and emotion to a song. Strings are also used to provide the 'hook' or counter-melody which adds a new dimension and variety to the music.

Many chart hits have a background 'wash' of strings, subtly used without being particularly prominent - and based on simple chords. There are also countless examples where sampled string sounds have been used to great effect - from the atmospheric Mellotron of the 1960s to more hi-tech solutions used in modern day music. Even synthesized strings - with no pretence at being the real thing have also distinguished many pops and rock classics.

Despite huge leaps forward in the technology of sampled strings, many producers and artists still prefer to use the 'real thing' - professional studio musicians drawing on their expertise to create a rich and authentic addition to a track. By using live players, it's possible to be far more versatile and include the articulations or 'up and down bowing' which only sound authentic on a real instrument.

The first thing to consider is that the family of stringed instruments which forms a standard string ensemble (violins, violas, cellos and double bass) all have a lot in common but work in different ways to the guitar or keyboard. They are tuned in 5ths - meaning that you count up 5 notes including the note itself to arrive at the next string. The violin shares it's bottom three strings with the viola, whereas the cello is exactly an octave below the viola. It is also important to know the range of each instrument. Approximately three and a half octaves will sound comfortable as a section, and it's important to understand how the sound quality is affected by the pitch of notes. High notes will sound thinner and more penetrating, whereas the lower register can sound thicker or richer. As an example, much disco music from the 1970s makes use of the higher register of the violins in particular.

The next consideration is the skilful and sometimes tricky business of spacing chords for a string section. This is where a lot of string arrangements can fall down - get it wrong and the effect can sound empty or thin. Violins are split into two sections - the 'first and second violins' - as found in a symphony orchestra. The first violins can often be in unison or an octave higher than the melody, with the second violins playing a supportive countermelody. Conversely, the first violins could be playing the countermelody with the three other parts filling in the chords. Note: in a chord, each instrument can take one or two notes depending on the fullness or effect required. Even in these chords, the string arranger needs to make sure the cello part doesn't leap around too much - although the bass guitar may still supply the bass line, the cello part will still be very effective in moving in step or as a melodic line.

Another important aspect is understanding the articulations required to bring out the best in stringed instruments. Think of it as being monochrome versus colour. Without slurs, staccato, spiccato and pizzicato (all standard effects that stringed instruments routinely play) - the sound can easily become dull and uncharacteristic. The best string arranging uses an intimate knowledge of the instruments and can sound vivid, exciting and detailed. Often, when a string section has been composed on a keyboard instrument, it can sound somehow fixed and mainly chordal in nature, without the moving parts that strings naturally have.

Strings have been used in almost every genre of music, from jazz through to heavy metal, rap and of course classical music. Genres such as bluegrass, Cajun and folk often spotlight a solo fiddle (the name 'fiddle' is interchangeable with violin), with an idiomatic style based on sliding up to notes, the use of rapid double stopping (where more than one note is simultaneously played) and subtle trills with quick snatched notes. Sometimes single strings - one of each instrument as in a standard string quartet - can be an option to bring out the beautiful solo sound of each player. This can be used for more intimate styles of song, such as one with an acoustic guitar and voice.

Here, the use of solo instruments is often more appropriate than a large string orchestra, as it brings a soulfulness and adds a more contemplative mood. For larger style music, a string arranger might write a big orchestral type sound - such as for a rock ballad or film soundtrack. If budget is no option, a section of thirty to forty session musicians may well be used. In other cases, often a high quality sampled string library can give an excellent rendition of strings - though lacking the human touch, with many producers hiring in a handful of professional musicians to layer a few real takes on top to add the articulations and feel which make it sound more convincing. Where strings are only part of a mix with other instruments, this can be a more economical solution than hiring a full orchestra.

With modern studio technology, an increasingly popular method for those financing their own projects is to use a few musicians who can multi-track several overdubs to create a larger sound. However, it's highly advisable that players who are asked to do this are extremely accurate professionals, to ensure that the end result isn't untidy - they will also need to vary the quality of sound and bowing in order to add character, and imitate a variety of different players within the section. With this approach, players must have perfect tuning and an excellent range of sound to create a realistic end result.

The professional string arranger will get a feel for when the strings should be dominant in a track and when they should recede into a more supportive, background sound. The arranger should know when the texture should be sparse as well as identifying moments where the strings can come alive and be dense or intricate. Rather than adding just basic chords, the strings can be used to provide the hook or countermelody - and in some instances, this can completely transform a piece of music, making it instantly memorable.

Although many bands and artists have a grasp of music theory and orchestration, so do undertake their own string arrangements, it is important to remember that a specialised string arranger will have years of training and may get better results. After all, if a group are going to the expense of hiring in a real string section, they'll want to make sure they get the full potential from the players. Music needs to be scored and orchestrated correctly to suit the instruments so that any session musicians can just sit down and play it through the correctly first time - saving valuable studio time.

    Vaughan Jones is a professional string arranger, violinist and violist. He leads a small commercial string section based in London. String Section supply strings for all manner of recording projects in all genres and their website is

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How Can You Tell If a VIOLIN TEACHER is Good?

English: Susanne Hou performing the Mendelssoh...
Susanne Hou performing the Mendelssohn violin concerto with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra in Vernon, BC, Canada. 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The main reason you want to find a good teacher is to get access to learning correct violin technique. Why do some violin players only perform in the local school halls while others grace national concert halls and world-renowned recording studios performing with symphony orchestras? A great deal has to do with correct technique.

Don't Be Fooled

Just because a musician puts an ad in the local paper advertising their services as a music teacher, does absolutely NOT mean that they may suitable or even appropriate as a violin teacher. Notice I didn't mention qualifications?

Once again, if a violin teacher has a BA in Music or a 4th grade "this "or 5th grade "that" may also not be a definitive indication that this violin teacher has herself been taught correct violin technique. So how do you judge?

The Best Advice Here

A virtuoso Australian jazz pianist who also was the head of music department at a prestigious art school in Australia always used to say in lectures - "It all comes down to; how well can you play your instrument" That may seem simplistic however that's where the beauty lies...

If you ever try to get a job with a symphony orchestra you'll find out that they're not that interested in the "pieces of paper" you have, but you can count on having an army of people sitting at a table watching you carefully and listening to your audition. Again, I pose the question - "How well can you play your instrument"

So, therefore a good teacher will have these:

Look for a professional performance resume

Most good violinists have delivered some notable performances at some point. These could include theater or concert, TV performances or traveling overseas to perform. Recordings or touring with artists who are publicly known is a good indicator that a musician has reached a proficient level.

Look for a professional teaching resume

Also, a good indicator is a violin teacher who has some teaching experience in a quality educational music facility. Some musician is so good that they don't make very good teachers mainly because they don't know how to break down complex musical concepts into small 'bites size pieces' for students to pick up and digest. You may find these quality education facilities as high priced private high schools or colleges.

A good idea might be to call up the school and ask who the violin teacher(s) there is. Then ask if they teach privately. Ask them about fees (also another good quality indicator - generally high prices indicate quality, but not always). Also, ask them for a professional resume or less formally in conversation "who do you perform with?" If they say an orchestra of some description, make a note and look them up. They may also say a string quartet. Again, look this up on the Internet.


Starting with a teacher that will teach you correct technique from the start is absolute GOLD! If your serious about learning an instrument, spend some time to find that teacher. Good luck in your endeavors.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


Salsa dancing
Salsa dancing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Looking for the right salsa music is easy once you've been exposed to salsa beats long enough. But if you want to groove to the salsa rhythms, here are some recommended CDs that will have you dancing for days!

TONY VEGA GREATEST HITS - Tony Vegas has charm and Latin gentleman appeal that can be heard in his music. His musical style appeals to everyone. It is smooth and romantic yet energetic and upbeat This is an unmatched collection of Tony Vega hits from 1989-1994. His songs are infused with romantic tones and sensuous Cuban Mambo and Puerto Rican Salsa style beats.

Rough Guide: Salsa Dance ~ various artists - A huge selection of musical compilations put out under the Rough Series. Rough Guide: Salsa Dance is one of the hotter Latin music themed albums to be released to date.

Rough Guide: Salsa Dance vol. 2 ~ various artists - An upbeat album that will have you dancing the instant you hear it! This album is sizzling HOT. You won't stop dancing because the music is electrifying!

SALSA FRESCA - This is an excellent CD "for those who love to dance salsa, not just listen to it." This compilation CD has you grooving salsa style all night long. Its inviting rhythmic beats are particularly good for those who love to Mambo. This CD is even a keeper for non-dancers. A must have for your CD collection!

Ultra Mix: The Best of Salsa - This is a must-have CD for any salsa. Some say it's best suited for listening, while others are convinced it's one of the best compilation discs for salsa dancing. Go to your local music store or check it out online. You'll be glad you did.

These CD selections are a great way to begin your salsa music collections. However, some other great tips to finding great salsa CDs is by listening to local radio shows that feature Latin American, Cuban and Afrobeat. Most likely you'll also be able to hear some salsa beats you've never heard before. Listening to these types of radio shows exposes you to the different sounds and usually makes mention of the artists that are being played. This will make your shopping experience so much easier.

Also, consider checking out your local salsa dance bar or salsa dance studio. The DJ or dance instructor would be happy to tell you what albums and/or songs they are playing.

Check out your local music store or go online to find the above-mentioned CDs. I guarantee your neighbors will be banging on your door wanting to know what it is you a replaying. These salsa CDs are that good!

Happy Shopping! Oh, but don't forget to check out where you'll hear the above-mentioned artists and more. But you will also get the best salsa dance training available. Don't forget to check it out!

Monday, November 26, 2018

An Look Inside The KARAOKE Machine

Early karaoke machine
Early karaoke machine 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 'Karaoke' is a very popular form of entertainment. The Karaoke allows the singer to sing along with the favorite recorded soundtracks. The origin of the word 'Karaoke' is from Japan which means 'empty orchestra' or 'virtual orchestra'. Now a day Karaoke machines are widely used as an alternative playback device in films and even in computers and mobile phones.

Overview of Karaoke Machine

A Karaoke Machine is built-in with a karaoke player, amplifier, speakers, and often a TV monitor. The karaoke player is generally a CD or DVD player that comes with the various added function of graphics output. The Karaoke Player allows playing 'Karaoke' which further is needed to get connected to other karaoke equipment such as a TV monitor, sound system, etc. in order to function. The Karaoke Players generally come in two types i.e. portable and component style.

The portable Karaoke Player is basically an all-in-one system which is very easy to operate. The portable Karaoke systems which are great home entertainer are mainly used at home parties and at small entertainment venues. These systems generally consist of a CD player, a microphone, a pitch and echo controller and external speakers with built-in amplifiers.

Other than the portable Karaoke Machine these players also come in component style. The Component Karaoke systems are similar in size and function to that of portable systems but have several additional features. The component players are basically multi-disc systems. These systems have several microphone inputs with separate volume controls for each microphone. The component Karaoke systems do not have any speaker or amplifier. Therefore these systems are usually connected to either home or any professional sound systems.


The Technology behind the Karaoke Machine

A standard Karaoke generally consists of an audio input and an audio output and act as an audio mixer. In a Karaoke Machine, regular songs can be fed into the machine and the voice of the original singer can be suppressed. Sometimes karaoke machine uses a special type of compact disc which has graphics capability and this disc is popularly known as CD+G disc. The CD+G players are generally used to display the lyrics and pictures on the screen along with the music, while both audio and video are displayed in the other formats of karaoke. With the help of different technologies, the karaoke machines are capable of changing electronically the pitch of the music. This technology helps the amateur singers to sing along with any music source most appropriate to their vocal ranges.

Sunday, November 25, 2018


English: Photograph of bust statue of Ludwig v...
Photograph of a bust statue of Ludwig van Beethoven by Hugo Hagen  

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many series, suites and cycles of pieces which can be considered "up there" in the pianist's standard repertoire: Bach's '48', Schubert's Impromptus and Moments Musicaux, Schuman's Carnaval and Kreisleriana, Chopin's Etudes and Preludes, Liszt's Années or the Transcendental Studies, but none can quite come close to Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas, usually referred to as the 'New Testament' of piano music (the WTC is the 'Old Testament'!). Perhaps the primary appeal of these pieces, aside from the sheer Herculean effort of learning and absorbing them, is that they offer both a far-reaching overview of Beethoven's musical style and a glimpse into the inner workings of his compositional life and personality. Urban legend has it that Beethoven was a rough, irascible, grumpy and unapproachable sod, but this does not tell us much about his music. Living with his music, spending time with it to understand what makes it special, allows a more honest, rounded view of him, and, perhaps of all his music, the piano sonatas offer a really candid autobiography.

As pianists, whether amateur or professional, advanced or intermediate, or even just beginning on the great journey of exploration, we have all come across Beethoven's piano music, and many of us have played at least one of his sonatas during our years of study. As an early student, a taster of a proper sonata in the form of one of his Sonatinas (something my father is grappling with at the moment - and refusing any helpful advice from me!). Later on, we might encounter one of the "easier" piano sonatas, such as the pair of two-movement sonatas that form the Opus 49 (nos. 19 and 20), which are roughly Grade 5-6 standard (but don't be fooled by the comparatively "easy" notes!). As part of my Grade 8 repertoire, I learned the No. 5 (Opus 10, No. 1, in C minor), which prefigures the far more well-known and well-loved Pathétique in the flourish of its opening measures, the "beautiful melody" of its slow movement, and its febrile final movement. A quick glance through the Diploma repertoire lists for any of the exam boards (Trinity, ABRSM, RAM etc) and there is a generous handful of sonatas to choose from, from well-known to less popular, to suit each level of Diploma right up to Fellow.

It is generally accepted the pianistic wisdom that Beethoven composed the piano sonatas during three distinct periods of his life, and as such, like the Duo Sonatas for Piano and 'Cello (read my earlier post here), offer a fascinating overview of his compositional development. Setting aside the three "Electoral" sonatas, which are not usually included in the traditional cycle of 32 (though Beethoven authority, Professor Barry Cooper, who has edited new the ABRSM edition of the sonatas, argues that there is a case for including the three sonatas that Beethoven wrote when he was 12 in a complete edition), the early sonatas are, like the early duo sonatas (for violin and for 'cello), virtuosic works, reminding us that Beethoven was a fine pianist. While the faster movements may nod back to his teacher, Haydn (though Beethoven would strenuously deny any influence!), it is the slow movements which demonstrate Beethoven's deep understanding of the capabilities of the piano, and its ability, through textures and colours, moods and contrasts, to transform into an instrument he wishes it to be. Some of the writing could be for string quartet (Op. 2 No. 2). In the early sonatas, Beethoven's mastery of the form is already clear, and many look forward to the greater, more complex, and more revolutionary sonatas of his 'middle' period. His distinctive musical personality is already stamped very firmly on these early works.

The sonatas from the middle period are some of the most famous:

The 'Tempest' and 'La Chasse' (Op. 30, Nos. 2 and 3). The first with its stormy, passionate opening movement, the second of the opus rollicking and somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

The 'Moonlight' (Op. 27, No. 2): the first piano sonata to open with a slow movement. Too often the subject of clichéd, lugubriously romantic renderings, this twilight first movement shimmers and shifts. An amazing gesture, created by a composer poised on the threshold of change.

he 'Waldstein' (Op. 53). Throbbing quavers signal the opening of one of the greatest of all of Beethoven's piano sonatas, while the final movement begins with a sweetly consoling melody which quickly transforms into daring octave scales in the left hand and a continuous trill in the right hand. This is Beethoven at his most heroic.

'Les Adieux' (Op. 81a). Suggested to be early 'programme' music in its telling of a story (Napoleon's attack on the city of Vienna which forced Beethoven's patron, Archduke Rudolph, to leave the city, though this remains the subject of some discussion still). It is true that Beethoven himself named the three movements "Lebewohl," "Abwesenheit," and "Wiedersehen". One of the most challenging sonatas because of its mature emotions and technical difficulties, it bridges the gap between Beethoven's middle and late periods.

Late period:
The 'Hammerklavier' (Op. 106), with its infamous and perilously daring grand leap of an octave and a half at the opening (which, of course, should be played with one hand!); its slow movement of infinite sadness and great suffering; its finale, a finger-twisting fugue, the cumulative effect of which is overwhelming: an expression of huge power and logic.

The Last Sonatas (Opp. 109, 110, 111). I have written about these sonatas previously. They are considered to be some of the most profoundly philosophical music, music which "puts us in touch with something we know about ourselves that we might otherwise struggle to find words to describe" (Paul Lewis), which speaks of shared values, and what it is to be a sentient, thinking human being. From the memorable, lyrical opening of the Op. 109 to the final fugue, that most life-affirming and solid of musical devices, of the Op 110, that peaen of praise, to the "ethereal halo" that is contained in some of the writing of the Arietta of the Op 111, the message and intent of this music is clear. And this is Beethoven's great skill throughout the entire cycle of his piano sonatas.

So, what is the perennial attraction of performing a Beethoven Sonata Cycle? Glance through concert programmes around the world and it is clear that these sonatas continue to fascinate performers and audiences alike, and no sooner has one series ended than another begins, or overlaps with another. Playing the Sonatas in a cycle is the pianistic equivalent of reading Shakespeare, Plato, or Dante, and for the performer, it offers the chance to get right to the heart of the music, peeling back the layers on a continuous journey of discovery, always finding something new behind the familiar. One does not have favourites; just as when one has children, one should never have favourites, though certain sonatas will have a special resonance. The sonatas are like a family, they all belong together - and they are needed, ready to be rediscovered by each new generation. You can play the sonatas for over a quarter of a century, half a century, and yet there are still many things in these wonderful works to be explored and understood, things which still have the power to surprise and fascinate.

Every pianist worth his or her salt knows that presenting a Beethoven sonata cycle represents a pinnacle in one's artistic career (ditto the five Piano Concertos) and an important stepping stone to other great cycles (Schubert's sonatas, for example, which are, perhaps, less satisfying to play than Beethoven's because of problems such as incomplete or different versions of the same work), but once a cycle is complete, one cannot truly say one has conquered the highest Himalayan peak. And that is what is so special about this music: you can never truly say you have "arrived" with it, while its endless scope continues to reward, inspire and fulfil.

I have never heard a complete Beethoven cycle performed by a single performer, but I have heard plenty of concerts which form part of the whole: in the 1980s, it was John Lill, now one of the "elder statesmen" of British pianism; before him, my parents would have heard Brendel and Barenboim. Following in their footsteps, I heard some of Barenboim's concerts when he played a complete cycle at the Festival Hall three year's ago. At the same time, Paul Lewis was just finishing his own cycle at the Wigmore Hall (and beyond). I heard him play Nos. 15-18, some of the early sonatas, and the Last Sonatas. Then there was Till Fellner, a young Austrian with a clean, fresh approach, whose cycle began in 2008. On LP, I had Lill's complete cycle, released the same year as I heard him at RFH. On CD I have Arrau, whose account is hard to match. But I also have recordings of favourites, such as the Opus 10's, played by Angela Hewitt, or the Opus 110 (my absolute favourite), played by Glenn Gould and Mitsuko Uchida (whose Mozart playing I adore).

In concert, the sonatas are presented in halls large and small, famous and lesser known. The size of the hall can affect one's appreciation and understanding of the works. For example, sometimes the earlier sonatas, which were written for the salon, can be lost in a venue as big as the Royal Festival Hall. One's connection to the music is also affected, of course, by the performer. Lill, I remember, brought an extraordinary closeness and intimacy, something I have never forgotten, a sense that it was an entirely shared experience; while with Barenboim it felt as if an invisible barrier had been erected between us, the audience, and him the performer (I suspect he neither intended nor engineered this; rather, the over-awed audience brought it upon themselves!).

Further reading
Playing the Beethoven Piano Sonatas - Robert Taub. "Offers the insights of a passionate musician who performs all 32 of Beethoven's well-loved piano sonatas in concert worldwide. This book presents his intimate understanding of these works with listeners and players alike." (Amazon)
The Beethoven Sonatas and the Creative Experience - Kenneth Drake. "Drake groups the Beethoven piano sonatas according to their musical qualities, rather than their chronology. He explores the interpretive implications of rhythm, dynamics, slurs, harmonic effects, and melodic development and identifies specific measures where Beethoven skillfully employs these compositional devices." (Amazon)

Beethoven's Piano Sonatas: A Short Companion - Charles Rosen. A very readable analysis of all 32 sonatas by respected pianist and writer.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

How to Make a BAMBOO FLUTE For Homemade Music

Bansuri, a bamboo flute popular in India. The ...
Bansuri, a bamboo flute popular in India.
The picture shows a 23-inch long flute often used in concerts
 (Photo credit: 
Want to know how to make a bamboo flute for your own homemade music? Flute making with bamboo can be really simple, as most of the work is done for you by way of the natural hollows that are grown into the bamboo. However, there's just a little bit of math involved in figuring out how to make a flute the right length for the fundamental note (the lowest not that you can play, with all fingers covering every hole), and for how to make flute finger-hole placements precise, as well as the embouchure (blowing edge hole). The one, simple, all-important mathematical formula to do the job, is really very easy to understand. Allow me to show you...

To understand how to make a bamboo flute, you'll need to be aware of two basic numbers in flute making in order to make perfect homemade music. The numbers to know for how to make a flute with perfect tuning are; the linear measurement for how far sound travels per second, and; the number of Hertz (the vibratory frequency) of any particular notes you will have the flute play. But to correctly gauge the sound, first, we need to know how to make flute embouchures. For this example, we'll use a transverse (or "side-blown") flute. It's very simple - make the hole for this be about half the width of the bore diameter, and have the hole's center point be situated at one bore diameter's distance from the inside of the closed end. Bevel one edge on the inside at an acute angle for the best "airstream splitting edge".

Okay, now for the numbers and how to use them in making our bamboo flute, and superb homemade music. The distance sound travels per second, at sea level, and at about 70 degrees F (or 21 degrees C), is 13526.5 inches (or 34357.31 centimeters). Now you take the frequency number of the note, which for this example we'll say the fundamental note will be "A", which would be 440, and divide the previous number by this one. What you will get is the length of one wavelength for this note, in this case, 30.74 inches, or 70.08 centimeters.

How to make a flute body the correct length for this is now to divide this measurement by two, which would make it about 15 3/8 inches, or 35.04 centimeters. You'll find that due to other factors in flute making, such as bore diameter and flute body wall thickness, you may need to shorten this a little bit more to get the note precisely - do this a little at a time. Use this same formula to find out how to make flute finger-hole placements along the length according to the notes you wish them to play, and there you have it!

    If you'd like to learn more about how to make a bamboo flute, flutes of various types and varieties, or any homemade instruments of woodwinds, percussion instruments or strings with precision, feel free visit my website on how to make your own music with professional quality homemade musical instruments that you can make yourself, at - these ain't your children's paper plate tambourines, shoebox and rubber band guitars, or butter bucket drums!

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Friday, November 23, 2018

Sing Your Favorite KARAOKE SONGS At Your Next Party!

English: A karaoke place in Wuhan, in Luoyu E....
A karaoke place in Wuhan, in Luoyu E. St. (Across the street from the HUST campus)
(Photo credit: 
Are you looking for a fun way to add some life to your parties? Karaoke is an activity that people of all ages really enjoy doing. Your guests will look forward to your next party once you tell them they can sing their favorite songs while they are there. There are plenty of different karaoke machines you can purchase and many of them are very affordable. 

The words of the songs will be scrolling on the karaoke machine or across your TV set depending on the type of set up you have in place. A microphone allows the voice of those singing to be amplified and that is very exciting. Most karaoke machines come with several tracks from which you can choose to sing. You can also buy additional ones to give your guests more of a selection of songs. 

There are some excellent software programs you can purchase to burn karaoke songs offer of the internet. This is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to increase the number of songs you have to offer to your guests. If they find something they really like they will be more likely to join in the fun. 

You can have a karaoke contest at your party as well. If the party is for children you will want to have a prize ready for each child to take home just for participating. For adults and teenagers, you can offer great prizes for different categories including best voice and the most original performance. 

Don’t think that your karaoke machine is going to remain stored away in between parties either. Chances are your family will have so much fun with it that members will use it regularly. They may just want to have some fun or they may want to improve their sound for the next karaoke party. 

Take your time to compare the various types of karaoke machines available and the music for them. You want your party to be a huge success so give guests something they will really enjoy being a part of. It is a good idea to set up the karaoke machine in advance and practice using it before your party. This way you won’t be fumbling around with the equipment and holding up the entertainment. 

It helps if you have a sign-up sheet where guests can write down their name and the selection of the sound they want to sing. You can print out sheets of the song titles and artists for them to review as well. You can make a spreadsheet on your computer so you can continually update it as you add new material.

Regardless of the type of party, you are hosting, you can bring a smile to the face of everyone there with karaoke. Make sure you offer a wide variety of songs since everyone has their own taste in music. If karaoke night at your house becomes a regular routine you can even ask your guests if there are particular songs they would like to hear. This is a great way to have fun without spending very much money for your event.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

SAXOPHONE MOUTHPIECE Guide - For a Better Way to Play Saxophone

Two mouthpieces for tenor saxophone: the one o...
Two mouthpieces for tenor saxophone: the one on the left is rubber; the one on the right is metal.
(Photo credit: 
The saxophone is an instrument that is well appreciated in a variety of musical genres including jazz, rock, and pop. For saxophone players, add-ons like saxophone mouthpieces are essential if they want to be able to play better and produce a better sound. This saxophone mouthpiece guide can help you choose the best one for your type of sound.

The saxophone mouthpiece is attached to the instrument and is useful in shaping and producing the sound coming from the instrument. The saxophone player blows into the mouthpiece to create vibrations that can produce the sound. It is also helpful in holding the reed in its proper place so it won't flutter while creating a chamber to allow for sound modification which, in turn, makes it possible to create the right tone.

What's it made of?
In a saxophone mouthpiece guide, you will see that this component can be classified according to the tone and pitch that it can produce: baritone, soprano, tenor, and alto. Higher notes and pitches are basically produced by sopranos while lower and graver tones are produced with baritones. You can also classify saxophone mouthpieces according to the material from which it is made of:

Hard rubber: Molded with heat, it is known as the best type of mouthpiece since it dampens lighter sounds with its dense properties. This mouthpiece is ideal for classical music.

Plastic: Although inexpensive, it can warp with over-usage, giving way to tone imbalance and squeaks. It also contracts and expands according to temperature, giving way to intonation problems.

Metal: Less dense than rubber, it enhances higher tones so it is ideal for playing solo jazz tunes. It is also more durable but requires high maintenance.

Check the quality and the tip opening

Ending this saxophone mouthpiece guide are buying tips you can use to check the quality. Make sure it is easy to blow while being able to produce a good sound. Check the tip opening, too. Beginners are better off with narrow tips for a clearer tone and easy response while professionals with a good control of the saxophone can use wider tips for greater projection and volume.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

BANDS Known By Initials

From left to right, John Fogerty, Stu Cook, an...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In rock ‘n’ roll history there have been many bands whose moniker and names were shortened and universally recognized by abbreviated lettered names.  Let’s explore some popular initial nicknames of bands.

Creedence Clearwater Revival (also known as CCR) began churning out classic rock ‘n’ roll singles shortly after the John Fogerty led band formed in 1967.  With their “swamp-rock” sound and style, the group amassed seventeen top 40 hits like “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” and the wedding band staple “Proud Mary.”  The group disbanded in 1972 and any hopes of a CCR reunion were quashed with the death of band member Tom Fogerty in 1990.

Another 60's band that had huge commercial success was Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, also known as CSN & Y.  Band members David Crosby (formerly of the Byrds), Graham Nash (of Hollie's fame), Stephen Stills and Neil Young (both with Buffalo Springfield), blended their flawless harmonies into a long and successful career.  With hits such as the Nash-led “Teach Your Children,” Neil Young’s antiwar protest song “Ohio” and a Joni Mitchell composition “Woodstock” about the legendary rock festival, CSN & Y blended their unique acoustic-folk and progressive hard rock sound to be a classic example of the 1960's psychedelic era.  Additionally, after Young left the group, Crosby, Stills and Nash (also known as CSN) continued to release melodic pop/rock songs with 1977's “Just A Song Before I Go” and “Wasted On The Way,” which was released in 1982.  The group still tours, occasionally joined by Young.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive performing live in Ör...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hard-rocking Bachman-Turner Overdrive, or simply BTO consisted of Randy Bachman (formerly of the Guess Who), fellow Guess Who alum Chad Allen, C.F. “Fred” Turner and Randy’s brother drummer Robbie.  Capitalizing on the arena rock/pop rock era of the mid 70's, BTO had a short but successful career with chart singles such as “Takin’ Care Of Business,” “Let It Ride” and the number one single “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” a song which was intended for an audience of one- Randy’s brother Gary Bachman who had a speech impediment-stuttering.  They recorded the song for fun but needing another song to complete the lp “Not fragile,” Randy Bachman was pressured to include the joking stuttering lyrics and the song spent twelve weeks on the Billboard charts in 1974.

There are many other rock ‘n’ roll bands that were known by initials as well as their “given” name and I will include a couple more that I know of.  The Electric Light Orchestra (also known as ELO) led by guitarist Jeff Lynne, scored twenty top ten hits with songs like “Telephone Line and “Don’t Bring Me Down.”  A similar sounding name ELP was a supergroup consisting of keyboard genius Keith Emerson, bassist Greg lake (of the band Nice) and drummer Carl Palmer (a former member of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown).  They instilled their keyboard dominated, progressive rock throughout the 70's, creating an FM radio phenomenon with songs like “Lucky Man,” “Still You Turn Me On” and “From The Beginning.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Cantonese Opera exhibit at the Museum
Cantonese Opera exhibit at the Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Would I want to be a Cantonese opera singer? I attended a workshop at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and found the answer to that question. I learned there are 350 kinds of Chinese opera- each based on a different Chinese dialect. Cantonese opera is the genre most common in Hong Kong. The young woman who was our opera workshop instructor had been studying opera for five years. She told us she was only a beginner. It takes more than twenty years to become a really good performer. This explains why many 'opera stars' are over the age of fifty. Our guide taught us how to distinguish between male and female, and comic and tragic opera characters by their dress, make-up, voices and body movements.

After she had introduced us to the plot line of an opera we tiptoed into a theatre where an opera was in progress and watched it for about twenty minutes. The female character sang in a falsetto voice all the time. The singers didn't always seem to know where the tune of their song was leading them and the audience was talking throughout the performance. Later our guide told us there are no written or designated notes in Chinese opera scripts. 

Actors are provided with only a set of lyrics. The singers make up the tune as they go along. The tradition of female characters using a falsetto voice is an ancient tradition stemming from a time when only male performers were allowed on the stage. They used a falsetto voice to sound feminine. A Chinese opera is apparently performed as a tribute to the gods. Since the deities are the intended audience, the human audience can talk and even eat or play games like mahjong or chess while the opera is going on without insulting the performers.

The second part of our tour took us through a museum exhibit where we saw opera costumes. They are extremely ornate and very expensive to create. Our guide explained the thick face paint worn by characters. Evil villains wear mostly white make-up, while good heroes have predominantly red faces. The museum had a computer program set up that allowed you to put on the make-up and costume of a classic opera character. You chose a character, positioned your face on the computer screen and then waited for your face to appear in the costume and make-up of that character. I chose a Warrior Woman. I thought I looked quite stunning in my Cantonese opera persona and even took a photo of myself.

Although I thought I looked quite powerful and exotic in my costume I found out several things about Chinese opera singers during the workshop that would make me think twice about becoming one. Cantonese operas are between four and five hours long. Actors must memorize thousands of lines. Opera costumes weigh many pounds and female actresses wear narrow-toed, high-heeled shoes. Most performances are held outside in the humid heat. Although it was fun to learn more about Cantonese opera and even see how I would look like a Chinese opera singer, I don't think I'd like to be one.


Monday, November 19, 2018

Theater Art - KABUKI

Kabuki Theater
Kabuki Theater (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Kabuki is a traditional Japanese theater art. The word Kabuki is derived from the Japanese word kabuki which means avant-garde or bizarre theater. Kabukimono were youngsters who were rebellious and used to dress strangely. Because the kanji characters sing and dance, kabuki also means the art of singing and dancing.   

This work has been tampered with over a period of time. The kabuki which we witness now isn’t the same what it used to be before. The founder of this art was Okuni, who was a young lady who served a Shinto shrine named Izumo Taisha. She gained attention by adapting a completely new dance form at the theaters at the dry river beds of Kyoto in the year 1603. Basically, it started with an only female artist who even did the role of men. The stories were based on the common people with a comedic twist. After the initial success, Okuni was invited to show her performance at the royal court. Out of envy, other troupes began adopting the same style of dancing and kabuki became a common style. The women involved in kabuki began entering prostitution so they were banned from performing further and men took over their place. The attention shifted from dance to performance. But the performance by the men also became salacious and they too started prostitution as a side profession and worked for both men and women customers. This affected the audiences which attended this performance they became ill-mannered and a fight used to break out over a young and handsome actor. This led to the imposing of a ban on young male actors too.

Kabuki then became a field of art for matured men. These men put in more effort to bring up the reputation of kabuki. The men who performed the role of women were known as Oyama or Onnagata. Basically, there were two types of a role named Aragoto or rough style and Wagoto or Sakata tojuro. Yaro kabuki or men’s kabuki was the stylized version and Kyogen comic theater was a very influential factor as it was very popular then. 

The kabuki artists wore detailed makeup. Aragoto character or the reckless warrior character has a pompous role with bright clothing and loud makeup. The style too is loud and exaggerated and involves more action.  On the contrary, Wagoto is a more cultured role with decent dialogue delivery and gestures.

The Genroku period showed more interest in Kabuki arts. It had started to be performed in formal theaters. Chikamatsu Monzaemon was the first known playwright of kabuki and later on produced many other renowned works. His works revolve around tragic-romances where the lovers used to suicide in the end. Many followed this theme which forced the authorities to put a ban on such kinds of plays known as Shinju Mono. After few years of success, kabuki was taken over by Bunraku or Puppetry. This was due to the increase in the number of Bunraku playwrights. 

But after the defeat of Tokugawa Shogunate Empire in 1868 kabuki arts returned to its full form. Initially, a kabuki performance was made in front of the king Meiji. It caught his interest in the first instance. Many kabuki theaters were brought up during that era.

During the World War II, many theaters were lost during the bombing and a ban was levied on kabuki. But in 1947, the kabuki performances started again with the lift of the ban and once again began to flourish across the country.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

CD ACCOPANIMENT For VIOLIN PLAYER And More: Find Great Choices At Music Minus One

English: Violin with sheet music in a repair s...
Violin with sheet music in a repair shop, Salzburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Accompaniment CDs make violin practice more fun and enjoyable. Music Minus One has always specialized in selling musicians the best choices for sheet music and audio accompaniment and, with our online store, it's never been easier to begin discovering the difference that our products can make for your musical life.

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Our store is a complete resource for all types of musicians. Music Minus One sells accompaniment CDs for violin, piano, guitar and much more. We are dedicated to giving every one of our customers a great choice for their sheet music and CD needs and stock exceptional options for nearly every instrument and vocalist. The Music Minus One online store currently sells accompaniment CDs for violin, drums, harmonica, accordion, oboe, saxophone, flute, electric bass, harp, vocalists [across all ranges and styles] and much, much more. Our products span many different genres of music, from modern pop and folk to baroque, gospel, Broadway and more. Every type of musician is bound to find the type of sheet music and audio accompaniment they desire when shopping the selection available through Music Minus One.

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Friday, November 16, 2018


Copy of toscaniniontour.jpg
"Toscaniniontour". Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia.
Entertainment is certainly a very popular element found all over in New York. People love to see live music and they can find it where various types of orchestras person. You can even listen to them when you are at live productions such as the Phantom of the Opera. There are certainly some wonderful productions in New York that one can enjoy. Some of them take place on a regular basis and others only perform on a special basis.

The longest running orchestra in the United States is the Philharmonic. They have been in place since 1842. They have performed more than 15,000 shows and they always get rave reviews for their efforts. Tickets for their shows sell out fast and there are always plenty of people who show up for tryouts to be a part of this musical group. Plan to pay a premium price though for any performance by this well known New York group.

If you will be traveling to New York in the future, check online to find out about the various orchestra performances that will be taking place. This can be a wonderful treat when you get some time to relax. Many of them are at really nice locations and so you can decide to have a nice dinner that evening as well.

Sometimes though various New York orchestras have been known to travel to other locations. You may find you are able to catch a performance of theirs much closer to home. They are definitely worth the price of a ticket though as you won’t find live music this great too many other places. Yet if you can’t get enough of it you can buy CDs with the sounds of the New York orchestra on them. You can also download songs to your iPod.

For those that have big musical dreams, the quest for being accepted to join one of the various orchestras in New York is one that can come true. It takes plenty of hard work and dedication in order to do so. Of course, there is a great deal of pride that comes with the territory when you are performing in the New York orchestra.