Monday, January 7, 2019


Crush at Badger Bowl
Photo by ibm4381
When your band and you as the lead singer use electronic musical instruments such as the electric guitar, electric bass or the microphone etc, conducting a sound check is necessary to balance the sound of the instruments and your voice.

Your band members will sound check their own instruments and their systems such as the monitor first and then you, the singer or the vocal section will do your own sound check last once the sound system for the musical instruments is already well balanced. Soundcheck in this sequence will enable you to hear how you sound when you are actually singing with your band.

At the sound check, make sure that your microphone is free from its stand if you want to move around or dance during your singing performance. Also, ask the sound equipment technicians for a monitor to be placed in front of you so that you can hear yourself sing. If you can get your hands on a pair of sound monitor earpiece, that will be better because this will give you more room to prance around and entertain your audience and fans.

How to sound check the singer's microphone?

Your singing voice when produced by the microphone should be louder and above the sounds produced by the band so that your voice can carry the songs well and able to portray your feel, song interpretation and emotions clearly. Sometimes, this may result in loud feedbacks (that loud piercing screeching sound produced by the microphone) so much so that your sound technician or yourself must know where the maximum volume can be before the irritating screeching feedback occurs. The sound technician should mark this threshold on his soundboard control.

During the crescendo parts of songs, move away from the microphone so that you do not trigger feedback and move back in again during the softer part of the songs. By doing this, you are not only able to control feedbacks, but you will also not irritate sensitive audience who may not enjoy loud singing. On the other hand, when the singing is soft and you are far away from your audience, they may not be able to make out what you are singing and that is why you need to move closer to the microphone when the interpretation of the song calls for you to sing softly.

It is important to watch out for consonants or lyrics beginning with 'P's and 'B's. When you are singing loudly into the microphone, these consonants may cause explosive pop sounds on the microphone. If you think 'M', you will be able to prevent 'please' and 'baby' exploding out of the speakers.

The final sound check

At the end of the sound check session, you and your band must run through a couple of songs. This is done not only because you want to hear whether the sound is good from the audience perspective but also whether all your band members can hear themselves, the band as a whole and sound from their monitors.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Harmonicas: Finding the Harp that Fits Your Needs

Harmonica Blues Harp - Photo: Pixabay
Harmonicas are wonderful musical instruments. They're versatile, they're relatively inexpensive, they fit in your pocket, and their music can evoke a wide range of feelings. Harmonicas - or harps, as they are commonly called - are used in a wide variety of musical genres, such as bluegrass, the blues, folk, rock, country, Gospel, jazz, and even Classical music. 

If you want to learn to play the harp and are planning to take instruction, you should understand the different types of harmonicas that are available. The leading makers of harmonicas include Suzuki, Hering, Hohner, and Bushman. Beyond brands, though, there are other differences you should know about.

The harmonica that most people are familiar with is the ten-hole "Blues Harp." Each of the holes has two reeds, which are tuned to play different notes. Blues harps come in virtually every key, and each harmonica can play 19 musical notes. 

Blues harps are a subcategory of diatonic harmonicas, so named because of the two reeds in each hole. Diatonic harmonics generally play only one key. Another type of diatonic harmonica is the octave harmonica, which is tuned so that each hole plays the same note, only an octave apart from one another. The tremolo harmonica also has two reeds, but one plays a slightly flat note and the other plays a slightly sharp note.  

A different category of harmonica is the chromatic harmonica. These harmonicas typically have twelve, fourteen, or sixteen holes, and four reeds per hole. They also have a sliding bar that moves the air from the mouthpiece to a specific reed plate. Chromatic harmonicas are most often used in jazz and Classical music. 

Harmonica Instruction

When you learn to play the harmonica, you'll first be taught how to breathe correctly. Because successfully playing the harmonica involves both breathing out and breathing in, it's important to breathe from your diaphragm. You'll also learn how to correctly hold the harmonica, how to move it, and how to position your lips so you'll achieve the right notes. You'll also learn harmonica tablature, or tabs, which in instruction that replaces the need for learning to read music. Harmonica tabs tell you what actions you need to take, such as blowing in the fifth and sixth holes, rather than simply showing you music notation. For example, tablature might indicate an upward arrow with a number above it, indicating that you need to blow on that numbered hole, followed by a downward area with a number on top, indicating that you need to inhale on that hole. Tabs make learning to play the harmonica much easier than learning to play other instruments. 

Choosing a Harp

Most harmonica instruction is given in the key of C, so it's probably best to buy a diatonic or Blues harp in the key of C. Most experts recommend that beginners purchase harmonicas with plastic or aluminum combs (the body of the harmonica) rather than wood. Plastic and metal are both more comfortable and more durable. However, you should be aware that, over time, you'll probably buy and try several different brands of harmonicas. Each person is unique, and each has to find the harmonica that is the best fit for his or her playing style.

IAN BROWN - The World Is Yours

Ian Brown -  Photo: Wikimedia
As it is well-known talented bands consist of talented musicians. But it is also known that talents of these particular musicians are not necessarily equally strong. The situation when a few people become famous at the expense of one person's abilities is pretty typical. But while the band lives the audience grasps its members as something whole and indivisible, not always of course but if one of them messes the things up all the rest are blamed too. However, everything takes its places after the band splits and its ex-members start making different efforts as solo artists. And it is here where true abilities of ex-superstars become apparent. As a rule, only one survives. 

So it happened to a well-known band The Stone Roses, which managed to influence a whole cohort of British brit pop and indie acts with only two albums. The Stone Roses had two bright leaders guitarist John Squire and vocalist Ian Brown. When The Stone Roses broke up in 1996 the general consensus was that it would be John Squire who should be the most successful solo act. He wrote the songs, played guitar like a god and even designed the sleeves for the albums. But as the time has shown this opinion was inaccurate. Indeed, Squire didn't quit the music and even recorded a number of albums but the result that he has achieved during post The Stone Roses era is simply not able to hold the candle to Ian Brown's achievements.

Golden Greats (Ian Brown album)
Golden Greats (Ian Brown album)
(Photo credit: 
Cult figure
In contrast to all the other members of The Stone Roses Ian Brown used his fame, brought by the band's two memorable albums, as a jumping-off place for his future solo career. His name is still standing in close connection with The Stone Roses but for the majority of the people, Ian Brown of today is a separate artistic unit. He's got four successful albums behind him, he has worked with many notable musicians, he regularly gives concerts in different points of the planet and in fact he is a real cult figure for many young indie rockers. Thus, for example, Arctic Monkeys' frontman Alex Turner has stated that Ian Brown as the band's musical hero.

In a word, Ian Brown just keeps on developing so far and the main thing is that he does it free and easy, taking his fame as true luck. His fifth album released this year is called The World Is Yours. This is a full-fledged studio record, which proves one more time that Ian Brown knows how to keep up with times. At his 44 he still sounds amazingly fresh and even modern and of course, you can always feel his perennial musical experience at that.

Professional confidence and a fresh flavor of today
Ian Brown's good point is that he never tries to copy somebody else's ideas, he's got his own and fairly recognizable style and doesn't want to change it, he simply adds new colors and observes what comes out of it. In this sense, The World Is Yours takes a position of an album with a post-classic sound. Brown always loved two things: good beat and massive keyboards, therefore any production exploring he used to make concerned mostly these very things. This time around the situation looks as follows: beat sound dense, velvet and not as synthesized as it was on some of his previous records. The sounding keeps the balance somewhere between good pop rock and modern Hip Hop production. It is fairly audible on the title track for instance.

The keyboards remain almost unchanged but only because Brown decided to use a huge amount of orchestral instruments on this record. They sound pretty appropriate and never spoil the rock spirit. It all imparts some sort of soundtrack flavor to the record, well, at least when you listen to, let's say, On Track you have a feeling that a helicopter with James Bond aboard is about to fly by your window or that Frodo Baggins is going to enter your room when you have Sister Rose playing. But as it was said earlier the orchestration never kills the rock constituent of the album.

The World Is Yours is probably the most proper rock album recorded with classical instruments, everything sounds really measured and balanced. The album as a whole has a very warm and massive sound, it is pretty hard to attach it to any concrete genre but saying it in simple terms The World Is Yours is a mature alternative rock with a notable influence of Hip Hop. Overall The World Is Yours is a very felicitous disc - it is both interesting and accessible, you can feel professional confidence and a fresh flavor of today. It is quite possible that it has some disadvantages too but you have to be Ian Brown's real hater to dig them out. If you are not one of them then you'll certainly like this album. In a word, give it a chance; it is worthy of your attention indeed.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

PLAY PIANO in a Flash – Is it Possible?

Piano, keys
Piano, keys (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is it really possible to learn to play piano in a flash? That would be impossible because according to some expert pianists, it took them years to learn their lessons and play effectively. However, there is one way to improve your learning process in a flash.

You might be wondering how, right? Well, it is really simple. You have to take note of your posture. This is very important when playing the piano. Try to observe pianists; they have great postures and they seem to play with ease at all times. Without proper posture, you will not learn the basic playing techniques and even if you do, you can’t play the instrument comfortably.

Some say that it is easier to teach children when it comes to posture but even if you’re an adult, you can still improve your posture. If you can do this, you can play comfortably and with flexibility.

1. Try to imagine yourself sitting and you’re about to play the piano. See yourself as a giraffe; feeling as if your neck and head can reach the ceiling.

2. The next thing that you have to do is to stretch your arms. Try to imagine that the arms are the wings of an angel. Stretch your arms to the sides until your elbows are horizontally pointed.

3. Now, focus your attention to your hands. Look at your fingers. Move them just like the legs of a spider. Walk each of your fingers to the piano keys.

4. You have to sit on the bench with ease and confidence. Try to think that you’re the best pianist there is and that you know all your pieces well.

5. When sitting on the bench, your elbows should be located right in front of the stomach. Stretch your arms until your fingers touch the piano keys. Never scoot forward. Sit as if you’re glued to the bench.

Did you notice anything on the five posture pointers mentioned? Which word is used many times? The word ‘imagine’ is used most of the time. This is very effective especially if you’re still a child but it can also work for adults. Try using your imagination. This way, your body and mind will connect instantly and you can play naturally.

The next time you practice on your piano, try to follow these pointers. Follow them one by one until you finally learn. These pointers are truly effective if you can follow properly. Even your piano teacher or instruction manuals will say the same thing. Here’s a question for you – have you ever seen a pianist who slouches? That would be quite funny and irritating, right?

Start by learning to have a good posture. This is one of the starting points to learn to play the piano in a flash. But all the other lessons should be taken one step at a time. You have to retain all the lessons. That is why you have to review your past lessons often to make sure that you still know them. You can’t simply forget past lessons because you will need them in the future lessons that you’re going to have.

The truth is, you can’t play piano in a flash. But with a little improvement in terms of your posture, you can go a long way. Take note of your posture now and check if you have a good one.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


Trumpet with paper straight mute inserted; bel...
Trumpet with paper straight mute inserted; below are (left to right) straight, wah-wah (Harmon), and cup mutes. - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Trumpet players always like gadgets, and mutes are gadgets that we actually need. It's always interesting to experiment with the different sounds you can produce. There are so many mutes on the market, it's hard to keep them straight, no pun intended. If you are really into trumpet accessories, you can collect mutes for the rest of your life and never be finished. Every year, manufacturers come out with new brands and varieties.

When all is said and done, you will need three basic mutes...a straight mute, a cup mute, and a Harmon-style or Wah-Wah mute. The Harmon style mute is the one that is the most fun. My trumpet teacher used to tell us that if we left our mutes at home, we had left half of our horn at home. They were that important.

The first category is straight mutes. These are the basic mute used in trumpet playing the most often, and usually should be the first mute you purchase. If the music says "muted" or "con sordino", it means with a straight mute. Many parents will go and purchase the cheapest mute they can find. Metal straight mutest sound much better than others for most circumstances. Make sure you research mutes before you buy one. Whatever mute you decide to get, you want to try and match the rest of your section because they all sound different. The most popular brands used today are the Tom Crown, Leblanc Vacchiano, Jo-Ral, and Dennis Wick. I have around ten different straight mutes that all produce different sounds that I use for different circumstances.

Next, we have cup mutes and Harmon Style Mutes. These resemble a straight mute but have a cup at the end that changes the sound. The Harmon or Wah-Wah Style mute is a totally different sounding mute. I've also seen them called the Wow-Wow, and Jo-Ral calls theirs a Bubble Mute. The Harmon Brand mute is the one that started it all. In fact, regardless of the brand, they are usually called a Harmon Mute. The Harmon Brand is still a good mute, but most professional players play other brands.

A plunger is another one to keep handy if you play in a jazz band. You can purchase one made for trumpet playing, but I just use a normal sink plunger with the handle removed. A sink plunger is smaller than a regular toilet plunger and it works better for the trumpet. Save the toilet ones for the trombone players.

The last category of mutes I think a trumpet player should always have is a practice mute. With a good one, you can practice in a hotel room at 3:00am and not disturb anyone. There are numerous ones on the market today. That used to be very different. When I was in college, there were only a couple available, and only one of them was good. Practice mutes are a great thing to have, but they are not something that you should use all the time. The back-pressure is different than an open trumpet, and prolonged use could cause problems with your playing.

Monday, December 31, 2018


Portrait of Lester Young, Famous Door, New Yor...
Portrait of Lester Young, Famous Door, New York, N.Y. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Middle Man
Although throughout the history of jazz there has been a large number of incredibly talented saxophone players, it is a well-accepted fact among jazz scholars that three of the most important to the evolution of jazz saxophone were Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Charlie Parker, in that order.

Lester Young bridged the gap between the early jazz improvisations of Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker and the bebop revolution.  Coleman Hawkins was considered the King of the tenor saxophone players during the early Swing era with his big tone and mastery of chordal improvisation.  Lester Young arrived on the jazz scene with a totally new approach.

Mr. Cool
Lester Young rose to prominence out of Kansas City, during its musical boom years, while playing in the Count Basie big band.  His tone was very relaxed and soft sounding, and he played in a very lyrical fashion with phrasing that was unorthodox at the time.  His approach to improvisation was linear - he would play across the bar lines melodically instead of playing up and down the chords like Hawkins tended to do.

Lester Young became known as Pres which was a nickname given to him by jazz singer Billie Holiday. According to Holiday, "I always felt he was the greatest, so his name had to be the greatest.  The greatest man around then was Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he was the President.  So I started calling Lester the President.  It got shortened to Prez."

Post-War Blues
Much has been written about the level of Young's playing after his unwilling one year stint in the U.S. Army.  He had a tough time with the white authority figures and was then court-martialed for possession of marijuana.  He was dishonorably discharged after spending one year in the brink.

Because this was such a disillusioning experience for Prez he became more withdrawn and sullen after his military service, and many critics believe this had a negative impact on his playing.

However, one exemplary recording from 1946 shows him in fine form.  He recorded The Lester Young Trio with Nat King Cole on piano and Buddy Rich on drums.  A 1950 Downbeat magazine review of four of the cuts says, "Four magnificent sides...with Lester most often at his fluent best."

The Pres Leaves Office
Lester Young continued to perform and record throughout the 1950s with guest appearances with the Count Basie Band and at the Newport Jazz Festival.  His increasing dependence on alcohol led to declining health and to his death in 1959.  50 plus years later he is still considered to be one of the giants of the jazz tenor saxophone.

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

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Sunday, December 30, 2018

How to Play ORGAN Chorale Fantasy "Komm Heiliger Geist", BWV 651 by BACH in 9 Steps

Johann Sebastian Bach (aged 61) in a portrait ...
Johann Sebastian Bach 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Would you like to learn to play organ chorale fantasy "Komm Heiliger Geist, BWV 651 by Bach? If so, you will need to know the exact steps which will help you master this fantastic composition. In this article, I will share with you my recommendations on how to learn to play this piece and be ready for public performance.

Step 1 - Analyze the piece. In this step, you will have to analyze the key, the texture, compositional techniques used and tonal plan of the piece. This will help you to understand how the piece is put together.

Step 2 - Write in fingering. Writing in fingering will help you to know exactly which fingers to use.  This will definitely prevent many mistakes which would occur if you play with accidental fingerings.

Step 3 - Write in pedaling. In this step, you will need to know the rules of Baroque pedaling techniques. Early pedaling for Baroque pieces is different from the Romantic and modern pedaling techniques.

Step 4 - Ornaments. This step is very crucial if you want to play this piece in the Baroque style.

Step 5 - Articulation. Even more than the previous step, correct articulation will make your playing sound stylistically appropriate. Note that Baroque music generally is not played legato.

Step 6 - Tempo. With this step, you have to understand the correct ideal tempo for the performance of this piece and for practicing this composition. You have to also take into consideration the acoustics of the room which will determine the exact tempo for performance.

Step 7 - Registration. In this step, you will need to know which stops to use both for practicing this piece and which kind of stop combinations to use for concert performance or church service. The registration will be different on various types of organ - large or small.

Step 8 - Practice the piece. In this step, you will actually start practicing this composition. You will have to figure out the way to practice efficiently and effectively. This will allow you to learn this piece and be ready for public performance in the shortest amount of time possible.

Step 9 - Memorization. Memorizing this piece is optional and you don't need to perform this piece in public from memory. However, I strongly recommend for you to memorize it because this will help you truly perfect this fantastic composition and advance to a whole new level of mastery even if you choose to play it from the score.

Apply my tips in your practice and this will help you to master organ chorale fantasy "Komm Heiliger Geist", BWV 651 by Bach. I am sure you will have much fun perfecting the piece. This will definitely help you to advance in organ playing.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Best Loved OPERAS - PUCCINI's La Boheme

Composer Giacomo Puccini in a studio photograph.
Composer Giacomo Puccini 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Puccini's opera La Boheme is one of the most popular and loved pieces. It will sell out at opera houses around the world many times over. It seems opera lovers simply can't get enough of this work. Why is it?

Perhaps the story of love at first sight and the simply stunning music are two things that make it so popular. The story is one that many people can relate to. It is about real human emotions and situations rather than fairies and emotionally out of touch characters.

Most aspiring professional opera singers have one of the many arias from La Boheme on their wish list. Most characters have one or two outstanding songs which is also why you will often hear arias as well as duets from La Boheme sung at opera galas of popular opera.

What is the story then? La Boheme is an opera in four acts based on a story of bohemian life set in the Latin Quarters in Paris in the 1840s. The world premiere was in Turin in 1896 and was conducted by a young Arturo Toscanini. Toscanini would later become one of the most well-known and highly regarded conductors of opera of all time. It was an instant hit and immediately became part of the standard opera repertoire.

English: Poster for the 1896 production for Pu...
Poster for Puccini's La bohème
Artist: Adolfo Hohenstein (1854-1928)
(Photo credit: 
The beginning of the opera sees four men in an attic space. There is Marcello (a baritone) who paints, the writer Rodolfo (a tenor), Colline (a bass) who is a philosopher, and the musician Shaunard (a baritone). They have very little or no money and in order to keep warm, they burn one of Rodolfo's failed manuscripts. The three men go out to Café Momus around the corner and Rodolfo will join them later after having finished the article he is writing. There is a knock on the door and Mimi (a soprano), a seamstress who also lives in the building, enters. She asks Rodolfo if he has any matches as her candle has blown out. This is the start of their great love story and it is where we hear two of the most famous arias ever written. First, there is Rodolfo's aria Che gelida manina (What a cold little hand) followed by Mimi's Si, mi chiamano Mimi (Yes, they call me Mimi) where they tell each other of their backgrounds and interests. This leads into one of the most well-known duets in the entire operatic repertoire, namely O soave fanciulla (Oh gentle maiden). The melodies are beautiful and the music is thick and bursting with emotion. There is something so simple and human about the love between Rodolfo and Mimi.

Act two starts with the four men and Mimi at Café Momus in the Latin Quarters. Soon, there is quite some commotion and a very elegant and sexy woman enters the scene. This is Musetta (another soprano), the former girlfriend of Marcello. She is now with an old rich man, Alcindoro (a bass) and it is quite clear she is fed up with him. When she sees Marcello she starts singing another aria which is one of the most popular ones ever written called Quando m'en vo (When I walk along) to make him jealous. In this very risque aria, she talks about how walking down the street everyone admires her and thinks she is amazing. Act two ends with a great ensemble in which Rodolfo and Mimi, and the now reunited couple of Marcello and Musetta, are singing together.

At the start of act three, Mimi is seen wandering the streets looking for Marcello whilst coughing severely. Rodolfo has left her and she is bereft. Later on, Mimi overhears Rodolfo telling Marcello that he left Mimi because he is afraid she is dying and he can't cope with it as he has no money to pay for doctors or medicine for her. He hopes she will find a rich man who can give her what he can't. Mimi's coughing reveals her presence and the two unite again for the time being. Here Mimi sings her second aria Donde lieta usci (From here she happily left), and soon after this Musetta arrives and is seen arguing passionately with Marcello. There is a very funny quartet where the two couples and singing together; the one couple reconciled and full of love, and the other one fighting and calling each other quite hateful words.

The final act sees the action back in the attic room from the start of the opera where Rodolfo and Marcello both mourn the loss of their respective lovers leaving them. Soon Musetta arrives with Mimi whom she found wandering around in the streets severely ill. Musetta and Marcello leave to sell Musetta's earrings in order to be able to afford medicine for Mimi. Here in the finale of this fantastic masterpiece of an opera, Rodolfo and Mimi recall their first meeting and their happiness together. Mimi dies in Rodolfo's arms and the opera ends with Rodolfo's crying out Mimi's name in anguish as he weeps uncontrollably. It is one of the most dramatic and heart-wrenching endings of all time. You can feel the despair and loss of Rodolfo and the sadness of all the friends who have arrived back in the attic room just as Mimi dies.

    By Margaret Cooke - Article Source: EzineArticles

Thursday, December 27, 2018

How to Hold a VIOLIN in Rest Position

English: Yury Revich violin
Yury Revich violin 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A violin is usually not played in a rest position, but it is still important to understand how it can be properly done in an ensemble or during a concert. The reason is that the orchestra is not only an auditory sensation for the audience but a visual one as well, so it's very important to coordinate positions, bowings, and fingerings so that the players look and sound as uniform as possible throughout the entire concert. When every violinist is in a rest position, the orchestra looks like a single unit rather than a bunch of characters casually sitting on stage with instruments.

Rest position simply means holding the violin at your side. You do this by bringing the violin under your arm and keeping it there while supporting the fingerboard with your forearm and hand. You want to press the violin securely against you and should be able to let go with your left hand very easily even despite the fact that it should be holding the neck of the instrument. This is simply because the weight of your arm should be strong enough to support the violin without a struggle.

The appearance of rest position should be uniform in an orchestra setting and should happen at specific intervals to maintain a consistent postural alignment between all the players. When the conductor is not on the podium, all players should be in rest position. When the conductor moves to the podium, take your instrument from rest position to attention position, which is where the violin should rest on the knee. Finally, when the conductor raises his hand to dictate the downbeat, bring the violin up to your shoulder in playing position.

While some aspects of playing the violin are elementary and easy to pick up on such as this one, there are a number of techniques that are extremely challenging and take years and years of work in order to master. For that reason, I always advise every single person interested in playing the violin to get a good teacher and start learning as much from someone who is more knowledgeable than they are on the violin. You will only learn so much from yourself if you try to teach yourself how to play, whereas with a teacher your possibilities on the instrument will be unlocked by learning all the things you don't know that you don't know about the violin.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Brief History of JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685 - 1750)

Seb Bach
Photo by Stifts- och landsbiblioteket i Skara 
Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the top classical music composers of all time – so famous today so he is commonly known as simply “Bach“. A native German, Bach was a composer, organist and violinist and produced classical religious and secular works for choirs, solo instruments and orchestras.

Fixed in time in the Baroque music movement (1600-1750) Bach was a primary driver of change within it. Bach’s lifetime was one of fame, self-doubt and amazing achievement with a legacy that lasts to this day.


Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach to Johann Ambrosius Bach and Maria Elisabeth Lammerhirt.

Bach’s mother died in 1694 with his father died shortly after leaving him an orphan aged 10 to be raised by his older brother Johann Christoph Bach himself an organist. There he learned to copy, study and perform music and receiving valuable tuition from his brother.


Bach remained in Germany for most of his life despite his contemporary and musical rival Handel moving to England to further his interests.

Bach’s first wife, Maria Barbara, died in 1720 leaving Bach to raise seven children. This apparently triggered Bach to seek the solace of work and held the coveted position of musical director for many princes and dukes at this period, leaving his children in the care of others.

In 1721, Bach married his second wife, Anna Magdelena Wilcke, and took up a position in a Leipzig school and a local church. Here he extended his already burgeoning family with a further thirteen children, with seven tragically dying before they reached adulthood.


Bach died (aged 65) on 28th July 1750 after a period of ill-health. He became blind shortly before his death after an “unsuccessful eye operation” which may have contributed to his demise. Modern historians have argued that his death was a direct consequence of a stroke caused by pneumonia.

The Family Bach

Bach’s left behind a family that was also musically gifted, with his second wife being a talented musician and his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, becoming an accomplished organist. Many of Anna Magdelena’s notebooks survive today and contain many of the works composed by Bach’s family.

His Most Famous Works

Bach’s produced hundreds of pieces throughout his lifetime, many of which are still played today. Amongst the most famous are the Magnificat, the Partitas, the Mass in B Minor, the Well-Tempered Clavier, the St. Matthew Passion, the St. John Passion, the Goldberg Variations, the Musical Offering, the English and French Suites, The Art of Fugue, the Brandenburg concertos, the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, the Cello Suites. He also wrote over 200 cantatas (that we know of today) and approximately the same number of organ pieces such as the Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor.

Bach’s Musical Legacy

Bach’s classical music legacy is hard to measure in real terms, although there are a total of 1292 titles available to buy from the Chappell of Bond Street online catalogue ( at the last count including many such as “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” that have been edited and arranged since his death and are now played regularly in churches, schools and independent choirs across the world.

Bach’s status as a master classical music composer was only really cemented in the 19th century when a revival of his music triggered the editing and arranging of many of his pieces which remain in that form to this day.

It has been said that it was, in fact, Bach that was the trigger for the move from the Baroque era into the “classical era”, leaving his mark on classical music with fans that transcend time and nationality with music that still to this day has the power to strike awe and passion in the youngest and oldest of minds.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The History and Characteristics of the JAZZ COMBO

Studio Rivbea, NYC July, 1976
Studio Rivbea, NYC July 1976 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jazz is an American art form whose roots date back to the mid-19th-century slave songs and chants. The early 20th century saw the art form blossom as instrumental music in the southern United States, mainly along the Mississippi River and specifically New Orleans, Louisiana.

Early instrumental jazz combos of New Orleans varied in instrumentation.  More often than not, these early jazz groups generally consisted of trumpet, clarinet, trombone, tuba and drums.  This instrumentation became what is known as the "Dixieland" combo, making its way up the Mississippi River to Chicago where the music became popularized by jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong.

Dixieland combos can be thought of as groups that play "polyphonic" improvisational music.  Each instrument is independent of every other instrument, with each player creating separate musical improvisations based on known melodies, or "tunes" of the day.

The players of these early jazz combos each had a separate role within the group.  The trumpet player was depended upon to state the melody of the song, while the clarinet would improvise complex lines above him.  The trombonist's role was to improvise or "fill in" the middle register with lines and notes that were essential to the chord changes of the song itself.  The tuba player (or bass player) generally laid down root notes (and 5ths) of each chord on beats 1 and 3 of each measure.  The tuba served as the harmonic anchor for the group. Lastly, it was the drummer's role to keep everyone together by keeping a steady beat throughout the entirety of the song.

As jazz music developed throughout the 1940s and 1950s, jazz combo instrumentation began to become more standardized.  The jazz "quintet" and "sextet" became very popular during this time.  The quintet consisted of trumpet and alto (or tenor) sax as the main melodic instruments while the rhythm section (piano, bass and drums) took care of rhythm and harmony.

The sextet added a trombone to form what essentially was a three-horn front line, with rhythm section accompaniment.  The extra melodic instrument of the sextet made it possible for the horns to add more harmonic depth to the sound of the group.  Each instrument had a role not only as a melodic voice but also as an integral component of the harmonic structure as well.

Modern jazz combos consist of a variety of instrumentation - 4, 5 horn combos are commonplace.  As the group grows in size, however, the name "combo" is replaced by "band" or "little big band".

The jazz combo has provided a musical and creative outlet for countless musicians over the last 100 years.  The jazz combo continues to provide jazz musicians the opportunity to work together to make music not only as a group but also to develop their own voice as individual jazz improvisers.  It is, and probably always will be, the perfect vehicle for learning the art of jazz improvisation.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Things To Consider Before Buying A HARP

New Salem Village re-enactors playing Celtic harps
New Salem Village re-enactors playing Celtic harps 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are considering playing or purchasing a harp, you may feel overwhelmed by the different types and choices available. This article will provide a basic explanation of the different models and give you some points to consider before making a purchase or deciding on an instrument.

The pedal harp is sometimes also called a classical, concert, orchestral, or concert grand harp. It usually has between 41 and 47 strings and is typically the largest type of harp. A pedal harp has pedals at the base that allow you to play in different keys without having to restring the instrument. This allows you to play the widest variety of musical styles.

A non-pedal harp is basically a harp without pedals and is sometimes also called a lever, folk, or Celtic harp. Non-pedal harps have levers that let you adjust the instrument to different keys, although the levers do not provide quite as much versatility as pedals do. Lever harps can vary greatly in size, from lap harps to floor models up to 5 feet high.

Harps are usually either strung with wire or nylon. They may also be double, triple, or cross-strung. Double and triple strung harps have 2 or 3 rows of parallel strings, and one hand plucks each row of strings. Cross-strung harps have 2 rows of angled strings that cross over one another. This allows you to reach each set of strings with either hand.

Choosing a harp depends partly on what type of music you like to play. If you prefer classical or jazz, you may want to consider a pedal harp because of its musical flexibility. If you like folk, Celtic, or popular music, a non-pedal harp will probably suit your needs.

While the size of the harp may be a consideration for a child or small adult, smaller is not necessarily better. Lap harps, while smaller, also require you to balance the harp on your lap, and this may be challenging for a smaller person. Actually, with proper posture and sitting height, a child can play a floor harp, even if they can't reach all the strings just yet.

Another, and perhaps the biggest, consideration in choosing a harp is your budget. The cost of a harp varies greatly. Pedal harps are the most expensive. Non-pedal harps are usually less expensive, but of course the larger the harp, the more costly it is.

With so many things to consider, including personal preference, you are the only one who can decide which instrument you prefer. Once you make your decision, enjoy playing your new instrument, and take pride in your musical accomplishments!

Friday, December 21, 2018

BALLET MOVES - Put The Grand In Grand Plie

English: A ballet dancer doing barre work.
A ballet dancer doing barre work. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Practicing ballet is great not only for your body but also for your mind. It teaches you discipline and determination.

Here is a great ballet move that also doubles as a great leg workout. Ever wonder how those ballerinas have such great legs?

Grand Plie

To do a grand plie, which is one of the most graceful ballet moves, you will begin at the barre. You want your back facing the bar, and one arm resting out on the barre.

You want your feet to be together at the heels, toes pointing away from each other. The further you can point your toes the better.

If you can't do it completely, where your feet are completely pointing away from each other, don't worry. With all ballet moves, practice makes perfect.

Next, you will perform the grand plie by allowing yourself to bend your knees slowly. While you bend your knees, your arm that is not on the barre will move slowly up until it is straight out and in line with your shoulder.

You can let your elbow on that arm drop some so that the movement is fluid and elegant. You want to sink all the way down, keeping your heels together, until your thighs and calves are touching each other.

You want to be in a complete squat. You will hold that position, and then allow yourself to come back up, arm going back down.

You should give the illusion that you are floating, and after practicing ballet moves such as this one, you will be able to perform it in one smooth movement. Here are some tips that you should pay attention to before you attempt to do ballet moves.

Make sure that you stretch completely before you start. You don't want to pull a muscle or injure yourself.

Warm up as well, with some type of exercise that gets you loosened up and ready for ballet. Jumping jacks, running in place and things like this are good warmings up exercises. You can do it if you practice and stay motivated.

Keep practicing these ballet moves and before you know it, you will have the Grand Plie down perfect. You will also have much stronger legs to boot. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Crystal CLARINET Mouthpieces

There are many different materials that clarinet mouthpiece can be made from. There is a significant difference in belief as to how much the particular material is really of importance when it comes to the projection of sound of the mouthpiece.

This topic is actually very controversial and frequently creates a significant difference in belief when being debated. There are many qualified professionals that are completely certain that the distinctions between the different materials used to make mouthpieces have no consequence on the way the clarinet sounds or plays. There are even more qualified professionals alike, who are certain that the different materials are vital to the way the mouthpiece sounds and plays. There have been large amounts of experiments and studies that have generated evidence that can be used to prove both sides of that argument.

Crystal mouthpieces are becoming more and more popular today. They are said to have a behavior like no other mouthpiece. They have a higher resistance and the sound they create is frequently described as "dark but colorful and flute-like". To balance their higher resistance it is preferred that softer reeds are used with it. An advantage of using a crystal mouthpiece is that crystal is very resistant, as it does not become warped because of dampness. Also, its chances of expanding due to heat is very low.

One of the most popular brands of crystal mouthpieces is POMARICO. The Pomarico Company is a family-owned business located just North of Milan, Italy. They are a small company but the quality and performance of their mouthpieces are prestigious. Some of the great players that use a Pomarico mouthpiece includes Chris Corbett, principal clarinet in the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, and Corrado Giuffredi, international clarinet virtuoso and first clarinet in Italian Swiss' Orchestra. And there are many many more. Their mouthpieces consist of pure Italian crystal from Tuscany. And every Pomarico mouthpiece is completely handmade.

Pomarico's crystal mouthpieces are instantly responsive. They are perfect for chamber music and concerts. Pomarico's experience in the mouthpiece making business has led them to start making mouthpieces with crystal, which is what they believe to be the best. They believe that crystal is the best sound conductor. They also believe that crystal mouthpieces are the most germ-free, and as stated earlier they are not easily warped due to dampness.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

What is an AMPLIFIER and What Are Amplifiers Used For?

Mixing Amplifier MA-35
Mixing Amplifier MA-35 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you don't own a car with a custom stereo or any type of musical instrument than you probably are not aware of what an amplifier is and what it does. An amplifier is simply a piece of electronic equipment that takes the sound produced from a musical instrument or a stereo and increases or amplifies that signal and that electronic output comes through the speaker.

An amplifier is necessary for many musical instruments in order to connect them to speakers. Amplifiers also help produce unique sounds that you hear many musicians play, most notably guitar players.

Most guitar players can people with car stereos basically just want an amplifier to produce very loud sounds without a lot of distortion of the sound.

How good the amplifier depends on a number of specifications. The gain is the ratio between the output and the input and is usually measured in decibels.

Bandwidth is another important specification to consider. It is the range of frequencies that the amplifier can produce.

Another quality to consider it the efficiency, especially for car stereos. The efficiency tells you how much of the power that goes to the amplifier is actually applied to the output. Class A amplifier is the most inefficient, while Class AB amps are the best.

The bottom line is that people use amplifiers to make their cars and musical instruments sound very allow. More sophisticated musicians buy amplifiers to produce a higher and richer sound than what the instrument could produce just by itself.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

How to Care For Your VIOLIN BOW

Turning the screw on a modern violin bow cause...
Turning the screw on a modern violin bow causes the frog (heel) to move, which adjusts the tension on the hair. - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is important to develop good habits when caring for your violin bow. A good and responsive bow makes a huge difference in the sound of your instrument. There are several key points to remember to properly maintain your bow. Most importantly, always loosen the hair when you are finished playing. This is done by turning the bow screw counter-clockwise. You should feel the stick relax back into its original arch (camber). If the bow is left tightened for extended periods, the stick can lose its camber and can even warp. Furthermore, the hair can stretch out. If the hair stretches too much, you will not be able to tighten the bow to playing tension. It is vital to remember never to force a bow to tighten because it is possible to break the butt end of the stick by forcing it. If you can't tighten the hair, you should take it to your violin shop for a possible rehair. Bows should be rehaired depending upon use and the condition of the hair. There isn't one rule about how frequently to have a bow rehaired.

An additional key to caring for your bow is to remember never to touch the horsehair with your fingers, as dirt and oils can get on the hair that will cause it to lose its ability to accept rosin. In general, it is always a good idea to wash your hands before you play your instrument. Some peoples' hands tend to perspire profusely. Not only can the sweat remove the varnish from the stick, iit can also soil the hair at the frog. For those with sweaty hands, frequent hand washing is more than a recommendation -- it is a must. When perspiration builds up around the frog of the bow, it can attract grime that can cause the frog to get stuck in position on the stick. When this happens, the frog will not move -- even when the bow screw is turned to loosen the hair. If this happens, the frog should be taken off of the stick, using care not to allow the hair to become twisted. Then, the stick should be cleaned. If you find that your hand is "eating away" at the stick or the varnish, you can have your luthier apply a long leather to the handle of the stick to protect it. This is frequently done on fine bows to preserve the makers' stamp from wear and tear.

The frog glides back and forth on the stick by a simple mechanism of a bow screw and an eyelet. The bow screw is usually made of steel and the eyelet is usually made of brass. The brass eyelet is a much softer metal than the bow screw and can strip. If you find that you cannot tighten or loosen your bow, chances are good that they eyelet has become stripped. On occasion, it is possible to carefully remove the frog from the stick and turn the eyelet one-half of a turn, in order to locate some remaining thread left that has not yet become stripped. Then, it is possible to reset the frog back on the stick and reset the bow screw. This doesn't always work, but it is worth a try.

On the stick near the frog is the thumb leather and winding. The thumb leather is there to protect the stick from the thumb and thumbnail. Over time, your thumbnail can wear through the leather and start carving into the stick. If your thumb leather is warn, you should have it replaced at your next rehair. This will help preserve the stick and value of your bow.

The head of the bow is very fragile and under a lot of tension. At the head, you will find a tip plate. The tip plate can be made of metal, plastic, ivory or mammoth and is there to protect the head of the bow. If your tip plate is not made of metal, it can break when bumped or can crack if the hair isn't carefully inserted during a rehair. If it should crack or break, you should have it replaced immediately.

Using too much rosin is a common mistake made by many players. Rosin should be applied sparingly and only when needed. You should not see a white cloud of rosin come off the bow when you play. Once there is too much rosin in the hair, it is nearly impossible to get out. When you use too much rosin, it will build up on the strings and your sound can become very scratchy -- since you are essentially playing with rosin on rosin. Also, rosin can build up on your instrument and damage the varnish over time. To avoid this, it is important to wipe off your instrument, strings and bow shaft with a clean soft cloth each time you finish playing. Microfiber cloths work great for this.

Tightening the bow too much when you play is another common mistake. There is no rule for how tight a bow should be as it depends on the strength and camber of the stick and is different for every bow. If your bow is too tight, you will have trouble controlling your bow and it can become too bouncy when an even sound is desired. You can test how tight to make your bow by playing long and even strokes. The hair should just barely clear the stick at the middle of the bow. If you see a big gap between the hair and the stick, then your bow is too tight. You can keep experimenting with hair tension until you find that you have good control over the bow.

When you have developed good habits you will find it very easy to maintain your bow. Eventually, you should be able to do this without even thinking about it.

    Sheila Graves - Violin Dealer - Article Directory: EzineArticles