Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The Philharmonic Orchestra has a great site with information on the traditional instruments we're discussing in class, as well as some "world" instruments. Go explore!

Monday, December 8, 2008


Alright, I haven't really told any of you this, yet, but I'm pretty sure 99% of you already know that I won a mini grant to get Finale installed on about 12 or 13 of the computers in the lab at school. To contrast that, I'd like you guys to read an article by Eric Whitacre pretty much bashing Finale and a lot of the things we do in class. I think this should provide some interesting discussion. Actually, when I was a composition major in college, I refused to use Finale until my last year; then, naturally, I got addicted once I tried it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rockband Creator Video

The video we were trying to watch can be found here. I want you to think about his discussion of goals for his company, as well as how he markets his work. To be a succesful professional in any field requires this kind of focus and a set of detailed, clear goals. Also, as composers, the gaming industry is an exciting new frontier to be explored as a means of not only affecting your audience, but even promoting your own unique sound.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Trumpet vs Cornet

Both of these link to a youtube video that features that instrument playing the Super Mario theme. This is a school affiliated website, so I promise no Rickrolling.


Notice that the trumpet makes pfbbbbbt noises, and the cornet is more mellow. It's cause the cornet is more conical.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

File this under: "People You Don't Hear About Until They're Dead"

Odetta was a pretty influential folk singer who has a pretty interesting story that is definitely worth a read. She was hoping to sing at Barack Obama's inauguration, but she never will get that chance. Why? Because she just died.

Monday, December 1, 2008

World Aids Awareness Day

I thought it would be fitting to see how musicians around the world are using their talents to benefit society by raising funds for finding a cure as well as increasing AIDs awareness to hopefully rid the stigma surrounding it and ultimately save lives.

From Senegal, we have Baaba Mal, a singer.

Then we have what's left of Queen reaching out to the Ukraine.

Then there's Sheryl Lee Ralph and of course, out own beloved, if not sometimes slightly misguided MTV.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Miriam Makeba

A pretty famous non-Western singer from South Africa just died recently. I shared an article about her with some people in the class, but figured I'd post something here so the rest of you could see it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

harmonic progression

So, as I was working on my composition tonight, I began to experiment with the different things we learned in class the other day. I'm using the one where the notes are upside down, but I don't see how I can keep the correct harmonic progression and turn the notes upside down. If anyone can help before I get too far, it would be greatly appreciated.

A Couple of Living Composers...

I thought I'd post something about two currently successful American composers that I've mentioned to some people in class. The first is the heavily techno influenced choral composer,Eric Whitacre. [He creates some really astounding a capella works.] He has also started a NEW BLOG which he keeps updated with rehearsals, performances, and releases of his work. If you want to get a true sense of what being a full time composer is like in this day and age, that is a wonderful place to start.

The other composer is Philip Glass who has been not only a great creator and proponent of minimalism, but he has also composed for many films, operas, etc.

The Soloist

There's an intriguing movie set to be released this coming March called The Soloist. This movie traces the interaction between journalist Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Anthony Ayers- a former Julliard cellist who succumbs to schizophrenia and winds up homeless on the streets of L.A. This is based on true events, and the actual articles that Steve Ayers published, beginning in 2005, along with a video journal with actual footage of the REAL Ayers can be found here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cheese and Music

This really isn't music related. Well, I guess it can be since we were talking about it in Piano class. But here it is Ms. Sanchez! I found the coolest game ever~

I am going to put something music related in here though. The other day I was introduced to music by a really awesome pianist named Vienna Teng. Her music is amazing. I like a lot of her songs but this is the first one I heard:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Along Those Lines...

This ties in nicely with the previous post. Here is a performer [Imogen Heap] who is singing a capella and harmonizing with herself using a looper. This was performed live at a radio station. Part of this song appears in the movie "The Holiday." Imogen Heap has also been a major inspiration to classical living composer, Eric Whitacre.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

File This Under "Randomly Informative Thoughts"

This video shows a group imitating instruments using the human voice and body [i.e. clapping hands] and a pedal looper as well as special microphones. It's quite interesting, and I enjoy the reference to their a capella barbershop roots.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Playing for the Meeting

Okay, kinda not cool. I was the only person that showed up for the piano playing thing. Or maybe I just went to the wrong place. I hope it's the second option, as embarrassing as that is, because it sucked playing all by myself XD. But at least I got community service hours so I'm okay~

Monday, October 13, 2008

The mysterious song has a name!

I figured it out, Ms. Sanchez!
The song is Build God, Then We'll Talk.
I think there's a video on it but I'm not gonna post it.. too.. adult-ish (for a lack of a better word).
Y'all should listen to it though, it has the Sound of Music reference in it, if I remember correctly > _ <.

Friday, October 10, 2008

More info on Copyrights

Here's some more info on copyright laws, lyrics, and public domain issues.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Bring your violin on Monday.

interesting punishment

I thought this story was pretty amusing so I figured I would share. I also think this would be Frances's favorite punishment ever.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What are the Words...

ASCAP has a great page with advice on how to legally use lyrics in your compositions. I highly recommend you check it out if you have any questions.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Call for Frying Pans

I found an interesting site created by an organologist, someone who studies the way instruments are made and how the structures allow their specific acoustical characteristics to exist. It's very intriguing to note that the very first 'electric' guitar came into existence in about 1890.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Notes about Notes!

The notes section of the class website has been updated. I'd also like to see some continued discussion on here about texture. How might various textures be used to created different moods and create/relieve musical tension?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Music in a Time of War

I found an article about some violins that survived [and helped people survive] the holocaust. In a world that is constantly torn by war, it's interesting to see the role music plays in bringing a sense of relief and comfort.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Portman's Store Adventure

Yesterday I went to Portman's to get manuscript paper after going to the dentist. While there, I tried to find a song that everyone played last year. Problem is, I don't remember the name of it. So I told my mom, who told one of the store clerks. They got one of their best guys in the music knowing category to help me. I played a little bit of the piece on one of the pianos and it turns out.. he doesn't know it! That was almost like, a turn-off on Portman's. I'm still trying to know what the song is. I know that Evan knows what it is (since he has the music) but I just haven't bugged him about it this year yet.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Website Updated

I do apologize for not updating the assignments section of the class website earlier. Next time something like that happens, somebody please email me or post something here to remind me.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Our Compositions

While on the bus today, I was thinking about class and discovered something. Many of us broke one of the main rules of being a successful composer! We did this by giving our original scores to Ms. Sanchez. How could we? And on our first project too...

Monday, September 8, 2008


In class today, I was actually thinking about what would happen if -gasp- I were the only one to join the blog! This not being the case anymore, I wonder if anyone else will be using it as the year goes on. I expected frobecca, of course.

So far, this blog seems to be about exploration of music and different types of music, and I thought I'd add my own knowledge.

In my composer profile thing (Very first paper we were handed) I put "hardcore techno" as my favorite genre of music. Now, I've given some to frobecca before, and she doesn't like it very much, because of the distorted, powerful bassline that I've become so addicted to.
It's a pretty niche subgenre, having started in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in roughly the early 90s, coming from the ashes of house music, coming from disco, which started the whole constant-bassline thing that is the core of "techno", as electronic music is so often generalized. The distortion was purely experimental, originally being the deeper power sounds on a Roland Juno synthesizer, and became less so after some positive feedback. As with most genres, it's nearly impossible to trace its creation back to one artist and one song.
Now, the gabber scene, as the genre is called (in Dutch, pronounced 'habber', with the "h" being gutteral; Dutch is so much fun. - Always Hardcore by Bodylotion

Artist Statement?

For those of you who are completely befuddled as to how to go about this project, try doing some reading here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

response to june's post

There are decent musicians that make to the top today but the music industry puts appearance before talent so that is usually not the case. The music industry is evil.

Schoenberg and serial music

Schoenberg being a lover of order in music (he used traditional forms) created a set of rules that composers could use. Also he was influenced by the socialist belief in absolute economic and social equality and gave the notes absolute equality or "socialism in music". Also I know this is annoying but Schoenberg's opera was published as Moses und Aron Schoenberg changed it because Moses und Aaron had 13 letters a number he feared deeply. (not kidding)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Atonal Music Vs. Serial Music

Adrianne brought a wonderful question to the forefront today, and not being satisfied with my answer, I decided to do some research to delve a little bit deeper into the topic. Both atonal music and serial music avoid having a traditional, single emphasized note, called the "tonic," which results in a similar type of music. The difference is solely in the construction of such pieces. Arnold Schoenberg was the inventor of serial music, which uses the twelve tone system. He preferred to call it "pantonal" because each note is given equal, democratic importance. It was quite egalitarian of him. There are very strict rules governing the twelve tone system including:

1. All twelve chromatic tones must be used equally
2. Melodies are built based on tone rows involving all twelve tones
3. The matrix may be used to find inversions and other versions of the original tone row, to provide variety.

Atonal music, by contrast, does not have to use all twelve chromatic notes or follow such a mathematical structure. The compositional process would then be much more intuitive.

If you haven't figured out yet, I'm fond of definitions, so here's one I found for Serial Music/ The Twelve Tone System:

Twelve Note Method / Dodecaphony :

"Serial music is constructed according to the principle, described independently by Hauer and Schönberg in the early 1920s, of 12-note composition. According to the Schönbergian principle, the 12 notes of the equal-tempered scale are arranged in a particular order, a series or row, that serves as the basis of the composition. Serial technique requires that the succession of notes be ordered as they are in the row, but simultaneities--chords--have no succession within them, so the principle of order relations does not apply to them. In Schönberg's Method of Composing with Twelve Notes Which are Related Only to One Another, the note-row may be used in its original form, or inverted, or retrograde, or retrograde inverted; in each of these forms it may be transposed to any pitch (each note-row may thus have forty-eight possible forms). All the music of the composition is constructed from this basic material; any particular note may be repeated, but the order must be maintained. Octave transpositions are permitted. Notes may occur in any voice, may be used either melodically (horizontally) or harmonically (vertically) but the entire sequence must be employed before the row may be repeated. The row is normally designed to avoid outlining the triads or patterns associated with tonality. Berg's Lulu (1937) and Schönberg's Moses und Aaron (1957), both written entirely in serial technique, are considered the two masterpieces of the serial repertoire. Both employ the same arduous vocal style as Wozzeck and are significant undertakings for performers and audience alike. Later developments of 12-note theory introduced the idea of using six-, four- or three-note segments of a row as compositional elements. As originally designed by Schönberg, the method was intended to preclude tonality, though later composers, notably Berg, found ways of using the technique in a tonal context - as indeed did Schönberg himself."

(taken from here )

And here's a definition I found for Atonality:

"(English, German, Spanish) music that avoids a key centre but is not constructed on serial principles, such works being written generally without a key signature."

(taken from here )

You can also visit this forum and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for more information on atonality.

I hope this properly answered your question. I know it more than answered mine!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Earth Sings

Music is organized sound. It can be organized by human hands or at an exponential, cosmic level. I strongly urge you to listen to the natural music our planet creates, far above our ionosphere. Unfortunately, the clip opens up with a commercial, and there's a scientific explanation over the 'earth song,' but you'll get the idea once you hear it. The sound is very rich in high pitched overtones. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

This is the Scene

Alright, now here's a great place for the Indie music fans. You know the type. Those are the people who choke on the word 'pop' and cringe at the utterance of the word 'mainstream'. Anything that makes too much money is simply 'selling out', and there is almost an aura of superiority in obscurity. Who knows, maybe there are some people out there who actually enjoy Indie music without the cultural baggage associated with it. At any rate, this site is a great demonstration of self-promotion tools that a composer or performer may use. It also shows the value of networking. The 'if you promote me, I'll promote you' mentality is one of your best bets when you're starting out. If everyone began by clawing at each other's throats, we'd have a huge mess.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Grass is Blue?

For any bluegrass fans out there as well as people who are curious to learn more about this American, folk-inspired genre, I found an excellent site for you to check out. Personally, I am not a fan of country as I find it too nasally, whiny, and tacky. However, bluegrass, seems to take all the wonderful melodic and instrumentation elements of country and blend it into a pleasing final product without necessarily giving in to the pop country-fusion world *cough*Faith Hill*cough*.

If you are a fan of country music, I do not apologize. We each have different tastes, and the way our ears and minds have been trained to process sounds differ greatly. What sounds cacophonous to you may sound like a choir of angels to me. I respect that there are elements of every musical genre that will appeal to different people. There is nothing wrong with country music, and there is nothing wrong with people who like country music. I'm simply not one of them.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Voice versus Instrument, Round 1

In my copious amounts of free time, I've been reading from a book by Dr. Maragaret Lucy Wilkins entitled Creative Music Composition: The Young Composer's Voice. I find this book extremely fascinating for mainly two reasons. The first is that it is about music. Anything about music, in my opinion, is worth reading. The second reason, however, is that Dr. Wilkins is British, and she uses a slightly different vocabulary and approach when it comes to music and pedagogy. Whereas an American musician, such as myself, grew up hearing such banal terms as 'quarter note', 'half note', and the oh-so-exotic 'sixty-fourth note', our British counterparts use the interesting terms 'crotchet', 'minim', and 'hemidemisemiquaver', respectively. How is that for a mouthful?

It didn't take long, of course, for a controversy to arise in the reading betwixt the sweet vocal genre and the beloved instrumental genre. In fact, I hadn't even approached the second chapter before I was struck with this befuddling truth about the vocal world. When trying to advocate the use of special workshops or clinics to have student compositions performed, Dr. Wilkins writes:
The use of a choir in workshop situations had proved more problematic than the use of instrumental ensembles. This is because student and amateur singers need much more time to learn new works than competent instrumentalists, who are capable of sight-reading music very quickly. (p.11)

Now, before all the vocalists stomp their feet in outrage, notice the words 'student' and 'amateur' in regards to the type of vocalist that has problems learning new material quickly. A professional singer should be able to sight-read a piece perfectly, but the world of the student singer is very different. Of course, there is an exception to every rule, and that works on both sides of the musical fence. Just as there are some student singers who are able to sight-read extremely well, there are also instrumentalists who have trouble reading scores. Some instrumentalists have stronger talents in other areas such as playing by ear or playing from memory.

The important element to take from this whole discussion, however, is that vocal music and instrumental music are unique to themselves, bringing about their own challenges and advantages. One is not ultimately better than the other, but one may be more relevant or pragmatic for a certain compositional situation than the other. When you compose, always keep in mind the abilities of your performers because they will make or break you.

If you are interested in reading more from this book for your own knowledge, you may find it here at a pretty reasonable price. By all means, feel free to shop around; I'm not endorsing one particular company over another. This book is NOT a requirement for the course, so don't feel obligated to purchase it. I also have a copy I may decide to loan out after I have finished reading it.