Kim Strassel: Piano Sonata in FTC Minor – WSJ.com: “With a dozen employees and a $2 million budget, the group doesn’t have ‘the resources to fight the federal government,’ Mr. Ingle says. The board immediately removed the provision from its code, but the MTNA staff still had to devote months compiling thousands of documents demanded by the agency, some going back 20 years: reports, the organization’s magazines, everything Mr. Ingle had ever written that touched on the code. Mr. Ingle estimates he has spent ‘hundreds upon hundreds’ of hours since March complying with this federal colonoscopy…..
While this abuse of power has received no national attention, it has riled the music community. Brian Majeski, the editor of the journal Music Trades, lambasted the FTC in a December editorial, noting that “a consumer watchdog that sees piano teachers as a threat either has too much time on its hands, or badly misplaced priorities.” “
In The Heat Of The Foundry, Steinway Piano ‘Hearts’ Are Made : NPR: “Hensley and Houseman guide the ladle, suspended from a system of overhead beams, out to the foundry floor, where the plate molds are lined up. The molds are made of chemically treated sand, which hardens quickly around a form that is then removed, leaving a hollow space inside. The ladle hovers over each mold in turn and tilts. A stream appears and descends into a hole left in the sand. The iron is more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and incandescent, a luminous yellow-orange.”
Why is it that when you’re self employed the work comes in these strange waves? I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now and I’ve noticed that I either have very little to do or I’m bursting at the seams with work. And it’s not just the same kind of work. Between arranging, writing original music, woodworking projects, audio editing gigs, and now a huge transcription project (reconnecting with my old friend and musician Kurt Kaiser).
It’s feast and famine but for now at least my mother and father will be happy that we won’t be going hungry for a while.
Rick Robinson: What You Should Have Been Looking At While Miley Was Twerking: “Someday in the not-too-distant future, a music writer will author a coffee table book entitled August, 2013, remembering this moment in time as pivotal in the history of pop culture. Glossy pictures of a misunderstood female performer will adorn slick pages filled with lofty praise in tribute to the shift she caused in the paradigm of performance art.
The book will not be about Miley Cyrus’s twerking (for us old rockers, read: dry humping), or what she did with a foam index finger at the annual MTV Music Awards. Instead, the book will highlight the life and horrendous death of singer Hyon Sung-wol.
A South Korean Newspaper reported that this week North Korea’s communist dictator, Kim Jong-un, executed a dozen members of the Unhasu Orchestra – including Jong-un’s former girlfriend, singer Hyon Sung-wol – as their relatives and musicians from three other pop bands were forced to watch. Following the firing squad, the on-lookers were all sent to concentration camps.
Didn’t catch that story on Entertainment Tonight?
Which is why the public’s obsession with Miley Cyrus’ twerking instead of Hyon Sung-wol’s assassination may say more about us than it does about the teen idol formerly known to Disney Channel viewers as Hannah Montana.”
I’m working on an arrangement (really a transcription) of one of these and loving the heck out of it. So much detail and nuance. It’s taken me a couple of hours already this morning and I’m only about 6 measures in. Love it!
“Miley’s just doing what she likely suspects she needs to do in her business: Shock people. She’s grown up watching, say, Britney writhe with a snake on the very same awards show, so it’s hard to blame her if she’s surprised by the universally negative reaction. She’s doing what she thought we wanted.
The problem, this time, is that our society feels like it knows her, knows her backstory, knows she’s someone’s daughter, and isn’t able to forget it. Other women, like the ones on stage with Miley, the ones no one is complaining about? Well, we can sexualize them, reduce them to toys lacking a story, but this girl? We know her dad!
Kids don’t need more kids. They know plenty of them. Kids need adults, actual adults, adults adult enough to reject a culture that is so bored, so dead, that it can only feel alive if given one more jolt, one more shock. And it’s hard to shock, anymore, but Miley hit that mark.”
Glad I missed the performance. Sad that we continue down this well-trod road. Read the whole post at the link above. It’s worth it.
“We are the Culture of Death, the Culture of Nothingness. Miley Cyrus is but one small consequence of it. Go onto a college campus on any Friday night and you’ll find thousands of other consequences behaving in a fashion pretty similar to Miley’s VMA performance. Every once in a while we catch a glance of ourselves in the mirror and recoil in horror because, as it turns out, being a society without any sense of discipline, decency, character, and self respect, really isn’t as cool as we might have imagined.
I’m not trying to turn the Miley Cyrus molehill into a proverbial mountain, but I am saying last night’s horror show didn’t happen in a vacuum. We are generally an oversexed, amoral civilization, and this is the sort of spectacle that sort of civilization produces. Pretty simple. People often seem troubled when a young woman acts so sexually desperate, but then many of those same folks will lash out with mockery and derision anytime someone suggests — GASP! — self control as an alternative. “
“Hi, we’ve got a great job we want you to do. It’s for a major national venue with huge public exposure (2.5 million+ people). 20 minutes of music. It’ll be performed every hour on the hour, 10 hours per day. Multiple live singers. Runs for 6 weeks. Sponsored by Coke!
We can pay you $400. Maybe $500 if we stretch the budget. Oh, and we need the music this week.”
I mean, how can a guy with two decades’ experience say no?
Believe it or not, this is typical of the kinds of calls working musicians field on a regular basis. A very regular basis.
Queen Guitarist Brian May Explains Exactly How Bohemian Rhapsody Was Made: “Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the greatest rock epics of all time. The late Freddie Mercury, legendary rock star, wove together complex harmonies and instrumental layers, from the choral introduction to the head-banging bridge, to build the British band Queen‘s best-known song. And in this behind-the-scenes tour, Queen guitarist Brian May walks us through exactly how it works.
Using the original mix tape for Bohemian Rhapsody, May goes piece-by-piece through the multitude of tracks that made up the song. There’s a bit of a jitter at around the 3 minute mark, but don’t worry, it cleans up. “
30 minutes long but worth it if you’re a fan of the song (and who isn’t?).
I wish I had seen this 23 years ago when I was just starting out. I probably wouldn’t have listened to it. I definitely wouldn’t have understood it all. But as I heard him speak now I just kept nodding my head over and over and over again. It’s all true.
If you’re a recent (or soon-to-be) graduate in the arts, I implore you to give this twenty minutes of your time. The man speaks truth.
And now for something non political. You’re welcome.
I saw this on Facebook this morning and it got me thinking about music, movie trailers, and communicating through art. Give this a few minutes. In fact, watch it once and don’t think about anything. Just watch it as you would any other trailer. Then watch it again and pay attention to the music.
Movie trailers are an art form in and of themselves. A good trailer can make or break a quarter-billion-dollar movie, making the lowest piece of dreck seem like a perfectly good way to blow ten bucks and two hours on a friday night. Similarly, a bad trailer can take the best piece of cinema and leave the audience with a deadly feeling of “meh” during the previews. This trailer accomplishes what it sets out to do perfectly. Posing spoken and unspoken questions in the mind of the viewer while building to an emotional climax that makes you feel better for having watched it.
First off, I really like what the the music isn’t. It’s not the typical BWAAAH… BWAAAHHHH that we’ve become accustomed to since Inception a few years ago. It doesn’t get in your face and say “I’M THE MUSIC!”. That works in some contexts and trailers, but this one called for a more reserved and traditional approach. From the quiet piano statement at the beginning with simple harmonies, the music is understated while still being regal. Then the light rhythm starts and we hear words of inspiration and aspiration. Slow build. Slow build. Good intercutting between the spoken words and the music. Good storytelling in a three minute format. The trailer is a mini-movie in itself. By the time the brass comes in full-tilt at the 2:00 mark we’re sold. Give us the bad guy, show us the digital FX. Explosions and mayhem. It becomes a big giant summer movie blockbuster but somehow seems like… more. Then we’re rounding back to the simple initial theme before ending with a punch. It’s a great trailer, and a fitting tribute to a fun standalone art form.
It is tough to connect with an audience when you have limited time and a small pallet. You need to tell a story, communicate emotions, manipulate (but in an honorable, allowable way), and leave the viewer feeling fulfilled and also expectant. It’s a difficult thing to do that often comes down to individual frames, beats, fractions of a second, and that ineffable thing that’s impossible to communicate but you know when it’s right.
I’m reminded of a story from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. A young theater director was having a hard time making a scene work with his actors in rehearsal. Not knowing what else to do, he called in a much more experienced director to watch the scene and make suggestions. After silently watching for several run throughs and getting a sense of things, the experienced director thought for a while and then pointed his finger at a prop and said “that towel should be yellow”. And that was it. After that, the scene worked. The audience loved it, and the show did well.
How did he do it? What was the mystical, magical thing that changed? I don’t know. And here’s the important part… the older director probably didn’t either. But somewhere in his brain was locked the accumulated experience of tens of thousands of hours laboriously adjusting, tweaking, massaging, and correcting performances until they felt right. Until something unknowable just clicked. And when asked to correct a scene for a younger director, that inner voice supplied an answer that didn’t make sense, but made the scene sing.
That’s what we do as artists. Whether it’s movie trailers, the written word, or Sing acts. Communicating with an audience through art is an act of constantly digging into the depths of experience and finding the yellow towel that makes something take flight. It reminds us that speaking through art is the hardest thing to accomplish consistently but also the one that touches us most deeply.