Practicing a breach of the peace

Practicing a breach of the peace

One of my violin students, who lives in an apartment complex, has been confiding with me about her difficulties practicing due to an overbearing downstairs neighbor named Earle. She’s a beginning adult player, an engineer who lives with her husband, 3 year old child, and a small dog, and like most of us she struggles to find time to devote to her hobbies and pastimes.  She usually takes out the fiddle on her lunch breaks, and spends most of her lunchtime working on her lessons during the week. Continue reading

Your New Robot Overlord Turns Out To Be A Pretty Good Marimba Player

Your New Robot Overlord Turns Out To Be A Pretty Good Marimba Player

 

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Looking for a musically sensitive, responsive bandmate? Maybe you should try out Shimon.

Shimon is a jazz-playing robot created by Gil Weinberg and his team at the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology. Shimon was debuted seven years ago, but the robot gave a performance alongside a human collaborator yestererday at Moogfest in Durham, N.C., a festival concentrating on the intersection of music and technology. The video was captured by Quartz reporter Mike Murphy, who has written about Shimon. Continue reading

Animaniacs Theme arranged for easy Ukulele

Animaniacs Theme arranged for easy Ukulele


This month, with Netflix releasing the great 90’s animated classic Animaniacs, i’ve had a number of students acquire an interest in the show. Some adults, waxing nostalgic remembering watching the series when it first aired, as well as many younger students watching it for the first time, frequently accompanied by those self-same sentimental grown-ups!

The theme was composed by the great Richard Stone , an American composer who was instrumental (hah) in the revival of animation in the 1990s, composing music and songs for The Simpsons with Danny Elfman, Tiny Toon Adventures, Taz-Mania, The Plucky Duck Show, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Histeria, The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, and Freakazoid.

Richard Stone also composed for various feature films and television series including the Bruce Campbell western Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, Pumpkinhead, North Shore, and the miniseries In a Child’s Name. Stone worked on John Hughes films including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Sixteen Candles (both scored by Ira Newborn). Stone also composed the music for the William Shatner series, “Rescue 911”. Stone also scored the PBS Documentary “Medal of Honor” along with Mark Watters. He later wrote compositions for various films including, Summers heat, Never on Tuesday, Tripwire, Vietnam Texas, and Victim of love.

Stone has won several Emmy Awards for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition for Animaniacs and Histeria, as well as Outstanding Original Song, shared with lyricist, writer, creator and senior producer Tom Ruegger, for the main titles of Animaniacs and Freakazoid. Stone shared many of his music direction/composing awards with his team of composers, who included Steve Bernstein, Carl Johnson, Julie Bernstein, Gordon Goodwin and Tim Kelly.

According to Animaniacs writer/producer Paul Rugg, crew members fondly referred to Richard as “The Great Stonini,” a sort of musical magician whose compositions and orchestrations often raised the quality of the cartoons to unexpected musical and artistic heights.

I’ve transcribed a simplified version of the Animaniacs theme for one of my young ukulele students, so I thought i’d share for educational purposes. Of course, i’m not the copyright holder, yadda yadda yadda. Enjoy, and HELLO NURSE!
Animaniacs Theme Ukulele

New scientific study confirms the obvious: Freddie Mercury had an unparalleled singing voice

New scientific study confirms the obvious: Freddie Mercury had an unparalleled singing voice

Regardless of what they might think personally about Queen, most rock critics and music fans alike recognize the immense vocal talent that was the great Freddie Mercury. Still, in case there was ever any doubt, new analysis of both Mercury’s singing and speaking voices has shed fresh light on just how special his pipes really were.A group of Austrian, Czech, and Swedish researchers conducted the research, the results of which were published on Friday in Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology (via AlphaGalileo). While they couldn’t confirm the long-held belief that Mercury’s range spanned four full octaves, they did discover some interesting tidbits about the expanse of his voice. For one, despite being known largely as a tenor, he was more likely a baritone. They based this assumption off six interviews they analyzed to find a median speaking fundamental frequency of 117.3 Hz. That, coupled with anecdotal evidence that Mercury once turned down an opera duet because he was afraid fans wouldn’t recognize his baritone voice, led the conclusion that the singer was talented enough to jump out of his base range. Continue reading

How Music Helps Us Grieve

How Music Helps Us Grieve

“The springs of our reaction to music lie deeper than thought.”

How Music Helps Us Grieve

Scientists now believe that language and music co-evolved to simulate the most abiding truths of nature. Indeed, for as long as we’ve been able to articulate the human experience, we’ve made music about the most inarticulable parts of it and then used language to extol music’s power — nowhere more beautifully than in Aldous Huxley’s 1931 meditation on how music stirs the soul, in which he asserted that music’s greatest potency lies in expressing the inexpressible.

This, perhaps, is why music is so sublime a solace when it comes to the most inexpressible of human emotions: grief. Continue reading

Johnny Cash’s “Million Dollar Songwriter Circle”

Johnny Cash’s “Million Dollar Songwriter Circle”

 

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You’ve all heard about the “Million Dollar Quartet”—the recording session at Memphis’s legendary Sun Studios on December 4th, 1956 that compiled the talent of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. Well if there was an equivalent to the Million Dollar Quartet in the songwriting world, it would be the one night in January of 1969 when Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, and Shel Silverstein all spent an evening at Johnny Cash’s home in Hendersonville, TN on the banks of Old Hickory Lake, swapping songs and stories from their respective spheres of the music world. The music that was showcased for the first time ever at the intimate songwriter circle became the soundtrack for a generation, and the gathering would go down in history as one of the most potent assemblages of songs showcased for the first time in one place. Continue reading

Technology and the violin

Technology and the violin

Modern violins, violas, cellos and bass instruments owe much of their design heritage to their early forebear, the viol.  The viol was, in itself, a tremendous technological leap forward in bowed stringed instrument design over it’s 13th century contemporaries like rebecs, Byzantine lira (or lūrā) and Arabic rebabs which were the popular bowed instruments of the day.  By utilizing a carved top, back, and planed side ribs, as well as the introduction of the soundpost, the construction of the viol in the 15th century allowed for a sweeter, brighter sound than was previously possible with earlier instruments, and by that time Europe had grown tired of the harsh tone produced by the rebec. Chaucer’s Friar in The Canterbury Tales comments that a woman’s voice was “shrill lyke a rebekke,” Continue reading

Clara Rockmore and the Theremin

Clara Rockmore: Story of the theremin virtuoso who inspired Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones

Clara Rockmore was a pioneer of electronic music and, had she still been alive, would have turned 105 today.

Rockmore was a master of the theremin – the world’s first electronic music instrument and first instrument that could be played without being touched. The theremin inspired the likes of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Beach Boys. And was the instrument that led to the creation of the first synthesizer.

On what would have been her 105th birthday, Rockmore has been commemorated with a Google Doodle. The interactive game teaches you to play the theremin by hovering your mouse over the notes to play a melody. Continue reading

Wayne Shorter & Herbie Hancock Pen an Open Letter to the Next Generation of Artists

Wayne Shorter & Herbie Hancock Pen an Open Letter to the Next Generation of Artists

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Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock have been friends for over forty years. In the pursuit of their art, they’ve shattered boundaries previously believed unbreakable, they’ve revolutionized the concept of innovation, and have chosen to make the endeavor of living compassionately and courageously the center of their lives.

Continue reading