Thursday, December 24, 2009

I Can't Help It

In about a month, my choir will be performing the Verdi Requiem at the NJPAC and Morristown Community Theater with the NJSO. Three performances. I can't even begin to describe how exciting this is. At the same time, I'm feeling trepidation. I'll definitely recount my experience after January 30th, but for now, all I can do is recommend you listen to this work. I like the LSO recording- you can get it on iTunes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Skratch Magazine- The Final Word

After working for them for about a month and a half (between September and October), I've come to realize that these guys are nothing more than scammers. They swindle young artists. $600 to put three tracks alongside tracks from 50 other bands is a ripoff. Your music gets lost among the CDs, which come out in droves. Sure, they go to record labels, but the chances of the execs actually paying attention to YOUR track are slim. When potential clients ask about bands who found sucess through the compilations, I was supposed to tell them to look up the testimonials on the site. There are only five. 5 testimonials after 51 CDs with about 50 bands on each. A very small proportion.

Basically, I quit after realizing that what you get for what you pay is very little. In the weeks before I quit, I constantly worried about my lack of sales. Why was no one going in for this offer, which promised widespread distribution? Guess what? I'm sure the record execs don't even care about the CDs. Scouts from the magazine send messages to just about every band- they don't pick bands who they think are worthy, they ask everybody to participate. Basically, you get on if you have the money, not the talent. The execs know this. Thus, your chances of being heard are slim. There is no quality control.

Bands, this offer is a rip-off. If you work hard to promote yourself, you have more of a chance of being heard. It might take a long time to get anywhere. But would you rather blow hundreds of dollars and be in the same place after the compilation is released? I know Double Vision is NEVER going to buy into this crap. We don't need these people. I'm sorry for attempting to sell out my fellow musicians. The best I feel I can do now is stop anybody considering this offer, and tell them they are better off spending their money on merch, touring, and gear.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Worst Albums of the Decade

Just a little something to get back into the blogging spirit. No comments needed- I think the author pretty much nailed it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Free

I'm free from my music history exam. For small part of what I had to study, check out this blog. A lot of interesting commentary/music from the early 20th century onwards.

But the work never ends...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fail

BECOME A GUITAR GOD IN THREE EASY STEPS!! RULE THE NECK INSTANTLY!!

"First, if you can play air guitar or Guitar Hero, then playing the guitar is nooo problem!" -Josh, on the ridiculous improbability that anyone can rule the neck instantly. Because what I had to say wasn't as funny. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

FRIDAY OCTOBER 16TH @ SANTOS PARTY HOUSE

SHONEN KNIFE IS PLAYING TONIGHT AT SANTOS PARTY HOUSE!! Doors at 7! Check out the show... Santos Party House is located at 96 Lafayette St. Take the 6 to Canal; venue is a mere two blocks from the station. Also appearing are Miho Hatori of cibo matto, and local band Shellshag.

SHONEN KNIFE
Shonen Knife is one of alternative rock’s most enduring names, as their youthful and uplifting melting pot of styles defies time and classification. One could call them riot grrl, but that would overlook the light-hearted charm of their compositions and subject matter (candy, toys, and enjoyment). One could call them J-pop, but that would negate their raucous punk sound and the moxy they displayed in becoming one of the first internationally acclaimed all girl rock groups. Their notoriety is boosted by some memorable name-drops by Kurt Cobain, Thurston Moore and Wesley Willis among others. This summer they’ve released the new album Super Group, packed full of boisterous jams featuring a new regular member, former touring bassist Ritsuko Taneda.

The band formed in 1981 by sisters Naoko and Atsuko Yamano and Michie Nakatani. Coming from Osaka, Japan, a key site for Western imports, they were heavily influenced by the rock and roll streaming in from the United States and UK. Thus, their sound was a stripped-down take on punk and new wave with an unmistakably do-it-yourself presentation. Unlike their Western counterparts however, their 28 years of rock has not veered from upbeat, frivolous lyrics about animals, food, and friends. Though, at times, their J-pop cutesiness is peppered with the occasional strangeness or controversy. The cut “Dali’s Sunflower” was banned in Japan due to what authorities deemed as too explicit a reference to “going crazy.” “Twist Barbie,” the groups 1983 cut and perhaps their most popular, laments the Western feminine ideal as impossible to attain for Asian girls. Their import-only studio albums were favorites of the US underground rock scene, and in 1986 Sub Pop began releasing and reissuing material in America. In 1989, the tribute album Every Band Has A Shonen Knife That Loves Them was released featuring covers by Sonic Youth, The Mr. T Experience, Redd Kross and more. The band would go on to enjoy the fruits of American stardom, appearing on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, Beavis and Butthead, on CNN and onstage at Lollapalooza.

When Michie left the band in 1999, Atsuko put down the drumsticks took over duties on bass, making room for Etsuko Nakanishi to join the band as a permanent member behind the kits in 2005. In 2008, Atsuko left the band due to her marriage and was replaced by longtime Shonen fan Ritsuko. Super Group came out in May with critics haling the return to form. As Nipponrock.net proclaims “…the music is still as relevant as ever. Silly lyrics, stripped down rock melodies and a potent sense of fun make Super Group a great album.” The Culturedeluxe blog heralded the record as having “something for the metalhead, the pre-schooler AND the acid casualty out there.” On October 16th, they will be playing Santos Party House, also dedicated to fun, for what promises to be a memorable night for the eternally young among us.
Shonen Knife on Myspace

MIHO HATORI'S NEW OPTIMISM
Known foremost as the vocalist for Cibo Matto, Miho Hatori has long been establishing herself as a solo composer and envelope-pusher. Her 2006 solo album Ecdysis threw together driving beats that mixed ambient electronic tones with some harsher noise and an airy vocal. Aside from her solo and Cibo endeavors she has lent vocal talent to Gorillaz, Handsome Boy Modelling School, John Zorn, Blackalicious and The 6ths.
Miho Hatori’s New Optimism

SHELLSHAG
Get them before they get too cool for you. Shellshag are an unfairly infectious punk band from Brooklyn with a strong with a cross-coastal appeal. Perhaps a bit gritty but the world will compensate. Don Giovanni Records has just announced that they will be putting out the group’s debut LP which promises to bring their drumset-destroying antics into the comfort of your own home.
Shellshag on Myspace

Once again, doors are at 7. Take the 6 to Canal, walk two blocks to 96 Lafayette St.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Secret E.P. Checklist- 10/13/9


Since the last time we spoke of this, I have:

1. Six demos.
2. A few sample tracks at my Myspace page
3. Angsty photos for a cover/liner notes. See above.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I have a date!

The tentative date...

Saturday, 4/10/10 (because you'd be too high to remember 4/20) @5PM
John J. Cali School of Music
Free food to follow, if I feel like it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

New Content at Myspace

Check it out here.

I added a recording of "The City, Late On A Rainy Night" (taken from the video). I might put up a Secret E.P recording... perhaps a little later, after I start getting away from the Apple loops and whatnot.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A few compositions to keep you busy...

...until I legitimately resume posting.

The City, Late On A Rainy Night


and

A brief musical cue I wrote for a deleted scene of South Park (not used in the show or anywhere except for my own purposes, but if Matt and Trey want to hire me to do the music for if and when they decide to do a new movie, I think I could squeeze it into my schedule. ;) )

Still waiting on my recordings from the choir reading and the concert band reading...

No updates on a recital date yet. They're still trying to sort out the deal with the lack of a recital hall and what-have-you. I sure hope the damn thing is open for April 2010.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Even in death, FFJ can still do horrible things...

Such as crashing my Firefox browser when trying to listen to her "singing". Twice.

Anyway, a little background on Florence Foster Jenkins:

  1. She thought she could sing beautifully.
  2. She really could not.
  3. She remained oblivious to this fact throughout her life.
  4. She died a month after her only public performance, possibly from embarrassment.
Selected works:

  1. The Glory (????) of the Human Voice (Compilation)
Seriously, go see if you can find one of her recordings on iTunes or elsewhere. Then pride yourself in being able to sing better than her.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Recital!!

It looks like THE COMP RECITAL OF THE FUTURE will be sometime c. Stardate April 2010.

It might be awesome.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Schoenburg

String Quartet #4
Introduction to the 12-tone method

Our New Steinways

You better believe it.

The Secret E.P. Checklist- 9/4/09

  1. Still have the same three demos
  2. The fourth song previously mentioned has a demo track recorded, with a lead guitar line in there as well.
  3. Have a demo/concept for a fifth song based on a 12-tone work I did a few months ago.

Let me tell you all/none a story and or ramble about my day

I covered a shift at work last night in order to help out a co-worker. I always feel creative after a late shift at work, being unable to express my creativity much through windexing fridges and mopping floors. Thus, I found myself awake till two AM, working on some tracks and compositions. Plus, Futurama was on T.V.

For the second day in a row, a construction crew planted itself outside my bedroom window and banged around at some concrete. Mind you, this is at seven thirty AM. I thrashed my pillow on my mattress and stormed around downstairs for a few minutes. After this display of sleepy rage, I returned to my bedroom, jammed some earbuds in my ears, and fell asleep again.

Four hours later, I awoke to discover I needed to be in my composition seminar in thirty minutes. I got out the door pretty quickly, being quite skilled in the art of getting dressed and getting out the door in ten minutes (this feat is usually done at three-thirty A.M in the dark). Everything was going without too much of a problem, until I arrived at school to find the PARKING DECK WAS CLOSED.

Thus, I had to park way the hell on the other side of campus, far from our fancy new floorless building. I barely ate anything all day, which usually makes me feel cranky, but we're singing Verdi Requiem in choir, which actually kind of makes me feel better. Plus, we had a great discussion in music history about what really defines history and truths. Gave me some food for thought. Then when I got home, I discovered we had wheat thins and spicey hummus, which is obviously the highlight of my day.

Does any of this make sense? Of course not. But I hope I can take this stream of conciousness style of writing and apply it to my music. Right now. In this, errr, delirious state of mind. After practicing piano for this jury. Let's see how it goes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Riddle

What's black and white and red all over?

...

...

...

...

...

Obviously, the piano I've been busting my ass practicing on after I bash my face open on the keys.

P.S- I still hate the secondary piano program.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You're a jerk

You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
something something iPod touch
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk
You're a jerk (ps- watch the video)
jerk jerk jerk jerk jerk je jejejejeje jerk

...
...
...

It's so infectious.

The Secret E.P. Checklist- 9/2/09

  1. Demo track #1
  2. Demo track #2
  3. Demo track #3, about half finished
  4. Lyrics and chords for a fourth song
  5. Choices to make for another song or two- to include them or not?
  6. Idea for another song
  7. Construction pounding outside my window to inspire me

Spookey

Some damn good rock from Japan.

Can't Sleep...

Working on music...

Can't sleep...

Working on music...

Four tracks I can safely say will be featured on my little project. It's shaping up really well. Or maybe I'm feeling particularly creative today. Who knows?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Soul Radio//Fastball 9/12/09

Fastball Performs Soul Radio live at the City Winery, 5/9/09.

A truly beautiful song.

PS- I was there!

PPS- Fastball is playing a FREE show in Clark NJ on 9/12/09... 8PM at Oak Ridge Park- these guys put on a fantastic show every time I've seen them, and you can't argue with something that's freakin' free. A must see if you can get out to Clark.

The Secret E.P.

Well, I got some good work done on The Secret E.P today. Worked a little more on the track I've been working on for a few weeks, and reworked a version of Travel Song for it. I'm working on another track or two as well. Mostly, it's material that I've written that doesn't quite work out as hard rock/punk rock (i.e for Double Vision). Now, if only my microphone worked. Planning on getting this thing for my home studio.

Speaking of which, I got a VERY awesome b-day gift from my brother, a Yamaha MW8cx mixing board. Used it today to record some guitar for Travel Song. It's a great piece of equipment. Small, but you know what? It works for what I need. Now, I really need that mike.

Electro Pop! Part II

So, yeah, as I said before, I am digging this whole electro pop thing. I'm not sure what to call my music- it's not very techno-ish or anything, but it uses lots of synth sounds and weird effects such as a wah-wah piano. But anyway, I think I would like to finish an EP and put it up for free download. Maybe I can do some vocals today for one of the tracks. Let's see how it goes.

As for names? I'm not sure. But for the sake of these entries, I'll refer to it as The Secret EP.

First Day

Well, summer vacation will officially be over in less than twenty-four hours. The music students will finally get to move into the new building tomorrow. I think. There might be no electricity or something, but it's good to see that the construction crews busted their asses over the summer to get this building up and running. Even if it was promised for Fall 2008.

Right now, the following list comprises of the new facilities we are supposed to have. Or at least the ones I've heard about.

  1. New comp lab w/private seminar room
  2. New piano labs
  3. All STEINWAY pianos
  4. Brand new recital hall, however, not open until October 2009
  5. Separate choir room, band room, orchestra room
  6. Guitar lab
  7. Plenty of practice rooms and lockers
  8. Swimming pool and open bar
Oh wait, the last one is just wishful thinking.

Now, I'm off to Sweetest Sounds to get me a conductor's baton.

Monday, August 31, 2009

DJ AM

So, DJ AM apparently killed himself (this is what I think, anyway), and nobody's really spoken about this. Well, I guess that's because Ted Kennedy's funeral coverage is all over the news. But, as much as I hate to admit this, I guess that's understandable.

But anyway, most of what I've heard about Adam Goldstein's death has been negative. I can understand that many people are quiet about it out of respect for his family and friends. Some people, however, heard that Adam's body was found alongside drug paraphernalia and said things such as "well, he deserves it for being a druggie".

Yes, the man struggled with drug problems all of his life.

He also lived with chronic depression.

Anyway, goodbye DJ AM, fellow musician who, despite his vices, seemed like a nice guy...

Skratch Magazine

Check this out.

These guys support underground music. If all goes well, expect to hear a lot more about them.

Friday, August 28, 2009

NYC Venues- Parkside Lounge

So, let's start off with one of the better venues in NYC- Parkside Lounge. Everything here is great- the staff most importantly, plus the house equipment. They booked our band and admitted that they did not usually book punk bands. Still, they made a concerted effort to help us in every way. Plus they actually give bands beer and water, which many places don't do. Even other places, while they charge a cover, find ways not to pay you, and then they make you pay for drinks. Parkside isn't into that. You don't get paid for the show, so the least a venue can do is give you some beer (as well as a proper sound check, thanks). If you're ever by E.Houston and you want to check out a cool music venue, drop by Parkside for their variety of live acts and their cool atmosphere. Bands looking for a place to play in NYC should DEFINITELY consider Parkside to host their music.

Philly!

So, I am in Philly until Sunday. Gotta check out some live music if I can. More on that later. For now, I think I'm going to start a small series of entries detailing small music venues in NYC- mostly places I've played, while others will be simply ones I've seen friends' bands perform.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Double Vision- Live At The Annex 7/12/09 (Part 1)

Posted everywhere ever, now posted here for whoever may be lurking.
video

Well, my friend suggested I should write about other things...

But I can't do that while the header reads "Music and Such".

Though 'such' can imply that I'm writing about other things. Like my birthday tomorrow.

Anyway, I'll be going out of town for a couple of days, to the city of brotherly love. Gonna check out the local music scene while I'm there, and of course, gonna hand out some CDs and keep working on my "electro-whatever" tracks. Yeah! Maybe when I'm done, I'll put out a download-able E.P.

Oh, and guess what?

My senior recital is going to ROCK! Spring 2010!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Electro Pop!

Laid down the rhythm track for a new piece. Got some basic demos for a few others. Hopefully over next week I can get some more stuff done. It's sounding good.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Procrastinating...

...because I have to retake my Piano IV jury in September.

Because I think the Secondary Piano program at MSU is in need of some serious revamping. At least we should have some real piano benches in our new piano lab, in our new fancy building. I hope anyway. That would at least solve a small fraction of our problems. It was actually kind of funny (not really) to have my private teacher tell me, upon our first meeting last week, that I've been sitting at the piano incorrectly since Piano I. So, strike one for the secondary piano teachers- at least the ones who never explained the proper way to even sit at a piano to the students. Now pedaling is a lot easier, which we never even went over in detail for the two years of piano I've had to endure. Strike two.

Please tell me why we can't ever, ever have professors that agree on how secondary piano is taught? Why it's a crapshoot with the professor you get? If you get a good one, you'll be thoroughly prepared. If you get a bad one, you'll be surprised on your jury. No one should ever be surprised on a jury for a secondary instrument.

I simply don't understand why we have to learn ten plus pieces for a jury when, for our primary juries, we learn three or four. Plus, out of those ten, you are actually only quizzed on maybe half of them. But you don't know what you'll be asked to do, so you end up spreading yourself thin trying to practice everything possible. Wouldn't have two or three solid pieces be a lot more logical? Strike three.

I seriously feel the secondary piano program at MSU needs some changes, fast. I know I'm not the only one to fail the Piano IV jury. Maybe a change will be made if we all band together, make our voices heard. Something has to be done.

Wow!! What an awesome (and cheap) Delay Pedal

Danelectro PB&J

Just got this baby last week- it's fantastic. I've been hooking it up to my keyboard to see what it can do- turns out it can do a lot. I need some more time to mess with it to see what it can really do, but everything sounds great. It's got all sorts of delay- from a quick echo to tons of reverberations. A great buy for only $60.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Che Cafe (California)

The Che Cafe is a hotspot for music-loving college students to gather and listen to local bands. It's a club that promotes peace, yet is named for a murderer. During the 1960s, Che Guevara would round up members of the Cuban population he called "lumpen" and throw them in prison. To him, lumpen were music lovers, musicians, homosexuals, artists, any sort of "longhair" type.

So, it's funny that this club, named for Che, is promoting everything he hated. The Che Club has a great message, but the owners and the patrons are grossly misinformed.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Electronic Music/The Yellow Chair

Taking a quick break from Green Day. I'll probably crank some more 21st Century in the car. Last Night On Earth = :) But by the time I get to my car, I'll probably end up cranking Faure instead. It depends on my mood.

Anyway.

After seeing my friend Vito perform yesterday (under the name The Yellow Chair) at the Alphabet Lounge, I found myself with new ideas for my own exploration of electronic music. I recently acquired a Stylophone (courtesy of my brother), but I figured it was mostly just a toy. There wasn't too much I could do with it. That was, until I saw my friend putting on an entire 45-minute set with a toy keyboard, an alarm clock, a drum machine, and a couple of guitar pedals. Wow.

So, I have this iPod dock that I figured out I could use as a speaker for the Stylophone. See, the instrument itself is pretty cool, but it is much too quiet on its own to play for an audience. The iPod dock changes that. Hell, I could probably set up a track on my iPod and use the Stylophone to improvise over it. I could probably dust off some of my guitar pedals (I'm an amp distortion kind of player), and use those.

More to follow. And definitely check out The Yellow Chair.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Green Day, Part II

Anyway, since this is a music blog, I really should speak about the music. As I said before, the band played well. I totally understand that they have to promote their new album and play loads of tracks off it, but frankly, I really haven't gotten into the new music yet. I often criticize fans of anything from TV shows to bands to book series for not accepting new offerings- I believe that fans are impossible to please sometimes. They always mindlessly bash new offerings without even giving them a chance. I understand, however. It usually takes a while to warm up to something new. Not so much new episodes of TV shows, but usually a new album takes a few listens before you get to like it. A lot of Green Day fans automatically discounted American Idiot (2004) simply because it was new. To make matters worse, it was overplayed on the airways, leading a lot of fans to fall back on the whole "selling out" line.

Has Green Day sold out? Obviously. Does that fact alone necessarily mean the quality of their music has declined? Not always. Selling out and quality decline should be mutually exclusive, but people always associate the latter with the former. When Warning (2000) came out, people accused Green Day of being sellouts. But Warning is a fantastic album. More on that later, if I decide to do a whole series of Green Day-related entries (which I might just do).

Anyway, at this point, I can only say that I sort of like the new album. It's not "terrible" as many fans automatically said after their first listen. Know Your Enemy and Last Night On Earth are pretty damn good tracks, with the latter reflecting some Beatles-esque qualities. Some of the writing I feel is lazy. If you want to branch off into other styles besides punk rock, do so. If you want to stay hard and punk rock, do that. A lot of songs sound off quiet and always end with the same hard rock sound, which makes the album a little predictable and homogenous after a while. But there's nothing wrong with that.

The lyrics, as always, are fantastic. I will give that to Billie Joe- he has always been a top-notch poet. And maybe I am just being unfair, but I am still kind of on the fence about this new album. But like I said, it takes a while to learn to like new offerings sometimes. Maybe, what is most frustrating, is that Green Day is still trying to be punk rock (in look, and in Billie Joe's attitude on stage), while trying to offer something deeper and more mature. I can't really speak for Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool- they hardly spoke during the show. But Billie Joe acts extremely immature on stage. If you are going to "sell out" (as the punk kids like to say), that's all well and good, but give all or nothing. Don't still try to act "punk" when you're 37 years old and when you are trying to demonstrate, through your music, that there is more to your being than three chords and anger.

More to follow.

My thoughts on Green Day (Part 1)

So, Green Day is a doing a huge tour in order to promote their new album, 21st Century Breakdown. I saw them Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, where they put on a 3 hour show encompassing material from their latest album, with a few classics thrown in for good measure. A lot more older songs followed in the encore, including my personal favorite, Macy's Day Parade. No comment on that one, however. I did not stay for the encore.

Anyway, the group put on an entertaining show. They all played really well- Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt are two extremely talented musicians, as are the back-up players. The stage crew was very competent and on the ball as well. Billie Joe, on the other hand, managed to knock the overall experience down a few pegs with his immature antics and his horrendously dirty mouth. Coming from me, this seems almost out of character. I am known for my horribly tasteless sense of humor, and I am prone to swearing like a sailor sometimes. I swear at the Double Vision shows. But here's the difference: Double Vision shows are primarily 21+. Green Day, however, attracted hordes of young children to the show. Billie Joe has to be aware of this; he invited a few young children on stage to play with the band (only to later tell one of them to 'get the fuck' off the stage after playing). Sure, he probably meant that humorously, but the kid would not understand that.

Perhaps it is up to the parents to research Green Day to see what they are like in concert. True. I really do think it is up to the parents to research the concerts before bringing their children. But most parents don't do that. Still, there really is no excuse to swear excessively in front of kids. Children will imitate anything they hear- swearing included. Billie Joe has to be aware that his fanbase not only consists of fans who listened to his music in the 90s, but also consists of much younger fans today. If he really is that oblivious, then he should acknowledge the fact that he has two kids and that he needs to grow up.

And besides, as much as I like to swear, it gets old after saying 'fuck' every. Other. Word. No joke. And guess what? Kids who look up to Billie Joe will learn that it's okay to talk like that.

Now, this falls on the parents. Hopefully, you are all smart enough to teach your kids the difference between right and wrong. This goes for all the violence in movies and TV as well. Don't let your kids become desensitized to everything that is wrong. Teach them.

And if you really, seriously can't do that, then don't take your kids to another Green Day concert. Perhaps Billie Joe is trying really hard to please all of his fans, from the youngest ones to the older ones. But if he can't control his language, then there should really be a minimum age for admission to a Green Day concert. It's that simple.

Check back for Part II soon.

Friday, June 26, 2009

When Push Comes To Shove, You Gotta Do What You Love

...even if it's not a good idea. :)

Oh come on, be happy.

This is a song about a whale... NO! This is a song about being happy!

Just Beat It Already

Seeing that we just lost a very important figure in the music world and this is a music blog, I thought I would share my thoughts on the whole Michael Jackson thing. Yes, it's sad that he died, but get over yourselves. Almost everybody and their mother ripped on him for his plastic surgery escapades, his child molestation, and you know, the whole baby-dangling thing. Now everybody is mourning him and insisting on remembering his musical legacy. Yeah, he was a musical genius and an immensely talented performer. Yes, he had a horrendous childhood- he was forced into the spotlight at an early age by a disgustingly abusive father. I just find it hypocritical that the very same media who published every botched plastic surgery photo and every child molestation story is now acting like they'll dearly miss him.

And yes, while I do feel sorry him, certain behaviors, certain things he did (that we've all heard about), are just gross and inexcusable.

You know, there's other things going on in the news, such as the Iranian election and the Guantanamo detainees being released to Bermuda. Why are the networks devoting every waking minute to this man?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Brain make people dumb!

1. Step 1- Go to Double Vision's Myspace.
2. Step 2- Check out new pics, new info, a new blog entry, and our show listing.

Alternatively, add our Double Vision page on Facebook.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Test test, anybody out there?


It's late. And while I should be in bed, I'm still up. The alarm goes off at five thirty tomorrow, and it won't be pretty. I hate being without my car right now. The train rides are far too long, but at least they give me time to maybe compose or catch up on some reading. Speaking of reading, check out this book.

You see the flyer to the left? You need to go. Check out the Annex website for details. Check all over NYC for flyers.

Maybe I need something here to fill up this space. Listed below are some random thoughts:

-It's such as shame that the shittiest song ever written, MacArthur Park, has such an unconventional chord progression. Somebody needs to put that to good use.
-The best thing I've found I can do with violins is give them pizzicato parts. The next best thing is giving them screechy minor second dissonances. Maybe I can even get away with quarter tone dissonances in my next piece.
-Writing a piece based on "Porky In Wackyland" was an awesome idea. :)
-Fuck you, Youtube, for taking down "Porky In Wackyland".

And with that, good night.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Berklee Sings South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

It's Easy, Mmmmkay
Blame Canada
Kyle's Mom Is A Bitch

Theremin Mania!!

For the longest time, it has been my dream to own a theremin. Or at least, it's been one of my dreams.

But then I realized I could program one using Max MSP. Which I am in the process of doing, because lord knows I won't be able to find a theremin player for THE COMP RECITAL OF THE FUTURE. Using the trackpad and something else as an interface, it should work pretty well. Or really well, if all goes good-ly.

In the meantime, check out this nifty video.

(P.S- If you play theremin and you make yourself known to me, I will give you chocolate.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pseudo-Vacation Week//THE COMP RECITAL OF THE FUTURE!!

Yeah, I think I'm seriously billing my comp recital as THE COMP RECITAL OF THE FUTURE. Spring '10 ho!!

Well, I'm at home, trying to take it easy for a couple of days. You know, showin' up to work whenever I want* and finally getting around to some choice musical projects is just what the doctor ordered right now. I have a senior recital to start planning for next year. Next year brings many good things- my comp recital, graduation, new episodes of Futurama (ya srsly), and hopefully some kick-ass Double Vision tracks.

So, this is what I've been tooling around with for the last week or two- Max MSP. Download it and try it out. Or if you are interested, I'll see if I can send you my patch that uses an NES controller (hooked up to a USB converter) as a musical instrument. If all goes well, I hope to include some musical Max MSP programs I write as part of an exhibition at my recital.

I figure I'll need the summer to really get the program and other plans for the recital together- I'll be far too lazy to do it over winter break.

*Not really

Monday, June 8, 2009

Booking Shows

...in the NYC area... It's been a little rough so far.

These are some places I know of/sent emails to:

The Annex (possible show here)
Arlene's Grocery
The Cake Shop
Kenny's Castaways
Rehab
Crash Mansion
The Bitter End
R Bar
Alphabet Lounge

and so on.

Unfortunately, it seems like one guy does the booking for half these places, and he's pretty douchey. Oh well, hopefully this whole gigging thing goes better. In the meantime, the band can always record.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Back To Blogging

So, after taking a "little break" from blogging, I went on and took a big break. But now I'm back. What's new for acmenes.blogspot.com? Expect the following entries:

Fastball- Little White Lies album and concert review
Composition updates
Readings posts
Bands bands bands! The trials and tribulations of practicing, recording, performing, and not having enough money for beer.

So, a couple of tidbits.

The readings went really well, but I have yet to get recordings of the concert band and choir. The orchestra reading I got doesn't have a complete run-through, so I have to sit down one day and edit a bunch of takes into one take, which sounds a lot less fun than it will be. The choir and the wind ensemble gave me a solid run-through. The choir one especially rocked.

I'm working hard on some more compositions. I want to get around to writing a string quartet this summer, but for now I'm kind of stuck on electronic music. I'll be starting a music tech course today, so I'll get to learn more about that.

Expect recordings of Double Vision soon. One track is pretty close to being done. We'll have that on our myspace once we finish it. :) In the meantime, it's time to practice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

So...

...I took a little break from blogging, just because of all the work I have to do. Yeah, it's been that same song and dance for weeks. Some occurrences of note:

*Orchestra readings!! They went over really well. They didn't actually get a full run-through of my piece, but hopefully I can edit what I got into a decent-sounding track. If not, I'll dump the midi file into Garageband... err... "Protools", and get a recording up that way. Stayed tuned to my Myspace page in the meantime.
*Fastball released its first studio album in five years. This is awesome news. I'll elaborate on this in a later entry.

Among other things that I can't remember at the moment. And the awesome events coming up:

*In two weeks, the MSU Chorale will be performing Faure's Requiem. The show is Saturday, April 25th at 8PM. Tickets are $15 (or free with a valid MSU Undergraduate ID). The University Singers will also be performing that night. If you're free on Friday, there will also be an open dress rehearsal that you can attend for free at 11:3o AM.
*More readings! Tomorrow is a reading with the Shanghai String Quartet (I was bad, I didn't write for them), and in two weeks, there will be readings for the MSU Wind Ensemble and the University Singers. Busy time for composition majors at MSU (well, for everyone, really).
*FASTBALL IS PERFORMING AT THE CITY WINERY ON MAY 9th!! I am super stoked for this. Last time I saw them was back in 2004 at Penn State. They are an amazing live act. Go check them out for sure during their tour this Spring.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Given the date and time...

One, with a full orchestra.
Two, piano reduction
Three, another solo piano version
And a how-to video. This guy does it pretty okay.
(And here's Dream, thrown in for good measure.)

It's amazing how many different interpretations of 4'33" are out there. I'm not a fan, but regardless, I feel that Cage's intention to "write" it was correct in that he wanted to assert that a piece with no music could be performed just like a piece with music. Each time it's performed, a million different things could happen. If music is supposedly about order, then this could be a piece of "un-music".

Think about that for a while.

Zappa

I've always been told to "listen to Zappa", "listen to Zappa", "listen to Zappa". So finally, I did.

G-Spot Tornado

Wow.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Suggested Listening #8

Hello all/you. We're back today, on this first day of April, with another Suggested Listening. Today, we'll be looking at the music of... well, this is so amazing that a written description would simply not do it justice. In terms of its popularity, the song has appeared in many TV shows and has received a ton of radio play. Anyway, head on over to Youtube and check out this video.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Piano-Playing Cat

This is probably old news.

But I didn't discover it until last month.

And now, the cat who plays piano.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This Must Have Been An Awesome Field Show

Check out this footage of a marching band from Michigan playing the music from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. It looks like it's from a show that features music from Family Guy and the Simpsons as well, which must be a hell of a field show. Back in my marching band days, we did some fun field shows like that as well. Unfortunately, we never got to play "What Would Brian Boitano Do?".

Anyway, the songs featured in the video are "What Would Brian Boitano Do?", "Blame Canada", and "La Resistance/Medley". Too bad they didn't go for the whole musical, because it's really great.

More Joy Division

Transmission/She's Lost Control (my first experience with Joy Division)
Dead Souls (sadly, poor sound quality)
Shadowplay

A Passage To India

Check out this article. I'm pretty intrigued myself. When I get my hands on his music, I'll definitely be writing about it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Suggested Listening #7

Seeing as I spent the past five days writing a paper about Felix Mendelssohn, it's only appropriate that I write about him here.

Mendelssohn was a composer who, during the "progressive" Romantic era, chose to fall back on the Classical idiom. Thus he wrote music that, to a 19th-century audience, seemed dated. Of course, he was far too young to be old-fashioned. He simply wrote what he loved- music in the vein of Bach or Beethoven, but he wrote it from a 19th-century perspective. This quality makes his music uniquely beautiful.

So, check out Mendelssohn's 3rd Symphony, also known as "Scottish" (A Minor). It's really wonderful and moving.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Missed A Day (AKA Orchestra Readings Continued)

So, I've come to the most "wonderful" part of my orchestra reading project... PARTS. That means going through the piece with a fine tooth comb and making sure that every dynamic marking and every note translated over into the parts. Then I have to return to Staples Copy Center (my home away from home in case you haven't noticed) and print and copy and papercut myself until I have all the parts printed and enough copies made in case people lose them, which can very well happen.

Still, I'm excited about the reading. Not so much excited about the rest of the homework I have to do. There's still a twenty page music history paper to write, and a trip to the NY Public Library (Music Branch) to embark on. Among other things, of course.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Carmina Burana- Part 2

I'm not going to talk about the rest of the piece quite yet, but I just found a Carmina Burana film on Youtube from the 70s. It's pretty interesting... to say the least. Not every word is pronounced correctly and that's a little distracting, but the music is well done. It's still pretty good overall, almost comedic with the addition of actors "performing" the songs. Check it out.

Part 1

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Film Scoring Project/Orchestra Reading

The orchestra score is done! That is, if I don't have to go back and make changes. The people at the Staples Copy Center probably hate me already for asking for an 11x17, two sided, bound edition of my score. The binding part gets them especially upset, because apparently, one can't fully bind an 11x17 score at the Staples Copy Center. I really appreciate the place and have spent many an hour killing trees and making tons of copies of show fliers that everybody ever has used as birdcage lining, but they need to step up their game with this binding thing, or else I'm taking my $2.71 and going to Kinko's from now on.

The life of a composer...

Today, I started scoring that student film I mentioned a few entries back. Just a couple of cues at the moment, but I came up with a pretty cool motive to use throughout the film. Composing for film is a completely different process than just composing... your music is second to the film, only there to enhance the experience of watching the movie. So that changes the composition process. But I like the challenge of composing within boundaries.

Bring on the boundaries! Student film makers, read this: I. Would. Love. To. Score. Your. Film.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Special Opps Part 3

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Clash Bar in Clifton to see The Special Opps play. After asking pianist and composer Chris Opperman where I could find some of his videos online, I found some. And as promised, here they are.

White Willow
No Drinks For Libbie

If I can get some more videos or recordings, especially some from their show on 3/6/09, I definitely will do that.

Film Scoring

Hmm... I've had this blog for about two weeks now, yet I haven't really spoken too much about my interest in film scoring. So here goes.

Many semesters ago (I think Spring 2007... feels like a long time ago), I took a class entitled "Music In Film", taught by this man. It was there that I really developed an interest in what I feel really brings a movie, TV show episode, or video game to life: the background music. Every week during the 2 1/2 hour class, we watched a classic film and paid close attention to the score and how it enhanced the experience of watching the movies. Here's a partial list of the films we watched:

Frankenstein
The Sea Hawk
A Streetcar Named Desire
On The Waterfront
To Kill A Mockingbird
Psycho

All of these films have excellent scores. The ones that, to this day, strike me the most are the scores from On The Waterfront and Psycho. Watch these movies and pay attention to how perfectly the music enhances the film. Meanwhile, next time I watch a movie with an excellent score, I will write about it.

Speaking of film scoring, I have undertaken a film scoring project for a student film. I should start work on it this week. More on that to come.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Carmina Burana- Part 1

Last November, the Montclair State University Chorale (a group comprising of 150+ students) performed Carl Orff's Carmina Burana at the NJPAC with a group of students from the Moscow Conservatory, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Sarah Coburn (soprano soloist), Vale Rideout (tenor soloist), and Stephen Powell (bass soloist).

The show recieved much praise and great reviews, such as this one from the Star Ledger. Anyway, if I had this blog back in November, I would have definitely written about the show. Still, I would like to discuss Carmina Burana over a short series of entries.

The text for Carmina Burana comes from a huge compilation of poems that dates back to between the 11th and 13th centuries. Composer Carl Orff took 24 of these poems, notably ones with secular themes, and set them to fantastic music. Everybody's heard the famous opening movement entitled O Fortuna, whether it be in the Jim Morrison biopic, or in a trailer for a dramatic action movie, or in a Medieval Times commerical, or even when the New England Patriots march out onto the field. Yes, it's overused and overplayed, but that does not discount how dramatic and breathtaking the song is.

The next movement, Fortune Plango Vulnera, is a direct follow-up of O Fortuna, dealing with the same subject (the fickleness of fortune). As a whole, the twenty-five movements of Carmina Burana are grouped into five major sections, the first of which being Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi ("Fortuna, Empress of the World"). So next time, I will discuss the second major section, which deals with the coming of springtime and the feelings of love it brings, as the texts go.

And if I can somehow get my hands on a recording of the MSU Chorale performing the whole thing, I will most definitely put it up there. For now, check this out:

Montclair State University Website Feature

Program Notes

Friday, March 13, 2009

Orchestra Readings '09

So on Monday, the scores for our orchestra readings (which will take place the first week of April) are due. I just got to the end of my 3'30" piece, structurally speaking anyway. Now, it's time to go back and really flesh it out. After I consult with my composition teacher, I'll be spending the weekend doing that. Writing a piece and hearing 80+ people play it is such a breath-taking, mind-blowing experience, and it's one that I'm grateful to have. As a composer, it's usually more practical to write pieces for smaller groups to perform, as it's difficult and often times impractical to get such huge forces required to play an orchestral work together. It's really amazing that the orchestra director gives us student composers two full rehearsals to play our pieces for us.

Anyway, I'll be posting the recordings from the orchestral reading whenever I get them. Hopefully, that'll be around the second or third week in April. Until then... I gotta finish the last bits of my piece, and hopefully name the damn thing already.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Suggested Listening #6

Today's suggested listening is Djangology, the must-have album by legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. There was an edition re-released in 2002 by Bluebird Records that has been perfectly remastered; the quality of the original recordings was subpar. But with this remastered edition, you can hear Django's unique takes on jazz standards, and even Tchaikovsky's 'Pathetique', in his gypsy jazz stylings. Joining him on this album, as always, is creative partner and jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, whose playing is just as breathtaking as Django's.

Also, check out the Quintette du Hot Club de France, Django's all-strings jazz combo, while you're at it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ore Ska Band

Click Here

It's an all-girl Japanese ska band. Pretty wacky but cool nonetheless.

Suggested Listening #5

So, after missing a day of Suggested Listening, we come back with the fifth installment. Today's suggested listening is Social Dancing, the second full-length album from Scottish pop-punk/electronic group bis (and yes, that's in lower-case). You've probably heard bis if you've ever watched the PowerPuff Girls (they did the ending theme for the Cartoon Network series). While that song, catchy and energetic, gives listeners a good idea of the sound of some of the music bis recorded in their short time together as a band, there is so much more to their music that deserves to be heard.

Social Dancing offers a great range of music, while the band never lets up with their relentless energy. They're obviously past the PowerPuff Girls theme stage in their musical careers, and they step up and offer an album that features great diversity within the pop-punk idiom while still mantaining their youthful energy as exhibited in their first album, The New Tranistor Heroes, and in the PPG theme. This album, along with the 2000 EP entitled Music For A Stranger World, set the stage for their final album, Return To Central, which will be discussed later on.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

TV Music- South Park

With the South Park season premiere airing tomorrow, I thought it was a good idea to talk about the background music in the show. Jamie Dunlap does the background music for the show, and while he is probably not a well-known composer, he has had a ton of experience in the scoring world. Check out his extensive resume, and listen to his library of musical samples. Also, keeping relevant to South Park, check out the scene from the Season 9 episode entitled Ginger Kids that he also has on his website. The music is intense and captures the "horror" genre perfectly, and keeping with the quick production time of the show, it is quite possible that the orchestral music for that sequence was composed in just a few days, two or three tops.

While many of the episodes reuse and revamp musical cues (this is not an uncommon practice, hence many film composers having a library of musical samples), there are many other episodes with excellent original scores, most notably the Season 11 finale entitled The List.

The feature-length musical film also has amazing music, however, Dunlap was not doing the background music for the show during the time it was produced.

Density 21.5... on Vibes

Density 21.5

Check out this performance of Edgard Varese's Density 21.5 performed by a talented young vibes player.

Other Music NYC

While I was out in the city last night, I rediscovered a music store that I haven't been to in years. As always, they carry tons of music ranging from local music to the Clash to Steve Reich and everything in between.

Click Here

Plus, they have a digital downloads store.

They also have some shows there, so if I ever attend one, I'll make a note of it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Suggested Listening #4

Thelonious Monk. Granted, I only have a compilation and the Monk. album, along with a couple of stray songs, so I can't really pick an album to recommend. But you absolutely cannot go wrong with Monk. Here's a couple of my favorite tunes:

Well You Needn't
Rhythm-A-Ning
'Round Midnight

Monk's piano technique, while highly unorthodox, is also extremely sophisticated in an almost primitive way. When it comes to improvisation, Monk had it down. If you haven't heard Monk yet, then listen now.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Suggested Listening #3

A few years ago, Andy Summers of the Police teamed up with classical guitarist Ben Verdery. The result of this collaboration is the 2007 album First You Build A Cloud. The combination of an electric guitar with a classical guitar, especially with two amazing players, is beautiful. This album is mostly comprised of ambient-sounding music, but the music is inspiring. I'm actually working on a piece right now for effected electric guitar (flange, phaser, delay pedal, etc) and classical guitar, which I hope to have on my senior recital.

So, go give First You Build A Cloud a listen.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Roger McGuinn's Folk Den

Click Here

This site contains a treasury of recordings and chord charts for tons of folk songs. Totally worth the visit.

Special Opps Part 2

Great show over at Clifton's Clash Bar last night. The Special Opps tore the house down with their special brand of chaotic, yet catchy, music. This group (mostly comprised of two keyboardists, one bassist, a guitarist, a saxphonist, and a trumpeter, sometimes with other players coming in) is totally worth listening to, so if I can get you a link or a video, I will.

Suggested Listening #2

Edgard Varese: Octandre

Scored for contrabass and seven woodwinds, Octandre is a very short piece in three movements (lasting about 6 minutes in total). Varese makes great use of the extremely high registers of the flute and the oboe, incorporating sounds from those instruments' registers and huge intervalic leaps into the technically challenging thematic material. Furthermore, he manages to get a huge sound out of just seven instruments.

This is a piece that is not pleasant at all, but it still affects the listener. It makes sense... but at the same time, it doesn't. Anyway, check out some videos if you're curious.

Part 1- Assez lent
Part 3- Grave

You're on your own for Part 2, Tres vif et nerveaux. That is, until I can actually get a video.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Local Bands- Special Opps

Tonight at the Clash Bar in Clifton, the Special Opps will be playing. More to come about the band after the show... hopefully I can get a link up here, therefore supporting local music like I should.

Suggested Listening #1

So check this out. Joy Division: The Complete BBC Recordings

Since Joy Division was only a band for two years (only finishing two albums before Ian Curtis committed suicide in Spring 1980), "Complete" doesn't mean a whole lot of tracks. But the tracks offered in this live album are all great. Supposedly, the band never liked the way they were produced; they felt that producer Martin Hannett took off a lot of the edge from their sound. The live albums offer a slightly edgier, harder Joy Division. And as I said before, there are not a whole lot of tracks here. In fact, there are two versions each of "Transmission" and "She's Lost Control", but it's interesting to hear the differences between the performances.

Stay tuned for more Suggested Listening. And on a side note, check out the Ian Curtis biopic Control. I just saw it this week, and it's an excellent movie.

Myspace Music Account

Check it out.

I'll put up more stuff as I get recordings, such as the recording from this year's orchestra reading. The reading will be on April 1st, so expect a recording soon after that.

First Post

I guess I should introduce myself. But I won't.

Okay, I am an undergrad majoring in Music Theory and Composition. I play guitar and a couple of other instruments, and I write music. Lots of it. Composing for media (such as films and video games) is something I want to get into. I've already written works for a few short student films, some of which are on YouTube sans music. Hopefully the ones with music will be up soon.

So, yeah... student film makers. Let's talk. Or let's get your people to talk with my people.