Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Myspace: A Place For Friends!

I finally gave in. After an inspired treadmill running session, I decided to create an account. I did this for the sole purpose of being able to share my music in the most convenient way possible.

Basically, I’m making a sister site to this one. Page 43 is for my writings on music, myspace is for music I’ve written. I’m going to try to put a mix of stuff on there. I’ll hopefully upload songs from the past and present that I’m not completely embarrassed by. Also, if I can figure it out, there will be classical compositions of mine as well.

This is more a notification than a blog post but I felt I needed to publicize it somewhere. It’s much easier to access music this way than rapidfire and if you really want to have a copy of any of the MP3s, just let me know. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Our Constantly Evolving Musical Fingerprints

I can’t believe it’s the middle of August already. I assume you all know what that means. It’s time for another somewhat philosophical essay on music! Hip hop hooray!

So here’s what I’ve been thinking. Each and every one of us has a brain filled with different music and different amounts of familiarity these works of music. We’ve been exposed to music in hundreds of different ways, often by complete coincidence. For example, John Doe grew up the child of parents who worshipped Neil Sedaka. By age eight, he could sing “Calendar Girl” forwards, backwards and sideways. As he grew up through the 1980s, he played percussion in the Millard Fillmore High School band and he heard about the Smiths from a fellow drummer and absolutely loved them. This led to all kinds of discoveries of his own (including the Stone Roses), developing a unique musical palette.

John Doe has a musical fingerprint like no one else. Because of this, when he hears a new song, he’ll have a different take than anybody else. He compares this song to what he’s heard and what he likes and develops an opinion based on this. But the cool part is, it’s always changing. For every bit of music one discovers, that opens the door to more and more possibilities. You might compare this to Pandora’s box, without all the evilness. Oh wait, crap, that metaphor’s already been taken.

This idea seems to make sense for any music lover but I recently started thinking about it from the perspective of a composer. No music is written out of thin air. Like a great cake, it requires many different ingredients mixed together. Each artist is equipped with years of stockpiled ingredients and the taste of the cake depends on what he/she chooses to mix together. For instance, today, I discovered I’d used part of the melody from Eels’ “World Of Shit” on my trumpet and organ piece, which was a rather odd sensation.

This is yet another reason why music is so magical. Each of us is on our own, lifelong, individual exploration for the best stuff we can find. Whether you are a 5th grade hillbilly or an 80-year-old erudite, there’s always something out there that will strike your fancy.

*Last week's sub-heading was from Crosby, Stills and Nash's "I Give You Give Blind"

Friday, August 7, 2009

All You Need Is Love

Recently, I’ve been inspired. The main reason for the inspiration is a concert that I’ll be performing in this upcoming weekend. All the proceeds will be going to a charity called Central Asia Institute, providing education to kids in Central Asia. I didn’t come up with idea to do this, merely agreed to it. Albeit, I wish I’d decided this myself, for the plan of playing music to raise money for a good cause feels so right! Much more than making a few bucks. I mean, I’ve done benefit concerts before but never have I gotten quite this excited about it. Maybe it’s because I’m older than last time I did a show like this. I don’t know. But more important than helping children in need, the concert inspired me to write this post!

If you haven’t heard the title of this post, you probably have been living under a rock your whole life, somehow got a hold of your first computer and were navigated to this site by mysterious circumstances. But just in case this is true, “All You Need Is Love” is a song by the Beatles released on their 1967 album, Magical Mystery Tour. The song has been hugely popular since the day it came out. Type it in on google, you get 362 million hits. However, even though I’ve heard the song many times, its message is more effective each time it enters the surrounding airwaves.

This, to me, is the ultimate use of music. It uses the medium to spread an unbelievably simple message in a way that is infinitely more powerful than speaking the words. Too often, music (and all art) is viewed as a form of expression in a very personal sense. In the pop world, this is where songwriter A writes a song about his/her troubled life only seeking sympathy and personal attention. In the classical world, this is where composer B writes an avant-garde piece simply for the sake of being weird or potentially one-upping his/her fellow haughty academics. If you write music only to make yourself happy, with no intention of reaching other people, sharing your thoughts on the human condition, or inspiring change, you shouldn't write it at all.

If I had a dollar for every minute I weighed art versus entertainment in reference to music, I would be a rich man. Is it more important to be enjoyable or meaningful? And what is my answer, after all these hours of thought? Umm…both. Sorry, even though it’s a yes or no question, that’s all I got.

It’s just about impossible to name the one thing that makes music good or not but I know for a fact that it won’t work if it isn’t honest. As I continue on and pursue a career, likely in music, the dream above all is to be successful by improving other people’s lives with music. The old cliché is that the pen is mightier than the sword but the piano is mightier than both. And using the pen to write about the piano is pretty mighty too!

*Last week's subheading was from Steely Dan's "Night By Night"