new

This is an obvious theme for every creator in any way, for artists, engineer, musician and in many ways for every human being on earth. For this article we will narrow it down to music of course, but the idea of getting this full picture is that human beings create things from what they learn and experience. In every single one of these processes there is inspiration, this also means that nothing comes from nothing, and it would be hard to belive that any human being could create something from nothing, and if one person could it wouldn’t be a person, it would be god. In this sense it would be as Inmanuel Kant says at the begining of the critique of pure reason, that everything we know begins with experience.

What is making something? or creating something? If we take the words that were just said, then creativity would be the talent to arrange pieces in new ways, and in a way this is true. However the magic doesn’t stop there, as musicians when we listen to something we know we like, we remember it, and it stays in our heads, then when we are about to create a piece of music, that thing we liked gets molded and merges with our feelings and other experiences, so in a way it’s like mixing colors to paint new things.

That brings this to the other subject which is interdisciplinary thinking and being able to tear down barriers and lines.

Creation and Connection

A successful work of art is not one which resolves contradictions in a spurious harmony, but one which expresses the idea of harmony negatively by embodying the contradictions, pure and uncompromised, in its innermost structure.

Theodore Adorno

Following the quote from Theodore Adorno, there are some examples we could think of that really show he’s point including electronic music and heavy metal music, as the art and beautiful side of things find themselves with feelings of hate or the cold ever growing technology.

The big important thing here is that, not because something doesn’t sound very familiar or “as it’s supposed to” doesn’t mean is bad. Let’s imagine for a second the first person to ever plug in an electric guitar and try to feel the shoes of that time, it almost seem stupid to listen the distorted sound of strings but now, it’s arguably the most famous instrument in the world.

Thinking outside the box is not easy, but staying within the boudaries of what already is done, is very easy and for many people, not satisfactory.

Some musicians look to play for fun, some enjoy what’s already established but others want to push it further beyond what is out there, and it doesn’t even have to be extremely experimental music, just bringing something new to the table is extremely hard but very rewarding.

New Ideas

This is also an important art, the art of bringing something new into the world of things that are already established, because, you can’t just make something incredibly different and slam it into people’s ears, because in general people won’t like it. However if you’re goal is not to reach people that’s fine, but you won’t actually be bringing something new. The art of creating new things also rely on a balance of how much you’re taking from what is already loved and how much you will inject from your new sounds and melodies.

On reaching artistic maturity, the composer should have acquired a good knowledge of the repertoire, and of his craft. He also needs knowledge of himself, not just in the obvious stylistic sense (a composer’s style is essentially made of his preferences), but also in the sense of dealing with his own psychology: especially, how to find creative stimulation, how to grow as an artist, and how to overcome blocks.

Experiment, and take risks. This does not mean that the finished work should be just an experiment, but that during the composition, it can be useful to deliberately try new procedures, even if one ultimately rejects most of the results in the final piece.

Imitate others, but in a distorted way. Obviously direct imitation creates epigones, but, sufficiently distorted, useful ideas may result

alanbelkinmusic.com

In the end it’s always difficult and a challenge to create something new and have people enjoy it, and as musicians we have to be prepared for all the bumps on the road.

Read More

A question so simple that could be answered with “just look for it” may be a bit more complicated. While there is too much music out there, probably only half of it or even less is easily available to everyone, due to all the complicated business, marketing and recording side of things.

Today, music distribution has changed quite a bit from the traditional radio and TV experience. Nowadays the main way to go about it is through the internet, but the difference is that we choose what we want to listen to, or do we?

Algorithm

Youtube, Spotify, Deezer and other music platforms provide some sort of algorithm that allows for recommendations to be made based on the history of music played.

Writer and Musician Sasha Frere-Jones says:

Discovering music does not frustrate me or cause me to have takes. (I don’t listen to Pandora, which might make that happen.) I like it when SoundCloud drops into autoplay mode and delivers a sequence of songs tagged as related. I like it when YouTube does the same thing. I’m happy to learn what Spotify Discover thinks I want to hear. I learn names; I hear songs.

gq.com

While there is still control about what is being played and what is being ignored, it’s hard not to pay attention to so many recommendations, in a way the hook is curiosity, the same as it always has been. When you used to tune in to MTV and began watching a video, you could just change the channel, but you stayed to see what happened, this “control” aspect makes things even easier, since you can skip the songs you don’t like and have everything at your disposal.

Best Of… Lists

Another way to discover new music from any time period is just to search for tops, either genre based, time based or any other category. The internet is filled with these, and while music is not something you can easily it’s good or bad, it may be a good starting point to begin a music research.

It’s all about doing a little research, depending on what you would like to listen to, either good guitars, drummers, good jazz, or electronic, there are top 10s about pretty much everything. One tab with a list, another with YouTube, and you might just find some interesting music.

Soundcloud/ Bandcamp

If you are really craving for something new outside from all the mainstream famous artists, it may be a .good idea to spend some time in Soundcloud and Bandcamp, since it’s now the starting point of new artists.

Bear in mind, many of the artist may not have the best production there, since they are free and easy to use, they’ve gained popularity as a safe haven for independent artists wanting to share their music even if their production quality is nothing beyond a home studio.

Nevertheless, there are some amazing projects floating around those platforms so it may feel as a breath of fresh air.

Old School

Maybe you don’t spend too much time on the computer or cellphone, well, there is a world outside the internet, and it is still very much alive. There is nothing like the magic of going to a bar or a club and seeing a new artist perform live, sometimes to fall in love, others just to enjoy the moment without getting too attached to the music.

The radio still has some interesting ways to show some new music to people, but sometimes, you can’t seem to remember the artist, the song or they just don’t say it. In this case there are very useful alternatives like “Shazam” which is an app that can recognize a song through the phones mic.

Or maybe just the oldest way of them all, just talk to other people.

Teenager Vicky Sko was asked about how she discovered new music, and aside from apps she said:

I’m fortunate to have lots of classes with friends so we listen a lot during class by sharing our headphones with one another. We also love to listen to music at lunch and have gone to a couple concerts together. Spotify also has a great feature that allows you to stalk what your friends are listening to, and I use this to my advantage a lot.

gq.com

Read More

Have you ever felt burn-out in your teaching?  Perhaps you put all your energy and time into teaching your students, whether they be 3 or 123.  Now, after several months of intense teaching without a substantial break, it is time to strategize and rejuvenate.  Not all in the following blog are my own ideas… many have been contributed by wonderful fellow teachers in the business who have experienced what many of you may be facing at the moment.

  1. Attend Workshops – by attending music workshops, those creative juices will begin flowing again!  Be inspired by others in the business, discover new ways to present a topic to your students, and enjoy what you do. Other conferences through the Music Teacher’s Association (MTA) also are great opportunities to meet others.  www.mtna.org
  2. Schedule Breaks – take a day off.  Sleep in.  Get a manicure.  Get a massage.  Eat Chocolate.  Take care of you (the teacher)!
  3. Break the routine up by scheduling various types of recitals (formal & relaxed, themes, Christmas camp, summer workshops, and much more)!  This not only helps the teacher, but provides a great means of motivation for all the students.
  4. Try something new… new music and new games for your students will help them stay motivated and energized about music.  Move the equipment and instruments around in your studio space, so it seems new.  Perhaps have all your students of a certain levels spend most of their lesson time on computer software (highlight or find new computer games for the lab through www.musiclearningcommunity.com).  Or, have everyone work on duets for the recital.  Teach your students to dance a Minuet.
  5. Put on an uplifting CD and just listen to the music without worrying about the technical aspects and fretting about how to analyze the structure with a student.  🙂  Watch a DVD, crank it, sing, dance, and remind yourself that there IS joy in music.
  6. Join online groups and share.  Knowing that you are NOT alone is very helpful.  Yahoo Groups is a great source for camaraderie in music studio aspects and issues of all kinds.
  7. If there are any students who particular curl your toenails the minute they walk in the studio… find a way to remove them from your studio or address the issues in a pleasant way.
  8. Organize a fun incentive program going on each year… and don’t do the same one twice in a row.

Just know you are not alone.   [···]

Read More