Sunday, 27 January 2013

ThinkMusic iPad App

This is what I've been waiting for, for ages. It's finally here.

The ThinkMusic iPad App lets you write with a stylus, record using MIDI controller, or use the on-screen piano to input notes. So, you can write notes in, but then it will transform it into a great looking score. The software also seems capable of letting you input symbols (such as crescendos/diminuendos etc.). Just how far or complicated a score it will let you produce remains to be seen. I still don't know whether this notation app is only suitable for songwriters, or also suitable for contemporary composers who write full orchestral scores and use more complicated extended techniques. Either way this is one step in the right direction for music notation software, and it's about time!

The creators are currently still pledging so if you are feeling generous and would like to back the project, or find out more, please click here.

Disclaimer: (Of course, I am sure there are many other developers out there working on a similar sort of app. This post is not sponsored.)

Silent Opera

Silent Opera. Such a cool concept. The point of it all is to allow the audience two ways to listen to an opera: with headphones which will play a pre-recorded version with full orchestra, or without headphones, which will mean they will hear live singing backed by only a few instruments. Either way, the singers act and sing live on stage. It's a mixture of being in the moment, and enjoying what technology can give us today.

Silent Opera is currently showing a new English translation of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo in London
To book click here.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Argerich: Bloody Daughter (Trailer)

Bloody Daughter, is a documentary by Stéphanie Argerich, daughter of the great pianist (and my idol) Martha Argerich. It is a documentary about the relationship between mother and daughter, with no restrictions, and invites the audience into the intimacy of their home, and their lives.


The Creative Process

I'm working towards a deadline this weekend, and this is EXACTLY what I feel like. I imagine other artists feel the same way.

Musical Design of the Week (24)

Loving this poster- it's almost garish with the long pianistic fingers...

Friday, 25 January 2013

Play It Again

Popped into a local Kensington bookstore and found Alan Rusbridger's 'Play It Again'. Interesting light read in the form of a journal- and I think it will inspire a generation of middle-aged adults to pick up the piano again.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

S*** music: literally.

A piece of music that was composed by waiting for bits of bird droppings to drop on giant sheets of manuscript paper is to be premiered later.

The idea came from artist Kerry Morrison, who laid the sheets of manuscript paper in parks in Liverpool, and composer John Hering has transformed these 'notes' into a full score. The 20-minute long piece is said to represent the role birds play in the environment, and is to be performed at the Tate Liverpool Art Gallery.

John Hering was asked to remain faithful to the original artwork, using the notes in the order it appeared. Sound artist Hemut Lemke also had some input in the work, incorporating bird song and other sounds of park life.

For more info:

If you're around Liverpool maybe check it out!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Friday, 18 January 2013

'The Rest Is Noise' Festival 2013

Tomorrow's a big day. A huge day. Southbank Centre's The Rest Is Noise Festival starts tomorrow!

I don't know about you but I'm terribly excited. As soon as I read Jude Kelly's (Artistic Director and curator of The Rest Is Noise festival) words, " do you get people to fall in love with classical music, and how do you get people who love classical music to fall in love with contemporary classical music?" I was instantly captivated, because from the very beginning when I became enthralled in the world of contemporary classical music, I have always asked this question.

The answer to this problem in 2007? Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise (which inspired this festival, obviously). This book changed my life, and when I started college it was the textbook for our historical studies class. Coincidentally, the class was supposed to catapult freshers into this 'bizarre' world of the post-war avant-garde, and the less bizarre and tolerable (e.g. minimalism). Some students couldn't handle it and have been put off ever since, but most students left these series of lectures a lot more open-minded and willing to accept contemporary music for what it is/was. At the end of the day, The Rest Is Noise was like a translation for people to understand music in a different way by revealing its history, especially this era in music which was fundamentally affected by the war - the turbulence, the emotional and physical pain, and the warring political philosophies.

The festival features nearly 100 events, spanning a whole year, and includes talks, films, performances, participation events and concerts, all exploring 20th century classical music in the context of historical, political and cultural upheavals. The Festival not only explores pre-war/ post-war music, but also celebrates Benjamin Britten's centenary (presented by Jurowski/LPO). There will also be a screening of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: Space Odyssey (famous in the music world for using Ligeti's music) with live accompaniment presented by the resident orchestra of the Royal Festival Hall, the Philharmonic Orchestra!

Trailer to the Festival- set to Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (very fitting I think)

Gillian Moore's (Head of Contemporary Culture at the Southbank) playlist for the opening part of the festival, 'Here Comes the 20th Century'

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Suffering for art: necessary?

"Singers and Musicians are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the Earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, they face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they'll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to, is a pipe dream. With every note, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life- the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because musicians and singers are willing to give their entire lives to a moment - to that melody that lyric, that chord, or that interpretation that will stir the audience's soul. Singers and Musicians are beings who have tasted life's nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another's heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes."

I frequently see people post on Facebook and Twitter, quotes like the one above. They are beautiful, inspiring words, no doubt about it, and it's nice to know that others understand and validate how hard it is to be a musician: the endless hours of practise for that moment of perfection on stage; the judgmental looks when you tell people you study music/ work as a musician. These words also reassure us as freelance musicians, that it's ok to live every day wondering when our next pay check is because as long as we have art and music in our lives, we are fulfilled. Very comforting indeed. However, does it glamorise this notion that we can, and should, suffer for our art?

Of course we can, and I know that if I had to, I could survive it, but what if I don't want to suffer for my art? Should I feel guilty that I'm not willing to give up on the 'predictable milestones of normal life' for the sake of music? And, if/when I do achieve these milestones does that make me a bad musician, or a successful one?

I love what I do, and I don't think there's anything out there in the world that I would rather do (or can do better), but the whole 'suffering for your art' thing is in my opinion, unhealthy and pretentious, not to mention exhausting. I don't believe for a moment that any deserving musician who works hard, has to suffer economically doing what they love. Am I being too naïve about this? Is this what the road ahead is going to look like? These are fears that every music student probably has. We may not ever earn six figure salaries, but I believe we can earn a comfortable amount, and goodness I really hope we do!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Making the classical guitar just THAT much more awesome.

Declan Zapala, a recent graduate from the Royal College of Music posted this video about two days ago and it's absolutely genius. It's also for charity, and all the proceeds he gets from views between January-March will go to the Crisis homeless charity.

Broken Rhapsody is an original by Declan Zapala, and will also be available on digital music sites including iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

More about Declan:

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Will We Ever Run Out of New Music?

So I took a moment to watch this video, and this guy is a genius. I've always loved watching his videos, and you should check out his channel. The video below addresses what many composers, singer-songwriters, and music lovers in general fear: 

Will we ever run out of new music?

*cue panic-attack*

In my opinion, I think it's safe to say that we won't, especially if you venture out into 'contemporary classical' territory, or even blur the line between that and sound art where pitch and rhythm (which is used to calculate whether we'll run out of new music) is of slightly less concern. The video mainly talks about popular music, and even references 'The Axis of Awesome: 4 Chords' video, which finally addressed my pet peeve with so many songs using the same four chords 'I-V-vi-IV', leading to so many melodies/ songs sounding similar.

and the 4 chords video:

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