Just finished performing at the Jazz concert here tonight at the beautiful concert hall on campus. For those of you who missed it, we played an extensive program including two incredibly difficult pieces, Duke Ellington’s Rockin’ in Rhythm and Kinda Dukish and Senor Mouse by Chick Corea. For Rockin’ in Rhythm, I was challenged to play replicated solo of the trombone god, “Tricky” Sam Nanton. Senor Mouse provided the ensemble with the difficulty of mixing multiple jazz genres with fast rhythms and tight intonation.
Rockin’ in Rhythm by Duke Ellington
Senor Mouse by Chick Corea (Sorry I could not find a big band playing this, but this should give you the idea of the piece.)
Every once and a while I go through “Musical” phases. For those of you who do not know, a musical is a play or a film in which a portion of the story is sung. There are a couple need-to-know songs that I will do my best informing you of.
Recently, I have been watching Les Miserables. First off, if you have not seen this, do yourself a favor and buy it now. Les Miserables follows a man Jean Valjean who is constantly hunted down for breaking parole. He makes many hard decisions and leads an incredible and dangerous life during the French Revolution while talking care a deceased former workers daughter, Cosette. My favorite song from this musical is Bring Him Home (performed by Hugh Jackman in the 2012 film.) In this piece Valjean begs God to save Marius (Cosette’s love) and return him to Cosette.
Bring Him Home – Les Miserables
Along this I would add the song On My Own. This song has become very popular as auditions among females. In this, Eponine professes her love and admiration for Marius, but she hurts for he does not see her the same way.
On My Own – Les Miserables
Another must-see-musical is Wicked. Wicked is the Broadway musical that follows Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (the Good Witch of the North.) It shows their development as friends; and ultimately, Elphaba’s fall from grace. The piece de resistance of Wicked without a doubt is Defying Gravity. In this song, Elphaba to live without limits and vows to fight against the Wizard of Oz and foil his sinister plans for the Animals of Oz.
Defying Gravity – Wicked
All students eventually reach a point in their education where demonstrate everything they have learned into one subjected moment. For many people this is a senior thesis, for us music majors this is the senior recital. An individuals demonstrates their talents for forty-five minutes. This time is filled with incredibly difficult pieces presenting the performer with numerous rooms for error with constant wear on the player’s chops. I would like to congratulate Sean Mallow for a phenomenal performance. Mallow make a unique choice in which he performed pieces for alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, piano, and bassoon. Switching between instruments greatly confuses your thought process when playing-different embouchure, finger positions, and clefs. Once again, congratulations to Sean Mallow for an outstanding senior recital.
From my bio you can tell that music was a large part of my education. On top of that, my dad is the director for all the musical, extra-curricular activities at the Bayfield Middle School. As well, my mom taught band and choir at the Healy public schools in Alaska before moving to Juneau. Unfortunately today, we can see how people, specifically our government, finds this as an insignificant part of a a child’s education. Music does nothing but benefit students.
From first hand experience, I can see how students in a music program tend to have better grades. Constantly me and my fellow musicians would hear from others how they could not play in the next game do to failed eligibility. Music helps an individual’s brain functions. The more you exercise your brain, the better your brain will function, and the smarter you will be. The largest part of the brain is generally separated into two parts, the left and right sides. The right brain processes information in a creative manner, whilst the left brain processes all your analytic thinking. Music works your entire brain by activating both sides of your brain, it naturally requires your creative thoughts to apply musicality to notes and the verbalization in phrasing lines requires the right brain. Also, imagining music strongly engages the brain. Imagining music activates the auditory cortex nearly as much as actually listening to it. Imagining performing stimulates the motor cortex in a similar way.
The most influential and impacting years of anyone’s life are when the are young. Playing an instruments with help you as a student, and therefore, set you up for a more successful future. If performing music does nothing but benefit one’s education, why would it not be supported?
My first experience with brass bands was when the Hot 8 Brass Band came to Fort Lewis my junior year of high school to perform in the concert hall. I walked into the concert and expected a ton of people, but it seemed like there was maybe 100. I stood in the dance area in front. A massive lady clad in bright clothing and jewelry constantly bumped into me. I was so close to the stage that I felt I should buy it a glass of wine. Of course, the girl I had a severe crush came with my group of friends. I would attempt to talk to her but it just was not happen. Finally, the music kicked in again, on impulse, I grabbed my girl and danced. That is what funky brass bands are to me. It is a party! You laugh, dance, and have a good time. There is a chance an massive lady tries to but into the dance you are having with your crush, but in general it is a great, funky time.
Unfortunately, N’Orleans brass bands, like most jazz genres, does not have the high popularity status it used to. But I have a couple groups that the genre a unique modern twist. The two groups I listen to most are Trombone Short and The Cat Empire. My favorite brass band group is Trombone Shorty. Obviously, from the title, they have to be amazing – it is funny cause I play trombone… come on you can at least laugh out of pity. Trombone Shorty’s real name is Troy Andrews. He is incredibly young for his talent level and his high level status as a musicians. In 2010, his first major claim to fame was released. The album Backatown gave this rising star an identity to be proud of. The Cat Empire strongly shows their N’Orleans style through their look as well as sound. In the YouTube video I provided, you can see the voodoo visual effect that they portray in all of their performances.
As I said earlier, brass bands are a good time – get up, dance, laugh, celebrate life.
Being extremely nerdy, I get in heated debates over specific topics. The debate today was that of composers, and more specifically, soundtrack composers. Some of the greatest concert, symphonic, and orchestral pieces come from film scores. The composer that I claimed to be phenomenal was Hans Zimmer. Pirates of the Caribbean, Inception, Sherlock Holmes, The Lion King, The DaVinci Code, The Last Samurai, The Dark Knight Rises – Hans Zimmer has created pieces for many different films.
I defended the point that Zimmer’s compositions drew a listener in more than that of any other composer in varied types of sounds. Take “Mombasa” from Inception for example. The repetitive, driving, percussive aspect of this song gives the chase scene depth and a sense of speed. In Sherlock Holmes, the song “Not in Blood, but in Bond” creates a great effect of confusion. The lingering dissonance in the beginning emulates a sense of disorientation. Eventually, the song clears to create a sullen mood for the obvious misfortune in the scene. Zimmer has a way of making songs fit the situation perfectly.
I believe there is a song for every situation that has ever been or will ever be. Hans Zimmer demonstrates this in a certain way in film scores, but there is much more to this thought. Music captures the essence of the moment in a way videos and words never will. As Kahlil Gibran said, “Music is the language of the spirit.” Now it is our turn to listen.
I go through tons of phases where I listen to profuse amounts of one genre or the other. One week will be Modest Mouse, and the next week I will be focused on Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. Alternative rock, salsa, opera, blues, rap, bluegrass, reggae – there are countless types of music out there, and I am not a fan of all of them. However, I still try to listen to them all.
Being a Music Business major, I see it important that I listen to as many genres as I can. This means I find songs that are atrocious to my ears. But for every song there is a reason they get published and are marketable. In addition, they must be found appealing to someone’s ear. I try to seek these reasons and what must go into composing such a piece. For example, how would a jazz composer make music that would attract attention? Unfortunately, jazz is not as big in the twenty-first century as it was in the fifties. What kind of rhythms or beats are more pleasing to and audience? What will grab someone’s ear? Would they like this enough to stop listening to the top 100 charts? Don’t get me wrong, I like jazz; but, the majority of people would skip past it to something they find more appealing.
Next time something unfamiliar or bad comes over the radio or on random from Pandora, listen to it. Focus on how the music transitions and the dynamics. Be an engaged listener.
Music is everywhere and it expands much further than an individual can perceive. How does music effect you? I know certain songs can come over the radio and piss me off or make me the happiest person alive. Every time I drive, run, walk to classes, sit on planes, study, etc.; I listen to music. At the point civilization is at now, I cannot picture someone going a day without some form of melody striking them. With this in thought, there is a huge under appreciation for music and musicians. We have been given a gift and have you ever stopped to think how a day would go without it? I come to you as an audience member and a performer. In my blog I will talk of my successes and failures in classes and performances; I will bare recommendations for music; and hopefully, to present a new appreciation for all the music that surrounds us.