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Showing posts from January, 2014

Study reveals methods used by musicians to stay in tempo with each other

A team of researchers with members from the U.K. and Germany has found that musicians playing in a string quartet keep time with one another in two distinctly different ways. One, way, the team explains in their paper published in Journal of the Royal Society: Interface, is to play follow-the-leader—everyone adjusts their tempo to one leader. The other way is far more democratic—all of the players constantly change their tempo to keep time with everyone else.

In watching and listening to a string quartet, it generally seems as if all they players have an internal metronome—they all seem to keep perfect time with one another without having to make adjustments. In reality, players must make adjustments all the time, at least most of them.

Different kinds of music require different types of tempo control—rock and pop music follows the percussionist—generally the drummer. Orchestras rely on a maestro with a baton to maintain a steady pace. String quartets, on the other hand, have no set le…

A great description of Irish Jigs from Chief O'Neill

Most Irish jigs in six-eight time are “Double Jigs,” commonly termed “Doubles” in Leimster and some other parts of Ireland. Such jigs are also popularly known, at least in Munster, by the appellation of Moinin or Moneen jigs, a term derived from the Irish word moin - a bog, grassy sod, or green turf - because at the fairs, races, hurling matches, and other holiday assemblages, it was always danced on the choicest green spot or moinin that could be selected in the neighborhood. A separate classification of “Single Jigs,” and the first ever made in a printed volume, was initiated in O’Neill’s Dance Music of Ireland.

The following description of that variety is taken from The Petrie Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland, published in 1855. Like the common or “Double Jig,” the “Single Jig” is a tune in six-eight time, and having eight bars or measures in each of its two parts. But it differs from the former in this, that the bars do not generally present, as in the “Double Jig,” a su…

Francis O'Neill: The Police Chief Who Saved Irish Music

John Callaway narrates the fascinating story of this turn-of-the-century Renaissance man and the wide-reaching effects of his life's work.

Francis O'NeillImmigrant. World Traveler. Chicago Police Officer. Scholar. Author. Historian. Musician. Husband and father of ten children. Francis O'Neill, Chicago's Police Superintendent from 1901-05, is virtually unknown today. Yet this remarkable man not only served as a heroic police officer and reforming chief of police, but also made an enduring contribution to his native Ireland and Irish culture through the gathering and publication of the largest collection of Irish music ever assembled.

The youngest of seven children, O'Neill was born in Tralibane, County Cork, in 1848, the last year of Ireland's devastating Potato Famine. Pushed by ambition and pulled by adventure, the spirited young man passed up a chance to become a teacher. Instead, at the age of 16, he set out to seek his fortune as a cabin boy on an English me…

Pete Seeger, Prolific Folk Singer, Dies At 94

by Paul Brown

A tireless campaigner for his own vision of a utopia marked by peace and togetherness, 's tools were his songs, his voice, his enthusiasm and his musical instruments. A major advocate for the folk-style five-string banjo and one of the most prominent folk music icons of his generation, Seeger was also a political and environmental activist. He died Monday at age 94.

Pete Seeger came by his beliefs honestly. His father, Charles Seeger, was an ethnomusicologist and a pioneering folkorist whose left-wing views got him into trouble at the University of California, Berkeley. Charles Seeger introduced his son to some of the most important musicians of the Depression era — including and

Seeger and Guthrie eventually became fast friends — though they didn't agree on all things — and crisscrossed the country performing together. Seeger said that as early as 1941, they found themselves blacklisted as communists. Seeger actually was a member of the Communist Party in those e…

Minor Scales: Western Tonal Music

All scales in the diatonic/chromatic are constructed from a pattern of intervals. If you're not aware, our Western system of harmony consists of a chromatic scale with 12 tones:

    C - Db(C#) - D - Eb(D#) - E - F - F#(Gb) - G - Ab(G#) - A - Bb(A#) - B

The distance between these consecutive tones is known as a half step (for example, the distance from C to Db). When we use interval patterns to construct scales, the easiest unit to measure the distance between notes is by counting the number of half-steps.

With that in mind, the three minor scales - Natural Minor (Aeolian), Melodic Minor & Harmonic Minor - can be viewed as an interval pattern like the picture

In this example I used A Minor as our reference because in its natural form it has no sharps or flats. For those who can't read music, the tone names are written above the staff. If you look below the staff, you'll see a number between each note. That is the interval pattern needed to construct that scale:

    N…

9 Challenges The Music Industry Faces In 2014

Live music at parties and events is usually non-existent.  It's harder and harder for a musical artist to make a decent living and the internet has spawned a whole generation of consumers who believe content should be free.

The biggest need the music industry has is more ways to expose students (young and old) to the joy of playing music.  Whether it's a garage band, an orchestra, a mandolin group, or a Klezmer band, the joy of playing together is what motivates people to play.

Our success is dependent on how fully we embrace the digital lifestyle that commands so much of today's consumer spending.  This new generation (millenials) manage to find the funds to buy what they think they really need.  Right now, it's the latest iPhone or iPad, and next year it might be Google Glass or other body computing products.

The music markets are stagnant at best and many continue to shrink because music making now competes with the digital lifestyle.  It's easier to check Face…

Do I really need to read music?

I get asked this question all the time. "Why do I need to read music?"

Well, imagine if you couldn't read English. First, you wouldn't be reading this post. Imagine if someone had to read everything to you everyday, from street signs to magazines, to text messages and Facebook status updates. How would that be for you? In a word, debilitating.

Certainly there are lots of good people in the world - brilliant, even - that can't read or write. But those people, almost without exception, would encourage you not to follow their path. Reading and writing are the gateway to learning and communication on a much higher and more efficient level.

The same is true for music. Of course, there is much to be learned from listening and imitating. And there are many great musicians who never learned to read or write music. But the written version of what you're hearing can allow you to be more expressive and accurate than you could ever be without seeing it. Written music al…