I have no idea how July 31st became "Uncommon Musical Instrument Day". However, I am happy it did because it gives me an excuse to talk about a few of my favorite things...
This year I shared some info and gave some musical examples of the music box and mbira. I've also included last years video which focuses on the tenori-on and harp. Both videos have one automated instrument and one non-automated instrument. Over the last few years I have become fascinated with automating/sequencing/programming music as a way to learn and better understand musical concepts, as well as organize, compose, and communicate your own musical ideas. Check out 2020 and 2019 below:
New episode alert! A lot of thought and work over the last few weeks has gone into writing, planning, filming and editing this video. If you are interested in learning about what a melody is, or want to refresh your understanding I recommend checking it out. (Hint: this video will take you beyond the dictionary definition)
Chrome Music Lab is a FREE website that allows you to write music and easily save and share your creations. It is available to ANYONE with a web browser. No fancy apps or things to download. Because of its accessibility and ability to understand and explore fundamental musical concepts I have decided to focus my energy to develop a comprehensive tutorial series.
What is a melody? This video will compare and contrast important musical concepts, bringing the definition of melody into focus. It will also give a practical understanding the basic elements that make up a melody, as well as how to write a melody over a chord progression. Whether you are a musician or not, this video will give you a new appreciation for what a melody is, and it is my hope that it not only teaches you something new, but inspires you to create something new.
Rhythm is about bringing music to life, the technical side is important, the math side, but it is the human element that brings meaning to rhythm, and is an important part to animating the music, bringing it to life so that you don't have to tell people to tap their foot, they do it on their own because you have struck a chord within them. Rhythm is intrinsic to life, we all have a pulse, a tempo, started by the downbeat of the heart. This brings blood to all our cells, and synchronizes all of our internal systems within ourselves and the outside world. We live by the rhythm of night and day, activity and rest. I'm always fascinated by how the principles of music are similar to the physical laws that govern life and the world we share. This video gives a short lesson on many different percussion instruments (tambourine, shaker, guitar, etc.) and relates the insights I have learned from playing them to how I think about and compose rhythms on Chrome Music Lab. Get on google, type in 'chrome music lab' and try this out for yourself. If you feel inspired, get a salt shaker or a put some dried rice or beans in an old can and tape it shut. Did you know I've been playing drums since I was a teenager, that it was my first instrument? People always ask me how I learned to play so many different instruments, the answer is that I start out treating each instrument like a rhythm instrument, no matter how complicated that instrument was, I just played one note at a time in rhythm. Over time, I add two notes, then 3, then with a little bit of understanding of how a chords work, I can start to make chords and so on. This is how I have learned every instrument, starting with just playing a simple rhythm on it.
A few weeks ago I sat down with Daniel Dovinh at my teaching studio in Ballard. He interviewed me about being an active musician and music educator. When I first started teaching in 2008, I had an idea of how music worked, and I knew how to play it, but I definitely did not know how to teach it. This podcast talks about how I became a teacher and some of the things I've learnt over the past 10 years.
Daniel has done a whole series with 10 other musicians over at intervalmusicpodcast.com/, I highly recommend it. He is on a mission to inspire people to believe a career in music is possible. Follow the link below to check out my interview:
Why do certain notes played in a certain way create a certain feeling, and how is it different when those same notes are played together by a machine versus an artist? Is it still music if performed by a machine? Some would say it is not music unless it is made by a human. At the same time, I’ve heard music programmed by a computer that makes me feel really deeply, whereas a person can play an instrument and be extremely talented, but lack any real emotional expression. So what is that intangible thing that makes it “music”? I believe this question should be at the core of every student’s musical quest.
Here is one musician's creative answer to some of the questions raised above: