Next Year

In this blog I will be talking about how my approach towards self development and blogging will change for next year, what did I d that worked well for this year and what I should continue to do vs what I think I should do differently. Already I’ve talked to my personal tutor about how next year will be different to this academic year as we should all try hit the ground running, in a sense of doing the work straight away and continuing our enthusiasm to write the way we do now. This year I think my class and I have come a long way from when we started, theory knowledge and playing ability has vastly improved, so if we do continue with our current state then next year we should be able to produce a high level of material both written and physically played.

 

What went well this year was competitiveness, that really sorted the group out to make us do the blogs on a more common basis, we’ve all stopped being so competitive of playing ability as we found it’s a very pretentious and childish area and started competing for workload which I found was a key ingredient of us doing well this year in which we all will follow up for next year. What will change drastically for us is having first years, I think this will change the way we rehearse because they’ll bring in their own way of playing and it will be up to us to show them that the standard of where we are at is very high. What I should do differently is concentrate more on my viola practice and also spend more time on Sibelius 7 which is software for score writing, this has improved my theory knowledge vastly and I’ll continue to use it.

So to sum up what needs to be done next year, here’s the objectives:-

– Keep the competitiveness up, a key element of us trying to increase our workload & practice

– Viola pratice

– Sibelius 7 has helped me hugely with theory knowledge so I should continue to write on the software so I’m getting a weekly dosage of score writing

– Look for my university place for my third year

Yes, my time here’s almost up an I’ll be looking for a place for my third year to gain my degree, hopefully I’ll gain the skills (or may already have) to progress to that next stage of my life.

Informal & Formal

Blogging & other means of assessment, well in the previous blog post I wrote about how blogging has impacted me but in this post I’ll be comparing the process of blogging with more formal means of assessment (essays and exams). Also what strengths and weaknesses are there, from my experience with both methods. Well using essay writing and exams my whole life until the past year it really has been quite the transition, from past experience I have a system when it comes to essay writing (I’m sure everyone does) where everything has to be organised, header & footer, convenient titles, why this and why that whereas with blogging it’s pretty much at my own leisure and it helps filter all of the nonsense so that I can hit criteria straight away.

The strengths of both:

Blogging

– Fast

– Hit criteria without the pressure of a word count objective

– Videos & photos are considered valuable

Exams & Essay writing

– The status quo, the more your experienced in this style, the more employable you are.

– Everyone throughout my academic life had always used this method, so everyone’s familiar with how to write in this style.

Now I’ll bullet point with what my thoughts are on both blogging and exam/ essay writings weaknesses are drawing my experience with both of them.

Weaknesses:-

Blogging

– Due to the informality, it could be off topic/ target with what the assessor needs to see

– Due to it’s speed, there might not be enough on a subject to support it, might not be able to hit higher criteria

Exam & Essay Writing

– Slow, concentrating on that word count could mean a slow burner for someone looking at a blank document

– Lack of enthusiasm, anyone & everyone can blog, its quick and easy whereas essay writing can prove to be difficult if you don’t understand criteria resulting of a lack of enthusiasm which leads onto you not handing it in on time.

My experience with exam & essay writing has resulted in me reaching a mediocre grade in the past due to me being labeled as a “Kinetic,” learner, so I’m glad I’ve found a way in which I can communicate and easily obtain higher marks.

How Has Blogging & Recording Impacted Me?

Well this academic year has been a shock to the system in that I was introduced to a new method of handing in work in a less formal way, this is blogging. Luckily I became accustomed to the way of things in a short space of time and have managed to hit certain criteria in this way, at first when I found my back catalogue of videos from former performances and one picture of me in the recording studio I was pretty much stuck. Trying to think of things to say and videos to publish seemed like a tedious task but as my peers were doing so well I had to keep up with them.

Blogging Impact:-

– Less formality in my writing, this means I can freely write without thinking too much and deleting the parts which I deemed to informal.

– Videos & Photos, I enjoy making material to put up and this has impacted me by putting a certain enthusiasm into my practice and an increase into the workload of material I produce (in the hope that it’s of quality to put on my blog)

– Peer Pressure, now this is understood to be a bad thing but in this case the more my fellow students produced on the blog made me quite competitive to produce more. Healthy competition is what they call it and it’s really helped me and my lazy nature to get that quantity workload. It mainly spawned from the fact that WordPress.com has views (Former blog post, views = currency) which made us compete to make the most.

Recording, The Impact It Has On Me

Well fortunate as I am I returned from work to Kidderminster College for this academic year and I’m glad I did, I’ve already made around 7 albums of improvised music, 5 of these are on band camp:-

http://jameschatfield.bandcamp.com/album/that-shirt-would-look-great-with-a-columbian-necktie

http://jameschatfield.bandcamp.com/album/tales-of-an-unsatisfactory-campsite

http://jameschatfield.bandcamp.com/album/hitlers-secret-musical-experiment

http://jameschatfield.bandcamp.com/album/benevolence

http://jameschatfield.bandcamp.com/album/captain-alaskas-airlines

Bringing our own ideas in to the mix, the drums pretty much conducted the thing as we followed to the timbre of what the musician was playing. I was using my space echo (Boss RE-20) and really trying out the repeat rates, the bassist already had his collection of pedals and bass trombonist also had delay and chorus to mess about with, with our toys we started the jam by setting up all the mics. I’m using a telecaster maple neck with 10 gauge D’Darios, also had another guitar in the mix, a Jaxville stratocaster which supplies some of the clean licks later on, I also switch to distortion on the first track at around 13 minutes supplying trills and some high riff stuff accompanied by the “Wah,” sounding trombone.

Now recording has hugely influenced me and made me realize that when your in the studio, creative writing seems so large and the accessibility to actually make what you’ve written down on paper or thought in your head is amazing. I have learned that I’m a perfectionist in the studio and the slightest mistake or out of tone improvisation makes me very frustrated and angry with myself, I think it’s fair to identify so hopefully I can work on this in the future.

 

 

Technology – Have You Shaped Us?

Yes they have, I also have a blog dedicated to how technology has helped my music, here’s the link;

https://michaellprice92.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/my-new-boss-space-echo-re-20/

The blog is to support the fact that instead of having a wide range of guitars my concentration had changed to pedals and the fact they support me into making better quality sounds and makes my specific sound that I try to accomplish sound that tad more unique.

Enough about me, more about how the internet has changed the way we think as musicians and distribute our product, interact with our fans and even create the music. My focus in the blog is how social media has affected the world of musicians.
From a bands point of view, currency is in views/ followers/ likes, that is currently the climate of bands (which will most likely change in time) in which they have to fight the masses of publications and adverts that are posted on their wall or blog. I know from experience of posting videos and video diaries that Facebook and much like the deceased Myspace that it’s like watching paint dry, to gain popularity it seems you have to obtain these ever so quaint likes/ follows and views and to do that you must interact with the public. This is done easily by posting your video multiple times and in the hope that someone will share this, simple clicks and word of mouth and your best friend.

Positives and negatives of social media:

Negatives:

– It’s been done too much, look for a different approach

– No one cares for new music, unless it’s been reviewed by someone they know (even then it’s a push)

– Paying for like & views with actual cash (Really? … Yes that actually happens)

– This can be the band or artists downfall by taking to much interest into social media, what I mean by this is everyone is their own critic, causing everyones strong opinions to potentially hurt your integrity. (Don’t let reviews ruin your art!)

Positives:

– Gain Fans? Publicity seems to be key and nows theres a very easy/ lazy way to do it, a win win.

– Keeping everything organised

– Music at the click of button, your accesibility is key

– Keeping in contact with those who your enjoy your music is very easily done, just be witty about it, try and be different (hard considering everyones become accustomed to the current climate, become an innovator)

Thought I’d share a few things on how hard it is to actually gain a fan base, if someone has seen you at a gig and was interested then they’ll eventually check you out for your material online so having that instrument is vital in the continuation of your band in the current climate.

Musical Texture – 3 examples with counterpoint

In this blog I will be talking about 3 different pieces of music and their contrapuntal elements along with texture and the specefic areas in which counterpoint occurs in the song, this should also cover styles and elements of three different artists. The three artists I have chosen are:

– Bjork: Crystalline, this was chosen due to its abstract texture and then at 4:18 in the track it completely changes into a breakbeat changing it rhythmically.

– John Coltrane: Interstellar Space, this is due to the instrumentation, it’s easier to explain the contrapuntal texture to it’s limitation but also a nice contrast from my first choice.

– Plini: Heart, the instrumentation makes it accesible and easy to pick out the devices that make the song what it is, also a contrast from the other two, although it’s another instrumental piece it’s key changes are more apparent due to it’s genre, whereas the Coltrane track has more jazz involved this has a more major/ pentatonic feel when the solos are playing. Coltrane uses more Melodic minor whereas Plini have more more intruments to be concerned about especially when soloing so the sense of free jazz isn’t in the track, the improvisation isn’t actually the same.

Okay then, in the video above you’ll start with the glockenspiel and a form of homphonic contrapuntal texture due to the way the vocals are being accompanied by the instruments there are polyphonic/contrapuntal elements with glock ostinato parts and certainly with the jungle breakbeat at the end creating rhythmic counterpoint. 4:18 in the track introduces a more rhythmic counterpoint into the song which completely differs from the song, as this is my first choice the comparison between the other two is apparent due to the amount of change inbetween that point at 4:18 and the instrumentation. Genre affiliation would be breakcore at 4:18 but as Icelandic pop goes I’d say the genre is just Bjork!

Seconds away! an as we start with the ridiculous experimental drums then comes in Coltrane with the melody, this would be monophonic contrapuntal texture due to the one melody playing whereas the counterpoint exits between the constant changes and shapes of both drums and saxophone. The genre being free jazz is music without the boundaries of specific time and key (yes if the un – virtuoustic play then it really does terrible) this is probably the pinnacle and the final accolade of music where two musicians really can play something of such complexity without boundaries and make an entire album from it.

Start with just a monophonic riff but adds with a heterophony feel, as the song progresses I felt to name it as homophony pretty much throughout, what’s cool to see is in their solo’s they keep to the same top major scale and pentatonic melodies much like I do in my soloing, there is a touch of polyphony, i.e. a contrapuntal device at 1:31 when the guitar solos against the main melody.
So learning this song wouldn’t be too difficult as it really isn’t on Coltranes playing level, the contrast between this and the the other two is that it doesn’t rely on a vocal melody being the priority stripping the thought of Homophony and due to the instrumentation it can’t be monophonic so already from a  contrapuntal texture angle it differs completely from the other two. With the scales used too it differs;

Coltrane – Melodic minor, free jazz

Plini – Major/ Pentatonic minor, key changes – adds the modulation into solo (gives it more flavour)

Bjork – bass + glockenspiel just using riffs throughout, vocal doing the majority of melody

So hopefully I’ve discussed and cleared three different types of contrapuntal textures along with examples and used those textures to show the difference between the genre.

Taking Direction

Recently I posted a blog on my third party perspective of watching my fellow musicians rehearse for a college musical theater show “Moulin Rouge,” I talked about how the show was actually coming along but I want to talk about how the acting MD’s (musical directors) gave instruction to there groups. As I observed and said in my blog, the groups were split into two;

– The Moulin Rogues: Consists of an acoustic band, I.e spanish guitar, acoustic bass, cajon, accoridan. These guys were at the forefront of the show and were majorly involved in audience participation with few resources.

– The House Band: Consists of keyboard, synth, electric guitar, electric bass and acoustic drum kit. These guys were on the balcony and dealt with the majority of the bulky score, had a lot of attention to resource and P.A output.

So when instructing there was an apparent difference in the way they carried out there objectives, asking the Moulin Rogues about their direction these were some of the things Murphy (MD) had asked them to do to improve:

– When acting, stay in character, when the actors are doing the scene, make sure you react to it because when your on set, although your in the background and with your instrument, your still in with the scene.

– Involve yourself with audience participation

– Smile more

It’s small direction like this that made for a great show, learning the material and being punctual is only half of the show when acting is involved as well so fair play to the Moulin Rogues. The house band had direction such as;

– More confidence in solo’s

– More tighter with the band

– Look at me more to tell you when to play or be quieter

So the house band had stricter rules to follow and perfectionism had to take its role as they played the bulk of the weight, they did a fantastic job and the music was well complimented throughout and after the performance. The show was amazing so next year if they do another I shall be auditioning!

Promotion (The Never Ending Battle)

Well hello, this blog is purely on my experience with promoters and also a bit of insight into some of their tricks to get the artist/ band to do all the work with the promise of return on ticket prices when in actual fact, the promoters get everything.

I’ll begin my story with what seemed to be a very promising gig for my old band, set two years ago in the midlands, Stourbridge arena had just been opened and a few signed bands had been appearing and playing over the “Fresh,” period. Our lead singer who was very good with contacts gets in touch with them and sets up the gig in which we found ourselves rehearsing for a gig where we would be supporting two signed bands and playing with what could be potential for a futures in the genre we were playing.

The promoter had met with me and the lead singer (Charlie), this guy had given us around 30 tickets with the objective of selling them all to get profit for himself and any extra tickets we sell we get the return on, we thought this was a sound deal in which we acted enthusiastically and got to work, our promotion scheme consisted of us being very forceful in our physical approach, what I mean by this is that we had went to 4 places to promote the gig. These were;

– Bewdley : Small town but very populated in the center, we had attracted some interest and due to the fact it’s quite rural, the urban music approach isn’t great so people generated curiosity.

– Kidderminster : Not the best of places to promote, too many people with less time and money then what we had anticipated, with 3 hours of trying to approach the general public and around 2 people actually giving us the time of day we had to evaluate where we had gone wrong.

– Worcester : A lot of interest, we had evaluated our last approach and found we had be a lot more enthusiastic with our “Hello,” and have a general script of what we trying to explain, with this rectified there was around 4 ticket sales which however low, we were still proud of.

– Birmingham : The people of Birmingham are well versed in saying “Not today,” and “NO!” which to our downfall got us quite frustrated so we had given up after a few hours.

The promoter had promised that he had dealt with the promoting of Stourbridge with the use of; Social Media, Flyers etc luckily for us social media was a great platform to promote with as a lot of my friends and the rest of the band friends wanted to come, our ticket sales had gotten to around 40+ at this point so we had tried phoning the promoter with the good news… he had “Forgotten,” about us until the day of the show. We had got to the venue with 2 hours before the asking time, no one was there, and continued to “Not be there,” for the next 3 hours, so our sound check was out the window. Luckily our enthusiasm and different use of platforms to promoted had come to fruition as people actually started to turn up, when asking the promoter about the return on our money he had replied with “What return, your job was to sell tickets, and you did, but you’ve got to understand…” We cut him off there and realized that he had done little work and obtained an audience purely from our band and other bands backs.

So from being “Betrayed,” as I took it at the time, I now try and reason as best as I can with any promotion, the guy had got a reputation for being seedy but we chose to ignore that, luckily since then I have matured and with that being said, my approach to promotion had matured.