Songwriting: Exploring Other Genres Than Your Own

I’ve been a fan of jazz ever since I was a child. My father used to play them on a moderate volume every Sunday morning before we heard the mass. Everyone was prepping, then a John Coltrane track was playing in the background. It brings back good memories every time I hear jazz.

When I started a band, I wanted it to be a jazz band. However, my members had different influences, namely because many of them came from different musical backgrounds. I became bossy and told them some parts lacked the natural pattern of jazz and the musical flow needed.

Eventually, I had many lineup changes, until my latest band member, a bassist, showed me how a sax line went well with a rock and metal bass and drum background. I was astounded because I thought of it as absurd.

Then I realized after a few days that it was a splendid and fresh idea during the time. We developed the genre and I learned that I was just becoming a jazz elitist, and I was limiting my creativity in jazz by just sticking to the genre itself.

Every kind of genre has a special characteristic that one will find memorable. This memorable phrase will show itself in the music you create. This is how people develop new genres and beautiful lines from songs, from experience. One will find different experiences and sensations when listening to different kinds of music.

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Listening to Different Audio Reference Materials

A beginner producer should listen to a wide variety of music to know the intensity of instruments needed when they produce a musician or band’s album. Producers may have specialties in terms of genres, but to expand their network of clients, they need to be suitable in any musician’s genre. Here are a few things that could help you.

1. Softness and Loudness
Listen to some classical music because they are good material when it comes to determining dynamics. Trained ears know when the dynamics have become flat, or have become louder with the proper accompanying volume. Even if you may choose to compress all audio in your mix by the end of the recording session, knowing the varying softness and loudness helps in many different genres.

2. Equalization
Every album has a different master equalization and if you have trained your ears well, you could determine them easily. Listen to some soft music before you try to make a mastering bus for a rock or metal genre. Do the same vice-versa before you mix a jazz song. Remember to listen to moderate volumes or you risk tiring your ears before the mastering proper.

3. Fresh Ears
Allow another engineer to listen to your work and discuss with you his or her own opinion regarding your mix. A fresh set of ears can point out different trouble areas in your mix. Your ears get tired if you do not take a production break, which allows you to miss certain details in your mixes.

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The Importance of Taking a Production Break

Musicians are passionate people as far as I know. I’m a musician myself; I do not mind being tired from going on continuous tours with only 2-3 hours of sleep. When people sing your songs, acknowledge the expertise and craftsmanship of your music, passion definitely increases. In production, we are also passionate in recording our vocal and instrumental passages without breaks. Even in pre-production or in studying the sounds we want to include in our albums, we do not take breaks.

But it is essential to take production breaks. I learned this the hard way.

I had my recording engineer work with me in the studio to ensure that my voice is alright and that we have the right phase. We wanted to ensure that the vocals will sound right and sit well with the mix. I was singing for at least one hour, then my engineer said we should take a break. I told him to go ahead and so he went.

I ended up singing at least 3 hours and instead of recording music, or even just one song, we ended up having me home to treat swollen vocal cords.

I sang so passionately to see if the vocals will sit well with the audio mixdown. Indeed it did, but when recording time came, my voice was very hoarse.

According to my engineer, production breaks benefit me the following.

  1. A Sharper Ear
  2. A Better Voice
  3. An Open Mindset (according to him, the muscle memories get a bit stringy without breaks)

 

So I guess I learned the hard way, but then again, we’re just passionate as we’re dedicated to making music.

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Before Performing, Make Sure You’re Insured to Avoid Compensation Claims Troubles

Traveling musicians face a simple but devastating test as they set out to journey on their performances in different parts of a country, or even the world. Even if it is a job of passion and glory, it is still a taxing occupation. Performers must ensure that they are insured and that their insurance will help them even if they are already in foreign areas or countries.

The only difficult part of becoming a musician is that insurance companies consider you as a high-risk profile automatically upon evaluating your sponsors and the environment of places you are performing. The insurance premium increases especially if the musician is not of a big name.

One story of a traveling musician friend made me realize that it is not just about the music, but also about yourself and your crew.

He was performing in India at that time. He thought that his insurance company covered Australia, Russia and India, as these where his performances will take place. Regardless, his manager and he failed to realize that India was not included in the list and instead it was named for Israel. He failed to get the insurance to pay for his sudden contraction of a disease in the area. Good thing he had savings, or else he could have had a life threatening situation.

However, the fate of his crew, who were also part of the insurance deal, was regretfully not similar to his.

To avoid compensation claim troubles with your insurance policy, it would be wise to contact a no win no fee advice line to consult about your insurance before you leave for your performance.

Remember, music can be life, but the road and the world has many dangers to the musician.

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Jazz Helps Explore the Similarities of Music and Language

John Hopkins University Researchers have found through eleven high proficient jazz players that music and language holds similarities in terms of the way the brain perceives them. The 25-26 male jazz players recruited by the researchers spent 10 minutes inside an MRI machine and were tasked to create a musical improvisation.

According to Dr. Charles Limb, the senior author of the study, jazz helps them know about the neurological basis of interactive musical communication outside of spoken language.

The study had the musicians exchange musical ideas back and forth in four-bar melodies. Each of the musicians introduced new ideas in response to the other’s musical ideas. The musician then plays on the specially designed piano keyboard while in the MRI to have his brain scanned.

Dr. Limb and colleagues have found out that upon improvisation, musician’s brains activate similar brain functions that receive syntax and language processing in the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior superior temporal gyrus.

They found that jazz musicians are lost in thought while they are trading musical exchanges, but they understand they are not waiting for their turn to play. Instead, they are using the syntactic areas of their brains to “communicate” their own message through a series of notes that have not been previously composed or even thought about.

Source

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Ear Training and Its Importance to Audio Recording

A common misconception with recording is that you spend more time perfecting every track on your song and trying to fill in parts with creative ideas to “balance” its dynamics and entire feel. That is only one part of the recording process. Pre-production and post-production make up the modern song recording process and making your recording sound competitive with the mainstream industry, you will need to train your ears.

The equalizer is the most basic tool there is in sculpting audio. As easy it is to use, it is hard to master. An equalizer controls the amount of frequencies an audio track has and each audio track is unique from the other in terms of frequency, harmonics and dynamics.

The equalizer is useful in helping your ears know the “sweet spot” of certain sounds, namely for instruments and samples.

One exercise is to add gain to one frequency then roll over different frequencies to see where the instrument sounds best. However, if you are not using a good pair of monitors or headphones that kill or “flatten” frequencies, you might not distinguish the different frequencies properly.

This website actually features a great way to learn about frequencies. This chart can show you the usual sweet spots of certain instruments. When you’re effective in determining the “sweet spots” of frequencies, you could also learn how to find the right kind of phase in your mixes.

Train your ears and take care of them properly as well. They will be your tools in making your songs sound great.

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Would You Rather Go Indie or Go With a Record Label?

The internet is more than just a massive source of information; it is also a massive source of media and digital material. Anybody with varying income or capital could begin a business with it, and if you’re a band, you could make a name for yourself in your local community, state or even country if you persevere enough. The internet makes self-publishing easier, but will it actually help you gain the success you need?

The music industry today is actually panicking because of piracy causing large cutbacks in records sales for musicians, driving many established musicians to perform for small to big audiences in different kinds of economies. If you get signed with a major record label today, you will have all the chance you need, but the disadvantage is that some things are beyond your control.

A friend of mine who recently signed in with a major record label (we won’t drop names here) told me that despite the past successes of the record label, her music is hard to sell. Television programs are exceedingly picky with the music they feature because airtime is expensive. Some record labels have actually asked my friend to change her genre of music into something that will act as a “friend” of the general public, which guarantees a better sale of her records and more invitations for events.

When you go independent, you could publish your music in your own social media page. However, you will need to organize your own team for your endeavour to be successful. The bright side is that you know the workings of the entire process of marketing and selling your own album, but you will need to shell out money on your own. You will also need to know effective advertising and marketing skills in the internet. However, you limit yourself only to marketing in the internet, not unless you hit a break in your endeavours.

In general, the situation of being a musician became easy because of the internet, but it always boils down to the amount of effort the musician or musicians are willing to put in to make themselves successful.

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Band Manager: Why You Need One

If you’re in a band and you’re getting regular paid shows and events, you might have trouble scheduling, especially if you’re “pointman” for the day. When things are getting quite hairy and your shows are getting farther and more expensive to pull off, that’s the time you’ll need a band manager. Here are a few good things that they can do for you.

1. Accounting

Band life is not all about music; you’ll have to acknowledge that your passion can bring in great expenses. A good manager can help you in accounting, from the gate shares, to talent fees and other expenses, a manager can do all these tasks for you. Even the food you eat and the gas used on tour will also be considered.

2. Scheduling

Not everyone has a knack for keeping schedules and organizing new events as they come. A manager can do the scheduling of the band’s activities, from interviews, to practices, tours and other shows. Scheduling is important for a band to assess the resources they’ll need to fulfill their obligations to their shows.

3. Micro-Scheduling

Some managers would also prefer keeping schedule about the other commitments of band members in the professional sense. This means that if one of your mates have another musical commitment or is working a regular occupation, the manager can take note of these schedules so that no conflict for every new event is present or is avoided.

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Linkin Part Concert Joins Coldplay: One Killed, 19 Injured as Scaffolding Falls

In June, rock band Coldplay’s concert in Toronto, Canada, was cancelled as a drum technician was killed due to scaffolding falling inward to the stage. It injured 20 people in the process. Linkin Park’s South African concert in Capetown pushed through, but left one dead and 19 people injured.

The rock band was not informed of the incident and only learned about it right after their performance. A woman was killed and 19 were injured as scaffolding was blown down right before the concert. The scaffolding, located outside the concert venue that displayed the sponsor, Lucozade’s billboard, fell down due to strong high winds, which landed on the unfortunate concert goers.

Linkin Park released a statement to the families of the victims that they are concerned and saddened by the event and offers condolences to the family of the woman who died as scaffolding fell on her.

Safety standards were a priority for Linkin Park, but the band management stated that they did not have any collaboration with Lucozade in establishing the stage, nor its contractors who worked on the stage structure.

A South African news outlet verified that the scaffolding was safe. However, the turnout of events deem otherwise, making the event the second concert-related disaster that killed fans.

Source: USA Today

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The Core of PPI Mis Selling: Bad Bank Practices

The Financial Services Authority Managing Director Martin Wheatley mentioned previously in his speech that the PPI crisis was caused by one thing, incorrect motivation of employees. Upon their investigation of several UK banks, the FSA found that the banking incentives system encouraged many financial advisers to sell high-rated products at the expense of providing a “fair” deal for customers.

The incorrect banking incentives system gave way for “bonus chasers” to mis sell to almost everyone in the United Kingdom a mis sold PPI policy. The Financial Ombudsman seconds the motion, stating that bad bank practices is the core of PPI mis selling and banks are entirely responsible for the fiasco and not their customers.

To date, the PPI crisis has escalated to the FOS handling at least 1,500 claims on a daily basis. Banks have paid out at least £13 billion for PPI. Banks such as Barclays and Lloyds have incurred large bills for PPI payouts, having respectively £2 and £4.3 billion respectively.

Banks were blamed by the FOS for the slowing of the PPI claims process. However, banks have pointed towards the FSA and claims management companies for “clogging” the process with billions of fraudulent claims as a result of inviting people to make a claim and urging the banks to call customers potentially mis sold PPI.

Claims management companies continue to mention that they are only helping hands for customers who intend to make a PPI reclaim as it is only a given right for customers. They take payments in which they’ve earned the money. Banks and authorities accuse CMCs of making billions for just doing simple tasks. CMCs state that they might be simple, but they take time and attention to details to perform.

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