Sunday, October 14, 2018

Don’t Be Afraid To Follow Your Muse

The concept of the muse goes way back to the time of the ancient Greeks. There were nine muses who were the daughters of Zeus and they represented the different branches of the Arts and Sciences. The muses would inspire or speak to people and assist them with their creative efforts.
There were two chief ways that an artist, poet or musician could get in contact with a muse. One way was to invoke the muse or call to it.
Writers of old would do this in the opening passages of their books, such as Homer did in The Odyssey;
“Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy.” Homer, Book 1 of The Odyssey.  (Robert Fagles, translation 1996) For more information about the muses and their names, go to this Wikipedia article.
The other way of contacting a muse was to align one’s thoughts with the muse. Since the muses are goddesses, it seems reasonable to assume that one would have to fill their mind with very high-toned thoughts, much like the scene from Mary Poppins where everyone began to float into the air because they had filled themselves with such good humor.
This is, by the way, a fairly traditional method of contacting a god or spirit and is the way that a channel works; the person of channel brings their thought vibrations way up and the entity lowers theirs to meet them half way, so to speak.
In the original (Greek) definition of inspiration, it was a thought or idea that came from a god or spirit, it was preconscious, in other words; something that transcended the ordinary workings of the human mind.
There is also the idea that the average human mind has ‘limiters’ on it, which are ideas regarding the person's inability to do something better.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Be The Superstar You Truly Are

Back in the day, see, the Masons were not just these great bricklayers that built the pyramids. The Masonic Lodge was and is a secret society of high priests and mages that were the guardians of the secret teachings.
The rational behind keeping the secret teachings a secret was kind of two fold;
1. The fear that the wrong people would get their hands on the information.
2. The belief that the average person just wasn’t ready to handle the information.
After awhile, there came about a split in the Lodge and there was then the White Lodge and the Black Lodge.
The folks of the White Lodge were for making the information available to everyone. They reasoned that number one was a moot point as enough of the wrong people already had gotten their hands on the information.
Part of this secret teaching was that god resided in every man and every woman. Every man and every woman was a star and could avail themselves of this divine wisdom and power if they so chose.
Of course this idea flew directly in the teeth of the old pharaoh/judge system that said the pharaoh was god or (later) was chosen by god. Well, of course he was, since he was human but, in this system, he was the only one who could speak for god.
In the time of Mosses, if you said you had spoken with god, you were summarily taken out and stoned to death. Mosses was a renegade from the Lodge.
Later, when Jesus told his followers that god was in, and waiting for them to drop by and knock on the door, well, we all know how that turned out.
Which brings us to point number two, possibly still debatable given the current situation. But while you debate this point, chew on the lyrics from this song by Earth Wind and Fire;
Shining Star
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams will take you very far
But when you wish upon a dream
Life ain't always what it seems
What'd you see on a night so clear
In the sky so very dear
You're a shining star
No matter who you are
Shining bright to see
What you could truly be (What you could truly be)
Shining star come in to view
Shine its watchful light on you
Give you strength to carry on
Make your body big and strong
Born a man child of the sun
Saw my work had just begun
Found I had to stand alone
Bless it now I've got my own
So, if you find yourself in need
Why don't you listen to these words of heed
Be a giant grain of sand
Words of wisdom, "Yes I can"
You're a shining star
No matter who you are
Shining bright to see
What you could truly be


Friday, October 5, 2018

New Music Genres

What do people mean by New Music Genres?
Webster's second Edition Dictionary of the English Language defines genre as; "one of the categories, based on form, style, or subject matter, into which artistic works of all kinds can be divided." So this article is a fair attempt to look at some new music genres. Now I have often had fun with the term 'new music,' because there has always been new music in every day and age. 
But what people are often getting at is music that is new and different in some way than what went before and whereas every good composer was new and different than what went before to some degree, one can step back and take a really broad look. 
Music historians have done this, of course, and they divided western music into four main periods; there is the Baroque, which is the really early music of the sixteen hundreds, the Classical (Mozart and Beethoven and all that crew), the Romantic (Liszt and Tchaikovsky et al.,) and finally the Modern Period. The Modern Period begins in the nineteen hundreds and hence the other reason I have fun with the term 'Modern Music;' because it's now quite old.
 Why is it Modern Music?
If you examine the first three periods of music, you will find definite stylistic differences between the three periods, which I will not go into now. The underlying similarity between these three periods is that they get a heck of a lot of milage from what are known as the three Primary Chords. 
So after a hundred years or so, some composers were really tired of these three Primary Chords. These three Primary Chords are responsible for creating what is known as tonality in music. So some of these modern music composers decided they would do away with tonality and Atonal music was born in genres such as Serial Music or Twelve Tone Music. 
Other composers used mathematical formulas to make their music and some devised ways of creating music by chance such as throwing dice; called Chance Music (go figure.) Ironically, pop music fits into the Modern Music and we find that, to this day, the Primary Chords are back with a vengeance, only they are now called the Blues Chords. (Seriously. I'm not making this up, honest.) 
Well, getting tired of the Primary Chords is kind of like getting tired of the primary colors. Curious that the Atonal music was commonly viewed as an evolution of the first three periods of music or 'serious' music, as it is known and pop music was something else with unknown origins even though it studiously made use of the three Primary Chords of the early periods of music. 
There was another genre or two in the 'serious' music; Minimalism, but they have now flat out run out of labels. 
Same with pop music; from Jazz onward the basic musical practice has remained the same and now they have just run out of labels.
Interesting that pop music is going through its own minimalistic stage The ultimate irony is that the two most similar periods of music, as far as musical practice goes, are Jazz and the Baroque. (It's fashion, beeb, beep!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Primary Colors In Music

Music has it's equivalent of the primary colors and they are called the Primary Chords. They are also known as the Blues Chords. They are the three major chords out of a given scale. If you want more information about the Primary Chords check here. They are the most used chords in all of music, certainly in pop music as the video below will demonstrate in a humorous way.
But, if they are the most used chords, is it any wonder that groups are suing each other so much, saying that their material has been stolen?
The Primary Chords have been known for hundreds of years, in fact and composers have certainly tried to get away from them a bit as time went on. As an experiment, I wrote a piece that contains no primary chords whatsoever and, even though I think it's interesting this is not something I foresee doing on a regular basis. If you want to check it out, click here.  I call it "Second by Second" since it contains only the 'secondary chords.' (all the others except the Primary Chords.) It sort of floats in space in a directionless manner-nice once in awhile but I prefer some direction.
I think one of the more successful attempts at getting around the normal usage of the Primary Chords is the use of modes. A mode is just a different sort of scale and you can find out more about modes here. Here is a track I composed using a mode. It's called Ms. Olydian.
Anyway, if you have any doubts about what I'm saying here, check out this video by the AxisofAwesome;

Sunday, September 30, 2018

If You Think The Song Is About You, Well, It Is.

In an interview, Sir Paul McCartney made the remark that, in the early days, they wrote ‘fan songs.’ Love letters to their fans, so to speak. 
A songwriter may be initially inspired to write a song by something that has gone on in his own life but he can easily turn that into a song with a broad appeal by spotting the elements of it that most people have also experienced.
Such songs speak to countless listeners who all share similar experiences of their own. The song “I’ve Got A Feeling,” by The Beatles epitomizes this kind of song;

“I've got a feeling, a feeling deep inside
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
I've got a feeling, a feeling I can't hide
Oh no, oh no, oh no.
Yeah, I've got a feeling.
Oh please believe me, I'd hate to miss the train
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
And if you leave me I won't be late again
Oh no, oh no, oh no.
Yeah, I've got a feeling, yeah.
All these years I've been wandering around,
Wondering how come nobody told me
All that I was looking for was somebody
Who looked like you.
I've got a feeling, that keeps me on my toes
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
I've got a feeling, I think that everybody knows
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah.
Yeah, yeah, I've got a feeling, yeah.
Ev'rybody had a hard year
Ev'rybody had a good time
Ev'rybody had a wet dream,
Ev'rybody saw the sunshine
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Ev'rybody had a good year,
Ev'rybody let their hair down,
Ev'rybody pulled their socks up,
Ev'rybody put their foot down.
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Yeah I've got a feeling
A feeling deep inside
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
I've got a feeling, a feeling I can't hide
Oh no
Oh no no no
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
I've got a feeling
I've got a feeling”
Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul Mccartney

It goes much deeper than this. Songs can be about cultural change that a society is going through. Many musical artists have been called the spokesperson for their generation. “For What It Is Worth,” by Buffalo Springfield is this type of song;

“There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It's s time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down”
Songwriters: Stephen Stills

This is true of instrumental music as well. Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, ‘The Pastoral’ has titles on the various parts, suggesting different scenes from nature, but among Beethoven’s notes on the music we find;

"The hearers should be allowed to discover the situations / Sinfonia caracteristica—or recollection of country life / All painting in instrumental music is lost if it is pushed too far / Sinfonia pastorella. 
Here is acknowledged the listener’s participation in the creation of musical art. 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

If It Wasn't For New Music, We Would Still Be In The Dark Ages

Did you ever wonder what the world would be like if new music didn’t exist? One thing you have to understand is that new music has a long history. Let’s just go back to the Dark Ages, for example. This is not so long ago, but it will do for the sake of our discussion. In the Dark Ages everything was under the control of a family called ‘The Church.’ The top dogs in The Church were the Popes and there were some really bad ones, like the Borgias, for example. Back in this time, if you stepped out of line or were suspected of saying anything out of line, you were quickly tried and executed by being stoned or burned at the stake. Music was mainly done in the church and consisted of monotone chanting of Latin biblical texts. There was no melody and no rhythm except that it fit the syllables of the text. There were no musical instruments allowed. This was because the Church was afraid that music with melody and rhythm would just be too stimulating for the lambs in its care.

Over a very long period of time, certain people got the idea that things were pretty suppressive and decided that something needed to be done. They started printing books and teaching people to read and musicians pushed to get music with melody and rhythm that was played on real instruments. New music became a tool in educating people and lifting them out of the apathy that they had been reduced to.

The way that the ruling class always maintains its place of power is making people believe that they are somehow better; that they are gods or have been chosen by god or they are just smarter, better people who know how to run things. The message that new music has always brought, down through the ages is; “Power to the people. Power to the people, right on!”

Friday, September 28, 2018

New Music Now

There has always been new music; in the sixteen hundreds, composers like J.S. Bach wrote new music and, later, Beethoven wrote new music and still later, The Beatles gave us new music. Of course there were many, many others. But what about new music now? Some people think of new music in terms of their favorite groups releasing the next album, which is all well and good. Some people, however, are wondering where is the new music now? They ask when music will change and 'something different' will come along. These people know there hasn't been a lot of new music now. Why is this, they ask? Well, some of it has to do with the music business. As time goes on, people in the music business are less willing to take chances so they 'bet on a sure thing.' In other words, the survey what has sold a lot and push whatever that is. This creates quite a stutter effect until things actually slow down quite a lot. The record companies promote a group that they have put together and rely on hype alone to make people believe that this is the next new thing. Actually people know how this works and this is why the record companies are failing. The average person is a much better judge of good music that a record exec. So this is a good thing about having the internet. People can look about and find what they like instead of being offered a very restricted number of choices. This is one thing that is needed to help in salvaging our culture and art; people being able to make their own opinions about things without relying on so called 'authorities.' The 'authorities' are usually pushing something.
Dizzy O'Brian