Tag Archives: Music

Stereotypes

Here is a (semi) complete, (semi) accurate list of stereotypes for orchestral instruments. Oh yeah.

  • Banjo: You’re probably Honey Boo-Boo’s third cousin removed four times or something. Stay away from the rest of us.
  • Bassoon: You try to be different, and are probably socially awkward. Odds are you don’t talk much, and when you do you say the wrong things.
  • Bass Clarinet: You’re awkward and obsessive.
  • Baritone: Identity unknown. You are a mystery, a Pandora’s box.
  • Cello: Underneath the band uniform you have a set of rock hard abs and the body of a god or goddess. You have a smile to kill for but are also painfully shy.
  • Clarinet: You like to turn up your nose at other people in your section and complain about them behind their backs. You’re a harsh critic.
  • Double Bass: You’re extremely intelligent and shy but your thoughts are scattered and random. You probably have dark hair.
  • Flute: If you’re good you’re probably a jerk to other people in your section. Even if you aren’t, people talk about you no matter what. You complain a lot and while you’re emotionally capable of handling yourself, you probably wouldn’t survive for too long out in the middle of the woods. Odds are you would also kill other flautists to get a higher chair.
  • French Horn: You know, you’re pretty hot. If you practice. If you don’t…uh…
  • Guitar: You’re obsessed with your preferred gender and like to talk about cars
  • Harp: You live the high life because let’s face it those things are EXPENSIVE. You have a Ferrari in your garage, don’t you?
  • Mandolin: You’re a few centuries off. You run around in tights and play ballads to heroes of war to other peasants on the streets.
  • Oboe: You’re extremely awkward and nobody gets your sense of humor. You also probably have plans of mass destruction hidden away in your instrument case.
  • Organ: You live in a church.
  • Percussion: You don’t like interacting with other sections and keep to yourselves. You are very competitive and like fast food.
  • Piccolo: Annoying and never shuts up. Ever. Also slightly self centered.
  • Piano: You probably have no room in your house to walk because of all the music books hidden around your house. You probably also have an affinity for cats.
  • Recorder: You’re a third grader or someone who was bored enough to actually learn the thing on the side.
  • Saxophone: You’re extremely competitive but fall over your words when you try and speak coherent sentences.
  • Trombone: You’re tall and skinny and very quiet. But we all know you’re just planning your next murder.
  • Trumpet: Ego. Ego ego ego ego ego. It grows and it grows and it consumes the entire universe.
  • Tuba: You like pizza and have a deep voice. Odds are you have a funny walk.
  • Ukulele: You’re a surfer and you live in Hawaii. No exceptions
  • Viola: You hate violinists and are very calm, and not extraordinarily competitive. You are a simple folk.
  • Violin: You are the most competitive instrument that there is. It’s bothering you right now, knowing your instrument was last on this list. Try not to stab anyone.

 

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Music Terms

If you’ve read the bio pages (hint! hint!), you’ll know that I love music and play the cello. Every once in a while musicians decide to stop being all serious and artsy (gasp) and have a sense of humor (another gasp). These musical terms (some original, some not-so-original) are a result of said humorous moments. If you don’t get them, just accept a pat on the head from me and move on.

ad libitum – playing notes that the composer totally did not write with an “I meant to do that” expression on your face

viola – the instrument they give people who can’t play the violin

cello – how I answer the phone

presto – faster than you’re actually able to play the music

senza sordino – the composer letting you know that you were supposed to put your mute on a few measures earlier

string quartet – a good violinist, a bad violinist, an ex-violinist, and someone who hates violinists getting together to complain about composers and argue about how the music should really be played.

bar line – what musicians form after the concert

beat – what music students do to each other when they’re angry. The down beat is performed on top of the head, while the up beat is performed on the bottom of the chin

rondo – plays basketball for the Celtics

etude – meaningless piece of music invented by teachers as busy work for their students

canon – it goes “boom!”. (note: a guy named Pachelbel crafted a particularly annoying one of these)

concerto – a virtuosic piece of music that pits a soloist against an orchestra as an excuse for the soloist to show off. May or may not actually contain interesting music.

cadenza – part of a concerto; in which the orchestra stops playing and the soloist has free reign. Rarely contains interesting music, but is almost always impressive.

accelerando – screw the conductor!

conductor – a big-headed individual who is also adept at following many people simultaneously

flute – A sophisticated dart gun with many valves and a range of over 750 yards. Held sideways to confuse enemies and maintain stealth

piccolo – same as flute, but intended for close quarters

glissando – a technique developed by string players for difficult runs

vibrato – technique developed by singers to disguise their pitch problems

chromatics – shiny accessories on wind instruments

dissonant – not to be confused with “datsonant”

falsetto – when guys who have gender identity issues sing notes that are too high for them

castrato – you don’t want to know

opera – bad guys reacting to Chuck Norris’ birth, embellished with vibrato and falsetto

perfect pitch – someone who is always in tune, and lets everyone know it

relative pitch – someone who is always almost in tune, and lets everyone know it

ricercar – a souped-up honda civic

equal temperament – not getting angry easily

mean temperament – getting angry very easily

half note – fifty cents

tone cluster – very interesting chord first discovered by a fat lady attempting a page turn at the piano

pentatonic scale – guitar solo

Da Capo – da thing you put on your guitar


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A bit of music

I’m currently stewing on some stuff that may take a while to get posted. So in the meantime, here’s a video of my string quartet playing some nice music.

Yeah, that’s kinda cheap. Two video posts in a row. Like I said, I’m working on *gasp* actually writing something, but it won’t be done for a while. Hopefully I can finish it up and post it in a week or two…

Anyways, enjoy the music! We had fun performing it…

Yay.

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Hello Again…

…So nothing new has been posted here in a long time. I wonder whose fault that is. Mine? Right, anyways.

So now to remedying that. I was going to post a memo that A sent me, but that involved a slightly racist comment and didn’t make a whole lot of sense anyways. Apparently it was written after watching too much tv too late….moving on.

So here’s a video of my brother and I playing music. That came out of nowhere. But it’s kind of interesting and it’s a big part of why there’s not been a lot of time for writing. Enjoy!

I was going to award bonus points for scrolling down (and hopefully watching the video…*hint* *hint*), but I couldn’t think of a prize.

Wow, I just used comic sans. Please don’t kill me.

I’m done now. Really.

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Some Thoughts About Weddings

So my string quartet was hired to do a wedding this past weekend. I figured now would be a good time to share some revelations I’ve had.

1) It’s incredibly difficult to communicate about music with people who don’t know about music. Nothing against them, but it’s like trying to order Mexican food in British Columbia. “Mole? What’s that? Isn’t that some sort of birth mark on your face?”. Yeah it’s pretty much the same thing

2) High heels must be miserable. I’ve never worn the things, but this bride’s shoes must have added at least nine inches to her height. She wore them to the rehearsal trying to get used to them, but it only made her feet hurt. Anybody remember the Ministry of Silly Walks? Yeah.

3) Arranging music is a pain. For the uninitiated among you, arranging is the process of taking music written for one group of instruments and making playable by another group. It’s an extremely tedious process, and can probably be likened to cutting the grass at Old Trafford with safety scissors.

4) While we’re on the topic of music, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 needs to die in an Avalanche. The thing never ends! It’s pretty cool the first seventeen times, but it starts to wear on you after a while. Try listening to that for two hours straight. Then imagine that you play the thing (a physically exhausting process, mind you). Welcome to my rehearsals.

5)  Last more one more. When you’re playing live music at a wedding, make sure that EVERYBODY knows when and where you’re going to stop. Otherwise things get very awkward very fast. It’s also awkward having a forty-five second silence while the musicians are discussing exactly what it is they’re supposed to be playing next. Oops.

I should probably let it be known that I really do enjoy weddings. Really. 🙂

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Christmas Music: The Good, Awful, and the CCM

It’s November (Well at least for a few more hours it is). Or for those of you who follow awesome charities, it’s Movember. November is an autumn month. It’s the month when we all starve ourselves in anticipation of Thanksgiving. November is not the month when Christmas happens. It’s not winter yet. Why, then, are all the radio stations playing Christmas music? Why?!

Yes, the Christmas Shoes song is nice. THE FIRST THREE TIMES. Seriously, I’ve heard it three times already. It’s not even that great of a song anymore. In fact, it doesn’t even make me cry anymore. What good is a mushy, sentimental song that doesn’t make me cry? That’s what I thought. And what’s with all these artists releasing a Christmas album? I mean, really, your take on these songs isn’t THAT original. The world will not miss your contribution. For crying out loud, you could have lifted these arrangements out of a Maranatha Praise Band book published circa 1985. Maybe they’re not even that good. Or they’re so off-the-wall that they don’t even resemble anything close to the original song. Take your pick. Either way, it’s no good.

Here’s a few reasons they’re not so great:

1: The clichéd jingly bell percussion. It was cool and innovative in the 40’s. Now it’s just lame. YOU DON’T NEED THOSE TO SOUND LIKE CHRISTMAS. If you do, I’m sorry.

2: The bells. Enough with the bells. “But it sounds like snow coming down and it’s all Christmas-y and stuff!” Nope. You know you hate them. Find another way to communicate winter. Be original.

3: Christian contemporary artists completely mess up the songs. In an attempt to be “original,” the only thing they succeed in doing is completely screwing up the melodic structure and the timing of the thing. Go listen to K-Love right now if you don’t believe me. Seriously, was that Little Drummer Boy, or Baby Please Come Home? I couldn’t tell.

4: For as much as christian contemporary artists try (and fail) to be original, secular artists copy the same old thing. Depending on the song, this may or may not be ok. For some classics, you can take your pick of who you want to listen to, which isn’t necessarily bad. But it’s not the best. The best stuff is the old stuff, so just go for that. Don’t waste your time on Nikki Minaj singing Santa Baby. Stick with Eartha Kitt. So much better.

5: The Christmas commercials. Don’t even get me started. As if sticking actors in Santa suits and playing clichéd Christmas music in the background will sell more products. The sad part is that it will. I hate Christmas commercials with a vehement passion.

The worst part of all this, is that it puts a bad taste in peoples’ mouths, turning them away from the Christmas music that is actually good! Shocking as it may seem, not everybody feels the need to go all Michael W. Smith on their Christmas album. In fact, some people actually take time to be CREATIVE, and put thought into their Christmas offerings! Go figure! That said, here’s some of my favorite Christmas music out there right now.

Future of Forestry – Advent

Best. Christmas. Album. Ever. Two volumes. They’re amazing. I listen to these all year round. Musically, these are the most substantial, thought-out Christmas albums I know of. I could go on forever about them, but I won’t. Just go do yourself a favor and listen to them. Click the link. You know you want to. Trust me. I’m a doctor.

David Crowder Band – Oh For Joy

OH MAH GAHSH!!!!!!! Another incredible Christmas album. For the love of figgy pudding, THEY’VE GOT NUTCRACKERS!!! I’m a huge DC*B fan, and I’ve been in love with their Christmas music since they played some when I saw them at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa. Epic show, by the way. Anyways, this one won’t disappoint either.

Phil Wickham – Songs for Christmas

Classy album, has an almost folksy feel to it while retaining Phil’s Brit-rock style. Great for around-the-house music. Really sets a nice mood.

Robert Shaw – The Many Moods of Christmas

Yes, I’m a nerd. I listen to symphonic music. This is a great recording of a great piece. The orchestration is near perfect, and the piece really does a great job painting an expressive picture of Christmas. Even people who aren’t necessarily fans of classical music can dig this one, I think.

Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas

And for the jazz side of me, this is…this is incredible. Jazz piano doesn’t get better than this any time of the year. Not to mention, CHARLIE BROWN IS AMAZING! Another Christmas classic, I could listen to this one all year ’round.

Now that I’m done, hopefully you don’t hate Christmas music TOO badly. There’s still good stuff out there. A lot of it. Go listen to the suggestions! Buy them! Love them!

Merry Christmas!!!! Wait. It’s still November. Movember. Whatever. WHO CARES! Merry Christmas anyways! *Insert smiley face here*

P.S. Justin Bieber, if you’re reading this, DON’T EVER MAKE CHRISTMAS MUSIC EVER AGAIN. I heard your rendition of Little Drummer Boy today. I literally threw up in my mouth. It was an unholy abomination.

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Dear OneRepublic

Your music has been getting a disproportionate amount of play on my iPod. Nevermind the fact that you’re not on my iPod, but if you were on my iPod you would be playing nonstop. I am not pleased.

You write catchy hooks that sound like Coldplay, but you are not Coldplay. Your music is stuck in my head, and I feel guilty. You write cheesy string parts to accent your cheesy songs, and people love them. But they are tasteless. And I hate myself for loving them. You play huge, overdramatic drumbeats that penetrate the depths of this white boy’s soul. I want to dance, but all that comes out are spasmodic movements slightly reminiscent of Chris Martin. Finally, you drench your lyrics in teenage angst, so as to appeal to that strange species known as the “High-School Female”. Even if I wanted to attend one of your shows, I would suffocate due to the outrageous level of unchecked estrogen in the audience. So, I’m skipping your song and listening to Coldplay. Because they do all of the above with an unsurpassed level of panache.

P.S. it’s too late to apologize, so don’t. I’ve already given all my secrets away.

-J

Fact of Life: I don’t need to add a Fact of Life on the end of a post dealing with a larger, and frankly more important Fact of Life.

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Worship & Worship Songs, Numero Dos

Here’s the second part to the Worship post. This focuses on worshiping God through music, and particularly which music we choose to worship Him through.

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Now, as far as music goes, I see different ways it can be used to worship God. In one sense, all music glorifies (attributes greatness to) God, in that He created it. The very existence of music glorifies God, in the sense that all of His other creations do. Don’t get me wrong, however, there is definitely some music that with content that does not please the Lord whatsoever.

That said, any time I (or any believer, for that matter) play music, the goal should be to glorify God. However, this is accomplished in different ways, depending on the setting. When I am in my room recording or jamming with friends, the music itself should glorify God (not that it is always with that intention, but that is an ideal). In that setting, I glorify God by using the gifts He’s given me to their fullest. In fact, to water them down and not play to the best of my abilities is to sell God short.

Now in a congregational setting, the standard is much different. Many people do not share my musical tastes, and frankly would have difficulty worshipping if I were to do worship the way I do, say, by myself in my room. The goal of “leading worship” is exactly that: to lead others into worship. So if they are distracted or put-off by the music I am playing, I have failed in my goal.

So how should we choose which songs we worship God with? First and foremost is lyrical content. If a worship song is not theologically sound and does not glorify God, it is disqualified. Also, songs should be upward-oriented in congregational worship. The words should also be fairly easy to remember. That said, I have a particular distaste for cliche in worship music, since that shows a lack of creativity (remember what I said about selling God short by not using our gifts to their fullest extent).

Second is musical content, which is a little difficult to explain, but i’ll just go over the basics of what I look for. First and foremost is a melody that is easily remembered. I can’t pin down what it is that makes melodies “catchy” (nobody can. they’ve tried), but if a worship song cannot be remembered, it is probably not going to be very useful. Second, it should be possible for a congregation to sing along with. Now here I think everybody is going to have a different opinion of what is and isn’t easy to sing along with, but some songs just don’t “work”. Third, songs should be musically interesting (again, not an easy thing to define or explain).Let’s face it, many worship songs (not just today, but throughout modern history) are boring. Why should we be giving God mediocre, boring music as an offering?

Now, I don’t just decide on a whim, “Hey, let’s find a new song!”, because those songs usually end up forced, and not led by the Spirit. I come across new songs just by constantly listening to new music (I try to hear at least one new album a month), and keeping in touch with other friends in worship ministry. When I hear a song (or a friend does, and tells me about it) that is particularly moving, I put it up for consideration in prayer, and measure it against the previously mentioned criteria. Some songs end up being used in church, while others I have to be content singing to the Lord when I’m alone.

Now, I need to clarify something here: all of this musical business is secondary to the heart-set. While God cares that we praise Him skillfully, and that we use our gifts well, He cares so much more that we do so with clean hands and a pure heart. In the end, it is much better to have sub-par musicians playing “Onward Christian Soldier” with pure hearts, as opposed to a smokin’ worship band playing the newest and most moving songs with improper motives. But that’s not to say we can’t desire the best of both worlds 🙂

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Fact of life: Big people don’t fit into little people-sized swingsets. They get stuck. Very stuck.

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Hymns

I’m feeling kinda thinky right now. Unfortunately, I don’t have much of a revelation to share with you. As I browsed over some old documents in Microsoft Word, I came across one titled Hymns. I love hymns. They’re so rich and full of pure, straight awesome. I opened it and glanced over the two hymns that I had placed in there, and pretty much decided that that’s what I wanted to say. So here ya go.

How Deep the Father’s Love For Us
How deep the Father’s love for us,

How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart,
His wounds have paid my ransom

*Note: This song isn’t really a hymn, but it totally sounds like one and I super love it.


Come Thou Fount
Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I’ll praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor 

Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, 
Bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, 
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, 
O take and seal it, 
Seal it for thy courts above

Fact of Life: Do not drink Monster Energy directly after eating Skittles. The sweetness of the Skittles overpowers the sweetness of the Monster and makes it taste like alcohol, it’s kinda nasty.

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