Wednesday, December 21, 2011

VIDEODROME 2012 - Call For Works

Call for Submissions: VIDEODROME 2012 April 01 / 2012
Call for Submissions:
VIDEODROME 2012 at The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art
Deadline: April 1st 2012


Now accepting submissions of A/V works under 5 mins.

VIDEODROME is Toronto's foremost event for Visual Music and A/V culture since 2004. Visual Music is video and audio composition made from video edits, simultaneously video AND music where picture matches sound, cut for cut, beat for beat, rhythmic media work where sound and image are equally dominant. See examples here:

Based on the Cronenberg concept, VIDEODROME is an exercise in televisionary excess and sensory overload, video screening as party and vice-versa, in the words of dropFRAMEvideo: "bridging the gaps between the sofa, the club, and the gallery."

Works must be complete and received by April 1st by post at 193 Augusta, Toronto, ON, M5T 2L4
Or posted to a file-sharing service such as SENDSPACE.

Proposals for live performances or installations will also be considered.
VIDEODROME is administrated by Jubal Brown, dropFRAMEvideo, and Apocalypse Tomorrow.

Spring 2012, at The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto
More info on last years event here:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

SPECTRAL - CTM Festival 2012


"// 30 January – 5 February 2012
// Various venues, Berlin

With an extensive program of concerts, discourses and an exhibition space, CTM.12 – Festival for Adventurous Music and Related Arts is appropriating the festival theme SPECTRAL to explore the current reemergence of all things ghostly and dark in experimental music, avant-pop, and art – and to speculate about its possible causes and inherent potentials.

The thirteenth edition of the Festival will be held from 30 January to 5 February 2012. As always, CTM runs parallel to and in cooperation with Berlin’s festival for art and digital culture, transmediale, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2012.

In addition to a comprehensive music program at HAU, Berghain, Passionskirche, Gretchen, Kater Holzig and Horst Krzbrg, a discourse series developed in collaboration with the philosopher, psycho-historian and author Andreas L. Hofbauer will address the festival’s theme by pursuing questions concerning art, theory, and music.

Ghosts Off the Shelf is an exhibit created by the curator, art critic, and architect Thibaut de Ruyter at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, and explores the artistic use of the exponentially growing capacities of technical archives and their “inherent ghosts”. The exhibit opens on 27 January as part of Vorspiel, a comprehensive partner program within which a number of independent Berlin art, music, and media spaces will present their activities.

transmediale and CTM will once again present exciting collaborative projects at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

The full music, discourse and exhibition program will be revealed soon, meanwhile have look on the program preview."


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Blues Chord Progressions

When it comes to popular music, it's hard to overlook the influence of the blues. You can hear it in everything from Led Zepplin to Nora Jones. It has also had a huge effect on jazz, pop and many types of folk music. There are a number of ways that you hear these effects. One of them is on chord progressions used in songs. Most people think that this is simply a matter of the I-IV-V blues form but it goes way beyond that. Today we'll look at some of the other common blues type progressions.


This is the one that's used in all types of music from metal to dance. Some may think that it's a version of a minor chord progression but the main difference is the melody is a major scale played over the progression. A number of scales can be used over this progression; the major, blues and mixolydian scales are all available. This progression is used in two ways. First it's often used as the main idea in a rock song, usually played with a riff or reocurring line. It's also used in sequences where you would use a I-bIII-IV using the I chord and then transpose the entire progression up a fourth to be used over the IV chord. For example a E-G-A progression to a A-C-D progression.


This is another progression that seems like it's 'borrowed' from the minor but like the progression above, it's used for major, minor and blues melodies. The bVII is often interjected into diatonic chord progressions but when used in this context it takes on the function of the V chord and pulls the harmony back to the I. Diatonic chords can be used with this progression but you'll often find that the progression on it's own pulls you in a more rock/blues direction.


You can hear the blues influence in this progression right from the first chord. Unlike a modal progression, all of the chords are dominant 7th which has a somewhat more 'unstable' sound than the straight major I. A number of scales can be used with this progression including blues, minor or major pentatonic, mixolydian, and major. Also, the b7th note in each chord may be used in the melody as a 'blue' note adding more interest. The progression is the core of the blues.


This the famous 'Jimi Hendrix chord'. Although used by many musicians, Jimi was the one that arguably made it famous. Sharp 9 chords are great for blues because they contain the natural 3 (from the harmony) and flat 3 (from the blues scale). Both rock and jazz musicians alike use this chord extensively when playing the blues as it tends to have more of a 'bluesier feel' than straight 9 (and especially b9 which lends more to a minor blues progression). The bIII and IV are added to finish off the progression although the sharp 9 chord will work with any blues progression.


This an added chord to end of the IV-V. A bVI chord is added to the turnaround to add a bit of spice. All of the chords in this example are major.


This the minor blues. There are many variations of this. The minors replace the majors in your standard blues progression. The flat 9 may or may not be used; it simply reinforces the minor sound. Minor 7ths may also be used.


Another variation of the minor blues. Often the bVI is added for a little more variety. Jazz musicians often take these progressions and add ii-V's and secondary dominants throughout the progression. Musicians like John Coltrane are famous for making up their own special variation of blues changes.

Just The Beginning

There are numerous variations of the blues. Too many to mention in this post. Any of the progressions listed above may be used in a 12 bar blues format or on their own. Many of these appear in pop, country and jazz tunes. There is no limit to the variations or ways in which you can use them. Take one at a time and explore the possibilities.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Jean Piché - OCÉANES

Jean Piché
OCÉANES, 2010/2011

Exploring parallels between image and music with particle generated image and granular synthesis generated sound - incredibly beautifully composed.

'A videomusic work by Jean Piché, 'exploring the aesthetic potential of particle based computer generated imagery. Analogous to granular sound processing, particle synthesis allows for the creation and control of complex materials using an large number of very small components. Sound and image coordination does not explicitely use synchresis as a discursive device but aims for an elevated relation based on metaphor and emotional detachment, as if contemplating a field of images from a distant perspective.'

view on vimeo

OCÉANES from Jean Piché on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Online Music Tools

You don't even need music software on your computer these days it seems. There's a growing number of online sites that offer up all you need to compose music online. Here are a couple of my favorites.

  • Soundation -  app for creating loops, samples and sound effects. It has a sequencer, 11 real time effects, 3 synthesizers, a library of over 400 loops and a drum machine.
  • Audiotool - online virtual studio featuring 808 and 909 drum machines, TB303 and ToneMatrix synths, and tons of stompbox type effects.  
  • Avairy's Music Creator -  a multi-channel drum machine, beat maker. Has beat mode and can edit velocities.
  • Jam Studio - has a little bit of everything. Create beats and add chords and harmonies.
  • Drumbot - An online drum machine plus sequencer, metronome and more.

There are also quite a few apps that you can download for free that will help out with all of your audio and composing needs.

  • Audacity - a free audio editor and recorder with tons of features.There are others out there but this one is arguably the best.
  • Reaper - while not free, it's extremely cheap. The best thing about this software is it almost does everything all of the top of the line sequencers do at a fraction of the cost. Plus it's extremely efficient even on older machines. 
Here are my favorite sites for music theory, business and general info.

There you have it. Have fun.


    Check out these amazing audio visual performances with live musicians.
    The music in this performance I think is really beautiful. Great work.

    Collaborate with Hugues Vincent, Frantz Loriot & ryotaro

    at "Velvet Moon vol.38" -music, dance & Performance night!-
    October 19, 2011
    UrBANGUILD, Kyoto, Japan

    Hugues Vincent, Frantz Loriot, ryotaro & AKITO SENGOKU Live at "Velvet Moon vol.38" UrBANGUILD, Kyoto from AKITO SENGOKU on Vimeo.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Electoluminescence by Sharon Phelan

    Electroluminesence an audiovisual composition composed by Sharon Phelan in 2009 is a very hypnotic and beautiful audio visual piece with a very stylised colour scheme and motion palette.  Sharon composed the music to the visuals, a kind of deep seeing and hearing.  I saw this again yesterday evening in the ATRL lab, Trinity College, Dublin and it was quite stunning aurally and visually in such a great setting, with high quality projection and audio.

    Electroluminescence from Sharon Phelan on Vimeo.

    "Audiovisual composition consisting of video feedback.
    The music and visuals were informed by each other in an exploration of emergent forms. Slight changes to certain parameters lead to complex results."

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    How Musicians Can Deal With Stress

    It's not a secret that the life of a musician isn't easy. There are tons of things to deal with, lots of ups and downs and always unexpected things cropping up. The hardest part of all of this is the fact that you're pretty much alone most of the time. You're trying to get things going in your career as well as trying to be creative the rest of the time. It's important that you learn how to deal with the daily grind of trying to get your music career going (as well as keeping it going!). There are a few things that you can do to keep your focus thereby saving yourself some stress.

    Your Community

    One of the best sources of both information and help is your community of fellow musicians and industry people. While not always free from it's own source of stress (politics and gossip), other musicians can help dealing with problems and finding solutions. It also helps to have a community of like minded people who are pretty much going through the same type of things you are. Just getting together with fellow working musicians on a regular basis can ease some stress and allow you to get some steam off your shoulders.It helps to vocalize your problems even though you may not be actually doing something about it (at the time, hopefully you will do something about it). Other parts of your community include various support groups (not necessarily for musicians), your PRO, musician organizations. musicians' writing and recording groups, forums, various local music interest groups,  and any people you have working with your band (agents, managers, lawyers etc.) 

    Getting Organized

    A great way to deal with stress is to eliminate it right from the beginning. Being organized is helps kill stress by not having to worry about missing appointments, knowing that details are taken care of, and that you are following your plan. If anything comes up, you're more likely able to deal with it effectively since you have a system in place. If you have any new ideas or things to do, being organized allows you to deal with it and make sure something gets done. As a working musician, things are going to pop up and you have to be organized to deal with them. Plus, being organized allows you to follow your goals with focus a lot easier. Research some of the 'getting things done' programs. You'll end up tweaking it and making it your own but it has to be something that you do on a regular basis.


    Always take time to plan. It's important that you take time on a regular basis to make plans and just as important, to review these often. Planning eliminates stress because it gives you some control over what direction you're heading; even though this is never clear cut and requires constant updating. If you take the time to plan on a regular basis, you feel good about your career and tend to feel that you are in control and heading in the right direction.

    Keeping Notes

    Most of the time you'll end up getting the best ideas at the most inopportune time. Always keeping notes helps keep all of these ideas organized. Most musicians have a workbook of some sort (i.e. lyrics, music ideas, career ideas, etc.). It's good to keep all of these in the same place so that you can come back them and reexamine them at a later date. Also, if you have a notebook with all of your ideas, it's easier to come back to them and add notes and develop these further.

    Getting Help

    If it gets to the point where you're unable to perform effectively, you may want to seek some help. The first place that you may want to go is your music community. Most musicians are aware of and have gone through something similar at one time. They may have first hand experience on how to deal with the problem you're going through.  There are also numerous other places that musicians can go for help of all sorts. Most of these may not be music specific but helpful otherwise. There are support groups for public speaking (for performance issues), networking, planning, business practices (all for help with career development), depression, and creativity groups to name a few. Even these don't necessarily deal with musicians specifically, a lot of the problems that you may be having with stress could be helped by one of these groups.

    Onstage Jitters

    One thing that some performers have a hard time with is onstage jitters. Everybody gets a little nervous before going onstage but for some people, it's a huge deal. Symptoms range from jittery nerves, stomach sickness to debilitating headaches. Even some well-known seasoned, professional performers go through these on a regular basis. There are a couple of ways to deal with this. First off, one of the best ways is to simply be really prepared. It takes a load off your mind when you know that you've done everything you can to make your performance shine through. Make sure you have your set down. If you've gone through the entire set and are familiar with all of the material, then that's one thing that can ease your mind. Another thing that can help is having a pre-performance ritual. A lot of performers have a ritual that they go through before each performance. This would include some breathing exercises, warm-ups and scales, going through a tune or two, and maybe some meditation. Some performers don't like to talk to too many people before a show whereas others don't like eating too soon before a performance. Another big helper is to get to the gig early. Once you've been there a while, it gives time for your nerves to settle down and get into the vibe. Besides getting tons of experience onstage, these are the best for trying to get over your performance jitters.

    Bad Practices

    There are numerous things that musicians do on a regular basis that creates stress. One of the worst is simply trying to deal with all of your issues by yourself. Musicians spend a lot of time alone and are usually alone in managing their career. Whenever things get tough instead of going deeper inside of yourself, try reaching out and trying to find some solutions elsewhere. It takes a lot of stress off your mind when you know that there are people just like you out there that may be going through the exact same things. Like mentioned before, just talking to someone about these things may ease the stress tremendously. Along the lines of some good practices to do before a show, there are a number that are bad. Of course not being prepared is a big source of tension. Getting to the gig late with no set up time is another source of stress. Not warming up is also a bad idea especially if you're one of these people (like me) that needs a good warm up before they're 100% effective.

    Dealing With It

    Everybody has to deal with stress. Musicians and artists arguably have their own issues to deal with. Start off right by getting organized and stay organized. This way you have some control over where you are heading. Update and check your plans regularly so you know that you're getting things done and haven't gone off course. Create good practices as far as your work schedule, doing shows and anything else that may be causing you stress. Try to communicate with people on a regular basis. Your music community can be a source of help but just keeping touch with people, family, friends and fans helps keep your head in the right place. Most of all, know that if you're doing all of these things that when you lay your head down at the end of the day, you've done everything you can to move your music career in the right direction. At the end of the day this is music, and it should be fun!

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    20 Hz - Semiconductor Video

    This piece is quite incredible in the patterns and sense of depth and dimension.  It is really beautiful.  Semiconductors film 200 Nanowebbers was really brilliant too, but this new work form 2011, is equally as good.  Great work semiconductor

    20 Hz - A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.
    '05.00 minutes / HD / 2011
    HD single channel and HD 3D single channel
    A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.
    Audio Data courtesy of CARISMA, operated by the University of Alberta, funded by the Canadian Space Agency.'
    "20 Hz observes a geo-magnetic storm occurring in the Earth's upper atmosphere. Working with data collected from the CARISMA radio array and interpreted as audio, we hear tweeting and rumbles caused by incoming solar wind, captured at the frequency of 20 Hertz. Generated directly by the sound, tangible and sculptural forms emerge suggestive of scientific visualisations. As different frequencies interact both visually and aurally, complex patterns emerge to create interference phenomena that probe the limits of our perception,"
    Webpage about 20Hz: -

    View on Vimeo

    20 Hz from Semiconductor on Vimeo.

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Tony Brooks Towards New Multisensory Spaces and Environments

    Four Senses Concert, 2002

    This important concert that took place in 2002 in the Dorothy Winstone Theatre, Auckland, New Zealand.  The four senses concert were a collaboration between Raewyn Turner (NZ) and Tony Brooks (UK).

    website: link

    "The ‘Four Senses’ 1999, 2002 concerts were to engage and reframe perception of music and to play with subjective experiences and simulated synesthesia. Each sensory element was constructed from information relating to the other elements. The associations and correspondences of the elements made by the audience was according to their own individual and personal experiences.
    The investigations include perception, misinterpretation, fictional translations and the sensory worlds of the blind/deaf: of hearing, of breathing in, and of visualizing music.

    Tony Brooks utilised sensors, software and projectors to create an interactive system capturing movement from the orchestra and translating it into painting with coloured light. In this way the orchestra conductor was able to “paint” the scene through his gestures within an interactive space. Similarly orchestra members, dancers and a special signing choir for the deaf images were blended into the backdrop in real-time such that their velocity of movement affected the color of image generation and collage composition.
    Raewyn Turner interpreted the sound to colour and smell using the correspondences that she made between sound/silence and light/dark. The translations involved intuitive drawing, charts, measurements, referral to the seasonal time of harvest of aromatic plants, and an equation which produces a selection of plants from which to choose smell pitch.

    The performances were an improvisation and a real - time translation of sound and the gestures of making that sound, into light and colour, and multiple layers of smell. The light collage thus created was a play of interaction between live video feeds and sensors, and coloured light pre-programmed to an interpretation of sound, each affecting the other in a dynamic visual loop. "

    Source: Link to more information and where you can download media files


    Youtube Excerpt

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Silk Chroma - Honouring Prize - Visual Music Award

    Silk Chroma a visual music piece that I created in collaboration with the Irish Composer Linda Buckley and closely worked also with Dermot Furlong and Gavin Kearney at the end of 2010 has won an honouring prize at the forthcoming Visual Music Award 2011. I am totally delighted!

    Visit website - Visual Music Award 2011

    Visual Music Award @ Cocoon Club, Frankfurt Germany
    Photographs of the event have been put up by the organisers on their facebook page.
    Some photographs of Silk Chroma have been put on this page...what a stunning venue the Cocoon Club.

    Visual Music Award Facebook Page -

    Silk Chroma can be seen on vimeo

    Silk Chroma from Silk Chroma on Vimeo.

    Silk Chroma - the silent version is also showing at the Expanded Abstraction Exhibition, LACMA Museum's Stark Bar,  Los Angeles as part of a curated show by the Center for Visual Music, this exhibition will continue until late January 2012
    Silk Chroma is also being shown at the forthcoming Seeing Sound Symposium at Bath Spa University, Bath Spa, UK
    This weekend (22nd October 2011) Silk Chroma is starting the Sonic Pop Up concert as part of Dublin Contemporary.

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Intro To Pentatonic Scales

    Most musicians are familiar with the pentatonic scales in one way or another. Most of the time it's usually learned early as a preparation for soloing and improvising. There are many pentatonic scales and many ways of using them.

    It's Worldwide

    Pentatonic scales are used in many types of music all over the world. Many different types of folk music use this scale. If fact most people are familiar with this scale without even knowing it because it's used so often. There's a great clip by Bobby McFerrin who sings a pentatonic melody to an audience and to their surprise, they finish the tune without him! African and European (Celtic, Scottish, Russian) folk music use pentatonics quite frequently.

    It's Only 5 Notes

    Most beginning musicians are familiar with only the minor pentatonic scale. In fact there are many different types. There is one based on the major scale, one on the minor, and many variations of these two. Basically a pentatonic can be defined as a scale with 5 notes...and that's all. It can be any 5 notes. So you can see how many possible permutations there could be. Also, pentatonic scales can be applied in different ways over different chords to achieve different results. In fact the major and minor pentatonics are the exact same notes applied in different ways over different chord progressions. That said, it's important to think of them in their own right i.e. the C major and A minor and not the C major starting on a different note.(It's important to think of all of your scales in this way i.e. A minor or D dorian and not C major.)

    The Basics

    Ok, let's start with the basics and go from there. The major pentatonic scale is the major scale without the 4th and 7th notes of the scale. These notes create certain tensions. Some music textbooks call them 'avoid notes' since they can sound 'wrong' when played at the wrong time.* The major pentatonic doesn't have these notes.The major pentatonic has the root, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th. That's it! The relative minor uses the same notes but the relationships end up being different. The minor pentatonic has the root, minor 3rd, 4th, 5th, and flat 7th. It's the minor scale without the 2nd and the 6th. (It's interesting to note that it's the 2nd and the 6th that differentiates the natural minor from the dorian and phrygian scales.) The blues scale is built upon this minor pentatonic but adds the flat 5th (the 'blue' note).

    * There are no 'wrong' notes in music. There is only the situation where you are playing notes and not getting the desired outcome or sound that you intended.


    The pentatonic scales are used in many ways. Initially they were used mostly in folk music as a basis for the melody and improvisation on that melody. They started to get used in jazz and rock and are used in almost every genre of music these days. The use of the minor pentatonic in rock music has almost become ubiquitous whenever you hear a guitarist going for a solo. Listen to any classic rock and guaranteed it's the scale used for the riff and solos and often the melody itself. Also, both the major and minor may be used in a song. The melody for the song will use the major scale but then the riff or solo may use the minor pentatonic. This happens in everything from country to rock.

    Other Uses

    There are a couple of other ways the pentatonic scales are used. First of all, since a pentatonic scale is technically any 5 notes, there can be many different possibilities for combinations. There are a number of different pentatonic scales*, quite a few of which have exotic sounds (and names). There is: Balinese, Chinese, Egyptian, as well as variations like the pentatonic Scriabin was famous for (a major pentatonic with a flatted 2nd).

    *This is the Dolmetsch music theory site. Enter root note and scale from drop down menus to get the notes from any scale on the list!

    Then there are the application of the major and minor pentatonic scales over different chords and keys. For example in the key of C major you could use the C major pentatonic (A minor pentatonic).  But you could also use other pentatonics like the E minor pentatonic or B minor pentatonic. Using these you end up playing different extensions over the chord. They can offer up some interesting sounds, especially when used in more elaborate chord progressions.

    Start With The Basics

    When teaching students how to improvise, I usually start with pentatonics. They're a great leaping off point for learning how to create phrases and exploring the musical thought process. By starting with a pentatonic scale over a basic chord progression, students find that improvising isn't the big mystery that they think it is. It's also easier to talk about (and actually hear) different ideas about phrasing, where to put your phrases and how to make a musical statement. It's easier to explain (and play!) question and answer (call and response) concepts. Once you get into the basics about how we create musical ideas, then you can get into some more advanced concepts such as motives, repetition, development, etc.

    Explore The Possibilities

    Even though there is only 5 notes, there is a world to explore in pentatonic scales. It's best to take them one at a time and see what can be done. Like everything else in music, it's better to know how to effectively use one scale, than it is to memorize a dozen without having a clue about how to use them. Take your time and explore the possibilities.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    FOLDS video installation - Robert Seidal

    Robert Seidel
    Lindenau Museum, Altenburg / Germany

    FOLDS is a 2-channel video installation with projections on 19th century plaster casts of Kladeos, Kephissos,
    Belvedere Torso, Seer and the Three Goddesses from the Bernhard August von Lindenau Collection.
    It connects to the fragmentary plaster casts, makes them flow with bygone colors, clothes them and wakes
    them for a moment then to be stored as into the sediment of oblivion.

    Documentation of the installation
    Youtube // 
    Web //
    Catalog //
    PR // 


    Studio Robert Seidel
    Robert Seidel Vimeo Channel

    View Folds Documentation on Vimeo

    folds | installation documentation | lindenau museum altenburg, germany | robert seidel | 2011 from Robert Seidel on Vimeo.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Musings on Music and other such

    Musings on Music and other such

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    The Student Teacher Relationship

    Most of the time, if you're looking to improve your skills or just starting out, you may want to seek out a good teacher to help you along. Ultimately becoming a great musician is up to the individual but having a good teacher can really help and speed up the learning process. A good teacher can add a lot to your development, they can keep you focused, help in your creativity and steer you in the right direction. In some cases though, they can unwillingly give you bad advice, bad technique, and send you in the wrong direction. Therefore it's always best to seek out the best teacher you can find.

    Great Teachers Vs. Great Players

    There are millions of teachers out there. Like mechanics and doctors, there are bad ones, mediocre ones and great ones. You might venture out looking for a teacher and find one right off the bat. More than likely though, you'll end up going through a couple of different teachers before you find one you really like. This isn't necessarily a bad thing since every musician has their own approach and something can usually be gleaned from their experiences. However, when you find the right teacher, you save yourself alot of time (and money) because you focus on the essentials, ans get right to the heart of your particular matter without wasting your time working on things that don't brigng you closer to your goals. As confusing as it may sound, the most successful musicians don't always make the best teachers. Sometimes you'll go out and see a great performer and find that they give lessons only to find that you didn't learn that much from them. Teaching is a whole other skill and just because you find a good player or good performer, that doesn't mean they'll be a great teacher. Being a good teacher is all about communication. It means being able to explain different concepts clearly. It's being able to see what you need and what you don't need. It means paying attention to your development and making sure you're heading in the right direction. Great players don't necessarily always have these skills. Also being a good teacher means being well versed in all aspects of music. Sometimes you'll come across a great (for example) blues musician and want to take lessons from them. That's great if you want to concentrate on playing that specific music. But, if want a more complete program, make sure the musician knows all of the other aspects like good technique, music theory and the fundamentals. It's possible to be able to play many different styles without having a clue about what you're doing.


    Teaching in itself is a talent and takes a special kind of person to do it really well. There are a number of things that a teacher must do that aren't part of the normal musician's skill set. Some of these things include 1) putting together a program for each individual student. 2) monitoring the students progress and making sure that the right things are being worked on. 3) figuring out what the student needs and their strengths and weaknesses.4) including all of the necessary fundamentals and not just 'learning tunes' or 'licks'. There are some teachers that go through school and have degrees from accredited colleges. While not a guarantee that they'll turn out to be a great teacher, it's a good indication that they've gone through numerous programs and have a well rounded knowledge of music fundamentals. You can go through private lessons or go down to your local music school and see what they have to offer. Generally, the 'best' teachers will offer private lessons because they've usually been doing it a while and have worked up to making enough money just from private students. However, this isn't always the case. Most teachers I know teach at a school and privately. Many fine teachers can be found at the music schools. Most music schools require that the instructors have a music degree. Make sure ask. Talk to the people at the school about where you are and what you want to learn. If you're more advanced, tell them. Some schools have specific teachers that will take on the more advanced students or students that have specific requirements (e.g classical or jazz guitar). 

    Know Thyself

    It's important to know what you want from the teacher before you even start. Most good teachers will ask about your goals are right off, but now always. Make sure you know what you want and make sure to tell them. Even if you're just starting and don't know exactly what you want, simply state that you want to learn the fundamentals, proper technique and some songs in your favorite style of music. That should be enough to let any teacher know what to do. If you're more advanced, tell the teacher where you are, what to want to learn and what you expect from the lessons. The more information you bring to the teacher, the better. If you've had any bad experiences in the past, let them know that too.

    What Can You Do For Me?

    Once you've found a teacher, ask them what they teach, how they go about the lessons and if they follow any specific program. Most teachers have a preferred way of teaching. They may not always have a developed program written out but they do have a specific way of teaching. Ask them about this beforehand. Ask them what you'll be doing for the first 6 months. As soon as they see where you are in your development, they should be able to answer this question. Be prepared for any answer they give you. Sometimes I come across a student who wants to learn it all, right away. Once I tell them that it will probably take the better part of a year (and more!!) to learn the skills they want to develop, they don't always react positively.

    Never Stop Learning

    The biggest advice I can give about finding a teacher is always challenge your teacher and not settle. Don't be afraid to challenge your teacher. Quite often students will go out and just settle with the first teacher they find. You usually end up creating a relationship with that person and will stick with them. This isn't always in your best interest. Once you find someone, make sure that you're learning and heading in the direction you want. Keep your ears and eyes open. If you have a chance to do a lesson with another teacher, do it. See how that lesson goes. Compare it to your current teacher. You'll find that you'll learn something from every musician you come across but then there will be that one that you come across that takes your playing to a whole new level.

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Yan Breuleux - Experimental Animation Video - Immersion

    Yan Breuleux's beautiful works are really worth checking out. Based in Montreal, both teaching in the faculty of Music at the University of Montreal and completing a Phd, he has accumulated a large portfolio of works that are documented clearly on his website.

    Yan Breuleux's animations are quite beautiful and some of their presentations and installations are quite breathtaking. He collaborates with musicians and composers and creates pieces for multi-screen, panoramic and hemispheric presentations. He is interested in the influence of architecture in audio visual performance and some of these projects are incredible in their scale and drama. An example project has been documented on flickr.
    "En préparation de la diffusion de La Tempête pour écran vertical.
    Une Nuit en Galilée
    spectacles Samedi 23 Juillet à 20:00"
    Flickr link:


    Yan Breuleux also collaborates with composer Alain Thibault as the duo PURFORM to create Immersion Video-Music

    Vimeo Channel

    Example Project highlighted in this blog post

    White Box

    "A/V performance for a tryptic of HD video screens and quadraphonic audio.
    White Box is a work based on a new way of generating A/V compositions in real time and is a new piece in a cycle that began in 2003 with Black Box. This cycle metaphorically transposes, into sound and images, concepts from systems theory related to black, white and grey boxes.
    Visuals: Yan Breuleux
    Music: Alain Thibault
    Captation video: Christian Pomerleau:"

    PREVIEW White Box

    WHITE BOX | PREVIEW from Purform on Vimeo.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Jane Cassidy - Square Ball Insallation

    Jane Cassidy's new visual music piece - Square Ball is an installation piece and its inaugural presentation took place in Dublin, in August 2011 as part of the Glitch Festival 2011 organised by MART.

    This was a really beautiful and clever installation that really is something that needs to be seen and sensed, as an audience member one has to face the projector as the most amazing layers of imagery and patterns unfold with great connections to the music.

    Video excerpt online courtesy of Red Rua

    Visit Jane's Blog

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Keys To Becoming a Great Musician

    There are many ways to get good at your perspective instrument and achieve some success in the music industry. It usually entails spending many hours in the practice room, going over the fundamentals. Then getting out there and trying to make some money from all of your efforts. Along the way you will find that there are some skills things that are more important than others as far as what it takes to be a musician. In fact, if you practice these essentials, it will be the difference between you being a mediocre musician and a great one.


    I'm going to mention one musical skill above all others and that's great rhythm. Great rhythm is critical. Rhythm is is a huge subject which we don't have space to cover completely here but we'll start with some basics. People think that rhythm is simply playing in time. This is a tiny part of rhythm. Rhythm is part of everything you play and if you can play it with great rhythm, you'll be a great musician. Every melody, accompaniment, vocal line, solo...everything has an inherent rhythm. It's too easy to pass this off without making sure that we're playing the rhythm properly and in time. All too often musicians are all over the board when it comes to playing and soloing. You want to be in time or be out of time on purpose. It's important that you really take notice of where exactly you are putting those notes. If you're not sure, try this:
    Set up your metronome at a pretty slow pace. Try 60 BPM for now. Now try playing a major scale with quarter notes right on the beat. Try to stay with it and see how long you can go without rushing the notes. After a time, most musicians will start to rush it especially with something that they can perform easily. Next, try playing one of your favorite solos or songs at the same tempo. Are you playing in time?? Not so easy is it?
    This simple exercise usually tells us how much we may be missing simply by playing through pieces without thinking too much about exactly where we are placing those notes. The same goes for playing rhythm parts. Take your metronome and try playing straight 8ths. It's important that you practice this on it's own. Its seems like a simple exercise until you see how far you can go off without thinking about it. If you think you're great, try recording your performance with your favorite DAW. Then when you're done, magnify your track so you can align it with the timeline in the sequencer. Now check to see how often you were right on the beat. How often were you early, how often were you late? You'll find that you weren't consistent as you would think. And, (this is critical) can you hear the difference without referencing the sequencer? Practice this, just this on it's own. You'll start to notice and hear the difference in a short time.


    To most this may seem obvious but it's amazing how many musicians fail to listen actively. That means not only to pay particular attention when playing pieces but being able to listen properly when playing in a band. It's important that you listen and try to hear all of the things going on. Are you in time? Are you in tune? Are you too loud, too quiet? The list goes on and on. The same goes for playing live. Are you listening to the drummer? The bassplayer? When you listen properly, you make continual adjustments that makes your performance that much better. You play in time, you are sensitive to the overall dynamic of the band and the song, and the band will just sound better. Everytime you pick up your instrument, make sure your ears are wide open.


    I've written about this in a past post but it needs to be stated again. One thing that musicians must have is a great memory. It's important to remember all of your chords, scales, melodies, licks, fingerings etc and know them like the back of your hand. Charlie Parker was famous for the fact that he could remember and play back hundreds of licks, scales and melodies in all keys. How much of this is entirely your memory? The same goes for writing. Once you've memorized ideas, it's all too easy for them to 'pop up magically' in your songs. It comes from being familiar with the style but that really comes down to the material being internalized and memorized. That's why it's important to write something that you're familiar with because you've more likely memorized  many facets of the style without really realizing it.


    One of the things that musicians are known for is their consistent practice at their art. One of the best and most effective ways to learn and master anything is through consistency. It's important that not only you practice everyday, but you're consistent in that practice. Practicing one thing one day then trying something completely different the next without coming back to original may be fun but it isn't very productive. The best way to internalize ideas, get your muscle memory working and mastering your instrument is practice the same fundamentals consistently.


    This follows with the consistency factor. It's important that as a musician you have a certain amount of diligence when it comes to learning the craft and especially when trying to achieve some success. It's true that being a musician isn't an easy way to go and you'll need diligence to make it through the rough spots.  Other things, like sticking to your practice regimen, practicing stuff that you don't find all that exciting and trying to get something done everyday without much support also come under this topic.


    One of the other important traits to have is initiative. It's one of the things that's drilled into us since we started out first practice sessions. In fact one of the things that regular practice teaches us is to have the initiative to work on our own and try to keep motivated. It's not just the practice room that needs initiative either. You're going to need to get most things started and keep them going on your own. There is some support in the music industry but not much. You're pretty much going to have to figure most of this stuff out on your own. That includes everything from how to get a gig, to how that next verse is going to go.

    Love of the Art

    If you want to do this for a living, you're going to have to love it. You're going to have to love it just for what it is. You're going to have to love it, pursue it and try to get better everyday for no other reason other than the fact that  you love to do it. Music is just too tough a career choice for anyone who isn't right into it. Even people who work in the music industry, who are in supporting roles have this attitude. Second, it's this love that will push you to do all of the things that you're going to have to do to become great at your art. It's a long journey and there needs to be that internal motivator for you to push through and become a great artist.

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Christina McPhee - bird of paradise / channel three

    Christina McPhee's three channel video triptych, Bird of Paradise (Christina McPhee 2011) is a stunning silent visual music work, with such visual harmony and balance - a very beautiful work.

    Bird of Paradise three channels / 10 minutes / HD video /silent / 2011

    bird of paradise / channel three from Christina McPhee on Vimeo.

    It will premiere in a program curated by the Center for Visual Music at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), in late July. The program will screen at LACMA through January 2012. Location: Stark Bar, central plaza (new design by Renzo Piano), LACMA.

    Check out many of Christina's work on her vimeo channel (to date 39 uploaded)

    Christina's website:

    About Christina
    "Christina McPhee’s visual art, media and writings consider site as landscape and language. She develops film and media works that montage remote landscape footage at high – tech energy installations, and in ecosystems where biosphere meets human intervention in ‘kairotic’ spaces. Her drawing practice moves into critical spatial practice in media arts and writing."
    Source: http:/

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Expanded Abstraction: CVM Program, Los Angeles

    Opening late July,2011, Los Angeles:
    Expanded Abstraction:
    A special 3-screen program from CVM featuring Scott Draves' Generation 244, plus work by Robert Seidel, Baerbel Neubauer, Christina McPhee, Maura McDonnell and Charles Dockum. Curated by Cindy Keefer. LA County Museum of Art, central plaza, Stark Bar. On view beginning July 28, evenings through January, 2012. Images courtesy Scott Draves and the Electric Sheep. PREVIEW of McPhee's Bird of Paradise video triptych.

    (re posted from CVM events page:

    OPENING NIGHT - Thursday, July 28

    Please join CVM at LACMA at Stark Bar - Thursday, July 28

    CVM's new *Expanded Abstraction* 3-screen program begins in LACMA's Stark
    Bar (central plaza, next to main entrance) at 8 pm...that's the same night
    as Marclay's THE CLOCK 24 hour screening in Bing please join us while taking a break from The CLOCK, as Stark Bar will be open until 2am screening the CVM program. Or come just to see abstract film/digital work curated by CVM.

    *Expanded Abstraction* features *Scott Draves*' *Generation 244* (2010),
    plus triptych work by *Christina McPhee, Robert Seidel, Baerbel Neubauer,
    Maura McDonnell, Charles Dockum* and more. Runs through January 2012,
    evenings only.

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    How To Find Your Musical Goals

    There was a comment recently about tips for trying to figure out your goals. This seems to be a tough thing for most people, especially musicians. There are tons of articles out there about how to get things done and succeed. They start off with you making a list of your goals and then move on from there. Unfortunately, figuring out your goals is usually difficult and timing consuming. Some people go through their entire life not knowing what they're goals are. Yet you're supposed to figure this out in a short time and then move on from there. Figuring out what your goals are like asking you what your favorite color is. It's all personal and one person's answers are going to be different than another. The key to figuring out what your goals are is all about asking questions; tons of them. Once you start asking yourself the right questions it will become easier figuring out what direction you should take.

    Where Am I?

    This should be your first question because all of the others stem from this. If you're just starting out, in the middle of your career, changing directions or trying to look for something new., this will impact all of your other decisions. For example if you're just starting out, you will have tons of options as far as where to start but be limited by your experience whereas if you're in the middle or your career, you will have different priorities. Part of this question relates to other things going on in your life. If you're in your 20's, you'll have different responsibilities than if you were in your 40's. You will have different resources available and different opportunities. For example; you might be in your early 20's, just out of school, not much money but no responsibilities. You are willing to travel and don't need much to get by. Your goals would be different than somebody who was in their 30's who may have experience touring and teaching, newly married and thinking about staring a family. You can see that their goals would be different just based on these few factors. It's important to start here is because any decisions you make are going to affect the rest of your life in some way. Looking at all of the variables allows you to make better informed decisions.

    The first step in figuring out your goals is to brainstorm. It's important that for this first session you just let it all go and not think too much about details or even if the goal is realistic or not. It's all about just seeing what moves you and what you want out of life.

    The Big List

    We're going to start with the big list. We're just going to let it all out here. One exercise that I did when I was going to college was a 'where do you see yourself in 5 years' paper. I still remember what I wrote and to this day most of what was on that paper applies. I was thinking in general terms of all of the things that I wanted to do with music and wasn't worried about being realistic or even succinct. I put down everything that I wanted to do. I'm amazed at to this day how accurate this list was. The only thing that was off was my timing...I was only off about a decade.
    Just start writing. Don't worry about how or even why, just write. You may find yourself not believing what you're writing but do it anyway. There are no limits here. Start with your biggest dreams and aspirations and go from there. Don't leave anything out.
    You may find that when reviewing this list that it's all over the place. Some of the goals seem to go in a completely different direction than others. While others seem very doable and achievable others seem impossible. Let it go, don't dismiss anything yet.

    Long Term Vs. Short Term

    There are two sets of goals that you have to create and they all depend on the size and importance of the goal. Generally, the bigger the goal, the longer it will take to accomplish that goal. Also, once you have decided on a big, long term goal, you will have to break it down into smaller, more manageable goals.  One important note, think big. Decide what you really want. These will usually be big dreams and that's perfect for our initial session. We do this because we want to make sure we're aiming for something that we really want and not something that we're willing to settle for. All too often we base our goals on smaller things that we assume will be easier and much more realistic. There are two problems with this; first of all things are rarely as simple as they seem and two, we may end up spending a lot of time and reaching a goal that we weren't all that crazy about in the first place. If you're worried about being realistic and creating manageable goals, wait until the next part of this process.

    Keep Em Separated

    There's a famous story about Walt Disney who used to keep all of the 'creative' people (artists, writers etc) separate from the 'realistic' (managers, accountants, lawyers etc) people. He would let the creative people roam freely with their ideas and creative output. He would later put the ideas through the administrative people to see what was possible. You want to do the same with your goals. When deciding what you want to do, wait until later before you work out the details. After all you're a musician, it's all about possibilities. Once you've got a good idea of the direction you want to head, then you can sit down and see what's realistically possible in the next year or so.


    You may notice that throughout this post I've used the word direction when describing your goals and career. That's because being a musician is about trying different things, taking different routes and figuring out what to do next. A musician's career is rarely straightforward and simple. You should get used to this process because you're going to have to do it on a regular basis. There are going to be wrong turns, great runs and a lot of not knowing what to do next. Get used to it.

    Reality Check

    Ok, it's about that time. Time to go over your list and make some decisions. These are usually tough because we're bent on making the right ones first. Let me tell you straight won't make all the right decisions. In fact some of your decisions are going to be completely wrong. But of course, you won't know that until you've actually done them, so don't worry about it.

    Keeping Track

    It's a good idea to just get started. It's a bad idea to keep doing something just because you started and made some personal investment. It's important that you step back periodically and see if you're happy with the way things are going. Are you getting any results from your actions? Is this something that you feel that you should keep on pursuing? People are really reluctant to give something up once they're put enough time and energy into matter how fruitless the endeavour seems to be. Once again I'm speaking from experience here. I don't know how many times I've stuck with a band simply because I've made such a huge investment in time and effort. It's really important that you step back on a regular basis and take stock at where you are.

    There's A Fork In The Road

    We do all of this is to give our career some sort of direction. You will want to stick with your decisions and see if they're working. If you've made an effort and see that there's another direction you want to take, then do it. Remember to go through the same process so you don't end up waving all over the place, doing a million things without really getting anything done. Some musicians are guilty of trying to keep all of their options open thinking that this will increase their opportunity for success. In fact, your chances are much better when you have focus and specific direction. Mostly because you're not being pulled in a million directions and not really accomplishing anything. There will come a time however when something unexpected springs up. This happens more when you're doing things right than wrong. For example you may be doing really well with your band when you get approached by another band to do a major tour. This is when your lists really come in handy. What do you do; stick with your band or take the risk and join the other? Of course this a completely personal decision but if you've been regularly checking your goals and making conscious decisions about your career, the decision may be easier to make. If touring is really high on your list your decision would be different if you were bent on getting a new CD released with your current band.

    Not A Clue

    At this point if you're sitting there and still don't have a clue what you're going to do don't worry, you're not alone. Even with all of this information it still may not be clear to us what direction to take. Either you have too many things you want to do (typical) or no idea whatsoever. The long and short of it is; you're going to have to do something. It's better to do something and get started than to do nothing. Sometimes you may want to put it off and try and figure it out later. There's nothing wrong with wanting to figure out what exactly it is you want to do but you don't want to wait too long. If it's been a couple of months and you're still trying to make out your lists and figuring out the perfect thing to do next is...then stop. Pick something and do it. If you're worried about wasting time heading in the wrong direction don't, remember you just wasted a couple of months not coming up with any ideas of what to do next.

    On Your Mark...

    This is just the beginning. It's also one step in many. It's important to get into the mindset of figuring out what it is you want to do and how to get there. This list will change. That's typical, especially for musicians. Don't worry about making the perfect moves and decisions. It won't happen. Pick something that you believe in a get going. Stick with it and see if you're getting the results you want. If you aren't, re-examine and start again. Repeat until you get there.

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Music Theory For Rock Musicians

    During the times that I played in various rock bands one thing that always amazed me was how proud rock musicians were about the fact that they 'knew nothing' about music. It was like knowing something about the theory of music was a bad thing. There was the feeling that real rock musicians didn't know anything about music theory and that was good. There are many reasons why some musicians feel that learning theory is a bad thing that I talked about in a past post. One of the reasons why rock musicians feel that theory isn't useful to them is because they think that it just doesn't apply to what they're playing. There is in fact lots to learn about rock music that is easily explained and easy to learn.

    Rock Theory

    Whenever I teach, I always ask the student what kind of music they listen to. If they're into rock I will take a different approach than if they were into jazz. The problem with music theory is that it's a huge subject. It's too big to tackle for most people. There are so many facets to theory that it's hard to even apply it to your music. That's why I find out what style of music they're into and apply the theory to that. There are things that are done over and over in rock music that can easiily be taught and explained. There are other things in music theory that happen in other genres that are interesting but don't apply to rock music.


    Most of us start off with learning some scales. Usually you'll try to learn a couple, see how fast you can play them, and it'll end at that. Learning scales is just the first step. You must learn how they apply. You must learn how they apply to rock. Although it doesn't sound like it, rock uses the same basic scales that all other popular music does.  First of all, the melody that the singer is singing is a scale. Rock doesn't go too far with this. It's either major, minor or pentatonic. It doesn't sound like a scale to us because we're used to hearing scales played up and down literally. Most (not all) rock melodies are quite simple and don't jump aroung much. Most of the time a single note is repeated before going on to another. There is also tons of inflections, slides and bends that we naturally do when we sing. Scales really come into play when we study guitar solos. Most of the time the guitar player will use one scale to solo over the entire song.


    Chords follow the same general direction as scales. Rock music usually try to keep things simple. They will change chords on a regular basis throughout the song. Once they establish a rhythm pattern, they will usually stick quite close to it. Most rock music will rarely go beyond the major and minor chords. Rock likes to use added 2nds, 4ths and 6ths along with a few dominant 7th chords. Most of the time they love to use power chords (which is just a 5th i.e. no third). You'll also find that different styles will use the same chord progressions over and over. Rock loves using blues progressions and progressions based on the minor scale. Some metal goes into modes and other territory but rock and pop will usually stick to diatonic chord progressions. The ubiquitous IV-V-I is still as popular as ever.

    So What

    At this point you may be asking yourself so what? Well getting to know some of these tools will help in the creative process and make learning songs a lot easier. The fact is that most rock musicians know theory. They just don't have the technical terms for what they're doing. They learn things by trail and error (not always a bad thing) and then go about applying to their music. All of their theory comes in slowly from learning songs, solos, and some basic theory (usually passed on from another musician or band member).

    The List

    Here is a starter list of things your should be practicing and going over on a regular basis along with new tunes and songs from your band.

    1. Major, minor and pentatonic scales in all keys. Rock musicians will use the pentatonic to improvise and create solos and licks. The same goes from the major and minor scales. You must learn which scale to use and when. Classic rock uses pentatonics, punk will usually stick to the major. Most of the time it's a matter of figuring out which one applies to the song you're working on and using that.
    2. All major and minor chords in various positions and inversions. Just knowing one or two may be enough for rock but learning these will take your playing to a whole new level. If there are more than one guitar players or a guitar and keyboard in your band you will end using these trying to make your parts work together better. If one guitar player is playing the chords in one position, the other should be playing them somewhere else on the neck.
    3. Chord extensions and substitutions. This is an extension of the previous but takes it one step further. Sometimes just playing a C chord is perfect for the song. Sometimes adding an extension (a 2nd, 4th, 6th or 7th) may make it infinitely more interesting. There are also chord substitutions to consider; is a C the right chord here or is a Am or Em better? Substitutions come in handy when developing ideas within a song.
    4. The scales harmonized in 6ths and 3rds. Rock uses 6ths and 3rds to embellish a melody and create an interesting background for songs. All scales can be harmonized this way; including the pentatonic. These are also used in creating background harmonies for the lead vocal. There are other intervals but these are the first you should learn.
    5. Chord progressions in various keys. Often rock and pop will stick to chord progressions within a certain key. It's important to learn all of the chords within each key. You'll notice that once you've done this, you've covered thousands of progessions and songs. These are used over and over. The key of C is given as an example:
      C:    I     ii    iii    IV   V    vi   (bVII)
            C   Dm  Em   F   G    Am    (Bb)

    Counterpoint, Voice Leading etc.

    Most rock musicians will attest not knowing what counterpoint and voice leading is let alone the fact that they may be incorporating it into their songs. Voice leading is simply moving the different voices in a chord in the smoothest manner possible. Most of the time rock music flies right in the face of this and will move all over the place. Counterpoint is just having two separate lines moving independent from one another. Rock music uses these in various ways. Voice leading is used a lot in playing arpeggios and creating interesting progressions under the lead vocal. It's also used a lot in leads were the guitarists will play ascending and descending lines and arpeggios connecting them seamlessly together (the solo to 'Hotel California is a great example of this). Other times rock musicians will play a melody or line with the vocal instead of strumming chords. Other techniques rock uses are: modulation, pedal tones, vamps, polyrhythms, polychords and modal harmony (to name a few).

    It's All There

    If you're reading this and wondering what half of this stuff is, if you're wondering if you actually do any of this, then you know you have some homework to do. Without getting a degree in music theory it's a good idea to knnow what some of these tools are how and you can use them in your music. You may be using most of them already and not know it. Giving a name and explaination of these techniques allow you to isolate the various tools and use them in new and interesting ways. Most of all, your other band mates may be wondering where you've come up with all of these great new ideas. Don't tell them you learned some theory though, you may end up being 'the theory guy' in the band.

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Fast Forward: Conversations with Machines

    Fast Forward: Conversations with machines

    From camera obscura to cybernetics: filmmaker Joost Rekveld outlines experimental cinema from its hidden past to a distant future.

    By Joost Rekveld


    Quote from essay
    "In this essay I want to develop my thoughts about possible futures for what is now referred to as experimental cinema, inspired by some of the ideas behind expanded cinema. Experimental cinema is a marginal cinema, not in the sense that its purpose is to remain obscure forever, but in the sense that those filmmakers are called experimental who challenge the categories of mainstream cinema. These same artists often cross over from or into other disciplines, so in order not to lose ourselves in speculations concerning the future of everything, we will have to rewind until we find a starting point from which we can can try and extrapolate. "

    View online at:

    Joost Rekveld website:

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011



    June 9 - July 20, 2011

    OSA Archivum and the authors of GENERATION Z exhibition cordially invite you to the opening which will take place on 9th of June at 6:00 p.m. The exhibition will run at OSA Archivum, Budapest from June 9 till July 20, 2011. 

    exhibition details at

    Variophone, theremin terpsitone, rhythmicon, emiriton, ekvodin, graphical sound – just to mention a few of the amazing innovations of the beginning of the 20th century in Soviet Russia, a country and time turbulent with revolutions, wars and totalitarian dictatorship.
    While the history of Russian post-revolutionary avant-garde art and music is fairly well documented, the inventions and discoveries, names and fates of researchers of sound, creators of musical machines and noise orchestras, founders of new musical technologies have been largely forgotten except, perhaps, Leon Theremin, inventor of the first electronic musical instrument, the theremin.

    This community of creators, however, was inherently incompatible with the totalitarian state. By the late 1930s it became effectively written out of histories, wiped out from text books.

    Many of their ideas and inventions, considered as utopian at that time, were decades later rein vented abroad. We still use them today not knowing their origin.

    This exhibition is an attempt at reconstructing and understanding the Russian artistic utopia.

    The exhibition runs from June 9 till July 20.

    June 24, 2011, on the Night of Museums, 10:00 p.m.:

    Multimedia theremin concert: Najmányi László, visual artist, performer, theremin specialist.

    Thanks to CVM for original post:

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Oskar Fischinger Painting Exhibition - Santa Fe, New Mexico

    Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967) Major Painting Exhibition at the Peyton Wright Gallery - Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Opening July 2011

    Oskar Fischinger - Layers of Sound
    Oskar Fischinger's paintings are being exhibited at the art dealers gallery - Peyton Wright Gallery.  These paintings are a real treat to view.  Peyton Wright Gallery have put many of Oskar Fischinger's paintings online, many of these have probably not been seen before, as they have not been put online before.

    Some of these paintings have strong musical themes.  There are several that I really like and a beautiful one for me is, Layers of Sound.  However, there are many others and Fischinger's very distinct artistic and aesthetic style is really apparent.  A great treat to be able to view these paintings online via the Peyton Wright Gallery, and if you are lucky enough to be near Sante Fe, a treat to see in reality.

    View Paintings online at: 

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    Harmonic Elaboration

    So you've written a memorable hook, or a nice little melody. You put together some chords to go with your creation and that's it. What a lot of musicians don't seem to realize is that with any given set of notes, there are a ton of different ways to harmonize it. If you've ever heard some of the mash-ups of well known songs put on top of other tracks, you can see how there are many things you can do with the background.

    The Basics

    Whenever you've written a melody, there are a set of chords or harmonies that we may 'automatically' hear. For example if it's a simple melody that doesn't move around much or have any weird leaps and accidentals, we will probably hear a basic I IV V I. Since we hear these progressions so often, we may automatically hear them in our head. That doesn't mean that we have to use them, or even that they're 'right'. For example if you have a simple melody you may want to use other chords because you want a different 'feel' for the song. Or, you want to invoke some surprise, or you want to change it into a different genre, or you just may want to make the song 'more interesting'.


    I had an interesting thing happen when teaching recently. A student came in with a well known song and a sheet of the chord changes. The chord changes in fact turned out to be wrong but they also fit. When correcting the changes, the song was infinitely better but both sets of chords could have been used. The 'wrong' chords were your basic I IV V whereas the correct ones used substitutes instead. Substitutes are chords that are familiar to the chord they're replacing but not exactly the same. These chords function in the same way as the original chord. A substitution that is used a lot is the vi chord replacing the I. For example an Am would go where you would expect a C chord to go. If you want to hear how this sounds, write a simple melody over a F G C progression. Play the progression a couple of times but the last time, put the Am in place of the C. Make sure you don't change the melody, See how this chord fits but 'changes' the melody even though we're using the same notes. The iii chord is also another substitution for a I chord.

    The Wrong Right Chord

    One thing substitutions do is create an element of surprise because you're expecting one thing but get another. The way to do this is to replace the expected chord with non-diatonic chord. If you were writing the song in the example given above, and were looking for a substitute for a C chord, you could replace the chord with another that has the melody note in it. For example if the melody note was an E, you could replace the C chord with an A, E, or C#m. You could even go up to the 7th and try an FMaj7 or F#7. All of these chords have an E in them.  If the note was a G, you would have different options. You could replace the C major with a Cm because that critical 3rd, isn't in the melody. But, you could also use Eb, Gm, A7, or AbMaj7. Remember these are ideas just using the melody note as an anchor. The possibilities and endless...


    Since we're talking about substitutions, we have to talk about changing the harmonic background completely. Moby did well with his Play album by taking old blues songs and placing them on electronic beats and different chord progressions. Just becuase the original had a chord change every bar, doesn't mean you need to. Dance music does this all the time. Instead of having the regular changes, remixers will simply place the melody over their 'static' harmony*. Jazz and blues musicians also do this regularly. They will take the basic form of a blues and embellish the chords and changes. Sometimes this is done to extremes as in the case of John Coltrane who created his own version of 'blues changes'. Their are many more artists that have done this. Sometimes, in the case of many pop songs, entire changes can be replaced with a single chord or vamp.

    *I use the word static here because most dance music relies on a constant underlying groove and harmony. It doesn't have to be this way but remixers will usually replace any harmony with their own.


    Of course if the harmony can be simplified, it can also be made much more elaborate. This is pretty much the standard for jazz standards. Jazz musicians will usually take the given chord changes and replace them with their own. The best musicians pride themselves on having the coolest changes. They often do this without changing the melody*. This isn't just a jazz thing though. Musicians love taking songs and changing the chords and voicings. A folk musician might add some 2nds and 4ths. A pop musician might add the same as well as some dominant and minor 7th chords. Instrumentalists might go even further to add some interest to their instrumental versions.

    *Jazz musicians will often change the rhythm and paraphrase the melody but will usually try to keep it close to the original. Of course a Dixieland band will play the melody completely different than a Bebop combo.
     Written In Stone

    As you can see, the chords you choose for your compositions is a personal one. There is never just one solution to which changes will go to any given melody. It really is up to the writer. Once you get to know this, you will spend more time thinking about this different changes that you have in your composition toolbox and hopefully make your music infinitely more exciting.