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Learning Musical Styles with Transcription

This is the introduction to an excellent article on adopting new musical styles on musicianwages.org. The rest of the article goes on to set up some ways you can go about properly learning a new musical style.


Whether its true or not, Broadway music is largely seen as a derivative art form among the Broadway musician community. Look at shows like Jersey Boys, Million Dollar Quartet, In the Heights – these shows showcase rock n roll, country, hip hop and salsa – none of which originated on Broadway.

The last thing you want to say, therefore, is that you learned to play R’n’B by playing a summerstock version of Dream Girls. Broadway wants authentic players that have learned music styles from the source, not from itself.

I really think this is true. I just don’t feel like you can learn jazz by playing musical theatre scores. You have to learn jazz by playing jazz.

And so, M.’s question to me was this:

I am classically trained and I personally feel any style other than classical has been learned from playing MT repertoire. I feel that I am very limited because of this. I feel intimated and do not know where to even begin learning these styles.

[Do] you have any advice on how to learn jazz, blues, gospel, latin etc…?


via Learning Musical Styles with Transcription.

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Around the Web: Theatre Today

This ones a bit old, but it’s nevertheless interesting.

Andrew Haydon believes “lip-synching and the use of the recorded voice has become the new kitchen sink”. I agree, sort of. Like Andrew, I’ve spent the past fortnight watching shows that illustrate theatre’s current infatuation with headphones, microphones and recording devices.

Until 15 or 20 years ago, sound design was still very much viewed as a technical skill. It wasn’t until 2004 that sound design was recognised as a category in the Laurence Olivier awards. Audiences still have to endure plays in which music is randomly poured over scenes like so much aural lube, but a generation of theatre practitioners are busy leading sound design deeper into the realms of art.

This increasing importance of sound in the theatre is, in part, down to new and improved technologies, but productions at the vanguard of sound design are as likely to be lo-fi as high-tech. And it goes hand in hand with the trend towards more immersive theatre, and cross-fertilisation between theatre, film and radio.

I don’t know about you, but I find that I’m much more aware of sound as a key ingredient in theatre than I was even three years ago, and usually in a good way.

From Now hear this: theatre’s revolution in sound design on the Guardian Theatre Blog.

The West End is full of beautiful, historic theatres that are in some cases entirely unsuitable for contemporary theatre.

The nature of theatre is change. Without change, the West End really would die…

from Crisis in the West End – or is it?

For many the appeal of theatre is tied up with a feeling of being present at something remarkable, and as no two performances can ever be the same, the accompanying sense of exclusivity can become addictive. Part of Jerusalem’s power came from the fact that the audience was, for a few hours, part of a community, witnessing Rylance’s virtuoso performance, or feeling whatever mysterious spirits are present in the woods – attempting to understand the play without access to these intangible forces will therefore always feel like a compromise.

from Theatre on video: not live but kicking.

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Around the Web: Arranging, Editing, and Rehearsal

A few links gathered from around the web. This week we have a couple of useful tutorials in sound mixing and MIDI orchestration. Although written with games, films or album release, these techniques are equally applicable for theatrical work. I’ve also linked to an excellent post by composer John Adams on taking your compositions into the real world for the first time.

The art of orchestration is a very complex and interesting one. I think that today it can be divided into “classical orchestration” and “MIDI orchestration”. The latter is created with the help of software and samples – check my previous tutorials and quick tips.

Now I think that one rule can be applied to orchestration – when done properly in a classical way, MIDI orchestration becomes piece of cake. Lots of problems will be solved when a nice classical orchestration has been made.

via A Guide to Producing an Epic Orchestral Track.

Home recordings are infamous for having noise. Background noise from outside and indoor noises from the air conditioning and people shuffling around in the next room. Home recording studios are usually never sound isolated enough. Even though you might have a great sounding room, with acoustic treatment carefully placed all over, you’re still going to run into sound isolation issues.

The biggest issue is noise, and in the following tutorial I’ll run through a couple of ways you can minimize the amount of annoying hiss and noise from your home recordings.

via How to Minimize Noise In Your Mixes.

Advice to composers: Try not to panic if you can’t recognize that noise coming from the stage as something you wrote.

via John Adams: Hell Mouth: On surviving a first rehearsal.