I Have a Blog? Ooooh yeah...

Well...This last year and a half has definitely been something. Lots of growth, adventure, fun, laughter, tears, and of course, music. For whatever reason,  I was in a particularly artistic mood the other day. Sitting by the window with fresh coffee, listening to opera and studying expressionism, taking ukulele study breaks...It was really quite marvelous - you should have been there! But any-who, this random little blog of mine came back into my consciousness. It just hit me outta the blue..,"WHOA. Mimi, you had a music blog once, remember? That lovely little place where you went to vent out everything your artistic little heart wanted to say? Why did you stop?" As with all great hobbies, my writing fell by the wayside to the business of life. Working three jobs, and trying to finish a Masters degree, while keeping my sanity intact has been a tall order. (although the jury's still out on whether or not the sanity actually stayed around...whoops)

So, I pulled up this blog and began to re-read the thoughts of myself, one year back. Amazingly, even after only one year, I've changed as a musician. I don't entirely agree with what I wrote back then anymore. Funny how quickly one can mature in their thinking. Another observation from re-reading old posts; the grammar. YIKES. Just keep breathing and keep in mind that I'm a musician, not an English Teacher. I also rarely proof-read my word-stream, if ever. What comes out is what you get, albeit much wordier than I how I really speak. Also, the vocabulary is far superior to what I say during the day to day crunch. Reading old posts = whoa who swallowed a dictionary? Reality = Dude is every other word.

I briefly thought of deleting them, but then decided against it. Sure, there are errors, things I'd change knowing what I know now, but the past is not something to be ashamed of. We're all growing with each day; we fall sometimes, but we learn from these mistakes. So, I'm gonna leave them up, because that's my history. And now - onto the future! I hope to start writing again, maybe just once a week. It helps me better understand my profession, and my life, and hopefully gives you a little something to ponder on as well. Here's to 2014! What music will you bring me...?


Rock and Rolled

Wanna know something cool? I have a definition for Rock music. WOW...I know you're impressed.This definition also goes for pop, jazz, and even ragtime. All these types of music were once considered scandalous, evil, and against man's nature even. The funny thing, is that they actually kinda are.

So, what's the basic definition? I personally define Rock and Roll as music that is based in a heavily syncopated beat. What is that, you ask? Well, anytime you have a beat pattern, certain stresses fall on particular beats. Count off to yourself, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4. Did you notice what beats your voice naturally stressed? Most likely, there was a big emphasis on 1, and then a slightly smaller stress on 3 (1-2-3-4). Beats one and three, in a 4 beat pattern, naturally get the stresses, because it's what our bodies want by instinct. Syncopation, is a deliberate frustration of this natural instinct. Although we want to hear the stress on 1 and 3, syncopated music puts the stress on 2 and 4. Try counting 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4. It's a little bit harder, right?

If you listen to any Rock song, you will hear this syncopation as it's rhythmic basis. It's what gives the song a drive that makes you tap your feet, and causes you to listen more closely. By frustrating what you naturally expect to hear, it captures your attention, and forces your senses to work harder to make sense of the strange beat. I theorize too that this is why Rock stereotypically atracts teenagers and those of rebellious mindsets. It's very beat goes against the norm,  and rebels against what is natural, just as so many teens and outsiders hope to do.

So, there is a little peak into the history and make-up of Rock and Roll. To illustrate, I have a fun song for ya, courtesy of the Rock legends, the Red hot Chili Peppers. In this song, the percussion lays down a strong clear 4 beat, but hits the cymbal on every 2 and 4 beat for emphasis. You should hear it, and I guarantee that your toe should start tapping as well.



WHY? Because it's true.

The glory below came from one of my favorite places to waste time online...it's another blog, about the  trials of being a church musician. I'll admit, some of the humor you will only get if you're in church music. BUT, a lot of them, like the one below, are funny for all. Here's the link to the blog, If you want some chuckles, at the expense of the sacred music world:
So you are a church musician
This below, feels especially like my life right now....so I wanted to share.



Looks like an Artist

If you ask any of my close friends about my fashion sense, they will say that it's definitely different. Very bold and colorful but classy (at least I think so!). A bit quirky, fun and off-beat too. I'm a born Thrifter, as I love to spend hours sifting through Goodwill stores to find something slightly different or unique. With my red hair and hipster specs that I often wear, my friends also enjoy making comparisons to Hipster Ariel...

But what, you may ask, does any of this blabber have to do with music? Isn't that what I usually rant about? Well, I was having a rather nice vacation with an artist friend of mine and she mentioned something in passing that made me think. She casually mentioned how she, as an artist who brings beauty to others, sometimes feels more desire to be beautiful herself. When your main job in life is opening the eyes of the world to beauty, it's kind of natural to hope to inspire this beauty also in how you appear.  She worded it much better than I have, but the sentiment is something I have also experienced. Whether it's painting or music, if you dedicate your life to bringing these types of beauty to others, it does pressure you to bring beauty through other modes of your life. Fashion easily becomes another source of creative output.

So, many artists end up being artistic too in how they dress themselves, wearing different clothes that capture attention. I'm sure you've seen this happen in some of your "artsy" friends. Many of them have unique styles that break away from cookie-cutter norms. Just as the art-forms we pursue bring inspiration and joy, so can our style reflect that as well, even when we're not singing or painting. The duty of the artist as herald of beauty, doesn't need to stop when we go off duty.

Next time your eye is caught by an artist with sweet style, maybe take a moment to appreciate how they're fashionably inspiring the world. That artist is living out their vocation of beauty in a small, everyday way by being creative in how they "paint" themselves...plus, maybe we just really like looking good.


Rhythmic Peeve...

Soo, how are your rhythms coming along? Hopefully well! If there are coming along well, you can help soothe one of my biggest pet peeves. I couldn't help but be reminded of this as I spent the last post talking about rhythms.

As a musician, some things in life are ruined for you. Listening to the radio, you can hear every layer in the music. Simple harmonies and bad singing techniques which bother no one else, bother you. Going to a concert can be even worse. Your trained ear can tell that the guitar is a half-pitch flat in relation to the piano, but again, no one else even notices. It grates on you through every song. But above all this, one thing in particular kills me at every rock concert I go too. Clapping to the beat. Rock stars love to get everyone clapping to the beat of their big hit. It's fun audience participation, and most people have no trouble locking their ears into the the throbbing bass as it steadily pounds the beat out for them. Only problem, is that one person always manages to miss it. Despite the throbbing bass, they decide to let their clap float off into it's own aimless rhythm.

Most people clap:1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4........but off to the side you hear one person go: 1-2-3-4, 1--2-3--4, 1---2---3-----4.......and something inside musician me dies a tragic little death.

Does it bother them? No, they usually don't even notice that they have strayed. Does it bother the red-headed musician sitting one row behind them? YES...it bothers her to death. She, and all the others around can hear the beat, so why do you insist on trying to add a new one?

This my friends, is another reason why having a good sense of rhythm can be important, even if you're not a professional musician. It will greatly alleviate the stress of musicians around you, and potentially save your life from my death glare. More on Rhythm to come, but for now, I hope you enjoyed this public service announcement about rhythmic clapping in crowds.