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The Recent Downfall and Degradation of the Title 'Musician'


Composer: Someone that composes pieces for musicians to play, or uses pre-recorded samples to compose a track through an electronic platform.
Producer: Someone that produces a piece of music, predominantly original, and gives advice on structure, the message of the lyrics and instrumentation.
Sound engineer: Someone that mixes recorded instruments to form a cohesive bond of sonically equal frequencies. Also helps in the setting up of recording said instruments.
Performer: Someone that sings/raps and/or dances, that is involved vocally or physically within the song yet has no understanding of the music behind him/her.
These are four very similar yet very different things. I will now give my definition of a musician.
Musician: Someone that excels at one or more instruments. They intuitively understand where a piece of music may be going, through years of practice, theory and improvisation. Can write original music with strong understanding of the principles of structure, dynamics and the individual strengths and reasonable traits of their instrument. You can perform live and in the studio to a high degree.
Upon saying this, you might be shocked to read there are some vocalists I do not consider musicians. But if I am being strict with the title 'Musician', which I am, here is why I do not consider them musicians.
They have no idea what is going on in the music itself; they don't know why the piano is now using a Mixolydian scale, they have no idea what a turnaround is in a blues shuffle and they certainly don't understand why the bassist just laughed at the guitarist for playing a major chord instead of minor.
My point is that the term musician used to be taken a lot more seriously, it was something to strive for and achieve through passion and dedication. If you were a musician in the 40's you were immediately respected as someone that knew their instrument inside out.
My two issues:
1. Electronic producers regarding them self as musicians.
2. The term "Musician" being flung around at a moment's notice of picking up a guitar and covering their favourite song so Facebook can shower them with comments of their amazing ability.
I address the first; first.
If you press buttons on your Mac to create an electronically engineered track, this does not make you a musician.
Yes you may be talented, yes you may be musical, but as I will explain, the title 'Musician' is inaptly presumed by you.
As stated at the top, a musician is someone that plays the music. In this case, your Mac speakers are playing the music that a musician played to create the samples. You are in fact a composer/sound engineer. Possibly a producer in facets. You are dragging around pre-recorded material to create a cohesive formation of loops and melody's that create a track of music. You yourself have not created any of the music. I want to use an example to make this clear to those that are still in denial of their mouse tapping abilities not granting them access to the title "Musician."
If a person instructs another person on where to use certain colours, in certain quantities, with certain brushes on a blank canvas to create a painting, who is the painter? The one who actually created the brush strokes or the one who instructed them? I think the answer is obvious.
One argument a friend; a rather misinformed one at that, brought up was "isn't piano merely 'pushing buttons?"
Unfortunately, no. A pianist uses, at times, all 10 fingers simultaneously to lightly dance across the keys, whilst their foot pushes up and down on various pedals of varying effects to create an instantaneous array of articulate, dynamic sounds that range in moods, tempos and feels that usually reflect the players current feelings; an instantaneous display of skill and expression. This, to me, is a defining point of being a musician; the ability to express through music, on the spot, your feelings.
Now, if we were to actually for a second try and work with the notion 'isn't a piano merely pushing buttons', one would have to assume the bridge that is being created between piano and electronic sounds is that which results in something being pushed to make a sound. With that logic, I can go push a lion in the eye and when it roars (quite an audible sound) I am deemed a musician.
I believe I have asserted my point well enough on the basis of electronic producers being composers and not musicians. At this point I would like to mention that I do not see that as degrading, I would just like the correct title used. And I will also mention that I don't mind electronic music at all, and often enjoy its variety ranging from brutal pulses to ambient soundscapes.
And now my second issue.
Lately there has been an influx of 13-17 year olds purchasing a guitar, learning a few chords and piecing together a rough cover to attract attention to their newfound "talent". After several likes and comments they then announce them-self as a musician. When this happens, as it usually does every few weeks on my newsfeed, I sit there at my desk and a black woman appears in my mind fervidly exclaiming "Aw hell no."
As I said before, the title of musician is not to be taken lightly and its recent battering has broken it down. It is now achievable after only weeks of acquiring a taste for music, whereas once musicians were revered to as masters of their craft, now anyone can have an average voice and some quick learning skills and in a month they're a musician. Now don't get me wrong, I am not disheartening new talent from the musician world. I am all for honest and passionate dedication to music. But when a title that I have given my life to; just to proudly claim myself as a musician, is thrown around, when they have no knowledge that you can even play a D chord in a 4th, 5th and 6th string position, all still able to be Major, let alone the vast varieties of shapes and voicing's that a simple D chord can convert into, well it's just wrong.
Music is so much more than a few chords and a melody that you can post on Facebook. It is 10 hour blues jams, it is spicy jazz inversions, it's putting super glue on the tips of your fingers so you can play longer, it's being so emotionally broken down that the only thing you can do is sit at your piano and pour it out, with the skills to be able to even in such a vulnerable state. It's being able to connect with the lyrics you're singing, because you wrote them.
Its Stevie Wonder crying on stage as he plays a Michael Jackson song, still torn up at the loss of such a great musician. No shame in the act. No him trying to make cool faces and telling people to 'Share it'.
Being a musician is a lifestyle, something that encompasses your entire being, which seduces you and begs you to delve deeper into its mystical allure. It is not Pro Tools 9 and a few plug-ins.
Disclaimers note: The fact that I don't believe an electronic producer/composer can claim the title of musician does not at all inhibit my ability to respect and in some cases revere the talents of said individuals.

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Mastering Dubstep - Tips for Dubstep Beat Making


Dubstep is a fairly new type of electronic music, which got it starts within the city of London. Over time, this new genre began to spread throughout the UK, Europe and eventually, it became popular across the world. This new, unique genre of music focuses on bass hooks that are vibrant and deep. When listing to Dubstep, it's easy to think that the beat pattern is rather simple. However, Dubstep beat making is a lot more difficult than it sounds. If you want to master Dubstep, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind along the way.
Tip #1 - Understand the Rhythmic Structure
Before you begin to try your hand at Dubstep beat making, it is essential to understand the rhythmic structure of this form of music. The music has a very unique rhythmic structure and the beats are arranged in a very different way. While the tempo of the piece may be the same, the beats of the music are sequenced on a half time, often referred to as a 1/3 rhythm. For this reason, creating these beats can be difficult and confusing, especially for beginners that are unfamiliar with the style of music.
Tip #2 - Learn the Basic Dubstep Beat Pattern
Once you understand the rhythmic structure of Dubstep, then you need to learn a basic Dubstep beat pattern. If you listen to Dubstep, you will notice that the beat sounds very slow. However, the tempo of the song still will be near 140 beats per minute, which is close to the speed of many Techno tracks. Although the song itself is fast, the beats may sound slow because they are created in half time rhythm. This basically means that the layout of the beats makes the beat of the song occur at half the time of the track's tempo. This is one of the key features that ma8kes this music so distinctive. The slow, powerful, Dubstep beat has a 1/3 kick snare pattern, instead of the 1/2 and 3/4 kick snare pattern that is usually seen in pop music. This means that the beats actually occur on 1 and 3, which makes the beats sound slow and at half the tempo.
Tip #3 - Find Inspiration for Your Dubstep Tracks
To hone your skills at Dubstep beat making, it is important to find inspiration for your Dubstep tracks. Take time to listen to a lot of great music. Listen to current Dubstep tracks and be willing to open your mind so you can learn from every track that you find. Constantly listen to new Dubstep music, discovering new sounds and paying attention to the unique rhythmic structure of the music. Discover new pieces of music, soak up the new sounds and continually learn so you have plenty of inspiration, which will help you create your own tracks.
Tip #4 - Purchasing Dubstep Beat Making Software
Dubstep beat making also requires that you have the right beat making software. With the wrong beat maker, you will end up spending all your time figuring out the software instead of making beats. Look for software that allows you to quickly jump in and start making beats. With today's excellent, user friendly technology, the right software can help you start making Dubstep beats in no time.
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Should Musicians Perform for Themselves or Others?


As music is an art form, it involves emotions and feelings, but more essentially, the soul. This means that whether a person is a musician or not, even artistic or not, they respond on that essential level to music. This is true for everyone in some capacity or another. So, when a musician performs for others, regardless of who comprises the audience, there will be some form of emotional response. This means that music has the potential to create major effects in others.
All artists have the urge to create aesthetically. The musician, whether a composer or a performer, has the primary urge to do this as a personal experience. It is a release for the artist. Just as the honeybee makes honey, the musician makes music. It's part of their inherent nature.
Despite this fact, the crucial thing to know is that the musician is not doing this just for his/her own amusement or enjoyment. Music is an art form. And art can be considered art only so long as it is communicated to others.
The misconception is that art is done strictly for one's own enjoyment. While this can certainly be therapeutic or pleasurable, the fact of the matter is that if one creates aesthetically only for his/her own personal indulgence, it remains but a hobby. The artist or musician is becoming the effect of his/her cause. To be art, it must create an effect on others.
Imagine your favorite musicians. Consider that these artists never performed for anyone but themselves. Their art would have zero effect on you or other fans. In fact, they would have zero fans. In fact, you would have no clue that they even existed. That you have heard their message aesthetically, what effect did it create on you?
Again, just as the honeybee makes honey, the musician makes music. However, the honeybee isn't making honey just for itself; it's making it for the benefit of its hive, not to mention that other animals and humans also benefit from it. In the same way, the musician is creating music as an effect upon others. He/she is communicating aesthetically. True, it's enjoyable, but it's not just a hobby; its art. And that involves the communication to and elicited participation of others.
It's an ongoing interchange of energy. The good musician's performance is intoxicating to the listener. The waves of energy play upon each other and grow. Incidentally, this is also what gives music its humanitarian aspect. It can create such positive feelings that it can result in human betterment. This is also why music students are encouraged to give student recitals. This is important to do regardless of the size of the audience, but just as long as there is an actual audience.
To perform for others is what it's all about. It's a joy to use such power and ability to inspire others and thus elevate the world with higher sophistication.


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High Noon Vs The Left Handed Gun


Both American Western films, "High Noon" and "The Left Handed Gun" share genre similarities; icons, rituals or conflicts, such as the sheriff, the outlaw, the wedding day, the chase and pursuit, the gun battle or the moral ambiguity. Even though the second film tells the story from a different perspective, they both are fine analyses of the best and worst of America. "High Noon" is packed with a lot of symbolism, with the main focus on the ideal American hero, Will Kane, a courageous man with an incredible sense of duty and responsibility towards his town who finds himself having to put his personal happiness on hold and go after the criminal who he once put away.
Based on the classical play by Gore Vidal, "The Left Handed Gun" tells the story of Billy the Kid, a famed gunslinger from the southwest. A film about social alienation, considered by many viewers to be ahead of its time; presents several additions to the western genre such as a more profound study of the results of social alienation and teenage anxiety. Director Arthur Penn, most remembered for "Bonnie and Clyde", uses individual eye-catching details, all through the movie, such as the scene of Billy's first gunfight introduced through a steamed-up window. Ahead of their time additions to the western genre take this production from a simple western to a mental one.
Although presented from different angles, the eternal western conflict between the sheriff and the criminal and its impact on the town population are both present in "High Noon" and "The Left Handed Gun". The general conflicts lead to the final confrontation scene, in both "High Moon" and "The Left Handed Gun". The prevail of good, and the law is the most significant things for both sheriffs; even though Pat Garett might sympathize a little with Billy, being his best friend until he ruins his wedding.
The final scenes are similar at first sight (the decisive gunfight between good and evil) but different from a psychological point of view: Billy lets Garrett kill him, in what seems to be a "suicide by cop" attempt; whereas Miller and his gang wound sheriff Kane in the process and take his wife Amy hostage.
Both movie has played a significant role in the western genre history; loved by many and criticized by some; their impact on the cinematographic history can't be denied.
When it comes to classify "The Left Handed Gun" as a particular type of western the opinions are very diverse. It is clear that it is a western way ahead of its time, the portrayal of characters is going deeper into their personalities in comparison with other westerns from that period. Some call it a psychological western; some only characterized it as an American western but in my opinion; due to its darker and more cynical tones, also due to favoring realism over romanticism, and being centered on an anti-hero this film would be best placed in the category of revisionist westerns. Even though in today's times we may think of every western as a revisionist one, "The Left Handed Gun" falls perfectly into this category; and so does "High Noon", even though the accents of this subgenre are higher on the first one.
Arthur Penn's directorial debut, a revolutionist vision on the legend of Billy the Kid, and a different take on social alienation and its results; the film aired on time when people weren't so accustomed with this kind of a darker tone western, this being the main reason why it hasn't been well received by some.
Arthur Penn is best known for using historical films as a foundation for social commentaries and profound study on the human condition; the eternal battle between good and evil from a more intense point of view than we might be accustomed to from other classical westerns.

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A History of Music in Utah Valley and How to Get Involved


Musical Influences
The local music scene in Utah Valley thrives on several major cultural influences. The region derives most of its musical education and influence from its religious beginnings. As the area was settled by early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) seeking religious freedom, later generations are definitely influenced by the "Mormon" culture, doctrine and hymns. Often fundraising or benefit concerts highlight local LDS artists. The two cosmopolitan universities in the region give high priority to music programs. Students are from a variety of cultural backgrounds are from more than 120 countries and they have lent their own inspiration to the local music scene. Secular artists with their talent have given rise to contemporary Utah music. Artists from the region have also managed to become international stars and this has only served to make Utah very popular as a music festival destination.
Contemporary Utah Music Scene
Most contemporary bands are based in and around Provo and Salt Lake and bands like Kid Theodore, The Moth and The Flame, The Brobecks etc are very popular in the region. Local bands also play a unique but eclectic mix of indie, hip hop, jazz, country, goth and rock styles for patrons. The state has a flourishing local rock, folk, pop, heavy metal, A cappella, and indie culture and bands play in popular hotspots like the Velour Music Gallery, Kilby Courth, Muse Music Café etc. This also means that the area has a flourishing nightlife with café, restaurants and bistros providing vital meeting spots for new and emerging artists.
Keeping Track of Local Events
Tourists frequently visit the state for popular festivals like The Ogden Music Festival, The SLC Music Festival, Park City International Music Festival, the Autumn Classics Music Festival. The Utah Chamber of Commerce organizes several great festivals all through the year. You can keep track of the events by checking the Events Calendar at the Chamber of Commerce website. Often Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University put on free or affordable concerts.
Music Lessons
Go ahead and take advantage of all the talent and teachers in this area with lessons! Studies have shown that students who play an instrument perform better in other categories including math and science. You may want to look into the Utah School of Music and Dance or the Utah Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra. The following site is a great place to start when searching for a beginning music teacher:


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Madonna and Lady Gaga? Like Chalk and Cheese


If you have not read in the past years about the similarities between the music legend and her follower, you must have chucked every single magazine in the bin before opening it. Yet, looking at what these two artists have been doing in the past year, strikingly evident are not the similarities, but the differences between the two, and I should venture to say that they are diametrical opposites.
Starting, as is due, with the ultra-veteran Queen of Pop, who seems to be still defying age as well as gravity, after her enormously successful MDNA Tour, she has spent a year immersed in non-profit activities, spanning from trying to give independence to the poorest country in the world to what was formerly known as Secret Project, now Art for Freedom. After months of waiting, which allegedly the Grand Lady of Pop has spent editing the art video, a seventeen minute long film depicting, but not glorifying, and this is the point, extremely violent scenes, where a half naked dancer, and exquisite violinist Jason Yang, arguably one of the greatest musician alive, dances in front of high-booted machos who look down on him in indignation yet with the huge pleasure homophobes must feel when the tingle of their true sexuality tickles them in their dreams, this video, as we were saying, was broadcast in all major cities in the world, outside museums, in streets, and all, yes, for free. As Miss Ciccone herself states, the reference is to Nazi concentration camps, where victims were allowed to live as long as they could please the officers; so our dancer has to dance for his life. Now, Madonna has invited other artists to contribute and is offering people money to donate to their favourite charities. That she gives away tens of millions of Pounds in charity every year is well known, but the fact that she has now found a way to link freedom, art and charity in a virtuous circle shows that, if it were not clear from the super-advanced tour which was actually a parody of one of the most complex poems ever written, Dante's Divine Comedy, the Lady has not run out of ideas, steam and motivation.
On the other hand, Lady Gaga seems to be suffering from lack of inspiration, and whilst her album ARTPOP has as pretentious a title as a typeset (all in capital letters, because it is important and we should not forget it) disappoints from the cover: if that picture is meant to refer to pop art, Miss Germanotta is confusing popping balloons for art. Apart from the cover, the first single, 'Applause' is a desperate cry for attention, 'I live for the applause, applause, applause' and here is where the two differ: while Madonna makes her private experience into art for others (and no one denies that she is possibly the most ambitious person on the planet, but she has learnt how to put her ambition to the service of her art, and not vice versa, over the years), the less experience Lady seems to have abdicated any interest in being meaningful, and has turned herself, or the image she wants to project of herself, into her whole world.
Of course, the audience is showing signs of disaffection, in the end, there is only so much interest someone can simply claim for oneself. This does not mean that she is over, in my humble opinion. Madonna herself has not always hit the right balance between being innovative and commercial (mainly tending towards the first, with albums like Bedtime Stories, ten years ahead of its time and American Life), actually, looking at her cycles, it is usually two less understood albums followed by a massively huge one in recent years; where I find Lady Gaga might have learnt a lesson from the commercial slap on the wrist she is receiving is that she has promised that the next album will be different, possibly jazz, and I find that despite the poor choice of producer (Zedd would be good for a birthday party medley, but he can't seem to be able to melt songs consistently together, and Gaga's new album clearly suffers from this), there is, in terms of melody, something more interesting in Artpop (excuse the typeset) than in previous Gaga songs: there is, despite the lyrics and the bad production, a touch of originality, as if Lady Gaga were actually trying to find her voice, and it is not the super commercial voice or 'Bad Romance', nor the echo of Madonna's 1980s voice of 'Born this Way', but a more punk-oriented one. If it is true that she does not care for number one hits any more (and she's had a fair share of them), maybe she should start from there, and maybe she should let others decide what is, and what is not, good art.


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Nutcrackers, Rebellion and German Tradition


Simply put, a nutcracker is a tool. For cracking open nuts. So you can eat them. Period. At their most basic, nutcrackers resemble a device along the lines of pliers, or a handheld vice, which might seem more at home in a garage toolbox than a kitchen utensil drawer.
The nutcracker is a simple machine with a very respectable mechanical advantage, and works according to basic principles of physics. It functions as a Class Two lever, like a wheelbarrow or bottle opener, with the fulcrum at one end, the force of one's hand at the other, and the load - in this case, the nut - in the middle. Simple, indeed.
Not much is known about the origin of the humble nutcracker, though its early use in the English language dates back to the late fifteenth century. Versions of levers for various purposes go back as far as Classical Greece and beyond. Inspiration for its mechanical design may have come from observing the powerful beaks of parrots, so adept at getting to nutmeats. The pincer claws of lobsters and large crabs are equally compelling examples of natural design.
It wasn't until 1913 that Henry Quackenbush, an enterprising American manufacturer, patented his 1878 invention of a spring-jointed, metal nutcracker, and began making and selling the tool as a set that included four picks. Estimates suggest roughly 200 million of the Quackenbush version have been sold worldwide. We can also thank Mr. Quackenbush for the extension ladder and the .22 caliber Safety Rifle, but the nutcracker superseded all other manufacturing concerns in his company.
Yet the nutcracker possesses a storied and somewhat politically rebellious history, particularly in Germany, where the tool took on anthropomorphic properties. Nutcrackers, typically carved from wood, were made to look grim and fierce, showing their bared teeth, and were considered a token of good luck to give and receive among friends and neighbors. Many considered nutcrackers as talismans against evil spirits and danger, and displayed them in windows and openly in the home.
The German nutcracker also took on metaphorical properties, in that many were carved into the shape of kings, princes, police officers, soldiers, church leaders, and other figures of authority. Working class people took great delight in forcing a symbol of authority to crack their nuts for them, and so, quietly, they expressed rebellion against oppression by mocking the ruling class.
Tchaikovsky immortalized the nutcracker with his original ballet of the same name. The nutcracker is likened to a fabulous prince in Clara's dream, and he battles the evil rat to save her. Also worth mentioning is the Nussknacker Museum in Neuhausen, home of the world's largest nutcracker, and featuring approximately 3,000 different nutcrackers from 30 countries around the world.
The German style Christmas nutcracker did not become truly popular in the United States until shortly after World War II, when American soldiers returned from abroad with the quaint, distinct, cultural symbols. Commercial production of Christmas nutcrackers began with Wilhelm Friedrich Füchtner of Seiffen, a town in the Erzgebirge known for its toymaking history.
Online you can find a generous selection of Christmas nutcrackers worthy of display and worthy of generations of collection. Merry Christmas, and a generous share of good luck to those who give and receive them!


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