Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Play the Vocal Cords :)

So I went away this weekend to visit a friend who attends University of the Pacific in Stockton. It was really interesting experiencing a different dynamic of college than my own. I have felt a little embarrassed in the past that I don't attend some huge UC or highly acclaimed college, but I really got a great perspective of how to appreciate each school for their qualities. One of her roommates was really in to Hip Hop and we struck up a conversation about sampling and pretty much everything from the Cyberliberties reading from this week. It was really awesome.

Later that night, we all made bacon and without a working stove fan, we set off the smoke alarm in the dorm. About ten minutes later, the RA's came to our door and asked us what was up.
Roommate: Sorry, we burned the bacon...
RA: Yeah we know, we can smell it.
Roommate: .....
RA: We're going to have to call the Public Safety Officer.
(10 minutes later)
Officer: I'm going to need all your IDs.
Roommate: For bacon?

Wow. I was in shock. So the running joke now is an Excessive Bacon violation. Doesn't have to do much with this blog, but it's pretty funny. I really appreciate our music program here at CSUMB (Not the distance though!!). I'm glad that we have a one-of-a-kind Recording program.....


In class, we discussed our papers and especially our capstones. Nick was really helpful in informing us about what to look for, expect, start thinking about, and prepare for in our capstones.

Basically, the next 2 semesters' worth of MPA recording classes will prepare me for my capstone, which makes sense because its the accumulation of our skills learned at CSUMB.

Nick said to start writing now and get inspired to write an album because going into your capstone because you will have a lot easier of a time if you have everything ready to go, charts, lyrics, harmonies, etc. written!

On writing the paper, find something to write about that you love because the paper will end up being fifteen pages long!!! I'm thinking of writing on the voice, but not the technical aspect of the voice because that isn't what makes a good singer. Singing has to come from the heart. Like any instrument, one doesn't play amazing simply by playing perfect, excellence comes from the passion put into the playing. This part of the capstone will take a good amount of preliminary research as well because you have to LOVE the topic.

He also told me to find musicians that understand me to go behind my album. That will take a good amount of time to get to know everyone musically and socially. I'm actually on Adam's couch right now watching Star Wars lol got to get to know everyone!

The Golden Mean (from what I understood) is the middle point between two extremes: excess and deficiency. So, relative to the topic, I would have to say the Golden Mean is finding the middle point between doing nothing to prepare for my capstone, and doing too much before its time to take the capstone class. Be pro-active about the capstone, but there is sooo much that I can't do yet. Find the balance.

My thoughts on some possibilities of the album are to make an album completely made up of my voice, but that would be ridiculously difficult and I kind of want to work with a band on something like this. Maybe record the album with my songs that I have written (only the really good ones) and focus on the vocals and band as a collaborative whole....

I want to do a lot of the album myself because I want to be self-sufficient with my musical career when I leave CSUMB. One thing that has always scared me are drums. I don't know how to play them and I get scared and intimidated when I try. So I feel like I should take lessons or stop freaking out about it and do them myself! How else do I get over a phobia of something that I should not be scared of? Being self-sufficient was another idea for the paper as well.

After class, I got to have a nice pep talk from Nick. I told him that I am totally intimidated in class and by other musicians that can play multiple instruments. I can sing and barely play piano compared to some of the kids in my classes. He stopped me and told me to remember that my voice is an instrument that some people envy and that I should remember that I am a vocalist. It made a lot of sense. I forget about my voice when I watch other kids pick up the bass, the guitar, the drum sticks, the piano, etc. and I get so down on myself that I can't play any of those that great. So thanks Nick for the pep talk and for getting my head on right about this capstone!


Just because I can't play any other instruments doesn't mean I am totally incompetent as a musician.... because I PLAY THE VOCAL CORDS very well and I love it :) It truly is a passion.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Super Freak

Let's learn some stuff about music :)
This week's topics have been about copyright law and mine and my classmates' concentrations and areas of desired study. There were so many great areas of interests and everyone checked out really great books.


1. The Complete Guide to Film Scoring (Berklee Press)
2. Why Classical Music Still Matters by Lawrence Kramer
3. Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar
4. Rick Rubin in the Studio
5. Careers in Audio by Jeff Touzeau
6. Knowing the Score by David Morgan
7. Singing with Your Own Voice by Orlanda Cook
8. Techniques of the Contemporary Composer by David Cope
9. World of Music by David Willoughby
10. The Art of Film Music by George Burt
11. The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green

These are the links to the books my classmates read for this paper all of which sounded very interesting and valuable to read!

I started on the homework for MLO 2 and found a lot of really awesome facts from the readings about Copyright Law and Infringement.

First of all... I always start singing the words to Super Freak every time Can't Touch This comes on and now I know why! MC Hammer sampled the instrumental music from Super Freak!

Super Freak - Rick James

Can't Touch This - MC Hammer

Awesome right? Classic example of Sampling.

I was really stoked that I stumbled on this info...
I knew I wasn't crazy!

Back to Copyright Law.... Copyright disputes between artists are almost always expressed in moral and ethical terms because there isn't really another way to treat the arts, especially that of music.

Why? Because without copyright, there wouldn't be protection of peoples' original compositions and the there wouldn't be any way to make money from your own music if every one's music sounded the same. On the other hand, if copyright law is too strict, there isn't any room for new artists trying to get established in the business to build off of the ideas of artists that are established and have paved the road. Its really a touchy subject and each copyright case must be treated as such.

What I don't understand is how the law for file sharing and digital sampling is treated today because a lot of the Cyberliberties chapter talked about lawsuits and happenings as recent as 2008. If you go on Soundcloud.com, you find thousands of artists that sample other musicians' music, lyrics, and melodies.

And I can make at least 7 CD's on iTunes before the pop-up window informs me of distribution rights and whatnot.

Anyways, I really liked the comparison between the African Tradition and the American Copyright. Interesting views because they are both smart and have good points. As a singer/songwriter, I appreciate copyright law and am glad that I can protect my songs.


8 pages of notes and bordering on 7-9 collective hours later, these 2 credits are kickin my butt.
Listening to Super Freak :D

Monday, September 12, 2011

This is Sparta!

As I enter into my third year of college and kick down the door of my concentration, I am finding that this, my friends, is the college life I have been waiting for. I just didn't expect it to put up a fight....

I worked all weekend on a project that I should have known about weeks ago. It sucks having to except our own faults. However, I sat on the library floor and got a bit carried away in the immense sea of singing and songwriting books. It was great.


The books I chose to really read through and focus on were On the Art of Singing by Richard Miller and  Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison. I liked both books so much. Especially my peripheral book by Pattison.

On the Art of Singing described how to use the voice, what the voice is, and why it works the way it does. I learned something really awesome about the bone in the human neck called the Hyoid Bone.

  • It's the bone that connects the "Terrible Triplets of the Vocal Tract". The tongue, hyoid bone, and larynx. 
  • It's the one and only bone in the throat. Whoa
  • And it's not connected to any other bones, just cartilage!
The main purpose of this cool bone is to protect the tracea, larynx, and vocal cords pretty much. It is attached to the bottom of the incredible tongue muscle - the strongest muscle in the body fyi - and has a lot to do with how sound is produced through our vocal tract and how well the tone, diction, and placement is. 

You can see the hyoid bone in the X-ray to the right. 
Plus... this bone has "horns". 
Pretty sick.

I have been singing with correct training for almost 9 years now and I love it. I know how to sing correct (not saying that I always do!), but I have improved my tone, breathing control, diction (that's another story), my support, and my vowel and jaw placement. 

Back to diction.... I have something called thrust tongue. I'm pretty sure the idiot that decided to name it that was laughing his ass off when some poor lisping tragedy was attempting to say it. What a d%@$. 

Yeah I have that, and it's not too noticeable. But I do struggle to pronounce certain consonants and vowels correctly and have to rearrange my entire mouth and tongue to pronounce a sound that three years of braces and mouth gear has prohibited me from saying with ease. 
Stupid dentist! My mouth was fine!

Anyway, the voice is a special instrument that must be taken care off because you can't replace it, or repair it, or take it out to soak for a while. 

See the gap?! Preposterous.

This was taken by a Montana Newspaper in November of 2009.... in Montana obviously. See the snow? But it was a great thing being asked to sing for the Montana State vs. SAC STATE football game! I really needed some Californians to talk Californian to.... Anyways, it's almost impossible to get good singing pictures because they come out looking crazy. 

Let me pick myself apart real quick. First of all, look at my fist. I can't remember if I was slightly straining (most likely, it's not an easy habit to get rid of), or if I was just freezing (approx. 10ºF)... 
Secondly, look at my vocal tract. You can see the muscles of my neck slightly tensed (I'm going to just say that I was singing the phrase "and the rockets red glare" because that's my power stance) and I am attempting to drop my jaw and flatten my tongue to produce the right, full A sound of "glare". 
Third, I am proud to say that my posture isn't so bad :) Nice and straight. 

The second book I chose was Berklee instructor Pat Pattison's Writing Better Lyrics and damn, the book was great. I love it. The Library can't have it back...
I was the first person to check it out anyway! 

The book talks informally about the art of songwriting, which is a serious concentration that I am looking into pursuing in my recording degree. Pat talks about how to be a better writer without selling short, avoiding clichés, finding structure, and the different kinds of rhyming. I am very picky about my writing technique and the things I write about. I know that I can make it work because my original music gets a lot of great attention on my YouTube channel... 

Just read this intro to the Avoiding Clichés chapter....
Sorry, I know the text is small. 
Seriously though. The sleeping puppy? I really didn't see that coming and I fell in love with this author because of weirdo stuff like this that catches me off guard. 

If you get a chance to read it, do it.


So, all in all, this was the first big ass assignment I have been assigned this semester and year and I kind of feel like I dropped the ball. 

Just want to say that Drew, you are scary when you look calm, but you sound mad....

Thanks for pushing us and pushing me to be a badass student. Today was a mess, but our talk made things a lot better. 

Alrighty, I'm about to make my way up to the music hall once again to record. Learn something. I really truly hope that I can play catch up in the next few days so that I can sleep better. I really hate dreaming of Firewire Drives not arriving in the mail. 

For anyone in school studying something you love, don't take it for granted. Work hard and literally plow through the doors of knowledge and education because we are the future.