Violins: Modeled after the Greats

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Guarneri Model (left) and Stradivari Model (right)

Have you ever wondered why so many violins have labels inside them that say “Antonius Stradivarius”, usually accompanied by a year in the 1700s that has nothing to do with when the instrument was actually made?

In the violin-making world, two names reign above all others: Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri.

Almost every violin ever made (and certainly every mass-produced one) is modeled after one of these greats. Stradivari is the most famous, and the most copied. For centuries now, violinmakers have been trying to replicate the graceful curves and bright tone of the Strad, down to the most minute detail. Others prefer the Guarneri model, with it’s deeper sound, it’s slightly shallower C bouts and elongated f-holes.

What makes the two models similar, besides their agreed-upon greatness, is that both Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri lived in Cremona in Northern Italy, in the 1700s. Though Stradivari was about 50 years older than Guarneri, their lives definitely overlapped, and their craft rivals only each other. It is certainly possible that the two were using similar if not the exact same materials in the crafting of their instruments.

This article, from the New Yorker, talks about the newly-discovered chemical compounds found in the woods and varnishes the two masters used, and how this new discovery may answer the centuries-old question of what made these two makers’ instruments the pinnacle of quality.

To answer the label question, though- don’t be put off by the attempt to “fool” you with that false name. Generally the “Antonius Stradivarius” label you find in non-actual-Strads are really just telling you that your instrument was modeled  after one of the greatest ever made, and that’s as close to a Strad most of us ever get.

StringOvation- new online publication for string players

 

Ever find yourself wondering how to deal with stage parents? Or whether or not there were apps just for violinists? Or what sort of careers are available to you or your child as a musician?

Connolly Music has launched an online publication just for those of us who find ourselves consumed by all things strings- and those of us who are just starting out. Filled with tips and information about everything from learning the basics to who’s hot in the music industry now, String Ovation seems to be the resource we’ve all been waiting for.

StringOvation.com is devoted to music teachers, string musicians, and string music aficionados. Its mission is to help its readers deepen their knowledge and expertise as musicians as well as their appreciation of string music.”

Why we love it: lists of current string musicians who are “keeping it cool”, tools for inspiring students to keep with it, practical tips on things like string-shopping, instrument insurance, career options and the science of violins.

Mobile Music Makes way in Boston

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Sunday, September 18th through Tuesday the 20th, a unique vehicle will bring music to the Greater Boston area.  The Music Haul, a 17-foot U-haul truck which mechanically converts into a fully functioning stage with the touch of a button, will be touring Boston with concerts scheduled in the South End, Dorchester, and Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. Later stops include performances at Harvard Square and the State House.

Writing for the Boston Globe, Malcom Gay reports that the Music Haul is, “the brainchild of Yellow Barn, an acclaimed center for chamber music tucked away in the hills of southeastern Vermont.”

“Its creators say the Music Haul’s main mission is to bring world-class concert performances to the most unlikely of places: schools, underserved neighborhoods, hospitals, perhaps even prisons.”

“Because it’s unexpected, people will not have preconceptions, and they won’t feel the fear of ignorance in the face of an experience they’ve never had before.  Without that expectation, you have a kind of vulnerability, an openness, that one needs to listen in the best possible way.”

You can read the full article over on The Boston Globe website.

Local Brew Events’ 6th annual Fiddle ‘n Folk Fest!

On September 10 from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, Local Brew Events’ 6th annual Fiddle n Folk Fest will take place

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in Haines Park, Barrington RI (near Cove Haven Marina).
Featuring more than 10 acts such as: Cowboy and Lady, French Roast,

Bay Spring Folk, Old Fiddlers Club of RI, as well as storytelling by Len Cabral, food trucks, craft vendors, dancing, and kids activities, it’s bound to be a rousing event.
Join the all-levels fiddle jam with Andy Grover from 10:00- 11:00 am. Bring a chair and a blanket and enjoy the day overlooking Narragansett Bay.

The day’s events are FREE, thanks to generous support from RI State Council on the Arts, the Town of Barrington Recreation Department, Barrington Public Library, The Bay Team, Friends of the Bay Spring Community Center, New Harvest Coffee, Wildflour Vegan Bakery, RIDEM, and many generous individuals.

A rain date is set for September 11.
View the festival flyer HERE.
For more information go to facebook.com/FiddleNFolkFest.

Does Music help you Concentrate?

The right music can hit the sweet spot between predictable and chaotic for which the brain has a strong preference.’ Illustration: Sophie Wolfson

 

Music is wonderful.  It can make us feel almost any emotion.  It can make us dance, make us cry, and it can even help us stay focused, but what is it about music that keeps us focused on everyday tasks, like driving, reading, or writing?

As a new article on theguardian.com by Dean Burnett explains, the brain has two attention systems: a conscious, and unconscious one.  The conscious attention system focuses on our current task, such as writing an article, while the unconscious system, “shifts attention towards anything our senses pick up that might be significant,” like the sudden, sharp ring of a fork being dropped onto a plate in the other room.

When we listen to music, we block out sounds or distractions that the unconscious attention system might otherwise pick up.  Some companies have tried to use this to their advantage, playing music over speaker systems to keep their employees focused on their tasks.  Burnett explains that results have been mixed.  It seems that the type of music plays a major role in focus increasing effectiveness.

“Some studies suggest that it really is down to personal preference. Music you like increases focus, while music you don’t impedes it…Music also has a big impact on mood – truly bleak music could sap your enthusiasm for your task. Something else to look out for is music with catchy lyrics. Musical pieces without words might be better working companions, as human speech and vocalization is something our brains pay particular attention to.”

Finally, Burnett notes that some of the best music for keeping focus has breen credited to video game soundtrack music.  “This makes sense, when you consider the purpose of the video game music: to help create an immersive environment and to facilitate but not distract from a task that requires constant attention and focus. ”

You can read the full article over on theguardian.com.

Scary Music Influences our Thoughts about Sharks

You know the song, it starts out slow, daa-na….daa-na, then increases in pace, da-na..da-na..da-na.  At this point you know what’s coming.  A great big shark is making it’s way straight towards you!

A diver swims with great white sharks. Credit: solarseven | Shutterstock.com

What started as a background music to get your blood pumping for thriller movies like Jaws has jumped from the big screen to the small.  Scary, ominous music is more often than not featured alongside sharks in nature documentaries and according to a new study, it’s taking it’s toll.

“It’s making people feel unjustly terrified of sharks, and these negative feelings are likely hindering efforts to save and protect the magnificent fish, a new study finds.”

In the study, “Researchers showed 2,100 people a 60-second video clip of sharks that was either silent or set to ominous or uplifting music. People who watched the “frightening” music clip tended to rate sharks more negatively compared with people who watched the video with uplifting music or silence, they found.”

This finding is concerning, as most people view documentaries as educational, and may not be aware that these so-called objective shows are actually eroding their feelings toward sharks, said study lead researcher Andrew Nosal.

You can read more about the study, and read the original article over on livescience.com!

Music Makes Beer Taste Better!

Looking for a new trick to make beer taste better?  Good news!  According to a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, music can actually influence the way an individual perceives the taste of beer.

Photo credit: Dr. Felipe Reinoso Cavalho (image has been cropped)

A team of researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and KU Leuven were curious whether an individual’s taste experience could be influenced by music and packaging design, so they designed an experiment to test their theory.

A group of 231 participants were split into three groups.  One drank their beer from a bottle with no label and no specific song in the background.  Second, there was a group who drank the beer from a bottle with the beer’s specifically-designed label. Finally, a third group drank the beer from the labelled bottle while also listening to a specific song.

According to the study results, those who drank the labeled beer with music playing in the background reported a greater enjoyment than those who drank the labeled beer alone.

You can read the full story and more details about the study in the original article on thescienceexplorer.com!

New Chamber Orchestra Opportunity for New Learners!

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We have recently learned that the Moses Brown School in Providence RI is forming a community orchestra!

The school is looking for adult players who are learning violin, viola, cello, or double bass at the beginner or intermediate levels.

You can read more about this exciting opportunity, including the rehearsal schedule, contact information, and download the registration form by clicking the following link: HERE.

How our Culture Impacts our Music Taste

 

What determines our taste in music?  Is it something predetermined, born within us?  Or does it have more to do with how we are raised?  This discussion of nature vs. nurture is not new among scientists, and past studies have found evidence suggesting that nature has some role to play.

However, a new study published by the Nature Journal of Science suggests that the music we are exposed to in our culture while we are growing up has a lot to do with it.

Photo: Alan Schultz via MIT

“A team of researchers from multiple universities, including MIT and Brandeis University, conducted two studies in 2011 and 2015. They asked study participants to rate the pleasantness of both consonant and dissonant chords. Some of those surveyed were from the United States, but most were from the Tsimane, an Amazonian tribe with limited exposure to Western culture. Also included was a group of Spanish-speaking Bolivians who live in a small town near the Tsimane, and residents of the Bolivian capital, La Paz.”

For those unfamiliar, the differences between consonant and dissonant chords and be heard here:

“In Western culture, consonant sounds are typically described as pleasant, while dissonant ones are tense and a little grating.”

The study discovered that while western participants found the dissonant chords to be unpleasant, or were repelled by them, “the researchers found that the Tsimane rated consonant and dissonant tones equally in terms of pleasantness.”

Researchers theorized that this may be because, “Tsimane music doesn’t make use of harmony, unlike the music of Western cultures. Instead of using chords, they are more accustomed to one note being played at a time.”

You can read more about the study in the full article over at gizmodo.com.

Rock ‘n’ Roll ‘n’ Politics

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Abbey Oldham

A new exhibit titled “Louder than Words: Rock, Power, and Politics” is on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio.

The exhibit, “features bands and artifacts – everything from instruments and sheet music to clothing – that documents American history through the tunes we rock out to. The exhibit is free all week while approximately 40 events take place at the Hall across four days during the Republican National Convention.”

According to Greg Hall, the CEO of the Hall of Fame, “At its core, some say all rock ‘n’ roll is political.  It’s asking you to think differently, maybe to push the envelope, maybe to believe in something that you don’t currently believe in.”

You can read more about the exhibit in the full article over at pbs.org.

When Music Gives You Chills

 

You’re sitting in a comfy chair, eyes closed, completely engulfed in listening to a favorite piece of music when it hits you, chills that run up your spine and across your skin.  This reaction, known as frisson, only occurs in about a half to two-thirds of the population according to an article published by Jason Daley on The Smithsonian website on June 20th.

According to the article, past research has shown that dopamine “floods through the body” when one experiences the chills, but a new study published in the journal, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience sought to find out exactly what happens to the brain when frisson occurs.

Individuals in the study who experienced the chills were found to, “have more nerve fibers connecting auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes sound, to their anterior insular cortex, a region involved in processing feelings” in comparison to their fellow subjects who never experienced frisson themselves.

So, emotional connections and reactions to music is one cause of the chills, but another study finds that taking a more intellectual approach can also cause an increase in the chill factor as well.

A study preformed by doctoral student Mitchell Colver finds that, “people engaged in the music more intellectually, like trying to predict the melody or putting mental imagery to the music, were more likely to get a shiver when the music deviated from their expectations in a positive way.”

Whether it’s emotional or intellectual, for some, the experience of listening to music just wouldn’t be the same without that wonderfully spine tingling feeling.

You can read the full article over on thesmithsonianmag.com.

 

The Best Part of Waking Up…

Is music in your ears!  According to a new study by Spotify and Ipsos one of the best motivators to get out of bed on a Monday morning is the thought of listening to your favorite music.

After polling 3,005 people across the globe, Ipsos found that Mondays are the mornings where people feel the least motivated to get up and out.  While coffee unsurprisingly took first place as the biggest Monday morning motivator, music came in a very close second.

The survey found that 46% of people use coffee to get out of bed, while 44% said their favorite playlist is the best motivator. Music beat out food, working out, and sex as the best way to get going on a Monday.

You can read the full article over on teenvouge.com.

Music Therapy at Boston Children’s Hospital

What started as a volunteer program utilizing Berklee College Students in 1996 at the Boston Children’s Hospital has evolved into a program with four certified music professionals working 130 hours a week, all in the hopes of easing child patients anxieties and helping them cope with their illnesses.

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Photo by David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Melissa Bailey writing for the Boston Globe recently published an article focusing on the program and it’s impact on the hospital and its patients.  Bailey interviewed Joanna Bereaud, who started at the hospital as a Berklee student 15 years ago.

“Bereaud specializes in working with younger patients, including babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, where she helps parents compose songs to sing to their kids. Even when the child is sedated or can’t yet talk, she said, she can see a melody’s soothing effect: On the hospital monitors, their heart rates and breathing regulate.”

Music therapy used to be confined to patients awaiting bone marrow transplants, now it’s available to anyone.  In 2015, Bereaud and other music therapy staff treated 9,000 patients and their families.  From helping a child fall a sleep, use the bathroom, stay calm before a procedure, or even assist with the difficult process of saying the final goodbye, the power of music is undeniable.

You can read the full article here on the Boston Globe website.

BRT Summer Solstice Festival

Don’t miss out on the Blackstone River Theater’s Summer Solstice Festival next weekend at Diamond Hill Park in Cumberland!

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Stop by for a day of music, food, and celebration!
Featuring performances by:

Atwater-Donnelly Trio Barrule (from Isle of Man) Mari Black Trio
The John Doyle Band Eastern Medicine Singers Girsa
The Gnomes Low Lily Pendragon Tir Na Nog Irish Dance
The Vox Hunters with Torrin Ryan Will Woodson & Eric McDonald

The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 18th (rain date, June 19th).
For ticket information and more, visit the BRT Solstice Festival website!

Trump is Not Queen’s Champion, My Friend

The Rolling Stone reports this week that Queen guitarist Brian May, “has issued a stern statement denouncing the usage” of the band’s famous anthem, “We Are the Champions” by Donald Trump.  The track played while Trump walked onstage after his final victory in the Republican Primaries Tuesday night.

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Photo: Matt A.J.

After receiving, “an avalanche of complaints,” May came forward on his website to denounce Trump’s use of the song and confirm that permission was never sought nor given for the song to be used in the first place.

May stated, “Regardless of our views on Mr. Trump’s platform, it has always been against our policy to allow Queen music to be used as a political campaigning tool.”  He also responded to a fan on his website saying, “I will make sure we take what steps we can to dissociate ourselves from Donald Trump’s unsavoury campaign.”

You can read the full story on therollingstone.com

 

Bernanza! The Bernie Sanders Music Festival

This summer in Omaha Nebraska, Bernie Sanders fans will gather at Sokol Park for a three day celebration of Bernie, music, art, and more!  Planned, and paid for out-of-pocket, by Kris Love and Keila Castillo, two “now broke” friends, 100% of the proceeds from the festival (up to 10,000 dollars, “the max allowed due to FEC regulations”) will go to the Bernie Sanders campaign.

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According to the festivals website:

“There will be headliners as well as up and coming artists performing at a very cheap rate, if not pro bono. Several artist have even created parodies or original songs specifically about Bernie. Even the vendors have gotten creative with tie dye and hand painted Bernie shirts, earrings, hat pins, canvases, etc. One vendor, “Bernie Sandwiches,” is even making Panini’s and grilling Bernie’s face into the bread.”

With an admission price of just $50 for the entire three day weekend, the event looks like a promising way to “Feel the Bern” among like minded “Berners” looking to have a good time and spread the message of Bernie Sanders.

According to the festival’s website, “There’s “no fracking” way you’d want to miss this event; it is going to be “yuuuge!

You can check out more on the Bernanza festival’s website!

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Double Bass Player Dies Onstage

Jane Little, of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra died Sunday, May 15th, doing what she loved best, playing her double-bass and making music onstage.

Image: Dustin Chambers/Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Little began playing with the Symphony in 1945 when she was just 16 years old.  In February she was awarded a Guinness World Record  after reaching her 71st anniversary with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.  She was 87 years old at the time of her death.

You can read more of Little’s story here on NPR.

An Icelandic Treasure; The Music of Ólafur Arnalds

The year was 2010 and a conversation about movie soundtracks and classical music prompted my friend to ask the question, “Have you ever heard of Ólafur Arnalds?”  I hadn’t.  Nor would I realize how thankful to my friend I would be for mentioning him until I later opened up the link she sent me to the official music video of Arnalds’ song Ljósið.  Hard to pronounce, but not hard to listen to, I was immediately hooked to the music and sped over to iTunes to hear (and purchase) more.

Hailing from Mosfellsbær Iceland, Arnalds is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer.  According to his iTunes biography, he got his start drumming for a series of metal bands and his entry into the neo-classical field was “somewhat accidental.” Some material Arnalds recorded for the German band Heaven Shall Burn was heard by The Erased Tapes Label and they approached him about recording a full album of his own.

In 2007, that album, Eulogy for Evolution was released.  Since then, Arnalds has released three EPs, two studio albums, and a multitude of collaborations.  He has also provided the scores for the BBC series Broadchurch, and has had music featured in a number of films, notably including The Hunger Games.

According to a short statement on his website, Arnalds believes that, “…the greatest thing about being a musician is being in the position to inspire other people.”
He says he, “…takes such pleasure in hearing that people have been motivated to create after hearing my music, whether it be a painting, a poem, their own music or something completely different.  Music is not a one way street, it is a conversation where the listener’s role is as important as the artist’s.”

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A favorite album of mine, For Now I Am Winter, was released April 2nd, 2013.  Earning a five star rating on iTunes, the album was the first of Arnalds’ to include vocals, provided by singer and lyricist Arnór Dan.

When it comes to inspiration, this album has provided the fuel to create illustrations, short stories, and the characters that fill them on many a long night at school, hunched over in bed as the music resonated from my laptop speakers.

The music, which sets the perfect backdrop for sitting at the window with a cup of hot chocolate during a January snowfall, evokes deep feelings and emotions.
Gentle piano, sometimes haunting vocals, paired with backdrops of electronic synth and string instruments creates a deeply satisfying soundtrack to any activity.  Hard to put into words, the album leaves a lasting impression, as cliched as it may sound.

For Now I Am Winter, along with the rest of Arnalds music, can be purchased on the iTunes music store or his own website olafurarnalds.com.

 

Why Does Repetition Work in the Music We Love?

Repetition.  It’s a tool used to memorize, hone skills, and make lasting impressions.  In many cases though, repetition causes fatigue or boredom, so why does the technique work so well in the world of music?

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Author Tom Service writing for The Guardian wanted to know why.  In his article, Stuck on Repeat: Why we love Repetition in Music he states that not only does repetition within a song work for us, it also explains why we like listening to the same song over and over again.  He states that repetition, “Far from dilutes our pleasure… [it] only seems to amplify our involvement in these musical experiences.”

Consider repeating a word over and over again.  After some time, that word loses its meaning and ceases to sound like an actual word.  This phenomena is known as “semantic satiation” and although it plagues words and phrases, it doesn’t have the same effect on music.  Instead, repetition causes us to anticipate with excitement the upcoming chorus or tune, and increases our feeling of “participating” in the music.

When you think about it, that anticipation of getting ready to belt out the chorus of your favorite song is in many cases what keeps us going back again and again.  It’s part of what makes music special and sets it apart from other art forms.

You can read more in detail in Service’s full article here on The Guardian.

 

365 Prince Illustrations serve as a Lasting Tribute

(AP) – Local Pawtucket Rhode Island artist Rebekah Major has gained recent attention for a project started last March titled “365 Days of Prince.”

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One of Rebekah Major’s favorite Prince illustrations, a take on Norman Rockwell’s famous self-portrait. (Rebekah Major via AP)

The project came to light after the shocking death of music icon Prince last week.  When speaking to the Associated Press, Major said she started the project to “improve as an artist” and that Prince resonated with her because his music, “brings everyone together.”

Rebekah’s illustrations can be found on her website dedicated to the project, 365daysofprince.com.  You can read more here.

Music Helps Babies Unlock Language Learning

A new study from the University of Washington reports that music, “…may help babies learn language better, in part by helping them learn to detect important rhythms.”

According to the study, the ability to recognize and predict patterns and rhythms in music can translate to predicting the patters and rhythms in speech as well, even in babies only nine months old.

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Compared to babies in the control group, babies who were subjected to twelve, fifteen minute long music sessions, “showed more brain activity.” Christina Zhao, the researcher who led the study, says this means, “…early, engaging musical experiences can have a more global effect on cognitive skills.”

Patricia Kuhl, head of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington explains, “Music experience has the potential to boost broader cognitive skills that enhance children’s abilities to detect, expect and react quickly to patterns in the world, which is highly relevant in today’s complex world.”

Music is a wonderful tool for entertainment, but also for education.  It not only teaches the musicians who play it, but also the listeners, even those with the smallest of ears!

You can read the full article and more about the study over at NBC News.

Punk Rock Legends; A Stroll through Ramones History in Queens

Alex Vadukul of the New York Times recently took a tour through Queens alongside Mickey Leigh, the younger brother of Ramone’s front man Joey Ramone.  Visiting sites such as the pair’s childhood homes, Forest Hill High School, which all of the band members attended, and the band’s “primitive rehearsal space,” a basement where Leigh recalls, “…opening this door and getting hit by the smell and sound of the Ramones,” Vadukul was sure to hit all of the band’s old stomping grounds.

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Part of the Queens Museum exhibition “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk.” Credit Willie Davis for The New York Times

The tour set a backdrop to the opening of a new exhibition at the Queens Museum titled “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk.”  Vadukul writes, ” The four-room exhibition follows the band from its misfit beginnings to its later acceptance into pop culture, including in animated form on ‘The Simpsons,” and features such artifacts as, “…the military academy belt of the guitarist, Johnny (John Cummings); report cards with lackluster grades belonging to the bassist, Dee Dee (Douglas Colvin), and the lead singer, Joey (Jeffrey Hyman); and a yearbook photo spotlighting the drummer, Tommy (Thomas Erdelyi), as a member of the Audio-Visual Squad.”

You can read Vadukul’s article full of punk rock reminiscing over at The New York Times.

 

Brace Yourselves, New Game of Thrones Music is Coming

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April has arrived and with it comes season six of HBO’s wildly popular Game of Thrones. The new season is set to premier on April 24th and while fans theorize about the twists and turns of the upcoming plot, music fans wait to hear what composer Ramin Djawadi will bring to the table this time around.

Djawadi has been composing the scores for Game of Thrones since 2011, when he was brought onto the project just 10 weeks before the series premier. From the iconic Main Title sequence, the somber themes of Winterfell, to the booming drums of the Dothraki plains, Djawadi’s music has been well received by Thrones fans and music critics alike.  The initial soundtrack earned a five star rating on iTunes along with raving reviews, while season two followed up with four stars.  Seasons three, four, and five followed, each receiving ratings of four and a half stars.

In an interview with filmmusicmedia.com, Djawadi explains that producers told him avoid flutes or solo vocals which had previously been pillars of successful fantasy music, such as the Lord of the Rings series. Instead, Djawadi strove to set Game of Thrones apart, pinning the use of the solo cello as one of the scores major successes.  Figuring out how to place the music among the dialogue and action of the show was another challenge that Djawadi faced, but overcame, delivering scores that beautifully enhance the story and characters to viewers of all backgrounds.

With the premier date on the horizon, Thrones and music fans wait in anticipation for the official release date of the season six soundtrack.  Based on the release dates of the previous soundtracks, the new material should arrive sometime towards the end of the season, most likely mid-June.  For the time being, fans will have to hold themselves over with reruns, past soundtracks, and on April 24th, the brand new season of Game of Thrones.

Lake Street Dive returns to Boston

Boston-born band Lake Street Dive returned to the city to play a sold-out show at the House of Blues last Wednesday!

 

 

” ‘We owe a lot of gratitude to this city,” Price said near the end of the set, before listing off local venues Lake Street Dive had played in during its journey to major-label status: now-closed spots like “the bubble tea place on Boylston” and the Cambridge bar All Asia, intimate rooms like Cambridge’s Toad and Club Passim, and bigger venues like the Sinclair, Royale, and, of course, House of Blues. It provided a nice callback not just for Lake Street Dive, but also for the fans who were welcoming the band home.”

Read Maura Johnston’s review of the performance at the Boston Globe.

Why are musicians “selling out”?

At the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference, panelists discussed ‘How did this song get in that commercial?” More and more musicians are selling their music to advertising companies, a practice that used to be branded as “selling out.”

 

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In an interview with NPR’s Audie Cornish, Michael Paoletta, a panelist, remarked that “Sometimes when the music is right, you don’t need words at all.” Read more about why music is so essential to advertising and much more here.

 

The Ramones’ self-titled 1976 album to be reissued this summer!

In 1976, The Ramones released their self-titled first album. Although the record was not a success at first, it “became the founding document of punk rock.”

 

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The Ramones

 

On the occasion of the album’s 40th anniversary, Rhino Records is reissuing an expanded album this summer! In addition, there will be an exhibition entitled “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk,” at the Queens Museum beginning April 10.

Read more about the Ramones album on the New York Times!

Michelle Obama delivers the keynote address at SXSW

First Lady Michelle Obama gave the keynote address at the annual South by Southwest conference and festival in Austin, Texas on Wednesday. She talked about the Let Girls Learn initiative and participated in a panel with Missy Elliott, Diane Warren, Sophia Bush and Queen Latifah.

 

 

Read some interesting commentary on the event at NPR.

 

Hamilton at the White House!

Obama invited the cast of Hamilton to sing “Alexander Hamilton” and “My Shot” at the White House on Monday! The event was live streamed and is now available to watch here.

 

 

In his remarks before the performance, Obama stated, “…And in the Hamilton that Lin-Manuel and his incredible cast and crew bring to life, a man who is just like his country – young, scrappy, and hungry – we recognize the improbable story of America, and the spirit that has sustained our nation for over 240 years.”

What better way to celebrate America?

George Martin, The 5th Beatle

George Martin, known as “the 5th Beatle” for his influential role in the production of The Beatles’ original albums, died this past Tuesday at the age of 90.

Bob Boilen of NPR writes, “George Martin’s skills as an arranger are on all of The Beatles albums: the strings on “Yesterday,” a trumpet on “Penny Lane” and the crazy brass and strings on “I Am The Walrus” are just a few of the ways he stretched the bounds of popular music. What you have to remember is that nothing had sounded like this EVER, and he played a large role in that progression.” Read the full article here.

 

 

Read a more in-depth discussion of Martin’s career on The Guardian.

Marble machine!

Martin Molin, a Swedish musician, spent over a year creating this music box that operates on 2,000 marbles!

Danny Lewis for the Smithsonian writes, “The Wintergartan Marble Machine works by sending thousands of steel marbles around a circuit, albeit an enormously complex one. As Molin turns a crank, the marbles begin to roll down chutes leading them to different keys on a vibraphone. That’s not the only instrument built into the machine, though. By flipping different switches, Molin can open new channels to a kick drum, a cymbal and even an electric bass, depending on what elements he wants to add into the mix…”

 

Music on the campaign trail

How do Clinton, Sanders, Trump, Rubio, and Cruz brand themselves through music? They have each chosen very different musical aesthetics for their campaign theme songs. The tunes reflect their personal stories…and their marketing strategies.

 

 

Read about which songs candidates have chosen and why in this article from The Guardian.

 

The Oscar for Best Original Song

The Oscars are tonight! Curious about the nominees for best original song? Here’s the list:

  • “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey
  • “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction
  • “Simple Song #3” from Youth
  • “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground
  • “Writings on the Wall” from Spectre

 

 

Watch trailers and read more here!

 

 

From DJ to Hit

Who’s writing and performing those catchy basslines on today’s top hits in rap? DJ Dahi. Read NPR’s article here.

 

 

Dahi has a lot to say about the music industry:

“I was really inspired by watching the [2015] MTV Video Music Awards show —Kanye’s acceptance speech about listening to kids. It made me think about the kids who were also watching it. Are we giving them information that’s vital to their upbringing — or are we lying to them? I want to give kids a sense of the world through not only my eyes, but through the eyes of artists they love.” That means less celeb bickering and trivial boasting, and more thoughtful direction for an audience that Dahi feels has been led astray.

Boston Symphony Orchestra wins Grammy under music director Andris Nelsons!

The Boston Symphony Orchestra won a Grammy for their Deutsche Grammaphon recording entitled “Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow.” This is the first recording the BSO has made under this label, and the first grammy win for music director Andris Nelsons!

 

 

Nelsons had lovely words to say about the honor, “Firstly I’m very proud of the Boston Symphony Orchestra…All of the wonderful musicians, of course, but also the management team, the board, the supporters, and the audience, all the people who are a part of the Boston Symphony family.”

 

Nelsons remarked that Shostakovich’s music is especially important to listen to during times of global turmoil, “The world is going a bit crazy, and what Shostakovich says through these symphonies is actually very [timely] nowadays. I’m very happy and touched that people feel the necessity to listen to this music, and that this music gives them emotional and intellectual comfort.”

 

 

What do New Yorkers have to say about love?

Listen to NPR’s Valentine’s Day podcast about love in New York City. “You’d think people would be shy and private, but the love was overwhelming. One after another, New Yorkers took a seat and told us about what made them fall in love, the love they lost, and the love they’ll never forget.”

 

 

Music: Selena – Dreaming of You, Los Cenzontles & Andre Thierry – La Luna Y Las Estrellas, Sigur Rós – Hoppipolla, Alex Andwandter – Cómo Puedes Vivir Contigo Mismo

The voice of a strange bird

Barbara Hannigan, one of the most talented sopranos living today, was described by members of the Berlin Philharmonic as “…a strange bird that we’ve never heard before.”

 

 

A champion of new classical music, Hannigan has performed over 80 world premieres. The Berlin Philharmonic’s Simon Rattle says of Hannigan, “She’s fearless and she has technique and brains to burn. So, we’re just lucky to have her on the same planet at the same time.” Hannigan is also a conductor, a field in which there is still a glass ceiling for women.

Hannigan performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra earlier in February. Check out her work if you want to be swept away by new music!

Read the NPR article here.