The End

April 28th, 2008

We have 4 days left…and then we’re all sophomores. It is so crazy to think about. This year has FLOWN by, it feels like yesterday I was a scared little freshman starting high school and now I’m about to be a sophomore in college. It’s almost surreal how quickly it all passes by.

As we are wrapping up the website, I started thinking about how awesome this semester has been. What other class do you get to debate songs in (it’s rock, no it’s soul, no it’s progressive!)? What other professor brings you out to the amphitheater just to chat on a beautiful day?

This class has had its moments, but overall, I’ve really enjoyed it. I mean, we learned about rock music all semester! How awesome is that?

So, thanks for a great semester Dr. C! Good luck on finals everyone, have a great summer and see you all in the fall!! 🙂

Pachelbel Rant

April 1st, 2008

Ok, so like I said in a couple posts back, I was, and basically still am, a band/music nerd.

So, when my cousin told me about this video, I nearly fell on the floor laughing at it. I then showed it to my roommate who has played music her entire life as well, and she basically had the same reaction. (Then again, I showed it to my other roommate the next morning and she didn’t find it as hilarious…she’s not a music nerd like her roommates are and it was 10 in the morning…) Anyways, it’s a video of this comedian ranting about how awful Pachelbel’s Canon in D is and how it has haunted him his entire life.

You really have be a music nerd like me to love this video as much as I do. I find it hilarious. And I thought, who better to share this with than our Rock and Roll class? ENJOY!! 😀

This is the Life

March 26th, 2008

This is the life.

Laying out, soaking up the sun,

Chatting with some friends,

Reading a good book,

Relaxing to some tunes.

This is the life.

And I could never ask for more.

Sunset in DC

Music is Power

March 23rd, 2008

Recently, Karl wrote a post about music and being in band, which now inspires me to write this. I commented on her post but as I was commenting, I realized I had way too much to say about the topic and felt that a post of my own would be so much better. So here it is:

From the second my oldest brother picked up the trombone when he was in 5th grade, I knew that I wanted to be in band and make music, too. Too bad I was only a preschooler and mom said I had to wait till I was in 5th grade. From then on, 5th grade couldn’t come soon enough!

Finally, 5th grade came and it was time to take band! I couldn’t wait! I was going to play trombone, just like my big brother. However, I had short arms and couldn’t quite reach the notes I needed to reach. Plus, bass clef and I didn’t quite get along. So, I tried the trumpet. And fell in love. As I learned more and more on this little brass instrument, I realized just how amazing music is. I fell in love with music and have loved it ever since.

Along came middle school, and the excitement of being able to go to band everyday, instead of just being able to go to it once a week. 7th and 8th grade came and went, with me making the top band in the school and even making it into District Band. Eventually, 4 years of band had passed and still I craved more. I knew that this was an addiction. An addiction to music. I wanted more, wanted to play more and hear more, every minute of every day.

As I entered high school, I made the second best band but decided that the trumpet wasn’t as much fun as it once was. I wanted to learn something new. So, when my band director asked if anyone was up for playing the French horn, since our band didn’t have any, I was first in line. The French horn definitely was not as easy to learn as the trumpet was but I was still up for the challenge. As I got better at this new instrument, my addiction returned and I continued to crave more. For once, this craving was satisfied as we began playing harder music and the music was even more challenging since I was on a new instrument. Come 10th grade, I was in the top band and with that, came marching band and another new instrument, the mellophone (the marching version of the French horn). As high school progressed, I continued with band and marching band, giving up two varsity level sports (field hockey and lacrosse) to stay with my first love. High school was a blur as I basically lost all free time to music, with playing in school, rehearsals, concerts, marching band practice and competitions, festivals, helping the lower bands and even participating in jazz band for one year. 8 years of music, and one dictator of a band director later, I still loved music and enjoyed playing it.

Sadly, I decided not to continue with band in college. I do miss it though. I never really realized just how much I can miss something until I cut myself off from it. I miss making music and working through the hard parts of the song until I get it just right. Music just has this power to it that really can’t be rivaled. This power that just infects me when I finally nail that one note I’ve been trying to reach all day, when I finally play the hardest phrase in the piece perfectly. Music’s power is so far reaching whether you’re the one playing it or just listening to it. It has this freedom to it. It just lets you pour your heart out and express your emotions. It doesn’t judge you, yet, ironically, we judge it.

Music has taught me more than just how to play an instrument and read notes, it has influenced how I live. Learning a song requires more than simply being able to play; it requires perfection, patience, and interpretation. The perfection part has a large impact on who I am, especially when it comes to grades. In music, you can’t get by with a 94% to achieve the highest grade like you can in other classes. Only a 100% is good enough. This perfection makes me feel the same about everything I do; even if I do it well, I always want to do better. Band and music have this mentality of “That was good, but not good enough. Do it again and make it better.” Music has taught me patience, that even if I don’t do it perfectly the first time, that with practice, I eventually will. It has taught me that you have to work at something in order to be proficient at it, that lazing about is not going to make you the best. Interpretation in music is also key. It’s not just notes on a page, it’s music. Playing and interpreting music influences my life because it has taught me to look at things from another perspective. To look at the meanings behind things and to not just take them at their face value.

Music has such a huge impact on my life, on who I am and who I’ve become. There is no way that I could live without it. It makes me so angry when school systems think that cutting the fine arts is a good idea to save money. Fine arts, especially music, are so important in molding young minds. Music is the best type of education one can receive; it teaches so much more than notes. To put it simply, music is power. A power that I have had the pleasure of feeling and aiding these past 9 years.

DJ Obama, Part 2

March 20th, 2008

Awhile back, I wrote a post about the use of music in political advertising, especially in the current campaign. I discussed will.i.am’s song “Yes We Can” that he recorded with other celebrities, like Scarlett Johannson, Kate Walsh, and John Legend. Last night, I found another will.i.am song in support of Obama and figured I’d post this one, too. This one, like “Yes We Can” is a collaboration by various celebrities but also features the everyday citizen. This one is also a folksy song (lyric wise) but is now set to a hip-hop beat. One thing that was interesting about this video was that parts of it were spoken in Spanish, bringing together more people this time. Anyways, the new one is called: “”We Are The Ones” and features such names as Jessica Alba, George Lopez, Kerry Washington, and Jamie Foxx. I’ll post more if I come across more.

I also found a video that someone made in response to “Yes We Can.,” entitled “No You Can’t.” They took apart one of John McCain’s speeches to attack McCain and encourage support for Obama. It’s an interesting response to the original and is another folksy type song.

So here are both songs:

“We Are the Ones” by will.i.am

“No You Can’t”

Falling Slowly in Love with the Oscars

February 27th, 2008

As I sit here in class…being a responsible student who is paying attention, of course…I started thinking about the ever entertaining, and political, Academy Awards that took place Sunday night. I love Hollywood award shows, I think they’re fantastic. Not only do I get to see some incredible fashion on the red carpet, loved Katherine Heigl’s dress by the way, but I alsoget a chance to see how movies are honored. And, of course, I get to watch more movie montages than even YouTube can offer (you know it’s bad when Jon Stewart introduces one that focuses on the use of binoculars in movies, and even worse, a one on bees, yes, those little bugs that sting…).

Even with all its flaws, the Oscars have always fascinated me. There is an air of old Hollywood glamor surrounding it that other events cannot seem to emulate. It is not just the idea that Tinseltown dresses their absolute best and is on their best behavior, there is a certain magic that is connected to the Academy Awards. Even if they are “political,” these awards are held in all regard above others, with the others serving as previews of what might possibly happen at the biggest award show of the year. Critics look to the other award shows, like the Golden Globes, to indicate what will happen at the Oscars. Every other show is just a small step along the way to the biggest night in Hollywood, and that’s what I love about the Academy Awards. I love the idea that, for a night, Hollywood stops and holds its breath as those envelopes are opened. It’s a night that brings the entire movie making business together, regardless of animosities and such; a night that allows Hollywood to really feel the excitement of the big screen.

One of my absolute favorite parts of the Oscars has got to be when they cover the music in the movies. I love seeing the nominated songs being performed live onstage. This year was no exception; with three songs from Enchanted, one of my favorites from August Rush, and the last from a small Irish Indie flick called Once. Before the night started, I had never heard of this film or the featured song, but once I heard the song, Falling Slowly, being performed, I instantly fell in love with it.

Falling Slowly, performed by the movie’s stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, caught my attention with its quirky and folksy melody and lyrics. I loved the movie Juno and this song kind of reminded of the music from that. The song instantly relaxes the mind, and soul, and within seconds I found myself swaying in time with it. It is one of those songs that has so many flaws that, in the end, it turns out to be perfect and nothing else should be done to it. No other tweeks should be made and no other artists could make it sound so gorgeous. I loved how Hansard and Irglova performed their song in a way that did not detract from the song. The songs for Enchanted and August Rush both had some type of choreography added in and felt like big musical numbers. I felt that this approach took some of the beauty away from these songs; they felt commercialized to me, almost like they had gone too far. I love that Hansard and Irglova just got up onstage and performed their song. It was just them, a grand piano (played by Irglova), a well loved acoustic guitar (played by Hansard) and the Oscar set. Their song didn’t need some big dance sequence, it spoke well enough for itself. In one word, Falling Slowly is just beautiful. No other way to describe it. Beautiful. And you know what made it even more beautiful? The fact that this little Indie song, not some big Disney number, took home the Oscar for Best Original Song. 🙂

Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

DJ Obama

February 20th, 2008

As a political science major (and junkie), it’s hard for me not to get sucked into everything that is going on in the political arena. So, I was intrigued when I learned, via YouTube, that there are songs made about the candidates and by the candidates. Some of these songs, well, aren’t so serious, hence Obama Girl’s “I’ve Got a Crush on Obama.” However, other songs aid the candidates’ campaigns, like Barack Obama’s song “Yes We Can.” I find these songs are an interesting way for music to play a role in our current presidential race. In 2004, it was popular for celebrities, like P. Diddy and Paris Hilton, to endorse candidates, especially
with the Vote or Die campaign. Going into this election, the use of music seems to be the key. Even in spoofs, like Mad TV’s “Umbrella” featuring a fake Obama and Clinton, music still has a voice in politics. I especially found Obama’s “Yes We Can” intriguing because it creates music out of an ordinary political speech. The song, mainly featuring will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and other celebrities, like John Legend and actress Scarlett Johansson, plays on one of Barack’s speeches and turns it into a folksy song, performed with acoustic guitar and raw vocals. The artists lyrically recite different lines from the speech, with the chorus basically being “Yes We Can.” The song mainly caught my attention because music isn’t typically the type of tool one uses during a campaign. Debates, television ads, interviews and public appearances are all popular methods but music typically isn’t. I think this use of music shows how candidates are evolving their campaign techniques. This is a big election year, since there is no incumbent and both nominees will be seen as challengers. It is basically an open race, so they are willing to do whatever it takes to become President of the United States, and if that means using the music industry, then so be it. Overall, it will definitely be interesting as this race progresses, and Obama comes closer to winning the Democratic nomination, to see what other musical performances and mediums appear in support of the candidates.

We Got the Beat, We Got the Beat, We Got the… Beatles?!

February 11th, 2008

Alright, so I doubt that The Beatles were influenced by The Go-Go’s, but their music was shaped by some talented and great performers. The Beatles pulled from the rich vocals, guitar sounds, piano strokes, and drumbeats of their predecessors and used them to create a new kind of rock and pop sound that changed the 1960’s.

The Beatles created a signature sound that drew from a background of blues, folk, rock and even pop. These influences appear throughout their hit, “Please Please Me.” The song’s prominent electric guitar sound can be traced to Elvis and Ray Charles, and the finger picking in the very beginning is reminiscent of Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson. In fact, The Beatles eventually did a cover of Jefferson’s “Match Box Blues.” Their expertly controlled lyrics pull from Robert Johnson, while the hint of rawness in them are like those of Son House and Jefferson. The song also has a repetitive quality like that of The Crystals’ song “Da Doo Ron Ron.” Finally, The Beatles’ “Please Please Me” has a bluesy sound mixed with flippant lyrics, which emulates the likes of Buddy Holly in “Peggy Sue” and Motown’s “Money.”

Overall, The Beatles show that even one song can represent so much and can be made up of so many components. The Beatles treat music like a five star chef treats cooking. When a chef creates something, it can seem so simple, yet without just the right combination of ingredients, and the right ingredients in general, the food would taste horrible. That is what The Beatles did with their music: they took just the right ingredients (electric guitar, bluesy sound, etc.) and used just the right amount (no one element was too overbearing) to create something…well…delicious. So, please, give me a second helping of that!

Not A Single Flaw

February 7th, 2008

Last week I mentioned that I was going to the Sparky’s Flaw concert with my friends, Meagan and Claire, and let me just say…it was AWESOME!! I have no complaints about the performance from the band and the openers were great too! One of the opening acts, Phil Bensen, was amazing. He is like a mix between Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson and is now one of my favorite artists! I especially love his song, “Not Good Enough,” which is a soulful blend of all that is good in the world of music, from a great set of strong vocals to some rocking drums and fanciful guitar work. Rock on Phil Bensen!

Sparky’s Flaw was on fire that night, too. They sang some of the old stuff, like my favorite song, “The New Year,” and some new stuff that I can’t wait to get once they record it. Their stage presence was fantastic, they always got the crowd going and there was never a dull moment. Their sound is unparalleled, filled with vocals, sax, keyboards, drums, bass and some killer guitar! The best part of the night was definitely meeting the band and finding out that they might be heading this way and playing at The Loft! If so, I will definitely be there, and I know Meagan and Claire will be right beside me!

Don’t Stop the Music

January 29th, 2008

I haven’t gone to a lot of concerts in my short 19 years of life, but the few I have been to have been entertaining. I have rocked out at Vans Warped Tour, head banged at OzzFest, screamed as Gwen Stefani took the stage, sang along with various Christian local bands, and, sadly, in the 4th grade, jumped up and down excitedly while watching Britney Spears. These few concerts may not seem like a lot compared to amount other people go to but they are more than enough for me. Each one represents a different point in my life where I liked certain kinds of music. I went through my bubble gum pop phase (Britney), my wanna be punk phase (Vans) and my rebellious death metal phase (OzzFest). Right now though, I am into my “listen to what makes me happy” phase (Gwen). Seeing Gwen Stefani was like a dream come true, it was what made me happy and I didn’t care if she was all mainstream or only this and not that. I have liked her music since her No Doubt days and I was going to see her perform, end of story. I went with two of my closest friends, Katay and Kat, and we had so much fun. It didn’t matter to us that we were partially surrounded by parents and 8 year olds. We loved Gwen and we couldn’t wait to see her live. When she got on stage, it was like fireworks going off. She had the crowd going the second the intro to “The Sweet Escape” started playing. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget, especially the part when she came out into the audience and was about 20 feet away from me!

Every concert is like Christmas for me: I can’t sleep the night before and I feel like a little kid – all excited and antsy. Come Wednesday, this feeling is going to be plaguing me again as I get ready to go to another concert on Thursday. I, along with my roommate Meagan and our friend Claire, am going to the Sparky’s Flaw concert, which is going to be amazing! This, like Gwen, falls under my “what makes me happy” concert phase. And I know that the second the boys hit the stage, I will definitely be happy rocking out to some of my favorites by them, like “Melodies and Moodswings” and “The New Year.” It’s hard to describe exactly what they’re music is like, it’s a mixture of alternative and punk, a cross between Maroon 5 and Death Cab for Cutie. Any way it’s put, Sparky’s Flaw is amazing and I’ll keep you updated on how it goes, so look for my next post!

Gwen Stefani Concert!

Katie, Kat, and me at the Gwen Stefani concert!

Gwen Stefani!

Gwen Stefani!

Sparky's Flaw

The boys from Sparky’s Flaw!