Busting Out: How to Find New Music

I sincerely apologize for the lateness of this post. If you were eagerly anticipating this, refreshing my RSS feed every 20 seconds, forgive me. I owe you a soda.

You know, people can become rooted in their habits. This is particularly true with music. We find our artists, buy their music, and listen to it. Once we get to a certain point, we no longer go searching. Then, when we do eventually get tired of some of our music, we arent sure how to go about finding more. This can be a problem.

 

We know the scenario. You get on your iPod, choose a playlist you love to listen to, and then realize how sick you are of a lot of the music on it. You need more! I have a few suggestions for you.

1. Find out what your friends are listening to
This one is probably the best. I can guarantee that you and your friends have differences in your music libraries. Ask them to tell you what they like the most. Chances are they will have a few artists they listen to frequently and you will be able to find something you like.

2. Browse the charts
No doubt you have a particular genre that you are fond of. Billboard is a website (and magazine) that tracks sales through all the retailers and distributes in the U.S. and Canada that use SoundScan (over 14,000 of them including iTunes and Best Buy). The have a chart for all of the mainstream genres, as well as charts for the top songs overall, and even a few international charts. Looking through these can be a great way to find music that suits your taste. Whether you like classical, rock, metal, rap, R&B or gospel music, you can find the top songs through this site.

3. Use iTunes genius
This only works for people who use iTunes but can be quite effective. If you click on a song in iTunes, information should appear on the right. Towards the bottom you should see Genius Recommendations if you click on it it will take you to a page with all sorts of recommendations of music you would like based on what you have in your library. Also, rating your music will make this more effective. I would expect other music services, such as Rhapsody, would provide that feature as well.

4. Keep your ears open
Music is everywhere in our culture, in stores, in movies, even in commercials. If you hear a song you like on the radio, or anywhere else. Try to remember it. Generally a single line from a song is enough to learn the songs name through Google.

I hope this helps you out in finding more music to your tastes. I am always looking to expand my music library, and I want to help you do the same. Any questions ask bellow.

Music Performance Mistakes: Why You Shouldnt Be Worried

Perhaps the worst fear of any musician is a live performance mistake. Your going along just fine and dandy and all of a sudden you pluck the wrong note, press the wrong key, or hit the wrong drum. It sounded awful. Your band-mates (if you have any) are giving you looks. You feel stupid.

It happens to all of us

Well you shouldnt. In my talks with people that are part of an audience when I perform, most of the time they say that they didnt notice the mistake. Even if I point out the specific point in time it happened, they dont notice.

But why is this?

Honestly, most audience members are relatively dumb when it comes to the structure of music. They really dont know how it is supposed to sound. The only time they would notice is if it is glaringly obvious. If your voice breaks for example (especially if you are singing solo, I did it once, but, thankfully, I was with a chorus), or if you hit a note so very wrong that no one could help but noticing it.

You have to remember that you and I are musicians. We notice every little detail. If something goes wrong, no matter how trivial, we recognize it right away.

Let me tell you a story. A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to play in front of a large-ish group of people at a church service along with three other people. Two days earlier I had replaced my guitar strings. Over those days I had played my guitar a lot in order to stretch out the strings. It didnt work. My guitar did not stay in tune.

I was distressed. Thankfully we had another guitarist who could pick up the slack. In the meantime, I had to play my guitar very carefully in order to make sure that everything would sound OK. The only people who noticed were my band mates, the sound technician, and a few people who knew me well enough to tell that I was preoccupied.

So you see, you need to worry less about your exact sound when you perform. Even in the case of the more obvious examples, there is a good chance that they will forget it by the end of the performance as long as it is good enough for them to focus on.

Have you ever done something terribly obvious that you felt completely stood out in your performance (in a bad way) if so, what? And did anyone notice?

All Things Bright and Beautiful

Yes, this post is a little abnormal, but normality is boring.

Im stoked. Excited. For tomorrow is the day. THE DAY. Dont know what The Day is? Let me educate you. Dont feel bad for not knowing, I dont blame you one bit.

Once upon a time there was a 20 year old who worked loading trucks at a Coke factory. Unfortunately, this guy was an insomniac and had lots of trouble sleeping on a regular basis. On these nights, he would sneak down into his parents basement and record music that he wrote himself. Over the course of the next couple years, he acquired a Myspace following, and sold thousands of copies of his music. He released a couple of albums before he was signed by a record label. His next album had this little song on it called Fireflies, and before he knew it, he was famous.

If you do not know now, I am talking about Adam Young. The guy behind the smashing success known as Owl City. Youngs story is one of those success stories that we all wish we could replicate. This guy is really cool, but how does one come out of nowhere like this?

Young is the quiet, introverted sort. He suffers from Asperger Syndrome, but seems to do a relatively good job socially despite this. His music style can be most easily described as optimistic, with a general feeling of happiness. It is definitely electro-pop, and some have compared it to The Postal Service. Yes, they are similar, but Adam Young has his own gig. Perhaps he got lucky, or maybe, perhaps, hes just good enough.

I loved Ocean Eyes (his first studio-backed release). And I am incredibly excited for All Things Bright and Beautiful. As I write this the world is slowly revolving towards the 14 of June, which means that those wonderful people from down under (a.k.a. Australia) get it first. Oh well. I pre-ordered it weeks ago, I can wait a little longer.

P.S. (psst One of those last statements is not strictly true. He already has the whole album up on his Myspace page, but Im am being a good little boy and waiting until tomorrow. But you dont have to be.)

No One Plays the Ratchet or Why Percussionists are Awesome

In December of 2010, I had the privilege of being part of a guest choir at a orchestral concert. The concert was fabulous, but I found it curious that there were two of the members of the orchestra who never played anything. In fact, they were not even on stage. They were simply sitting in the front row, they seemed to be waiting for something.

After intermission, all was revealed to me. The orchestra had prepared a musical version of A Christmas Carol called Scrooge. It was done with very little acting. It was interactive so there was certain parts where members of the orchestras choir would queue the audience members to do something. Lots of fun. But what was really cool was that these two people, who had been sitting throughout the whole first half, finally got their turn up at bat.

It was fascinating. Between the two of them there were at least 25 instruments that needed playing. They had to be a complete team. Although each instrument was predominantly played by one musician, occasionally one musician would reach over and play one of his companions instruments if the other guy was already engaged. There was a huge variety of things; ratchets, chimes, plain old drums, and things that probably are not used terribly frequently in music. Most of them were use to express certain things that is not normally in music, like the opening of a door, or the falling of snow. But it added to the music all the same.

Now, do not confuse a percussionist as I describe it with a drummer. Although drummers are percussionists in ever sense of the word, these two were very different from drummers. I loved watching them. If you ever go to a musical like this one, watch the percussionists, I guarantee you will find them awesome.

Here I have a video for you of the Celtic Women. Now, the Celtic Women are excellent musicians, but they could not be what they are without the musicians who back them up. One really cool thing to watch is the percussionists. They have a drum set that completely encircles them, as well as other little odds and ends that they use on occasion. Although the video naturally focuses on the singers themselves, the Drummers are featured quite a bit as well. Take a look!