If you are thinking of learning a musical instrument as an adult, you might be wondering if you can do it. Maybe learning a musical instrument has been a lifelong dream, or perhaps you have been inspired to learn along with your kids.
Whatever your reasons, you can succeed at your chosen instrument if you are willing to commit to what it takes. Try these handy tips to help you stay focused and make your dream a reality.
Continue reading 6 Tips for Adult Music Beginners
Skagit Impressions Three from the Gary Brown and Conrad Askland project. Farmland photos of Skagit County, WA by Gary Brown with music by Conrad Askland.
This third impression includes my composition “Adaptive Layer Battle Theme One.” This is a five layer composition for use in video game adaptive scoring. Each of the five layers are complete unto themselves, but also layer to create different levels of tension. In a gaming environment these different layers would be triggered in and out by player actions and states of being.
For the Skagit Impressions Three video, each layer builds sequentially. Starting with layer one – then layer one plus layer two – then layer one two and three and so on until all five layers are playing together.
In the video below, I show how this same music might be used in a gaming environment. The layers are used for the different states and actions of a character in the video game Uncharted 3.
Continue reading Skagit Impressions Three — Adaptive Layer Battle Theme One
“Where None Would Go” (Gettysburg Memorial Song) is a piece I wrote to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. This song released July 4, 2016. Words and Music by Conrad Askland. Vocalist: Leisha Skinner. To a variation of the melody “Shenandoah”.
I was inspired to write this song after spending many hours of discussion on the Civil War with my friend, Joe Bowen. He is a scholar of American History where he studied the Civil War at Harvard College. He will setup battle tactics and battle strategies on tables using napkins, playing cards, cups – whatever is around – to really immerse me in details of the Civil War. The conversations usually start with prose, then get into historical details and facts of the battles and politics of the time, then end with philosophical musings, anecdotes and quotes from soldier’s letters.
Continue reading Where None Would Go — Gettysburg Memorial Song
In Gerd Leonhard’s book “Music 2.0 – Essays by Gerd Leonhard” he mentions the concept of “Music Like Water” and writes: “Music is no longer a product but a service….for the future, think of a ‘record label’ as a ‘music utility company’.”
I have seen this gradual shift over the years and his words seem to have become prophetically true. We are so incredibly immersed in music now. It has become normal to dial up any song at the drop of a hat and to have access to more music that a single person put even physically listen to in a single lifetime.
With the seemingly infinite access to music has also appeared a reduced interest or need in user ownership. Gerd Leonhard also says “Access to Music Will Replace Ownership.” Also a trend that has become true.
I am old enough to remember cassette tapes and how naughty we were to record to tape directly from the radio. But we had our physical collection and were proud that we “owned” the music. Somehow making our custom mixtape brought us into the creative sphere of the songwriter or composer. We could play the music which was really a customized performance brought about by our uncanny ability to find the perfect mix of songs and segue them together as never before. Our Radio Shack tape recorders transformed us into analog rocket scientists.
Continue reading Thoughts on Gerd Leonhard and “Music as Water”
In helping a student with beginning vocal lessons in classic technique I came across some materials online that I think are of value to new vocal students. One of the difficulties with developing vocal technique is that what the student hears in their head is different than what others hear. So with voice study in particular, it’s important to have an outside source guide you in technique and placement. In it’s simplest form, the teacher is helping the student with how a proper placement feels to them, so the student can build muscle memory on basic technique before moving to more complex layers and interpretation.
Continue reading Beginning Vocal Lessons
David Byrne’s book “How Music Works” contains an interesting list of 8 elements he considers important for a vibrant music scene (Hardcover edition p. 253-263). David Byrne’s book is fascinating, the highlight for me being his dissection of how performance spaces affected the composition and orchestration of classical music.
But on p. 253-263 he dissects in more detail the elements that encourage talent to thrive in a vibrant scene. I think this list is a well thought out dissection of the music scene he was part of, but by no means a dissection of the elements needed for “any” vibrant scene.
Continue reading How Music Works — Elements of a Vibrant Music Scene
I’ve been going crazy trying to remember where the battery compartment is for my Shure VP88 microphone. I could not find any info online to open up the battery and put in a new battery for the VP88.
Continue reading Shure VP88 Battery Compartment
Comparison and Contrast of the Advent of Commercial Radio vs. the Advent of Music Streaming Services
Conrad Askland – 27 January 2016
Commercial radio broadcasting in the United States began in 1920 after the end of WWI and grew steadily in popularity through the late 1920’s and early 1930‘s. The dramatic effect of radio in the 1920‘s vs. the newspaper industry was that radio could deliver the news immediately as it was taking place. In addition, radio was free to listen to and easy to understand for those who had difficulty reading.
Continue reading Comparison and Contrast of the Advent of Commercial Radio vs. the Advent of Music Streaming Services
Two Copyright Scenarios with YouTube
Conrad Askland – 26 January 2016
I would like to look at two similar uses of copyright on YouTube that had two different outcomes. Both samples are highlighted at TechDirt.com.
Sad State of Copyright: Guy Using Short Clips of Music In Viral Videos Accused of Infringement.
Steve Kardynal is a popular maker of funny online videos. One of his series is called “Songs in Real Life” where every so often the dialog is a short 3-10 second clip from a popular song.
A year after it was posted he received a takedown from Sony. Knowing that three strikes meant he would lose his account, he set his other songs to private to avoid getting any other strikes. So, essentially he had to shut down his account until he can figure a way around it. I went to view secondary uploads of his videos but even those were set to private. So it would look like Sony “won” and Steve Kardynal was shut down as a derivative artist in this manner.
Continue reading Two Copyright Scenarios with YouTube
I just recorded and released an album in one day. In fact it took me five hours from start to finish. That time included the learning curve of setting things up for the first time, so in the future I may be able to cut that down to 3.5 hours.
What’s the point! A colleague of mine has got me really hooked on Tim Ferriss and the “4 hour work week”. One of the concepts is to do 90% of your best work, not 100%. Why? Because that last 10% of quality is what takes up 90% of the time and most people won’t notice the difference any way. (Now you say, “But I will notice the difference, and this is MY art.” True that. And different things for different times. I’m trying it though to see how it works.
Continue reading Recording and Releasing an Album in One Day
100 Rules for Drummers is a video compilation put together by my Rock of Ages bandmate and drummer, Steve Such. The catch is: each person could only use three words. My contribution is around #4 with “wear your earplugs!”
Peter Erskine, Jeff Hamilton, Zoro, Johnny Rabb, Curt Bisquera, Ari Hoenig, Victor Indrizzo, Jonathan Mover, Walfredo Reyes Jr., Steve Fidyk, Bermuda Schwartz, Dan Needham, Bruce Becker, Conrad Askland, Bill Bachman, Jeff Queen, Pete Lockett, Andre Boyd, Nick Ruffini, Dave Kropf, Richie Gajate-Garcia, Tim Lefevbre, and many more give their top piece of advice to drummers.
Continue reading 100 Rules for Drummers
I am very honored to be included in the book Music Direction for the Stage: A View from the Podium, by Joseph Church and published by Oxford University Press. This textbook also includes a forward by Alan Menken.
Continue reading Music Direction for the Stage — Oxford University Press
This is the original full length overture from the premiere of my theatre work “Romeo and Juliet the musical” which premiered February 2015 at the Historic Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, WA.
Continue reading Overture from Romeo and Juliet
(Score sample of Keyboard Two part from Conrad Askland’s “Romeo and Juliet – the musical”, July 2014)
As I’m working on orchestrations for my third full length musical, “Romeo and Juliet” (http://www.RJmusical.com), I realize the need for a particular scoring approach for the Keyboard Two part. Here is the solution I came up with to incorporate Apple’s MainStage with Sibelius for use in orchestrations and creating the final Keyboard Two patch setup.
Continue reading Sibelius and MainStage for Music Scoring
I’ve just had the very frustrating experience of scoring the drum part for half of an entire musical theater score, and doing it wrong. Arghh! I got some bad advice so I’m posting some clarification here for other arrangers that are new to scoring drum parts. Hopefully this will save you some headaches.
Continue reading Basic Drum Notation Tips
http://www.ted.com Comic author Rob Reid unveils Copyright Math (TM), a remarkable new field of study based on actual numbers from entertainment industry lawyers and lobbyists.
The love song of an extinct cricket that lived 165 million years ago has been brought back to life by scientists at the University of Bristol. The song – possibly the most ancient known musical song documented to date – was reconstructed from microscopic wing features on a fossil discovered in North East China. It allows us to listen to one of the sounds that would have been heard by dinosaurs and other creatures roaming Jurassic forests at night.
Email question received:
no problem getting my site to play mp3 files, but what do you do if you’ve got an AAC file that you want people to hear.
Hey there, great question! What I found is that Adobe Flash supports AAC, so you could use a flashplayer to stream your AAC music files. From what I read it appears there are some other players also but they only support internet explorer. I’m assuming that you want your solution to be cross platform. It also looks like Orbis may have some players but you have to purchase them.
Continue reading Q&A: How to play AAC audio files on website?
As part of my Critical Listening class with Berklee Music Online I’ve been spending a lot of time tweaking my audio mixing room. The point is to level out the environment at the listening position for an audio response that minimizes comb filtering and nodes that cancel out frequencies. If the problem is not minimized, at least knowing the frequency problem areas can give you crucial information so you don’t over adjust in the final mixes.
Continue reading Acoustic Treatment for Audio Mixing Room
Audio engineer Bruce Swedien talks about keeping the mix primitive. Years ago I had his video series on microphone usage. The big tip I picked up from that was to use microphones to capture part of the room. Using microphone pairs to combine the source and ambient reflections. Also started to record keyboard parts going through amps rather than direct to the console.
I think it’s a wonderful approach to sound design and engineering. I’ve also always enjoyed Bruce Swedien’s low profile presentation. Most of us producing music these days are guilty at one point or another of getting too involved in the gear. I guess like with most studies the key is to study the details and geeky procedures as much as you can – but then forget all that and do your thing when it comes to your productions. Swedien really emphasizes the important of not losing the root passion of the music.
Continue reading Bruce Swedien — Keeping the Mix Primitive