The Stories Behind Some of the Favorite Christmas Carols of All Time

Music has been an integral part of the Christmas celebration since the earliest years of the celebration. From traditional sacred music to up-tempo tunes, the songs of Christmas are a major part of the holiday.

But how much do you know about the origin stories of your favorite Christmas carols. Here is the story behind some of the most popular and well known Christmas carols of all time.

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Choosing Your Child’s Piano Teacher: Six Questions to Ask

Piano lessons are an investment of both money and time. Finding the right piano teacher for your child will help your investment lead to successful music education. Asking the following questions will help you choose the right teacher.

 

Is the teacher a member of local, state, or national music organizations?

Membership in music organizations signals that a teacher is interested in staying current with trends in music education. Music Teachers National Association, National Association for Music Education, and the National Federation of Music Clubs, along with the state and local affiliates of these organizations, are some of the well-known groups in which a piano teacher might hold membership. Journals and newsletters typically accompany membership and bring relevant information right to the teacher’s door. Membership also gives the teacher access to continuing education opportunities, including conventions and seminars on music performance and education.

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Skagit Impressions Five

“If I Could Go Anywhere” is a song I wrote back in the late 1990’s. Here is a new recording of the piece paired with photos of Skagit County, WA photographer Gary Brown. Part of our interdisciplinary collaboration of Pacific Northwest farmland photography with my original music for the “Gary Brown and Conrad Askland Project.”

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Johann Sebastian Bach: Baroque Superstar

(Johann Sebastian Bach 1685-1750)

J.S. Bach’s dad was a musician. J.S.’s uncle was a musician. All four of J.S.’s brothers were musicians and composers. In fact, pretty much everybody in the Bach family were musicians and had been since great-great-great grandpa John Hans Bach, originally a baker, had a mid-life crisis and discovered that he was meant to be a piper instead.

By 1685, when Johann Sebastian Bach was born, the Bachs were the German Baroque equivalent of our modern day musical Jackson family. The Bachs were well-known, highly connected, and prosperous. They served as musicians to Dukes, were musical directors at important churches, and were directors of renowned choirs. Even the ladies of the family got in on the act. J.S.’s second wife was a popular singer.

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6 Tips for Adult Music Beginners

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.

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How to Tune a Musical Instrument

Unless you are completely tone deaf, it is often not difficult to tell when a musical instrument is out of tune. This is because the pitch sounds wrong — it’s either too high or too low. To the trained ear, the instrument will sound a bit flat or sharp. For this reason, musical instruments need to be tuned before they are played, particularly if several instruments are being played together. If you are just beginning to learn how to play an instrument, this might seem like a complicated task, but it is really quite easy once you know how.

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Skagit Impressions Three – Adaptive Layer Battle Theme One

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.

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Where None Would Go – Gettysburg Memorial Song

“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.

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Thoughts on Gerd Leonhard and “Music as Water”

music-as-water

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.


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Beginning Vocal Lessons

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.

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How Music Works – Elements of a Vibrant Music Scene

How_Music_Works_David_Byrne

 

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.

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Comparison and Contrast of the Advent of Commercial Radio vs. the Advent of Music Streaming Services

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.

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Two Copyright Scenarios with YouTube

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.

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Recording and Releasing an Album in One Day

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.

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100 Rules for Drummers

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.

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