Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dead Beat

Beat Them Up

     You might ask me, "why are you using so many puns today?", and I would answer "because I can". More importantly, these puns have some meaning. The rhythm section in many new songs these days are simply dead. We need to knock some sense into some artists, and never stop asking "why don't you do something different..?"...
     It boils down to this: today's pop and some rock have very dry beats. simple osculations between snare and kicker, while the hihat dolefully taps on oh-so literally. Where are the triplets? The sophisticated syncopation? For examples. I turn your attention to metal. Yes, metal: the genre which gets perhaps the most hate (dubstep..?). Say what you will about metal, but this genre has, to me, perhaps the most musicality of any genre. Often times in a minor key, they sound more intricet. Metallic songs also tend to have extremely complex vocals, bass lines, guitar riffs, and yes, drum beats. Listen to Korn, or Five Finger Death Punch, or Tool. Any metal, for the most part, is going to display the kind of drum usage I would like to see in more of today's "hot" music.
     Let me just say, I don't want the exact same stuff we see in metal in our popular music. I just mean that pop artists should focus less on what others are doing, and more on what has the potential to set their music apart. Take some hints from metal and add some interesting segways. We call it playing music for a reason. You have to play around. 
     This post might as well be an information-less rant on my part, but let's all just remember that the drum kit is an INSTRUMENT! Yes, kits are instruments, not just something to tap while your vocalist makes money. 

Korn recording in studio. Notice the drum
set is displayed like a king. Yeah.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Take the Show on the Road


     As another Sounds-Around-Town comes up, I can't help think of ways in which I can take myself, another saxophonist, and a drummer to where we need to go efficiently. I had a lot of silly and serious ideas, but I'd like to share with all of you my absolute favorite.
     This idea is simple, and I doubt I'll be writing much: if someone in your small ensemble has a pickup truck, drive it to the lot you intend to perform at, and set up the drummer in the back of the truck. Lay down the appropriate carpets in the bed to make sure the drum kit doesn't slide, or fall, or so on. The other members can stand anywhere on the ground, really. In my case, probably one saxophonist in front of the drummer (behind the truck, facing away from the truck), in front of each brake light. In this way, you have the ability to move around without having to pack up and re-set up your drum kit, so long as everything is tied down, or secured somehow. I fully intend to try this, at which point I'll let everyone know how it worked!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Featuring: Opus USA

Some Original Information

     I've got some interesting information for all you saxophone fans out there about a little known brand called Opus USA: the brand is actually an off-brand of the Yanagisawa saxophones!
     Opus sells saxophones very inexpensively, though a pretty good quality. In fact, the saxophones have a great response in the key work, and are generally of sound intonation. They provide options for several finishes and colors, which is also rather nice. The brand is really something, especially for anyone looking for a cheap saxophone to buy (I got a curved soprano from Opus for $240 and a black/gold alto for about the same).
     This is all well and good, but none of it is particularly surprising  It was when I was jamming with a friend, however, that I saw something interesting: my Opus USA alto and soprano saxophones looked identical to my friend's pro Yanagisawa alto. The key work, the pearls and the guard designs were all the same on either saxophone. This information was interesting to me, as it would seem that an American company has started off branding an Asian company, quite the opposite to popular debate. This scenario would seem to put a wrench in many bloggers' ideas on off-brand saxophones, that Asian off-brands are the rout of all evil. 
     No, instead this information led me to believe that off-brand saxophones are without borders and, in fact, are necessary for creating a diverse saxophone market. Here's a big bit of my point: big brands like Selmer and Yamaha should stick to advanced and pro level horns, leaving student pieces to brands such as Opus. Why? Simple. For the same price as a YAS-23 (Yamaha student alto sax), you can get a "pro", good looking, fully functional alto sax from Opus that, quite frankly, plays better than the Yamaha.
     This might be shocking to a lot of people, but it's my opinion on the matter, and I strongly maintain that it's a good idea. There's no disputing the big-name brands' skills at designing and building the greatest pro horns, but when it comes to student saxophones, you have to think inexpensive- the most band for your buck. Can a low-budget music program at a high school afford ten saxophones from Store X? 
     Opus USA makes saxophones that don't look student (they aren't brass colored horns with silver key work). They make good looking saxophones at a low price. They modeled the saxophones after Yanagisawas, which is smart- Yanagisawa is no slouch. 
Black and Gold Opus Alto