Monday, August 13, 2012

Let's Hit the Books

Do Some Research

     No matter what type of music you play or sing, you should always do some research. Research is usually a pretty boring task. Papers for school require it, and it's usually dull. Luckily for you, music research is the greatest thing since bananas. Doing research for music is simply listening to the genre that you perform. If you play lots of jazz, then you've got a lot of research to do- listening to everything from Larry Neeck's compositions to Sonny Rollins, to Benny Goodman and so many more. Into classical? Then you have a lot to listen for. In fact, I'd say just listen to as many Russian composers' pieces as you can from their work in Hollywood's film scores back in the day (hint, Igor Stravinsky) and of course, the classics of the classical genre, who need not be named.
     To further my point, I'll give some of my life experience as a prime example. After teaching myself basic jazz grooves and theory, I found that there was a lot missing from my playing. On the alto sax, there's never nothing to learn. Given this and the period where I discovered Eric Marienthal- a smooth jazz alto saxophonist -as well as Jeff Lorber -a smooth jazz/fusion keyboardist -I eventually purchased many of each albums and listened to it constantly- at work (in my line of work, it's allowed), on the go and generally in my free time. Listening to the kind of thing you like to play from an instrumentalist that plays the same thing as you over and over is great for your playing. Eventually, you start to assimilate certain things: technique, riffs and a whole lot of cool things, not to mention the fact that by hearing what an ideal saxophone, for example, sounds like, you'll know what to do differently to get that sound and, eventually, get your own sound.
     I also play saxophone in concert band. The kind of research I do for this varies. There is one thing I do that I recommend to anyone who plays in any sort of concert band: listen to game, movie and television show soundtracks. There are a few obvious examples, those being The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars soundtracks, as they are both huge symphonic arrangements (not to mention beautiful compositions, in all). As for games, The Legend of Zelda has always had absolutely incredible arrangements. With the twenty-fifth anniversary of the game, a game with a separate disc including symphonic medleys of all the major songs was released. For a game, the pieces are truly something to behold. The point here is that there are some interesting places to do research, and it goes for anybody who calls themselves musicians. Dubstep artists listen to each other’s work as research- to better their own work. It very simply goes for everyone.


     Besides my big point above, a lot of people are going to notice that I listen to smooth jazz and video game and movie soundtracks. Besides these, I also enjoy metal, dubstep and anime soundtracks- I like some pretty crazy stuff, and I know many will think I'm a pretty big freak. This is completely true. If 'freak' means someone who is not the norm, then I am definitely a freak- big time. I don't know any jazz musicians who listen to metal, let alone dubstep. In fact, most don't consider dubstep music. I do have good reasons for listening to what I do, though, and I think that some of you could really learn something from me. It has to do with the research I was talking about earlier. Listening to all sorts of musical genres is a fantastic way to learn. I do like the weird things I listen too though, and I'm not saying that you should listen to garbage- things that you don't at least enjoy. I do say, however, that you should experiment. I even play a lot of the funky stuff that I listen to. Yes, on the saxophone I have tried things like metal and dubstep (I'll leave exactly how up to your imagination). If you stay within strict lines, you'll eventually follow many other people in a thin little row, never standing out or doing something amazing. Furthermore, I think more people should give smooth jazz a chance. Some artists, such as Marienthal, seriously bring out the saxophone's abilities and limits. I listen to him because he plays how I hope to one day play, but not completely. Having my own sound is very important to me, as it's a hard thing to achieve. Spread yourself out. You’re like a leaf: you’ll be exposed to more sunlight that way.

Basicaly prooving my point, this is Midvalley the Horn Freak, from
the anime/manga series Trigun

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