Wednesday, April 22, 2009

YSO plays Villa-Lobos at Carnegie Hall

This is a quick note about a couple of wonderful videos available on featuring its own YouTube Symphony Orchestra (read more about it in this article from The New York Times).

The YSO performed last week, on April 15, at Carnegie Hall, New York. The 3-hour concert featured 15 excerpts of larger works. Among them was the prelude of Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9 (see Act I, at about 43:15). On a side note, I would have loved if they had played the Bachiana No. 4 instead; alas, at least they paid homage to our (Brazilians') great maestro.

Overall, the young orchestra performed very well, especially considering they had only 2 days of rehearsals!

Friday, April 10, 2009

"Bach wrote it for God" - Benjamin Zander


Sorry if I could not contain myself and had to shout this at you. But this is one of those times when I'm reminded of how grateful we should be that:

a. engineers invented the Internet (coming from another engineer that might sound suspicious to you);
b. there are a lot of smart people out there willing to share their knowledge with us; and,
c. God gave us the ability to feel and we discovered music as a means to impart feelings to others.

The following video is by Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. His talk was part of Pop!Tech'08, which seems to be a TED-like initiative for the East coast. I could be wrong though.

Ben's talk is an inspirational one. He talks about embracing life's possibilities. But the great thing about it is that he used music -- actually he used a 15-year-old cello player -- to make his point. In the end, I was more inspired by the way he taught the young musician to play with passion, how he opened his eyes to a whole new world of possibilities, than by the analogy he was drawing.

One last thing that caught my imagination in this lecture. Ben mentioned that at the end of each musical composition, Bach wrote down the words "For the glory of God" or something to that effect. Now I'm not claiming to be very religious or anything. That said, I cannot but wonder the feeling behind writing a piece of music for Him. Every songwriter can certainly recall the emotional ride of writing a love song; it's like writing a carefully crafted letter to a very special someone. What would I want to say to God? Thanks for everything, I guess. And like a father feels towards a grateful son, I bet that would make Him proud.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Harmonic musings over C and F#

My fellow blogger Pete Whitfield from RealStrings made a wonderful short video showing how enharmonic chords may be constructed over C and F# using the exact same accidentals. This is indeed a beautiful fact about musical harmony.

Now I don't know much about harmony, but you have to admire this:

  1. You take two chords that make up a very dissonant chord progression (a I and a sharp IV);
  2. Then you modify both the same way (in this case, add a 7th and a flat 5th);
  3. Finally, you take an inversion of the second chord (7th becomes the root) and, voila, you have an enharmonic of the first chord (both sound the same)!

Enough talk though (err, writing)! Let's watch the video that makes it all more interesting.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Trina Shoemaker on self-production

Producer/Engineer Trina Shoemaker talks about artists producing themselves. Many more videos available at

Trina Shoemaker is a mixer, record producer and sound engineer responsible for producing/engineering and/or mixing records for popular bands such as Queens of the Stone Age, Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris, Something for Kate, Nanci Griffith and many more. She is a 3 time Grammy Award winner and a one time nominee.

Bittersweet now available from CDBaby

The new single is now available from the CDBaby online store. It should be available soon from other online retailers, such as iTunes and

BOB ARROWAY: Bittersweet, Vol. 1

That said, buying the two tracks from CDBaby will probably be the better deal. You can get both for $1! Check it out.