Saturday, November 12, 2005

"From Many, One"

Vocal technique, as all aspects and forms of music is a subjective thing that appears to be more of an art than the science that it really is. Its practice and teaching is a personal, individual thing, and therefore differs from person to person. Though scientic and physiological aspects of singing have been cleared or elaborated upon over the years, not many if any singers have precise control or knowledge of what specific functions or reactions are taking place in their body.
So, how then do singers sing? How is that they are able to employ a technique? A lot of traditional vocal knowlege, as in any science, is gained through the scientific method. Though voice teachers may not have planned out their technique as an experiment, they clearly had to have taken such steps. Through trial and error they discovered better methods of singing, establishing technique.
So what comprises good vocal technique? Are there any certainties or absolutes? Well, every singer is different, but being human, all have the same general atomic stucture. All singers obviously have lungs, ribs, a larynx, a diaphragm as well as the other organs and appendages that any normal human possesses. It is upon these certainties that most of the concurrence and agreements occur.
For example, most vocalists have recently come to a mutual understanding of the function of the diaphragm in breathing. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that rests under the ribcage. It separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity. During inhalation, the diaphragm flattens and descends. This creates more space in the thoracic cavity for the lungs and ribcage to fill and expand.
Even though voice teachers agree with this scientifically-proven process, there still are many different thoughts on how to teach breath support. Why? Again, everyone processes things differently. Different mental images are instructive to different individuals to help them technically develop.

Movie Music

Chapter Twenty Seven: Scene/Mood Setting

Every movie that you go to see, whether it be horror, comedy, action, or adult, is empowered by the music the director chooses to put with the scenes. Think about it; Titanic would have been some lousy, every-day, sigh-when-he-dies type of movie. Even the golden old Batman would have been just another televised brawl.
Choosing the right music for a certain scene is difficult. Among the thousands and thousands of songs out there, there is usually only one perfect fit for a scene. If the screenwrights didn't choose "Iris" for the tip point in City of Angels, what would they have used? No other song would give the viewer the same feeling.
Which is why the right music is a "silent" mood-setter. In the movie The Lion King, for example, there are a few scenes where, if there were no music, noone would realize what was going on. The part where he's running through the dusty lands; if there weren't the driving African drum beat, one could guess that Simba was looking for a gazelle rather than trying to get back to Pride Rock. At the beginning of movie-musical Jekyll and Hyde, you can tell that the story will be a tragic one just by listening to the opening piece.
Also, if you do listen close enough at the beginning of some movies, you can predict what the movie's overall feels and moods will be. A minor beginning with a dramatic major key turn leads one to believe that an unfortunate beginning will lead to an "all is well" ending.
I've done enough explaining the obvious to you all, so I guess I'll stop. Would you believe that they actually publish this kind of stuff? Save yourself fifty dollars; gain some common sense!!!

That's the news for this week, and for all of me here at Humbert 312, Thanx for stopping by. But most of all, Stay Classy.

Gabriel Yonkler’s Condensed Music Theory Textbook

Chapter VI: Counterpoint- Note-against-note

Synopsis: In this chapter, we will learn about how harmony and melody collaborate to produce two-voice counterpoint.

In Latin, counterpoint means “point-against-point.” When writing two-voice counterpoint, we set two musical lines or “phrases” together, usually one melodic and one harmonic. Composers such as Bach and Mozart wrote compositions based on the fundamental laws of counterpoint ranging from the middle-ages into 1800’s. Basic counterpoint is referred to as note-against-note, or 1:1 because each note in the top melodic line has a note “against it” in the harmonic line creating an interval. Learning about counterpoint is beneficial to any music student because it not only teaches them basic guidelines on how to compose music of their own, but also allows them to appreciate the composers and compositions that used counterpoint.

Naming Intervals
When analyzing counterpoint, we focus primarily on the “melodic interval” (distance between two notes played at the same time; i.e. whole step) instead of specific “pitch-interval” names (i.e. major second). There are three terms that we will be referring to when discussing melodic intervals:
1. Step: a melodic interval of a half or whole step
2. Skip: a melodic interval of a third or fourth
3. Leap: a melodic interval of a fifth or greater

To identify harmonic intervals (between the upper and lower parts), we distinguish them by standard intervallic numbers without focusing on whether the interval is major, minor, perfect, etc. When analyzing harmonic intervals, always identify it from the lower part to the upper part, without naming an interval greater than a “ten.” A “ten” is usually sized down to a “three.”

Contrapuntal Motion
When a melodic/harmonic line moves predominantly by steps, it is known as conjunct motion. On the contrary, when a melodic/harmonic line moves by either/or skips and leaps, it is referred to as disjunct motion.

When dealing with the motion of harmonic intervals (movement from one harmonic interval to another), there are four different types of motion between the pairs of harmonic intervals:
1. Oblique: one voice of the first interval remains the same while the other changes
2. Contrary: both voices of the first interval move in opposite directions3. Similar: both voices move of the first interval move in parallel directions, but not by the same standard interval
4. Parallel: both voices of the first interval move in the same direction by the exact same standard interval. This type of motion you have to be the most cautious with. Then basic rules of counterpoint state that harmonic intervals such as fourths, fifths and octaves, are not to be moved to by parallel motion. The most common intervals to use parallel motion are thirds and sixths.

The key to writing a good, basic contrapuntal line is to use mostly stepwise motion, rarely using skips and leaps. However, only using stepwise motion can be boring, so it is okay to use skips and leaps once in a while; although try to prevent using more than two skips or leaps in a row. Try to have your counterpoint be “hilly:” this means change up the direction a lot; too much of any motion (i.e. oblique, parallel, contrary, etc.) gets repetitive, so try to mix them up.

Chordal Dissonance and Resolution in 1:1 Conterpoint
Certain harmonic intervals known as dissonant intervals, resolve in a specific manner from a dominant seventh chord to the tonic chord. Although the most common phrase endings in 1:1 counterpoint are an octave or unison, ending with a harmonic of a third or fifth is also acceptable. In ending phrases, there are three “must-to” resolutions:
1. a d5 becomes a 3 by each voice moving in by a step
2. an A4 would become a 6 by both voices moving out a step
3. a m7 becomes a 3 by the lower voice moving either up a P4 or down a P5 (same pitch class) and the upper voice moves down by a step

*Notice that although a d5 and an A4 spell a tritone, because of its spelling on the staff, they resolve differently.

The music legend

Frank Albert Sinatra

When passing through Best Buy with my grandmother she suddendly stops and stares at an album that had a picture of a young man. At the age of ten, I was not familiar with who this young man was. Oddly this picture was taken in black and white, and the name of the album was Sinatra. My grandmother said outloud, in a surprise, "I used to listen to him at your age. Is he still popular?" I then told her that I didn't know who he was. That night, I went home and did some reasearch about a singer who made it music history as legondary man.
"Growing up on the streets of Hoboken, New Jersey, made Frank Sinatra determined to work hard to get ahead. Starting out as a saloon singer in musty little dives (he carried his own P.A. system), he eventually got work as a band singer, first with The Hoboken Four then with
Harry James, then Tommy Dorsey. With the help of George Evans (Sinatra's genius press agent), his image was shaped into that of a street thug and punk who was saved by his first wife, Nancy. In 1942 he started his solo career, instantly finding fame as the king of the bobbysoxers - the young women and girls who were his fans." ( Sinatra has famous songs now playing as theme songs to movies, or for example, has sung a song about Chicago. I learned that he sang in a romantic voice. Some titles of his music are "Can't Take my Eyes Off of You, Dancing Cheek to Cheek, and Strangers in the Night." The titles and his voice has shreaking more and more of his music. Not only is Sanatra famous for his music, but h

Reel Music

Reel Music


A leitmotif is a phrase of music that signifies a character, a place, a plot element, a mood, an idea, a relationship or other specific part of the film. In other words, each theme within a movie has its own music, and whenever that particular theme is presented on film, the particular music for that theme is played. A leitmotif is usually a short simple melody; sometimes it is a small melodic line or rhythm, sometimes it is a few chord progressions, and sometimes it is even just a few notes. The function of the leitmotif is to tell the story without the use of words - the audience can understand what is going on by listening to the music only.

The classical composer Richard Wagner is most known for using leitmotifs, particularly for his operas. However, it is the film composer John Williams that is credited to reviving the leitmotif. Because of him, most film scores today are composed using the leitmotif technique. Williams' use and infuence with the leitmotif is most apparent in his compositions for the six Star Wars films. These scores are filled with leitmotifs. Such as whenever Luke Skywalker, the hero, is seen, the audience hears Luke's Theme. Likewise, whenever Darth Vader, the villain, is on screen, the audience hears The Imperial March.

Leitmotifs are an important and extremely useful tool for film composers as well as directors because they offer a creative alternative to presenting ideas using only music.

Examples of leitmotifs in classical music:
- Richard Wagner
- Beethoven
- Hector Berlioz
- Richard Strauss

Examples of leitmotifs in film music:
- John Williams (particularly Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, and the Star Wars films)
- James Bond films
- The Legend of Zorro
- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory



**The following section would be out of a middle school book whose purpose was to teach children about the different instruments--their histories and functions. The targeted audience is assumed to know something about music through their elementary school teaching.**

The Piano:
The piano was invented around 1700 by Bartolomeo Cristofori. Before that, the only insturment like it was the harpsichord which was very limited in the type of sounds a musician could get from it--it made a much more metalic sound than the piano (due to the string being plucked, as opposed to hit by a hammer) and had no dynamic contrasts. However, the early piano had very many setbacks. It was very soft and easy to break and had only a few octaves of keys. The strings often snapped and the case of the piano sometimes collapsed entirely. This happened because the frame was made of wood and with the tension of 200 string being stretched across it, the frame did not always hold.
However, the times called for a more sturdy instruments--Beethoven and other musicians of the 1700's wanted a more colorful and loud instrument. Beethoven himself broke a many pianos during his concerts. One of his page turners was quoted saying, "I was mostly occupied in wrenching the strings of the piano which had snapped, while the hammers struck among the broken strings. Back and forth I leaped, jerking out a string, disentangling a hammer, turning a page--I worked even harder than Beethoven." So, around the beginning of the 1800's, John Broadwood began making pianos with a frame built with heavier wood and iron reinforcements. This made the piano have a fuller sound and a larger range of dynamics. At the same time in France, Sebastian Erard designed hammers that were more springy so that pianists could play notes faster and could play repeated notes. In the US, Alpheus Babcock, started making pianos with a full iron frame so that he could stretch more strings across it. He also rearranged the shape of the strings so that more could fit (making more octaves) without taking up more space.
Pianos are a unique instrument in the fact that it can imitate the sounds of many other instruments. It also has a larger range than any other instrument and has many possible special effects.

A Guide to Film Music

A Guide to Film Music: Looking at Film Music Through Composers and Films

Introduction: The Function of Film Music

Film music is the background music in a motion picture written to be used as a vehicle to heighten emotion of the imagery or dialogue on screen (
When most people think of film music, names such as John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Aaron Copland, Danny Elfman, Phillip Glass, and Howard Shore come to mind. These are some of the main names in film music today, but they are not the only ones. Many people have written background music for movies, and they are all serving one purpose: to aid in the enjoyment of the film by enhancing the emotional feelings caused by the visual stimulation already on screen.
Music in film can either be added as background or used as "source music," ( which the actors are aware of. This can be played on a radio or CD player or provided by the actors themselves. This music can describe the scene by the lyrics in the film, provide the setting or appropriate time, or be strategically placed to alter or enhance the mood given by the area or setting. An example would be the placement of a punk garage bend in a club, a chamber ensemble at a dinner party, or a rowdy DJ at an outdoor event.
Music can also serve as a theme to something, somewhere, or someone. Main titles usually have accompanying themes, as well as end credits. Occasionally this is the same song to tie the movie together, or one of the selections can be an overture, tying in portions from different sections in the movie. John Williams does this very well, providing memorable themes for lots of characters, like Darth Vader, Indiana Jones, and Superman.
Another function of music in film is to actually be an integral part of the plot. This occurs in the case of Stephen Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The five-note communication theme happens several times and serves as a theme for Williams to improvise on and vary throughout the film.
One more function is underscoring. This is used to parallel the motion of the film, usually pointing out scenes or characters integral to the plot. When this is used too much, however, the viewer may not be able to distinguish what is important to the film and what scenes are for entertainment. All of the scenes begin to blur together in an incoherent blob. Such an example would be The Rock, where all of the scenes are loaded with action, with no aural break to determine the importance of individual scenes (
Background enhancement, source music, themes, and underscoring are all valid means of communication in the motion picture industry, and some very good composers frequent this area of music. As this book continues, you will find more styles and functions described more in detail as we touch on some specific composers and films. And, for any help with terms, the glossary begins on page 234.

Works Cited:

Hip Hop History
Hip Hop music today originates back to African traditions, black slaves working in the fields, and the black church. In the West African culture, there were traveling singers and poets, called griots, who told stories though words, music, and movement. This tradition was brought to the United States through African slaves. The slaves continued this tradition by singing or chanting in the fields about their joy and sorrow. Also, they would use rhymes and slang to put down friends or enemies. This half singing, half chanting is very well displayed in our current day rappers, formerly known as MCs for Master of Ceremonies.
The original job of an MC was to introduce himself to the audience and to talk to them over the music to keep them excited for what was coming up next. MCs then began interacting with the audience, improvising, or making up on the spot, simple four-beat choruses, and shortly after, they were adding more complex and humorous lyrics. The interaction with the audience was usually a call and response initiated by the MC saying something like, “can I get a ‘hey yo’?” and the audience responding “hey yo.” This call and response form originates from the black church in which the preacher would say, “Can I get an ‘Amen, Halleluiah’?” and the congregation answered, “Amen! Halleluiah!” This call and response was also influenced with the Blues where the soloists would improvise solos and trade back and forth. This lead rappers to Battle each other on stage by improvising rhymes and putting the other down and competing to see who could make the best rhyme. One of the more recent influences on Hip Hop lyrics was they spoken sections in soul and funk music, such as Isaac Hayes and James Brown. As MCs became rappers, the lyrics were no longer a way to excite the audience or a competition of slamming the other MC. The lyrics took on a new reason of telling a personal story and expressing your feelings. The lyrics are very important, but the Hip Hop music behind the lyrics was just as important in conveying the story.
In 1967, Jamaican immigrants brought Dub to New York City and played it at roller domes, parties, in a park or on a street. Dub is a subgenre of Reggae music of the 1960’s made of instrumental versions of popular Reggae records with words spoken over the music, heavy bass lines, intense percussion and percussion breaks. The Reggae music didn’t really catch on in New York City, but the people really enjoyed the percussion breaks because it gave them something to dance to. DJ Kool Herc, who is said to have started Hip Hop music, quickly realized he could find these percussion breaks in contemporary music, like that of James Brown who had groovin’ funk drumming and drum breaks. Herc used this to his advantage and began using instrumental records of the latest hits in funk, rock and disco. Along with Herc, DJs began mixing the drum breaks together to make them longer so the audience could dance longer. Mixing became highly competitive to the point where in 1977 DJ Kraftwerk began creating computerized drumbeats with synthesizers, which created a new trend of using technology to produce complex beats. Hip Hop music was performed for a while before it was actually recorded during the 1980s. This major artistic force is said to have been completed in 1992, but it continues to grow and take on new shape.

Groups to Listen To:
DJ Kool Herc – Use of funk, soul and disco beats
Fresh Prince – Use of synthesized beats
Afrika Bambaataa – Use of synthesized beats

Friday, November 11, 2005

Music Appreciation: Brass Instruments: Trombone


Derived from the Italian word tromba, meaning trumpet, with the addition of the suffix -one, meaning large, the trombone's literal definition is "large trumpet." The trombone is a lip-reed aerophone, characterized by it's slide which the player uses in varying lengthes to create differing pitches. The trombone is a member of the brass family, having a bell, and plays an important part of any brass quintet. Some other names for the trombone are Posaune, trombon, Pasuuna, and Basun.
Although there are eight diffent types of trombones, the most common are the tenor and bass. The tenor trombone has a range from E2 to F5 and the bass trombone ranges from C1 to C5. There are numerous other trombones including the contrabass, atlo soprano, soprano/piccalo, and valve. Each of these differing trombones vary in shape, size, and therefore range.
As with all brass instruments, the sound of the trombone is created by the tightening or loosening of a players lips along with the constant flow of air from into the reed of the instrument. This action is often referred to as "buzzing" your lips even though the actual action does not necessarily create a buzzing sound. On a slide trombone, different pitches are created depending on the position of the slide. A beginnger might reason that the farther out the slide is the lower the pitch will be. This is a very good thought and is true in some cases like when lowering a pitch a half step, but is not factual when dealing with most notes of the scale. Additionally, notes in the lower ranges are played in the slide positions farther from the bell and vary in position much more than the pitches in the higher range which can be played with a few positions.
Trombone parts are typically notated in bass clef but it is also common for trombone music to be written in tenor or alto clef. For instance, the first trombone part in an orchestra is normally confined to the alto clef.

( for picture and work cited)

Music Appreciation Text

Welcome to Music Appreciation and Enjoyment!
Expression is arguably the biggest component of the human experience. Expression could be used as one of the factors that define why music is so important to people around the world. Music can be shared anytime and anywhere and it is readily accessible to all who wish to partake. Because of music’s versatility, people across the world participate in the appreciation of music as an art form. The question then becomes how do people appreciate music? This text is designed to answer those questions and help you get in touch with your own mode of appreciation.

Music and Humanity

Emotion and expression go hand in hand with humanity. How does one connect the all three factors: emotion, expression, and humanity? It is often said that music makes the three factors mentioned above connect and often completes a persons being. In this chapter, we will explore the affects of music on emotion, expression, and humanity as a whole.

Emotions and Music
Take a moment to think about your favorite pieces, composers, and artists. Then think about how their musical works affect you. What comes to the minds for most individuals can hardly be described in words. Often times one can find that they cannot answer the question without describing some sort of emotion. Many describe emotions that range from jubilation to the most simplistic of words like happy and sad. Have you ever noticed how many songs are connected to different events or parts in your life? Some say that songs make them feel like they are back in another place and time. When others describe these places and times that are tied to music, it is often found that they relate the music back to an emotion. Some examples of music being tied to events include weddings, first dances, and first kisses. Even movies enhance themselves by adding music that makes ones emotions move in one direction or another. Whether happy, scared, angry, or distressed, music is used as a descriptor for the audience to decode into a feeling or emotion of their own.

Expression and Music
Music is often times used as an tool of expression. The very meaning of the verb, to express, exemplifies the intention of music. Expression means to communicate ones feelings or opinions in a tangible format. Often times musician do not think about their own feeling and expressions as it relates to the music that has been written. How can one begin to articulate their own emotions while also maintaining the expressive factor of the composer or artist? One suggestion would be to think past the music. Music is great but one can only get so much from the melody line or underlying chords. Learn a little about the composer and that will help to maintain the integrity of the original emotions that the writer was trying to portray. Once you have figured out what the writer was saying, then you can tie everything together with your own emotions and experiences. Then you can effectively express. Although there are many ways to express, often individuals find that the above mentioned strategy seems to work for them.

So now that we have discussed the music and the human spirit, the application of such uses is pivotal to the enjoyment of the performer and the audience. In the next chapter, we will explore the application of such tactics through trial and error, and through listening to what some artists and composers have said about their own expressive factors.

No, They Didn't Forget the Words: The Art of Scat

You go to your first jazz concert, expecting a night of loud brass and confusing solos without any apparent melody. But, happily, midway through the first set a singer struts across the stage. “Great!” you think. “Finally, some lyrics I can sing along with!” The first few minutes of the song are familiar, and you joyously tap your foot and mouth along with the words. However, suddenly the band cuts off, and the singer spouts out a string of random nonsense syllables. Has she forgotten the words? It is in another language? No on both accounts. The singer is performing scat.

Scat singing is a type of vocal soloing used it jazz. Singers improvise using nonsense syllables to imitate the sounds of the instruments behind them. They use these syllables to produce a rhythmic, melodic line, just as instrumental soloists. Examples of scat lyrics are “Oop-Pop-a-Da,” sung by Babs Gonzales, or “Shulie-abop,” by Sarah Vaughan.

The most popular story told to explain the creation of scat singing is that one night, in the 1920’s, Louis Armstrong was in a recording studio and dropped the lyrics sheet he was reading from. Unable to remember the words, he simply made up new ones and began to improvise on them. However, this story is most likely false. The first instances of scat can be found in recordings of Ragtime bands from as early as 1911. There are also a few jazz musicians from the pre-Armstrong era who could be said to have utilized scat, including Don Redman, Cliff Edwards, and Red Nichols.

Another important figure in scat was Ella Fitzgerald. While Armstrong is largely associated with the creation and popularization of scat singing, no one made it as accessible to the American public as Ella.

Click on the highlighted names for more information on the artists themselves.

For great examples of scat singing, check out some of these musicians:
Louis Armstrong
Ella Fitzgerald
Cab Calloway
Dizzy Gillespie
Clark Terry
Dennis DiBlasio
Chet Baker
Sarah Vaughan

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Modal Jazz

(This post is supposed to be a section of a textbook entitled "Jazz: History, Analysis, and Appreciation." After a general knowledge of jazz from reading the book has been formed, this section takes place in an overview of the different styles of jazz based in chronological order.)



As a part of an era reacting to the fast-paced rhythms and numerous, quickly changing harmonic changes attributed to bebop, modal jazz arose, culminating simpler melodic and harmonic structures to create a style of jazz based on a weaker functionality and ambiguous tonality. Modal jazz was first implemented by Miles Davis in the mid-1950's in a jazz piece entitled Milestones, a title track to Davis's album Milestones. Miles Davis, when introducing modal jazz to his group, explained "There will be fewer chords, but infinite possibilities as to what do do with them."

Modal jazz's premiere album is also a work of Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. Kind of Blue has also been the best selling album in jazz history. In this album, Davis's song So What is featured as the premiere work in modal jazz. Utilizing the same harmonic chord changes in So What, John Coltrane wrote Impressions, a faster, more upbeat piece that still featured the simpler chord changes based on the diatonic modes found in modal jazz.


In order to understand modal jazz, one must understand what the diatonic modes are. A mode is an ordered series of musical intervals used to define the pitches of the diatonic scale. A mode is generally based of the tonic of a major scale. For example, the C major scale is as follows: C D E F G A B C, covering all eight tones of the diatonic scale. The mode of this scale is known as the Ionian mode. The next mode, based off of the 2nd pitch of the scale (the D), is called the Dorian mode. Its pitches are shown in the diagram below, as well as the pitches of the Phrygian (3rd scale degree), Lydian (4th scale degree), and Mixolydian (5th scale degree) modes.

In jazz, two other modes based off of the 6th and 7th scale degrees, the Aeolian and Phrygian modes, are used commonly. In modal jazz, these modes based off of the major scale are used when soloing. Usually they are written as a series of chord symbols known as lead sheet notation.

Ionian : C
Dorian: D-7
Phrygian: Esusb9
Lydian: Fmaj7#4
Mixolydian: G7
Aeolian: Am7
Locrian: Bm7b5

In modal jazz, these modes are the basis for the harmonic chord changes used to create the piece. For example, in Miles Davis's So What, only two chords compose the entire harmonic structure of the piece. So What utilizes an aaba form, using the D dorian scale in the a section, and the Eb dorian scale in the b section. These chord changes are also the basis of John Coltrane's Impressions.


Since there are less chords to use in modal jazz, the harmonic structure becomes less complex. This, after a period of very complex harmonic structures, allowed for a more lenient use of notes, allowing musicians to extend out of their general structures in soloing. Because of the static nature of the accompaniment, soloists are forced to become stronger artistically, creating an interesting melody over such little to work with. Also, the harmonies in modal jazz emphasize intervals other than thirds, which were common in other previous styles of jazz.


Miles Davis, Kind of Blue

Miles Davis, Milestones

John Coltrane, Impressions

Bill Evans, Everybody Digs Bill Evans

Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain

John Coltrane, Giant Steps

John Coltrane, A Love Supreme

Herbie Hancock, Maiden Voyage


Kernfield, Barry. "The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz." 2nd ed. Macmillan Publishers Limited:2002. 2: 784-785.

"Musical Modes." Wikipedia: 2005. injazz>

Serralheiro, Paul. "What is Modal Jazz? A Layman's Guide." La Scena Musicale.>