Friday, August 8, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wonderful News

So, as I mentioned before, I was having some trouble with the Web 2.0 application Idiomag. After contacting the website, they promptly replied and everything was worked out. Now I finally have some articles and media to look at! One of the first articles I received was a review for the newest recordings from opera singer Natasha Marsh. The article, written by Charlotte Gardner, analyzes Ms. Marsh's new CD and compares it to her debut CD entitled Amour.
Gardner believes that Ms. Marsh does have a lovely voice, but that it lacks any sort of depth to make her music truly special. Also, Gardner is not impressed by the fact Marsh re-recorded five songs that appeared on her debut CD. Gardner does recognize that Marsh has made quite an impression on European classical music listeners. Also, she does believe that Marsh has a great amount of talent. However, Gardner feels the music, overall, has been tampered with, not necessarily by Marsh, but perhaps by the producers.
I went and took a listen to Marsh's new CD. Overall, I would say that it is a nice collection of classic arias and compositions. Personally, I enjoy listening to singers who have a bit more body to their voice, but Marsh does have a well trained instrument. She is definitely someone I can see becoming a much bigger star in the future. Perhaps she will even make an impact in the United States' music scene!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Idiomag.com

To be completely honest, I have had some trouble using this new tool idiomag.com. For whatever reason, my "personal magazine" has not been working properly and I have not been able to view any of the articles that have supposedly been selected for me. So, I have decided to give it a few more days and I will see what happens. In the mean time, the website provides a help-email-line so I have contacted them. Hopefully everything will be worked out soon!

Assuming that idiomag.com actually works (I do believe it does and that this is a legitimate site), this tool has the potential to be incredibly useful to its users. My favorite aspect of this tool is that it brings together articles from all genres of music. I like that they have split classical music into several categories including classical, opera, and avant garde. This says to me that they realize classical music is an important genre, as well as that they are taking the time to pay attention to all genres of music, not just pop and rock. This is also useful to us because we can narrow down our interests if so desired. For my interests, I marked all three of these sections as my most favorite genres, so the magazine will include articles pertaining to all of these styles of art. For other users though, they have the option of only selecting one genre.

I think this web 2.0 application is important for anyone in the classical music field because it allows us to see what is going on in the music scene as a whole. Marketers are constantly coming up with new ideas to get their music to their target audiences. Sometimes these ideas can be used for more than just their personal genre. Also, it is always possible to expand on their ideas and to make the marketing plan your own. Classical musicians are well aware they are in an up-hill battle at the moment. To succeed, I think they need to pay close attention to the rest of the industry.

Just to clarify, I am not suggesting that classical musicians attempt to become main-stream musicians. However, I do think there is something to be said for classical musicians to earn back some of society's attention and awareness.

Idiomag.com allows users to share articles, movies, and mp3's with their friends. Communication is everything in this industry. To have the option of sharing news with your friends is important because it keeps more and more people aware of what is going on in your genre of interest. In classical music, I feel as though we spend too much time practicing and not enough time communicating to the audience or to fellow musicians. The news articles on this website provide the reader with insight into new artists, concert series, and everything in between. If we share this new found knowledge with our colleagues, we have the opportunity to support new artists in the genre and to make classical music more well-known to the newer, as well the older, generations.

Hopefully idiomag.com will start cooperating with my computer soon, because I do believe this could be a great tool for any musician. I will keep looking for other web 2.0 applications that might be of use to all of you classical musicians, as well as those of you who are non-musicians, but interested in the genre.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Share Some News, Maybe Even Your Own Feelings

How do you get your news? Do you read a newspaper? Maybe you flip through an occasional magazine (hopefully something more than just that style magazine, but I'm not here to judge). Perhaps you like using the Internet as your main source for up-to-date information. Every news station, newspaper, radio station, and other form of communication has a website at this point. Sometimes it is difficult to find the exact information we are looking for. For example, newspapers have the arts and entertainment sections, but what if we are only interested in reading about the opera? Or maybe you only like hardcore metal. No matter what genre you are interested in, the selection in usually limited.

After searching online, I have found what could potentially (keyword, potentially) be a great source for music lovers interested in reading about their music scenes. Idiomag.com is a relatively new online source that provides its' users with a free online magazine. There are numerous features to the website which make each person's experience personalized. The point of this tool is to create an online magazine with news articles, videos, mP3s, and more, that is all geared to the specifications of the reader. For example, when you first sign up for the tool, they ask you what your favorite styles of music are. They have a complete list of genres including opera and classical. Furthermore, they ask you who some of your favorite artists are so they can better match you to news articles.

There are several other features that all pertain to making sure you are getting the magazine you want. At the bottom of each page of the magazine, they ask you whether you "love" the article, or whether it should go in the "bin", meaning there was nothing about the article that interested you. Finally, there is a button to the right of your magazine that explains why this article came up in the first place. The idiomag.com team explains to you why certain tags for the article matched your specified interests. If you disagree with their decision, you have the option of saying that this article does not match my interests.

Idiomag allows its users to add their personal magazines to their blogs as well. Though I have opted not to use this option, it is one more way to generate communication amongst those interested in this subject. The information is all free, so if you feel comfortable with your blog readers seeing your music magazine, this would be a great way to connect and generate new conversations about the classical music field.

Overall, idiomag.com is relatively new and therefore appears to still be in development. It was started in 2006 by a few men and women in England. Their purpose was to create a multi-media experience for their readers, including text, audio, and visual components. As of right now, they have roughly 100 different sources which provide the website with all of their material. Each day, idiomag.com puts together six new articles for you to read. Though this is not a substantial amount, the website is still growing so it is likely they will expand the number of articles you will automatically receive each day.

Right now, their classical section is not quite as popular, but as I said before, they are still expanding. In the future they should have a larger quantity of articles just for us classical music geeks. If you are a non-classical music lover (myself included in that), this site is great for more popular music genres.

This site incorporates so many different features (multi-media, personal reviews on articles, share articles with friends) that it has the potential to become a great resource. Hopefully idiomag.com will continue to grow and provide their readers with an increasing source of new articles.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How Are We Going To Fix This?

As a classical musician, I have played my fair share of pieces, everything from Beethoven, Stravinsky, to new art that is just making its debut to the world. I always enjoying listening to the applause after the performance, not because I am that self centered, but because you can get a sense of just how much the audience liked the music, or disliked it for that matter. When I was in high school that applause was always roaring because....well the audience was made up of parents and friends. I guess they did not have to be so nice, but they were so I know that we all appreciated their love and support. As I continued to perform in new venues and the audience expanded to include everyday classical music lovers, I realized a change in the applause. When the piece was considered to be modern/contemporary, the applause was never quite as energetic.

While the classical music industry has been in what we might call a "recession", orchestras, as well as the rest of the classical music community, have finally started to realize that contemporary music is not for everyone. Some of the world's major classical groups, like The Met, are leading the way in fixing this problem. They have helped make the classical community realize that contemporary music is not for everyone. However, they have found there is a large target audience for modern classical music. In order to bring that audience, they must market the music differently from the more standard music of Bach and Brahms.

This issue of how to market contemporary classical music has finally made its way to the forefront of important issues to resolve in the classical music world. The biggest reason for this is that orchestras were having trouble staying afloat, simply because there was not enough money coming in from ticket sales. If there is no money coming in, the orchestra cannot continue to perform concerts.

I think another important factor is that orchestra management, and of course other group like operas, realized not everyone enjoys contemporary music. That is not a bad thing though. Furthermore, they found that they could not force contemporary music onto their listeners. There is always going to be an audience for classical music and contemporary classical music. The community has finally realized that the audience is not the same for each genre.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Contemporary Classical Music

Classical music has been hard hit, many would say, because of its transformation over the past century. If any of you have listened to contemporary classical music, you will know that it is not like anything you have ever hear before. It is, for a lack of a better word, unique. Most of it is incredibly complicated. The musicians are required to play at their highest level because they must use all of their concentration to keep up with constantly changing time and key signatures. Also, the audience is put to the test much more than during the earlier stages of classical music. It is sometimes difficult to pick out the melody or the meaning behind the music because there is so much (or sometimes, so little) that is happening.
Contemporary classical music in many ways was not created to be an audience pleaser. If you talk to a modern day composer they will tell you that they are creating the music as they hear it and that giving the audience a "boring", traditional piece is not acceptable. They would rather see the audience dislike their piece than see them sit their not thinking about the piece being played. Though I have not found many contemporary pieces that I enjoy, I can appreciate that composers are trying be controversial in their styles.
Audiences have been declining, however. In an article entitled The Right Kind of Advertising, Sequenza21 explains that the Met saw a huge decline in box office sales. By 2006, they were only selling out 10% of all of their performances, a number they had never come across before.

Contemporary music had a drastic effect on box office sales because the majority of regular opera and symphony goers do not understand the music and would rather hear a more traditional piece like Don Giovanni. So the question is, how can orchestras sell tickets to new operas, even if the music is not like anything people have heard before?

Marketing is everything for this new age of classical music. The Met, for example, was able to overcame its slump in ticket sales by putting together a new marketing plan.

So a marketing task force was put together. For a modest budget, aided by contributions from a board member, the team was able to create dozens of different marketing initiatives designed to attract specialized audiences. New-age magazines yoga groups, anti-apartheid organizations, India groups, South African organizations, et al.

This marketing plan was perfect because they targeted the market that was most likely to be interested in contemporary music. They realized that their are separate audiences that attend traditional classical music concerts and contemporary classical music concerts. As a result, the marketing plan for each segment must be different in order to attract consumers.

In Greg Sandow's blog, he also investigates the power of marketing, especially with contemporary classical music. He believes that orchestras need to be more aware of the the types of audiences attending their concerts. Like Sequenza21 mentioned, there are several difference types of people who enjoy classical music. As a result, in order to attract as many consumers as possible, you must separate the market into several segments. Within each segment, the marketing plan is going to be different because each segment holds different values and characteristics.

Sandow makes an interesting point when he says the orchestras should not be so worried about the internet. Well balanced marketing can encourage listeners to purchase music online and attend concerts more frequently. He is even so bold as to say that orchestras should offer more free concerts. I actually like this idea because it would give people an incentive to attend a concert with contemporary music. Many people avoid the symphony all together because they have a pre-conceived notion that they are going to hate whatever contemporary piece is being played. If they were to attend a free concert, however, they might find that they actually appreciate contemporary music and that they would be more willing to purchase tickets in the future.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More Bond

I know that I already posted a few links to videos of the group Bond before, but I found this video by them and I really like this song. Hopefully you enjoy it too!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xf-ge421Vt8

Managers

Through the use of my Pageflakes, I came across a blogger by the name of Jeff Prillaman who expressed his feelings about the classical musicians in society today and what they need to do in order to be "successful."His post began after he read an article in the New York Times entitled The Manager as Double Agent. The article critiques the launch of the Universal Music Artist Agency, a sub-section of the Universal Music Group, which now offers some of the best artists in the world (including Renee Fleming) for galas, parties, pretty much any event the client is hosting.

I love this blog and article because it concludes that managers are working for both sides of the table in a sense. On one hand, they are trying to help the artist, but on the other, they are trying to create the best deal for the labels. Artists in the music industry, whether they are classical musicians or not, have very little say when it comes to creating a contract with a record company. Most artists have little to no creative input whatsoever. This blog is also very relative because it is written by someone who spent a large portion of their life in the music industry as a classically trained singer. Jeff went to several music schools in his career, including Julliard, and went on to perform in some of the most prestigious concert halls in the world. Though he is no longer a full time professional performer, he still demonstrates a passion through music.

Some might say that having a manager to "negociate" for you almost doesn't make sense because they are not completely looking out for the artist. In the end, however, most feel that an artist still needs someone there to protect the few rights they have.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

PageFlakes...My New Guilty Pleasure

RSS feeds have become an extremely popular tool on the internet. They allow us to keep up to date with information we are interested in. With so many feeds available, it is sometimes hard to keep them all straight. As a result, a website was created to help users keep track of all of their favorite RSS feeds in an organized, and fun, fashion. Pageflakes.com has given users an entertaining experience where they allow users (for free I might add) to add links to their favorite RSS feeds. I have created my own page that is meant to help me find information about the classical music world, all of which I hope to share with you.

RSS FEEDS NEWSPAPERS/JOURNALS
I have chosen several RSS feeds that are based off of popular news papers from around the country. In all, I have selected The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The L.A. Times, The Chicago Tribune, and The New Yorker. Now, I do realize that all of these newspapers and magazines do not pay attention only to classical music. That is actually the reason why I chose them. They do all share what is happening in the classical music scene, but they spend much of their time looking at popular culture. This is beneficial for my blog because I am interested in finding ways to bring classical music to the forefront of the music scene. The only way to do this is to investigate what it is about popular music that connects with listeners today.

I picked newspaper sources from around the country so I could see just how different, or similar, different parts of the country are from one another. In New York, for example, there is a fairly large emphasis on musicals, as New York is the home of Broadway. In Los Angeles, however, there is a huge market for popular music since so many of today's hottest stars reside in this area. Marketing will therefore have to be different in each geographic location because the people are different (at least in theory). Marketing is everything in our society today. It is unrealistic to believe that anyone who is not an avid listener of classical music is all of a sudden going to say to themselves, "I think I will take a moment today and listen to a Beethoven symphony. That sounds like a lot of fun." Classical music needs to be presented in a fashion that will capture the attention of society. People know that is there, but they have no reason to change their radio stations when they know nothing about classical music. Overall, my point is that (as sad as it may be, we must accept this) classical music is a product. It needs to be treated like a product.

BOOKMARKING SOULMATE
Another section of my Pageflake page is my bookmarking soulmate. I set up an RSS feed to the Russel Library bookmark page because I wanted to get the view of academic personnel in the music field. They have provided their users and students several links to websites that are very useful in learning about classical music and keeping up with what is happening in the industry. For example, they provide links to instruments association websites, as well as helpful websites that go into detail about the history of classical music.

RSS FEEDS
One of my favorite feeds that I came across was actually already set up by another Pageflake user. The feed is entitled Music Industry News and is designed to provide news about the music industry as a whole. Much like my reasoning for setting up several feeds for high profile newspapers, I think this is a great source for finding ways to help create a marketing plan for classical music. This feed is strictly about the music industry, so there is never any other information that is non-related to sort through. In the future, I hope this feed will provide information into popular culture that can then be transformed to fit with the classical music industry.

To go along with my idea of marketing, I found a flake (also created by another Pageflakes user) that was all about marketing (entitled Marketing News Feed). Though the flake provides information about products other than music, the concepts (price, placement, target audience) are still useful when creating a marketing plan for music. The concepts may need to be tweaked from product to product, but the basis for all these ideas are the same.

Though they are becoming less an less popular, music labels are important in creating music products. I came across a label that is entirely devoted to classical music called Naxos. A great aspect of this website is that they list all of their artists. Therefore, once you find one that you enjoy, you can get a list of all their recordings and works. Artists are broken down into performers, composers, ensembles, and even conductors. They also have a news section which I found to be useful because it is entirely based off of classical music news. Within this are links to articles having to do with marketing as well as other reviews of events.

Within my page I have included a few RSS feeds for blogs that I have liked so far in my blogging career. They include my soulmate as mentioned before, as well as a blog from the Chicago Classical Music page, a blog entitled Interchaning Idioms, an arts journal blog written by Greg Sandow, and finally a blog entitled BlogCritics Music. I especially like BlogCritics and the Chicago Classical Music blog because they give the point of view of everyday classical music listeners as well as those who make their living off of the classical music industry. BlogCritics also provides its' viewers with blogs pertaining to other genres of music other than classical. In fact, most of their material is on non-classical music. I think this is still useful, however, because the blogs on this page may entail insightful information as to why pop music is striving today while classical music is not. Though the writers will not directly come out and say it, I hope to find some subtle hints within their posts as to why they like, or dislike, certain groups, shows, and events, beyond just the music itself.

SEARCH FLAKES
Another important aspect of my page are my two search flakes. I chose the Universal Blog Search as well as the Universal News Search flakes to help me find news and other information that might not come through on my other flakes. My keywords for each flakes are classical music, education, and marketing. I feel that these three keywords/phrases best encompass what it is that I am researching for my blog. Classical music in today's society will not survive unless there are drastic changes in how the genre is marketed. Also, children should be taught from an early age how to appreciate the genre. Teaching children the wonders of classical music from a young age might even be considered part of a successful marketing plan.

DIIGO BOOKMARKING
Finally, I have provided feeds for my Diigo bookmarked pages, as well as a bibliography of books and online sources that I have found to be useful (marked as Zotero). As I continue venturing around the Internet, this will be a great way to keep everyone informed of websites and literature that I come across pertaining to classical music. The books and journals that I have listed under my Zotero bibliography all caught my attention because they revolve (for the most part) around perception of music and marketing. When I say perception, what I really mean is that the writers investigate the workings of society's minds and what it is that triggers certain feelings and emotions when we listen to classical music. Many of the journals I have cited are reactions to successful marketing plans, my favorite of which is the story of how classical music has started to make a strong come back in Germany.

I know that once I have some more time on my hands, Pageflakes is going to become a huge part of my daily life. It is a great way to keep informed on events, not just about classical music. I have, in fact, already created another Pageflakes page with some personal RSS feeds that I liked. Life has been somewhat hectic recently, so I wonder if I can come across a feed that acts as a personal assistant?.......Well, I can dream.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In the World of Internet...Let Us Talk About A Book

As an assignment for my English class, I have been asked to create annotations for several sources that I have found will be useful in continuing my blog. Not just any sources, however; books to be exact. You remember what a book is right? It is that thing that we put on the coffee table to make us appear smarter when our friends come over. Libraries sometimes have them too. Anyways, the point I am trying to make is that society has forgotten just how useful books are because of how convenient and easy the internet is. I would not call myself a bookworm, but I do think books are still an important part of learning and developing ourselves.

BOOKS:
Aiello, Rita. "Musical Perceptions." Oxford University Press. New York. 1994. Another book I found appealing is entitled Musical Perceptions, written by Rita Aeillo with John A. Sloboda. This book caught my eye because it goes into more of the psychological meanings behind music. There are several sections to this book including perception, philosophical perspectives, and music and language. The goal of this book is to share with the reader how we perceive music (through the use of research from musicians and psychologists), as well as answer the question "how does music perception give rise to musical meaning?"In the first section, Aeillo wishes to research more than just the stimulation one gets from listening to music. She uses a study conducted by Leonard B. Meyer in which the subjects were asked to share their philosophical views while listening to music. Aiello states that

Studying what subjects report when hearing music should go hand in hand with asking questions about their philosophical perspective of music.
Aiello elaborates on how people find a meaning to music, meaning which causes the listener to feel certain emotions.

Ballantine, Christopher. "Music and Its Social Meanings." Gorden and Breach. New York. 1984. The first book I came across goes by the title of Music and its Social Meanings, written by Christopher Ballantine. Ballantine uses his work as a way to express his feelings towards the separation of society and music. His main idea behind the breakup of music and society (especially in the United States) is that man has turned almost entirely towards the "known world". In other words, we have a need to see what is true and what is actual fact. His ideas continue to develop as he urges the reader to take a moment to appreciate the meaning behind great music by composers like Bach and Beethoven. By journeying through the history of classical music, Ballantine has created an opportunity for the reader to learn the meaning behind music and why it is so important in a world where we simply cannot slow down. He makes a special effort to convince readers that music is an art, and therefore not everyone will like every aspect of it. In other words, art is an element that we analyze, so therefore not everyone will be satisfied with every creation.

Frances, Robert. The Perception Of Music. L. Erlbaum. Hillsdale, N.J. 1988. Frances ponders why people perceive music and art the way they do. He explains the results of studies which researched how education, society, and personal activities affect the way we view music. These studies have used several experiments, including the perception of tonality as well as the ability to analyze music, to come to conclusions. Some of the most interesting studies Frances writes about are those that question how people perceive music in a symbolic manner, as well as why they react emotionally to some music, but not others. According to Frances, music is perceived completely different by each individual because we decide exactly how far we look into the music, meaning how much detail we actually absorb.

Roehmann, Franz. Wilson, Frank. "Music and Child Development: The Biology of Music Making: Proceedings of the 1987 Denver Conference." Franz and Frank created a book has brought together the ideas and works of several professors from prominent universities across the United States. All of those featured in this work were present at the second Biology of Music Making conference which was held in 1987 at the University of Colorado, Denver. These professors attended the conference because they were alarmed by how drastically the support for music education was declining. The reader is pushed to think why music is important to a child's development from many different angles including cultural, cognitive, and educational. They argue that music is a natural human instinct. For example, babies respond to a parent's humming of a song while at the same time, they make their own sounds like cooing. The authors ask the reader to look at music from a child's perspective, not their own.


JOURNALS/ARTICLES

Juliana Koranteng. Classical Speeds Digital Movement. Billboard. New York: August 12, 2006. Volume 118, Iss. 32, Pg. 20. Koranteng looks into classical music (as well as jazz music) from the eyes of someone in the digital age. When so much of today's musical product is being sold online, she believes the internet should be at the forefront in making classical music readily available. Many record labels are not interested in taking on any classical music projects simply because there is not enough money or sales in the genre to generate enough interest or any incentive for the labels. One problem being faced comes from making prices reasonable (how do you price a song that is two minutes long and one that is 50 minutes long). Classical musicians and performing groups are now taking matters into their own hands and making their music readily available on the internet for purchase. In the future, Koranteng says that classical ringtones will become available online (more so than already) and that the younger generation might be drawn to classical music because it is easily accessible.

Moira McCormick. Classical Promotion New Sales For Tower. Billboard. New York. August 17, 2002. Vol. 114, Iss. 33, Pg. 51. With children as one of the most targeted markets around, Tower Records created a website that provided release dates for upcoming classical albums. Tower Records' main intention was to create a site where children could learn about the releases of classical CD's that are specifically geared towards them. The company was very successful with their campaign because of their clever marketing tools and decisions. The article explains how and why children reacted to the website and the marketing decisions made by Tower Records. Also, they explain why the manager of the product was perfect for this particular marketing plan based on his background and upbringing.

Wolfgang Spahr. Beethoven Rolls Over. Billboard. New York. July 29, 2006. Vol. 118, iss. 13, Pg. 16. This article explains how Germany has seen an increase in classical music sales in recent years. Spahr describes several marketing tools used by classical music labels and distributors in Germany to get consumers to purchase their products. Modern marketing tools that are used for several music genres (pop especially) , even though some believe are inappropriate for classical music, have been found to be incredibly successful at bringing in a new, younger audience. Based on the reaction they have seen from consumers, total sales (of the total music industry sales) are expected to jump several percentage points.






Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Online Soulmate? Well, Maybe More Like A Buddy

The Internet is a truly never ending connection of websites and resources. Have you ever thought for a second just how grandiose the Internet is? The number of web pages we have access to at the click of our mouse is staggering and, in mind opinion, unbelievable.

Since the Internet is so large, it is impossible to find all the websites and resources that might relate to your topic of research. You could browse for days and continue to come across new sites with information you had not encountered before. With the tools now available online, you can organize these websites into lists and categories so you will never lose track of them (del.icio.us). Best of all, you can find other Internet uses who have bookmarked the same websites as you as well as read through their lists of websites they have found useful.

I came across a user who goes by the user name RuppelLibrary. Since I assumed this was not just any normal user, I entered their user name into Google.com to see what came up. From the web pages that appeared, it seems as though RuppelLibrary is actually run by faculty members at the Vandercook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois. Vandercook specializes in teaching their students to become top notch music teachers.

This list of websites listed under RuppelLibrary is clearly a resource for the students attending this school. From the way the list is organized to even the total number of pages bookmarked, a huge amount of time has been put into making this page as beneficial to its users as possible.

One aspect of this list that struck me almost immediately was their list of tags. The list itself is broken down into sub-categories that make it easier for the user to find what they are looking for. Some examples of these categories include musical theater, musician health, and copyright. In a way, the developers of this list have turned it into an online catalogue. It is very much like a resource you would use in the library to find a book, but in this case it is to find specific websites.

To continue to help the user, RuppelLibrary has written out descriptions for the websites that the user might not immediately understand just from looking at the title of the site. For example, they chose to write a short description on The Technology Institute for Music Educators.
The Technology Institute for Music Educators (TI:ME) is a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Pennsylvania whose mission is to assist music educators in applying technology to improve teaching and learning in music.

They gave a brief background of what this corporation is all about and why they might be significant in assisting the user with their research (the mission statement helps the reader understand this website could provide information about technology being used my music educators). I found their descriptions to be helpful because they were written in a very concise manner that was easy to understand. Also, I thought it was efficient to only provide descriptions for websites that truly needed a little extra explanation. For example, there was no need to give an explanation for the International Trombone Society website.

This list of bookmarks is quite extensive. In total, 182 web sites, ranging from instrument society home pages to web pages concerned with copyright, have been bookmarked. This is a very thorough list because it covers so many aspects of the music industry. It seems almost impossible to not find a website on this list that could be useful in researching classical music.

My favorite new website, which I found on the list from RabbelLibrary is entitled the Music Teachers National Association. This page I believe will be an invaluable source in the future for my blog. One of the topics I wanted to discuss was the idea of music education in our public school systems (or lack there of in many cases). As a result, I think this page will lead to interesting and new ideas that are being formed around how music should be taught, as well as programs involved with keeping classical music a part of every child's education.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

(4 Rewrite) Blogorama- My 3 Posts


1) Welcome Blog
Classical music has always been a huge part of my life. Ever since I was a little kid I have played an instrument. I started with the piano (could not stand it) and then eventually switched over to the oboe because I was fascinated by all of the shiny keys (true story). Once I reached my senior year of high school and the dreaded period of college applications, I decided that the best way to get into a good school was to apply as a music major since it seemed like the area where I would be most successful. To be honest, I was not certain that I wanted to play oboe professionally, but I was fairly sure that I wanted to be a part of the music world. My peers questioned my decision because they did not understand how someone could be drawn to an industry that no one pays close attention to anymore. Sure, everyone hears about the latest Britney developments, but how many people can say that they know the latest happenings of the L.A. Philharmonic?

Though I will admit I listen to more pop, rock, and country (mostly country, as it is my guilty pleasure), I feel that there is something about classical music that connects at an entirely different emotional level than any contemporary song. The music we have today only skims the surface of emotional satisfaction. Musicians have roughly three minutes to tell a story, and that is just not enough time to go anywhere significant. Songs that portray love for example, though they can sometimes be insightful, do not dig deep enough. More importantly, many of them rely on a techno beat to capture the attention of the audience. Classical music takes the time to capture the human spirit and send the audience through a multitude of emotions. I find that this adventure, for a lack of a better word, is important for any person in our society today. We are constantly on the move and we do not take the time to think for ourselves. Instead, we want immediate satisfaction, no matter what the costs might be.

The purpose of this blog is to express the importance of classical music in the lives of everyone in our society, especially in the United States. This is not to say that I believe it should be the only form of music we have on the radios and that everyone should boycott all rock concerts. Also, the point of this blog is not to suggest that classical music is "real music" because most classical musicians go through years of training. Rather, the idea is to teach people just how powerful of an art form classical music is. All genres of music are important in this world. My hope is that classical music does not become forgotten and something we can only learn about in history books.

When I applied to colleges, I wrote that the point behind me becoming a classical musician was to find a way to keep classical music alive. There is no denying that classical music has taken the back seat in the music world. In the future, I will discuss what is happening in the world to keep classical music a living and significant art form. For example, music education in our school systems has become a controversial topic. Many believe that these programs do not deserve funding because there are other areas that are more important to a child's development. I would like to research schools that have made music education a primary academic subject as well as schools that have rid of their music programs all together, and how the children have been effected by said actions.

Another topic that is of interest is the idea of cross-over music. Many artists and groups are taking classical music and putting a pop twist on it. For example, Josh Groban is a well known classically trained musician that has taken his skills to create music that uses many aspects of classical music, but adds a modern twist to it. Another inspiring group is named The Planets. This group of classically trained musicians take classical music and add new ideas, like synthesizers and electrical instruments. Their sound is new and edgy, but they still create an authentic portrayal of the music that they are playing. The question behind all of this is whether or not these artists are actually helping the classical music scene. In other words, are their efforts hurting the efforts of the live orchestras still performing and trying to make a living from playing symphonies the way they were originally supposed to be played?

Orchestras themselves are also taking on new tactics to help keep audience members interested in the genre. For example, they are adding new visual effects to their concerts to help the audience understand the music. Though the audio aspect of the concert is the most important, a visual component might help make the music more understandable.

My goal is to find ways classical music has had a positive impact on modern society and hopefully show that classical music is of vital importance. Classical music is an art form that is helping the human race from spinning out of control as our world moves at a faster and faster rate. There is more to life than just immediate satisfaction. We have the ability to think and feel things that almost seem impossible and out of this world. Classical music is a fuel that can help drive these natural human feelings.

2) Profile Blog
After spending hours trying to find blogs centered around classical music, I have concluded that the classical music world does not seem to be using technology as a tool to communicate with society and its fans, at least not to its full potential. I came across several bloggers who spent time on one, possibly a few posts describing their feelings about the classical music world. However, there seem to be very few people truly dedicated to the well-being of this art form. I know for a fact that there are tons of people out there who love this music, especially all those who actually play instruments in orchestras and other ensembles. Perhaps a little less time practicing and little more time marketing and spreading the word is just what the classical music scene needs to create a bigger impact.

One blog that did catch my eye was entitled Backstage-Chicago Classical Music. This blog was established to bring together the Chicago classical music community in an attempt to give people a chance to express their feelings about classical music, as well as inform the community about important events. This blog is open to anyone, which I found to be interesting because it means they are using a similar concept as Youtube or Google (it is easy to use, and anyone can do it). More people can express themselves this way and more discussion can take place. Most of those participating are musicians or have careers in the classical music industry. Participants post every few days with new and exciting news about events happening in Chicago.

One of my favorite posts from the site was Jen Glegory's depiction (ASIMO--an eyewitness perspective) of a concert she went to in Detroit. The Detroit Symphony had a very special guest during the month of May, a guest conductor to be exact. ASIMO, a robot, made its debut as it conducted the piece The Impossible Dream. Here is the video of the performance from Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRUyVCfFh1U

Jen described this evening as one she would never forget.
the evening was about more than ASIMO’s conducting prowess. From the moment I handed my ticket to the usher, it was clear that this concert was something special. The back of the hall was crowded with reporters and television cameras, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house (I heard several subscribers commenting that it was nice to see the hall so full).
Though I am personally not a huge fan of the idea of robots ever being conductors, I found it interesting that the audience was so curious about this idea. Even the media paid attention to this break through in technology. Technology has practically become the center of the universe. If one is not using it, you are considered to be living in the dark ages. Robots may not be the best decision for an orchestra, but it is nice to see a professional group bring something new to the table that caught public interest.

A second fascinating post from this blog was written by Jim Hirsch, an affiliated with the Chicago Sinfonietta. Hirsch brings up the hardships classical music faces in difficult economic times in his blog entitled It's The Economy, Stupid.
The challenge for organizations like the Chicago Sinfonietta is that we make artistic commitments and budget assumptions up to 18 months in advance. Who knew last January when we were finalizing our 2008-2009 season that the stock market would decline significantly and that gas prices would set daily records? Would we have done anything differently had we known that the economy was headed for a downturn?
I found this post insightful because the economy takes a huge toll on the music world, not just classical music. Budgets must be made in order for music to survive. Gas prices also take a toll because when society has to pay over $4 a gallon for gas, they are less likely to venture out of their homes, especially to go and see a concert.

Based on what I have read so far, I think this blog will be a good reference in the future. Bloggers are talking about why it is that classical music is having trouble staying above water, and what new ideas and concepts are being used to keep classical music alive. This blog is also reliable because most of the posts are written by those actually experiencing the affects of the music world. In other words, they are the ones who have made classical music their careers and lives. They are insightful and clearly want this blog to be a helpful tool for all those who are interested. This is not just a blog all about saying, "I love classical music, so there." This blog has inspired me to expand my blog by providing my own critiques of performances as we as creating a page that could advertise future performances that might be of interest to my readers. In order for classical music to be a part of society, we must discuss it. So, hopefully my posting concert dates and such will help spread the word about the events that are going to take place in the Los Angeles area.

3) Voice Blog
Self expression is incredibly important, especially in a time when we communicate so often through mediums that do not require any actual talking. There are so many ways to connect with a reader, whether it is one's tone, choice of phrasing, level of formality, use of visuals; everything we do in terms of presentation effects our voice.

Eddie Louise and Chip of the blog entitled Interchanging Idioms, have decided to use their voice to express their feelings about classical music, the performing arts in general, as well as their own efforts to create an opera that speaks to modern audiences. The initial feeling one gets from reading their posts is that these bloggers like writing in a very cohesive way so as to give the reader an informative and straight forward post. They are both from the United Kingdom and work together (Eddie Louise is a writer and Chip is a composer). In a collaborative effort, they post every three or so days. These two bloggers are an interesting change from what I have seen so far because they bring a perspective that is different from those in the United States. Since they live in the United Kingdom, they have a much different exposure to music because of their culture, an exposure that may be useful in recreating classical music in the United States.

In one blog post Is the Monkey searching for Immortality, or is Opera searching for something new, the bloggers create an informal, yet incredibly insightful and informative atmosphere.

The original production was done at the Manchester International Festival last year to rave reviews and will likely get the same in the US. Damon Albarn, the composer and lead singer for British pop band Blur, says "Monkey" is a "new kind of thing." And so it is, sort of…

I was struck by his last phrase that ends with the "...". His choice of words was interesting to me because it is more as if he is in the room talking to you rather than writing his thoughts. Instead of "sort of", he could have written "to an extent", or something along those lines. While he writes a bit more as if he is actually talking, he likes to be descriptive by giving several details. For example, in this section be brought up the Manchester International Festival and the rave reviews the play received at this festival.

In a twist of informality, the bloggers used an abbreviation that even I had never seen before. IMHO, after looking it up on Google, stands for "In My Honest Opinion." Even though it took me a minute to understand what these four letters stand for, I liked the fact that the bloggers decided to use this abbreviation of a common phrase. I felt as though they were trying to have a "modern" tone. Connecting with your audience, especially when the topic revolves around an art form that is hundreds of years old, is important. Readers will continue to focus of the post when abbreviations are used because this style of writing has become part of everyday culture.

In a second post entitled, Broadway, Music worthy a listen, I found the choices they made in tone to be compelling. There were a couple of instances in which they could have gone on into a rant, or used a touch of sarcasm, yet they avoid both entirely to keep the integrity of their post.

Maybe it's not the music that is treated so disparagingly - but the performers. Maybe, because Broadway is ultimately about making a profit so fewer musicians are hired (often a sticking point for negotiations with the musicians union), or orchestrations are trimmed to make it easier to mount productions without extensive rehearsals. The drive for profitability drags down the quality and so the classical world looks down on the music form in general.

There is a lack of adjectives in this section of the blog. The words used are very safe and to the point. The writers do not take time to poke fun at or demean the topic by using flowery language that would take away from the main points Eddie Louise and Chip are making.

I found that this blogger's voice is a bit more serious than some other bloggers on the internet. The topic of classical music and the performing arts is incredibly important to them, especially since they are in the business and creating an opera of their own. Though they are knowledgeable, I feel as though they sometimes let their writing get in the way of their voice. It is clear they like the idea of being more informal with their readers so as to create more of a discussion atmosphere. However, I think there was room for them to be more light hearted with their posts. Their "too the point" voice could have been a bit more fun had they used different adjectives and less "flowery" language. By doing so, they would still provide the reader with an educational post, but they would have shown a bit more personality. For example, in his post Obscuring the Beat, he begins with the line

A number of modern composers, in an attempt to create interesting rhythms, obscure the beat - this is to say, they create counter rhythms or off beat stresses that do not fall on the beat of the bar thus giving the feeling the beat is actually somewhere other than it is on the written page.
Though I understand he was trying to educate his readers about contemporary rhythm, I think he could have used this opportunity to find different words. A slight change in language could have helped make this sentence more fun to read, as well as create a clearer message for the reader.

Overall, I have enjoyed reading this blog so far. I love learning about the perspective of someone not from my own culture and seeing the similarities and differences between our ideas. Though I would have liked to have seen a little more personality, which these two clearly have (made most obvious by their pictures posted on their site) they have created a strong voice that makes readers want to continue reading their future posts. They used a subtly of "Internet language" (i.e. IMHO), and they capture the reader by being honest about what they think about the music industry as well as their own work.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Finding Your Voice

Self expression is incredibly important, especially in a time when we communicate so often through mediums that do not require any actual talking. There are so many ways to connect with a reader, whether it is one's tone, choice of phrasing, level of formality, use of visuals; everything we do in terms of presentation effects our voice.

Eddie Louise and Chip of the blog entitled Interchanging Idioms, have decided to use their voice to express their feelings about classical music, the performing arts in general, as well as their own efforts to create an opera that speaks to modern audiences. The initial feeling one gets from reading their posts is that these bloggers like writing a very cohesive way so as to give the reader an informative and straight forward post.

In one blog entitled Is the Monkey searching for Immortality, or is Opera searching for something new, the bloggers create an informal, yet incredibly insightful and informative atmosphere.
The original production was done at the Manchester International Festival last year to rave reviews and will likely get the same in the US. Damon Albarn, the composer and lead singer for British pop band Blur, says "Monkey" is a "new kind of thing." And so it is, sort of...

I was struck by his last phrase that ends with the "...". He choice of words was interesting to me because it is more as if he is in the room talking to you rather than writing his thoughts. Instead of "sort of", he could have written "to an extent", or something along those lines. While he writes a bit more as if he is actually talking, he likes to be descriptive by giving several details. In this section be brought up the Manchester International Festival and the rave reviews the play received at this festival.

In a second post entitled, Broadway, Music worthy a listen, I found the choices he made in tone to be interesting. There were a couple of instances in which he could have gone on into a rant, or used a touch of sarcasm, yet he avoids both entirely to keep the integrity of his post.
Maybe it's not the music that is treated so disparagingly - but the performers. Maybe, because Broadway is ultimately about making a profit so fewer musicians are hired (often a sticking point for negotiations with the musicians union), or orchestrations are trimmed to make it easier to mount productions without extensive rehearsals. The drive for profitability drags down the quality and so the classical world looks down on the music form in general.


There is a lack of adjectives in this section of the blog. The words used are very safe and to the point. The writers do not take time to poke fun at or demean the topic by using flowery language that would create more of a mental image for the reader.

I found that this blogger's voice is a bit more serious than some other bloggers on the internet. The topic of classical music and the performing arts is incredibly important to them, especially since they are in the business and creating an opera of their own. I feel as though they sometimes let their writing get in the way of their voice. It is clear they like the idea of being more informal with their readers so as to create more of a discussion atmosphere. However, I think there was room for them to be more light hearted with their posts. Their "too the point" voice could have been a bit more fun had they used different adjectives. By doing so, they would still provide the reader with an educational post, but they would have shown a bit more personality.





Bond- Future of Classical Music?

These are a few Youtube videos I found of a group called Bond. They have taken classical style music and added synthesizers and other effects (lighting, staging, etc.) to make the music really come alive.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_wCGbh2gRM&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mhofip2CROI&feature=related


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16P73a_-Tx8&feature=related


If you would like to learn more about the band, you can visit their homepage.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Backstage-Chicago Classical Music

After spending hours trying to find blogs centered around classical music, I have concluded that the classical music world does not seem to be using technology as a tool to communicate with society and its fans, at least not to its full potential. I came across several bloggers who spent time on one, possibly a few, posts describing their feelings about the classical music world. However, there seem to be very few people truly dedicated to the well-bring of this art form.

One blog that did catch my eye was entitled Backstage-Chicago Classical Music. This blog was established to bring together the Chicago classical music community in an attempt to give people a chance to express their feelings about classical music, as well as inform the community about important events. This blog is open to anyone, which I found to be interesting because it means they are using a similar concept as Youtube or Google (it is easy to use, and anyone can do it). More people can express themselves this way and more discussion can take place. Most of those participating are musicians or have careers in the classical music industry. Participants post every few days with new and exciting news about events happening in Chicago.

One of my favorite posts from the site was Jen Glegory's depiction (ASIMO--an eyewitness perspective) of a concert she went to in Detroit. The Detroit Symphony had a very special guest during the month of May, a guest conductor to be exact. ASIMO, a robot, made its debut as it conducted the piece The Impossible Dream. Here is the video of the performance from Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRUyVCfFh1U

Jen described this evening as one she would never forget.
the evening was about more than ASIMO’s conducting prowess. From the moment I handed my ticket to the usher, it was clear that this concert was something special. The back of the hall was crowded with reporters and television cameras, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house (I heard several subscribers commenting that it was nice to see the hall so full).
Though I am personally not a huge fan of the idea of robots ever being conductors, I found it interesting that the audience was so curious about this idea. Even the media paid attention to this break through in technology.

A second interesting post from this blog was written by Jim Hirsch. He is affiliated with the Chicago Sinfonietta. Hirsch brings up the hardships classical music faces in difficult economic times in his blog entitled It's The Economy, Stupid.
The challenge for organizations like the Chicago Sinfonietta is that we make artistic commitments and budget assumptions up to 18 months in advance. Who knew last January when we were finalizing our 2008-2009 season that the stock market would decline significantly and that gas prices would set daily records? Would we have done anything differently had we known that the economy was headed for a downturn?
I found this post insightful because the economy takes a huge toll on the music world, not just classical music. Budgets must be made in order for music to survive. Gas prices also take a toll because when society has to pay over $4 a gallon for gas, they are less likely to venture out of their homes, especially to go and see a concert.

Based on what I have read so far, I think this blog will be a good reference in the future. Bloggers are talking about why it is that classical music is having trouble staying above water, and what new ideas and concepts are being used to keep classical music alive. This blog is also reliable because most of the posts are written by those actually experiencing the affects of the music world. In other words, they are the ones who have made classical music their careers and lives. They are insightful and clearly want this blog to be a helpful tool for all those who are interested. This is not just a blog all about saying, "I love classical music, so there." This blog has inspired me to expand my blog by providing my own critiques of performances as we all creating a page that could advertise future performances that might be of interest to my readers. In order for classical music to be a part of society, we must discuss it. So hopefully, my posting concert dates and such will help spread the word about the events that are going to take place.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Welcome To My Blog

Classical music has always been a huge part of my life. Ever since I was a little kid I have played an instrument. I started with the piano (could not stand it) and then eventually switched over to the oboe because I was fascinated by all of the shiny keys (true story). Once I reached my senior year of high school and the dreaded period of college applications, I decided that the best way to get into a good school was to apply as a music major since it seemed like the area where I would be most successful. To be honest, I was not certain that I wanted to play oboe professionally, but I was fairly sure that I wanted to be a part of the music world. My peers questioned my decision, for they did not understand why I would ever want to put myself into an industry that was beginning to spiral into mayhem. Even more peculiar to them was the idea that I wanted to be a classical musician. Though I will admit I listen to more pop, rock, and country (mostly country, as it is my guilty pleasure), I feel that there is something about classical music that connects at an entirely different emotional level than any contemporary song. The music we have today only skims the surface of emotional satisfaction. Musicians have roughly three minutes to tell a story. That just is not enough time to go anywhere significant. Songs that portray love for example, though they can sometimes be insightful, do not dig deep enough. More importantly, many of them rely on a techno beat to capture the attention of the audience. Classical music takes the time to capture the human spirit and send the audience through a multitude of emotions. I find that this, for a lack of a better word, adventure, is important for any person in our society today. We are constantly on the move and we do not take the time to think for ourselves. Instead, we want immediate satisfaction, no matter what the costs might be.
The purpose of this blog is to express the importance of classical music in the lives of everyone in our society, especially in the United States. This is not to say that I believe it should be the only form of music we have on the radios and that everyone should boycott all rock concerts. Rather, people should learn to understand this art form and just how powerful it is.
When I applied to colleges, I wrote that the point behind me becoming a classical musician was to find a way to keep classical music alive. There is no denying that classical music has taken the back seat in the music world. In the future, I will discuss what is happening in the world to keep classical music a living and significant art form. For example, music education in our school systems has become a controversial topic. Many believe that these programs do not deserve funding because there are other areas that are more important to a child's development. I would like to research schools that have made music education a primary academic subject as well as schools that have rid of their music programs all together, and how the children have been effected by said actions.
Another topic that is of interest is the idea of cross-over music. Many artists and groups are taking classical music and putting a pop twist on it. For example, Josh Groban is a well known classically trained musician that has taken his skills to create music that uses many aspects of classical music, but adds a modern twist to it. Another inspiring group is named The Planets. This group of classically trained musicians take classical music and add new ideas, like synthesizers and electrical instruments. Their sound is new and edgy, but they still create an authentic portrayal of the music that they are playing. The question behind all of this is whether or not these artists are actually helping the classical music scene. In other words, are their efforts hurting the efforts of the live orchestras still performing and trying to make a living from playing symphonies the way they were originally supposed to be played.
My goal is to find ways classical music has had a positive impact on modern society and hopefully show that classical music is of vital importance. Classical music is an art form that is helping the human race from spinning out of control as our world moves at a faster and faster rate. There is more to life than just immediate satisfaction. We have the ability to think and feel things that almost seem impossible and out of this world. Classical music is a fuel that can help drive these natural human actions.