Tag Archives: Music

PCCC Fundraising Concert Photos

A few months ago, I was asked to take some photos for a church fundraising concert.  It was great to see such a huge audience turnout for the concert, which unfortunately pushed me right to the backs and sides only.  However, there were many different acts so I was able to move around between items and get different angles.

The best part of the event was the last item where various ensembles all combined together!  It was wonderful to see the adult choir, childrens choir and orchestra all together.  Was it professional musical standard?  Of course not, these were all amateurs doing something for a good cause.  But what struck me was the gusto – the passion that they all had – well done to all!

Here are a few of my favourite shots from the day!

Trip to the State Library of Western Australia

On the weekend, I dragged the kids to the State Library.   Initially the kids were complaining “Do we HAVE to go with you? Do we HAVE to go to the library?”.

Tough luck – I’ve got the keys to the car 🙂

I had to look up some music and when I got there to the second floor, I forgot just how much sheet music they do have there.   There’s literally STACKS! 

Seriously, before you go to Zenith’s or Theo’s or Clef or Musgrove’s, visit the State Library first.  There’s shelves and shelves of music scores for all sorts of instruments and ensembles.  And not just classical sheet music, but a whole lot of pop and rock and musical theatre stuff too. 

I took one look at the violin section and thought that it would take years to go through and play all the repertoire they have there.  I’m flipped through some of the fiddling and jazz books – stuff I’ve wanted to try out but just haven’t wanted to fork out real money yet.  They also have a practice room there to hire if you want to try out books before going home.

And the cost?  FREE!  Yep, just sign up on the ground floor, show some ID and you can borrow any of these books to play in the comfort of your own home!

On the way out, we found a free display on the ground floor called “The Library of Nearly Lost Moments” – an exhibition dedicated to all the “stuff” in your lives. 

Little Miss 9 liked the snow globe collection and I was excited to see some old Apple computers there.

There was an activity there where you can add some bit of stuff to the wall and describe what it is, where you got it, why you don’t want it.  

This was my favourite!

Eventually, I had to pull Little Miss 9 away from the old typewriter they had there.  To think that I learnt typing on a typewriter, but now it’s such a novelty 🙂  I think I’ll have to dig up my parents’ old one for the kids to play with again.


 The exhibition continues onto the 6th February but the Music section of the library is there all the time 🙂

More info here:   http://www.slwa.wa.gov.au/whats_on/exhibitions

And they’ve even got a blog here!  http://slwa.wordpress.com/ and posted about their Music section here:  http://slwa.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/attention-music-students/

And tip for the day – you can search their entire catalogue from the comfort of your home here:  http://henrietta.slwa.wa.gov.au/search~S2

Not in the YouTube Symphony

Oh well…

I’m not a “winner” of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.   Wifey keeps on telling me to get over it.

But I’ve watched my video a few more times, and those of the “winners”.   And I’ve come to the conclusion – I’m just a boring player to watch.

And I need to change this.

I’m sure there are a multitude of opinions, but music is primarily a form of communication – a performing art.   Playing the notes, articulation, phrasing..  that’s all one side of the coin.  But on the other side, is the visual aspect.

On an audio CD, you don’t get this – and so I know I’ve been sometimes surprised to go and watch an artist in person and be disappointed.  Or sometimes the reverse – sometimes seeing the performance, the emotion and movement in an artist, leaves such an impression that just listening to their audio recording afterwards is quite a different experience.

I think I need to work on the visual, performing aspect of my playing.   So it “looks” like I’m playing what I’m feeling.  For an audience member, this will then reinforce their aural sense with the visual sense – therefore heightening their overall musical experience.  Surely?

Any thoughts?

Memories of Masters at Work, Ministry of Sound, Roger Sanchez

I was watching a bit of Oprah’s show at Radio City Music Hall and someone made a comment that collections define who you are and tell a part of your life story.

Well, in the 90’s, I ended up collecting a lot of house, techno and dance CDs.    I was in a phase where I loved US and UK House, music from labels like Strictly Rhythm, music from the Ministry of Sound, Fantazia and Renaissance, mixes from Masters at Work, Roger Sanchez and Allister Whitehead.  I used to dream of visiting the UK or Ibiza to listen to my favourite DJs, but that never happened.

But now that collection has been sitting at the bottom of our CD cabinet for years.  I haven’t listened to this stuff for years.  My musical tastes have moved on so it’s time to go.   Packing it up and listing it for auction, I couldn’t believe how much money I spent on these CDs at the time!!

Interestingly some of these albums are still for sale online.  And some seem to be out of print and collector’s items now.

If you’re interested buying my bulk lot – it’s on eBay here:  http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Bulk-Lot-59-Dance-CD-Albums-Ministry-Wild-etc-/180611853725?pt=AU_Wholesale_Lots_Music&hash=item2a0d4e2d9d

More info here about Masters at Work here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_at_Work and http://www.mawrecords.com/

Masterclass with Renaud Capucon

Renaud Capucon (image from EMI Classics website)

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to attend a masterclass by young violinist Renaud Capucon.

I’ve participated in a few masterclasses in the past and I remember being extremely nervous.  It’s a wonderful and rare opportunity to get feedback from a world class professional solo violinist, but I remember the challenge of trying to break my mould and fixed ways to try what the masterclass teacher is asking.  I was keen to go this to hear Renaud’s approach to music and the violin.

So at this masterclass, four violinists ranging in age from 14 to mid twenties played for Renaud, organised by UWA, ECU, AUSTA and WASO.

The violinists all played well.  Renaud, dress smart casual in a jacket and jeans, was animated and friendly. In fact, quite good looking according to some female audience members 🙂    A lot of his teaching style reminded me of Maxim Vengerov’s masterclasses, and my ex-teacher Paul Eder – trying to capture the essence and personification of music interpretation through the use of imagery.  

And that was the main thing I took away from the masterclass – most of his comments centered around how to move to the next level – in my mind, from “playing music” to “making music”.  After all, music should be an expression of the soul.  Sure, notes and technique are important, like the foundations to build a sturdy building.  But it’s not real “music” until you put your heart into it.

If it’s a Mozart violin concerto, the phrases should sing like different people singing a conversation.

If it’s a showy virtuosic piece, it shouldn’t be played like a study of technical work, but blow your socks off.

Sure, trying to get the violinists to try different ways of playing by describing images to them, or making them move in certain ways, is good and the violin students that night were able to adapt in varying degrees. 

But for me, the best parts of the evening was when Renaud took out his violin (I’m guessing he had his Guarneri del Gesu there!) and showed how he would play it.

And that…



I thought the violinist who played the Mozart A major concerto played with great detail and care.  But when Renaud played the opening phrase, it was sublime – the tone so warm, the phrasing and control perfect – one big soaring singing line.   That’s the difference…

Suddenly nearly 2 and a half hours it was all over.  I was definitely impressed with the little of Renaud’s playing I heard and his approach to music and Mozart in particular, and inspired to go home and pick up the violin again! 

In fact, it’s probably time to start thinking of the next big work to learn.  I’m feeling in the mood for some Carmen at the moment!

More info:

Renaud Capucon’s biography here:  http://www.emiclassics.com/artistbiography.php?aid=102 and http://www.intermusica.co.uk/capucon

Great interview with Renaud Capucon by Aart van der Wal – http://www.musicweb-international.com/Sandh/2010/Jan-Jun10/Renaud_Capucon.htm

This weekend’s WASO concert featuring Renaud playing the Korngold Violin Concerto and Ravel’s Tzigane – http://www.waso.com.au/EventDetail.aspx?ProductID=2431

Rebecca White playing the Carmen Fantasy with the FCO this weekend – http://members.iinet.net.au/~hug1/fco/

I want to re-use the MasterChef background sounds!

One thing that I can’t believe I’m missing now that MasterChef is over is the background sounds.  Being musically oriented, it used to TOTALLY BUG me when I watched the show.  The motifs used in the show to accompany the action on screen was way too recipe like *boom* *boom*. 

The ones that still stick with me:

  • The timpani – boom bada boom boom boom “crap is about to or just happen“, you found a fish bone in your dish type of stuff
  • The “it’s alright, it wasn’t a disaster” music featuring the violin motif like  B – B – B A B – C – C – C, which then moves onto soothing sustained strings and the happy piano motif, usually played when one of the judges is about to say how the dish just melts or pops in your mouth or something like that
  • Odd cymbal crashes or crescendo cymbals like the musical producer accidentally put his elbow on the synth keyboard

I can just imagine the musical producers for the show sitting in front of a synthesizer with all the sounds preloaded onto different keys, and then triggering them randomly based on how they feel or react to the action on screen.  What a ball of a time they’d have!

But now that so many Australians have been exposed to it and recognise the sounds, I think it’s time to capitalise on these sound bites.  Here are my two profit making ideas:

1) The MasterChef home movie sound effects pack

Imagine using the MasterChef sounds in your own home movie!! 

Your 6 year old is about to fall off their trike, cue the timpani “boom bada boom boom boom”.  And then skip to Mum putting a band-aid on the scratch and kisses and hugs, cue the strings “it’s alright” music.   Fantastic!

2) The MasterChef mobile ring and SMS tones

If no-one does this, I’m going to!   I want the happy violin music everytime I receive a call.  I want the timpani sound for SMS’s or emails.  I want it now!!

Anyone else want to re-use these sounds?

Really enjoying Hey Mister Jesse Podcast!

Earlier this year, I thought I’d spice up my drive to and from work by listening to podcasts.

Well, a single podcast.   The Hey Mister Jesse podcast, in fact.

This is a monthly show dedicated to swing music for swing dancers.  The host, Jesse Miner, is one of the most popular swing DJs around, and he is very active in the swing DJ scene.   His co-host happens to be Manu Smith, a cool swing dancer and teacher that I’ve had the opportunity to learn from a few years ago when he visited Perth.

I used to wonder what the appeal of a podcast was – why would anyone want to listen to a radio show that you have to download as an mp3?  But I’ve been converted!  I love the personal nature of it, the audience feedback, looking forward to new finds each month, and of course, the great music that is covered on the show.   At first, I was disappointed that most of the music on the show are short snippets and not full songs, but I’m getting used to it now and can’t wait to get home from my drive to buy new tunes that I like.

I love how the show has reinvigorated my swing music collection.  It was getting a little bit stale, but I now know of new swinging bands, as well as finding hidden gems in my existing collection.

As the show has been running for awhile, I’m actually listening to the shows in reverse order.  Feels weird reliving world events backwards, but it doesn’t matter – music is timeless!

If you’re into swing dancing or love swing music, I definitely recommend this podcast.   More details here:  http://www.yehoodi.com/show/heymisterjesse

C Jam Blues

An iconic jazz chart…   also, an all time favourite of Lindyhop dancers around the world, epitomised by the version on the Live in Swing City CD (http://www.amazon.com/Live-Swing-City-Swingin-Duke/dp/B00000ICNS).

And so, this tune was how little Miss 9 (was little Miss 8) started learning to improvise on her saxophone.

At her last lesson, she was trading 4’s with her teacher and it was so.. cute!  Yes, I had another proud parent moment.  Her improvs were extremely basic and at times awkward, but, hey, it was one of her first times and she’s 9!

Coming from a classical background, I’m not really sure how one starts learning or improving their improvisation skills, but I have a feeling the more you do it, the more you find out what sounds good and what doesn’t, and your fingering becomes more natural, heading towards the point where you don’t even need to think about the fingering but just the notes, or maybe beyond the notes and just how you want it to sound and where you want it to go.

So Miss 9 has been “practising” at home.   I think I’ll have to get my violin and trade some 4’s or 8’s with her at home!

This morning I put on the CD, played C Jam Blues for her and she goes “I can play this!” and grabs the CD cover to look at the artwork and track listing.

Ahhh…  a jazz muso in the making 🙂

Apple iPad – the digital sheet music king?

OK, everyone seems to want to put in their 2 cents about what the iPad is going to kill 🙂

Could it be a Kindle killer?  Maybe?  It would be nice reading books on the iPad.

Maybe it would be a digital comic book killer – not that there is any specific device in that market at the moment.  There are various digital comic book reader software on computers and iPhone devices though.

In today’s SMH, there’s an article saying that the iPad may be the ultimate mobile video gaming device.  Not sure what ultimate means, but I’m sure the kids would love to play on one on long road trips.  They’re already loving their iPod Touch and Nintendo DSi devices.

One market that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere is the digital sheet music killer.  Yep – I want to put in my own prediction now and say that the Apple iPad will kill all other digital music reader devices.   Not that the market is very big at the moment – a quick Google shows specific hardware like the FreeHand Systems MusicPad Pro and a range of software for PCs like MusicReader.

But just imagine, you have your iPad with you.  It’s loaded up with backing tracks in iTunes.  You flip open the sheet music application, find the sheet music you want and play along.  Gosh, if it was integrated enough, the iPad could listen to what you’re playing and turn the page at the right time for you, or I guess you could just use the touch display to flip music pages over.

For gigs, you could rock up and have all your music with you in a thin device.   Music would never be lost, it wouldn’t fall down off a music stand out of order or flutter in the wind in an outdoor concert.

Then, in rehearsals, you could write markings and notes on the music with your finger. 

With the iTunes store, if they expanded the digital library section to include sheet music (maybe in conjunction with some online sheet music stores), you could buy sheet music through iTunes straight onto the iPad.  The whole delivery and billing mechanism infrastructure is already there!  If it was competitively priced, because of the ease of buying things through the iTunes store, I’m sure sheet music sales would sky rocket.

And with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in, you could even link up your iPad with other musicians next to you if you’re playing in an ensemble!   Or even better, bowings from the principals of each section could automatically be transmitted to all other desks.  What a time saver!

Apple – this is it!  Imagine the musical revolution around the world to take sheet music to the next level!   Do it!

I’m listening to my daughter’s iPod!

It has come…  that line has been crossed.

When our kids were younger (eg. toddlers), they really only listened to music that we put on.  They might have liked some of the music I liked.  They might have not.  But their music universe was mostly contained/restrained by what Wifey and I listened to and the TV/movies we watched together.

However, this year, I think our little Miss 10 has started her music revolution.

A few things:

Writing out lyrics

I remember going through a stage where I started writing out lyrics to pop music in a notebook.  I don’t know why I did it.  Maybe to learn some lyrics of pop songs.  But in my daggy youth, I must have thought that it was a step to making me cooler.  Or something. 

The funny thing is that when I found out Wifey went through the same stage too!  But she had files and files of lyrics that she had written out by hand when she was a kid.

And just a few weeks ago, Miss 10 started in earnest writing and printing out lyrics to songs – both from her own singing lessons, but also pop songs.  Wifey and I just looked at each other and smiled…

New Music

That universe of music controlled by us?  Gone…  Miss 10 has bought pop music THAT I HAVEN’T EVEN HEARD OF by an artist I HAVEN’T EVEN HEARD OF in iTunes!!!  Am I just getting older and daggier?  Maybe 🙂   But the scary thing is that through her friends at school or media, she is getting exposed and getting excited to new music. 

Reminds me of the days when I would actually listen to the Top 10 countdown on the radio 🙂

Playlists – the Mix Tape of the 2000’s

Anyone made a mixtape?  I thought it was hilarious that the Avenue Q musical had a scene where someone made a mix tape for someone else.  This was how it always was!!  I made mix tapes for myself, but funnier, I made mix tapes for my Wifey when we were going out..  and she made me mix tapes too! 

Anyway, digressing, I picked up Miss 10’s iPod today and noticed that she had made her first playlist… this generation’s mix tape. 

And the funny thing – I’ve been listening to the playlist all today!  It’s a good combination of pop songs (and even includes that pop song I hadn’t heard of previously).
Ahh… growing up.