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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Why I Use A PC & Some Random Thoughts on "Making It In Music"

My main reason for using a PC is simple. It's Apple's poor job porting their software to PC's. iTunes for the PC is the most frustrating software I use. Rarely does it connect to an iPhone via WiFi. The settings are not in one place. It fails to load at times and I have to reboot. It gets a 10 out of 10 on the "Cussable Scale."

I have felt the same way about a lot of music and musical device software that was designed for an Apple and then poorly ported to Windows.

I am a music anarchist, and Apple's "ownership" of their software nauseates me, too.

You do not have to have the "best" machine, the "best" software, etc. to make music. You do have to write, write, write. Just the other day I read a list of songs Willie Nelson wrote. There were a whole bunch of them that I had never heard of. Let's say that 5% of what he wrote has "stuck." That's a phenomenal percentage! I bet the songs he wrote that didn't please him could fill up several filing cabinets, too.

If you wanna make it in the music business, you have to realize that it is mostly business that gets you to the goal of "making it." Probably 99.99999% of musicians hate business (except when it's time to get paid). We'd rather be playing. For this reason, you've got to find someone who loves marketing/business as much as you love music. If you do come into some good money, put a huge part of it on a publicist and a business manager. Make sure that they love what they do and would do it for free (but like to get paid just like you with your music :-)

I know plenty of musicians who are KILLER, but they did not have the heart for the business/marketing end of things. They play a lot locally, but never did get discovered.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Who Makes a Song More Than the Sum of Its Parts?

Before answering the question, if you're interested in composing music for film, here's a very interesting article entitled:

Crowded Out of Eden: Composers and the Hollywood Dream BY JONATHAN RHODES LEE

As a provider of music for film, gaming, whatever, you have to thank your lucky stars to come upon a producer/director that lets you do what you feel is right for a project. I have been on both sides of the coin, but, thankfully, mostly on the side where the final decision was to go with what I thought was best from the start.

The best situation is where you are given ideas of where the producer/director would like to see things go -- without specifying how to get there. I'm lucky enough at the present time to be working with these kind of  people.

And now, for my answer to the question posed in the title of this blog entry: Arrangers and Orchestrators. These are far and above the most screwed musicians in the history of the industry. As you see from Mr. Lee's article, they have been left out of credits since the beginning. Yet they can take a mediocre song and turn it into a hit.

What pushed me to write about this (I've thought it for decades) was listening to music of the 50's and 60's that bridged the gap between the rock/blues and and 40's pop music.

It's only fairly recently that we are finding out who the arrangers/orchestrators were for much of this music. It's about time!

For an example of a songwriter who also was an arranger, listen to Morning Girl by Neon Philharmonic. It was written and arranged by Tupper Saussy (his true name). Notice that early stereo mix! Harpsichord Rock on one side, lush orchestration on the other side. Make sure to listen through to the end -- the strings go where rock and roll instrumentation just wouldn't cut it.

How many songs are there that were made by a musician's invention of a musical hook? The instrumental  riffs that bring a whole song to mind, like the riff in My Girl. The guitarist is Robert White.

By the way, you did notice the orchestral arrangement in the song, didn't you? That's the Detroit Symphony Orchestra -- they were involved in many Motown recordings.

These days, there is no excuse to leave out credit for any of the people who bring a song to life.