Saturday, 23 January 2016

It's Like Riding a Bike

Yeah. A time consuming, mind-numbing bike with a flat tire. The wheels are square actually. And your on a tight rope 150 feet in the air. It's a circus performance. You never forget that shit...

I always dred writing about my music. It's so hard to find the right words in a professional tone rather than just letting the music speak for itself. It's like when someone asks you what genre you are and you want to be specific so you can get the reaction from them as if you pulled your backpack piano out and played your best song right there in the middle of the company Christmas party at the Hyatt. 

Or it's like writing a cover letter. I hate cover letters. I write one and immediately have to write another one and they all have to sound like this was the job you wanted your whole life. Its so dramatic. 

There is a reason I am not a music journalist or critic. Respect.

January 23rd, 2016

Lucky for me, writing is like riding a bike and once I get started, after doing a good amount of music description writing research, I can go for a few hours and come up with something half way decent. I hope. I don't know why I complain, I just hate getting started more than motorcycles taking the last parking spot.

Here is what I came up with!

General Music Description
Singer/songwriter, female pop vocals with subtle hints of folk and rock, featuring layered harmonies, contemporary piano-based orchestration, and powerhouse vocals drifting through moments of lyrical and aural intimacy, rage, and reflection.

Not bad, I like the use of rage and intimacy together. It's like my music is sexy or something.

Burn Single Description
Being the title track and single of my upcoming album, Burn is a culmination of lyrical passions, fiery vocals, and an empowering arrangement. With breathtaking piano, vibrant trumpets, and intricate harmonies, Burn has come to represent such a monumental part of my soul. It has led me on countless journeys including raising my own personal awareness of domestic violence, watching the exponential effect it has on people and myself with every performance, and filming my first professional music video. Every song on this album holds a significance in my heart and my life, however, Burn taught me how powerful my fire could be—Burn changed me. Thus, the overarching theme of this album is transformation. 

Inspired by true events, Burn raises awareness of the 2,000 battered women in America who are serving time in prison for defending their lives against their abusers. As high as 90% of women in prison today for killing men were abused and battered by those men. Women charged with the death of a partner have the least extensive record of any people convicted. 

Domestic violence is a costly war waging behind closed doors of outdated societal constructs and silence for the sake of protecting our psychological comfort. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner. Domestic violence hotlines receive nearly 30,000 calls on a typical day. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, friends, neighbors, colleagues have all been victims in some way or another because this sickness affects us all. 

When we ask why they stay, or question why they let it progress, we are inadvertently victim-blaming. So, I encourage everyone to ask themselves, if you had to leave your home today, could you? Could you abandon the memories, stability, finances, time, sense of family, promises, futures, and hopes that an abuser might change? Because when we advise women and men to avoid victimization, we expect that they can and will irrevocably restart their lives. 

All I ask for is awareness. Employ empathy, comprehension, and presence to this battle and stand with me—with thousands of men and women—against domestic violence. Because if you or someone you care about has not been directly affected by domestic violence, statistics show that that day will come. Let’s rise to lessen those chances!

I'm actually really proud of this one because I just went for it. I let my feminist all hang out and had to stop myself towards the end because I started beating the shit out of the keyboard. 

I love the word irrevocably. Such a good feeling word to say. Very sexy on the tongue. 

But seriously, look at these stats. My heart hurts. 

Artist Biography
I am a 24 year old singer songwriter from northern California. I have been singing for 20 years and writing for 10. I released one album, Let Me Go, in 2013 with the achievement of my bachelor's degree in music recording technology and will be releasing my second album, BURN, in January 2016. The album was a culmination of songs written during my time studying for my masters degree in songwriting before is turned into an album conceptualized by transformation, self-discovery, and acceptance. The album will be accompanied by my first professional music video for the title track and single, BURN, featured on my YouTube channel

My music background consists of 10+ years of professional vocal studies, two degrees in music, an incredible experience in the top 75 contestants of American Idol season 12, multiple occasion anthem singer for the San Francisco Giants, and countless achievements in competitive singing and performance across California. I am very fortunate to have led the life I have and experienced the things that have created the person I am today.

My music is characterized as singer-songwriter, female pop vocals with subtle hints of folk and rock, featuring layered harmonies, contemporary piano-based orchestration, and powerhouse vocals drifting through moments of lyrical and aural intimacy, rage, and reflection. My influences include Sara Bareilles, Anna Nalick, Christina Perri, Ingrid Michelson, A Fine Frenzy, Adele, Ryan Tedder, Jason Mraz, Jesse J, Barcelona and Pink to name a few!

That one wasn't so bad because I can talk about myself pretty easily :) I know how old I am and what I do with my life and who I like to think I sound like and stuff. Meh

Let Me Go Album Description
As my first album, Let Me Go is 10 years of songwriting and life in an hour long CD. They say that's why your first album is your best. I watched these songs take form in ways I could never imagine and am so grateful to the people who made that possible. Every song has deep meaning and ties into one another in ways only I may understand. However, I hope Let Me Go takes you on a journey through your own self discovery and triumphs as it took me when I needed it the most. This album is the beginning of what I hope will be a long career in the future.

Let Me Go tells a classic story about finding and losing love and ourselves, and discovering how to keep going when we are young, hopeless, helpless, eager, and so lost in this world. I found a way to breathe during those timeless experiences through vibrant harmonies, commanding piano, empowered vocals, and heart wrenching strings. Let Me Go takes me from 16 years old, feeling second best in an imaginary, but overwhelming race; to 18 years old, learning how to cope with giving half of me to someone I thought deserved it; and finally reaching 21 and understanding that everything happens for a reason and I am one step closer to the rest of my life. This album is my baby and I embrace it for what it is—the anthems of my youth. I know Let Me Go will forever be the first step of many and I praise this album for that and everything that comes with that title.

“I’ve waited a very long time to hear my music like this. I cannot put into words how much I love this album for the story it tells, what it stands for, and the hard work many people put into it. For that, I cannot thank you all enough. One thing that sets this album apart is that it represents me and so many others who connected with my music and collaborated with me in making it what it is now.” (May 2013)

I had a good time writing this one actually. I already had something written for it -- as you can see in the last section. I put it in quotes because I wanted it to be obvious that I write better than I did then. I want to sound like I have a Master's degree or something. Or maybe I subconsciously wanted to feel more important and quote myself since I'm the only one talking about this album :)

Check out this beauty. I'm so good and photos. And climbing. Let Me Go album art at it's finest.

Burn Album Description
My second album, Burn, is a selection of the best songs written during my year abroad. This collection of songs started as a portfolio and has since evolved into something I am very proud to call my second album. My first album, Let Me Go, was a culmination of songs written over the course of 10 years. Burn was written in one, and demonstrates a maturity and growth that compliments my own. Burn is a story of transformation in all ways. All 11 tracks have a special story and a unique journey from inception to final composition and the more I listen to it, the more I realize how much this album resembles my own journeys and transformations in the last 3 years.

Before submitting Burn as my major project in 2014, I submitted two 6 track EPs comprised in part by these songs. The first was titled The Story, and the second was titled It's All Happening (inspired by Kate Hudson's mantra in Almost Famous). Burn truly is a story and reminds me of that mantra. Each song embodies the overarching theme of transformation wether it be a battered woman rising against domestic abuse, an apology written from me to my 18 year old self, or Breaking Bad's, Skyler White, realizing her husband's lies have buried him and their marriage forever. Let me take you on a journey through endless layers of harmonies, meticulously composed string arrangements, empowered vocals, and a chorus of emotionally enriched drums, bass, and guitars provided by some of my closest musical friends. These stories and lyrics earned me a Masters degree and I am delighted to finally share them with the world.

A little more concise. I am so excited to release this baby next month at the album release party happening at Cannery Row Brewing Company on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016! 

Transform with me ;)


Like I said, its like riding a unicycle with two Scandinavian women doing Twister handstands on your shoulders. You never really forget how to write like a goddamn adult with a post-graduate degree.

I can't believe this took me so long to get around to. I am a horrible self-promoting musician. Someone come help me!

I'm getting pretty good at this illustrator thing ----------->
Don't ask me to do anything else in that program, like crop a photo, make a mask, or perform non-destructive editing BECAUSE I CANT. 

So much angst today. 

But seriously, come to the album release.


Saturday, 9 January 2016

I Needed Time to Mend

I know it's been a long time since I wrote about the beautiful world of Songwriting, but I had to find where I fit again, this time in Monterey, California. Relocating isn't hard. Actually, the thought of being in one place forever seems horrible. But let me tell you, picking yourself up after you finally finish school sucks. It's been over a year since I came home and only in the last 6 months have I made progress in my musical career. Sometimes we just need time.

Let's catch up :)

September 2014
I moved home and in with my family. (Goodbye best friend #1 Sonia)

November 2014
I moved out and found a new home in Old Monterey with Zak and Matt Gin.

January 2015
Zak left for Cornerstone Theater Company's The Tempest: California Bridge Tour. Greg was accepted to NYU for Audio Engineering and moved to New York. (Goodbye best friend #2) Lexi moved to Japan to teach English. (Goodbye best friend #3)

I got my college job back at the World Theater at Cal State Monterey Bay while I furiously searched for other jobs in Songwriting, Singing, and Audio Engineering. I had $12 to my name and ate peanut butter on bananas for over a week.

February 2015
I was hired as supporting technical crew for Cornerstone Theater Company when they came through Salinas, California.

March 2015
I got hired by McCune Audio Visual as a AV technician and learned how to drive and load box trucks.

I cut my hair off and died it blond again :)

April 2015
I found out that I was being considered for the next Master Electrician position for Cornerstone's The Tempest.

I was asked to perform for campus band night at CSU Monterey at the Black Box Cabaret.

I was rehired by the Black Box Cabaret as a lead sound technician for the purposes of training new employees.

May 2015
I left for the Cornerstone tour including Eureka, San Francisco, and Los Angeles!

July 2015
I turned 24 and spend two weeks in Lake Tahoe with my friends and family.

I started training in Seibukan Jujutsu at the dojo downtown!

August 2015
I met one of the owners of Tart Collections at a gig and modeled their new Rella Coat, which is breath taking!

I decided that I wanted to shoot a music video for my album single, BURN and I needed to find a director. I found that director and it was all downhill from there! Joe Ramos and Alyssa Carter with Beyond the Fence Films gave me the positivity and enthusiasm I needed to make the music video happen!

I went to Ninja Camp with the dojo. It was so awesome.

I picked up another job with Havas Street as a brand Ambassador for Heineken to get that extra financial help! AKA I became a Heineken Girl!
September 2015
I started work at the Black Box and the World Theater again and began saving up for the music video budget. I started working at Medialocate again as well.

I re-imagined the single, BURN, to make it as amazing as the music video was about to be which included re-recording the piano with an incredible pianist (Juan Zamora, CSUMB), bass (Cameron Reed), and added Trumpet (Avery Suazo).

October 2015
I went down to Burbank, CA to film the video and I can't even begin to express how incredible the experience was and how professional it turned out! Absolutely worth every cent and much much more.

I released the BURN teaser after having a ball editing up a cool 30 second clip of the song!

I left my job at McCune Audio Visual to work full time at Medialocate, CSUMB, and Havas.

(Not to mention, start focusing on music!)

November 2015
The music video was released on Friday, November 13th!

I continued to work with Zak on the rest of the album to keep the momentum up and stick to the schedule of a 2016 album release.

December 2015
I put Burn on Spotify, iTunes, CD Baby, and Bandcamp.

iTunes link:

<--------- I learned how to pathetically use Adobe Illustrator!

I spent too much money on Christmas.

It took me way too long to figure out that I am happiest when I am working towards a goal, but at the same time, I had never been without school before. It was such a huge change to find myself on the outside of that protective bubble and it felt like a depressing wet towel weighing me down until I picked myself up. Like I always do when shit gets hard.

I guess I finally realized that shit will always be hard and to revel in that. Because if I never had to work, cry, bleed for the things I want in life, I would never feel the overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment when I do succeed.

I just needed a little time to mend.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Task 4: Transform Yourselves

This week has been a good amount of productive. I am happy with mine and Lesley's collaboration and my paper is coming along. I have a few more musicians to add to the pool for my portfolio this term including Tami on violin and Chris on acoustic guitar! 

Another strange thing this last week was the realization that I might have some sort of underdeveloped synesthesia. I took a mini test online, but it didn't really fit the criteria of what I think I can do. Basically, I never noticed my association of chord relationships to colors. It's not a visual thing, it's just an understanding. Anyway, I squashed out a thought I had about a note I wanted to hear someone sing in their song in class. I don't know how I concluded that the note should be D, I didn't know what key the song was in or anything, but it was a green mood. I quickly glanced at his hands to see what he was playing and it definitely was not a D. So I told my brain to shut up and forgot about it until 10 minutes later when Joe said the note would sound better as a D. I realized I was right and I associate D with green. OMG. Once I develop this more, I will continue to post more hahahha.

March 19th, 2014

Archetypes and Authenticity! It was a manic lesson that jumped across so many psychological studies. It was intense, so forgive me if my notes just seem to be all over the place. It was a huge topic(s) covered in a short time by someone who is very passionate about it, so it was an exciting class.

Spretzzatura - an art that doesn't seem to be an art. Something that is done by avoiding practice and is characterized by carelessness and disdain.

I think of all the musicians and actors and artists out there that just do things so well effortlessly. Its a very attractive quality. Its authenticity. "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" - Mohamed Ali

Archetypes are not stereotypes, its the subconscious relationship we have with myth that sprinkles human culture. Myth is the oldest form of storytelling and they say there are two ways to interpret them: literally and symbolically. Some scholars suggest that myth is the way we as humans make sense of the world.

There are so many myths that have turned into archetypes. Robert Johnson at the Crossroads, selling his soul to the devil in exchange for musical skill.

TRANSFORMATION! Success of any brand is its claim to authenticity - the law of credentials. There is a difference between advertising and publicity.

The Collective Unconscious, by Carl Yung, suggests that all humans share a deep level of unconscious mind. Its the tendency to perceive common meanings that are embodied within symbols. And archetypes are the components of the collective unconscious and exist in the psyche, preparing individuals for the unknown.

Symbolic meanings in popular culture including the anima and animus. The anima is the unconscious of the male with some senses of femininity among the masculinity. Animus is the female with aspects of masculinity.

"The anima is the female aspect present in the collective unconscious of men, and the animus is the male aspect present in the collective unconscious of women. Together, they are referred to as syzygy. The anima may be personified as a young girl, very spontaneous and intuitive, or as a witch, or as the earth mother. It is likely to be associated with deep emotionality and the force of life itself. The animus may be personified as a wise old man, a sorcerer, or often a number of males, and tends to be logical, often rationalistic, even argumentative. The anima or animus is the archetype through which you communicate with the collective unconscious generally, and it is important to get into touch with it. It is also the archetype that is responsible for much of our love life: We are, as an ancient Greek myth suggests, always looking for our other half, the half that the Gods took from us, in members of the opposite sex. When we fall in love at first sight, then we have found someone that "fills" our anima or animus archetype particularly well!"

The Heroes Journey! 

1. The Mentor: The term mentor comes from the Odyssey and includes many characters that emulate the same role in storytelling. Yoda, Merlin, Fairy Godmothers, Gandalf, Morgan Freeman, Mr. Miyagi, Glenda the Good Witch, Rafiki, and Phillip Seymour-Hoffman from Almost Famous to name a few. “Mentors provide heroes with motivation, inspiration, guidance, training, and gifts for the journey. Every hero is guided by something, and a story without some acknowledgement of this energy is incomplete.”

2. The Mother: A good example of the mother archetype is the Virgin Mary. "The mother archetype is symbolized by the primordial mother or "earth mother" of mythology, by Eve and Mary in western traditions, and by less personal symbols such as the church, the nation, a forest, or the ocean."

3. The Shadow: The shadow archetype is usually a representation of the character's subconscious. Sometimes the shadow is neither good nor bad. Good examples are the snake from the garden of Eden, Mal from Inception, Venom from Spiderman, Mr. Hyde, Mila Kunis in Black Swan, and Tyler Durdan."An animal is capable of tender care for its young and vicious killing for food, but it doesn't choose to do either. It just does what it does. It is "innocent." But from our human perspective, the animal world looks rather brutal, inhuman, so the shadow becomes something of a garbage can for the parts of ourselves that we can't quite admit to."

These are a few of the archetypes you will find in most stories. They say there are only about 6 stories. Its a lot of cool literary psychology relating back to the heroes journey.


Going to come to class as an archetype on Wednesday! lol

Recorded vocals this week for Two Faces! It sounds pretty good, I am very proud of my efforts!

Yay for spring time :)


Monday, 17 March 2014

I Feel Pretty

Once again, David Stoll came to speak with the class about musical theater and composing for theater. I found that the lecture was aimed at songwriters and composers who actually know about musical theater culture and the inner workings of theatrical drama. However, that isn't so much the case in this class, even I felt in over my head and I love musical theater. I've been in musical theater. I went through a phase of wanting to commit to musical theater as a career path. Damn.

Just in case you don't know why this picture is awesome.
March 12th, 2014

Apparently Steven Sondheim hated the song I Feel Pretty from the hit musical West Side Story because Maria, a poor Puerto Rican American girl would never sing the words I feel pretty and witty and gay. I tend to agree and that has slightly shattered my perception of how much I love that musical.

If I took anything away from this lecture, it was to establish the terms of your involvement from the beginning so there are no mistakes or problems. It skips all the business we don't want to discuss and gets to the music that we want to compose.

Coming up with an agreement of ownership can be easy or hard, but do it before you start putting the hours in so that business is aside.

Grand Rights are the rights reserved for the creator of dramatico-musical materials. The grand right only exists in a musical work which is written specifically for a particular dramatic usage, whether that is opera: a stage musical: or a ballet production. Another more amusing definition might be: A musical performance whereby if it takes place in costume and you can throw something at it, there's a Grand Right.


Grand Rights are not licensed by the performing rights societies so you have to keep on them if you want to see your royalties. There are usually three recipients of Grand Rights including the lyricists, writers, and composers.

Anyway, grand rights are something you should probably know about if you want to compose for musicals. Its a possibility for any songwriter I suppose!

We ended class with an exercise that I botched unfortunately, (a lot on my mind and none of it was writing a hit opening number in 15 minutes). It was a fun little task, but there just wasn't enough time.

As for my Context and Methodology research paper, I am working on placing as many quotes and pieces of information from all my books as I read through them so that I don't end up spending two hours on two paragraphs like I did this weekend. I wrote the introduction. Woo. It's the part of the essay that is most likely to change.

Here are the notes so far:

Transformation: Analyzing how the Music Business Paradigm Shift has Affected the Songwriter in the 21st Century.

There are few constants in the music business including its transformative nature and songwriter based foundations. With the advancements of technology since the millennium, the role of the songwriter has adapted to the rising standards and expectations of the industry. Today, technology and songwriting are completely intertwined forcing the once songwriter to evolve into the performing producer/songwriter. There are thousands of songwriters across the globe fighting to fit within the brutal, impenetrable music industry and where there is competition, there will be natural selection. As the standards shift, so do the roles in which an aspiring songwriter must adhere to.

I will compare and contrast the brave new world of the performing producer/songwriter to the music business at the turn of the century. Through secondary and primary research, I will analyze this shift of expectations and transformation of the songwriter in the 21st century.

1. Introduction
“…Music is music, no matter what contracts are signed and how the lawyers have chapped up the rights. Music fans don’t care about contracts, they care about the music and the musician. And that’s the point: there no longer needs to be a middleman between musicians and music fans” (Chertow, Freehan: 2009). 9 (Possibly different quote...when I find one.)

Here are the two paragraphs: 

The discovery and process of utilizing electricity in the early 19th century has made music and technology inseparable. Technology continually challenges the limitations we establish and the impossibilities we embrace every day as forward-thinking minds pine over a very promising and powerful tomorrow. The Midas Hand of technology has left a golden, crater-sized footprint, waiting to be holstered and exploited, in every aspect of the human experience. The seemingly small fraction of that influence lies in the colossal culture and business of music. Today, music is bigger than it ever has been before.

The music industry has transformed many times in the last century, yet each push for change does not become any easier than the last. Every few decades, new advancements in technology provoke transformation within the impervious walls of the music business and the latest development lies in the 21st century. Access to technology has called for a power conversion—a transformation—and for the first time, it starts at the bottom of the pyramid with the songwriters. This foundation in which the music gatekeepers have stood on for so long, has initiated an inevitable shift in the paradigm of music business and artistry. This is a digital age and “a growing group of forward-thinking artists…are quietly creating a revolution” (Gordon: 2008). Xvii

2. The Industry Monolith
********SIDE NOTE: Speaking of Industry Monoliths, I totally started feeding into this one------------->
They always get me with these totes. 

(Whom am I referring to when I use ‘music business’ term? Major label companies forming music distribution monopolies. Definition relevant to pre-millennium era)

A. Music 3.0: A Brief Historical Overview
In order to understand how the music industry has transformed, we should know where the music business started. Bobby Owsinski uses an appropriate numbering system to track the evolutionary stages of the business in his book, Music 3.0. Lasting almost fifty years, the first generation of music business followed a model that is currently considered to be the original method of the industry. Music 1.0 consists of artists sending demos to major labels, being signed, joining forces with A&R

“Today, the artists contribution – talent, imagination, persona, and creative energy – is as important as ever...That makes the artist more powerful, and the average record labels offerings see much less significant in comparison... One cannot, however, under estimate the importance of the strong business network, and back in Naples often have huge business networks, with a lot of mission-critical support just a phone call away” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 22

3. The Foundation
(Whom am I referring to when I say ‘songwriters’? An industry built on the backs of songwriters because it all starts with them)

4. The Great Depression of the Millennium
(The steady decline of major record labels after 1999 due to advancements in technology)
“Consumers are more selective and sophisticated in their tastes and about technology, and that/s something that everyone in the music industry should not only be aware of but also cater to. It’s the only way to survive in today’s music world” (Owsinski: 2009). xiii

A. No Bridge, No Toll
(The distribution monopolies no longer link the artist with their fans. Introducing the age of social networking. An end to finite distribution windows)

B. Dissolution of Mainstream Genre
(The mainstream music genre begins to disintegrate as new forms of distribution are offered. Multi-genre music availability)
“Access to music has never been easier, and music is driving on both the regional and global level. Rock, singer/songwriter, Bluegrass, hit – hop, heavy-metal, DJ versions and remixes, and ethnic music of every variety...are just some types of music enjoying tremendous success today” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 7

i. Internet Radio
(Exposing the public to more than just mainstream music giving artists more control of their own publicity, marketing, networking, and connection to audience)
“Fans and consumers have far more convenient options for discovering new music than ever before, including the Internet, video games, television, and referrals from friends via email, instant messaging, or social networking user groups” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 27 

ii. Virtual Shelf Space
(The move from limited CD shelf space to unlimited Internet, virtual shelf space making wider varieties of music available to public)
“…It will be abundantly clear that trying to sell overpriced plastic disks to people who have ubiquitous online access to the entire vault of music will be like trying to sell snow at the North Pole” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 8

C. Disillusion of the Astronomical Hit
(Clarifying that the all time musical ‘hit’ was a product of limited availability in the past. More listening options merit different tastes of listeners)
“Music making is a global phenomenon, and there is more than being made than ever before...That is what is making it so hard today to duplicate the success of make up artist like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and the who: there are too many choices, too many different ways to get music, and of course, too many other interesting ways to spend money” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 37

5. The Displacement Theory
(How the digital age affects songwriters through displacement. Technology and social media is available to the public making the pool of competition vaster than ever before)
“Artists, if they want to, or shifting into a position of power in which they are working with the labels, not for the labels” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 23

A. Survival of the Fittest
(Brave new world of technology and DIY opportunities or small fish big pond syndrome? With accessibility comes competition, which comes with serious tactics for survival)
“Make no mistake about it: as the entry barriers fall, the cost of rising about the clutter on an increasingly cluttered marketplace grows” (Gordon: 2008) 137

B. I’m Not a Businessman; I’m a Business, Man
(Introducing the all in one songwriter – the producer, the musician, the singer, the songwriter, the publisher, the manager, and the distributer)

i. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
(The paradigm has shifted responsibilities from the monolith to the individual. Labels want to invest in acts they know are already successful)
“It used to be that, as a musician, only 10% of your career was up to you. ‘Getting discovered’ was about all you could do. A few gatekeepers controlled all outlets. You had to impress one of these magic few people to be allowed to present music to the world. As of the last few years, 90% of your career is now up to you. You have all the tools to make it happen. Record labels aren't guessing anymore. They're only signing Artists that have made a success on their own” (Gordon: 2008). xiii

C. The Definition of Success
(Defining success is the next step to finding the right path in the career. Less instances of multimillion dollar musicians and more live in studios with multitalented DIY artists content with their means, making a comfortable living)
Antony Bruno Executive Director of content and programming for digital mobile at Billboard magazine - “Technology is more Democratizing, without a doubt. Again, it depends on what successful is. Are you going to be the next Rolling Stones doing this by yourself? I doubt it. But, if your definition of success means owning your own condo or coop in Brooklyn, making a decent living, then those are realistic goals” (Gordon: 2008). 146

“For each artist wrestled million copies of the CD, there are hundreds have done just fine by selling 5000 copies were keeping 80% of the income!” (Kusek, Leonhard: 2005). 28

“Sometimes artists crave fame a lot more than they yearn to make the kind of music that will attract and keep fans for the long term…The vast majority of artists aren’t like that…just being able to make music without having to work a job on the side is considered success” (Owsinski: 2009). viii

6. Conclusion
Some new resources from Rock's Backpages! 

So there is what I have right now. Tomorrow is a master class in the main lecture hall at the Court. That's exciting. 


Man, I am tired. I have hay fever or something and I didn't sleep last night. Today is St. Patrick's Day and nobody gives a shit here. I wore green though... 


But, I LOVE THE SUN when it decides to come out!!!!!

It's grand..... rights..... ;)


Melody First

Last week, I helped Bianca record vocals for some collaborators in Chile and Australia. I really do love being in the studio! I can't wait to get my National Insurance number so I can start working at the Court :)

So, I'm a little late on my blog for last week. I've been working on moving in to a new place in Corsham and I have allergies for the first time in my life. Apparently, since the pollen is different here, so are the allergies. UGH. This week's task was to construct a melody before any other part of the song. I used Sibelius to write as much as I could for my collaboration with Alex and Farhan and I also wrote a simple 6/8 melody for Will M. The class went very well and our song, Two Faces, went over very nicely. I think it will be a great song for our portfolios.

Alex, Farhan, and I all had an all night/day living room recording session on Wednesday and Thursday with our equipment and computers all set up to work on the songs for the portfolio. It was a very fun experience.

March 10th, 2014

Some melody terminology to think about:

  • Scalic melodies move stepwise within a scale
  • Intervalic melodies include leaps and steps within a scale
  • Static melodies maintain the same pitch across the syllables
  • Melisma is the singing of a single syllable over multiple pitches

I usually come up with lyrics and a melody first these days since I don't always have access to a piano, but also because I avoid constraints when I detatch my writing process from the loopy chords I might gravitate to on the piano. HOWEVER, writing a melody without lyrics and then fitting lyrics to that melody SUCKED. We almost scratched this song about 4 times before we finally began to feel confident with it. What happens when a melody is great, but the lyrics have to fit and be great too? Seems simple, but it's not. 

Lyrics and melody have to adhere to certain grammatical rules that we don't usually have to think about when we speak or even sing most of the time. Things like inflection of a word, accents in the word or sentence, and sentence structure. In the sentence Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, the word yesterday is sung as it is spoken and the overall accent of the sentence is on the word far. Imagine (all the people...jk) if the phrase was sung as yes-TER-day rather than YES-ter-day... And the main held note was on MY or SEEMED? It wouldn't scan right and it wouldn't make sense in a lot of ways. That's not how it is spoken, that's not how it is sung. 

SO when the melody came first without a lyric, we were forced to really pay attention to these details that seem to go under the radar most times. I found this challenging because the song still has to be clever and interesting. 

All together, I am so proud that I formally noted a melody (2 melodies) this week for class and that is how we wrote a seriously catchy tune! AWESOME

Everyone did a fantastic job this week and many collaborations are bringing out the best in people's abilities. I look forward to recording this song and working with everyone else in the class soon! 


I wore my Dad's work jacket that I bedazzled to class :) 

Next week's task: Write a chorus form song with a repeating title in the chorus consisting of 3 words or less. 

Bring it. 


Friday, 7 March 2014

The Vinyl Machine

Context and Methodology guest speaker, Barney Hoskyns, visited and spoke with the class about the history of rock journalism this week. Barney has visited us once before and is a fantastic speaker. He helped establish the rock journalism database, Rock's Backpages, which Bath Spa is subscribed to. People like Barney make you wish you read more. ha

March 5th, 2014

Here is a snippet from Barney's lecture on the decline of music journalism since the dawn of the digital age:

I didn't set out to be a music writer as a sort of career plan, I kind of backed into it. I'm still disentangled in it. It's still what I love to do, it's still what I'm passionate about. I think I care more about critical writing; the importance of critical writing; the importance of gate keeping; the importance of there being some sort of intelligent filter of what happens in the culture, and I see, with some sadness and sometimes some despair, a decline of that. And I suppose over the time that I've been reading and writing about popular music, I've seen how it's unfolded, how it's changed, how it's declined, I suppose. When I say decline, I'm really talking about mainstream. There's a lot of really exciting writing about pop music, about all art forms online, it's just sort of hard to find it. When I was reading the NME in the 70's, it was the only game in town, it was what everybody who rates it themselves at all read. NME was the hit list. 

I was on the today program just a couple of weeks ago, and every year music magazine circulations decline, and they wheel someone like me on to explain why this is happening. There's an obvious explanation, people aren't reading as much and kids certainly aren't reading as much these days. The way that the younger generation consumes music is multifaceted. I call it grazing. There seems to be a kind of grazing in the culture. That's what modern digital life is. You can't turn the clock back, you cant go home again. It's just different. The difference has accelerated so dramatically, the struggle for older generations is to try to get your head around the pace of change. And it's frightening. My mind isn't wired to graze, I had to learn to graze. And it makes me anxious. But it's snacking. But the younger generation is comfortable with it. They don't seem to be stressed out. It's the paradigm for them. 

You can sort of look at the history of music journalism as a way of looking at cultural change. What does it tell us about the way consumption has changed? What does it tell us about the way meaning and value have changed within popular culture? What I think I can say with some certainty, is that the value and impact is different in 2014 than how they were in 1974 when that magazine came out. It's different. Is it less? I would say its more diffused. I think that when I was a kid, my parents were still concerned when top of the pops came on. Was is healthy for our eleven, twelve year old son to be watching Mark Bolin and David Bowie on top of the pops? It wasn't. Thank God. It was wonderfully unhealthy. But it was truly counter-culture. It was something that wasn't part of the mainstream consumption. It felt slightly dangerous. Opposed to now. What it means is that pop culture is just there in the culture, not against the culture, not kicking against the culture. So, what does it mean when its not trying to overthrow the state anymore?

Check out classmate, Kirsty Folan's blog on this phenomenon at

It's important that we don't forget about rock journalism and critique/commentary because it has been such a vital part of popular music culture. "I think I care more about critical writing, the importance of critical writing, the importance of gate keeping, the importance of there being some sort of intelligent filter of what happens in the culture." There is such a vast pool of information now through the Internet, it becomes increasingly more difficult to sift through the sources and opinions to find one solid consensus. Now, anyone can start a blog and begin journaling about music and pop culture.

If pop journalism cannot survive the shift in the culture today, we are left with unfiltered, uncommented music. This idea of the gatekeeper as Barney likes to call it, is an interesting concept that I never really thought about. And it's so vital to the music world.

To be honest, I am one of the worst offenders. Even with digital comprehension embedded into my generation, I still find it difficult to listen to more music, read about music for my own personal satisfaction, and even explore the world of music I am associated with. But that's for different reasons. In an effort to change this, I am allocating more time to music research and listening every day. I know it sounds weird, but with a lack of multitasking abilities, listening to music becomes less background noise, and more of an event. RIGHT NOW, I had to turn my Spotify off in order to focus on writing. I can't read with music on or do homework, so it's hard to make it a habit in my every day life. Writing this paper is bringing a lot of these issues to the surface because IT'S SO EASY TO LISTEN TO MUSIC! IT'S SO EASY TO READ ABOUT MUSIC. There is no excuse for the silence anymore. With a Mac, an iPhone, and an iPad, I can listen wherever
and whenever. I'm making it happen!

The Rock's Backpages database is an online music journalism library at and is currently the largest database of music journalism online, featuring 22,000+ articles on thousands of artists from Elvis to Gaga.

Rock's Backpages has been voted one of the Best 25 Music Sites by the Observer, who called it "a cultural resource for students and a tool for journalists", and one of the Best 40 Music Sites by The Daily Telegraph. RBP was runner-up in Best Niche Resource category of the Library Journal's Best Databases Awards of 2011.


I got my BASCA Membership card in the mail today, which is nice.

I also am working on setting up a technical position at Corsham Court with the school. I have applied for a National Insurance number and am awaiting my application. Hopefully it doesn't take too long. Doubt I'll be getting paid for any studio work this trimester.

I finished writing a fun song with Farhan and Alex this week and am aiming for a collaboration with Bianca next week! Half Portuguese? Sounds like fun!

Can you really call this thing a record player? I swear, it should be called a vinyl machine. The class thinks I'm crazy. But I know I'm right ;)


Monday, 3 March 2014

Only Losers Play on the Downbeat

What a good start to a new week. I spent the weekend with Sonia here in Bath so we could co-write a song together with Farhan and perform it for Monday's collaboration class. Which went well :) Important topics of the day included signing up with a performing rights society such as ASCAP, BMI, or PRS and constructive ways to write songs by formulating the title first. The task for this week was to create a song title that contains the DNA of the song first. This is always a strange method for me because my writing style is usually concept first, but it worked and the three of us received awesome feedback!

March 3rd, 2014

How is it already March? 

Last Friday, the three of us spent the day at Newton Park writing our title stimulus song from the bottom up. No pre-written lyrics, melodies, chord progressions, or ideas entered the room because we wanted to attempt a collaboration that involved all three of us equally. I think it was a huge success. Our title is Mine To Throw Away and Joe suggested that it be in our portfolios! He liked the harmonic rhythm (I paid a lot of attention to that) as well as our use of melody and lyric. YAY

Some of the other titles that were generated for this assignment included:
  • Lesley & Alex - Life's Hard When You're Stupid
  • Esther - Let Me Love You
  • John & Farhan - Immediately
  • Rosey - Playing Indians
  • Tami - Never Wear 3D Glasses
  • Leeza - I Can't Love You Anymore
  • Maxine - Pictures of You
  • Bethany & Chris - Love Trees
  • Will & Kirsty - First Time/Don't Show Me Tell Me
  • Lesley & Bianca - Flowers Grow from a Rainy Day
  • Owain & Jamie - The Girl From Out of Town
If you haven't heard the new single (#12 on UK iTunes Singer/Songwriter list) from Bare Knuckle Parade, take a listen now on iTunes!

"Born on the cobbled streets of Bath, Bare Knuckle Parade brings together five musicians who share a love of 'sing until your jaw is broken' drinking songs. Since forming the boys have quickly gained a reputation for raucous, frantic and memorable live performances. The band fuse traditional Celtic-folk with rock and punk undertones. This is represented by their debut single Star Of Dundee. So if you love to sing, laugh, dance and drink then come to see Bare Knuckle Parade"

Featuring talented classmate and collaborator, Owain Coleman (accordion, keys, and vocals), our class is very excited for this group's inevitable success! I have had the pleasure of meeting most of the band members including Jamie Beale (vocals and banjo), Tom Cory (guitar and vocals), Callum Moloney (drums and vocals), and Rob Kyle (bass and vocals).

I should probably call them, I think they need vocals...

Good job friends, looking forward to more shows and music! Moving on.

During class, we made a list of factors in songwriting that can make the music boring. Monotony. With monotony of any of the following comes risk if not compensated for.

  • Lack of harmonic variation
  • Too much talk singing
  • Lack of melodic shape
  • Cliches
  • Chord loops
  • Lack of harmonic rhythm
  • Stack melodies
  • Lack of dynamics
  • Over-repetition
  • Lack of texture
A lot of songs have these instances, but the trick is balance. If you have monotonous harmonic rhythm (frequency of chord changes), use a vocal melody with movement so that it compliments the simple chord changes, etc. 


Next week's task is writing from the melody. THIS IS MY FAVORITE TASK.

I have a lot to get done in the next month and need to start hammering out collaborations and research! 

Tomorrow I am meeting with Farhan and Alex all day to collaborate and write a massive hit. It will happen.

Writing from your heart and writing for yourself are two different things. I want more than an audience of one.

Bianca Obino is a badass, Brazilian singer/songwriter/guitarist who has been nominated for Best Guitarist in the Brazilian Style award this year in Brazil. Only losers play on the downbeat.

~ SR