Brought to you by my discovery of the Transatlantic Sessions.
If you put a bunch of skilled, motivated people in a room together with a minimum of structure and organization, you can witness some amazing results. In tech we get a hackathon or an unconference. In music we get a jam session.
The Transatlantic Sessions are a project of BBC4 Scotland that brings together folk musicians from both sides of the pond. They've been called "the greatest backporch shows ever", and it shouldn't come as much surprise to see Celtic and American trad musicians gel so well, given the amount of crossover in the styles' origins.
Unfortunately the BBC site seems to be kind of shite when it comes to actually describing or showing what the whole thing is about, so instead I give you some starting points to browse on Youtube. There's a lot of really, really amazing music to be found.
- The Making of Transatlantic Sessions 4
- The Neck Belly Reels - Sharon Shannon with Gerry O'Connor & Jim Murray
- TS5: Sarah Jarosz with Alison Krauss - Run Away
- Set of Reels - Aly Bain, John McCusker, Mike McGoldrick, John Doyle
- TS4: Russ Barenberg - Pleasant Beggar
- Oganaich Uir A Rinn M'fhagail (O Noble Youth Who Has Left Me) - Julie Fowlis
- TS4: Jerry Douglas - Glide
So, I was lucky enough to get Basia Bulat's CD Heart of My Own this past Christmas. It's awesome, she's awesome, and anyone who's been following along at home for a while already knew that I would say that. =)
Here are two tracks of hers that I hadn't heard before the CD made its way into my hot little hands.( Vids behind the cut... )
Haven't posted anything about how the viola lessons have been progressing for some time now. Will try to find time to rectify that soon; big news coming up. ^_^;
In the meantime, and since I haven't posted it yet, here's one of my favourite pieces of classical music. If you're not familiar with it -- it starts out soft, but you might not want to turn up your speakers too loud. ^_^ Even with the obvious musical joke in this piece aside, I really think it's a beautiful and flowing piece of music.
- 20 Jul at the Vogue Theatre, Vancouver, BC
- 22 Jul at The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA
- 24 Jul at Club Nokia, Los Angeles, CA
OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG.( Uh, who? )
Finding forum threads on Teh Internetz discussing how to set up your viola to play a punk show simultaneously fills me with a sense of possibility and makes me disappointed that I didn't think of it first. More of the former than the latter though. (Besides, who am I to think I'm some kind of musical prodigy, eh? =)
Now up to three fingers on the A & D strings in first position. This gives me enough notes to play a scale (D major), so from here on there will be a lot of scale-playing in my practice sessions.
We started (explicitly) working on quality of sound production today -- ironing out the screeches and scratches -- which I've been waiting for since day one. Can definitely see that I'm going to need to step up my sight-reading; the staff is quickly getting littered with a lot of different notes; it's not a matter of distinguishing between four evenly-spaced open strings any more. =)
Capable viola instructors aren't always easy to come by in small towns, but Anya is not only extraordinarily qualified but extraordinarily gracious to boot. Quite frankly, I figure on having a long road paved with practice and frustration ahead; string instruments are rife with subtleties, and playing them well is the study of a lifetime. The innumerable squawks and sour notes I produce are something I expect and am amused by, but any good-natured self-deprecating joke I make is always met with a response like "You're actually progressing quite nicely" or "Like most adults who are just starting to learn an instrument, you are too hard on yourself." I well appreciate how good my fortune is to be studying under such a beneficent tutor.
Inasmuch as I've always thought it'd be neat to play a musical instrument, for the longest time I considered it to be out of reach -- something that only "cool kids" did. I was a computer geek, so being good with technology was my lot in life, and making music wasn't. I toyed with the idea of picking up an instrument for years, and of course never did.( TL;DR: I've started taking viola lessons.. )
Oh, that's right, they didn't.
In my youth I always felt as though this kind of music trivia was exclusively the domain of 'cool kids' who hung out in record stores all day, so I love that the internetz has opened up an unlimited horizon of musical exploration for geek types like myself. =)
As I'm continuing to discover, there's a lot more to the world of musical instruments than you find in a typical rock band or symphony orchestra. Some of them are so far removed that they still amuse me every time I encounter them. The best part, though, is that they usually have more depth than it first appears.
A shekere looks like someone playing a lamp that they found at a garage sale, though thankfully without the bulb and lampshade.
I'm sure most people look at cajón players like they're playing the box their drum came in instead of the drum itself. Who cares when you can make a sound like this come out of it, though?
Monae is clear that she makes her artistic decisions to give others courage to break out of the norm. She says:
That's what I've always been fighting for - making sure that people love themselves for who they are, and we don't pick on people because we're uncomfortable with ourselves, or who they are. That's been my message, from when I was young to now. There are lots of young girls out there who are struggling with their identities… afraid of being discriminated against or teased. I take risks and use my imagination so that other people will feel free and take risks. That's my hope.
Someone on last.fm suggested posting what country your top 50 artists are from. I'm curious, so here are the results:
2 THE BLUE HEARTS
4 BUMP OF CHICKEN
8 アンジェラ・アキ (Angela Aki)
9 嵐 (Arashi)
11 古代祐三(Yuzo Koshiro)
16 ORANGE RANGE
20 HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR
21 SINGER SONGER
23 関ジャニ∞ (Kanjani 8)
27 FUNKY MONKEY BABYS
28 LUNA SEA
29 大塚愛(Ai Otsuka)
31 ロードオブメジャー (Road of Major)
35 MONKEY MAJIK
38 KinKi Kids
42 レミオロメン (Remioromen)
44 ケツメイシ (Ketsumeishi)
3 Neil Voss
13 The Killers
17 God of Shamisen
18 Flogging Molly
22 Acid Tetris Music Team
24 Bowling for Soup
25 Leigh Nash
32 Papa Roach
34 The Hooters
43 Jonathan Coulton
6 The Weekend
10 Billy Talent
12 Two-Minute Miracles
26 Sarah Harmer
40 Stan Rogers
41 The Lowest of the Low
45 Treble Charger
48 Blarney (they're from my hometown!)
49 Natasha Bedingfield
51 Sandi Thom
30 Serapis Bey
36 Heather Nova
50 Carolina Marquez
51 Merril Bainbridge