How to Listen to Ambient Music

Musical Vocabularies and Purposes

Many years ago, I had a college friend who was an evangelizing devotee of the abstract painter Marc Rothko. I remember her gushing over a catalog of Rothko’s work, while I was thinking that I must be aesthetically challenged; I just didn’t “get” it. After all, most of the paintings were nothing but large rectangles of color, with slight irregularities and a contrasting border or stripe. All of the familiar reference points of line and shape, perspective and shadow, were gone. I could appreciate them as “design,” but not as “art.” While they were pleasing enough, I couldn’t see why anyone would rhapsodize over these abstractions… until I first saw them for myself in person–a completely different experience! When I encountered them at the Museum of Modern Art, they literally stopped me in my tracks, subverting conscious thought and plunging me immediately into an altered state. They were not just flat canvases on a wall, but seemed more like living things, pulsing and throbbing in resonance to a wavelength that had a fundamental connection to the Source of things. I was stunned. They didn’t “express” a feeling–they were more like feelings themselves, and they seemed like nothing personal to me, or Rothko, or anyone. When I later looked at the reproductions Rothko’s works in books, they reverted to flat swatches of color. There was a recollection, but no recreation of my experience. This was an experience that depended on the presence of the original artifact (art: a fact).

A Tune is Not a Tone

I spent my early musical life working mostly with music that used-like representational art–some set of familiar musical conventions to create its effect. There are many vocabularies of melody, counterpoint, rhythm, harmony, and structure that place music in a context of form that makes it comprehensible to listeners. “Comprehensible” is not precisely what I mean–it suggests that music communicates only intellectual ideas, whereas in fact, it conveys and expresses a whole range of ideas, feelings, sensations and associations. But there is an element of “intelligibility” to conventional forms of music that depends on a shared formal vocabulary of expression. There are familiar elements that listeners use to anchor their real-time experience of a composition, formal or sonic elements that are borrowed from other pieces created and listened to in the past. When I find myself humming a tune from a Beethoven symphony, or invoking one of its characteristic rhythms (dit-dit-dit-DAH), I reduce a complex sonic tapestry to an abstraction, a shorthand that is easily recognizable to others familiar with the music. I may be able to share a musical idea with other musicians using the abstraction of notation. But a “tune” is not a “tone,” and a “note” is not a “sound.” It is an idea, even a powerful idea, but when I find myself humming the tune, I know that I have in some way “consumed” the music, reduced it to a subset of its conventions, deconstructed and reconstructed it for my own purposes.

Ambient music, and in particular, the type of ambient music I will refer to as “soundscape,” abandons, or at least loosens, many of these conventions. There is, in general, usually no hummable melody, often no recurrent rhythmic pattern, and if there is a larger “form,” it is more commonly nothing familiar or identifiable, even to astute musicologists-it might be completely idiosyncratic to the composer. Even the vocabulary of “instruments” is fluid and too vast to hold in mind. With the profusion of sounds that are electronically-generated or sourced and manipulated from field recordings, it is rare that separable and recognizable instruments or sounds can be identified-that is, “named.” Late nineteenth and early twentieth century classical composers worked hard to try to erase the familiar boundaries of individual instruments, using unusual instrumental combinations and extended instrumental techniques to blur sonic lines. Ambient music takes this even farther. The sound palette of ambient composers is more diverse and less subject to “naming” than that of composers who use ensembles of traditional instruments to present their compositions. While the savant may be able to identify a sound source as belonging to a particular method of generation (analog, FM, sample manipulation, etc.), diffuse mixing and morphing of sounds can confound even experts.

The Irrelevance of Virtuosity

To a great extent, the virtuosity of the musician-often an important element in other music genres–is replaced, in the ambient music world, by the skill of the composer in crafting and shaping the sound. Slow tempos are common, and arpeggiators and sequencers obviate, to a large degree, the need for ambient musicians to develop sophisticated keyboard skills. Complex and rapid sequences can be generated that defy the abilities of even great performers. While it is true that many ambient musicians do perform in real time, most do not. Even the notion of “performance” disappears to a large extent. Most soundscapes are recorded works; they are not commonly reproducible in real time by performers on stage. More technical knowledge of sound-producing hardware and software is necessary, but in the end, this becomes invisible to the listener, subsumed by the sound artifact of the music itself.

The mixing of sound in the studio enables ambient composers to manipulate and place sounds freely in the stereo field, unencumbered by any need to spatially represent a virtual performing ensemble. These elements become a part of the composition, whereas in other musical genres, the mix–where it can be controlled–is more of an enhancement or special effect than a compositional feature. Some ambient composers don’t even separate the mixing process from the composition. I, for one, tend to mix as I go, since the dynamics, effects, and placement in the stereo field are all integral features of my compositions.

Furniture Music

I mention these elements of ambient music because they have implications for how we might approach the genre as listeners. I do not want to suggest that there is only one narrow “way” to hear ambient music. In fact, part of the richness of the genre is that it is amenable to diverse listening approaches. In fact, one popular way to listen to ambient music is to mostly ignore it. This is what I might refer to as the environmental approach. Here, the sound is treated–in the iconic words of Erik Satie–as “furniture music.” It is played, most likely at a very low level, in the background, while the “listener” goes about his business in the environment. Musak, or “elevator music,” was an early institutional-if insipid–form of environmental music. In public settings, environmental music generally has some agenda behind it; it may be designed to get people to linger in a space, or even to leave (classical music in malls as a sonic “weapon” to disperse groups of teens). It may be intended to calm people, or to get them to spend more freely (the research as to the effectiveness of these tactics is inconclusive). The rave has its “chill room,” where over-stimulated ravers can psychically cool or calm themselves. Some hospitals are beginning to use ambient music to create a soothing environment for recovering patients.

In the home environment, environmental ambient music is self-selected and regulated. In our home, we have a number of recordings that are expressly used for environmental listening. My partner prefers a CD with the sounds of rain, wind chimes and Tibetan bells. She often uses this soundscape while she paints. The selection of music for this purpose is important. Her favorite painting CD has no progression–no beginning, middle, or end. There are no interesting developments, themes, or dramatic sonic punctuations. It is devoid of rhythm, melody and harmony. It effectively “freezes” (or perhaps the word is “frees” ) time in a perpetual present moment, and helps to create–for her–an environment that is particularly congenial to her art practice. In my own case, I use a variety of soundscapes as an environmental backdrop to my t’ai chi practice. There is typically a bit more sense of rhythm and flow to the sonic tapestries I will select for this purpose (this seems to facilitate the flow of the movement), but I avoid anything with too much musical interest for t’ai chi, as I wish to keep my focus on my breath and movement.

Music for Meditation

Some people use ambient music for meditation, and this deserves its own discussion. Many people who first begin to meditate are dismayed to discover how much mental chatter or “noise” is generated by the “monkey mind” that is the default waking state of human consciousness. Attempts to quell the endless stream of thought prove not only fruitless, but even counterproductive, since they add an additional layer of mental activity. For some people, quiet, relaxing music soothes an overactive mind, at the same time calming the body and inviting spaciousness without requiring any special technique. Admittedly, much of what is commercially sold as “relaxation” music is vapid and saccharin; it certainly doesn’t help me relax. For a more discerning listener, artistic value needs to be a criterion for “relaxation” music. I’m probably over-opinionated about this, but to me, there is a distinct difference between “mindful” and “mindless” music. While department store kiosks featuring harp and seashore sounds may appeal to the masses, I rarely discover much substance to these sonic bonbons; there are much better choices to foster an atmosphere conducive to a relaxed and supple mind.

Brainwave Entrainment

When seeking out music for meditation, consider tempos of 60 bpm or slower, since one’s heart rate tends to naturally entrain to the fundamental tempo, and a low resting pulse is desirable to enter meditative states. Also consider music which uses binaural beats. These are usually created with difference tones in the left and right channels, and can gradually and subtly guide the brain to relax into the lower frequency brainwaves, from ordinary waking consciousness (beta waves: 14-40 Hz), down to relaxed or even trance states (alpha waves: 7.5 – 14 Hz). At brainwaves below 7 Hz, you are just sleeping. Binaural beats are based on the idea of brain entrainment, the tendency of the brain to sync up with a reference frequency. Binaural programs can also induce sleep, and there is ambient music designed for this very purpose.

Music heavy in the low frequency range can activate fearful or anxious states for some people, so for such individuals, it may be best to choose music for meditation that is richer on the mid- and high end, or more evenly balanced across the frequency range. For a soothing “sound bath,” some people like to somewhat roll off bass frequencies with the tone control on the stereo system. And for sure, if you are planning on using ambient music for meditation, it should be played at a low volume; let it blend in with the soundscape of everyday life-the whoosh of traffic, the occasional dog barking, and so forth. Let it be an element in the soundscape rather than taking it over. This can help with the practice of mindful attention to the moment. For musicians, music for meditation may actually add an element of distraction, as the mind becomes involved with musical ideas. For this reason, I personally, do not use music for meditation. I prefer simply sitting in a relatively quiet space and allowing whatever environmental sounds that may be present to occur, without (hopefully) naming or interpreting them.

Music for Massage and Acupuncture

Massage and acupuncture treatments can be enhanced with ambient music, and here many of the same the guidelines apply. I recommend that you bring your own music to these sessions, if possible. Practitioners may or may not share your taste, and there’s almost nothing worse than having to listen to some godawful drivel when you’re trying to relax. I have compiled several mix CDs for massage, and mine generally have a shape to them that helps me first settle and relax with something calm and diffused, then something more rhythmic, as the massage therapist works on problem areas, then, at the end, a very spacious section, in which I can completely zone-out, and let my body enjoy the after-effects of the massage. This is my personal preference; if you want to make your own mix for massage, you should find the combination that suits you.

Immersive Listening – Headphones or Speakers?

This leaves one final type of listening that I’d like to discuss: deep listening, listening to ambient music as musical art form. Here, you give immerse yourself in the sound and give it your full attention. The first question is consider is: headphones or speakers? There are pros and cons to both. Headphones are preferred by many ambient listeners for a variety of reasons. First, they isolate the music from environmental sounds, particularly if the headphones have a noise-cancellation feature. Second, and probably more importantly, they emphasize the width of the stereo field and allow one to clearly hear panning effects (moving from left to right, or right to left) that are sometimes very salient features of ambient music. Most ambient composers are likely to mix primarily with quality near-field studio monitors, but they almost universally check mixes very carefully with headphones for stereo placement and movement of sounds.

The most popular types of headphones are closed-cup, open cup and in-ear (ear buds). Ear buds are cheap and easy to take on-the-go. They are most commonly used with iPods or other mp3 listening devices. Since they are inserted directly into the ear canal, they should be used with extreme caution, and only at low volumes, to protect the ears. Low frequency response is poor and subject to distortion. Some people-myself included-find them uncomfortable and cannot use them. For travel or use in waiting rooms, I prefer a light, over-ear headphone.

Closed-cup headphones reduce environmental noise-especially those with noise-cancellation. Make sure, if you decide on noise-cancelling headphones, to make sure that the feature actually works. Some claims are exaggerated. Some closed-cup headphones may be uncomfortable for longer listening sessions, to be sure any headphone you consider buying fits you well, is not too heavy, and does not make your head feel like it’s in a vise. A disadvantage of the closed cup is that bass frequency response may be limited-without a port to let some compression (sound) escape, lower frequency sound production may not be adequate. It is partly in the nature of headphones that low frequencies will not be well-represented. It simply takes a larger cone to create lower frequency sounds, and distance for them to develop (the lowest audible frequencies are several feet long). One alternative strategy is to use open-cup headphones in conjunction with speakers in the room-especially if a subwoofer is available. This way, the lows are picked up, both through the open ports in the headphones, and through the body.

The most immersive listening environment I have experienced was on a “sound table,” where sound vibration comes to the ears and directly through the body by means of transducers built into the cushioned surface. For sound healing, this may be the ultimate technology. But most of us (including myself) do not have regular access to this technology.

A cheaper alternative to the sound table is to lie comfortably on a couch or on cushions with bookshelf-size speakers placed a foot or two from each ear; it’s like having a pair of huge, open cup headphones! With this arrangement, you are immersed in the sound without pressure on the head or ears from wearing headphones, and the bass is less compromised. Experimenting with different configurations of the speakers, I have found that placing the speakers slightly above and behind the head offers a particularly pleasing sound.

Recording Formats

Some listeners may prefer a “surround sound” scheme, although it is difficult to find much music specifically encoded for this format. Surround sound has not really taken hold commercially for serious music listening. This is unfortunate, since besides the availability of true 3D sound reproduction, the 24-bit DVD surround format provides superior clarity and a greater practical dynamic range. While commercial surround sound setups are popular in home entertainment centers, they are primarily used for movie watching. Some music has been specifically encoded for surround systems-most of it, film scores, since they were already encoded for surround in the first place.

But it appears that at least for the present and near future, most listeners will be working with 16-bit stereo systems, and nearly all of the output of contemporary ambient composers is formatted for this playback. The low volume level of many ambient recordings means that the top bits of 16 bit recordings are often unused-a compromise that removes them from the odious “volume wars” of popular music, but also limits bit-resolution. Compression through MP3 encoding tends to “flatten” recordings and distort low frequencies. Listening carefully, one can often also hear warbling or other artifacts introduced by compression. While necessary for streaming, I find most recordings are irreparably damaged when encoded at bit rates below 320 bps. (I do hope and believe that more albums will become available in the 24-bit FLAC format. While not yet practical for streaming, this format promises to deliver recordings of superior audio quality, albeit longer download times.) Just because rock and pop listeners who download their recordings on iTunes may have given up on audio fidelity doesn’t mean we have to! One can make the case that ambient music, in particular, deserves the best sound possible.

Immersive Listening – Attention and Process

As far as where to place one’s attention in immersive listening, good ambient music offers many possible inroads. If the music is drone-based, there won’t likely be much harmonic movement, so the ear will be more likely engaged with texture and atmosphere. Drones, often consisting of either a primary tonic tone or a root and fifth combined, anchor a piece and provide a backdrop for the tension and release of other tones, as they alternately pull away from the drone in dissonance, or draw back to it in consonance. Melodic and rhythmic components are both optional elements in ambient music, and tend to claim one’s aural attention when present. They emphasize time over space, since melodic phrases are like musical sentences, with a beginning, middle and end-and rhythms divide time into periodic units. A highly melodic piece requires more sustained attention, whereas a purely atmospheric piece may allow the listener to fade in and out. I love both types of ambient music, and while more of my own pieces are melodic than not, I have created non-melodic compositions as well.

I’ve already alluded to the creative use of stereo space by ambient composers, and once listening strategy I enjoy is to visualize a spherical area extending around my ears and in front of me, in which I track sounds as they originate and dissipate within this field. The skillful use of dynamics, delay and reverb, and EQ enable ambient composers to create vivid three-dimensional illusions, and as a listener, I enjoy putting my attention on sound placement and movement in the stereo field as an integral element of the composition. Besides the lateral placement of sound between right and left channels, one can listen to the “height” of sounds in the stereo field, as the ear places higher frequencies “above” and lower frequencies “below.” One can also notice the distances of sounds, observing how some are present and close, while others recede into the distance. It is also interesting to notice how sounds react in an imaginary space. Ambient music is typically very heavily reverbed, the perceived container for sound often cavernous. Letting the ear follow a sound as it echoes in virtual space and then gradually fades can create a vivid mental picture of the size of the soundstage.

Ambient music is also rich with sounds that evolve in tone over time, employing a variety of morphing and filter-controlled effects that make an individual sound into its own journey. Listening for changing harmonics in a sound, especially the upper partials that define a sound’s timbre, is a rewarding exercise in mindfulness of sound that reveals interesting details in a piece.

Ambient composers may evoke any number of types of harmonic palettes in their work. Some fine work is purely tonal or triadic, even completely diatonic (using only seven tones of a scale), while works may employ extended harmonies, including exotic scales, bitonality (simultaneous sounding of harmonies in different keys), quartal harmony (based on fourths instead of thirds), and even complete atonality (no “home key,” but equal participation of all twelve tones. I have heard some very fine music using alternate tunings and temperaments. This is frequently a feature of tribal or world-music influenced ambient. A tuning which takes listeners out of the familiar Western equal-tempered scales can open up wonderful sonic vistas. Listening for harmonic “spice” is a great way to enter into an ambient piece that may involve creative use of tonality and tuning. It is not necessary to “identify” exactly what these elements are musicologically. Over-intellectualization can even get in the way of fully appreciating an ambient composition. But being aware of these possibilities, and listening for them, can open up the ear and increase one’s personal connection to a piece of music.

Much ambient music has a strong visual component, at least to me. It is not surprising that so many ambient composers are also visual artists or at least dabble in visual art forms-as I do. While few composers or listeners may have true synesthesia (seeing music as color or shape-or colors as musical tones), the practice of visualization during the listening experience opens up many connections between the senses and can enrich the experience. Some pieces have a strong sense of “story,” and writing or telling a story that emerges from an ambient music listening experience can be a wonderful way to communicate your vision of a piece to others. It is also interesting to experiment with listening with eyes open and closed. For me, these are very different experiences. I find that by limiting visual sensory input, my hearing becomes more acute, and I am able to notice much more that I can with my eyes open. On the other hand, there are some wonderful videos made to accompany ambient music, well-worth exploring. Multi-media presentation may also represent one of the more viable venues for ambient music in the concert hall. Audiences may not accept purely recorded music as a “performance,” but the addition of visuals creates a more complete “live” experience.

There is a tremendous variety of style within the genre of ambient music, ranging from New Age space music to very dark, industrial noise-oriented music. I try to sample as much as I can, learning from and appreciating the diversity of this growing genre. It is exciting to be a part of this still-emerging format, both as a composer and a listener.

Visit my website at: http://chronotope-project.com to explore the music of Chronotope Project, as heard on “Hearts of Space,” “Echoes,” “Galactic Travels,” “Star’s End,” and “Ultima Thule,” “… a mesmerizing kind of storytelling with a strong sense of wonder and true spirit running underneath. A good pair of headphones is highly recommended for immersing in the aural splendor of this quality ambient release.” (Bert Strolenberg, Sonic Immersion).
Downloads at Bandcamp: http://chronotopeproject.bandcamp.com/

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The Five Elements Needed For Music Industry Success

You are about to learn the five critical elements that have fueled the success of all great musicians’ careers. Until you possess these key elements for yourself, it will be nearly impossible for you to reach your musical dreams and build a successful career in the music business.

Read below to discover these five key elements and take action on the information you learn:

Music Career Success Key #1 – Don’t Set Realistic Goals

All of the most well-known and successful musicians did not achieve their goals by thinking realistically about what seemed possible. On the contrary, they focused their mind like a laser ONLY on what they truly wanted. When you make your goals in line with the things you want most, you will be much more motivated to actually achieve them. More on this in a moment…

Think about this – out of the following choices, which choice would inspire you to put all your time and energy into growing a music career?:

  1. Making a recording of a demo with a band and possibly playing a few shows around town.

OR

  1. Writing chart topping songs for a killer band, then promoting your music by going on a massive world tour – playing to stadiums full of fans, earning tons of money from music sales alone and never working a regular job ever again.

Even if your goals in the music business are entirely unrelated to releasing music, the point still applies: don’t let yourself accept anything less than what you truly want in your music career, just for the sake of being realistic. Life is too precious to live it by not doing the things you really desire. When you set goals for yourself that do not inspire you, it is nearly guaranteed that you will NEVER achieve the things you truly desire in music.

All the biggest rock stars are people just like you. They began small – whether it was broke without any idea how they’d make it in music, lacking in musical talent or not having a band to play with… Just imagine where they would be now, if they would have told themselves that their music career dreams were unrealistic or didn’t seem possible. Well, of course they didn’t… they followed their dreams and went on to achieve them!

You must do what they did. Start building your music career by focusing on what you WANT, not what seems possible.

Music Career Success Key #2 – Manifest Your Musical Dreams Into Reality Before They Actually Are Reality

Musicians who never achieve anything significant in this industry, build paths to their goals by starting from where they are in the present moment.

On the other hand, musicians who achieve great success do something completely different. They plan their music career by beginning from the end point of achieving their goals, and work backwards to the present day. They imagine themselves having already accomplished their major goals, then build their lives around this vision. This is a much more effective way of accurately determining the actions required for putting together your music career.

Music Career Success Key #3 – Start Living Or Start Dying

The two keys I mentioned above are critical for building a successful music career. With this in mind, you need more than just goals and a plan of action to realize your musical dreams. You have to take action each and every day to bring yourself closer to your goals. You might think this is common knowledge, but you would be shocked at how many musicians give up on their musical dreams simply due to lack of effort (in terms of taking physical action).

Visualize this scenario (I use this as inspiration for the professional musicians whom I mentor): You’ve just found out about a disease you contracted that requires major surgery. If you don’t get this surgery, you are guaranteed to die in no more than half a year. To make matters worse, the surgery is extremely expensive and cannot be covered by your insurance company (also you can’t borrow money to pay for it). So you have a decision to make: You can allow yourself to die, OR you can take whatever action is necessary to get the money needed for the surgery.

Certainly this example is extreme, but it is a perfect illustration of the kind of mindset you need to have in order to build a successful music career. Making big moves (by taking action) in your music career is completely different than sitting around waiting for things to happen for you (allowing yourself to ‘die’).

With this in mind, hard work/consistent action does not necessarily equal music career success, when you don’t know exactly what you should be doing to reach your goals.

Music Career Success Key #4 – Have MASSIVE Reasons For Achieving Your Musical Goals

No matter what you do, something will always go wrong in your music career plans. Whenever you are faced with unexpected events in your music career, this is the time when your commitment will be put to the test. For instance, here are some challenging situations you could face:

  • Working at a day job you hate while regretting the fact that you never developed a music career backup plan to help you make a living doing what you love.
  • Playing at crappy bars all the time with your band because you don’t know how to move to bigger venues.
  • Trying to record an album, but doing so at an extremely slow and frustrating pace because you never practiced developing your recording skills.
  • Working with unmotivated band members who are bringing you (and the entire band) down.
  • Not understanding how to attract more music fans to listen to the music you worked so hard to create.

Here is what you need to do in order to maintain your commitment and dedication to achieving your music career goals:

Take out the piece of paper you have that contains the list of your written goals (that you put together in key #1 above). Then beside each one write down the big REASONS you have for pursuing them. For every musical goal you have, answer this question: “Why do I want to achieve this?” Spend a lot of time thinking about this for each goal before you write down your response, and look over your goals/reasons two times every day.

When you do this, you’ll develop the ability to maintain motivation and stay focused on the major reasons you have for reaching your goals. This will help you move forward in the difficult times when your dedication is put to the test.

Music Career Success Key #5 – Don’t Try To Build Your Music Career Blindfolded

Once you are in possession of all 4 keys mentioned above, it’s still possible that your music career will go nowhere. This occurs when you lack certainty about what to do to achieve success, are (unknowingly) sabotaging yourself or lack effective strategies to help you reach your musical goals. The last key required for building your successful career in the music industry is to train with a mentor who has experience helping musicians take their careers to the highest level.

A truly effective mentor will not simply tell you what you need to be doing in order to succeed in the music business. He will help you utilize all of the strengths you built while developing the first four keys and will keep you heading down the right path toward success, while preventing you from making the same mistakes that unsuccessful musicians make. Without this kind of training, you are essentially trying to build your music career with a blindfold on – completely oblivious to the best ways to succeed using your current skills and knowledge.

Now that you’ve learned the five keys that build the foundation of a successful music career, these are the steps you should take right now:

1. Focus on getting all the missing keys you do not currently possess.

2. Being working with an experienced music career mentor to quickly achieve your greatest musical goals.

Tom Hess is a music career mentor, touring musician and guitarist. He teaches online guitar lessons to musicians all over the world and mentors musicians on how to build a successful music career. Visit his website for music instruction to get many free musician resources to help you start a career in music and learn about the music industry

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Four Things That Kill Your Chances For Music Career Success

What do you believe is the number one thing that musicians are doing to ruin their chances at succeeding in the music industry? Is it: not practicing their instrument enough? Not putting together enough good music industry connections? Living in a city with no music scene? The answer to all of this is NO – none of these things. There can be countless reasons why a musician would fail to make it in the music industry, but the things above are merely symptoms of a deeper cause. In reality, the most common reason why musicians never succeed in this business is they have a FEAR based mindset.

The majority of musicians allow their fears to ruin their chances for succeeding in music. Some of these fears are understood consciously while others are only identifiable to someone who is looking for them.

Unfortunately, whether you are aware of them or not, your fears can be very devastating to your music career. As one who mentors musicians on how to build a successful music career, I’ve observed this endless times.

The following are some of the frequent fears that devastate musicians’ chances for becoming successful and how to overcome them so that you can quickly move your music career forward:

Musician Fear #1: Fear Of Not Making Any Money

Anytime you have told your friends or family that you want to become a professional musician, what have they told you? Probably something like this:

*”You’ve got to get a safe job first in order to have a solid backup plan for your music career.”

*”Musicians can’t make a good living”

*”All musicians have to play street corners for change just to get by”

In most cases you are told these things out of the best intentions… However, these ideas are highly misguided. Truth is, it’s not as hard as you might think to earn a good living in the music industry if you know specifically what to do to make money as a pro musician (and actually DO it). With this in mind, it’s exactly because the above false beliefs about the music industry are so wide spread, that they cause many musicians to fear not being able to make money. They then do things that lead to the exact OPPOSITE of what is needed to earn a good living.

The following is how trying ‘not’ to run into financial struggles in the music industry causes you to have difficulty making good money as a musician:

*You never make the effort to earn a lot more money in your music career.

The worst thing you can possibly do is expect that you’ll struggle to make money as a musician. It’s certain that when you do this, you begin to live into the world you’ve created for yourself in your mind.

*You take your music career in the WRONG direction. By expecting failure in terms of making good money, many musicians start thinking they’ll be better off going to college to get a degree in a non-musical field, working at a “secure” job and THEN going after their music career dreams in their spare time. In the end, they almost always end up failing with this approach.

*You eat the goose that lays golden eggs. Note: What is written below could seem like “self-promotion,” since I mention how I mentor musicians as an illustration of a critical point. Of course, there is a very important lesson for you to learn here, and my words are true regardless of whether I am selling something or not. The lesson for you here illustrates how merely being AFRAID of becoming broke causes you to forever remain broke as a musician, until you make a significant change.

I occasionally receive messages from musicians who initially hesitated to join my music career training program or attend my music career money making event (where I show musicians how to easily make tons of money), because they are under the impression that they “cannot afford it.” Even after I take them through the overwhelming proof for how my programs have given HUGE results to the musicians I’ve worked with, they still remain skeptical and fearful. This skepticism comes from the same false narratives described above – that all musicians will inevitably become broke and struggle, so there is no point in pursuing a music career. Ironically, by attempting to “save” a few bucks in the moment and passing on the training (that is PROVEN to get results) on how to develop a lucrative music career, you are ensuring that you will never make a big income with music. This is referred to as “eating the goose that lays golden eggs” because you decide to eat the goose now rather than wait for golden eggs to appear later. Rather than learning how to earn money in your music career and building toward the future, you give in to your fear… guaranteeing that you will never make progress to move your career to a higher level.

How To Keep This Fear From De-railing Your Music Career:

1. Know that the belief that all musicians struggle to make money isn’t true and it certainly does not have to be your reality. This realization alone will keep you from letting fear steer your music career away from the things you really want.

2. Instead of being preoccupied with thoughts of how hard it will be to make money in music, take action to learn more about how to BECOME financially successful as a musician. There is a clear (and rudimentary) difference between these 2 mindsets and the ends that each one leads to are complete opposites.

Musician Fear #2: Fear Of Not Succeeding In Your Music Career

Too many musicians mess up their music careers by fearing that:

*They aren’t young enough to have a music career

*They don’t have enough talent to make it in music

*They don’t live in a big enough music city

*They don’t have a university degree in a musical field

*Their musical style is not well known where they live

*There are not enough serious musicians where they live who they can work with

*If they fail, they will look dumb in front of all the people who they told about their musical dreams (friends, family, etc.)

Besides the numerous reasons why these fears are irrational, know the following:

1. What you believe becomes your reality. If you think you have a good excuse for why you simply can’t become a successful musician (such as any of the things above), you will rationalize it and use it as a way to avoid advancing your music career. When you do this, you are GUARANTEED to fail at breaking into the music business. The other side of the coin is also true: if you believe that you are definitely going to become successful, and you are the master of your destiny, you will find a way to do whatever needs to get done to reach your goals. It’s clear that the latter mindset has a massively higher rate of success (both in the music business and in everyday life).

2. If you don’t even attempt to grow a successful music career – you have failed. Even worse than this guarantee of 100% failure, is you are going to regret not taking action to do what you dreamed of with music when you look back at all the opportunities you missed.

Musician Fear #3: Fear Of Becoming Successful In Your Music Career

Does it sound ridiculous to be afraid of becoming successful? It’s not. While the above fear of “failure” is a frequent occurrence for musicians who are new to the music industry, the fear of “becoming successful” is common for more seasoned musicians who are close to making a major breakthrough in their music careers.

These musicians can easily self-destruct by worrying about how their lives will be different when they become successful, how others will view them, how difficult it will be to continue their success or believing below the surface that they do not truly “deserve” to be successful. This causes many musicians begin to intentionally sabotage themselves by NOT doing things they know are in their own best interest (such as joining bands, going on tour or getting the training that they know they need that will build their career).

How To Not Let Fear Of Failure (Or Success) De-rail Your Music Career:

1. Understand that all the things you tell yourself about why you can’t have a music career in your specific scenario are just stories you make up. You have MASSIVE potential for success as a musician (much more than you realize), regardless of how old you are, what your current musical background is or the location where you live.

2. Think like highly successful musicians think. As I explained already, there is a basic difference between “playing to WIN” (in your music career) vs. playing “not to lose”. Successful musicians play to win and they do not focus on “avoiding fear” – they focus on “achieving success”… and this is what you must do as well.

3. Stack the deck of cards in your favor. You will drastically raise your odds of success in the music business (and beat your fear of failure), once you begin navigating the music industry without a blindfold on. Instead, quickly make progress by getting trained by a music career success mentor who has already helped many musicians achieve success in their music careers.

Musician Fear #4: Fear Of Being Treated Unfairly By Music Companies, Promoters And Other Industry Executives

The music industry is filled with long winded stories from (failed) musicians who claim that someone in the music industry has lead them to fail because they forced them to sign a bad contract, refused to pay them enough money or “screwed” them in some other way. Stories like this make many musicians afraid of getting into any business deals in the music industry and sometimes keep them from even trying to pursue a music career.

Here is a big music industry secret that no one will tell you that will turn this fear into potential for achieving success:

It’s the COMPANIES who should have a fear of being taken advantage of by the MUSICIANS they work with. Fact is, most music companies are NOT out there to screw the musicians they work with. Instead, they are really HUNGRY for new talent, for “everyone wins” partnerships and for ways to best use their resources (with the help of musicians they hire) to help everyone involved prosper.

At the same time, these companies are also afraid of spending MASSIVE sums of money into musicians who:

*Are emotionally or mentally unstable

*Feel “entitled” to receive the company’s money and resources simply because they may be good musicians

*Are lazy and can’t be depended upon

*Do not help the company earn money in a way that is mutually beneficial

… and a long list of other factors.

Truth is, music companies invest tons of time, money and other resources into the musicians they work with. They have a lot more at stake than most of the musicians they work with do, so they have to be very careful about doing business with the right musicians. They are inclined to refuse to act against their own best interest by working with musicians who seem risky (as investments) or who ask for more money than they have earned.

How To Not Let This Fear De-rail Your Music Career:

Know that what you just learned is a huge inside tip into how the music business actually works and will make all the difference between success and failure. Rather than being afraid that music companies are out to screw musicians, understand that you have a great opportunity to put yourself light years ahead of the competition in the music industry. Here is what you need to do:

*Know EXACTLY what people in the music industry look for in you (this extends way beyond your musical skills).

*Gather the pieces of value you require to make yourself the best choice for the greatest music career opportunities.

*Clearly display your value to the companies you want to work with by developing a rock-solid reputation for yourself as a risk-free musician who adds value for others.

By doing this, music companies will actively seek you out to give you the opportunities that other musicians never dreamed of.

Now that you have a good understanding of what fears hold so many musicians back from developing their music careers, take mental note of your thoughts and beliefs around working in the music industry. Once you become aware of the fears that are keeping YOU back, take action to transform your mindset (utilizing the resources and tools mentioned throughout this article). When you do this, you will find that your fears dissolve away as your music career starts quickly going in the right direction.

To quickly begin building a successful music career, find a music career success mentor.

About The Author:
Tom Hess is an electric guitar teacher online and a music career mentor. Tom also trains musicians on how to succeed in the music business. On his professional musician website tomhess.net you can read many more articles about making a living with a music career.

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Handel: A Musical Life of Devotion

A great gift to music entered into the world on 23 February 1685 in Halle, Germany. A life of great musical interest; one filled with an unbelievable talent that would become a beacon to many throughout the European continent and span centuries past its lifetime. It is a life that would become centered around a great mystery of how the musical talent would blossom into a recognized and celebrated gift; a life that would alter the musical landscape and the spiritual worship realm in a short 24 days, and a life that would become so influential that it would dictate musical compositions for many years afterwards.

A musical life that in the beginning would find itself struggling to exist; a life that will be forever known in George Frideric Handel. It is through Handel that we credit many great musical accomplishments; accomplishments in the mixture of homophonic and polyphonic textures, through the creation of his own unique works through the process of combining German, Italian, French, and English musical traditions into his highly successful English Oratorios. And most importantly through the lasting effects of Handel’s single greatest gift to the world, and the world of music: The Messiah. But how does the work of this single musician leave such a strong impression on the music that we have today? What could possibly make the music of Handel something that would be hailed as electric, memorable, unique, and even cutting edge? And most importantly how could one person alter the musical idiom through a single twenty-four day creation of a setting of Christ’s life? Through these questions I will explore Handel’s impact on music in a way that shed’s light onto the significance of Handel as a musician, a teacher, and inventor and as a religious preserver. It is with Handel that we credit a great deal of musical advancement.

Adversity in Handel’s life was something that he encountered early on in life. At an early age Handel found himself faced with a father that did not support a career in music, in fact his father was a person that greatly hated music; noting that it was a pastime that served the sole purpose of casting a light on the weakness of character found within a person. It was his father that wished he would strive to obtain a career as a lawyer, a position that would come with a great deal of security in position and financial stability. This was something that Handel himself would have to come to terms with, because he himself was born with “signs of a fierce ambition, born of an awareness of his superiority as a musician, and with a determination to maintain his independence.” This determination to advance his musical skill became a task that took a great deal of hard work and convincing; though it was Handel’s mother that provided access to a clavichord hidden in the family’s attic. The hours spent hiding from his father in the attic, covering the strings of the clavichord with cloth to dampen the sound, allowed young George the time to practice his musical development and eventually the knowledge of how to play both the clavichord and the organ. This early study is most likely what saved the musical career for Handel, because it was during the time stuck in the attic that a young Duke passing by heard young George playing in the attic and was so moved by what he heard, that he stopped to listen. After hearing young George play the organ, the Duke pleaded with George’s father to allow him to travel to Berlin and begin to take music lessons. The young Handel began taking lessons at the age of eight, and was easily able to conquer learning the violin, composition and theory techniques, harpsichord, and reinforce the organ playing skills. By the age of 11, there seemed little that any music teacher could teach George; it was at this point that George’s father began angry and again expressed his desire for George to cease playing in the music, and to return home and do as he wished. Handel at the request of his father did in fact return home, only to arrive at his father’s deathbed. This was a dark period of struggle for the young Handel, compelled to honor his father’s wishes, George decided that it was best to keep to his studies in law; though during this same time he continued to also sharpen the musical skills that he knew he possessed. It was during this time that Handel began to write cantatas for the various churches that he was serving in as an organist. It was the service in music that called out to Handel, and by the time he reached the age of eighteen, Handel had realized that it was in fact his destiny to become a great musician noting that he was destined to improve his musical abilities and his knowledge of music.

Leaving his birth city of Halle lead him on a series of travels that would shape the musical aspect of the outlook that Handel would eventually have on music. The various travels and cities that Handel was to visit would begin to influence every aspect of music that Handel would come to know and appreciate, and it was his first destination in Hamburg that would lead Handel on the path of musical greatness. It was during his time in Hamburg that Handel was really introduced to opera, and it took no time before Handel was given a position in the orchestra on second violin. The time at the Opera house playing violin was a period that would bring the birth of what people would come to see as a man that was described as a “large and very portly man”, one that was full of a short temper and one that had a general appearance about him that was “somewhat heavy and sour.” The personality of Handel would be something that many really would see as a double edged sword, in one aspect he was a intelligent man that had a good sense of humor, one that show a remarkable sense of integrity, reliability, and absolute honesty in all aspects of his life; but at the same time Handel was a person that possessed a short fuse, and hot temper. He was a man that was short tempered and vocal about is opinions of life in general, and especially music. This personality would be a defining part of Handel’s musical career, as it was shortly after he started working in Hamburg at the Opera house, that George was given the opportunity to display his tremendous talent at the harpsichord; though it was also this talent that caused young George (now approximately age 22) to vocally disagree with composer Johann Mattheson on a composition Mattheson had written. It was this short fuse of Handel’s that nearly ended his career, and life; though this spunk Handel exhibited also gave him the opportunity to catch the eye of a young prince, Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici, which would become impressed with the music Handel was performing. This lead to Handel being asked to leave his home, now Hamburg, and make the journey to Italy where he would again be placed in a situation of being surrounded by new composers and styles of music.

The move to Italy was an exciting time for Handel, as Handel was at a point of where his primary motivation for traveling to new areas was that of gaining experience, and in the case of the opportunity to visit Italy, the objective was to learn as much as he could from the composers of Italy, and their wonderful operas. It was in Italy that Handel made significant strides in his musical career and overall development. For when Handel made it to Italy he was exposed to the world’s greatest forms of music consisting of compositions of the likes of Opera, Cantatas, oratorios, chamber cantatas, concertos, and sonatas. This was a period that Handel began the task of refining his knowledge and really defining the compositional talents he had been using to this point.

Handel was afforded the luxury of being able to set no limit on the boundaries of which his music would take because of the generous gift of being surrounded by people that were able to support Handel and his daily needs. As a member of Prince Francesco Ruspoli court, Handel was given the freedom to explore compositional aspects and dig into the music that so highly intrigued him, though it wasn’t until 1710 that Handel’s musical world would come to full realization, and would establish Handel as one of the greatest musicians of all times. The year 1710 came with Handel’s move back to Germany where he would fall into the role once held by Steffani in Hanover as Kapellmeister to the Elector, George Louis, who eventually become King George I of England. Once in Hanover Handel was quickly convinced to travel to England with Prince George to scout out the music scene in the country as Prince George’s mother Sophia was married to the English Elector, meaning that Prince George would eventually assume the throne of England (which happened in 1714). During the early visits to London, the young Handel became highly intrigued in London’s newest opera house, the Queen’s Theater, and it was here that Handel decided that he would produce an opera that was Italian in nature and composed specifically for London. The opera Rinaldo was thus first produced in 1711, and consisted of slightly over a dozen performances, all of which were considered a huge success; thus paving the way for Handel’s move to England, and what was to become the foundation for the overall success of Handel.

The move to England was a positive move for Handel overall, leading to his ultimate desire to become a British citizen. Once he was finally settled into his life in England, Handel was offered and accepted the role of music director for the Royal Academy of Music when it opened in 1720. The academy was the center for operatic studies for many years after opening; credited greatly to the presence of Handel himself and his ability to attract the best singers to perform the works he had written himself. Though as with any worthy project dealing with the biggest and brightest stars, the academy began to see a decline in stature and operation; attributed to the high demands the singers were placing on the academy both performance wise and financially. This was only fueled by the internal conflicts among performers, patrons, and rival composers. This was a time when Handel’s short fuse and hot temper did not help, as Handel himself was part of many of the quarrels that took place, though he was clever enough to lighten the situation and make the tensions eventually come to an end through humor and quick wit. This did not help the academy in the long run as it eventually was forced to close its doors, but at the same time it only freed Handel to focus on his career, and eventually give him the time to prepare for the needed shift in musical direction as the opera itself had reached a point to where it was no longer a viable musical performance option in England.

The shift from opera was one that Handel himself was easily able to undertake, for the ambition and determination to succeed in the music realm allowed Handel to develop an internal motivator that he looked to for resolve to win fame and fortune and to “make money; honestly if you can, but-make money.” This was something that would serve Handel himself well because it is Handel’s personality and desire to serve the music and the people that gave him the title of “musician of the people.” This afforded Handel the ability to see a great deal of success with his music and career while in England going through the period of shifting from the Operatic style to that of composing English Oratorios. This also only aided Handel in popularity because may people saw Handel’s music as “property of the people, familiar, understood, and loved” and this was related to many English subjects as to the “work of not other great master the wide world over.”

The overall history of Handel is able to show that the experience and cultural exposure of his various travels, gave Handel himself a wide range and palette to work from. It is through the exposure to these cultures and musical styles, compositions, composers, patron, and musician employers that Handel was given the tools needed to succeed in the music world, but the experiences themselves did not create a unique character that was what was admired in Handel. It was the personal traits that Handel possessed that afforded him the opportunity to be loved by many and respected by all. The personality of Handel was a unique blend of every imaginable aspect one could possibly think of, he had a drive; a determination to succeed, the ability to make people laugh, a sense of quick wittedness, a familiarity aspect, devotion to religion, honesty, integrity, and an incredible love of music. But most importantly Handel never let anything stand in his way of doing what he loved: serving the people, the music, and his religion. An example comes in the form of the inability of anything to stand in the way of Handel’s success. In 1737 Handel suffered a stroke that for the most part threatened to end everything. The stroke had left Handel’s right arm paralyzed and thus prevented him from being able to perform and also had an affect on his mind. It was during this time that Handel fought to remain active, and did through the writing of Italian operas though the public no longer favored them. Handel pushed through all obstacles that he encountered including eventual blindness that took a toll on his compositions and eventually left Handel performing his music for organ from memory. It was ironic that Handel had a determination to succeed, because it was this determination that left him a person that was totally withdrawal from life and society, though loved by all. He did spend most of his time and life locked away from society and the daily life in order to focus on his music and thus never married nor had any children. He was a man that truly devoted his life to the people, his music, and changing the world of music.

The Influence Handel had on music was immense, the style and techniques that he was able to incorporate into the daily musical vocabulary was a blending of the major European styles that Handel had experienced in his travels from Halle to Hanover, to Hamburg, Italy and England. Simply put, Handel took the best of all the styles and created one Handelian style that would become a standard for the musical world, allowing him to “mature as a composer in England, the country then most hospitable to foreign composers.” Handel had a solid foundation from the early Lutheran church music that he was around growing up, this attention to the harmonic structure and counterpoint of the music he was able to adapt a rich lush style in the compositions that he wrote from the sacred cantatas through the opera, and eventually into the English Oratorios. One defining feature of the style that Handel possessed is that he was ever aware of the changing trends of the time, though his style of writing stayed pretty much the same and didn’t need much altering for he has such a gift for writing melodies that one would never realize that many times a harmony was not present under the melodic line. The melodies were bold and self-sustaining and thus needed no support from a harmonic progression to carry it through. A strong feature of Handel’s compositional style was the process of “borrowing” materials. It is clear and evident that Handel borrowed musical ideas from others during his life as a way to create a new melting pot of musical ideas. But Handel also employed the technique of borrowing musical material, or re-use of musical material, from his own work; however he did like to use material from other composers better. He did this in a way that varied, one method was simply to take entire pieces, or movements, from one work and reuse them in another, or to borrow material from a composer and then rework it to create an essentially new compositions, as seen in the Choruses from Messiah and Belshazzar’s feast; using the Italian duet “for unto us a child is born.” The use of the borrowing technique is one that is unique to Handel, because it was in the 1930’s that it seems as if the practice ceases, though this could be because Handel found the need to shift composition styles, and thus opened himself to a wide range of materials to now pull from, thus making the reference of music harder to pin point. But the fact remains that the “borrowing does not affect his status as a composer” because Handel himself never based his career on any single piece of work that utilized music that was credited to the creation of another person. Thus it is not known if any single composer influenced Handel himself, however it was obvious that Handel left an obvious influence on composer that appeared during his time and certainly after his death in 1759.

But it was in the 1930’s that Handel really would begin to impact and alter the trajectory of music and musical composition through the creation of the new genre of the English Oratorio. The English Oratorio was much like the Italian form of the genre as it set dialogue in lyrical and recitative verses, but then was combined with foreign elements from the French drama, Greek tragedy, German passion, and most importantly the English masque. These characteristics combined together was enough to solidify the fact that Handel was to be the greatest musical figure of all time, and one of the most respected people in all of London and England. One of the most important contributions the Oratorio made was to the vocal setting, and through the addition of the chorus. What made this such a huge success for Handel and for the popularity of his music was the sheer fact that Handel was able to create unique effects with the orchestration of the vocal score to create a simple form that alternated in the written passages of verses from an open fugal style to that of a solid harmonic sound. This added with the orchestra, who normally was scored in a way to support the vocal parts created a work that was not only easy to sing, but also made it accessible to the general public, making it established that “Handel is the musician of the people.” This form of music was never meant to be suited for the church, the Oratorios were meant for concert hall performance settings and thus even though the Messiah, one of Handel’s most well known piece was written as an Oratorio, it was actually seen more as a “sacred entertainment” piece.

But Handel’s contribution did not stop at the creation of the new style of music in the English Oratorio, but he actually found a great deal of success in writing instrumental works. The instrumental aspect of Handel’s musical output was one that garnished him with a great deal of extra income and was a major factor in keeping the name of Handel fresh in everyone’s mind and in their daily musical dealings. Though true to the nature of Handel, he was dedicated to being as successful as he could in all writing aspects that he undertook. Thus the two of his works in the instrumental category best know were written for the King, and were meant to be for the public pleasure during the various outdoor performances and social gatherings. The first, Water Music was written in 1717 and was comprised of three suites for winds and strings that was meant to be played from a boat on the river Thames for the king’s pleasure while he was entertaining socially those that he wished to stay in good graces with. The later of the works written in 1749 is the Music for the Royal Fireworks, a staggering piece written for an enormous wind section with strings later added in, meant to be played in an outdoor London park during a firework celebration. The work was written for many military instruments and was a work that excluded the use of stringed instruments, something that Handel initially had objections with. These two works directly play into the desire of Handel to continue to push the boundaries of what music was, and what it could do for the people, and how it could be enjoyed for all, in all aspects of life.

The most profound work that Handel ever wrote, one that would become the model work in the sacred realm of composition; one that would receive a great deal of homage by composers from all areas of Europe and for many decades, is the now infamous, Messiah. The Messiah is a remarkable piece simply from the process in which Handel took to write it. In a short twenty-four day span the work would come to existence from a mere thought. A large part of the ability for Handel to become so musically genius was the way in which he typically broke, or even stretched out traditional styles of composing music in order to make a dramatic impact on the work he was involved with. He was able to do this through the way in which he personally lived his life and through the enriched skills he had developed throughout his extensive travels. He had acquired the ability to take a raw talent and to polish it up into something of pure beauty and wonder. Since Handel himself typically chose various religious themes for many of his compositions, more and more of the British citizens began to approve using his music as a method of worshiping their god. It was fitting that Handel made his home in England, because it is the English that “have always been a Bible-reading… god-fearing nation, with strong religious instincts and a reverence for sacred things”. Messiah is Handel’s most well known work, and it is the best example of a work that can be used as a creative worship piece. The work is divided into three segments: The coming of the Messiah, The suffering and death of Christ, and the Resurrection. This work was composed and contained various features that gave way to a wide range of emotions: joy, sadness, fear, excitement, love, compassion, dramatic, and hopefully; but no matter what the need or feeling that way to be expressed Handel found a way to do it, and the Messiah was the catalyst to showcase those talents.

The Messiah composed in 1742 is seem by many as the best-written oratorio that has ever been written. The extensive piece contains some fifty sections of music and performance that takes nearly three hours to fully perform and celebrate. The most impressive aspect of the piece is the fact that it was composed in a mere twenty-four days; accomplished by Handel locking himself in his home refusing to be interrupted by anyone. During this time it was reported that Handel barely ate anything and slept very little. This was yet another nod to the dedication that Handel was known to have, and also played into the aspect that Handel had simply became part of his work, and thus always made sure that his full attention and thought were put into the music as it was composed. It might have been odd for Handel to write such a religiously profound piece considering that he himself was not a very religious person until the later part of his life; though there are accounts that lay claim to a “divine source” as the inspirational and motivational factor for the composition of the work. So profound was the work that Handel himself self stated that “I did see Heaven before me, and the great God himself” when he had finished the widely recognized Hallelujah chorus. The work has had a lasting effect on not only the composer’s reputation as one of the greatest advancers of the musical composition spectrum, but also on the works of composers who have been inspired by the works of Handel; Mozart being someone that had become extremely influenced by Handel and in particular the Messiah. But there also have been effects of this wonderful composition on the tradition of the work, and the performance aspect of how it moves people to feel something nearly spiritual every time it is heard. It is reported that during the first performance of this composition in London, that the current King of England, King George II, felt so moved and religiously compelled to stand during the singing of the Hallelujah chorus that others fell in step with the king (as was protocol of subjects to their king) and stood as well. This is a tradition that continues to this very day during the performances of Handel’s Messiah.

As you can see Handel had an enduring legacy on music and the compositional aspects of music. The dedication that Handel should to his life of music and the preservation of a lasting legacy has allowed Handel to really never leave us. His effects have been felt to this very day through the standing of the audience during the Messiah, to the compositional nods that composers give to Handel in their works. Handel is someone that proved to many that as long as there exists the desire to achieve, the object of their desire can be reached. Handel’s life there seemed to be filled with adversity from the beginning. From his father not wanting Handel to participate in a career filled with music, to his struggles with changing musical styles, the sometimes-awkward positions that Handel found himself in as it relates to arguments; Handel persevered through it all. It was not until the end of his life that Handel showed signs of a frail individual not able to continue on. Blindness was a severe blow to Handel’s career being that the production of, and revision of large-scale works was something that could no longer be done. Handel continued to do what he had done all of his life and find new ways to stay relevant and current with the musical needs, and did so through the use of trusted friends that did most of the dictation work for Handel, however eventual total blindness left Handel in such poor health that even that had to come to an end. It was finally on April 14, 1759 that Handel left his body form and thus was not the death of Handel, but was the birth of an enduring legacy of Handel on the musical styling’s of what was to come.

By

Lawrence V. McCrobie

December 2014

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How to Play the Jaw Harp

The jaw harp, also commonly referred to as the jew harp, jew’s harp, mouth harp and ozark harp, is one of the oldest instruments in the world and is a delight to play.  If you decide to get in on the fun, here are some helpful tips to get you started.How to Play the Jaw Harp

Purchase A Jaw Harp

This step is kind of obvious.  After all, you can’t play one if you do not own one!  Unlike most instruments, the jaw harp is very affordable, usually costing anywhere from five to twenty dollars.  When buying one, do not just buy the cheapest one you can find.  Read some online reviews and make sure you purchase one in a mid-range key, preferably the key of C.  Higher and lower range jaw harps can be harder to play, and should be bought only after you have learned to play with relative ease.

Getting Started

Okay, so you have purchased your brand new jaw harp.  Now what?  Well, the first thing is to learn the different parts that make up this small little instrument.  It mostly consists of two major parts:  the tongue and the frame.  The frame is the part you hold with your hand against your teeth, and the tongue is the part you pluck with the other hand.  There are more detailed parts and descriptions, but for now these two basic parts are all we need to know.

The Grip

There are two main ways jaw harps are held, and it usually has to do with the shape of the frame.  If the frame is rounded, a ‘C’ grip is used, where your thumb and index finger wrap around the enlarged part of the frame in the shape of a ‘C’.  For a frame with flat edges, a different grip is applied.  The thumb goes at the end of the enlarged part of the frame, with the index finger on one flat edge and the middle finger on the other.  Take a look at your jaw harp and decide which grip is right for you.

Mouth Placement

Before you can [http://www.jawharpguide.com/how_to_play_the_jaw_harp.html]play the jaw harp, you need to place it in your mouth properly.  You will never learn to play it correctly if you do not even have it in your mouth right, and you can even hurt yourself.  Using your grip, place the harp between your teeth.  Bite down firmly into the beveled edge.  If you are not biting firm enough, the jaw harp will vibrate when you play it, which can be very painful.  If you bite down too hard, the tongue will not be able to be plucked.  This part will go by feel, and you will have to find a balance with it.

Give it a Pluck

Give your instrument a pluck, pulling the tongue towards your teeth and letting go.  Be careful to keep your own tongue away from the area.  If all goes well you should hear a nice twang.  Now it’s time to experiment with different sounds by shaping the inside of your mouth in different ways.

Practice!

Once you can get a sound out of your harp, you are ready to put in some practice time!  This part is hard for any musical instrument, but the reward is great for those who work hard at it.

Learn more about the proper grip, mouth placement and playing technique at Jaw Harp Guide http://www.jawharpguide.com

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?How-to-Play-the-Jaw-Harp&id=2749173] How to Play the Jaw Harp

Use Google To Find Your Favorite Artists

As we all know, Google is quite simply put; amazing. The search engine can be used to track down practically anything. I have often found myself wondering when a random question pops into my head, what did people do before Google? And frighteningly, this was not all that long ago. Google has become, for me, akin to a personal assistant. Whenever I need to know anything, from things as mundane as how to convert square metres to hectares, all the way to important and pressing questions such as how dangerous are energy drinks; Google is my answer. I’ve wondered, before google, if you didn’t know something and wanted an answer, did you actually go to an encyclopedia and research an answer, or did we just dismiss all our questions and become satisfied with questions instead of answers.Use Google To Find Your Favorite Artists

If you think of it, Google has helped people to become smarter, because it is so much easier now for us to access answers to all our random, or important, questions. A new use I have learned for google, and one I am increasingly making use of, is to use google to find my favourite artists. There are many sites on the internet which allow for the free download of music. So I simply go to google, type the song that I’m looking for into the searchbox, click on that magical magnifying glass, and bob’s your uncle – up pops the list I was looking for. I have downloaded tons of my favourite songs, I have a complete musical library which I acquired this way. I love it! Google play also has various apps that are great for music lovers. Have you ever heard of google alerts? It’s so simple to use. Basically, you have to input the names of the artists that you want to get updates about, then the alerts will come directly to your phone. There are so many uses for the google play apps. On the one hand you can keep track of the latest news and information about your favourite artists, or alternatively, you can keep updated with the latest releases. A use which I love is the bands in town app.

This allows you to check which group is playing in your town or anywhere near to you. This will absolutely ensure that when your favourite group comes to town, you get to hear about it absolutely first. And of course, with concerts timing is everything. This means that you won’t have to be the one who gets stuck without tickets. You can buy your tickets as soon as they become available, and before it sells out. It also means that you’ll be able to get the best seats in the house – as long as you can fork out the cash for it of course – but it means that you won’t get stuck with crap seats, or worse, no seats at all, just because you were the last to find out about the concert. So don’t forget, turn to google to follow profiles and music of your favourite artists!