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Goodness In The Cosmos

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The Absurdity of Elitism, Reflections on Musical Progressions

In reflection of an almost ancient past conversation that I was subjected to, which became a particularly lengthy discussion, that somehow became a lamentation of how French tuned organs aren’t in the U.S., and what a shame this is that we can’t hear the pieces preserved in their original key, and sound, etc. Having had enough of this conversation (similar to having has enough of the previous sentence), I burst aloud, “That’s because all French music sucks”. Now in retrospect, that probably wasn’t the right thing to say in this situation on a few levels. See, first of all, I didn’t mean that statement in it’s fundamental actual sense. No, all French music doesn’t suck, nor do I believe any French music sucks, at all. Really, I was just tired of this old conversation on subjects that reminisced something one would hear in a music history lessons during undergrad. So I stated this conversational absurdity in desire of a reaction.  However, I didn’t get the reaction I sought. I expected those in conversation to laugh at the true absurdity of the statement and then move on to another subject. Instead I forgot I’d been conversing with musical elitists in the first place.  If an elitist is presented with an absurdity in conversation, it is often times unbearable to said elitist to move on. An elitist must defend, try to sway, re- educate, and squash that idea. They must then draw out an entire argument. In this case an elitist must then provide examples of great French composers, renowned and therefore remembered as great because the composer has somehow made it into the annals of history. Ultimately, an elitist feels they are the greater source of this truer knowledge, other is discounted as lesser, and thus a definition of elitist is assumed.

But really “Who cares?”. And “Why should we care about this?”. These are two questions an elitist will never ask. It’s just too ‘other’.

My generation is the post jazz era generation. Personally, I greatly enjoy the demeanor, perspective and intellect of jazz musicians. Yes, I know there are certainly elitists in that genre as any other. In my experience, generally, those classically trained musicians who have jumped ship and entered into the realm of the art of written music as ‘suggestion’ are more my speed, well, and certainly more enjoyable to converse and play with. Mostly, because of the common held observation that we all perceive and interpret differently. No one has a personal time capsule to go back in time and re-live the past or has an omniscience that they can get into the motive and perspective of others completely. We are all different, society is a progression. Over a set of time everything changes, which includes our perceptions and interpretations of those perceptions. No matter how much we’d try to defend this notion or concept that things can be preserved in unadulterated purity, it cannot be escaped. No one can truly re-live the perceived glories of yesteryear, or recreate what is past.

From a musical perspective, I find it increasingly laughable that the culture which the elitist musical sphere is trying desperately hard to emulate note for note, sound for sound, is the same which developed the concept of improvisation. For example we’ve learned that figured bass was basically our modern equivalent of a lead sheet showing the progressions of the chart. This was an outline, a sketch work meant to display the bare bones of what a musician would be playing, and in fact was considered truly nothing until it was ‘realized’. Let me say that in another way, that paper with notes written was not music, just the illusion of music, the idea of a musical possibiity. The realization of the bass line is the actualization of it. Actualization is the doing, the playing, the process which creates real by enacting it into sound. Music is an action, not a preserved piece of paper.

Too often we exist in this culture of over thinking, reacting, defending, decreeing. When are we realizing, actualizing, and doing? I digress.

I think the greatest cultural shift is being felt today by those who would like to maintain and preserve an outdated and unrealistic hold onto elitist views. This is in every sphere, from politics, to music, to religion, newspapers, books, art, ancient polluting energy sources, sciences, western patriarchal medicine, most traditional industry, etc. I believe those who are turning from this hold, if they are paying any attention to the why, will find the whole idea absurd. After all, do we insist on using our original computer because “those were the good old days”? No. Technology has changed us, we have changed technology. Everything else is change as well.

So in closing, I still enjoy my conversations with well informed, “elitist” musicians (you know who you are; educated, experienced, with that same high level of expectation you’d expect of yourself and ensembles) All I ask of us is simple. Please, when encountered with the absurd, note it and move on. Change.

Fuel for Passion, Keeping the Fire Bright While In the Spotlight

Keeping the fires of passion burning bright in the spotlight.
Keeping the fires of passion burning bright in the spotlight.

In many a performers life the monotony can be trying. Singing the same songs over and over, the same scenes played again, make up goes on, and off, costumes, shows etc. It all can become overwhelmingly the ‘same’ and turn into a tedious endeavor. How can performers keep the passion that inspired them in the first place?

The key to keep on with thriving passion is to find something in your choice, or art in this case, that is outstanding. Embrace it, remember it, love it, and use that outstanding something every time.

Here is a personal example of what keeps me passionate when vocally performing.
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One of the things I enjoy most, while singing, is a new audience. As I open my mouth and the sound comes forth, watching the reaction of the crowd is what does it for me. You see, it doesn’t matter what song I’m singing, if it’s the first time I’ve sung the song, or the 200th time. When there is an audience which has never heard me before, it is thrilling to observe that initial meeting of listener and my voice.

For me this is almost addictive. The “reaction” itself has become very predictable, but in that predictability is such an amazing experience. It fuels my passion and thus the actual performance feeling gets better each moment after.

You see, no matter how many times I perform I get this same reaction. At first, it’s a bit like surprise, almost unpleasant even as if the hearer can’t quite make out what’s going on. Then quickly the reaction turns to awe, as if the listener can’t believe that sound is actually happening. Finally, the response becomes a buzz of pleasure, or a cathartic release and the tears start flowing. In all cases it’s a spiritual experience. A moment when divine is realized through sound, sharing and trust.

And as I’m up there singing, I can’t help but to see each emotion come over the faces. I can’t help but to feel pleased and grateful that I get to ’cause’ all those reactions. Ultimately there is a strong sense of blessing, that I am so blessed to be in this special place, and to see those reactions.

So that’s my story of how to keep on thriving in your passion.
My own story is one which no one taught me. It’s not something that was learned and passed down from teachers to students, or mentor to mentee. Like most awesome experiences and life changing moments, it was something I intuited on my own, or I was in such flow of the spirit, that I was lead to that moment and also the understanding of that moment in perfect timing of noticeable synchronicity. Whichever way you want to look at it, have at it.

Finding that key to thrive in passion is something you must experience for yourself. Find something you can rely on to boost your passion. If it’s not there, then maybe that wasn’t what you were really meant to be passionate about. Try something new. This world is full of endless possibilities.

May you find your passion, thrive and be purposefully fulfilled!

Blessings, Victoria

Lordy Lordy, Christian Songwriting and the use of the word “Lord”

Clergy Cross, Beaded around Prehnite by GoodnessInTheCosmos.etsy.com
Clergy Cross, Beaded around Prehnite by GoodnessInTheCosmos.etsy.com
I am just finishing up some new songs, actually communion settings. Being a conscientious modern song writer I intentionally use inclusive language when I write my songs. Besides focusing on musical sounds and expressions, I pine over each word of my creations. Usually I have met the challenges of re-wording into modern language’s cultural context with ease. For example, dropping the “he’s and she’s”, change “Father to Creator”, etc.

One of the words I’m a bit stuck on is the term “Lord”. Where did we get this term from? Is it really even a biblical term? I believe Lord is one of those “translational” words we’ve picked up that has stuck around with us, like ‘Kingdom”. It comes from the days of the feudal system in medieval times. In the middle ages, the lord was the ruler of an area, the person who oversaw the livelihood of the tenants, and the one all tenants must answer to. Therefore in the social mindset of the times when bibles were translating into English, the term ‘Lord’, for Christ, as ruler of our lives, just made sense to use. It fit the times.

Now a days, most of us don’t come from areas with kingdoms, and the term lord and its usage has become a bit derogatory as in ‘lording it over someone, a bad land lord, or someone is acting all ‘lordly’, etc. Is this a distracting term to use in a worship song? Will this term be a barrier to the enjoyment, praise and inspirational feelings the song is intended to create?

Give us some feedback. What term would you use instead of “Lord”?

Thanks much,

Victoria

On Scanning Music into Photo Score Ultimate 7 with Sibelius 7

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I’m exploring this new, very costly software for songwriting and composition that I have recently purchased.  Completely enthralled by the possibilities of actually being able to scan any piece of sheet music and playing it perfectly with any instruments, as well as being able to chart music from live audio or MP3 files and cd’s into sheet music form was just too much temptation for me to resist.  I started thinking about all those days of aural harmony notation and studying being a potential huge waste of time.  A computer could do in an instant what I labored to learn to earn my music degree.  Not to mention all those practice hours to perform something perfectly, now I can just scan it in.

Well, after actually using the program, I have to say, musician’s do not worry, we still have job security.  There is very little chance of just anyone using this program and being able to make it work for them, unless they indeed have a musical ‘trained’ background.  Despite it’s claims of being so easy that anyone could use it without training, it really is not that easy at all.

Enter my first attempt at scanning software.  This part way pretty easy to figure out.  Just plug the CPU into the scanner press scan and presto it scans.  Oh, except don’t forget you have to adjust the scanning settings because music can not be read on ‘color scale’, change it to gray scale.

Next the software will read your music, and adjust it for you automatically.  Here’s where the issues are found.  Any measure markings in your score?  Any of those fancy Italian or English words of expression?  Any changes of tempo markings noted?  Repeats, multiple endings, you know the stuff that makes music , well, music?  Yah, all that’s going to mess up the way the music is read by the software.  Another thing is if is starts on an upbeat, or like many chorus pieces, does not end or begin in a full measure it will display your music as having bad rhythm.

Once that is transferred to Sibelius 7, one of two things could happen.  The first, Sibelius tries to ‘correct’ the bad rhythm by dropping measures, parts and sections.  Or the second, Sibelius7 reads the score more accurately than Photoscore’s perceived problems, and un-glitch itself. 

Actually, I have experienced both so far.  If you really want to make this program work for you, there needs to be some doctoring involved, before you scan.  Copy all the music you intend to scan.  Cut out all words and unnecessary music notation parts (or white out or something), try to make each score line start and end in complete measures, get out a thin sharpie marker and fix any lines than need to be fixed, and then have a go at it. Yes, way more time consuming than politely scanning the actual music, but this will give you the best results.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather fix the ‘problems’ before scanning than try to mess around with fixing the music after it has been scanned within the program.  For starters fixing something in Photoscore is different than Sibelius.  Who’d of thought they are actually whole different programs with a different set up etc?  Yah, learning curve is a bit high on this.

My personal issue as well, is that I found out the audio score lite than comes with this bundle does not let you do all that cool stuff I thought it would.  You need to buy the Ultimate version, which is another $200+ upgrade for it to read and score the audio files from MP3 (up to 16 pts, recognized, and not percussion).  If it works as ‘well’ as the Photoscore Ultimate, well…Let’s just say I’m waiting on this one!

I hope my reflections help other users make the best of the scanning portion of this software.  Best of luck!

Victoria

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