Weekend Picks

Here’s a musical link dump for you to surf this weekend.

Learn about the evolution of dance music from around the turn of the last century to today in this animated chart.

Bassist Michael Thurber takes us through the history of the bass with 45 songs and 9 different instruments in the below video.

On January 24, 2011 James Boldin started an etude recording project where he video recorded himself performing etudes from Kopprasch’s Sixty Selected Studies Op. 6. Start here with No. 1. You can read his final thoughts after completing this three year project . A great resource for horn students and teachers.

Tim Minchin sings about the key of F sharp.

1959 was a significant year for jazz. There were four seminal albums recorded that year, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, Charles Mingus’ Mingus Ah Um, Dave Brubeck’s Time Out and Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz To Come. Learn more about these albums and the context of the history of jazz and the civil rights movement in 1959 The Year That Changed Jazz.

Asheville Jazz Orchestra at White Horse Black Mountain Friday, April 4, 2014

AJO-Logo-Transparent copyThe AJO’s monthly show at the White Horse Black Mountain is tomorrow, Friday, April 4, 2014. We’ve been playing there pretty much once a month for I think four years now. It’s a great room for a big band, there’s plenty of space on the stage, it’s a good sized room but still intimate, and there’s a nice dance floor right in front of the stage. Not to mention the staff are all friendly and easy to deal with.

Having a regular big band gig means I’ve been able to write a lot of big band charts specifically for this band. There will definitely be originals performed, as well as classics from the Swing Era and everything in between. If you’re in western North Carolina tomorrow please come out and support live big band jazz. The first of two sets starts at 8 PM.

Can You Tell the Strad?

An old one, but a good example of how even experts fool themselves. Get a room full of concert violinists and have them play 6 different instruments. 3 would by “old Italian” instruments by Stradivari and Guarneri. 3 were modern instruments. Do you think that the professionals would be able to tell the modern instruments from the older ones? Research designer Claudia Fritz set up her experiment to test just that.

When Fritz asked the players which violins they’d like to take home, almost two-thirds chose a violin that turned out to be new. She’s found the same in tests with other musical instruments. “I haven’t found any consistency whatsoever,” she says. “Never. People don’t agree. They just like different things.”

It’s another example of how hard it is to be objective when judging something musical. We all have different tastes and different ways of thinking about music and this helps define our subjective musical experiences. It’s almost impossible to separate ourselves from our preferences and expectations. For Fritz, this opens up a different area to explore.

“People looked at the violin, tried to understand how it vibrates, what are the mechanics behind it,” she says of past research. “But nobody has really looked at the human side.” She says her research is aimed at determining how people choose what they like, and what criteria they use.

If our cognitive biases influence us so much as to how we talk about our equipment, how much of how we discuss practice methods and pedagogical materials is similarly biased? A couple of days ago I discussed a device that is supposed to help brass players develop a better embouchure. Is an individual’s success with such a device also going to depend on their expectations and beliefs?

It would be nice to believe that we are able to rise above these tendencies, but the research shows that we really can’t help it. A humbling thought.