Weekend Picks and Upcoming Gigs

Sires BuskIt’s Friday, so you might be looking for some music related web sites to browse this weekend. But first, if you’re around Hendersonville, NC tomorrow night (Saturday, June 21, 2014) come out to the Southern Appalachian Brewery for some local beer and traditional early jazz by the Low-Down Sires. The music goes from 8-10.

If you’re around Greenville, SC, you need to check out the Greenville Jazz Collective Big Band. The will be playing two sets on Monday, June 23, 2014 starting at 7:30 at the Mellow Mushroom in Greenville. Bassist Shannon Hoover and trombonist Brad Jepson co-lead the GJC Big Band, but Brad will be missing this show. That’s unfortunate, but Brad asked me to fill in for him, so I get to jam with them.

Here are my weekend picks for you.

The Greenville Jazz Collective web site. Start there and let the music play while you look at the rest. Live recording from the Altamont Theater in Asheville, NC.

Practicing a Difficult Passage Effectively is advice by hornist Jonathan West. He discusses several ways to make your practice time more efficient and there’s probably something new in there for almost everyone.

Writing for Slate, Jan Swafford gives a very nice summary on how our concept of intonation in western music has changed over the centuries. The Centuries-Old Struggle to Play In Tune starts in antiquity through the development of equal temperament.

And lastly, settle back to listen and watch the greatest 4th chair trumpet player who ever lived, Pete Barbuti.

Weekend Picks

It’s Friday, so here are my picks for your music related surfing this weekend.

Are you a tubist or teaching tuba students? If you need some ideas for solo repertoire, check out David Zerkel’s “Do You C What I C?”: An Examination of Solo Literature for the Contrabass Tuba.”

How old are you? Did you know that your abilities to hear higher pitches are dependent on your age? Check it out and see how closely your high frequency hearing matches your expected age here.

If you’re a fan of the London Symphony Orchestra or Ravel’s Bolero go take a look at the LSO’s interactive video performance. You can change camera views to many different sections and view multiple camera angles at once. All I want to know is why Valery Gergiev using a toothpick to conduct?

And lastly, although this isn’t really very musical, check out coin magician David Roth performing his routine called “Tuning Fork.”

Upcoming Gigs

It’s the end of the school year wrap-up time. On top of that, I’ve been booked for lots of gigs and some commissioned arrangements, keeping me too busy to be able to do that much blogging lately. Things should hopefully open up a bit after this week and I’ll return to a more normal schedule here.

In the mean time, I’m doing some public performances this weekend. If you are in the area and can come out, please do.

Low-Down Sires LogoFriday night, June 13, 2014, the Low-Down Sires are performing at the Mothlight in west Asheville, NC. We just got back last weekend from playing Stompology, a huge swing dance festival held in Rochester, NY (I didn’t get to go to any of the ITF being held up there the same weekend). The show starts at 9:30 and there’s a $5 cover charge. The very next day, June 14, 2014, I’ll be playing again with the Low-Down Sires at the Virginia Beach Lindy Exchange. The “Great Gatsby Gala” we’re performing at starts at 7 pm at Danceport VA in Virginia Beach.

AJO-Logo-Transparent copyThen on Sunday, June 15, 2014, I’m back in western North Carolina playing and directing the Asheville Jazz Orchestra for a special Father’s Day show at the White Horse Black Mountain. Ron Whitmore will be our special guest on vocals for this show.

I hope to see some of you at one of this weekend’s shows. Please be sure to come say hello to me if you do make it out.

Moving to Music: Science Offers Suggestions on How to Groove

Researchers Maria A. G. Witek, Eric F. Clarke, Mikkel Wallentin, Morten L. Kringelbach, and Peter Vuust have recently published an article investigating the relationship between rhythmic complexity and the human instinct to move our bodies to the music. The article is called Syncopation, Body-Movement and Pleasure in Groove Music.

Moving to music is an essential human pleasure particularly related to musical groove. Structurally, music associated with groove is often characterised by rhythmic complexity in the form of syncopation, frequently observed in musical styles such as funk, hip-hop and electronic dance music. Structural complexity has been related to positive affect in music more broadly, but the function of syncopation in eliciting pleasure and body-movement in groove is unknown. Here we report results from a web-based survey which investigated the relationship between syncopation and ratings of wanting to move and experienced pleasure. Participants heard funk drum-breaks with varying degrees of syncopation and audio entropy, and rated the extent to which the drum-breaks made them want to move and how much pleasure they experienced. While entropy was found to be a poor predictor of wanting to move and pleasure, the results showed that medium degrees of syncopation elicited the most desire to move and the most pleasure, particularly for participants who enjoy dancing to music.

The results suggest that if your goal is to make music that will make people dance you need a certain amount of rhythmic complexity, but your music needs to have gaps of silence. As listeners we naturally want to fill those gaps in some way, such as clapping our hands, tapping our foot, or dancing.

Daniel J. Levitin was interviewed for an NPR report on this article. He comments on the why music with rhythmic complexity seems to be better for dancing, because there’s a lot more for us to latch on to and move with.

The more rhythmically complex the music is … the easier it is to engage different body parts,” Levitin says, “because they can be synchronizing with different aspects of the music.”

Of course, this is something that many other musicians have been experimenting with for a long time. One of my favorite authors on the topic of jazz improvisation, Hal Crook, wrote:

Surrounding ideas with rest gives them shape and definition, in much the same a frame or brier defines a picture inside. It allows time for the effects of the ideas to be heard, realized and appreciated by the audience, the band, and most of all, you – the player.

I think these ideas hold true for a lot of music, not just music with an emphasis on groove. I’ve often felt that one of my best tools as a composer was my eraser. It’s easy to get caught up in writing down all my ideas, rather than basing my compositions around just the really good ones. In the end, you can say more by playing or composing less.

So my musical challenge for everyone this week is to practice with your attention on the silences. If you’re practicing jazz improvisation, intentionally use a lot of space in your solo. Try experimenting with some composition ideas that utilize a lot of silence. For the classical musicians, pay very close attention to how often the rests make a piece more expressive and practice musicality with that in mind.

Report back if you discovered something interesting or just felt like it was a waste of your time. Leave your comment below.