Autotune Magic

The Gregory Brothers, more popularly known as the people who Auto-Tune the News, are not only satirically cunning, but they use their musicianship in a particularly effective manner. If you don’t troll YouTube like I do, seeking out memes and delighting in double rainbows, Auto-Tune the News is when popular/recent news clips are set to […]

Beethoven Played on Period Instruments

One of the biggest issues of this ossified study of hundred-some year old music is that our university students are being taught that Beethoven, for instance, is forever… or at least his music is.  We play them wonderful excerpts recorded on Steinway 9-footers of his Sonatae, and it never occurs to the young initiates that […]

Non-Traditional Notation

If you went back in time with only your computer, it’s saved internet cache, and a love for a cappella, how would you teach an arrangement if music notation hadn’t been invented? Well, if you’re Guido of Arezzo, you’ll just invent notation and that will be that…or you could utilize some non-traditional notation techniques. Fortunately, […]


A little while back, Public Radio did an excellent series of programs on American Music, called “American Mavericks.” Fortunately for us, you can read and listen to the great stuff online, even if you missed the radio broadcast (as many of you probably did). Ironically enough, many of these programs were used in my American […]

Stealing is great

The best way to get better at your craft is study the work of others and practice. And steal. There was a whole phase in contemporary music when quoting famous pieces was in vogue. The art of “mashup” is when your material is, essentially, other people’s stuff (plug for Girl Talk; I never danced harder […]

J.S. Bach – Prelude and Fugue in C# Major

From The Well Tempered Clavier.  Two tracks: [Audio clip: view full post to listen] These two are particularly charming!  They are the fifth and sixth pieces within the Well-Tempered Clavier, and carry with them a certain spunk and personality — Bach was clearly writing with the intent of showcasing the tonal possibilities of all twelve […]

Stevie Wonder – I Don’t Know Why, For Once In My Life

Wow — the difference in quality in writing and composition between these two songs is pretty staggering, but Stevie absolutely was learning as he went.  The return of Diana Ross in this one, for those who were wondering what was about to happen after that last clip a few days ago. If you can see […]

Come Back To Me

Here’s Sammy Davis Jr. being his bad self, with a truly kicking band behind him (and some very impressive soul girls!).  Sammy seems a bit ridiculous here, spinning around underneath an enormous cutout of himself, but these were ridiculous times, ladies and gentlemen.  His phrases are all timed so casually; it’s almost as though he […]

Piet Mondrain

Not music-related per se, but certainly an important figure in the history of artistic movements.  Most certainly you’ve seen some of his works of art, although I personally hadn’t been particularly aware of just what he was doing, when, or why.  Well, here are the answers, in order: What: Neo-Plasticism, a Dutch style that I […]

Patronage by Royalty

“As I had the good fortune a few years ago to be heard by Your Royal Highness, at Your Highness’s commands, and as I noticed then that Your Highness took some pleasure in the little talents which Heaven has given me for Music, and as in taking Leave of Your Royal Highness, Your Highness deigned […]