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The Sound of Music

A new book by Stephen Gislason has emerged from his Music Notes.  The topics cover a wide range of interests from the history of instruments, music theory, composing to the most current technologies involved in music composition and sound recording. A special chapter on the Musical Brain explains current knowledge in the brain processing of sound as it applies to language and music decoding. A chapter on the Music Business reviews the dramatic changes in music marketed and discusses some of the dilemmas and controversies facing musicians.

Preface

This book emerged from notes I have kept for several decades. I have spent much time  studying music theory, electronics applied to sound reproduction and to performance skills. I decided to assemble my music notes so that any person interested in music could benefit from simple, clear explanations. Music descriptions often are too complicated and the use of terms can be inconsistent and confusing. As with other subjects I have tackled, I assumed that with a little extra effort more precise descriptions would be welcomed by readers seeking a practical understanding of music.

The book begins with a consideration of what sound is and how animals use sounds to communicate. Music is not a human invention, but we do elaborate sound communication more than other animals in our production of both speech and musical performances. The discussion continues with noise, an important topic that is poorly understood. A well informed musician will refrain from making noise and understand Ambrose Bierce when he stated: Of all noise, music is the less offensive."

I include acoustic and electronic instruments in my discussions of music creation. In my world,  electronics dominate every aspect of work and play and most music I create and listen to was created, stored and distributed electronically. The art and science of recording is an important study for all 21st century musicians. Increased sophistication about the nature of sound, the art of combining musical sounds, and the effect on the listener's brain are all required for music to advance beyond noise toward a more effective means of human communication.   Stephen Gislason 2011

Topics from the book are featured on the companion website, Persona Music Studio.

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The Sound of Music

Table to Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Sound & Communication
  3. Hearing
  4. Musical Sounds
  5. Animal Sounds
  6. Tuning Sounds into Words
  7. Speaking
  8. Intonation
  9. Prosody
  10. Waves
  11. Amplifiers
  12. Noise
  13. Harmful Effects of Noise
  14. Ear Buds and Headphones
  15. Noise Inside Buildings
  16. External Noise
  17. Sound Control Materials
  18. Music
  19. Music Elements
  20. Music Unites Humans
  21. Emotions and Feelings
  22. Singing
  23. Dance
  24. Learning Music
  25. Sound Descriptions & Synesthesia
  26. Recorded Music
  27. Music and Video
  28. Home Theatre
  29. Celebrity
  30. True value
  31. Instruments
  32. Percussion Instruments
  33. Flutes
  34. Organs
  35. Strings
  36. Guitar
  37. Trumpet
  38. Flugelhorn
  39. Trombone
  40. Reeds
  41. The Master Instrument - The Piano
  42. Piano virtuosos
  43. Digital Pianos
     
  44. Synthesizers
  45. Moog
  46. New Old Synthesizers
  47. MIDI
  48. Keyboard Controller
  49. Yamaha DX7
  50. Oberheim Matrix-6
  51. Roland D 50
  52. Korg Trinity
  53. EMU Samplers & Proteus
  54. EMU Proteus 2500
  55. Korg M3
     
  56. Music Theory
  57. Pitch, Intervals, Tonality
  58. Oscillators
  59. Timbre
  60. Scales
  61. Chords
  62. Arpeggiation
  63. Patterns & Riffs
  64. Rhythm,  Time, Tempo
  65. Music in the Brain
  66. Mixer in the Brain
  67. Temporal Lobes
  68. Parietal  Lobes
  69. Pitch, timbre, familiarity
  70. Innate Musical Qualities
  71. Music is Movement
  72. Two Hands, Two Hemispheres
  73. Lips, Mouth, Hands
  74. Cerebellum
  75. Psychedelic Drugs
  76. Music, Meditation, Cognitive Benefits
  77. Composing
  78. Baroque Roots
  79. Johann Sebastian Bach
  80. Bach, Transcription and Arranging
  81. Mozart
  82. Innovations and Perseveration
  83. Orchestration
  84. Creating Hit Songs
  85. Lead Sheets and Improvisation
  86. The Perfect Song
  87. Composing with MIDI
     
  88. MIDI Libraries
  89. Modular Workstations
  90. MIDI and Audio
  91. Composer Assistants
  92. Arranger Keyboards
  93. Notation Software
  94. Novel Digital Music Generators
  95. Samples and MIDI
  96. Musical Styles
  97. Classical Music
  98. Chamber Music
  99. Operas and Musicals
  100. Groove and Style
  101. Cabaret & American Songbook
  102. Folk Music
  103. Blues
  104. Pan American Music
  105. Rock and Roll
  106. Jazz
  107. Fusion
  108. New Age
  109. New is Old
  110. Tribal Techno
  111. Audio Recording
  112. Audiophile Perfection
  113. Analog Versus Digital
  114. Microphones
  115. The Sound Mixer
  116. Filters
  117. Analogue to Digital Conversion
  118. Audio Files
  119. Audio Effects and Processors
  120. Compressor
  121. Delays, Echo, Chorus
  122. Pitch Shifter
  123. Reverb
  124. Equalization
  125. Acoustic Room Design
  126. Virtual Studios
  127. Audio Loops, Clips
  128. Dockers & Interfaces
  129. Digital Audio Workstations-  DAWs
  130. Choosing Software
  131. Sonar
  132. EMU X3 Emulator Sampling Software.
  133. Sound Samples
  134. Sample Libraries
  135. Multi-Sample Presets
  136. EMU Software Mixer
  137. Modulation + Expression
  138. Low Frequency Oscillators
  139. Behavior Function Generators
  140. Drum Kits
  141. Video Production
  142. Music Business
  143. Everyone Copies
  144. Copying, Cover & Control
  145. Who Benefits? Money Control
  146. Covers
  147. Mechanical License
  148. Digital Rights Management
  149. My Recordings
  150. Johann Sebastian Bach
  151. Cantatas Re-Visited
  152. Digital Bach 21st Century
  153. The Art of the Fugue
  154. B Minor Mass
  155. Beatles
  156. Bread
  157. Chicago
  158. Creedence Clearwater Revival
  159. Dizzie Gillespie
  160. Miles Davis
  161. John Coltrane
  162. Wayne Shorter
  163. Joe Zawinul
  164. Weather Report
  165. Chick Corea
  166. Brazil, Jobim, Bonfa and Gilberto
  167. Manzanero
  168. Pat Metheny
  169. David Sanborn
  170. Rippingtons
  171. Steely Dan
  172. Eagles
  173. Huey Lewis and the Power of Love
  174. Jennifer Rush, Power of Love
  175. John Denver
  176. Joni Mitchell
  177. Linda Ronstadt

Some Examples

Singing, dancing and playing music of all  kinds are clearly the best expressions of humans. This is not to suggest that all sounds presented as music are really music, since noise appears to be replacing real music in many popular formats. Real music is intelligent and pleasing. Real music is rhythmic, not always with drums. Musical drumming should be interesting, sometimes exciting, but never noisy or oppressive. Composers in the Europe of old were immersed in music from their early childhood. They followed forms that were fashionable and influenced each other. JS Bach, the great master was influenced by Handel and Vivaldi. Mozart expressed musical ideas from Bach, Handel, Haydn and many other composers at work in Europe. Beethoven studied with Haydn and was inspired by Mozart.  Händel was born in 1685, the same year as JS Bach and Domenico Scarlatti. Bach eventually complimented Handel and his music saying that Handel was "the only person I would wish to be, were I not Bach." Mozart admired Bach's genius. Beethoven said that JS Bach was "the master of us all". 

Each musical "genius" added his own innovations so that the ideas that drove musical composition progressed, despite the resistance of patrons and audiences. There has always been a battle between audiences who want more of the same and composers who were innovative. Many creative composers suffered repeated rejection and penury. Some of the best known 20th century composers of “classical” music were Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Rachmaninov and Otto Klemperer; all four lived Los Angeles after fleeing from the second world war in Europe. Schoenberg and Stravinsky wrote music for films. Homegrown composers often combined orchestral music with popular music. Stylistic distinctions were overcome by creative innovators such as Copeland, Ellington, Gershwin, Bernstein and a host of jazz musicians who emerged as virtuoso performers and creative composers. Musical ideas converged in the US to produce rapidly evolving and eclectic styles. As recorded popular music emerged, song writers and arrangers became the new composers who dominated radio play.

A topic often discussed among musicians who have not yet made the big time is what are the ingredients of hit songs? The are many ideas. One idea, for sure, is that a lot of people must like the tune. Liking a tune requires hearing the tune often, so that it becomes as familiar as brushing your teeth. Since hit singles became the goal of recording companies in the 1950's, frequent radio play was the route to popularity. The competition for radio play led to big business control of the airways, shady deals and some criminal involvement.

In Aug. 4, 1958, Billboard magazine began to list the most popular 100 tunes based on sales and plays on jukeboxes and the radio. The first No. 1 it was Ricky Nelson’s "Poor Little Fool." Geoff Mayfield recalled: “If you found only one easy listening song in a college student's music library during the early '60s, it would have been Percy Faith's rendition of "Theme from 'A Summer Place.'" With a melody carried by Faith's orchestra string section, the instrumental entered the Hot 100 at No. 96 in the Jan. 16, 1960, issue and rose to No. 1."

Summer Place" enjoyed the hit longest popularity at the time, a record broken in 1968 when the Beatles' "Hey Jude" topped the chart for nine weeks, becoming the band's longest-running chart topper. No other instrumental to date has led the Hot 100 as long as Summer Place. Some of the hit makers became rich and famous but less lucky song writers and musicians remained relatively poor. Recording companies grew richer, bigger and more autocratic. Song structures and styles became standardized and most hit tunes followed a predictable form. Even today, a song writer should stay with the standard form and introduce only small innovations.

The Sound of Music

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