Thursday, February 26, 2009

These Are The Days

Rather, this is the day. I'm still riding a high from what has been the closest thing to a perfect day I've ever experienced.

First, a few little things:
  • Good night's sleep - Awesome.
  • Biscuits and gravy for breakfast -Hell yeah!
  • Piano class - Quick and painless.
  • Warm-up buzzing with trumpet professor - Great.
  • Leaving Ear Training early - Cool.
The first really big thing was this: I performed in our "Brass Area Recital" today, in which an act (or two) from each brass studio (Trumpet, Trombone, French Horn, and Tuba/Euphonium) is chosen by their studio professor to perform in a showcase-style concert at 11am. Our tuba/euphonium studio requires that every member do at least one of these, and today was my turn. I finally got a chance to perform one of my favorite pieces, one I've been working on for over a year. It came together especially well over the last week, so I was pumped. I was so thrilled when I realized that I had just finished the whole piece, and that all of CMU's brass students were applauding (some cheering) for the music I had just performed. I even got enough of a response to take a second bow. This was easily the highlight of my music-major experience so far. I've never felt as good about myself and my playing as when I took that second bow. I'm going to remember that performance for the rest of my life, and I want to extend warm thank-you's to everybody that was there listening. A performance is useless without a great audience, and I certainly had one today.

Another little thing, but it gets its own paragraph. I had an amazing lunch at La SeƱorita. Burger with mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and onions. That plus amazing fries made my tummy quite happy. What made this lunch so fantastic, though, was the company. I ate with a group of awesome people (3 from my studio, plus a trombonist and a sax player), and it was a blast.

Now, another big subject. Around 2, I went to my girlfriend's place to help her clean things up (her dad was going to drop by for a visit). It sounds lame, but if you're with someone as much fun as her, even manual labor becomes fun. I don't remember any specific things that went on (except for trying to fit dishes we didn't have time to wash in the oven...), but I remember it being a lot of fun. I seriously can not get enough of her. Hell, I just saw her an hour ago, and I already miss her!

More little things:
  • Great dinner: flank-steak sandwich, waffle fries, and a brownie with ice cream. Mmmm.
  • I wore a new red shirt ($3.29 at Goodwill) with my black suit today, and it looked great :)
The final big happening was a band concert. Campus Band, University Band (the two bands for non-music majors or majors on secondary instruments), and Symphony Band (one of 3 music major bands) performed tonight. The first cool thing about this was the time before it started. I was bored, so I started plunking out a simple jazz groove I know on the piano, and a clarinet-playing friend of mine improv'd overtop of it. It was a lot of fun. The next cool thing was the performance of University Band. There were issues (as there are with any concert), but they played some great music. I bet Campus Band was good too, but I had to go warm up at that point.

The last big thing was the Symphony Band performance. I quite enjoyed our program, and it went quite well. There were moments where I almost got lost because I was listening too intently to the rest of the band. I can't wait to hear the recording!

Well, there's my fantastic day in a nutshell. Thanks so much to everyone who helped to make it so.

A day like this makes me realize how good my life has been recently, and how good things are getting. I'm really looking forward to the near future. Life is good, and These Are The Days.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Come Together

My first "real" post concerns rap music. I used to hate this genre with a passion. I'm heavily rooted in older styles: basic rock and roll, a bit of jazz, even classical. Growing up in a household of almost entirely pop/rock oriented tastes, I never had exposure to much else. College (and the high-speed internet connection associated with it) has changed this. I used to hate rap music because I had only heard the club-thumpin' crap that gets played on the radio.

Now, I'm not saying that Flo Rida and Soulja Boy don't have a rightful place in the world of music. There's room for everybody in the creative universe. I just think that club-style music has been misplaced onto the radio. This kind of music serves only one purpose in my mind: to be danced to. That's why bad lyrics and repetitive musical ideas slide by people's notice. If you're dancing, it doesn't really matter how good-quality your music is. All you're gonna care about is a good beat and a few simple ideas you can recognize and yell along with. This is where I feel club-style rap should stay.

Club-style is not the only kind of rap music, though. There are plenty of rap/hip-hop artists who write solid lyrics, and do some interesting things with their musical backup. I really like Ludacris' humor-oriented stuff ("Number One Spot" made me laugh my ass off) a lot, because it's genuinely funny, the lyrics are well put together, and the backing track is usually pretty fun to listen to. The main thing that makes me hate certain rap artists is when they do nothing with their "music" except string a few cool sounds together, spew nonsense for 5 minutes, and call it a song. If the mix is creative, or if the dumber types of lyric aren't being taken so seriously, I'm fine with it. Some people write a rap song with really bad lyrics, but their only goal from the start is to be musically creative and fun. Black Eyed Peas are one of my favorite examples of this. In my eyes, they have no illusions about their intentions. They put out fun (sometimes ridiculous) music, and their different inputs to the group make for a good listening experience. Simply put, they don't take themselves seriously when they shouldn't.

There are other artists who are very serious at times, though, and they do their thing quite well. Common is one of my favorite examples. He does wonderful collaborations with lots of other artists, and he actually has a message to get out with his music. Mike Shinoda's (of Linkin Park fame) Fort Minor always has something cool going on. Whether it's something that's just genuinely inspirational or something more personal, they always hold my attention.

I guess the main thing that makes me like rap music is the music that holds it all together. Nothing for me legitimizes rapping like its fusion with other genres. The aforementioned Linkin Park is the most recognizable example (both with member Mike Shinoda and with Jay-Z). Plenty of artists do this kind of fusion regularly. Common has guested on at least a couple of other people's songs, and Gym Class Heroes by nature are a fusion of rock and hip-hop.

This fusion is what gives me hope for what I used to think was a pointless genre. Rap is still a new thing, and there is a lot of bad music involved. I see something new emerging, though. This is still a very young art form, and it is quickly becoming as strong of a musical influence as anything else has. There's always major change happening in music, and rap just may be one of the bigger factors in the current cycle of change. I look forward to seeing how this pans out over the next several years/decades as all the current genres of music continue to come together.

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Monday, February 16, 2009


Why am I writing a blog?

Because... I don't know. I guess it's just because I like rambling about my opinions, but I try not to do so too often in real life. The internet doesn't care if you digress and ramble. That's what blogs are for, right?

Why should you care?

Because I'm a normal schmuck, like anyone else for the most part. I just want to get my words out there, and if someone cares to read them, awesome. I intend this blog to basically just be one side of a conversation. I like talking to people, especially about music (although that won't be the only topic at hand).

What am I going to write about?

Well, it's in the title. Life and Music. The two are inseparable for me. My musical notions ebb and flow in sync with my life, and I wouldn't have it any other way. So, my posts will be a combination of the two. A major theme I want to try to maintain is titling each post with a song title. I know it's corny, but it's whatever. Another thing I want to do is consistently write two kinds of posts: those discussing the lives of myself and my friends (who will remain anonymous), and discussing music (and related issues). There won't be a regular rate of alternation between the two, though. I'll just write whatever.

What now?

Well, now, I'm gonna post my self-introduction right after this, and then I'm going to go live part of my non-internet life.



Across the Universe

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Hi, and welcome to my new blog. First post = explanation and introduction of myself and my blog concept.

For starters, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Chris, and I am currently a second-year Music Education student at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, MI. My major instrument here is the tuba. It sounds lame, but it's actually quite fun. I really like the people in my studio, and the guy who teaches us how to suck less.

I am a proud member of the Chippewa Marching Band, and will be until I die or graduate (whichever comes first). I love the massive sense of camaraderie I feel towards my fellow Chips, and I love being a part of the epic experience that is Chippewa Football.

My musical horizons are not limited to classical and band music, though. I enjoy (or at least appreciate) ALL types of music. I don't discriminate. If I haven't heard it yet, I want to. I'm often pleasantly surprised at what tickles my fancy.

My musical pursuits aren't limited either. I love my tuba, but I carry a brightly burning torch for my guitar, voice and, ever-increasingly, piano. My main pop music influence is Warren Zevon (1 & 2), but I'm also heavily into Jackson Browne right (1 & 2) now. I also have a few off-the wall tastes, such as Bellowhead

I'm limited to covers pretty heavily, because when I write lyrics, it doesn't end well. I write a bit of instrumental music, but it doesn't cut it for me in performance unless I can sing as well. I love performing for people wit my guitar, and I don't do it nearly enough anymore. I'm working to remedy that, though.

Well, that's the intro. If you want to know more about me, feel free to comment to that effect.

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