Sunday, August 31, 2008

Finger Independence for musicians, pianist, guitarist, violinist.

There has been alot said about finger independence and I've been researching myself what is it that make your finger independent.

One thing you need to know is that brain is the center of all conscious action and what you need to be able to do is to know which finger you are moving exactly and make that motion as efficient and as effortless as possible.

First anatomy:
Muscles that move your fingers are at your forearms. and you use separate muscles for bending (flexing) and lifting (extending).
3,4,5 (or middle ring pinky) share one tendon and these are usually the problem for everybody.

All tendon goes through your wrists and thus they need to be relaxed so you won't waste any energy at the wrist.

shoulder, arms, they all need to be relaxed as they are connected to the sources which is your back.

Back needs to be straight but relaxed. This gives you balance and strength.

most important thing is you need to feel absolutely no pain and completely relaxed at all times even when you are playing fast and rather hard passages.
Moment people try technically difficult thing all kinds of tension in your body starts to show up and they are all bad. Sources of injuries. So please dont' hurt yourself.

Instrument specific guides will be the next thing but If you want to move your fingers like musicians (accurately, articulated, fast, etc etc for long long hours) that is a must. If you learn how to do this at any speed or any phrase you will play your instrument like a master. (at least technically, musicality is a different mastery)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

You are making records or something

Word by those composers. Very true. This guy was talking about passing synth or whatever sounds through manley labs preamps. That's gonna sound great. Yes! but you are making records or something right? We're scoring for Film & TV. Oh that sound so good and you can do that forever. You will miss the dead line. that's the last time you receive a pay check.

Brutal. Sometimes how busy these people are really impress me. or Just everyone driving each other nuts. Not sure where you stand but certainly how many hours you should work on something. Needs to be part of the budget. If you can get amazing stuff super quick you'll get a gig. If not someone else will. That's how it is. You might get lucky for one or two but to be consistent in this field is a serious business. - Film & TV Composer Seminar

It was very inspiring to listen to what real professional composer have to say about composition, samples, orchestration, budget, demo, rigs, etc, etc.

Chris Stone started the event speaking about orchestral samplers being "Additive" like organs. For example for divisi passages you'd want one section to divide their section into 2 or 3 or whatever number and play a chord. Most samplers now if you double note you get that much more players in the mix. That's Hazardous. Audio Impressions has this library that's supposed to do that .. for 3500 just for strings.. Cool what they can do yes. If you have money go for it.

What's interesting though is they all use these things but still they say "Mock up sounds like sh*t"
It never sounds like a real orchestra. Doesn't work like how real orchestra work... These guys are one of the top composers right now.. can they run total 7-10 computers when they score film or TV. yes and still the real thing sound way better.

It's always debate whether you should hire real person or use samples. Depends on budget, etc etc. Emotional impact director wants. That's what you need to take care of as a film composer.

Having said this... I still want great orchestral samples. Just because I still can't write for whole orchestra on piano. I do need to hear some thing like strings to write for strings. I wish. Possibly soon.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Recognizing chords

I was with my violin teacher doing ear training and I realized I cannot recognize chords when there is not enough length.

0.3 second chord for example is much harder to recognize. What she test me on was play 3 chords consecutively in different register and tell all chords. I could only get half of them right.. pretty hard. but it is necessary to keep music that I hear for the first time in my head. Very important skill when you are trying to transcribe something into a sheet music/score.

This lets you train on that if you'd to try for free check

i did 147 bpm and 32, with sound effects (sound for correct and wrong) off pretty easy.
You can see list of short cuts by going to Help > ___Phobia Help and clicking "Keyboard Shortcuts" on the first page.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Overtone Series

I'm learning theory with a very good teacher right now (privately) and I feel always so inspired. Right now I'm learning chord substitution. Very elementary stuff. People try to find great chord against melody on the piano. But when you present a sheet music of a melody and tell them to harmonize. Often times they realize, It's not easy to harmonize without piano (or any other instrument) But this can be done.

We've started with doing every thing with I, IV, V. yes three chords to harmonize everything.
V-I progression usually is call perfect or authentic cadence. IV - I = Plagal Cad. ends on V = Half Cad. those are choices when you do this.

Next time we talked about substitutions. I had more choice to work with so it became easier but feel of this I, IV, V had to stay there. (again all in your head)

I = iii, iv
IV = ii
V = vii dim but you have to be careful. (so forget about it for now.. almost)

other than that.
you can suspend V with approaching I 64 or I with 5th on the bass. if the melody allows.

very simple but chords starts to flow really well this way. At least in the classical/pop manner.
i believe if you don't understand this very very very very well you can't play jazz or other things.

And of course later on you verify your answer on the keyboard.
When you do this I always DON'T voice lead. I play everything in root position unless it's specified. (like that 5th on the bass chord)

4 part - why you don't double third? not very many book explain that.. they all stop there?
but If you look at overtone series. Overtone series created by the root will clash with those created by the 3rd.
Although 3rd is the character, root defines the fundamental or the bass and that is the one you'd want to emphasize. not the clash created by 3rd. (like people only used parallel 5th motion in polyphonic music)

and.. if the 3rd was the Leading tone - if you double, you'll create parallel octaves. two notes that needs to resolve up a half step.

Etc. there are more but i'll stop for now..

Physics of music is another interesting topic. Overtone series and their connection with chords and music of course. There are so many other thing you can come up with or try to apply when you think about BEST sounding BEST AMAZING music. You can just feel them if you are genius or if you want to be genius of one particular thing or genre..

Monday, July 21, 2008

Logic Pro Keyboard Shortcuts Tips

When you start working on different platforms - Pro Tools and Logic Pro for example - you will need quick way to remind yourself of what keys you had to press. Even know if you were once an expert if you don't use them your memory can't keep up with you sometimes...

Or you know other software pretty well and you want to quickly get to know other software.. You can read books. .yes but that takes lots of time and energy..

so What do you do? For logic pro it's pretty easy.. Go to keyboard shortcuts, that lists almost all the things you can do. Basic editing skills remains the same but HOW and HOW FAST is often the question right? and key is Shortcut.
Shortcuts to auditioning, navigating, making edits, etc etc. those are the thing you need to know and I thought I'd compile a list of keywords you can search with.

go to


(I'll keep adding to the list, bookmark if you liked it, or send me request to add something to the list)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

SHOULDER OPENER yoga exercise for anyone

I have very stiff shoulders and I think many of you have same problem.

Hours of sitting in front of the computer without watching your posture and things like that really disorient your joints, messes your blood flow.

This exercise seems to be really great. Simple and just gives sense of freedom to your shoulder. To it slowly, breath deeply as well. That's what you need to do.

Piano Technique (10A of 38): Your Fingers

Here is video of describing sort of what i've been talking about through out couple of post.

You have to do every motion like you should...Very hard to do.

All you have to do is relax and do nothing.
But you are playing the piano but you are doing nothing. Very hard to understand.

or only the absolute least energy is used. Highly concentrated energy where you need them..

You have to be aware of your whole body..

Maybe it's like Thai Chi. You have to feel everything. Very hard to achieve that.

But now you have it and you can practice that habit or new way of thinking.

try watching all videos: he has playlist for you so you can just let it roll.

Maria Joao Pires gives piano masterclass (2)

Continued from previous post

Maria Joao Pires gives piano masterclass (1)

This clearly show piano playing is more than a technical practice.

Technical accuracy can certainly improve your playing. But You have to get passed that stage to express music. There is more fun doing that than practicing technique anyways. You will not need a CD or something to listen to music. They can all come out of your hand. Gotta be very amazing feeling.

Metronome - Electronic? Wood? Plastic?

I've been buying alot of different kinds of metronome but wooden one seems to be the best.

It just the acoustic warmth that is there seems to be very musical.

Beep that those electric one produce seems too rigid or cold for me. Especially if you are playing classical or any acoustic instrument you would want to invest in plastice one or wooden one. (one with blade that is)

Unless of course you need the resolution of 1 bpm or less but for practice purpose that shouldn't really matter. 2-4 bpm per notch is enough.

Because unless you are playing with a computer there is virtually no way you will be playing at the same tempo throughout the song. Music is much more than that.
Push and pull that drummer creates.. or pianist does feel that too.

Music is not math. It's continuous flow. There should be some degree of order but absolute spacing between notes but you don't play music as written on the sheet music.

each 8th note, quarter note, 16th note, dotted, triplets has their meaning and appropriate timings. (i don't mean you should play 16th notes as dotted 8th notes of course)

Your interpretation or composers intention is much more important that keeping a solid mechanical tempo. Dynamics, expressions they all depend on how they are put together.

People who can purposefully decide which speed they should go or they want to make it go and put them all together are the one who play amazing music.

Try to keep those two different things in mind.
When you practice you can aim for rhythmical accuracy so you will be executing all action you need to do when you play. It's very hard to be able to do what you really want to do. Solid technique will give that freedom everyone wants.

Getting better at piano (or any other instrument)

I often think of what it means to be better at piano.

You practice to get better but what kind of practice really determine your progress. If you've played bunch of notes and if you are sounding like you can play in tempo then you've been wasting time.

Practice and getting better at musical instrument really requires you to be analytical about yourself. You are the one practicing so YOU have to know that you need to practice better.

Often times teacher neglect this simple fact or they are usually afraid that you are going to lose interest in learning or continuing lessons with them. Because it is a tough process. Judging yourself is some

It's psychological issue that always exist with lessons. I'm sure teachers are aware of it but this stuff needs to be taught differently for everyone.

Ability to pick those up and correct them yourself is really critical. Yet it's true that if you don't know music enough it's hard to tell.. and Teachers are there but it's also hard for them. They can't be overly analytical. Because that may impede your progress.

Very hard...

Yet you HAVE to do it. Somehow. I wish I could tell you.

If you are reading this and you're student, you should mention that you want to know HOW and WHAT to practice and in details. Learn the very basic of producing a tone.

Do one finger at a time. Slowly until you get used to it. try doing more things at once. That initial aha is important. but you have to remind yourself of other stuff too. So You will have to be going back and forth between what's relatively hard for you and what' seemingly way too easy (playing a single note)

But if you can play a single note like no other player can you've got your self a serious talent. Just know that. That's what you should look for when you play an instrument. Your individuality. and How you can get that individuality into all notes and all interpretation.

I think all these legends have that in common. They know how to play a note like no other. So don't underestimate the power of practicing to play a single note. Very important. Could be more important that learning a song.

If you are serious about music just ask yourself what's there that only you can do. And develop and hone your talent. Be critical and motivate others (especially your teacher) to critique more. Willing to take them into account. Try recording youself and analyze what can be done or try to ask more question so you will know why who ever made that particular advice thought that way.

Turn everything into a positive energy. Take everything in.

Piano Warm up materials

Thought I should compile a list of things you can get for warm ups.

for piano.

Classical/General stuff:
Beyer - for beginners.

Hannon - very famous but pitfall is you don't really listen to your playing or left hand or doesn't really build much. Easy to start so

Czerny - numbers of technique practices, etc like hannon is there from this guy as well. Beside his 100, 120, 160 or something etudes books.

little pischna - find this a little more effective than hannon actually as left hand and right hand is doing something a little different and does require coordination. Contains excersizes that lets you switch hands keeping the material the same.

Bach - Invention
Highly recommended. It may be too difficult for beginners but you can just start doing this really slow. Even left, right separately without putting them together. If you can play, most of the scales, little pischna pretty easily you should have no problem playing these. Doing hannon in all 12 keys is another way to get your hand to do interesting things but I would say Bach inventions are a lot more musical and you can really start to incorporate your musical ideas into playing. Your scale practices will feel so different after playing these.

what you need to do is get a teacher to tell you how you should read trills, 8th notes, 16th notes so you will actually be doing baroque harpsichord style playing rather than fake versions - you don't want to show everyone that you don't know music so pay for one or two lesson and let them cover how to play them. If you want to go back to that person or not is up to you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Musical Instrument Warm ups and Practicing piano, guitar, violin, scales, etc.

I'm curious as to what people do when you do warm up.

Piano playing is not a simple task. It's composed of collection of complex muscular activities. Almost in a martial arts teaches. Difference is the purpose. Martial Arts whatever you want to say about it, it's the art of killing. I'm from Japan so I know about spirits, samurai, philosophy but it is the killing you do with it. Music on the other hand is to express ideas. Enrich people's life. Maybe it's yourself and your greatness you want to express.. but generally Composition has emotional or intellectual, philosophical meaning to be expressed.

Going back to practice so how can you find that in scale, hannon, stuff like that? That's the kind of the thing you want to be thinking when you play these things.

You can learn all the notes in scales. but You have to realize you don't need piano or any instrument to learn them and note names. They have to sound certain way. or many different ways to be exact. Where you accent, how soft you want to play. How long to keep notes or spaces. Those are the point you need to focus on when you practice.

Guitarists!! Playing fast seems cool at first but if you are only playing bunch of notes without any dynamics you are just showing off. All fast playing and all the things people just start dreaming needs purpose. (Hopefully other than amazing others with how fast YOU can play.. and not for your own ego boost)

For your good, think of how to play scales
Not just fingering, not just notes. learning them and moving in the way that book tells you to do is the part. ANYONE can do. Think of WHY you need to play them on that instrument. and why you want to play them with the instrument you picked or you play. Musical instruments all have different sounds and you want to get to know them in depth. Scale practices are very important because of that. You can keep all notes the same and basic theory of it is universal but you can just keep playing them and you'll never run out of things you can do with them. This scale practice is that deep.

The expression or your unique idea is YOUR part and you should practice that. You should concentrate on making them come forward. and You should really be listening and asking yourself if this is really what you want.

There are other issues in this regards.. (like how you should move or use your body to get those qualities you are looking for when you play scales, or anything..)
but that's what you should be practicing. I don't want to hear 32nd note scales at tempo 300. Meaningless. You just wow and you'll be forgotten the next moment.

the craft of piano playing - alan fraser
art of violin playing - carl flesch
effortless mastery - kenny werner

Music Theory 101

For many years I've been trying to learn Music Theory and no one could ever explain stuff I needed to know to compose the good stuff. How to listen to exact harmony you need and create them...

That's a big topic. You can't really tell what's good using books. You have to hear them. Yet way too many people try to learn it through books. Or EXPENSIVE teachers or schools.

And still get .. VERY formal instruction on how not to do things.. rather done how to DO things. That's gotta be a very depressing thing to find out. You've paid all that money so you can actually start learning how to make and play good music. Somethings' wrong with that. You need to be learning that from beginning.

What I can tell you today is that there is no rule. That's something people have put together after trial and error.

or worse some texts are based on those idea by people who wanted to teach and make money or present to the world they are intelligent and great.. These people made everything too difficult for beginners to grasp.

Correct appproach I believe is to if you can enjoy music, then you can enjoy theory as well. Just so you will be enjoying music a little more than you could before the first class on music theory.

- feel free to dive in to this as i'm curious how music beginners think and perceive theory.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bach Chorale downloads..

I just bought a book of bach chorale collection and today I found this site that had all those available for free...

I guess I will just use the copy I bought for playing purpose and these for analyzing purpose. So I can justify my action.

Well I bought it.. someone is gonna be happy right? not bach but whoever are keeping this alive and making available to public.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Violin Intonation

I'm working on my violin intonation pretty much everyday. Its very interesting. You notice so many things that You don't when you are on guitar.

first pitch changes when you press. and how fast your press or "Release" into another note affects how quickly it will be in tune.. if you get the correct place to press that is...

that concept is very interesting. Right now, this is almost a disadvantage but if you could musically control this it's really cool what you can do..

bow changes pitch as well (although people don't tell you to control pitch from the bow.. ) and there are way too many thing you can do.

On playing guitar with the bow. seems like it's better to press your frets. rather than those spaces in between. You are getting semi fretless effect when you do that.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Guitar and Violin Playing - Pinky hell

I've started playing violin and since my left pinky has started to function very well.

Violin has really small, or thin neck as you know and that actually made me realize how important the grip was.

basically you have to have two things in your mind.

1. you and your hands have to be relaxed!
2. you apply necessary pressure when you need them. quick press and slight release. volume knob 10 -> 8 the moment you press it.

you have to make your pinky feel like other finger. you have to train it so that you know exactly what muscles move pinky. Flexor and Extensor muscles are almost at where your elbow is. try moving you pinky by itself and look at where it moves. that's what you need to train.

also you have to know Middle, Ring, and Pinky all are connected. shares one muscle. Finger independence is actually not possible. You really have to feel their differences and connection.

exception there is to a pinky because you can actually move your bottom joint (one that connects to your palm) pretty freely. and you have to move pinky from there.

anyway so the GRIP.
you basically have to find where your pinky can gain the most power. it is a weak finger. it's small but there is a point where you are grabbing the neck. and You feel that energy is spread out evenly onto each fingers.

next time you grab your guitar, try grabbing from your bottom joint. Obviously you only want finger tip to touch the finger board but you lay down your fingers from your bottom joint..

I wish I could explain this to you using pictures but try that.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Pro Tools: Shortcut keys: another way for changing modes & tools

That you can change modes and tools on Pro Tools with function keys is a common thing by now but there was on more that's not usually covered..

if you didn't know:
f1 - f4: select modes
f5 - f10: tools - pressing the same one twice will trigger next one down the list for those tools with options.
f6+f7 pressed together: Smart tool

that's good but there is one more to it.
You can press ESC and ~ to change them also... basically it selects next tool including smart tool.

Tilda or ~ or ` (key that's one below ESC) key will switch between Edit Modes.

and ESC will select next tool.

Unlike web browser it won't select one before even if you pressed shift key (shift + tab to go back to previous text field/tab stop in most browsers) but this is pretty useful when you are still thinking which one to press.

You won't have to look at the keyboard and that can make you more productive.
Try it out.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Bar Codes - How to get UPC

I've started to seriously look into and try to actually understand all aspect of music business.

Music Business until recently was just really something I never wanted to learn but there are lots of good thing also about this.

One of the big issue is UPC code and Bar Code. They are just a tracking system by SoundScan. and you do want to put this on your CD because you will know how much you've sold. and if you are member of ASCAP, BMI, etc that's the way for them to know how much you actually sold. (also, they have some membership benefits regarding this)

You can just look at their web site and they will tell you how.
for example

This is one video that explain all the process. rather long so i'll just write it down.

1. To create your own Bar Code you need to become their member.
2. Apply for the membership and pay fee (check FAQ or contact them) - You get your own company number for use in UPC codes
3. create one - they explain how to do this as well.

So that's when you are a label or start one..
but minimum $150 for membership is maybe expensive.. then you can sign up with people like CD Baby because they offer one for you really cheap (last time i checked...)

It's actually up to you to decide which one you go with. You are not an established artist with fan base you probably won't ever need membership. and you can use your money for music production or graphic design for the album or whatever it is that you want to do.

Monday, February 04, 2008

iTunes Music Store - Global listening

Well a little time ago iTunes have added a feature to select country at the bottom of your iTunes Music Store home page.

I find this really interesting because although lot of music are internationally distributed you still don't really know in what country what song is popular.. Question like is American music really popular in Europe? what's the Europe's trend?

one way to find out is through magazines but i think iTunes can function in this way also.

If you navigate to the iTunes MS for UK then you'll see something you can only see in UK version. France or french version will something that's only available in france. likewise you can just navigate through all stores and you can actually listen to music from all over the world.

you can search in their languages (if you know or if you just knew the title), i'm not sure about the downloading but at least you can listen to them.. and buy CD (well the quality of digital download is still lower compared to regular CD so actually it's cheaper if you buy CD in my opinion)

but it's amazing how easily you can listen to all kinds of music and cultural differences. at least for musicians or composers.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Synthesizer Tutorial Video

I've just found a few amazing synthesizer tutorial. Not really for beginners.. you'd have to understand at least what oscillator, filters are and their functions..

They were talking about FM synthesis, how to make drums beats with LFO, things like that.. good point to cover. and he explains it really well.

Monday, January 28, 2008

MIDI Programming for beginners: What is MIDI?

I'm going to write about the first step in MIDI programming and what those fancy term means.

What is MIDI? Often times my answer is "It is like a sheet music with performance information"

Any good sheet music will include marking like f (forte) p (piano), crescendo, ritardando but none of them actually gives you an idea of what it really sound like.. what composer meant. what arranger meant when they put those marks on the score.

On the other hand, MIDI records (or at least tries to capture) all that little nuances that composers were dying to put to their scores.

You can listen to free MIDI files somewhere and you should be able to tell differences. Some of them will have unnatural flow or no emotion and make you think "MIDI is horrible," but often times it is not MIDI that's is bad. Programmer.

MIDI will let you compose or play your own music even if you didn't know anything about music but on the other hand making it sound realistic or as if somebody is playing is very hard to do, especially when you are trying to get that "orchestra" sound; you have to know how all the instruments are played, sounds and talk with each other.