The Brown Note

•April 18, 2007 • 1 Comment

OK so I had to address it…. After all, my blog is about music controversies and this is certainly a controversy….

269185_mezzo_forte.jpg Picture from yotophoto.com

So here’s the deal about the alleged “brown note“: as the urban legend states, it is a note that resonates at a frequency between 5 and 9Hz which is supposedly in the range of the resonance of the human body. The sound wave makes one’s lower intestine vibrate at the same frequency of the “brown note” thus one loses control of one’s bowels and the vibrating lower intestine pushes its contents outside of the body. In Laymen’s terms; you crap yourself. Hence the “brown” note.

Now, you may think that such a theory is ridiculous and if such were the case then why haven’t there been more unexplained uncontrollable “accidents” at concerts or places with loud, low frequencies? I myself was surprised to read that many experiments have been conducted regarding the nasty note. Most adults cannot hear anything under 20Hz so the brown note actually isn’t even audible; but you would sure be able to feel it… The popular show Mythbusters attempted to bust the myth of the brown note in one of their episodes but failed to elicit the desired affect when they produced frequencies between 5 and 10Hz at 120-160 decibels aimed directly at a human body. Those exposed reported anxiety, shortness of breath, and even some nausea but nothing as severe as the mythical effect. These effects can also be medically explained by noting that an extremely low frequency at a high volume tends to force air in and out of the lungs rapidly giving one the symptoms claimed by those on mythbusters.

So to ease all worried minds out there who fear an embarrassing moment if they accidentally become exposed to a low frequency that makes their insides rattle, it doesn’t work. There has never been a reported case of such an incident and the experiments I came across in my research showed no positive results. (Even in one experiment with 700 volunteers and a massive subwoofer in the middle of a sewer pipe, there were no soiled underwear or dirty diapers). I have read that other countries have considered utilizing the brown note as a weapon that would immediately suppress a ground attack (or at least slow them down a bit…), but Jürgen Altmann of the University of Dortmund, an expert in sonic weapons claims that infrasound cannot affect the human body in ways the myth describes.

“So what does all this mean?” you might ask – To me, I find it fascinating that something that has been around for thousands of years can still have its mysteries and unexplainable quirks. We have been able to reproduce, manipulate, distort, label, and define music in incredible ways throughout the years but I do not think we will ever be able to fully understand the phenomenon that is music. If researchers are testing the affects that one note has on the human body imagine what affects multiple notes, rhythms, dynamics, and timbres have! Music has always had its way of manipulating the human body and mind. David could soothe the soul of angry King Saul with it in the Bible. We can use it praise God, win the heart of a girl, or pep us up for athletic events. It can be both a blessing and a curse, a weapon and a peace maker, and even someone’s life and emotions transcribed into musical form that can touch the lives of millions. We by no means know the full power of music and how if affects different people of different ages, races, and backgrounds in different ways. It is not one note that researchers should be focusing their attention on, it’s the layering upon layering of various styles, patterns, harmonies and melodies that can truly inspire and affect people in ways no spoken word or tangible object could ever do. The possibilities are literally endless when it comes to how music can be put together which leaves the experts questioning where it will end and to what extreme will music take itself to in order to prove to the world that it has no equal. The world is music, and music is slowly becoming the world…

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Technical Enhancement vs. Sheer Talent (Cont.)

•April 11, 2007 • 1 Comment

18_mixer_board.jpg                   VS                   34012_the_piano_1.jpg

In the previous article I talked about how it seems as if less importance is put on being a “good musician” and more is put on how good your recording equipment is. Unfortunately today the music industry is littered with sub par artists who can make themselves sound good and appeal to their audiences and distract everyone from the true musicians that deserve more respect and attention than the public gives them.

I have always said that I will not admit that a band is “good” until I hear what they sound like live – with no (or limited) audio enhancement. To use the band Yellow Card as an example, (and I hope I don’t offend any of their fans), they are terrible live. In their defense they put on an amazing show at their live performances with their violinist doing backflips and impressive lights and stage effects. However, the sheer vocal and instrumental aspects of the concert are well below par. The beauty of live performances is such that the unacceptable audio is somewhat masked by the impressive visual entertainment. Yellow Card is a decent band that can write catchy songs and appeal to what the teen population wants to hear. However, they lack what performers like Monte Montgomery (a very impressive but not very popular guitarist) have mastered. I would advise listening to some of his music on the internet if you appreciate amazing guitar, clever lyrics, and an impressive back-up band.

Everyone knows about singers like Ashlee Simpson and countless boy bands who either lip sync or use synthesisers and voice correctors to make their voices pierce the hearts of 12 year old girls. Don’t get me wrong, I think the advancements in music technology through the years have been incredible. We are now able to manipulate music in such a way that would make peter frampton’s jaw drop if he heard it back in the 70’s.

Technology is like medicine. It can be used and it can be abused. It can greatly help music and fix casual errors to make recording easier and improve the overall sound of a musician. It can also take the place of the true music. What makes great music great is not how well the man behind the glass knows how to manipulate knobs and buttons; its when someone can sit down with an instrument and amaze his/her audience with nothing but their raw talent.

All music today seems to have its special place in society and every age group and ethnic race likes their own styles. Nothing, however, can replace that overwhelming feeling of refreshment one gets when exposed to true musical talent in a world overly crowded with fake wannabes.

All photos taken from yotophoto.com

Copyrights – Its Gotta be Eve’s Fault…

•March 25, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Copyrights nowadays can be one of the biggest pains in the neck, especially for a conductor trying to do the right thing but finding him/herself in an ethical vs. legal battle. Such stress and tedious work could only come from God’s punishment on Eve for taking the forbidden fruit. So what the Bible doesn’t specify is that God would make man work for his food, make childbirth painful for women, and invent this wonderful little phenomenon called copyrights…

All over the world, every single day, copyright laws are broken. Some violations are obviously worthy or penalization while others are more like an issue of personal ethics than an outright infringement. Millions of people worldwide share music and illegally copy and distribute it over the internet and cost publishers and record companies loads of money. Fewer in number are the people daring enough to copy DVDs and CDs and sell them on street corners. Both of these examples are obviously illegal however many people still download free music or buy a cheap DVD somewhere because its easier and cheaper and that is what society values in this day and age. On the other hand are the instances where copyright laws seem to fail ethically. A band director who ordered a full arrangement of music but when receives it, there is one too few clarinet parts. It would be very simple for the conductor to simply make a copy for the clarinetist to use. This, however, is an infringement of copyright laws. Publishing companies would force the conductor to go through a long complicated procedure in order to obtain the single missing copy he/she needs. Publishing companies need to reexamine the relationship they have with their users to make music more accessible without doing anything illegal. The specific example I would like demonstrate in this article is one about copying and distributing performed music: Are ensembles allowed to film themselves and freely distribute the video to those within the ensemble either “for cost” or at “no cost”?

Picture a school that just put on an amazing band concert and video taped it to keep it on record. So far the school has done nothing illegal assuming that they went through the appropriate means of obtaining the music performed and did not illegally copy any of it. The problem comes when additional copies are made and then those copies are distributed freely or sold to those who want a copy of it. According to copyright law, you cannot make any additional copies of a live performance other than the original which must be solely used for record purposes. If the school wanted to reproduce and sell or give away copies of the concert to parents, students, performers and anyone else who wanted one, they would have to get permission from the publisher of each song performed in the recording and also get permission from every parent of the kids performing (yes even the relatively insignificant triangle player who only hits it once in the middle of the loudest song). This is an almost impossible task. If one publishing company refused to grant permission or if some Amish parent doesn’t want their son to be on television

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Photo from Yotophoto.com

then it would not be legal for anyone to obtain a copy of the performance. Some people may try and ethically find loopholes in order to still make and distribute copies. One could simply cut out the song that the publisher did not grant permission to use or, on an even creepier scale, cut out the Amish performer himself and leave his trumpet floating in mid-air. Since neither of these options are really ideal, many schools just don’t worry about the laws and freely distribute the music that they practiced and they performed. After all, they already paid for the music in the first place right?

These are the problems we encounter today. There is a tough line to define between what is legal and what is bogus, what is ethical and what is quick and easy, and what is fair and what publishers should stop monopolizing. It is a shame that there exists such a tradegy as “rights.” Composers compose so that other peope can listen and appreciate what they have written, not so they can rake in loads of cash and charge tons of money for people to use their music. Its the publishing companies that are out to make a profit from someone’s masterpiece. In my opinion, they’re as bad as the serpent….From Yotophoto.com

Photo from Yotophoto.com

*Author’s note: You may want to read this article from a distance just in case your computer gets struck by a lightning bolt from God…

Change of Blog

•March 23, 2007 • Leave a Comment

This blog has gone from focusing on information about Guitars and Mandolins to dealing with more pressing subjects involved in the music industry. Although information about instruments is greatly useful and appreciated by many, there are many other sites and blogs that deal with these types of issues and may provide more information than this blog. This blog may still, however, review a certain product that is of interest but will not focus on reviews. The following posts will deal with the controversies that are present in the music industry and my own thoughts and opinions on each matter.

So you want to buy an acoustic guitar…

•March 18, 2007 • Leave a Comment

People looking to buy acoustic guitars tend to spend a lot of time researching, trying out, price haggling, and picking the perfect guitar for them. This process can be long or short, depending on the playing experience of the one looking for a new guitar and the purchasing experience of the individual. Here I will list a few hints and steps in regards to buying a new acoustic guitar

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Step 1: Research – Get looking on the Internet for styles, brands or prices you might be interested in. If you are a beginner, you probably are looking for a lower quality, lower priced instrument that is still worth the money and is a good beginning instrument. Good beginner brands can include, Alvarez, Washburn, Yamaha, Martin, and Taylor (select beginner models). Most of the brands provide very good expert level guitars and include a versatile selection.

Step 2: Trying it out – NEVER BUY A GUITAR BEFORE YOU PLAY IT. This is the first rule about buying a new guitar. Even if you know the exact model you want to buy and have played on various guitars of the same model, buying the guitar from the Internet can be risky. Sometimes you may think to buy a guitar of a better model or more expensive finish when buying guitars online, however, I myself have come across scenarios where some lower quality guitars sound better than massively inlayed more expensive models.

Step 3: Haggling – Many people underestimate the great old-time use of haggling. They think that it’s only used in Mexico or some third world countries. In actuality, music stores want you business and will be willing to beat their competitors prices. Call around, go in stores, get specific prices from a number of different companies. Go online and find out what online stores are selling their products for (even though you won’t buy it from there). Make a list of the different prices each company is willing to sell the guitar to you. Then, pick two or three of those companies and visit their stores in an attempt to get them to keep lowering their prices to beat the competitors until you have found you can go no lower. Whatever company offers you the lowest price is the one you should probably consider. This, of course, is all in regard to choosing the perfect guitar. If one guitar sounds better in one store but is more expensive than the same cheaper model in another store, go with the one that sounds better.

In the end, the only thing that should really matter when choosing a guitar is how that guitar sounds, plays, and feels to YOU. As long as price isn’t much of a problem, always go for what you know to be best. Find the guitar that speaks to you and best fits your needs and then go about the most efficient ways of attaining it.

Sheer Talent vs. Technical Enhancement

•March 12, 2007 • 1 Comment

In this day and age there are many ways to produce and make music. Music has gone from being only availible through a live performance of Mozart to creating notes, sounds, and effects all digitally through a computer. The question one might ask is if the musical talent has been steadily decreasing and the knowledge and uses of techonlogy and becoming overpowering. The following posts will take time to examine this question and each point of view.

     I myself tend to favor the more sheer musical talent side of this argument. I am an experienced guitarist and a beginning Mandolinist and can greatly appreciate amazing talent in musical performance when I hear it.

    

Hello world!

•March 9, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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