Sleater-Kinney is Back

[ photo via Facebook ]

Sleater-Kinney is one of bands that I became a fan of in the late 90’s when I was in my GIRL POWER! phase. Obviously the Spice Girls may have been the jumping off point of the whole thing, but then I realized girls can also kick ass with instruments which made the ladies of Sleater-Kinney and other women-only/heavy bands awesome in my book as a teenager. So yeah, i’m a little bit of a riot grrrl in my heart.

I’m also glad that Sleater-Kinney has kept on creating music for years now and I love their newest music as much as their first tracks. I always get a little nervous when bands go on a hiatus because it may mean no more of the ol’ band I know and love, and I just hope they stay in the music scene in a different shape or form. Recent events that have prompted them to record a new album for a January 2015 release has me all sorts of excited. The track above was just posted on their SoundCloud page right after they did an Ask-Us-Anything on Reddit today and the track below is another new track.

From the Edge – Notes from Rehearsal

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I’m really excited, you guys. I know I just started this series a couple weeks ago but I’m already less than a week from my first performance with the Chorus of Westerly this season!! Monday night’s rehearsal was held on the risers with our new riser assignments (one brilliant individual named Pam has been assigning spots for every singer every season for years according to voice part and height; it sounds like a really challenging job) and it gave our director, Andrew, a chance to hear how we all sound together in the house. From my perspective I think the run-through went relatively well and we’re pretty much polishing our sound in the next two rehearsals before Sunday.

A lot goes on the last few weeks before a performance. From the front end we’re working to perfect our music so we can be proud to perform it for you. Behind the scenes so much is going on- Pam consults with Andrew about where to put every singer on the risers and make sure we all fit, Andrew is rehearsing with the child and teen choristers, travel and accommodations are being made for the incoming soloists and orchestra musicians (there’s at least 40 of them), weather-related back up plans are being made if there is ever a forecast for snow, we’re notifying our followers everyday on social media about the event, our director is talking with local morning talk radio shows, the programs are being printed, the seats in the house need to arranged, the scores for the orchestra are organized, Andrew is preparing for his pre-concert lecture, food for the post-concert reception is being made… Aaaaaand up until the doors open for the first show we’re still selling tickets.

Miraculously a lot of this gets accomplished by volunteers, mostly made up of members of the Chorus and parents of the youth singers. This is one thing that a lot of people probably don’t know about non-profit organizations, is that the paid staff is usually a small group of people while the rest of the operations are taken care of by volunteers donating their free time and skills.

Here’s a shot of the whole chorus (during our little snack break) on the risers for the first time this season and a funny note-to-self in my score:

The humorous result of using a borrowed music score- other people's written notes. "Get the shabby-do into it!"

A photo posted by Erma B. (@stonecoldvox) on

My Rehearsal Notes
Text: (1) familiarize yourself with what the text translates to in English to help determine the type of mood you want to convey for each movement (2) try to memorize more text so you can get your head out of your music (what exactly am I singing? Here’s a translation!)
Keep practicing trouble spots: while rehearsing I draw circles around parts of my score where I mess up and need to review when I have time to practice on my own. It’s a good feeling when I can finally erase those circles with confidence.
Review dynamic markings and time signatures: if you’re like me and feel as though there’s too much to keep in mind while singing, write in the beats above measures where necessary. Note where to take breaths with a check mark or comma.

ScaleNet, a Music Theory app

I’m really excited to tell you guys about an app that a couple of my college professors developed. It makes me wish I had access to this when I took Music Theory classes.

ScaleNet is a “mobile Music Theory learning environment” for the young–or beginner musician. It was developed by two college professors who employed network modeling to help clarify how many of the basic concepts in music are connected by simple, interrelated patterns.

ScaleNet’s melody-game incorporates a large library of diverse melodic phrases which provide a constantly changing “real world” note-ID environment. The skill sets developed through the use of ScaleNet are applicable to Traditional, Popular, EDM, Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Classical music.

ScaleNet provides interactive learning spaces associated with:

  • Keys and their graphic layout on the staff (mirrored in touch-pads).
  • Simple key relationships: Major, relative minor and parallel minor.
  • Complex key relationships–and how harmonic progressions are nested within their natural order.
  • Note identification, employing treble clef, within all keys in a timed play-environment.
  • Ear-training through simple additive melodic phrases which are spontaneously sequenced and which can be used for interval identification.
  • Post-game statistics which allow the user to track ongoing progress.

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ScaleNet’s simple, intuitive, interface allows the user to focus on musical processes and ideas.

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ScaleNet’s “key-sphere” technology redefines the traditional circle of 5ths revealing new harmonic relationships.

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ScaleNet’s ear-training and sight-reading game integrates key information through touch-pad mirroring.

I was playing around the app earlier today and it’s fun. I find it easier to sing the notes than tap the note names if I were trying to race with myself, but competition aside it’s a good game to test your knowledge on what notes are within a certain Major or Minor scale.

Get it for free on the iTunes App Store here and on Android here.

Chorus of Westerly’s First Performance of the Season

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If any of my readers live in the Eastern Connecticut area or anywhere in Rhode Island, I’d love to invite you to our first performance of the 2013-2014 season. The Chorus of Westerly is made up of volunteer singers from all over the southern New England region. There’s between 150 and 200 adult and child singers. Every November we begin with a beautifully crafted classical concert complete with a full orchestra in a finely tuned acoustic space.

The Chorus is performing two recently written compositions: John Rutter’s emotional Mass of the Children and Morten Lauridsen’s stunningly beautiful Lux Aeterna. The Chorus sang the Rutter work in 2003, the year it premiered, to much acclaim. Rutter designed the Mass to be a choral work that featured children singing alongside adults as equal parts. That, in a nutshell, is the Chorus of Westerly as an organization, kids and adults singing great music, so it is a perfect piece of music for us! It also includes some of Rutter’s best choral writing. The final two movements are real triumphs.

In addition to the Chorus and Festival Orchestra, there are very short solo sections for baritone and soprano in the Rutter. We are delighted to have two talented artists come sing with us for the first time: Matthew Worth, baritone and Sherezade Panthaki, soprano. These two are top notch talents and we are lucky they agreed to come.

The Lauridsen is also a great work and one that has changed the landscape of American choral music. You might have heard parts of it recently (without knowing it) if you saw the Tom Hanks movie Angels and Demons that was released a few years back. It has become quite a favorite of arts groups across the nation. Lauridsen himself, a President’s National Arts Award winner, wrote the program notes for this concert which we will share with everyone.

I would love for anyone interested to come and hear what two and a half months of hard work of a couple hundred singers sounds like. We will be performing two shows on Sunday, November 17th, at 4pm and 6pm at the George E. Kent Performance Hall in Westerly, Rhode Island. Tickets are available in every section for every price range.

The box office is open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, so feel free to call 401.596.8663 or purchase tickets online. If you know anyone who would love to attend, please share this with them! Better yet, share it on Facebook.

Chorus of Westerly
George E. Kent Performance Hall
119 High Street
Westerly, RI 02891
401-596-8663
Facebook

Lip Sync Battle on Jimmy Fallon

If Jimmy Fallon’s late night show didn’t include these fun segments (gotta love the performances with toy instruments), I probably wouldn’t watch it at all. I’m completely over the celebrity interview and musical guest concept. Not to say I don’t love Jimmy Fallon alone, but the activities he does with his guests make it seem like you’re hanging out at his house.

After this segment I really wanted to dry hump Joseph Gordon Levitt. He’s not even my type…

Fiona Apple’s “Hot Knife”

This video came out back in July and I just watched it for the first time yesterday. What the heck? I used to be up on anything Fiona Apple-related.

Here’s a tidbit about me: back in the late 1990s I ran a Fiona Apple fan site called Fiona Apple Territory (what a dumb name) and any popularity it actually gained, it’s because I piggy-backed off of a couple other more popular fan sites. I was a fifteen year old girl with one computer and a dial-up connection who spent most of her time in Yahoo! Chat rooms. Reaaaaally big on technology back then.

Anyways, the video. It was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed a number of her music videos over 10 years ago. It’s a simple video as is the song. My favorite part (of the song) is at the end where she’s singing all of the verses/phrases at the same time, almost like a fugue.

The latest recording of hers is this beautiful rendition of Pure Imagination. It was recorded for a Chipotle ad. It’s hauntingly beautiful.

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Fiona Apple, I’m still a fan of yours after all these years.

Have a Listen: Laura Mvula

Have you ever heard of Laura Mvula? She mixes soul and jazz together in the best way possible. Do you know how I know it’s good? When I listen to her music I close my eyes, tilt my head back, scrunch my nose like I just got a whiff of something nasty, and say, “ooh, that’s good.

It’s a reflex. It just happens.

A few of my favorite tracks, also on the Sing to the Moon album:

If you want to listen to more tracks, she’s on YouTube and Spotify.

[ image via ]

The Summer Playlist

I know you’re probably sitting around less and actually going out to do things. with people! And that’s cool. So here’s a soundtrack for your summer activities. It’s good driving music too. Go on with your bad beach hair-don’t care self.

spotify:user:ermabasila:playlist:4pvxFG1VHIgF75W0gnG52h

The track list:

  1. Get Lucky – Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams
  2. Finger Back – Vampire Weekend
  3. Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes
  4. Take My Hand – Charli XCX
  5. East Coast Girl – Cayucas
  6. Ha Ha – Mates of State
  7. While I’m Alive – STRFKR
  8. Bring the Noize – M.I.A.
  9. Modern Jesus – Portugal. The Man
  10. Climbing Walls – Strange Talk
  11. Falling – Haim
  12. The Mother We Share – CHVRCHES
  13. Unbreak My Heart – Weezer
  14. Let Me Back In – Rilo Kiley

[ images tumblr & tumblr ]

The Magic Flute

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I took a class in college that focused primarily on works by Mozart. I analyzed a variety of his compositions, from concertos to masses and the famous unfinished Requiem. We also studied a few operas like Die zauberflöte, or The Magic Flute. Being a huge fan of opera, I enjoyed it immensely.

Thanks to Netflix for being ever so random, a recent movie adaptation of The Magic Flute became available to stream. I may or not have forced Aiden to listen to some scenes right before bedtime one night just so I can try to sing the high F note in one of the Queen of the Night’s songs.

Made in part of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birthday back in 2005, the film re-imagines the characters living in World War I. Director Kenneth Branagh puts Tamino and Papageno in the trenches as soldiers but still allowed them the opportunity to follow their hearts to find their mates. It’s a nice love story with an evil mother-in-law added in. All of the actors did an amazing job and their singing voices are flawless. While I love the original score very dearly, I tip my hat to Mr. Branagh for making an interesting film adaptation.

Here’s the trailer and a few of my favorite arias:

http://youtu.be/HTMn0HAOqLc

[ Photo via ]