27 Oct 2020

The Art of Music

Cooking with all its different modalities is my website’s main focus. However my interest encompasses more than cooking. Some of my activities I enjoy beside cooking, include art, outdoor activities, music and exercise. At this time I will examine music and give you my interpretation of it.

Our bodies are sacred temples. We must pay attention to every aspect of our temple from the foundation to the very top of the temple. In other words, we need a holistic approach to our bodies to obtain and maintain optimum health. We all know the body is composed of many different systems. We have the cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory and reproductive systems, to name a few. However the body is unique, complicated and complex system where all systems are harmoniously, synchronistically, intertwine, what effects one system effects them all.

A holistic approach encompasses the whole being, all the systems, mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. This is the reason why I have blended music into my life as a major component.

If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout. Studies have shown that music produces several positive effects on our body and brain. Music activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory. Research has also shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, and mental alertness.

Therapeutically music has played a big role throughout the years, Evidences was presented as a result of a experiment conducted in 1914 with patients undergoing surgery. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that phonograph in operating room was a means of calming and distracting patients from the horror of the situation as they lie awake during surgery. Today, we have anesthesia, music is used to calm nerves before surgery. Valium type drugs are used as sedatives but they can have a variety of negative side effects including sometimes making people even more agitated. A study was performed to see if relaxing music had a greater anxiety reducing effect than a standard dose of drugs. The results revealed that playing soft jazz worked significantly better than the drugs. The music produced lower anxiety scores, lower heart rate, and lower blood pressure and the difference in the side effects of relaxing music compared to the drug is obvious. There were none, soft jazz causes no post-operative hangover.

The results of listening to music can sometimes be mystifying. Music has been found to stimulate parts of the brain. Studies have demonstrated that music enhances the memory of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, including a study conducted at UC Irvine, which showed that scores on memory tests of Alzheimer’s patients improved when they listened to classical music. Other studies have found that classical music enhances memory retrieval, including Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. The thought is that classical music helps fire off synapses, creating or re-energizing brain pathways previously left dormant.

Music is present in every part of our lives. Our spiritual rituals are framed with songs, children learn the alphabet through song and the malls and cafes we frequent are rarely silent. Did you also know that early childhood is critical time to support children’s desire to sing, move and play with sound. Research shows that music and music experiences support the formation of important brain connections that are being established over the first three years of life.

Music triggers the hormones oxytocin and serotonin, responsible for bonding, trust and intimacy. Music brings people together, allowing us to experience the same emotions such as, happiness after watching a funny movie, sorrow and sadness while attending a funeral or fear during a earthquake. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit.

In conclusion, music is one of the greatest creation of mankind. Creativity in the pure and undiluted form is the true definition of music. Music is an important part of our life as it is a way of expressing our feeling as well as emotions. Some people consider music as a way to escape from the pain of life. Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. It gives you relief and allows you to reduce stress. Music is a powerful therapy that will make you calm down and in the moment of joy, it will make you cheerful. Furthermore, it develops the mind and boosts your self confidence. Music plays a more important role in our life than just being a source of entertainment.

As stated earlier, this is my interpretation of music. I sincerely hope after reading this you will look upon music with a similar interpretation an recognize it’s many treasures. Signing off for now.

12 Jul 2020

5 Famous Jazz Musicians You Need to Know

 

Jazz is one of the most popular genres of music because it incorporates almost every culture and ethnicity. It may have gotten its start in New Orleans more than a century ago, but it brought in European and African influences while encouraging improvisation to create something unique.

Instead of playing sheet music, the early pioneers of jazz used their ability to pick up tunes by ear to replicate them.

If you are starting your journey into the world of jazz, then these are the musicians that you’ll want to get to know right away.

Jazz Artists That Should Be in Your Collection

1. Louis Armstrong

Armstrong helped to bring this genre into the spotlight. He had an infectious personality, an iconic trumpet, and a gravelly voice that makes you want to sing along. His work focused more on soloists than collective improvisation or call-and-response. He recorded 55 records during a three-year period in the 1920s, which means there’s plenty of material to enjoy.

2. Duke Ellington

Ellington is one of the most influential composers in the history of American music. He wrote over 3,000 compositions during his career, with several of the tunes you likely know already. Some of his famous works include Satin Doll and It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing). The combination of his personality and talent makes his work part of today’s standard jazz repertoire.

3. Charlie Parker

Parker pioneered the bebop style of jazz with his partner Dizzy Gillespie. It was so far ahead of its time that today’s musicians in this genre still use the structure. It uses a style that’s fast and incredibly technical without robbing the melody of its glory. This work would eventually turn jazz into something more for listening than dancing.

4. Miles Davis

Davis played in Parker’s band for a while, giving him some exposure to the new bebop style. He then formed a group that became famous during the hard bop era for the genre, but he delved into free jazz and the West Coast scene at times. During the latter part of his career, he worked on fusion techniques that incorporated electronic instruments. His most influential work might have been his talent to spot young musicians to encourage them to play together, creating numerous bands that influence jazz to this day.

5. John Coltrane

Coltrane is one of the best saxophone players that ever lived. His greatest innovation for the world of jazz is something we call the Coltrane Changes today. It’s a harmonic progression variation that uses substitute chords over the common ones used in the genre, leading to more options for improvisation. His work was so profound that he won a Pulitzer Prize 40 years after his death in 1967.

The world of jazz offers several periods that are worth exploring. Everyone has a favorite that they enjoy, but all of them are worth hearing. Start with these artists, and then branch out to find others that you love!

10 Jul 2020

Best Jazz Albums of All Time for Beginners

 

Jazz is an influential genre of music that often suffers from a poor public reputation. It is an art form that’s incredibly unique, but the melodies often get portrayed during uncomfortable situations.

It is far more than Kenny G playing elevator music. 

The best jazz albums of all time are essential listening for anyone who wants to explore this genre beyond its surface. This list can take you through the pivotal pieces that have even helped to shape what you can hear on today’s Top 40 radio stations.

1. Kind of Blue by Miles Davis

This album offers tight compositions and flawless performances. The band that Davis had at the time features three of the genre’s greatest minds: Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley. It’s often listed as the most famous piece of all time because the atmosphere feels deliberate and intelligent without feeling elitist.

2. Chet Baker Sings by Chet Baker

Although it isn’t the first album that features Baker on the trumpet, it is his singing debut. The vocals are light and tight, delivering excellent renditions of standards for the genre like “My Funny Valentine.” The sequence of compositions chosen is precisely measured to provide the warm, cozy feeling that you get spending time with your loved ones. Choose it when you want to set a specific mood.

3. Out to Lunch by Eric Dolphy

Although Dolphy died at the young age of 36, his influence on jazz is still immeasurable. This album is one of the best in history that turns complex rhythms into effortless listening. It feels straightforward and honest, but you also know that there’s a lot of love behind every note. You’ll experience some experimental efforts as well, including the vibraphone on the title track. The solo forms are in perfect balance, even if some of the structures were well ahead of their time.

4. A Love Supreme by John Coltrane

Playing and recording versions of other albums and songs was a tradition of the jazz genre in the 1950s and 1960s. It was an industry-wide effort of the music business to promote specific works. Even artists like Gary Lewis and the Playboys only got a couple of original tunes per album. Everyone agrees that this Coltrane masterpiece is off-limits to that perspective. It is the masterpiece of one of jazz’s most influential artists. It will make you fall in love with the man’s work.

5. Return to Forever by Chick Corea

Although this album might not make most lists, it’s still essential listening material for the budding jazz enthusiast. The unique rhythms that come from the drums demand your interest. The keyboarding skills and atmospheres are also fantastic to consider, but the real magic is from vocalist Flora Purim. It is one of the rare options that sounds better in headphones than on vinyl.

You can also listen to anything from Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Pearl Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, and Herbie Hancock to have an incredible experience in the world of jazz.

15 May 2020

Everything You Wanted to Know About Louis Armstrong

 

Louis Armstrong is arguably the most influential person in the history of jazz. Although names like Miles Davis or Coltrane enter that conversation, Satchmo revolutionized the genre with his approach to composition and performance.

These little-known facts about Armstrong can help you to understand his approach to music a little better.

6 Interesting Facts About Louis Armstrong

1. Jewish immigrants helped him to buy his first instrument.

Armstrong was born in a section of New Orleans called “The Battlefield.” It was a region stricken by poverty. His father abandoned the family early, and his mom was only a teenager at the time. That meant his grandmother raised him, and a neighboring family spent $5 to purchase his first coronet. That’s why he always wore a Star of David pendant.

2. He learned how to play music in juvenile detention.

Armstrong fired a pistol in public at the age of 11 during a New Year’s Eve celebration. That earned him a stint in detention for 18 months. That’s where he learned how to play the cornet and the bugle because of the efforts of the music teacher at the facility.

3. Armstrong was one of the first celebrities arrested for drug possession.

He often called marijuana something that was a thousand times better than whiskey. Armstrong and his drummer were arrested for smoking some outside of the Cotton Club after a show in California. He would spend nine days in prison, but it wouldn’t stop him from using the substance regularly throughout his life.

4. He managed severe lip damage throughout his career.

The amount of time Armstrong spent playing the trumpet while touring would cause calluses to form on his lips. The damage was so severe at times that the tissues would split them open. The scar tissue that formed made fellow musicians say that his lips looked like they were made from wood. It would get so bad at times that Armstrong would use a razor blade to cut the tissues. The condition today is referred to as Satchmo’s Syndrome.

5. Armstrong served as an ambassador for the United States.

The State Department developed a program during the 1950s to send entertainers on goodwill tours to improve the image and reputation of the U.S. overseas. Armstrong was already performing concerts all over the world at the time, but he would become an official diplomat in 1960. He took a three-month tour across Africa during that time. When he arrived in the Katanga Province in the Congo, two warring sides called a one-day truce so that they could hear him play.

6. His music topped The Beatles on the charts.

Armstrong recorded the title track for the musical “Hello, Dolly!” in late 1963. He didn’t expect much from the composition, but it became a runaway hit once the show reached Broadway. At the age of 62, Armstrong became the oldest musician in American history to have a song chart at the top. He displaced two songs from The Beatles at the time when they were at their highest popularity levels.

Armstrong continued to perform throughout the 1960s with a career that spanned five decades. He would play a two-week engagement in 1971 against the advice of his doctor, suffered a heart attack, and went right back to his music until a second one took his life while he slept. 

14 May 2020

How Jazz Influences Modern Music

 

Jazz is like a giant sponge. Although it takes a unique approach to music, the genre isn’t afraid to incorporate ideas from other sounds. This process allows the melodies to continuously evolve while each previous effort remains relevant.

The sounds from the 1920s are just as inviting today as the new artists that promote jazz in the 2020s.

It’s fair to say that excellent music doesn’t come with an expiration date. When you listen to some of today’s popular music, you’ll find elements from jazz in there, still tickling your ears. Here are some examples.

How Is Jazz Still Relevant in Today’s Music?

1. Harmonies

Many of the chord progressions found in jazz are now in several styles of popular music. Folk, blues, R&B, and some rock use the famous II-V-I sounds that get reinvented multiple times in songs. Advanced processes, such as chord extensions, also came from this genre. If you listen to the instruments in the background, what you’re hearing is a form of jazz.

2. Rhythms

Jazz is unique because it allows any rhythm to be part of the genre. The most famous version might be the swing era because it caused people to dance, but this music also created the shuffle groove that’s found in the blues. It’s heavy on syncopation, which is a trait you can find in rock and country. There are even Latin influences found in its structure, including bossa novas and sambas.

3. Hip Hop

One could argue that the hip-hop genre is the one that’s most influenced by jazz today. The samples that today’s artists take from yesterday’s geniuses are enormous. You’ll hear hundreds of accompaniments and rhythms looped into a backdrop that serves as modern music. When you look at songs that have charted since the 1920s, Herbie Hancock has had about 300 samples reach your ears.

Hip-hop is also one of the few genres that embrace the concept of improvisation that jazz introduced.

4. Pop

Pop music stands for “popular,” so there was a time when jazz was always topping the charts. After the influences of Elvis Presley and other transformative artists, the genre became the ghostwriter for different styles of music. You’ll still see it performed in many Top 40 arrangements, including Michael Jackson’s collaboration with Quincy Jones on the “Thriller” album, which sold 66 million copies and is the best-selling album of all time.

If you listen to the song “Beat It,” the spelling out of the minor 9th chord in the primary riff has a definitive jazz influence. The arranged for “The Lady in My Life” is another excellent example. Even the melody lines of “Baby Be Mine” come from the lessons that jazz taught.

Today’s music continues to carry the torch that yesterday’s jazz musicians brought to the world. By tracking the various melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic tools these pioneers created, you can hear components of songs from over 100 years ago that sound like they should be on the radio today. 

01 May 2020

Best Jazz Festivals to Visit at Least Once in Your Lifetime

 

Jazz is the quintessential genre for music. The variety of styles and rhythms it contains can offer something to almost everyone. It can be fast, slow, structured, erratic, or relaxing – and the melodies can sometimes make you want to dance.

When you experience jazz, then you’re encountering a unique journey that takes you somewhere that your soul wants to go. If you attend one of the best festivals in the world that celebrates this music, then that experience becomes even more profound.

List of the Best Jazz Festivals in the World

1. Copenhagen Jazz Festival

Held in July each year, this event in Denmark has been held annually since 1979. It’s one of the most distinguished celebrations for jazz in the world today, providing over a week’s worth of entertainment. Poetry, kid’s jazz, and modern compositions reach the stage each year. About 300 concerts in total headline the festival.

2. Clearwater Jazz Holiday

This Florida event recently celebrated its 30th annual festival, providing four days and nights of jazz each October. Over 35,000 people come to the Sunshine State to enjoy the music at Coachman Park. You’ll experience a wide variety of styles and influences here, and the warm beaches in autumn are another incentive to come.

3. Java Jazz Festival

This unique festival is held in Jakarta, Indonesia, each year. It’s the biggest event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere. You’ll find international artists coming to play the stage, but it also features local musicians so that they get a chance to show off their talents. Yura Yunita got a significant boost because of this celebration of jazz.

4. Cape Town Jazz Festival

This event is the largest gathering of jazz aficionados on the African continent. It’s been held for over 20 consecutive years, often featuring a lineup of the world’s top artists. You’ll also see an international list of up-and-coming musicians and coordinating events around the city to make it a one-of-a-kind experience.

5. Montreal International Jazz Festival

This event is held each summer in Quebec. It is often referred to as the top jazz festival in the world in terms of attendance, with over 2 million people attending in some years. Over 3,000 artists come to play the stage from 30 different countries in its biggest years. No matter what your style or preference might be, there’s something for you to enjoy in Montreal.

6. Montreaux Jazz Festival

Held in July each year in Switzerland, about 300,000 people attend this festival annually. It was founded in 1967, making it one of the earliest international large-scale celebrations of jazz. It draws fans from all over the world, especially with the opportunities for outdoor adventures readily available in the Alps.

Jazz may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the festivals that celebrate this music genre are worth attending at least once in your life. It’s a celebration of who we are as a people and as a culture. 

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