Sunday, April 20, 2014

Music Theory 101 #5: The Basic Skills of Music; Rhythm: Pt. 2

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Music Theory 101 series on ASMTB! I hate that last week was a dud but I had a lot going on I had to take care of (mostly pertaining to updating the site soon!) and posting sort of slipped my mind. I am really sorry about that, but I hope this episode and the updates will make up for this little mishap!

Today's lesson is to continue talking about rhythm in comparison to the six basics of music. If you would like to follow along with the previous ones then I made a tab above (If you're reading this from the newsletter then head on over and show us some love). As I mentioned in the last post, duration is the length a pitch is produced. I failed to bring up that it is not strictly related to pitches, but can measure rests as well. Rests are something that are not commonly mentioned because they are simpler than pitches, however they have an equal amount of importance compared relative to music. Music can be seen as a very carefully planned balance of sound and silence. Composers such as John Cage and Penderecki made sure that it was clear composers and musicians should know these differences. If you are interested in hearing these pieces, check out "4:33" by John Cage and "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" by Penderecki. Both of them are earfuls for two different reasons! Digressing from modern music and back onto my last post, we see that I explained how music is divided counting wise and what the time signature is. Now we need to continue and explain more on these concepts.

Music Terms:

~Dotted Rhythm
~Simple & Compound Meter
~Tuplets (Triplets, Duplet, etc.)

Music does not only divide two ways, but it is possible to divide it into more divisions. The first way is to use dotted rhythm. Dotted rhythms is when you add a dot after the note. The dot represents adding half of the original value to the note. So if you add a dot to a half note, then you have a half note PLUS another quarter note, making it equal to three quarter notes. Also, adding a dot after a whole note makes it a half note added onto the whole note. If you want to add more dots, then you add half of the last value. So a double dotted half note is one half note, PLUS a quarter note PLUS an eighth note. So you half three and a half quarter notes.

The uses of this makes it possible to have compound meters. The best way to explain compound meter is through actual examples. If we take a look at most music, one can feel music in a two or as in four. This is called simple meter. It is either feeling a beat, or pulse, as "one & two &" or something that can be subdivided into half. All of these include 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, or anything related to them. Compound meter comes into play for meters such as 6/8, or 12/8 where the beat is broken into 3. For a more classical and audible examples of this, listen to Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" compared to his "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" (Click on the names to hear audio). Eine Kleine is in a simple meter because the division of the beat is in two, versus Jesu which is in 12/8 and is subdivided in three.

If you do not want to write a piece that is completely one way the entire time, you can use tuplets. Tuplets is the generic term used to define a rhythm in a different rhythmic subdivision. The most common example of these are triplets. Triplets are when you fit three notes in the space of two, such as fitting three quarter notes within a two quarter notes. The reverse is true as well, you can fit 2 notes in the space of 3. Using a duple, you can fit two notes within three. It is even possible to fit more in a space.

Before this drags on much longer, I'm going to wrap up rhythm here. Later on, I'll write a full post on polyrhythms and other cool things one can use rhythm for. For now however, this will be the end of this discussion and I'll start with the next topic of this series. Until then, this is Sulli signing off! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Alessandro Scarlatti: Supreme Musical Innovator

Ok, folks, due to prepping for sophmore review, superjuries, end of semester projects, and exams, my brain is complete mush this weekend, and I really don't want to subject you to reading brain mush. So, in lieu of writing the next post in our music history series, I shall make a brief digression and instead present to you a portion of said end-of-semester project for my music history course. Please enjoy a condensed biography of the great Baroque composer Alessandro Scarlatti. 

Pietro Alessandro Gaspare Scarlatti is one of the most influential composers of the Italian Baroque period. Scarlatti wrote extensively for the musical theatres of his day: cantatas, serenatas, and of course dozens of full length operas, the genre in which his influence is most recognized. Church music also makes up a good portion of his works, in the form of oratorios and masses. Later in his life, Scarlatti touched on instrumental music, although little survives, and seems to be merely diversionary rather than a primary focus. He left this type of composition to his famous son Domenico. Spending his life rotating between several major Italian cities—Rome, Venice and Naples—and patronized by such kingpins as the Medici family, Scarlatti was able to spread his influence through many outlets and raise the bar for both opera specifically and general compositional practice for the rest of the world.

Scarlatti was born in 1660, in the heart of the Baroque period, to a family already primed to produce great musicians. His father Pietro was a singer, and four of his six siblings were also professional musicians. Scarlatti would go on to continue the tradition, with the composer Domenico Scarlatti as his most famous son, as well as two other children earning their own respect as performers. His family moved to Rome when he was 12, and he married into high society in 1678. Nothing is known of his early musical training, but such training obviously took place, for his first opera, Gli equivovi nel sembiante, was produced shortly before his 19th birthday. There is some speculation that Scarlatti may have trained under Roman composer Carissimi, who passed away when Scarlatti was in his teens. This speculation is mostly based on the strong influence of Carissimi’s style seen in Scarlatti’s early work.

The success of this first opera threw Scarlatti into the notice of many of the aristocracy of Rome as well as the fairly international audience of Roman courts and ambassadors. Before long, he was appointed maestro di capella, or choirmaster, for the court of the mysterious Queen Christina of Sweden, a noblewoman estranged from her home country upon conversion to Catholicism. She supported Scarlatti in his work as he continued to write and produce operas. He was in some disfavor with the Church at this point for two reasons. First, opera was a controversial subject at the time, with edicts from as high up as the Vatican condemning it as indecent and liberal. There was also some outcry when Scarlatti’s secular musicians were brought in for church performances. The second reason was that Scarlatti’s sister Anna, a popular singer, was accused of inappropriate behavior with more than one church official. Despite these issues, at least two cardinals commissioned oratorios from Scarlatti for Lenten services.

Fame did not keep Scarlatti in Rome for very long, however. Shortly after he produced his wildly popular opera, Il Pompeo, he moved his family to Naples, the city which would become his favorite and eventually the home of his old age. The next 18 years were spent here, writing operas and oratorios, as well as sacred works and chamber cantatas for private performance. It was during this period that Scarlatti began to develop his own unique opera style which in turn would become the prescription for other composers of the genre to follow. Characteristics of Scarlatti’s operas include arias in ternary form, very little music independent of the texts, and the lowered importance of the chorus. Although operas such as La Rosaura and Pirro e Demetrio received most acclaim, some modern scholars feel that his chamber cantatas were the outlet for “the most profound of his musical ideas.”

It was also in Naples that Scarlatti received the patronage of Ferdinando de Medici, and celebrated the birth of several of his children, including Domenico. He even wrote and directed a serenata for the visit of King Phillip V of Spain, a celebration in which his rival, Corelli, also participated but received less than favorable reviews. The serenta, Venere, Adone, et Amore, was composed near the end of his time in Naples, in 1696. The occasion was an annual summertime festival in Naples with the guest of honor being a newly appointed Spanish viceroy, well known to be a patron of the arts. Scarlatti turned out at least two other popular serenatas this same year, working with the poet Francesco Paglia.

In 1702, he visited the Medici family in Florence, but did not find the success he was looking for, and returned to Rome. For the next 20 years, Scarlatti, along with his son Domenico, moved from city to city, searching for the elusive position which would provide both artistic satisfaction and financial stability. While this period was in general a very disappointing era of Scarlatti’s life, there were a few high points. In 1706, he was inducted into the Arcadian Academy, a sort of literary honor society originally formed by Scarlatti’s old patron, Queen Christina. The year after, Il Mitridate Eupatore, one of his most acclaimed operas, was performed in Venice.

In 1722, Scarlatti left Domenico, who was now earning respect as a composer in his own right, in Rome and retired to Naples to live in relative poverty until his death in 1725. Although his later years brought him fewer public accolades than his early successes, there were still those who appreciated his genius. One Neapolitan newspaper stated that “as [Scarlatti] increases in age, so all the more does he acquire new and sublime ideas in his compositions.” His tombstone, with an epitaph written by Cardinal Ottoboni, longtime collaborator with Scarlatti, sums it all up with the title of Musices Instaurator Maximus, or, Supreme Musical Innovator.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Reformation and Counter-Reformation: Why We Don't All Sing in Latin Anymore

In the previous installment of this series, we concluded with a discussion of the madrigal and how it, in some ways, was the best example of Renaissance style. The very end of the Renaissance, however, brought about some very interesting developments. As history continued to march on, with political, social and religious change, music was right there in the middle of it. There were two topics I was hoping to cover today, but as I wrote the body of the article, I realized that they are each so important to the history and development of music as we know it, that they deserve their own posts. Today, we’ll look at the music of the Reformation and Counter-reformation, the influential composers of this phenomenon, and how sacred music had to some extent come full circle. The second idea, which we’ll explore in a couple weeks—is how secular composers followed the trends of the other arts—visual and language arts—by showing extreme mannerism in their styles.

The Reformation, as nearly anybody would tell you, began in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of Wittenberg Chapel in Germany. If I were to give you the whole backstory leading up to this event, I’d need to start a whole new series. Suffice it to say that Luther and several others began to realize that the one of the reasons the Catholic Church held such a strong cultural hold on the people was the fact that few people any more actually knew what was being taught. All the services—those beautiful masses that we’ve discussed—were in Latin. Any sermons, any scriptures—all Latin. With the spread of the Church across Europe, the large majority of the people who worshiped in the church could not understand a word of what they were told. And if you don’t understand it, you can’t refute it. This allowed corruption and extortion to creep in, and the common parishioner was none the wiser.

In order to combat this corruption, Luther broke away from the Church, translated the scriptures and services into the vernacular, and started teaching the average villager how to understand for himself. He did write a German mass, but he also began to compose and teach simple chorales (a vernacular version of the Latin motet). These were intended for congregation singing, and home devotions, bringing sacred music out of the choir loft and to the people. The texts and melodies were either adaptations of Latin chant, or newly composed by Luther and others in the movement.

John Calvin and his reformation in Switzerland and France produced a generous collection of accessible Psalm settings, and the English quickly followed suit. They dropped the mass all together in favor of a simpler service with anthems in English. There were elaborate versions for trained choirs and special occasions, but the large bulk of the music was sung by the congregation, and required little training. Because music was such a part of devotion for these people, it was the religious reformers that did much of the writing and composing of new pieces for worship. Many of these have become the modern hymns of the Protestant Church.
The other half of this coin is the counter-reformation, or the religious reformation accomplished from within the Catholic Church rather than by breaking away from it. With so much upheaval, the Church leaders realized that things weren’t running as they should, and that it was time to re-evaluate. And here we come to the composer that many consider to be the perfection of Renaissance counterpoint.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was born in the 1520’s and lived to the end of the century, working at St. Peter’s Basilica for much of his life. He fine-tuned his counterpoint with such finesse that his sound is like none other. Some of the qualities seen in his work include scoring for 4-6 voices but with each voice utilizing only a very tight-range, eliminating voice crossing. His use of consonance and dissonance was very delicate, with enough dissonance to create a satisfying resolution but keeping the imperfect consonances on the strong beats. This practice went a long way in training the public to hear pieces in either the major or minor keys, leaving behind some of the earlier modes. His rhythm flows easily, not obscuring the text, but emphasizing it. One other strong characteristic includes the elimination of parallel fifths and octaves. Any theory student will have been beaten over the head with this rule, but listening to the full, rich sound of Palestrina’s compositions proves the point.

His most famous piece, the Pope Marcellus Mass, has because the stuff of legend. It is said that during the Council of Trent—a meeting of church leaders to discuss reforms—nearly banned polyphonic music from the church, citing the focus on elaborate production rather than the text. According to the story, it was Palestrina’s mass that convinced the council that polyphonic music could be uplifting and sacred, not distracting. Listen to it for a minute--or 30--and you’ll see why the Council was so affected by this piece of genius.

He had contemporaries that pushed his rules somewhat. Tomas Luis deVictoria is a Spanish composer who brought an exotic flair to sacred composition without obscuring its use for worship. He was one of the first to being using chromatics (sharps or flats not included in the key) as a way of emphasizing words or intensifying cadences.

And so we see how sacred music began with very simple, text-based compositions intended only to enhance the devotion of the participant. Slowly, the various chants and services became more elaborate as artists explored the possibilities of this new medium. In time, church authorities felt that the meaning of the text was being lost, and the complex sacred motets of the early Renaissance were becoming useless for worship. Now here at the end of the Renaissance, the church—both Catholic and Protestant—has found a way to maintain the beauty and complexity of its music without losing the original purpose.

Next post, we'll look at the craziness that was the end of the Renaissance in the world of secular music, and how it paved the way for the Baroque era of Monteverdi, Corelli, Handel and Bach. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Music Theory 101 #4: The Basic Skills of Music; Rhythm: Pt. 1

Hello and welcome to the next part of the Music Theory 101 series. In our last post we finished our discussion on the first basic principle of music, pitch. For a complete coverage on that topic then click here for the complete list of posts, but here is the quick summary: Pitch is the first of 6 basic principles of music that helps define music. Pitch is the sound that we hear. Think of it as if it’s the clay for our sculpture because without pitch we would not have music. It is the foundation of sound and the foundation of music. Also as mentioned previously, it is measured in Hertz or waves per second. The more waves that pass by a point per second, the higher the frequency is produced and the higher the pitch is. Lower the number of waves that pass by the same point lowers the frequency and the pitch. Finally, the pitch is notated in music by placing notes on the staff. The two common staffs are treble and bass clefs. Each other indicates their own range of notes, and have their own shapes but remember that there are more than those two. There is one more thing I need to bring up. The thing I have yet to mention yet is key signatures, but I will make sure it has its own episode later on after I cover the basic six parts to music.

Music Terms:
Duration (Length)
Note values (Quarter note, eighth note, sixteenth note, etc.)
Dotted notes
Time Signature

Moving on from pitch is the next thing on is the length of the pitch, mentioned as duration in the first post. As I mentioned, duration is the length the pitch is produced. So it can be played at a certain rate (say 440 Hertz for example) for as long as you want it to be played. However, in order to keep everyone together, there must be a system to make sure that they are together. This is where beats come in. Beats or pulses help define what we feel drives it along. For example, if you've tapped your toe to a piece of music then you understand the way beats work. However, we need to begin by explaining the math behind beats before we combine everything.

Source: PocketMusician
Notes are broken down into values much like fractions are. The best place to start is the quarter note. The quarter note works like a fraction because you combine them and divide them. A quarter note can be subdivided into two eighth notes, or four sixteenth notes. Something good to know is the more it is subdivided, the more flags it will show. So a sixteenth note has 2 flags then an eighth note, which has one. Reversely, two quarter notes equal a half note and two half notes equal a whole note. Just as the smaller notes gain flags, the patter for these is not quite as obvious. The half note looks like a quarter note without a solid body. The whole note is like the half note but without a stem. These are not the only division however because there are other ways to combine them. The largest note value that is notated, but is not the largest possible is a breve (pronouced Brev) or a double whole note. The smallest most commonly seen is a 64th note, or a 16th note of a 16th note. These extremes are not usually used, but it helps to know they exist.

Another thing to understand is how dotted notes work. Dotted notes work as their value plus the value of half of itself. So if you have a dotted half note, then it is read as a half note plus the value of half of itself or a quarter note. So dotted half notes are worth a half note and a quarter note, or three quarter notes. Same for a dotted eighth note. It is worth an eighth note plus a sixteenth, or half its value. So it is worth 3 sixteenth notes in length.

4 notes per measure
quarter note gets the beat
Now that I've explained how beats work, and how to visually see them, time to wrap everything together. The way most composers and musicians group beats into manageable groups is the time signature. The time signature is the fraction like section of the staff that shows us where the beats of the piece are. The time signature also makes it possible to break up music into measures. A measure is a section of the staff that is enclosed by two bars. Each bar contains the right amount of beats to follow the time signature.The trick to the time signature is understanding how it works. Each number represents a type of division of time. The numerator (the number on top) represents how many beats are in a measure. It can be any number you want but commonly things are either in 3, 4 or 6. The denominator (the bottom number) is what value gets the beat. There is a limited number that can be used for the denominator because these are the fractions. So in the example above 4/4 time means 4 notes are in a measure and the quarter note gets the beat.

Next time I will go into more detail about how these work together. Thanks for reading and sorry about the delay of this post!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Motets to Madrigals: The Shift from Sacred to Secular

As promised in my previous article in this series, there is one more expansion of the troping principle that became more or less the final elaboration of the many forms of chant. If you recall, troping refers to the practice of adding extra notes, or even extra text to a pre-existing chant. This was very important to the Church, as they held the original texts sacred, untouchable. It was perfectly fine to expand upon or embellish the text, but in no way could you remove the original content.

Before the 13th century, there was polyphonic (multi-voiced) music but it was all done by all embellishing original chant melodies, with the original sacred Latin texts. However, as music became more accessible to the common man, somebody decided that they wanted things to get a little more interesting. So, instead of a single text with multiple voices, they set a different text to each voice. Motets were often three-voice compositions, with one chant text, and the others simply contemporary poetry. They even went so far as to mix languages. It was not uncommon to have a sacred Latin text being sung in the tenor voice--the voice closest to the original chant, while the other voices were set with secular, sometimes even bawdy, French poetry.

These were wildly popular and used for both sacred services and secular entertainment. This shift continued in conjunction with the shift in worldviews. Up until this time, the Church had been the center of religious, political and social life for much of the world. But as history moved from the medieval times, or the Dark Ages, into the Renaissance, culture changed. Humanism became an acceptable school of thought, and, as in any major cultural revolution, music was right there in the thick of things.

Sacred music was still necessary, and most popular composers wrote masses for the Church. However, they no longer were bound by the original chant melodies. They would take their own secular songs and recycle the melodies for sacred compositions. Melody and harmony also took on new characteristics. No longer were the perfect consonances--the fifth and the octave--the ideal sound. Instead, the people learned to love the rich sound of thirds and sixths. This was particularly prevalent in music of English composers such at John Dunstable, so much so that a French writer termed this sound "contenance angloise" or, "countenance of the Englishman."

Influential composers from this time of exploration and advancement include Guillaume du Fay, who was an important composer of the Burgundian school of thought in the early 1400s. He wrote mostly sacred music but did not hesitate to steal themes and motives from his secular compositions. Another of his contributions was the idea of a very complex rhythmic continuity in his works. He would take a basic rhythmic idea, and use it throughout a mass in either expanded or compacted versions. This practice is called isorhythm, and became a staple of compositions for next hundred years.

As the century progressed, the focal point of compositional ideas moved from the Burgundian region of France to the northern Europe, known as the Franco-Netherlands school of composition. This included greats such as Johannes Ockeghem from Paris and Josquin des Prez from northern France. These composers wrote complex secular pieces, for the entertainment and enlightenment of the well-educated. The idea that their music was so complicated that only a scholar could understand it become known as musica reservata, or music reserved for those who can appreciate it.

One of the most popular song forms of the day was the madrigal. These were often written in 5 or 6 voices, with popular poetry (often sonnets) as the text. Word painting was one of the characteristics of this style. Melody passages or harmonic ideas were used to reinforce the text. For instance, quick rising passages for a line about a sunrise, or low intense harmonies for despair.

This video gives an example of a madrigal from the mid-1500s, titled "Da le belle contrade d'oriente" by Cipriano de Rore, a native of Flanders. The text of this particular work is a Petrarchian sonnet declaring undying love before a painful farewell.

This style, with its complex rhythms and intricate symbolism became the pinnacle of Renaissance music. It also set the stage for further development as cultures and ideas continued to evolve. Next episode, we will meet of one of the most influential composers of all time. Looking forward to it!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Review: Hit Me With Music by Uri Bram and Anu Pattabiraman

Hello everyone! After eight months of waiting, it is time to review a book that you have been waiting to hear about. Today I am going to review Hit Me with Music by Anupama (Anu) Pattabiraman and Uri Bram. Before I start the review, I would like to say thank you to Anu for donating a copy to review.
To begin this review, I feel like there was a few things that I do not think was in all the editions but was in mine. In the edition I read and reviewed there was several cases of double and triple spaces. I have heard of errors like this happening hence why I am assuming it was my computer. Also there was not any page numbers. The Kindle app set there was “locations” instead of page numbers. I could be wrong about it, but just in case this was something with my copy or how I added it to Kindle. If there are any other reports of this happening, then feel free to comment them to me.
With these slight slip ups aside, there was a lot to really like about this book. The first thing I really liked was the diagrams and the examples. They are very useful in explaining concepts as complex as these. Using Do Re Mi from “The Sound of Music” to explain solfege and Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi to explain rhythm had me laughing. They are rarely used together to explain something from a traditional standpoint, let alone in music all together. Along with that, the concept of explaining how intervals are derived and some scales were explained really well. There is a lot of information that is not commonly taught in school unless you are in graduate school or learn to compose. While these are wonderful points, I only have one real “complaint” about the book.
The main thing I did not really like about the book is it appears to be in a sort of “theory limbo”. I would like to view the book one of two ways: A.) from the perspective of a novice wanting an affordable substitution to get me started into music than trusting random people online or B.) A book that expands what I was taught in school by edging the bar forward more. The problem I felt with the book is it falls in that middle, with information a little too advanced for someone new to music or a little of the watered down side to someone whom has been through school. While this is not a bad thing overall I felt like there was not really a clear direction that the book was going in besides providing good information. Whenever I read the Amazon description, I felt like it did not help clarify my question either. Same thing goes for the Kickstarter (yea, I went into the archives and looked over it again). It did not really explain the book as well as it should, which I kind of feel like it missed the metaphorical “bar” by not completely answering the questions it imposed. Again, while this is not a bad thing against the book, it left my “let’s pretend I’m not a musician” side wondering why this did not really happen. In the case of my usual self why were they teaching the ratio of a tritone (augmented 4th/ diminished 5th) is 64:45 but not explaining modes, other chord progressions besides the couple that are in here or even 7th chord construction?
After putting everything into retrospect, I feel like this opinion was swayed more as a bias of expectation than really reviewing. I was expecting one thing and it did not happen. While that counts into the overall score of the book, it will not be taken from the amount of uses that it does have. It is a good book for both groups of people mentioned before: People whom are new to music and want a solid crash course, and to those who are interested into the makeup of music. There is a lot of useful information for those in either party. At the price of $3.99 at the time of writing this, it is well worth the money should you choose to buy it. There are other options for whichever market you are into but very few if any are at this price. With everything considered, I rate the book Hit Me With Music a 4 out of 5 stars. While the information is great and the examples are really great, it shuffles the information that it presents into that “theory limbo”. If you are not concerned with that, then this book is great and is worth buying!

If you enjoyed this review then feel free to share it with family and friends. Leave a comment below to what you thought about the review or suggestions for other reviews in the future! Don’t forget to subscribe for more posts from us!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Poster's Perspective: Music According to Adam Sullivan

Hello everyone and welcome to the conclusion of this week of celebration! Today marks the 2 year anniversary of ASMTB, and for a lot of people that seems like something that doesn't really need to have a week's worth of spam invested into such a small piece of trivia. To me this means a lot in several different ways from statistically, personally and of course musically. So without further ado, let us start looking into my perspectives on music and then wrap this two part post up with why this celebration even happened.

First off, music means a lot to me. As you have seen over the past music has meant various this to others such as Family, Community, Life, Exploration, Expression and Growth among many other things to the five people who graciously wrote for this series (especially Anu whom I literally asked her the day of to write hers for me). These are very bold and very positive things that were written and I'm extremely grateful to y'all  for writing for me (is my "Southerness" showing through yet?). The reason I decided to start this little mini series was not simply because I was wanting others to "cover me" while I acquired this horrendous cold or "cover me" while I wrote 3 papers for school, one being a mock dissertation for my music history class, (all of which have happened this week, and why this was a day late). The true reason behind this series was to show one thing: Defining what music means to us is too bold of a thing to simply describe with a couple of answers. There is no right answer to what it means to us, as long as it means something, and to musicians that really is something.

In order to begin with what it means to me, we should begin with a little bit of my history. I was born into a musical family. I am among the third generation of musicians in my family line on both my mom and dad's family, though we think it may go back farther. Both of my mom's parents were choir singers, my grandfather being a choir director for several churches in my home town for years. My dad's mother was a pianist for many years at a church in her home town before she met my other grandfather (dad's dad). Even after they married and moved to where they would eventually move to and have my dad and his siblings, she continued played piano. These events led to how my parents became musicians. My dad is a guitarist formed from the era of rock n roll, and my mom a classical pianist. They, too, would become "church musicians", playing in churches and smaller venues to never take it as a professional career. My dad would eventually stop playing in order to pursue a career in engineering, though he does play the guitars we have laying around from time to time. Mom would try to become a music major but then not finish the degree (something about understanding Neapolitan chords) and would become an accountant. 

Another little tid bit of information that may be helpful is to know that I wound up spending a lot of time with all 6 of them when I was younger instead of simply with my mom and dad. This would have me set up to have a large dose of music from my family over anything else, though baseball was a close second. Even now, I spend a lot of time with my grandparents that are still with me.

The point I'm getting at with these stories is because mine covers all of the examples from before. More literally, music represents family and community. Music has always been one of the factors that kept my family connected throughout the generations of variety. Music has always been a playground of exploration which I feel like I have played around with a lot, though there is always so much more to do. It means growth because music has always given me a ground that has allowed me to root onto. Music means expression because this was always the first thing I went to to express anger or sadness. Music means community because the site you are reading this on was built from vocalizing my thoughts on music. It also means community because that was where I found my few friends that I have. Finally music means life because I honestly wouldn't have done anything else.

There are, two things that music means most to me but you will need to subscribe in order to find out what they were. I am seriously sorry that this article was extended so far behind, but between some family issues and being completely bed ridden by bronchitis, I simply could not produce a post that was remotely comprehensive.