Saturday, December 13, 2014

Antonio Vivaldi: The Red Priest


I've decided to quit apologizing for the long breaks between posts, as the frequency with which I post an article is about as often as I get a good night's sleep and have a day to sit back and figure out where the heck I am and what the heck I'm doing! That said, finals are bested, the Fall 2014 final grades are in (at least the ones that matter), and I'm flying high for Christmas break. What better time to write about one of the most fascinating Italian Baroque composers, whose music seems to be heard more often at the holiday times anyway. After all, he did write a whole concerto about Winter.

Antonio Vivaldi was a later Baroque composer, born in 1678 to a humble family in Venice. Whether due to the fact that he was a sickly baby, or the fact that there was an unsettling earthquake the day of his birth, the newborn Antonio was baptized immediately and dedicated to the priesthood in the off chance that he survived to adulthood. As a child, he studied violin and composition from his father as well as from the music director at St. Mark's in Venice.

Despite his obvious musical talent, his infant vows were kept, and after 10 years of study, Vivaldi was ordained as a priest in 1703, at the age of 25. He was much more interested in his music than his priestly duties however, and used his continuing poor health (likely severe asthma, based on the symptoms he described in his correspondence) as a bonafide reason to be granted an exemption from performing mass, and other expected activities for a newly ordained priest. However, Vivaldi did not expect to give up public service completely. Shortly after his entry into the priesthood, he became the violin instructor at the Ospedale della Pieta, an "orphanage" for, in most cases, the illegitimate daughters of noblemen, who were unwilling to acknowledge their daughters' parentage but were happy to provide the best support and education for them.

Vivaldi, whose red hair inspired the nickname "The Red Priest," worked with the Ospedale for over 30 years, teaching general music and strings, as well as composing much of the repertoire that the girls played. Later on, he was appointed music director for the entire program. Under his tutelage, the orphanage's orchestra and choir earned international acclaim. This employment justifies the complaint that I have occasionally heard about Vivaldi's work--it's at times very note-y, and seems to play like a technical etude. Well, that's what many of his concertos were. They were written as part of his curriculum for training his young violin students, and often intended as nothing but passage work etudes. The fact that he was able to write etudes which stand alone as respectable solo works is in and of itself a tribute to Vivaldi's genius.

Some of the characteristics of Vivaldi's concertos--the most famous of which by far are the four violin concertos which make up the Four Seasons--are indeed the technical passage work, the abundance of harmonic sequences (most likely included as part of the girls' music theory education), and a descriptive style reminiscent of word painting techniques of early Italian madrigals. These concertos became widely popular throughout Europe and inspired many transcriptions and arrangements.

Although he maintained his position with the orphanage, later in life Vivaldi began to travel more and also gained success in the opera scene, a portion of his work which many musicians today are unfamiliar with. By the end of his career he had published somewhere between 50 and 100 operas, many of which are lost today. Despite his religious training, Vivaldi actually had issues getting some of his works past the censor boards, because of librettos which included cross-dressing and homosexual relationships.

Because of his work with the orphanage, Vivaldi managed to avoid being locked into the patronage system so common in the Baroque period. However, a great part of his income was generated through commission work for private individuals as well as performing for audiences as prestigious as the Pope. As a priest, he never married, although he maintained a close friendship and suspected romantic relationship with a young singer, Anna Giro. Vivaldi protested whenever insinuations were made, and there is really no evidence for or against a liaison between the two.

Antonio Vivaldi, circa 1725
In 1740, the 62 year old composer left Venice permanently with the intent of taking up residence in Vienna, Austria, most likely to work in the court of Emperor Charles VI. who had expressed great interest in his work. Unfortunately, the emperor passed away and Vivaldi had no source of income in the new city. Ill health prevented him from becoming active in the music scene of Vienna, and in the summer of 1741, Antonio Vivaldi passed away and was was given a pauper's funeral without any music.

Much of his fame was forgotten in the following years, and it wasn't until the efforts of performer/composer Fritz Kreisler in the early 1900s that interest in Vivaldi's music was revived. Over 600 of his works have been cataloged, and as of ten years ago, more were still being discovered. Conversely, only 3 portraits of the composer have survived.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: World of Bow

Hello and welcome back to my review series. I know that it is unusual for me to post multiple times in a month but to make up from the dry spell, I'm posting this review on top of the previous. I have one more but I need a little more time for get it ready to be posted so stay tuned. For now, please enjoy this review and don't forget to subscribe or follow us on social media if you have not done so already!

For those whom may not be aware, World of Bow is a bow warehouse site. From first glance of the site, this site looks like it was stuck in 2003 when it started. However first glances are simply that because the quality of their products outweighs the exterior. It is a clean, slick look but it doesn't seem very enticing or helps make me want to buy from them. If it wasn't for the recommendation I had from multiple trusted friends and teachers, I would have overlooked this gem. I recently needed to order a bow to complete some local gigs, not to mention my student bow looks like I’m using dental floss on a stick. After being pushed to try them, I went and ordered two bows: A carbon fiber bow and a Brazil wood bow.

Their selection of bows has some variety. They range from professional to amateur bows, various types such as a Snakewood, Pernambuco, Brazilwood and carbon fiber. They also offer a variety of sizes, though the smaller bows do not have as much to choose from. Something also great about them is they offer baroque bows alongside modern bows, which caught me off guard! While I feel there should be more selection for the smaller bows, the selection is one of the best I’ve ever seen. There is a lot to look and choose from the site.

The prices of the bows are also reasonable too. I will come back to the quality of the two I ordered, but they are definitely worth the money I paid for them. They all ship 2 day express for $10! The packaging was wrapped in 3 layers of cardboard and the bows themselves were compressed together. They were made to handle the extremes of rush shipping! They came in one piece, and no damage to the bow.

Now the most important question of all: Are they worth the money? In short, the ones I ordered are well worth the money. Here are the links to the two I ordered: The Brazil wood bow and the carbon fiber bow. I opened the large triangle package like a little boy opening his large Christmas present, full of hopes and anticipations. As I previously stated, the care in the shipment was beyond what I expected but the bows were something different. I will review them independently but a quick summery from my first impressions was wow. Granted, I had been using a low quality student bow for the past 3-4 years (the last year being pretty bald) but they did do a good job of showing me what to look forward to later down the road. My only complaint so far is with the carbon fiber feeling very off putting. In comparison to the other bow, it is balanced roughly the same but it feels like it is too frog heavy. *Edit* After playing it for a full 3 days, the carbon fiber is a lot better but it keeps losing hairs. Not sure why, but I update once I have found a solution.


Before I end this review, I just wanted to say that the reason I’m not reviewing the bows themselves is not only are they too new and I haven’t quite gotten use to them, but I actually ordered the wrong bow. It is nothing to do with World of Bow, but rather I clicked the wrong carbon fiber bow. I’m happy with it but in order to review it from the proper competitors instead of comparing it to expectations from other bows, I will need some more time. I will go into a detailed review of them once I’ve had time to adjust. It is still a great bow, but my expectations have to shift in order to review it more accurately. However, this issue does lead me to my final thoughts.

The biggest thing I can say from this is consider expectations and then throw them out the window. There are a lot of great businesses that simply do not have the means to be over the top in terms of visual pleasure or customer convenience but that should not stop you from trying something new. World of Bow would fit into this sort of site. The site looks a little outdated and can be clunky at times but the service and customer service is beyond anything that one could imagine. The bows, while suspiciously cheap are well worth the money. I believe that the prices of similarly priced bows would be 3-5 times as expensive. Keep an eye out for my World of Bow because if I can save up enough money, I will be back for that Baroque bow! I give World of Bow a 4 great bows out of 5!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Review: Magic Rosin® X

Recently, between being swamped by end of the year school stuff (juries, exams, etc.), I needed to take a small break from the site in order to make sure that I was not overwhelmed with work. However, over the next couple of days I am going to upload a series of reviews that I have taken way too long to perform. Some are because of testing reasons, and others are from simply having too much work and not being able to write them. I am planning on bringing this website into its own thing in the semi-near future but first comes school and my jobs/internships. Now that I have a small staff of writers, editors and a web manager I hope to start making content more consistent but I will need everyone's help. If you have not subscribed to my newsletter then we are starting our own next month. Feedburner has completely dropped the ball on us, so we have decided to start anew. Email "Newsletter" to Sulliadm2@gmail.com and we will add you to our new custom made newsletter. It will be once the month and will be easier to read than spamming every post to you after being posted. I will be updating the site soon so anyone who wants to pass by and join can. Anyways, on to the review!

Today is the first day of my review mayhem. As stated above, I've had a lot on my plate the past few months and over the next couple of days, I will be releasing reviews of products that should have been reviewed before now. On this review, we have Magic Rosin® X! Those whom have been following me for a few years now know that Sarah West (creator of Magic Rosin®) and I have gotten to become great friends as I have continuously reviewed her rosins. Just before she released her newest rosin, she asked if I would review it for her. How could I refuse? Free sample of the next step in her company and being one of the first to test it… I was ecstatic and I still am. However, there is a reason to why this review took as long as it did. I felt obligated to test, and retest and retest this rosin over the past 3 months so I could make sure I was saying something that could be considered an accurate review. I think I finally found a way to express my opinion effectively and clearly.

Just as a heads up, I know this review will sound very negative but it should not be taken that way. A large part of this review went into testing the major difference between this rosin and Magic Rosin®'s 3G and 3G Ultra formulas. If you have never used any other Magic Rosin® rosin, then click to check out my 3G review or the 3G Ultra review but the basic premise is the brand is made for all instruments. This rosin has kept the same quality and distinctive feel that many have learned to grow attached to but with some changes. They all are very smooth and crisp rosins and work fairly well on all instruments. 3G formula has more than enough bite for the higher strings while not making it sound crunchy but tends to be a weaker rosin for cello let alone bass. 3G Ultra has a better amount of bite for cello while not overdoing it for violins and violas. The problem that some have seen is it is not strong enough, and that is what the majority of this review will be centered around.

The first thing that was noticeable about this rosin was the claims on the site and from Miss West herself. As stated on the website, “At long last,after much research and development, we are very pleased to introduce MagicRosin® X, the grippiest Magic Rosin® formula.” When they say it is the grippiest, they really mean it! This is probably the strongest rosin I have ever used on my bow. This leads me to the first, and only serious complaint I have against the rosin: It might be too strong for anything outside bass. Personally, I use either Magic Rosin® 3G Ultra or Jade, depending on what I have near me. Jade is something that I see as being a too weak, while Magic Rosin® 3G Ultra is exactly what I like. The new X formula is roughly twice as sticky as the Ultra. There’s nothing wrong with that if you want more bite but personally I want a rosin that is a mix between sticking to the strings and fluidity. A strong opinion to hold but this is the reason I had to tested it so much.

In my initial test, I used my student Brazilwood bow. On this bow, it was simply too thick. I could not move the bow without crunching everything and anything I attempted. There was a flaw in this test: I was using a balding bow. It was roughly ¼” of hair, and some were black hairs. Following the basic principle of physics, the more surface area an object has to contact another then the pressure and energy from that one area would be dispersed more and thus grabs the string. However the less hair, then the same amount of energy would have to be disperse over a smaller area, causing less stability and more energy to be released over a smaller area. This means that I could not effectively test the rosin on that bow without rehairing or purchase a new bow. This lead me onto my next test: Testing on new bows. I had been planning on upgrading bows for some time so ordering them was not out of my way. Using fresh bows from World of Bow (review of the company will be available by clicking here when online), I rosined them with the Magic Rosin® X and tested them. I cleaned the strings with some bow tonic, rosined the bow and played for a bit. It felt really thick to me, sticking to the strings about the same as before. The only error I can come up with in this test was the rosin being to “fresh” on the bow and not really in the bow hairs, but I believe the coating of rosin on the strings would theoretically counter this but I will note it for later research. The biggest evidence came to me whenever I did my final test.

I decided after the first test that I should see how the target market would react to the rosin. This lead back to the high school I used in my previous tests on. I borrowed 4 bass players and 6 cellist in order to test if my theory was correct to an interesting surprise. The cellist loved the new rosin as much or more than the 3G ultra, which is what the teacher uses in his classroom. They applauded the stronger grip on the string but for them wasn’t sacrificing in terms of quality sound. From my point of view (that being the listener of this test) it came off as a stronger bite but not really any clearer quality sound. To me it sounded like it was a grittier but not enough to be noticed by the students. Plus in their minds, at least from what I’ve gathered from coaching most of them for 2-3 years now, louder equals better as long as it does not cause a distorted effect. This is not always the case but if you are into that sound then this is the rosin for you. There is one more thing I need to touch on however.

Something that I also tested was how this new rosin would compare to other bass rosins. Something that was explained to me from various teachers in South Carolina String Educators Association was they felt like the 3G Ultra was great for Violin, Viola and Cello but was simply too weak for bass. The initial testing I did of the rosin (which you can see by clicking here) shows that the students I used then felt the same way. They feel like the quality is there, but the grip was not enough to cause the strings to vibrate effectively. After noticing there was a lot more grip to this rosin, I compared it to two other bass rosins that are standards in their field: Pops and Carlson. They are on two opposite sides of the world in terms of rosin. Pops is a strong rosin that can become gritty at times but is more stable and can really pull the lower end out of the bass when needed. Carlson, on the other hand, is an equally strong rosin but can achieve a similar strength sound without the gritty sound. The cost is the lack of stability from the rosin’s formula. It can be very temperamental in higher humidity and that causes the rosin to not stick very well or in some rare cases stick too much.

The reason I bring all this out is the results from this test. The Magic Rosin® X came out literally in the middle for all the bass players. They all called it the happy medium between the two rosins. It was sticky enough to cause the clear and concise sound that Magic Rosin® is known for but without the cost of being temperamental or being too strong. Whenever I fiddled around with the rosin samples on one of the basses, I noticed the same thing. It was clear and worked well but fit as a natural middle ground between the two other rosins. As far as I’ve noticed, the rosin seems to be very stable and if it is like the other Magic Rosin® types then it should be very stable.

With everything else said, there is one more thing I need to get out of the way before I give my final verdict. This sample of the rosin is very flaky. I do not know if it is from the sample or the recipe but it chips a lot easier than the others have. Not enough to cause it to shatter from bumping it with the frog but if you have used the other rosins then it will be noticeable.

Other than that complaint and the bulk of this review, it is a great rosin. Magic Rosin® has kept their quality up high when creating this product. It has all the signature qualities: the clear rosin with the beautiful images inside, the lack of dust that makes it very friendly to those with asthma or allergies and the longevity of the rosin for the amount. The only thing that should be considered before trying it yourself is if you like strong rosin. For those who have used the 3G Ultra and would like something stronger then this would be worth trying. If you are a bass player looking for a good middle rosin between the previously mentioned then this would be a great place to start. I give Magic Rosin® X a 3 chunks of rosin out of 5 for cello and a 4 chunks of rosin out of 5 for bass. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Music Theory 101 #7: The Basic Skills of Music; Timbre

Ok, no more playing around! I will finish this post today. I've been busy with the convention, and being sick but today is the day I finish this post and get to finishing the series for the new one I have planned!

Continuing on from where we left off way too long ago, we shall talk about timbre, or more commonly called tone color. Timbre (pronouced tam-ber) is basically the characteristics that make any instrument sound the way it does. Think about it as if this would be the instrument's accent. Every language we speak has an accent to where it was created, and there is no difference with musical instruments. The major difference here is the science behind why it happens.


Looking on to why this happens, we have to get some what technical about how it works. The basic explanation is the sound wave itself has changed shapes, which then changes how we hear it. Think about the differences between the four basic sound waves: Sine/Cosine, Square, Triangle and Sawtooth. Each one has their own definite shape and sound very different. There is A LOT that is involved into explaining that, and if you are interested then click here to read what HyperPhysics.Edu have done on the topic. For those whom don't want all the details, there are two basics things to consider. The first way to analyze a sound wave is by analyzing the harmonic content of the sound, or how the overtones and harmonics are heard in relation to the primary sound wave. An organic sound wave (that being by a live instrument) is created by playing a primary frequency or fundamental pitch. That then triggers all the overtones, harmonics, and in the case of instruments with strings, similarly divided strings to play simultaneously. Sometimes these overtones and harmonics can be directly heard while other times aren't even recognizable. The second way is how the sound wave envelope is created. Every instruments has a certain way to make sound. For example, a cello normally has to bow a string. The energy to get started with the bow moving across the string helps define strings musicians because of the "lag" from the energy transfer. Compare to guitarist and pianist whom strike the string with their fingers, pick or by a hammer. The energy is transferred differently, and is creates a different sound. In case you are interested in hearing so, then check out this piece. It has played piano and bowed piano. 

After all the scientific gibberish followed by a crazy videos, what does this all mean for a simple composer? Why should timbre matter this much in my piece?

Because it can change to context of your piece extremely. The best example I think I've ever seen are these two videos: Both of a song called "Raining Blood" by Slayer. This first one is the studio version of the song by Slayer (in case the video doesn't do this automatically, skip to around 0:30 to avoid the intro)


Now let's show what happens when you go from electric guitar to another guitar-like instrument and play the same song:


The differences are really staggering here. This is a bit of an extreme juxtaposition of the song but it does show what is possible. Another example I like to share (that is a little more socially accepted) is orchestrated version of Stairway to Heaven. This one is by Triple Door Cello Quartet


Finally, let's look at one from a classical example. While this isn't the best example I can think of, this one combines the past topics to express itself.


If you would like another example, listen to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. He does a lot of things in terms of building timbres up and pushing the limits of the instruments and musicians. I hope this was worth the wait! I am really sorry about the delay on this one but between the convention (which I will share the videos once they're available to me) and being sick, I was loaded down. However, once we finish this series and then go into our next series: Explaining how all these topics and more convert into composing. Perhaps even some workshop like episodes and analysis. Also, if anyone is interested in listening to me break down music books and explain them differently then let me know! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Jean-Baptiste Lully: the Italian Frenchman

Wow! It's been a long time since I've posted, and I'm afraid I've rather forgotten the elaborate plan I had for conquering the Baroque period. Getting married will do that to you. So rather than go into great detail on the technical side of things, we'll look at the lives and works of three major Baroque composers from three different countries: the French composer Jean-Baptiste Lully; the master of the Italian baroque, Antonio Vivaldi; and likely the greatest genius of them all, the German Johann Sebastian Bach. Hopefully this will cover most of the ground needed to properly understand this pivotal period in music history.

Interestingly enough, while Lully is known for being a pioneer of the French baroque style, and especially of French opera, he was actually born Giovanni Battista Lulli, an undeniably Italian name, in the undeniably Italian city of Florence. As a child in a working class family, he picked up enough skill as a dancer and a violinist to earn extra cash as a street entertainer. When he was 14, he caught the eye of a passing French nobleman who had been instructed to visit Italy and bring back a companion for his royal niece, who needed practice with her Italian.

So it came to pass, that in 1646, the boy moved to Paris, and very quickly fell in love with the people and the culture of France. As a court entertainer, Lully had the opportunity to work with the best French composers of the day. It was not long before he began to develop a distaste for the practices and styles of the Italian music of his childhood.

When his employer moved away from the city, 20 year old Lully resigned in order to stay in Paris, making his living by writing and dancing in court ballets. It was one of these performances in which the young dancer impressed the 14 year old Louis XIV, who was to become Lully's lifelong patron. At this point, France was for all practical purposes ruled by the young king's guardian, which left Louis free to pursue entertainment. Ballet and music was one of his passions, and he took an instant liking Lully. It was not long before Lully replaced an older, and much more experienced, Italian composer as Louis XIV's personal music director.

Because the king's guardian was an Italian cardinal, there was considerable Italian influence in Paris at the time, including several productions of Italian opera. Many of the French noblemen did not appreciate this art form, and Lully whole-heartedly agreed. He took it upon himself to collaborate with various French poets and playwrights and create a whole new breed of opera.

These productions were in the French language and moved away from many of the Italian operatic practices. Instead, Lully mixed recitative and aria together, used more natural and predictable poetic forms, and scored his works for a variable ensemble.

In 1661, the year that Louis XIV took over the rule of France upon the death of his guardian, Lully
finally was granted full French citizenship. It was at this point that he changed the spelling of his name to reflect his love for his adopted country. For the next twenty years, Lully produced operas and ballets for the royal court and the people of Paris. He continued to hold considerable influence through his position in court, and was fairly proud of the fact. By 1681 he was signing his works: Monsieur de Lully, escuyer, conseiller, Secrétaire du Roy, Maison, Couronne de France & de ses Finances, & Sur-Intendant de la Musique de sa Majesté. (Don't ask me to translate all that!)

Unfortunately, in 1683 the king grew disenchanted with the entertainment that Lully provided. The new queen brought a much more puritanical air to the court, and Lully's liberal lifestyle choices were suddenly not nearly as acceptable as they had been previously. He retained his position at court but lost some of his friendship with the king.

Sadly, it was also his career that indirectly ended his life in 1687. As a baroque conductor, he did not use a baton but instead a staff which he thumped on the ground to keep the group together (similar to a middle school orchestra director banging his pen on the stand). Unfortunately, when Lully was conducting a piece in celebration of Louis XIV recovery from surgery, he impaled his own foot with the end of the staff. Whether this came about through carelessness or a little bit of pouting, it didn't end well... his foot developed gangrene and he died shortly afterwards from complications.


Despite his undignified exit from this world, Lully did much for the musical world of France during his life time. He brought liveliness and attitude to instrumental works, and made the whole genre of opera accessible to his country. He also introduced the French overture style, which carried over into much of baroque and classical music, French or otherwise. Even Beethoven used it to open his Pathetique sonata. This particular style was a slow, stately march in duple time, often used an an introduction or overture to a larger work. It is characterized by frequent dotted rhythms in the melody and thick, chordal accompaniment.

A classic example of Lully's French Overture style is the overture to his 1670 collaboration with  French playwright Moliere. La Bourgeois Gentilhomme is a comedie-ballet, or the French version of the ballad opera. The premier of this work boasted a start-studded cast, including both Moliere and Lully playing roles.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

CD Reviews: Led Zeppelin 1-3 2014 Deluxe Remastered Set

        Hello everyone! I'm really sorry about the delay in the music 101 series. I've been working on the presentation for Sept. and getting it perfect have been time consuming. However, I'll have the next one soon though! Just as a fair warning, I know my "English" is normally pretty bad, but the video with this was a rushed project to go with some friends of mine. So what I say doesn't line up with what I've written exactly. I made sure that it does make some sense though, and this follows the outline pretty well. If you want me to do more reviews then I will! I have a book that I've been working to finish in the works now and hopefully will have out before the convention. Otherwise, enjoy and see everyone soon!





       Hello everyone, my name is Adam Sullivan also known as Sulli00700 and welcome and welcome to this review. As some of you may know, I'm a bit of a Led Zeppelin fanatic. My parents grew up listening to it in high school and college. Once they thought I was old enough to be introduced to rock n roll, this was where they started me off. So naturally, I've collected a few things over the years and I've become a fan. After strolling through Target about two weeks ago (from the beginning of writing this review) and while looking for some stuff for college I just so happened to come across these beauties! That's Led Zeppelin I, II & III and they have been remastered for 2014 and we're going to take a look at them right now.

       Back in March of 2014, LedZeppelin.com (http://bit.ly/1fwgoMR) announced Atlantic Records was to release remastered versions of Led Zeppelin I, II and III. It was also said to be remastered by Jimmy Page himself and was to be featured on CD, vinyl, digital download and not to forget box sets. Jimmy Page has gone on to say, "The material on the companion discs presents a portal to the time of the recording of Led Zeppelin, /.../ It is a selection of work in progress with rough mixes, backing tracks, alternate versions, and new material recorded at the time”. While I haven't been able to find the vinyls or the box sets in person, I have found them online, not to mention we have these three to look at. So then, the really big question is, "Are they really worth buying?"

       Visually, these albums look really pristine. Clearly updated versions of what made the original albums so great. It even goes as far to have the working pin wheel from Led Zeppelin III. However, these have more art than the originals did. The back panel the CDs have an inverted version of the front, and the inside has the original back panels plus what was meant to be inside art for the vinyls. (Update: Turns out that they are actually art in the insides of the remastered vinyls.)

       Hidden inside the tri-folds of the albums is an album with a bunch of pictures of the band around the time the album were being produced and while they were on tour. Not to forget a little bit of technical information. This is where we run into my first problem. Now don't get me wrong, these are really nice but do we really need this many pictures? Personally, I would like a little more technical information than the half a page in the booklet and the 12 photos. Same thing goes for the print on the CDs as well, they're just the generic Atlantic Records image. One may argue that it's out of nostalgia but I personally feel that Atlantic Records was going for a more unique feel to these albums, seeing they were re-release with the bonus material. Over all, however, this is more of an opinionated nit-pick of mine and will not be weighed against them heavily.

       All three albums feature remastered audio from the original albums as one would expect. There's a bit of a controversy on how alike these three sound to the original 1991 remasters that were released onto CD. However after doing a little bit of research into the situation, I found the previously mentioned LedZeppelin.com article states that they are indeed based off the original 192kH/ 24bit transfers. (Note: I did not say the 1991 albums, but the rough transfers that the albums were based on.) With that said, since it is based on the same source material, they are going to sound alike. Controversies aside, what really sells people on these albums are the companion disks. Led Zeppelin I having this never before released concert from Paris. It happened approximately two weeks before Led Zeppelin II was released. Led Zeppelin II and III have the previously stated bonus material. Led Zeppelin II premiering a song called "La-la" and Led Zeppelin III premeiring two songs; " Jennings Farm Blues" and "Key to the Highway/Trouble in Mind".

       So then, all that remains is the big question: Are they worth it? If you already own the original remasters and you're simply looking at it because you heard they were being remastered then I would not recommend this for you. However, if you are big into Led Zeppelin or interested in collecting bonus material then I would highly recommend this for you. My only complaint is the price, they're a little over priced in my opinion. Now don't get me wrong, as I said in the beginning I bought these from Target so naturally they're going to be a little over priced, paying $13 plus SC sales tax a piece. The reason I mention this though, is I cannot find them online or otherwise less than $12. Personally, I feel like the deluxe would be more reasonable around $10 each. $10 would be where I would say they are definitely worth it. However, what really drives in the issue is with the box sets. I cannot find them online for less than $120 dollars. This is where I think they are pushing them just a bit. Don't get me wrong, they are great albums, but $120 per set is a little "out there" in my opinion.

       All this aside, it's time to rate them! All things considered, I gave Led Zeppelin I a 3.5 "rocking Jimmy Page solos" out of 5 and Led Zeppelin II & III an even 4 "rocking Jimmy Page solos" out of 5. The reason for knocking that half point of Led Zeppelin I is because of the live concert not worth as much compared to Led Zeppelin II & III. I would have kept that point (if not made it 4.5 out of 5) if it was the same as II and III and had the rough tracks and/or never before heard albums from the original album. That little bit aside, I think they are all still great albums to add to your CD collections.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Major Announcement and Interview with @Kidstruments

Hello everyone! Sorry about the lack of posts lately but between Faith's getting married in the next couple of weeks and I've been setting up for a new series plus running Team Young Spark as we head towards our first couple of major events... Life's been a little overwhelming. But seeing there has been 90+ views on the "Music Theory 101" series thus far, I think it's safe to assume that I will finish this season of it. The next series I'm going to do is a tutorial series on using and making the most out of Audacity. While it isn't the best program to do a lot of complicated audio manipulation, people underestimate its potential. By the time the series begins to trickle out, I should have released an animation project I've been working on with my friend Benjamin and everything audio related has been mixed and mastered in Audacity. Also, I want to revisit the Finale Tutorials but teach over 2014 this time.The original series had such a positive reception that I wouldn't imagine not doing it but I need to save up for 2014. Leave a comment if you would like to see more of them (and they will be actual lessons this time, not randomly teaching tools!)

The first major announcement is that I've been accepted as a panelist for Derpy Con South as my alias Harmonic Inferno, and I will be giving 2 lectures: One on the series I've been working on here (Music Theory 101) and the other an open discussion on arts activism. I wanted to make sure that if anyone here was interested in coming out to the convention and hearing them that you were aware in advance. The other thing I wanted to announce was Faith will be getting married in the near future. I mentioned it briefly before, but I wanted to make sure I gave her a major congratulations for her milestone with her fiance but for all the help she's done in building this site back up. Now without further ado, let's get onto the interview!

Adam: Explain what Kidstruments Fund is? How was it started and how long has
it been around?

Kidstruments: Kidstruments Fund is an organization that helps kids play instruments in school band or orchestra. It was started when my 6th grade orchestra teacher's violin broke. It was very sentimental to her and I raised money to try to fix it. She did not take the money but in the process I learned that there are kids without the sufficient funds to rent an instrument. I had this money and nothing to do with it, so I used it to start Kidstruments. Kidstruments has been around for 3 months now [as of the time of this interview].

A: What all does Kidstruments Fund do to help/ benefit the music community?

K: Kidstruments helps the music community by helping others playing music, by expanding the community (in the future hopefully greatly) and making more people to play the music that other people write. Now, as for the normal community, it shows people that little people (grammar for the win) can make big impacts. It also helps more people enjoy music. It also helps kids in school, because for some, a love of music might be the thing that makes them like school and be a better student. 

A: What goals does your group have towards helping the music community at
large?

K: Our goal to the music community at large is to help more and more people not just play music, but write it, understand it, and enjoy it. We try to grow it and expand it. Kidstruments is trying greatly to expand music all over the world.

A: How can someone help your cause?

K: People can help by donating online at [http://kidstrumentsfund.org/donate/] or they can send a check to:
Kidstruments Fund Inc.9425 N. Meridian #201IndianapolisIN 46260They can also follow us on Twitter [@Kidstruments] or Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/Kidstruments]. Finally, and most important, if music people just told other music people about us, I think so many musicians would remember how important their school band or orchestra was to their life, and would want to help kids get the same opportunity. The younger kids, after all, are the musicians of tomorrow.