Tuesday, May 15, 2012

'Strawberry Fields Forever'

As an avid Beatles fan, I was always puzzled by their song titles and what's exactly meant by them.  As a New Yorker, I often go to Central Park on the Upper West Side and sit on a bench near Strawberry Fields.

There is often a homage to John Lennon in this park and flowers are arrayed on the Imagine plaque, honoring the lead singer.

I always thought that this specific spot in Central Park was the Strawberry Fields, the Beatles were referring to in their songs. However, the song was actually inspired by Lennon's memories of playing in a garden of a Salvation Army house called "Strawberry Fields".

Gate post to Strawberry Field.  Now a historic site.

"Strawberry Fields Forever" was released in 1967 off of Paul McCartney's Penny Lane Album.  Lennon's "Strawberry Fields Forever" and McCartney's Penny Lane shared the theme of nostalgia for their early years in Liverpool.  Although both referred to actual locations, the two songs also had strong surrealistic and psychedelic overtones

The music that serenades me

 The first ballet George Balanchine choreographed in America in 1934 when he was 30 years old was "Serenade".  It was Balanchine's third masterpiece after "Apollon musagete" in 1928 and "Le Fils Prodigue" in 1929.

"Serenade" was the first of many ballets for Balanchine choreographed to the beloved Tchaikovsky.  The score that accompanies "Serenade" is Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings in C" an it was also a work that was a personal favorite of the composer himself.

Ballet company performing George Balanchine's Serenade

When composed, Tchaikovsky intended the first movement to be an imitation of Mozart's style and it was based on the form of the classical sonatina, with a slow introduction.

The pure pulse of Tchaikovsky's score can stand on its own and be extremely resonating to an audience on its audio alone.

However, when coupled by the genius choreography of Balanchine, with the steps echoing each note, it's a combination like no other.  Above is a clip form Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of "Serenade".  It is easy to see that the music's powerful nature is heightened when everything comes together, the lightening, choreography, costumes, etc.  It's a combination that's thrilling to watch and especially joyful to the ears.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Musician Spotlight: Bharat Sanjani

Bharat Sanjani, investment banker by day, musician by night, is a force to be reckoned with and is a truly inspiring individual. Bharat's love for music is apparent and somehow he finds time to rehearse and perform with his band, Spinbox, a local NYC cover band.  I sat down with Bharat to shed some light into how he does it all and still manages to have fun.

1. What instruments do you play?

With Spinbox, I sing lead vocals. However, I've been playing bass guitar since I was 14 and still take lessons here in NYC.

2. Is your family musical?

No not at all. I'm the only one with remote artistic talent.

3. Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith for his longevity.  He's amazing.  Ben Gibbard because he voice is intoxicating and memorizing.

4. Do you perform in public?

Yes, my band Spinbox often has gigs in bars in the West Village.  We also have performed at summer festivals which feature smaller bands.  We usually perform once a month.

5.  How do you find time to practice?

It's hard.  Every member of Spinbox has a full time job, so we usually reserve Sunday mornings to rehearse and if a conflict arises we try to reschedule and not miss practice.

6. Do you teach music?

I haven't yet.  Mostly from a schedule perspective but I would like to in the future.  I think kids are really inspiring to teach because they are such fast learners.  I would like to teach them someday.

Spinbox can be seen around the NYC at various venues.  Check TimeOut NY publications for upcoming shows this summer.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Music piracy : Nothing to gain, everything to lose

Music piracy and the protection of recording artists is an issue that I am extremely passionate about and an issue I follow quite frequently.  As a performing artist, I believe that supporting music and purchasing albums is how we respect and perpetuate artistic growth.  Please reference a recent essay I wrote regarding the topic below.

Music piracy is the copying and distributing a piece of music for which the composer, recording artist, or copyright-holding record company did not give consent.  Music piracy is a form of copyright infringement, which is a crime in many countries.

The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw much controversy about copyright piracy regarding many aspects involved in the activity of illegal downloading.  More portals and websites for illegal downloading and file sharing among peers seemed to be more abundant during this time as well.  These aspects included the act of redistributing media content, how much production and distribution companies in the media were losing due to piracy, and the very scope of what ought to be considered piracy.  The cases involving piracy were most discussed in debate as to determine how to define the act and how to treat individual cases of illegal downloading.

The term commonly known is “piracy” but that’s too small of a term to adequately describe the toll that music theft takes on the gigantic cast of industry personnel working hard behind the scenes to bring the high quality music to your ears.  The cast of music personnel includes songwriters, recording artists, audio engineers, computer technicians, scouts, producers, publishers, and many, many other people that help the music industry stay afloat.

It seems that simply one individual downloading one song may not feel like a serious crime or be harmless at all.  The true harm is the accumulative impact of millions of songs downloaded illegally.  This massive accumulation means not compensating any of the people who helped create that song and make it available to the masses and music fans.  This reality is devastating to all the employees of the music industry.  A study conducted by the Institute for Policy Innovation estimates the annual harm at $12.5 billion in losses to the U.S. economy.  In addition to the economy, 70,000 lost jobs are a result and $2 billion in lost wages to American workers.

When all the accumulated losses are pulled together, it makes one think again about downloading one song or potentially album illegally to save a few dollars in the process.  Especially when a lot of pirated downloads are not even the correct quality one would purchase normally on iTunes or through a legitimate purchasing music venue.  As a performing artist myself, I would personally be crushed to not be paid any compensation for all the hours I put into producing music and ensuring that it was a high quality product to release to the masses.  I would additionally be crushed to learn that I wasn’t supported monetarily and would find it hard to keep producing music if I received no respect for the art I was producing.  In turn, I am against music piracy, even in the smallest of forms, every illegally downloaded song adds up to millions of losses for all those in the music industry.

Queen Beyonce of the Ball

Beyonce Knowles led the fashion parade at this year's Met Gala in New York City.  Among the other A-list celebrities and fashionistas, Beyonce's dress grabbed the attention and set the fashion standard high, especially among recording artists.

Beyonce in Givenchy couture gown

This red carpet appearance marked the first for Beyonce after the birth of her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, in early January 2012.  30-year-old Knowles looked sensational in a sheer sequin Givenchy Haute Couture Gown, and she wore a nude bodysuit underneath, which was also visible but flattering to her honey skin.

As with any fashion leaps on the red carpet, the gown was divided among the critics.  Some criticized it for being too obvious and revealing, while other critics assumed Beyonce wore it for the sake of being noticed.  In regards to Beyonce, we will not know whether she adored the gown or simply sought the attention, for Beyonce has never hid from the spotlight or public attention in the past.  

Back of Beyonce's Givenchy gown

Beyonce certainly turned all heads at this year's Met Ball and her dress certainly had high maintenance during her appearance.  The gown required a stylist to be available at Beyonce's every beck and call to primp the dress as Beyonce ascended the stairs.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Feature App: Dropbox

In terms of music storage and file sharing, Dropbox is a great service for this type of file sharing.  Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. It allows you to share with others your own documents and is especially great for music file sharing.  

After you install Dropbox on your computer, any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, and this includes your iPhone and iPad as well!  

You can also save attachments straight to your Dropbox.

You can flip through your music albums when you're out and about.  You can share videos and music to your Dropbx and share them with friends very easily with a few taps.  Your files are always saved on Dropbox and will be there, even if you lose your phone.  

Click here, to download Dropbox.

Someday you will be loved

Death Cab by Cutie is a band near and dear to my heart.  As I met my boyfriend of 5 years at the concert in Manhattan.  Below is a fictionalized account of the concert and our first meeting that fateful day.

I first spied you in line picking up your tickets at the theater's front entrance on 74th street.  You stood behind a few people, patiently waiting and sipping a hot coffee.  You had headphones on and seemed content listening to your iPod, and rummaged through your bag looking for your wallet to pay for your tickets.  I saw you enter the theater alone after you stood outside waiting for someone and got tired of standing in the cold.  I went inside immediately after picking up my ticket and surveyed the band's merchandise counter before settling into my seat.  I sat in the fourth row center balcony and was happy to get such a wonderful seat with a clear view of the stage.  This was my first time seeing Death Cab for Cutie live and I wanted to relish every moment, even if it was going to the concert by myself.  As the band was warming up and starting to sing their opening song, I spied your blue crochet hat I saw in line earlier outside.  You were sitting two rows in front of me and with an empty seat beside you on your left.  You were steadily texting on your phone, almost in a crazed manner.  The band started to play and the small orchestra melodies swept me away into ecstasy.   It was truly mesmerizing and surreal concert, I felt as if I could attain anything I desired and it put me in a delightful mood.  At intermission, I noticed the seat beside you was still empty.  I got the idea to leave my seat and sit next to you.  As I sat down and opened my mouth to say "hello", I noticed your natural and striking beauty.  Your smile soothed me and we chatted for a bit about your friend who never showed up for the concert.  It was an evening I will never forget and the beginning of us.