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Musician Spotlight: The Track Team

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In less than two weeks, the cartoon series Legend of Korra will premiere with its second season. In honor of that, I’ve decided to spotlight the two people known as The Track Team, Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn. Together, they have composed the music for Legend of Korra as well as its successful animated predecessor Avatar: The Last Airbender.

The music for both series uses orchestral and world instruments to make a unique soundtrack for both series. Each instrument fits either a particular character or moment well enough to immerse the viewer in the show.  For instance, the tsungi horn is a fictional instrument from ATLA. It is associated with the characters Uncle Iroh and Prince Zuko.  Its sound was created by using an Armenian reed instrument called the duduk.

The most notable thing about the music of ATLA and LOK is that the length of a track doesn’t matter. It is always just enough for a particular moment.  For example, one of my favorite tracks from ATLA is called Cave Jivin. While the entire song is for one particular scene, there is a moment in the song reserved for two characters, Aang and Katara. To see that moment in the episode where this song plays is amazing.

Of course, the best way to experience the music of Avatar The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra is to watch both series. I recommend starting with Avatar The Last Airbender so you aren’t confused by its universe and storyline.   To sum up everything, I present the official ATLA series finale trailer as it was shown in 2008.  It is my second favorite example of the music being one with the animation and storyline.

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How to Gradually Appreciate Classical Music

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This summer, I decided to take a Music Appreciation course because of the convenience (it was online) and to fulfill an area requirement for my major. Since I already had an eclectic taste in music, I didn’t expect to appreciate anything new. Yet, to my surprise, I came out with a small taste in classical music.

You’d think that since I listen to scores from various tv shows, movies, video games, and cartoons, I would have developed a taste in classical music sooner. However, I was only able to enjoy the scores because the music in those media were connected to a moment that I emotionally responded to. With classical music, the music wasn’t composed for anything in particular. Until I took the Music Appreciation course, I avoided classical music because I figured it would be boring for me.

Once I realized that I could enjoy some classical music, I noticed there were a few things that led to it.

1.  Listening to scores and learning about their connection to classical music

I would have never gave classical music a chance if I hadn’t known about scores and their connection to classical music. You see, when movie scores were first created for moments in movies, those composers were classified as Romantic composers.  Originally, Romantic composers were people like Chopin and Brahms who composed music that focused on freedom of expression. Their influence eventually led to new styles of music and new methods of composing music.

When I first started listening to scores, I wasn’t trying hard to notice them. As I already said, I just noticed the music that played during certain moments. During the opening titles of the Toby McGuire Spider-Man movie, there is powerful opening music. I appreciate how it represents Spider Man as a superhero and a human who is learning important things.

Spider Man Main Titles  Music- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qcJS_e2_hY

2.  Realizing what musical instruments I enjoy most

For me, those instruments were piano and violin.  I realized this after noticing why I enjoyed certain songs from scores. There were times that I would think, “That piano or violin sounds very beautiful on this track.” While I also enjoy other instruments and sometimes vocals on scores, piano and violin pieces will always be my favorite. As a result, some of the classical music I like are either piano or violin pieces.

I first learned about the beauty of the violin while watching season 3 of Sailor Moon. There were these characters known as the Outer Sailor Scouts and they had this theme that would play whenever they would transform into their Sailor Scout form. When it comes to piano music and orchestral music, I got into it with two video games known as Tales of Legendia and Kingdom Hearts II. Of the two, the music of Kingdom Hearts video game series is my favorite. One of the most memorable pieces of music from the series is a track called “Dearly Beloved.”

The Outer Senshis (Transformation Scene and Music)- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B86c-a7PO18

Dearly Beloved (Kingdom Hearts II Version)-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUQuBBBzx-I

3.  Watch films about classical composers

The only film I’ve seen like this is Amadeus. I watched it for a class called Introduction to Film and ended up enjoyed a couple of pieces of Mozart. As with any other film, I enjoyed some of the music because I noticed it during certain moments. The only difference is that a film about a composer of classical music gives you plenty of opportunities to appreciate the music.

4.  Use YouTube and click on random videos

Basically, this is what I did to get twelve songs to go on my iPod.  I typed in the name of a piece on YouTube that I knew I already liked. After I listened to it to make sure it was the right one, I just looked on the right side of the screen and clicked on another video. Sometimes, I would do the same composer I looked up, sometimes I wouldn’t.

It is not too hard to learn to appreciate classical music, but it may take some time. It took me a while to find a CD’s worth of music that suited my taste! However, it is well worth doing. Classical music is all around us and you may be surprised where it could lead you once you notice it.

Written by Serena Zola

August 3, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Musician Spotlight: Lindsey Stirling

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Source: Wikimedia CommonsWhen she was just twenty three years old, Lindsey Stirling made her debut appearance on the tv show America’s Got Talent. Known then as a hip-hop violinist, she managed to wow the crowd by playing the violin while dancing. However, the judges were unimpressed during the quarter final round. Despite this setback, Lindsey Stirling has found success through YouTube and live performances.

On YouTube, she makes music videos for her own songs and cover songs with the help of cinematographer David Graham. Then, she uploads them her own YouTube channel lindseystomp. Depending on the song and where the video is shot, the video may be beautiful, fun, or exotic. Sometimes, it can be all three. Last year, Lindsey Stirling got forty-two million views for her original dubstep violin song “Crystallize”. She also released her first album of original compositions entitled Lindsey Stirling.

With her covers, they have gone beyond her AGT title of “hip-hop violinist”. Sterling has covered songs ranging from “The Phantom of the Opera” from the musical Phantom of the Opera to “Fix You” by Coldplay. Combined together with a good music video, Lindsey Stirling is very entertaining. One particular video I enjoy is the “Lord of the Rings” medley video, where she not only plays violin in a lovely white dress, but sings a little too.

In addition to her music video covers, she also does surprise covers live. They are surprising because the people attending her concerts have no idea she is going to do them. It is a pleasant surprise to look up these performances on YouTube. One live cover I really enjoyed watching was Evanescence’s “My Immortal.”

Links: 

“Crystallize” Music Video- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHjpOzsQ9YI

“Lord of the Rings Medley” Music Video- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQiNVk_u0po

Video- “My Immortal” (Evanescence Cover)

Written by Serena Zola

June 21, 2013 at 2:02 PM

2012 Best Instrumental Music I’ve Listened To

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I can’t let this year end without blogging about some people who have made some awesome instrumental music. After all, it’s become 25%  of the songs on my iPod this year. Shocked? Yeah, me too.

Composers: The Track Team

This past spring heralded the premiere of the Nickelodeon cartoon series The Legend of Korra, a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender. It also heralded the return of the The Track Team, Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn.  Together, they have composed the music featured in Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Both series’ music is amazing and beautiful, but the music for The Legend of Korra is a remarkable improvement from The Last Airbender. It seems that for Korra, the duo used more Chinese instruments and less Western instruments, making short to normal length songs with the former and songs lasting seconds for the latter.  While this is a downside for those who enjoy listening to the tracks and want more, the music fit well within the first season of Legend of Korra. Hopefully, the music will stay great for the seasons to come.

Favorite Tracks from Legend of Korra:

Aang Memorial Island http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCJUCrqyntQ

Lost My Heart in Republic City http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDdIKnk5mVg

Musical Group:  The Vitamin String Quartet

These people mostly do covers of various musicians and bands, but sometimes they will cover film scores too. Normally, I don’t listen to covers, but I got curious after I stumbled upon a Vitamin String Quartet song while browsing YouTube. From there, I just searched for covers based on who I liked.  I had over two hundred albums to choose from, but I mostly chose bands like Linkin Park and Evanescence. For some reason, it seems like some their best covers are of angsty, dark songs like “Numb” and “Bring Me to Life”.  Now, I can listen to old Linkin Park and Evanescence songs without dampening my mood ; yay for me!

Numb– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNWhu3IunMc

Bring Me to Life– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPktRAfoFX0

Composer- Adrian von Ziegler:  http://www.youtube.com/user/adrianvonziegler 

The link I have posted above goes to the most awesome eclectic mix of instrumental music I’ve ever heard. I discovered its composer, Adrian von Ziegler last year when looking up gothic instrumental music on YouTube. However, I had not truly appreciated his work until this year when I started listening to Mr. Ziegler’s Celtic Music, World Music, and Film music. This man is extremely talented and needs to be hired by a film company or something.

Celtic Music- Spirits of the Wild– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8Tanw8JPIs&list=PL66947B2B609101E5&index=32

World Music- Qi– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VLCnM0vYMk&list=PL66947B2B609101E5&index=27

Film Music- Divine Ancestry- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XaL7iOHA5I&list=PL66947B2B609101E5&index=25

Gothic Music- Ashes- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLQW_FZsXb0&list=PL66947B2B609101E5&index=3

So dear readers, have you heard of these people already? If not, give them a listen and let me know what you think!

Video Game Music

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What comes to your mind when you think of video game music? The theme from Mario Bros? How about a rock or rap song from a racing or shooting game?

The truth is video game music is different things to different people. It depends on what type of video game you play and where the music is coming from. There are some really beautiful things that can from video game music, especially from RPGs (role-playing games).

For instance, most people probably know the The Legend of Zelda theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qJ-xEZhGms

However, video game music can tell you more than just what game it is. It can also convey a particular place, event, or character within the game.

An interesting thing about location themes is that it can play at a specific location as well as a location you don’t expect. A good example of a song that this is this song from the video game Tales of Legendia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LoYdh5r9mk. In case you are curious, this song plays at the main menu of the game as well as the game’s town graveyard.

As for a song that creates ambience during an event, a song from the Legend of Zelda Wind Waker game is an excellent example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXMAWAHtJT4.  As you will see, this song is background music to the backstory of Link aka The Legendary Hero.

With a character, a song can be called a theme. The purpose of the theme is basically to convey the nature of the character and at times to convey a sense of familiarity (this applies to a reoccurring character in an RPG). One of the best character themes can be found in Kingdom Hearts 358 Days/2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prP-AJAh-Bg. This song is called Music for the Sadness of Xion (pronounced Shee-on).

An amazing benefit from video game music is that you can sometimes hear it live via a concert or cd (turn the volume up some):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYq5NOj23BQ&feature=relmfu

Lastly, there is only one downside to video game music. While you can listen to it without actually playing the game, you might not be as connected to the song as you would be if you did play. As long as you like the music though, it shouldn’t matter.

What video game music do you like?

Written by Serena Zola

May 22, 2012 at 9:43 PM

The Beauty of Music Scores

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When you go see a movie, watch a television show, or play a video game, do you ever notice the music playing in the background throughout? Especially during a special scene or moment?

It is this music that makes up a score.

Some people notice scores easily if they are really into what they are watching. They are enjoying it so much, that they end up remembering the exact moment a certain piece of music is played.  The first time this occurred for me was when I was playing Kingdom Hearts II and heard this music:

 

Afterwards, a friend of mine introduced me to music from an old Japanese animated show I loved called Sailor Moon:

 

At the time, I wasn’t into American television shows and movies much. It wasn’t until many years later that I became open-minded and started to enjoy them, starting with this piece from the television show Heroes:

 

The rest is history. Not only do I have scores from television shows and video games, but I also have scores from movies such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Pirates of the Caribbean.  Each score represents each visual work with a unique and awe-inspiring sound. Each song in a score represents a character or moment in a way that captivates more than just the eyes.  They can move your heart and soul.

Written by Serena Zola

November 27, 2011 at 2:47 PM

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