Ever felt emotional listening to your favourite tunes? You are not alone. Music has been a universal feature of the human society, with the power to evoke primal feelings from our cores. Silent films, one of the milestones in the history of film-making, make use of music in this precise manner. Recorded without a synchronised audio track, these films do not contain any audible dialogue, making use of title cards to convey its plot and live music to add more drama to the films.
Music has always played a pivotal role in complementing the creative arts such as theatre, film, and dance. A creative director’s process involves thinking about the function of the sonic arts in a performance - how music might enhance a show, inspire new choreographic heights, or even how sound effects might add to the effectiveness of humour in a show. Over the years, music has established its place in theatrical conventions. Specifically, music shared one of its greatest moments with comedy through the conception of Vaudeville shows.
Mark these dates on your calendar! With international acts such as Ed Sheeran’s Divide World Tour (26th April 2019), Jason Mraz’s Good Vibes Tour (11th May 2019, Westlife’s Twenty Tour (10th August 2019) and Backstreet Boys’ DNA Tour (30th October 2019) happening within the year, we are fortunate to get to enjoy these wonderful concerts live in Singapore. However, do you ever wonder what goes on behind the stage for these large-scale performances to be executed flawlessly?
Have your heard of instrumental hits such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Strauss’ The Blue Danube, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5? Did you experience a certain feeling after listening to these hits? It’s fascinating how these instrumental pieces that do not contain any words have the capacity to evoke certain feelings within us. What causes one to experience those feelings? Music practitioners explain this phenomenon by regarding music to be a universal language - one that conveys primal feelings shared at the core of the human experience.
It’s play time! Whilst the holiday season is a great time to rest and relax, it’s also a great time to check out events and explore the abundance of activities that our island has to offer. We’ve compiled a list of musical to-dos for this March holiday - while students nationwide are taking a break, do not miss out on these opportunities to expose yourselves to music and the joy that it brings!
The recent abolishment of the streaming system in secondary schools by the Ministry of Education puts an end to the downsides of customised education, such as stigmatism and labelling. This goal is also shared in music education, where examination boards such as ABRSM aims to motivate learners at all levels and ages, providing realistic goals and tangible rewards for their achievements. Music exams serves as a good motivating tool for students to challenge themselves, performing their own personal best. However, it should not be regarded as a measure of their self-esteem or how good they are.
Beethoven, one of the most revered composers of the Classical realm, once said, “To play a wrong note is insignificant, but to play without passion is inexcusable.” Last Saturday, D-Flat Studios was proud to present three passionate groups of performers for our Annual Recital - our young beginners, our exam candidates and also our adult enthusiasts!
Parents are often said to be the first teachers of their children. A parent’s role in a child’s musical journey is one that is very influential, and there are many ways in which parents can help their child with their music learning. Some parents who have little to no musical experience might feel uncertain about their role and what they can do to help their children. The good news is, there is a lot that parents can do, musical or not, to help their children achieve success in their musical journey!
Love is in the air this 14th of February!
One of our students at D-Flat Studios planned for Valentine’s Day well in advance this year. A few months ago, Dr. Thomas Anthony approached one of our teachers, Teacher Lydia with a mission in mind - to prepare a special song performance for his wife as a 50th birthday gift to her.
The rapid advancement of technology has not only made e-learning an extremely viable platform for education, but also popularized digital play as a mode of learning. Phone apps and games have burgeoned over the years as developers continuously race to construct the best apps and games to teach each and every subject.
According to Statista, there are 2.8 million apps available on Google Play and 2.2 million apps available on the Apple App Store as of March 2017. As the teachers and students here at D-Flat Studios prepare for the imminent ABRSM practical exams, we’ve found a couple of apps that have been greatly effective in spicing up a practice session!
Did you know that the popular Chinese New Year song, “Gong Xi, Gong Xi” was not originally written for the festivity? With a history of over five thousand years old, this ubiquitous household favourite actually has a background far richer (and darker) than one might expect from a Chinese New Year jingle.
Have you heard of the KonMari method? Pioneered by Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo, the KonMari method is a Japanese system of simplifying and organizing one’s home by discarding physical items that do not bring joy into one’s life. Kondo proposes a simple criteria on deciding which items to get rid of and which to keep - whether or not the item “sparks joy”. Intrigued by what became one of the biggest trends that ushered in the new year, I decided to create a new composition using the KonMari method, using only musical elements that sparked joy within me.
Born, raised and trained in Stockholm, Marie hails from one of the biggest musical cities in the world. Her musical journey started with the clarinet at 8 years old, and when she turned 11 she majored in the voice. Marie received her training from the Kulturama School of Music in Stockholm, and embarked on an illustrious teaching and performing career. She has guided numerous talents as a primary and secondary school music educator in Stockholm, and has been appointed music director for several choirs. Marie has now moved to Singapore and has a gained a following at jazz clubs in the Lion city, earning her the moniker “Songbird of jazz, soul and R&B”.
What is deliberate practice? Defined as a special type of practice that is purposeful and systematic, deliberate practice differs from average practice in that it requires focused attention, and is conducted with the specific aim to improve performance. Practice of such a nature, as opposed to mindless practicing, can help musicians at all levels to improve by leaps and bounds. Here are a few ways to keep things in check!
Since the invention of the radio, chances are you probably heard the “4 Chords” more frequently than you would have expected. The “4 Chords” is a series of chords played after one another to form a chord progression which is then looped repeatedly to form the ‘backbone’ of a song. A very popular example of the “4 Chords” would be the I-V-vi-IV progression. The roman numerals correspond to specific scale degrees depending on key that is currently being played. Let’s consider C Major for now. The resulting chords would be C maj - G maj - A min - F maj (maj=major, min=minor).
Whilst watching Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, a sense of nostalgia washed over as the familiar jingle of Hedwig’s Theme transported the entire cinema back into Harry Potter universe. John Williams’ iconic tune, which is featured in all of the franchise’s films, always transports its listener back into the world of magic. The recurring soundscape is so familiar that audiences are promised an adventure every time they hear it.
The first time I realised I had perfect pitch was during a routine piano lesson, during which my teacher was going through aural training with me in preparation for my ABRSM exam. When I was able to reproduce a verbatim repetition of a short melody she’d played earlier, she looked at me with wide-eyed merriment. As a young child who barely understood much about music back then, I was confused by her reaction - I’d thought that this ability was one that everyone possessed.
Music takes its listener on a journey with every note, changing a listener’s response at every junction, through the highs and then to the lows. Ever wondered how composers and arrangers achieve this? And how music endings let you feel at peace after a joy ride through the past few minutes? One of the tools composers commonly employ is the use of dominant chords. Dominant chords are used in every piece of music, as it is an effective way to signal a cadence or a change in mood.