Sunday, January 29, 2012

Podcast 2

Podcast 2

Peer Comment III

This is in response to:

I really liked you post you went through what you needed to go through but at the same time your content itself was really great. I like your writing style and your posts but I had never heard of Milo Hayden before but after reading your post I was curious and followed the links from your References page and watched a video about him and I like him and his process.  I especially like that he makes great music with limited resources and on a budget. Thank you for introducing me to good music.
Nice job,

Thomas Hester II

Independent Research

Usually when someone thinks of a music hit maker what comes to mind is someone who is flashy, arrogant, conceited but none of that comes to mind when speaking about Ryan Leslie. Normally when there are music producers and artists that make hit records they have someone backing them and putting money into them through marketing and artist development turning them into a readied product for mass consumption but Ryan is not like that at all he is like many others an independent artist.

Ryan is a very smart man getting a perfect score on his SATs and is a Harvard grad, graduated at 19, and he has become one of the premiere music producers in urban music. He has made hits for many people like Fabolous, Ne-Yo and Cassie. From R&B hits like With You and You Be Killin Em’ to rap records like Fly Together he shows his versatility but he stays humble.

He like many others in this time is independent and as an artist and producer he has come up with creative ways to self-market and to get his name out to the masses. What sets him apart from his competition is the way he markets himself and he also is a singer and songwriter who also is a multi instrumentalist. He doesn’t have a huge marketing team behind him or a multi-million dollar contract with a major label but instead he connects with the fans through social media. His videos on the video sharing website, YouTube and his posts on Twitter have allowed him to be more personable. In addition, with his videos he shows how a track is constructed in an industry where secrecy is key and everything is hushed he allows the fans to have a behind the scenes look into his creative process.  It also has provided for other up and coming musicians and producers an inspiration to follow their dreams and that they don’t necessarily have to have a major label’s support.

As well as the way he markets himself he has a different process when creating music. Unlike others utilize sampling or hiring session musicians to come plays instruments he actually plays the instruments that are heard in his songs from trumpet and keyboard to drums and organ. With tracks like I Get Money and Fly Together he performed drums and trumpet that are heard.

He truly is one of the talented musicians in the industry and as an industry professional I admire him for being someone who doesn’t keep himself in a box and limit himself and uses a lot the equipment in the studio as well as utilizing this digital age through social media to get known and as a listener his music is very full and has great layers, his ability to build a record is second to none and to know he has played the music he created just makes it even better.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Peer Comment II

In response to:

I really enjoyed your writing about David Bowie in the Electronic Music Innovations post. I like how you mentioned what inspired David and who influenced him to bring this new sound to the masses. The fact that he even partially moved to Germany because of Kraftwerk showed how much he was influenced by them and this electronic sound. Though I would've liked for you to touch on Brian Eno and how he helped bring the sound to the masses along with David with their albums Low and Heroes. All in all I really liked your post. Good job.

Thomas Hester II 

Electronic Music Innovations

Donna Summer is regarded as the Queen of Disco and when you hear the word disco and think of singles almost synonymous with the word she comes to mind. She was influenced early on by Janis Joplin. In addition to her, The Supremes influenced her, which was lead by Diana Ross who eventually went also into disco.

She was the first black to win a Grammy in the rock category and the first to win in the female category. Her songwriting style and provocative nature connected with those on the dance floor and discos. She wasn't afraid to take risks and allowed others to take risks lyrically speaking with sexually charged lyrics. With the single 'I Feel Love', produced by Giorgio Moroder, it brought her to the forefront. Brian Eno declared when he heard the song 'this is the sound of the future'. Giorgio Moroder who came from the world of electronic music and brought that style to the productions of Donna's. Many singers who are now legends in their own right like Whitney Houston, Madonna and Britney Spears have covered this song.

Donna wrote many hits, which included Love To Love You Baby, which was a #2 on Billboard and the album that it was on sold platinum. Though some originally didn't want to play it because of it's groans and moans. Donna as a pop star that was black influenced many artists who came after her like Whitney Houston and Beyonce. Also with disco and the dance elements in her music she in turn influenced many others like Britney Spears, Ke$ha and Lady Gaga who have taken from that same dance style in their music.

Donna Summer is a legend and as a listener I enjoyed listening to her she has a great voice and as a student of music I like hearing from different eras including disco.

Electronic Music Entry

Kraftwerk is an industrial electronic music group and was very experimental. They're musical style was ever changing originally with there first few albums Kraftwerk had common instruments like flute and guitars and were more open and free form rock but as they moved on with 'Ralf and Florian' they moved more toward an electric sound. That album also featured what would be a signature mainstay in later releases, the use of vocoder.

They were not like musicians who were popular at the time with beards and long hair they were very organized and were in line. They would play in suits and would have kept hair with clean shaved faces like in the cover of 'Trans-Europe Express'. Ralf and Florian were the leaders and primary songwriters of the group. With just about every album they made there was a concept behind it whether it was nuclear energy and radio in 'Radio-Activity' to road travel with the 'Autobahn'. Autobahn, released in 1974, was a successful album for them and the title track even though it was originally a very long track, 22 minutes, after edited and released as a single was a pop hit.

Not every album was as successful and albums like Trans-Europe Express were a commercial flop but it was unique. They wanted the music to sound like a train that was moving. They're music inspired many people including a famous superstar who actually moved to Germany partly because of them. David Bowie who's last album had some synthesis but also folk music with the next to albums with Brian Eno they introduced electronic music to the masses with the albums, Low and Heroes.

Kraftwerk was influential to many and as a fan of music I appreciate that and as a student learning about music history anyone who brings something fresh and new I like but even though I'm not a particular fan of their music I respect that.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

Velvet Underground & Nico

The Velvet Underground was only together for not that long, they only made 4 albums, but in the time they were together they were changed the game. They were precursors to later movements like punk and new wave; with the album it was very different from what was popular. They were influenced by folk rock in the style of Bob Dylan but with songs like Venus Furs it was clear that they were vastly different and was bringing something that was fresh.

Early on the band was supported and produced by pop artist Andy Warhol and was promoted through shows with amazing light shows like Exploding Plastic Inevitable. John Cale and Lou Reed were the primary songwriters and John who came from a classical background and was held as a child prodigy and Lou came from Long Island and was drawn to avant-garde jazz and rock and roll. He was an intense songwriter who previously worked as an assembly line songwriter. When they got together they made a new sound, Reed brought the abstract sounds like plenty of guitar feedback and unique storytelling while John brought the instrumentation of pianos and bass lines. Andy's vision for the band was to combine the three elements of music, art and film.

This came to pass with them being included in Andy's organization, the Factory, the joining of art and music with them was clear with Andy being a producer on the album and the actual cover has a Warhol print on a banana. Their albums were not commercial successes in a general sense but were majorly influential. The bands U2, R.E.M, Sex Pistols, and Sonic Youth were all heavily influenced by them and Brian Eno was quoted saying that he did not know many people who brought their albums when they were originally released but those who did started bands.

As someone who is in the industry, I can tell you this is truly groundbreaking and I have never heard anything like this with the experimental style. As a listener, I do instead prefer Nico's style and he seemed influenced by Bob Dylan's style of folk music.

What's Going On

Before this album Marvin Gaye was just another pop artist in the Motown machine and it's Hitsville U.S.A factory pumped out hits like 'Heard It Through The Grapevine' and was considered more of a sexual icon than a political speaker. With this album that viewpoint changed all that.

What's Going On is a truly classic album that almost didn't happen. The title track 'What's Going On' was not originally suppose to go to Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops' Obie Benson wrote the base of the song and show it to them and they were not into it. Instead of giving it to them who thought it was more of a 'protest song' and then Joan Baez did not use it Marvin seemed like the perfect fit. Marvin and Obie did not like the injustices that were going on, protesters getting beat by police and in particular race riots like Detroit's in 1967 and with the war in Vietnam that his brother Frankie bad experiences he wanted to do something about it. Marvin, with this album, instead of singing ballads and love songs that was a mainstay at Motown, wanted to do something different and craft a new sound.

Instead of just using the Funk Brothers like a lot of other musicians he went with this unique sound. With this album it's tracks blended into one another to make more of a whole album. But Berry Gordy did not like this no sound and he was more focused on keeping what works and hated the title single and did not want to release it. This album also got opposition from the Quality Control department and wanted to put out something else and so he had to wait out. He began to grow out his hair and with arranger David Van DePitte, got with new studio musicians like Chet Forest, Earl Derouen, Jack Brokensha, Funk Brothers: Eddie Brown and Jack Ashford. On the title track he even used some Detroit Lion football players. After the eventual release he ended up selling 100,000 copies in the first day.

As someone in the industry I really enjoyed this album it was something fresh and had a laid back feel even though it was about serious problems. Also this was a great album musically with an eclectic sound that had jazz influences.

Peer Comment

In response to:

Hey Dylan,
I really like your post on The Beatles' album Revolver it addressed all the points that needed to be addressed, the studio process and what they brought to the mainstream. I like that you included the background of how they were beforehand and how with this album they had more control. I would have included more about the studio processes like the double tracking and layering the tracks like Paul did in Eleanor Rigby. I also would have included more about how they collaborated differently on this album not having everyone play on every track but rather have who ever was a good fit like when Paul wrote Yellow Submarine he said he envisioned Ringo singing. Good Job.
Thomas Hester

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Beatles Revolver

With The Beatles they were a hit before Revolver and they were known for their more pop, commercial sound with songs like "I Want To Hold your Hand' and 'Twist and Shout' but with Rubber Soul expanded their musical range they pushed the envelope even more with Revolver. Rubber Soul's influences were drawn from Bob Dylan and The Byrds but Revolver was worldlier influenced.

Before Revolver they never addressed political issues but in this album George Harrison addresses high rates of income tax on 'Taxman' and there were various instruments from other cultures like the sitar and tabla. The influences were seen with Paul being influenced by Motown with 'Got to Get You into My Life' and classical music and instruments with 'Eleanor Rigby' or 'For No One' and George was heavily influenced by Indian music, which was evident in 'Love You To'. 

Unlike previous albums there was not a group effort with all playing together on every song because there was no need. The Beatles still helped each with songwriting concepts and lyrics, which can be seen with McCartney and Lennon, there was not a concerted effort to accommodate every Beatles on each record. With 'Eleanor Rigby' there was mainly Paul singing over strings, there wasn't guitar or drums because it was not needed. Lyrically John was inspired for songs sometimes by conversations like an LSD influenced one in 'She Said She Said' or in 'Tomorrow Never Knows' it stemmed from Timothy Leary's The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Like The Beach Boys, The Beatles and George Martin used the 'studio as an instrument' by using compression heavily like on the drums and the lack of reverb. There are also the use of tape loops for backing vocals and the guitar that Harrison performed in 'I'm Only Sleeping' that was reversed later in the mix. They also doubled instruments like on Eleanor Rigby where the strings were doubled and made it from a quartet to an octet and with Harrison they doubled the guitar and made it sound like a 12 string guitar. In addition they used ADT, automatic double tracking that could be used to doubling a vocal.

Revolver is a great work and it was revolutionary and as an industry professional I loved the fact that they pushed the limits and did things with their technology that is astounding and inspiring. From a listener's perspective the tracks that I really like are 'Here, There and Everywhere' and 'Eleanor Rigby'.

The Beach Boy's Pet Sounds

Before Pet Sounds The Beach Boys were looked at as a mainly commercial pop group that was talented but that's what they were mainly known as. Their previous work was more focused on the California surf and youth lifestyle. With Pet Sounds they expanded their musical output instead of it sounded like another 'Surfin' USA' it had a wider berth.

Instead of a more commercial sound, which was popular at the time, the lyrics were more experimental like 'I Know There's an Answer' which was written while Wilson was taking acid. The change of the sound was mainly because of Brian Wilson who was a member of the band he was the main writer and producer he had stopped touring to work on producing and writing more music. The result was Pet Sounds which contained more complex lyrics and less fillers, The Beatles 'Rubber Soul' was a huge inspiration for him it led him to push himself musically and test the boundaries.  He also took from Phil Spector and his 'Wall Of Sound' technique and created a dense sound by layering the instruments on top of another. He was one of the few who used the 'studio as an instrument'.

One of the major differences was that he used different items as instruments like bicycle bells and Coca-Cola cans and expanded the harmonies more elaborately. His elaborate tracks were made usually with his session players 'The Wrecking Crew'. I am not really a huge fan of the Beach Boys but I really do like this album.

I enjoy the harmonies that are in there especially the instrumental track, 'Let's Go Away For Awhile' it honestly didn't need words and was a beautiful track. As someone who loves music and innovation I love when artists and producers push the boundaries and change the format, this album left it's mark on pop music.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Welcome to my blog I'm Thomas and I love music, all types, from Broadway to Hip Hop, I also enjoy watching movies primarily comedies, Pixar, or 90's Disney movies. My musical inspirations are mainly Pharrell, Kanye, Hans Zimmer and Alan Menken. I'm an aspiring music producer/composer. I would love to work on music in three areas, composing for films, games and artists.