Podcasts I like

*DISCLAIMER- This Blog Post was written before the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent quarantine.I tend to write several posts at once and have them timed to be released periodically these days. Please keep this in mind when reading this. Also, for those of us quarantined with not much to do and those of us who are working WAY too much overtime ( I was actually part of the latter camp until recently) and don’t have much “me time” but need to temporarily escape pandemic focused news and conversation for mental and emotional clarity, hopefully this list comes in handy.

Hello fellow Music fans and friends.

Sometimes I like to listen to podcasts for the sake of learning and/ or laughing when I’m er- on the -er- job, because who has time to read books these days, amirite? In actuality, my time for reading tends to be scarce these days, and while I miss it, the sound of people edu-taining you through a speaker that can be run on a website while you do mindless tasks in the real world in order to multitask and get more out of the limited time we are privileged to exist, has added a lot of value to my life.

Here is a list of some of the podcasts I’ve gotten a lot out of- both music related (actually mostly) and not, in no particular order.

  • 1. The Entrepreneurial Musician– I have gotten a lot out of Andrew Hitz’s (the host) constant yammering and interviews of people in the music industry. He prioritizes pointing out Actionable Advice, and will take the best advice from the previous interview and expand on it with his TEM shorts. Although my own journey has been slow, listening to this podcast has helped keep me motivated over the last few years.
  • 2.The Brass Junkies– There is a podcast for and by Brass Players run by the Cheekiest Brassholes I’ve ever heard. Lance LaDuke and Andrew Hitz (yeah, the guy with the more serious music business podcast I just got done writing about) hosts this podcast which gets released bi weekly on average. They’ve interviewed a lot of famous people in the Brass world and, as is typical for brass players, they all pick on each other. There’s also this long running joke with Jenz Lindemann ( don’t ask, you’ll just have to listen to a few to get the gist) that they refuse to let die. IT’S BEEN 6 YEARS!!!!! The interviews have useful information as well, but the conversations may or may have caused me to choke on coffee, get a few weird stares from coworkers, and bruise a few ribs in the process.
  • 3.The Portfolio Composer– This is the first Music Business related podcast ( I started when it was still called Composer on Fire- before it was cool :P) and one I still listen to thanks to my friend and fellow composer Sakari. Garrett Hope, a composer who wanted to figure out how to make a living doing the thing he loves – composing- started interviewing composers who have made it and some music business professionals to figure out how this is done in today’s world. His generosity in sharing this information and these interviews with the world has helped a lot of composers.

Fun Narcissistic Fact: Once, My question was featured on this podcast and answered by Alex Shapiro!!! (this is the closest to radio fame I’ve ever gotten folks.)

  • 4.Composer Quest– One other Podcast that Sakari introduced me to and, although it ended a few years ago , it is still one of my favorite podcasts I’ve listened to. Charlie McCarron, Composer, Producer, and Minnesotan, started this podcast by interviewing friends as just a way to start doing something with music, and grew to interviewing all sorts of musicians in almost any style imaginable about MUSIC (my favorite subject in the whole wide world if you couldn’t already tell). Nearly every episode had a new theme composed by the guest, new music from Charlie in some capacity (the Patreon Shoutout Jingles were a scream), and even featured quests that other composers/ listeners could participate in. Unfortunately, I started listening too late to participate in many of them, but I did get to participate in the last Quest- The Composer Quest Olympics- which you can read my series of blog posts if you have time . Or, you can listen to the last few episodes of this podcast. I warn you though, it is a bit long.

This podcast is also what informed me of the MnKINO film fest which is a great experience and has led to a lot of other opportunities. This was also the podcast that helped me get out of the non- creative depressive funk that my factory/ reception job had me in.

  • 5.The Everything Band Podcast– This is a podcast hosted by Composer and Music Educator Mark J Connor. He rotates between interviewing composers and music teachers all for the benefit of the music education community on a weekly basis. Although I admittedly started listening solely for the composer interviews, as a private music teacher, I’ve gotten some valuable advice myself that I’ve effectively used with my students. For example, to paraphrase one episode “when possible, limit instructions to no more than 7 words when possible when teaching kids in their beginning years”. I’ll have to come back and cite it once I find it for your benefit .

  • 6.Listening to Ladies-Although I’m not sure if this podcast will continue or not, this is a fun one to listen to, being a female identifying composer myself. This podcast is a series of interviews, hosted by composer and artist Elisabeth Blair, that solely focuses on woman composers and their lives. In fact My good friend Sakari Dixon-Vanderveer was featured on this podcast. You can find her interview here. Even if you are not a female identifying composer, this is a great podcast to listen to to get exposed to new music from living composers and, if you are a person interested in the different paths people take to get to where they are, a great listen for that reason as well.
  • 7.The Nerdist– Back in 2015-16, I worked a factory job that took up all of my time and numbed my brain. Therefore, I needed some brain juice that could inform me of what was going on in the real world and be funny and light-hearted as well. That’s where the Nerdist came in. They would invite celebrities and talk about anything from pop culture to sciency stuff. I stopped listening regularly around the time I left factory work, but it’s still a fun one to come back to from time to time.
  • 8.The Billy West Podcast– Boy, I wish he’d return to this podcast. Although it is only a few episodes long and features Billy’s acrobatic voice talent in the telling of stories, it had me rolling on the floor while working my mundane factory job ( hey, one perk was that they would let you listen to the radio though so it wasn’t all bad ūüôā . I especially enjoyed the song dissections, especially when he commented on every line of Piano Man.
  • 9.Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone– My friend Bo Recently introduced me to this podcast. It’s like listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on NPR but with more questionably useful advice with occasional swearing and conversation that would probably be censored by public radio. That’s probably because it is hosted by the usual hosts of that radio show and they are real people. You have to start from the beginning though because it evolves as you listen. Also- be very cautious if listening out loud at work. You’ve been warned.

Happy Listening!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Composer Quest Olympics: Closing Ceremony and Final Thoughts

 

Well, it appears I have hit the end of my week long “spamming” of Composer Quest Olympics Blog posts. Many thanks to anyone who read any¬†of the posts and/or listened to my fellow Olympian’s pieces.

This was an extremely fun, enlightening, and welcome experience and I am grateful to Charlie McCarron of Composer Quest and Michael Maiorana for organizing this challenge, the American Composers Forum for hosting the ceremony for making it possible to meet some of my peers in person,Ryan Udairam and Tom Snively for collaborating with me to complete some challenges, Eric Ebeling for taking on the Sneezeburger,  and  I am humbled by the fact that some of my peers voted for my music in these events. Congratulations to all of you, as well as  the composers who participated!

The closing ceremony was held live, last Monday 11/21, at the American Composers Forum. You can view the Final results on Charlie’s website and view a comprehensive list of All of the submitted pieces by clicking this link.

 

My original intent was to partake in all of  the events as a challenge to myself in order to improve.  I ended up with a few new relationships in the composition world, a new drive to learn more about how to compose electronic music (so that I can perhaps do this myself one day and collaborate with even more people),  and even a few medals.

Also, I will forever cherish the memory of our small group, huddled like a cult, listening intently to tuba solos .:P

Note to readers of this post: If you are interested, here are the links to my past posts about these individual events.

1)National Anthems

2)Table Tennis

3)Weightlifting

4)Hurdles

5)Relay Race

6)Composer’s Choice

 

Composer Quest Olympics: Challenge Number 5

 

 

Challenge Number 5 was the relay race . Charlie organized us into  teams of four, and we were to compose and pass off our chunk of music like a baton to each of our team mates. The result would be a 2 minute piece with each person having written 30 seconds of music.

Due to extenuating circumstances, two of our teammates were unable to participate, so Tom Snively and I “cloned” ourselves to make up for the missing teammates. This process began an email storm that was not unlike the one that Ryan and I had during the ¬†Table Tennis Challenge. We also ran into many of the same file sharing problems as well.

I started with the first thirty seconds and decided on choosing flute, vibraphone, harp, piano and cello, mainly because these in instruments sound decent on my playback, tend to to be common sound options, and I was unsure how the other team member were going to go about composing. Though my choices were motivated by an attempt to pick instruments likely to be universal to both classical and electronic styles of composing , in retrospect, I was lucky to go first because of my current lack of experience composing outside of Finale, and routing new (non acoustic) sound fonts through the program may have delayed progress on the piece further.

Musically, I challenged myself to get outside of a comfort zone once again by composing something a little less melodically flowing than usual, and tried to make it feel frantic/ race like, while leaving the end of my section open for the next composer.

The most difficult part of this challenge was getting organized with team mates. Not everyone was able to respond promptly, so it turned into a waiting/ guessing game for a bit. After it became apparent that Tom and I were the only ones able to participate, it was much easier to coordinate. Admittedly, none of us attempted to contact the other until I sent an icebreaker email a week and a half before the deadline (in a panic I might add). If one of us had a bit earlier, it  may have solved a few problems in retrospect. However, life happens and I do not think anyone on the team should feel too guilty about this.

My favorite part was listening to what Tom came up with as a response to my submission. Working with composers who have a completely different composing style as you is a lot of fun, especially when you don’t know what to expect. What he sent was very imaginative and complimented the piece nicely.It gave me a bit of a rush because, as soon as I received his response, I wanted to begin composing mine. Unfortunately, I was at work and unable to get to it until the end of ¬†the day. Due to differing schedules, that also created a bit of a delay, and it came close to the wire as far as getting it submitted in time.

All in all, I think the result sounds great. Tom does a fantastic job at sound engineering  and created the final rendering of our piece (thank you Tom). You can hear his music at http://tomsnively.com.

As always, please listen to the other team’s pieces for this event ¬†by clicking here.

 

 

Composer Quest Olympics Challenge Number 2

The Second challenge issued to us composers was titled Table Tennis. In this challenge, we were randomly  paired with another composer and we were instructed to pass the piece back and forth, ping pong style.I was paired with Ryan Udairam, a fellow Twin Cities based Composer.

Upon alternating emails to figure out what process would work best for us, we discovered that we don’t live that far from each other. ¬†Our process ended up being that we would pass the piece via XML file as we both use different versions of Finale. Because of the way that we interpreted the directions (which may have been different from Charlie’s intent in retrospect), we agreed to pass the piece every 2 measures, allowing any random time signature change when it was our turn. We each picked two Instruments. Ryan picked Erhu and harp and I picked Alto flute and Crotales.

One of the main difficulties with this challenge was the fact that my current version of Finale is getting a bit ancient and was not interpreting the XML files properly.To remedy this we also began passing pdf files so that we could at least correct things visually to get a better representation. Also, I had to use my imagination a bit since my sound pallet unfortunately does not include the Erhu.

In the end, we almost ran out of time so we agreed to meet in person at an I hop in order to finish the piece. We still obeyed the rules (after all, Charlie¬†did not specify that we could not meet in person to pull this off) by passing Ryan’s computer back and forth like a ping pong ball, making sure to use headphones. After 3 hours, gallons¬†of coffee, and a lot of stares from people who probably had no idea what we were doing, we finished what we ended up naming Koi Fish’s Last Struggle.

Overall, it was a fun and interesting experience co creating a piece like this. Guessing at what direction another composer is hoping you will go and deciding if you will go with that or change direction is what was the most enjoyable aspect of the challenge.

This challenge resulted in some interesting pieces and I urge you to listen to the others works by following this link.

Composer Quest Olympics: Challenge Number 1

In August,¬†I decided to partake in the Composer Quest Olympics Challenge. For Awhile now, I have been listening to Charlie McCarron’s insightful podcast called Composer Quest, while I build printers as a way to educate myself while working a ¬†day job . ¬†Charlie sometimes releases challenges to his listeners to create projects that he calls Composer Quests. Until now, I had been too intimidated to submit anything . Sadly, he is wrapping up the podcast, but as a last hurrah (in addition to his World Tour), he has devised this multi challenge Composer Quest inspired by the Olympics and Bryan Schumann’s thing a week challenge. I ¬†chose to push myself to partake in all of the challenges in part because it is the¬†last one (and thus my last chance to try it in real time), because I am trying to break my introverted habits of finding every excuse to not share my music with strangers (and avert the anxiety that comes with it) and ¬†as a chance to get to know/ collaborate with fellow composers (and again get over some anxiety that comes with talking to strangers).

The first challenge was to pick a national anthem and arrange it in any way you choose.

After hours of listening to find the right one for me, I settled on Nepal’s National Anthem,”Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka” (Made of Hundreds of Flowers).

It is one of the more recently composed National anthems and, according to my Fiance, it has a bit of a Pirate flair to the melody. I chose it in part because I liked the melody and because I find the country’s history intriguing.

The Instrumentation I chose is  Flute, Trombone and Piano. I wanted to make it playable by real people and to represent the diversity of people that live in Nepal by picking an instrument from each family.


Arranging this anthem inspired me to do  bit of research on Nepal, so here I will leave you with a link to this fun Infograpic with a few interesting facts about the country.

Also, Charlie has graciously organized all of the participant’s pieces into free downloadable albums. I encourage you to listen to all of the compositions created for this event (not jut mine). You can listen to and download the first album here.