Monday, 22 October 2012

Week 4: Life of a Commercial Music Student At Westminister


Today was the beginning of the end, of the learning burst. Today was 'Music Business Skills 2' with Mykaell Riley.

Music causes both sides  (right and left) of the brain to work differently. Performing music causes both halves to work differently to work as one.

Experience= usability,analytic and design/creative. Each new experience will affect musical choices

Residual memory- also influences our perception of music
Also one's personality, location, community, time, background noise pertaining to the music listened in you're culture or family etc.

In African music for instance we place the impact of how music affects our body- as the music is based on drums- rhythm.

American had an influence on the UK in the 1980s. Axis of Awesome- The 4 Chords.


Another Chris Kennett session, from 11am-1pm- 'Writing Skills 1' . Different types of writing for different occasions.

Chris advised that we use the library for its resources, contribute to D-Boards via blackboard, negotiate with groups when you're in the band.

He mentioned books we should read such as:
  • My Music: Explorations of Music in Daily Life- Susan D. Crafts, Daniel Cavicchi, Charles Keil.
  • Distinction: A Social Critique of Judgement of Taste- Pierre Bourdieu
  • Popular Culture and High Culture- Herbert J Gans
He then compared the unistats of music course of Westminster with Cambridge.

I then ended up going to cheer leading practise from 6pm-9pm which was awesome finally apart of the Dragons!



Today I was late and had to squash into the lecture with my fellow classmates. We had Simon Geoffe for 'Music Business Skills 2'.
Simon begun the lecture by giving us an independent study assignment where we had to choose one of four topics and write about it (300-500 words)- no quotes needed as it is an assignment piece.
There are new things emerging in the music industry, we don't know where it will end up in 10 years time. The positive thing is people download music for free e.g via spotify. Festivals where people can go and watch their favourite artists perform e.g The Big Chill and Bestival. Sponsors get money and advertise their products.
Simon explained that many believe that piracy is killing music, some believe that it isn't. Record companies sewing people randomly who download music illegally recently to combat the issue. Perhaps to get people to buy records. Packaging is important and add special photos  so that people will want to buy.
Now as for record deals the 360 degree deal is becoming popular, not very advantageous for the artist. Record labels invest and take percentage of merchant income.
Questions asked: Should we as a recording industry separate to music industry?
*Note this session was on Monday as these were switched*

Today was a great day! We split into groups and listened to each others' groups performed in PR1 accompanied by Ade and Sanj. Really enjoyed listening to everyone's bands and listening to critique as tomorrow was the big day for PERFORMANCES!
Today I arrived at 12.30pm to meet the band and get any equipment needed! We then head to Area 51 where we all performed and watched eachother perform. And it was AWESOME!



Week 3: Life Of A Commercial Music Student At Westminister


Week 3 of the 'Learning Burst Module' was already upon us. Today's lecture was called 'Blackboard, SRS and Research Skills 3' and the topic of focus Plagiarism. Plagiarism 'Passing other peoples' ideas as you're own.' Failing to acknowledge other people's ideas can result in penalties:disciplinary action. 

Referencing Skills


Italic font for item that can be held, for instance a book, along with publishing details and author, year of publication. An article needs to have a volume number. 

When referencing one can either paraphrase in which one summarises a section of the article of interest, or quote the exact sentence(s). This must end with the surname of the author and year of publication.


The bibliography is always at the end of the document.

For journals and articles put author and books include title, page number and publishing details. Television programmes need not have the page number included. For websites the full URL included along with the date the site was accessed.


Today was all about Studio Skills, led by Glen Skinner. This was an exciting day for me since I have very little skills when it comes to logic. The questions answered were: 'How does Logic work?', 'How do plugins work?' 'And what about the outboard stuff?'.

Command Tool- Cut up
Edit sounds via EX524 plugins
Automation- 'A' arrange
Sampler- manipulate vocal audio
Back up audio
Scoring- To change notes
Key Command- Snap- click bar
                     Smart- in beat
Loop- drag top bar to number of loop required

I noticed that one of my fellow students smartly brought her laptop to the logic tutorial. She said I can get Logic 9 on CHEAP! 

After the lecture I had a radio meeting with Smoke Radio where we suggested potential shows. Exciting stuff! Cannot wait to bring Fresh Kutz back on air.


We started at 3pm today! Had a lovely lie-in that was desperately needed. 

Today was 'Thinking and Arguing Skills 1' and we listened to 3 tracks selected by three different students in the class.

Student 1 tracks:
1- Forgot About Dre ft Eminem
   -this track reminded him of his mum, youth; being 8 years old.
   - less mainstream

2- Cuba Electronic- Mala
-dark,brooding, low frequency
-identified with artist

3-Touch- Holy Other
-massive,minimal, subculture bass

All three tracks are connected in some way.

Student 2 tracks:
1- Soul- Candy Rain
-reminded her of mum, and youth; being 4 years old.

2- Made In New York- Tanie Maria- 1985
-abstract rhythm
- interest in song from parents- 14 years old onwards

3- Earth Wind And Fire- Wanna be With You
-harmonies and riff makes song appealing

Student 3 tracks:
1- Justin Timberlake- Like I Love You
- reminds him of his mum

2) Fallout Boy- Sugar We're Coming Down
-reminds him of youth at 14 years old

3) The Elijah- I Loved
-deep memories, goose bumps.
-this song isn't very well known

As we can see each persons' life experiences/lifestyle affect life and music listened to.

We also had a listen to Medieval Music and Classical Music which was interesting to compare commercial music of today with the past.


Today was 'Music Business Skills 1' with Simon Goffe.

-to be active
-read Ann Harisson book-  'Music: The Business: The Essential Guide to the Law and the Deals'
-be passionate and have opinions

Who do you need help from?
-record label
-tour manager
-agent (to make bookings)

Anatomy of the music business and how it works:
-communication between band is crucial
-teamwork working with support
-image is important
-creative industry- challenge
-new technology- new connections

An artist who writes as well as records makes more income

Recuperable costs- advanced, tour costs, recording costs, videos.

We also learnt about the different types of record deals. Managers typically get 20%- the infamous 20%!

Publishing is very,very important also, especially for songwriters! Publishers namely ASCAP/PRS- which have merged.

Final steps after building a team:
-Get gigs
-recording a demo
-getting attention from the public
-building an audience


Today was test day! We had a studio skills test with Sam Bennett. First she showed us how to power up and power down the studio correctly. And getting sound out of the live room.

Each one of us then had to either power up or power down the studio! I had to power down, my first try was no bueno, but second was excellent! So we can now use the studios, awesome!

I then hung out in the studios to listen to some friend's tracks that he already recorded and had a mini jam session, always nice to listen to new music! Love!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Week 2: Life of a Commercial Music Student at Westminister


Today's learning burst was about font and how it conveys the message of the title. We looked at the book 'All Metal Bands' by Dan Nelsen- it contains the names of over 50,000 metal bands. (amazon)

"This volume contains the names of over 50,000 metal bands. Presuming that each of these bands had an average of four members, and multipling that by the number of bands, one might figure that at least a quarter of a million humans have pledged allegiance to one of them at some point is his or her lifetime. Never has a genre of music relegated to the underground of a civilization had so many devotees; no radio needs to transmit the power of this music, for it is sought out fiercely and freely by the doomed and the dispossessed, whose ears are never soiled by songs of love and weakness. 
These names are invisible tokens to be spoken aloud, each representing a human quest for superhuman spectacle: shaking floorboards and quivering walls, split ears leaking blood, with faces painted and ornaments pointy, voices uttering eternal truths shunned by woman and man alike."(amazon)

We then watched a video of a sketched based comedy, and noted that we know what to expect based on the music played to go with the video.

Semiology/Semiotics  (from the Greek semeĆ®on, 'sign') - science of what things mean (wiki)

-Themes- e.g in a sonata 
-signifier/signified >/ sign

Charles Sanders Peirce an American philosopher wrote 'What is A Sign?' in 1894, explaining the reasoning behind semiotics. As explained my Charles Sanders Peirce semiotics is: 'This is a most necessary question, since all reasoning is an interpretation of signs of some kind. But it is also a very difficult question, calling for deep reflection.' 

We then looked further into signs through artwork of records , and predicting lyrics of song through this. The records we looked at were: Miles Davis- A Silent Way, Gary Numan- Are Friends Electric and The Clash- White Riot.

Lastly we  then learnt how to access study exercises via Blackboard and how to search for articles. We were then given the task of downloading and reading Peterson James' article on Suicide to give our opinions in the next lecture. This I was slightly nervous about as subjects of that nature scare me, but I was interested nonetheless.


Today's lecture is about 'study and research skills 2' , we learnt about the history of recorded music in America. for instance Henry Curuso an italian singer  In 1904, changed the music scene his ' Although this song was not popular music (it wasn’t even English), it was, nonetheless, the first recording to break the million-record mark.  The industry had to wait another ten years for the first popular song to achieve that same destination.' (Recorded Music- Dominic Vautier)

The Banana Split show in the 1960s was the start of music on television. Industry make money for shareholders. Chris Kennett then explained Horizontal Integration. I still need to research this subject myself but gather that it is when companies buy the next. 

Before going over the article on suicide we were shown a better way to conduct a library search for articles. Peer review- narrow down search to find authentic article. Save query and name and store in e-shelf. Pretty cool indeed !

Based on our suicide discussion we concluded that a more in depth reading of the article in particular the sample sizes and experiments themselves are important. It is difficult to prove that music has an effect on one to commit suicide or have thoughts about suicide.


It was Wednesday already and time for another PDP skills 2 lecture my Mykaell Riley. The qyestions answered today were 'How can I make a project happen?' and 'Why am I building up all this stuff?'

Today I learnt that it is important to have individuality in a band. Success is related directly to people in you're company and affects one's career. This I have heard before but in  the context of music I found interesting. If everyone is unique and talented and knows their niche in a band we can embrace each other's qualities and produce great music!

To make a project happen:
  • Choose the right project
  • Set goals
  • Backplan
  • Invest time
  • Enlist support
  • Manage Change
A track can be liked or disliked in the first 30 seconds! 

It is important to have a mission statement. Mykaell recommended we read: 
R adke J 1998- 'How to read a mission statement'. (SEE BB site link)

S-specific, stretching, significant
M- measurable, meaningful
A- agreed, attainable 
R- relevant, reasonable, rewarding
T- time-based, trackable

Mykaell also mentioned a great website for news all around the world!  We can select which topics we want to view. When selecting 'Entertainment' we can view entertainment news headlines at once in 15 different countries, depending on those selected.


My favourite day of the week 'Playing Skills 2'. This week we discussed alpha male and alpha females and leaders within groups, this became quite a debate with loads of different views!

Favourite quote of the day: 'Lead by listening, lead by vision.'

My Friend and I also had a joint tutorial with our tutor Mykaell Riley to choose our modules for the next semester and talk about the course in general. Mykaell told us about the different pathways. Unfortunately the module : creative music production was FULL, meaning music sociology was left and music business for creative people wa all that was left. We chose Music Business for Creative (MCMU406) people as his is more suited to us! Also he recommended that we check out, and next time don't hesitate to I take the studio skills module. This makes complete sense as we both want to be involved in music production and songwriting in or future careers which is studio based.

The rest of the afternoon was spent having a jam session as usual, and rehearsing with our bands.


Today was 'Studio Skills 2' with Sam Bennett. Today was all about how to get a live recording down, how to get sound out of the speakers and a mock-up studio overview. 

Microphone kit

  • SM58- dynamic, powerful, robust.
If needs soldering take to tech office

Omni directional mic- normand 414- Picks up sound from around 
Def Jam used these mics in early recording without the pop-shield.

  • SM57- minute difference to SM58. Delicate
Useful tip is to compare the mic with diffrent artists and see which suits the recording and gets the best sound. 

AKG414- fundamental tonality condenser mic.
           -not dynamic
          - more sensitive across different frequency
          - records true to sound if flat
          - different patterns
          - switch is a b***h LOL

AKG451- cardiod pattern mic 
           - sensitive and delicate mic
           - suits recording percussion,harp, tambourine

AKG0112- 'The Egg'

AKGC1000- condenser mic
              - acoustic
              - very bright sounding
              - suited to country, folk, and blues music

We then learnt how to set up a mic stand to record, starting from the the bottom up. Ensure that the cable is wrapped around the microphone and plugged in to the correct port. When giving cables back to the tech office loosely in hand roll round in finger tips and loosely knot one end. Also make sure that the mic is back in its pocket and zipped securely.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Week 1: Life of a Commercial Music Student at Westminister


Summer is officially over and the start of the new academic year begins. I feel like I have been waiting for this day for a long time. Finally I'd get to study music- my first love. 

Today was an extension of the induction the previous week. We learnt about our first module 'The Learning Burst'  which designed to :
'This module "throws" students in at the deep end. It takes a disparate group of young people with very diverse cultural, musical and educational backgrounds and aims to ensure that each student ends the module fully ready to engage with the demand and rigours of academic and practical commercial music study. The module is both immersive, four weeks of daily taught content and Guided Independent Study and comprehensive in its brief to give all student the beginnings of all skills they will be required to develop throughout their degree.'

We also had an introduction to SRS Web, and why it is important to check it regularly. SRS is important to update student details, check modules and timetables. Also if there are any changes regarding enrolment or contact details this can be updated via SRS, this is important as the university needs to ensure each student is enrolled and registered with correct contact details.

Lastly we were reminded of who our tutors are. Mine being Mykaell Riley, and how staff and students can be contacted via email- and also how we can download the handbook, our bible throughout the course. 


It was a grey, rainy morning and I was excited to see what day 2 of a Westminster Commercial student has in store. 

Today's theme was 'Study and Research Skills 1'. We were taught about what is expected of us as students, and what can be expected of us musicians. The key word being to COLLABORATE- with other artists. Collaborating is key as it is through working with lots of different people of we can develop a diverse folio, and find our unique place within the music industry. Questions such as 'What can you say about music?', and 'Why does nobody listen to me?' were also answered. This was great, getting out minds into gear and great introduction to the Music Sociology portion of the course.


Today was not the best day, I had woken up with freshers flu and was struggling to get ready and head to campus. Armed with Lemsip and Strepsils I jumped on the train and made it to university, unfortunately late. 

On the bright side I managed to arrange a tutorial with my tutor and discuss module options, PDP, ensured all details on SRS web was correct, and my tutor thankfully sent me a test email to ensure my email address is up and running. Without a valid email address and password, one would be completely out of the loop. 


Thursday was all about the bands, the theme being 'Playing Skills 1'. Firstly we established who plays what, the lecturer, Ade, drew up categories: Vocals, Keys, Guitar, Bass and Drums, and we each wrote our names under our principal instrument. Mine being keyboard. As the drummers were the majority they each picked a person from each category and voila our bands were born! 

My band is me, and four guys! We chose The Ronettes- Be My Baby, a classic, with a twist as the vocalist is a male- and we've made it more rock, funk. The afternoon was spent jamming and discussing music with our bands, what more could I ask?!

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It was the end of the week, the week flew by so fast. Today we begun studio induction with 'Studio skills 1'- funtimes, one step closer to having access to the recording studios. Sam Bennett is our lecturer for this module.

Sam went through all of the rules for the studio:

  • No food or drink in the control room (except a bottle of H20)
  • Times studio: 10am-8.30pm weekdays & 12am-5pm on weekends
  • Downtime studio (outside Fridays) must be booked 24 hours in advanced
  • Book by email or telephone
  • Outside guests must be booked in via academic staff.
  • Sam Bennett available on Mondays/Thursdays/Fridays. Must give 48 hours notice to book outside guests
  • When booking studio- see the tech office
Sam also advised that we buy over the ear headphones as in-ear ones can loss of hearing! Not at all beneficial as a musician!