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 seme├«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.

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