Oct 172019

A guest article was written and submitted by swlamu of Swan Lake Music

The word orchestra is originally a Greek word meaning a place for music and other performances in a theater. Before the 1600s, groups of musicians would gather and play on instruments available to them. In the 1500s, the word “consort,” referred to the group of musicians that made the music together. Composers in the Renaissance era would write parts of the music are on any instrument. The symphony orchestra, as we know it, was invented in 1607 by Renaissance/Baroque Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi.

Unlike composers of his time, Monteverdi wanted specific instruments to accompany his opera Orfeo. These instruments include fifteen viols of different sizes; two violins; four flutes, two large and two medium; two oboes, two cornetts (small wooden trumpets), four trumpets, five trombones, a harp, two harpsichords, and three small organs organized into sections.

In the time of Johann Sebastian Bach, around a century later, the orchestra evolved in instrumentation. The string section, including violins, violas, cellos, and basses, replaced viols, and the leadership of the orchestra came from a harpsichord, the first violin player, or an organ player. This keyboard player was often the composer of the music. They would use an orchestra conductor only on occasions. One of the first known uses was Italian born French composer Jean-Baptiste Lully, who worked with an orchestra for the court of Louis XIV of France. Using a long wooden staff, Lully would tap out the beats to help the orchestra play together. Unfortunately, this wooden staff played a part in the composer’s death as he hit his foot with the pole on accident resulting in gangrene. 

The Classical Era (circa 1730 to 1820) saw another change in the orchestra as the string section gained more importance, and the keyboard instruments became less prominent. Composers such as Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, continued the trend of writing for specific instrumentations for their compositions. The ensemble became more standardized with first and second violins, violas, cellos, and double basses. The woodwind section comprises two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, and two bassoons. The brass section comprises two to four horns and two trumpets, while the percussion section comprises two timpani. Even though the concertmaster continued to lead the orchestra from the first chair position, the conductor became more prominent in the ensemble’s leading. Instead of the long wooden staff, the conductor started using specific gestures using a rolled-up piece of white paper, a predecessor of the baton used today.

As the orchestra grew in the number of musicians in the 19th century, it was no longer practical for the concertmaster to lead the orchestra. The conductor became the prominent figure in the ensemble’s leadership standing front and center on a podium.

Today, orchestras vary in number based on the composition played. Often keeping its standard instrumentation of violins violas cellos and double basses, the ensemble varies between 40-200 members with larger orchestras, including more woodwinds, brass, and percussion instruments.

Mar 182019

music2 me dec 2018

I love playing 4th Horn. Unlike the principal Horn position which us Horn players call “the hot seat,” this position is usually the least stressful of the entire section. We also get all the fun low notes too and one thing we do is to make sure our lower register does not sound as though we had beans for dinner. 😛 We are versatile at reading both treble and bass clef, and we get to transpose parts to boot. Which is very enjoyable actually because I love a musical challenge. Most of my symphony gigs involve playing the 4th Horn part, and I have played some great music. I also look forward to doing more in future performances.

Throughout my career, concerto concerts, well… are not exactly a love relationship, not a hate one either. Some concertos involve us, for example, like Rachmaninoff 2nd or 3rd Piano Concerto, while others do not involve us at all. One positive thing about having a variety in a concerto concert is that you get to play, but you can also head to the restroom during the pieces you do not play, saving us the agony of the long lines during intermission. Especially when you down a lot of water on stage as I do. 😉

Many years ago, while I was traveling for symphony gigs, I was playing in a concerto concert. Even though most of the concertos involved the works of Vivaldi, Bach, and Mozart, one number included all four horns from I do not remember who it was from (Shostakovich? Yay!). This concerto was the last piece on the program, so it gave me time to listen and enjoy the other tunes, use the bathroom, mentally go over my part and other things that make up the art of tacet. Originally set to do two movements of this composition, I was raring to go at the dress rehearsal. However, news came that the program had changed, and instead of doing two movements, we were only doing one. Well, the movement selected only comprised one note, the final note, in my part, and it was also the final note of the entire concert. A single staccato, pianissimo, low note. I think that was my shortest performance to date, but I got paid well for that note, and I think we even had a standing ovation. It is one of those moments where I look back on and laugh about it. Shoot, I was laughing about it then.

Jul 052018

You Only Live Twice

Written and produced by John Barry, with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, “You Only Live Twice” is the theme of 1967 motion picture by the same name featuring the iconic secret agent character, James Bond, 007. Performed by Nancy Sinatra, this theme is considered one of the best James Bond movie themes and became one of Sinatra’s best hits.
This arrangement for Horn Quartet is 3 minutes long and starts with the recognizable two bar theme in the first and second Horns with lush harmonies by the third and fourth horn. The song continues with each horn part getting the opportunity to play the melody.


Jun 122018

What exactly is music? The dictionary defines music as “an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.” The fact is, however, that what constitutes music has been the subject of debate by philosophers, scientists, and even musicians themselves.

Where and how the very word “music” came into being is debated. Some say that the word came from the Greek word “mousikê” (“tekhnê”) by way of the Latin “música.” Others say that the word comes from the ancient Greek word “mousike,” which was used to describe any of the arts or sciences performed by muses.

You’d probably have a bit of difficulty getting a devoted fan of opera to agree that rap was, in fact, real music. Rock-and-rollers are devout in their belief that all music culminated in the development of rock and roll, and that anything called “music” before or since wasn’t music.

What we call music is in every part of our lives. If you watch television or listen to the radio, if you go to concerts, plays, or sporting events, music is there. Music has been used to inspire and to incite. Music is powerful!

So what exactly is it that determines what type of music we find pleasing? I think that several factors play in our appreciation and enjoyment of particular types of music.

Our personal history such as the circumstances under which we lead our lives is a primary factor that determines our affinity for specific genres of music. The music that we like is also a reflection of our inner feelings, and our personal history produces those inner feelings.

The bottom line is, if it’s music to your ears, it’s music!

Jan 182018


Movies and music go together like a complete meal. Even though each part is good on its own, together they create something magical and perfect.

In the beginning, movie technology was still mostly just a dream with the combination of both, a silent film strip with piano accompaniment. Since this silent film era, music has always been a part of any movie ever made.

The term score in the movie world is used to describe the music that makes up the background music in a film. This musical score used in the movie does not include any songs featured in the motion picture. A soundtrack, on the other hand, consists of both background music and the featured songs in the film.

There are some very famous movie scores. These are scores that are so unique that when fans hear only a few notes, they can identify the movie by the score used. Perhaps you may recognize a few.

John Williams is one of the most famous of composers of movie scores. You might not recognize his name, but you will know his music. He wrote the scores for “Star Wars,” “Superman,” “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Harry Potter,” “Jaws,” and “Indiana Jones.”

James Horner is another name that may not be a household word, but whose music you will immediately recognize. Some of the movies that he wrote scores for include “A Beautiful Mind” “Field of Dreams” “Avatar” and “Titanic.”

We all love our movies — and the music scores that accompany them make them even better!

Dec 282017


A person who speaks Chinese and a person who speaks French cannot hold a conversation. Oh, with the use of hand motions, a primary form of communication might be possible; but it could hardly be called conversation. A person who only speaks Spanish cannot have a real conversation with a person who just talks any one of the Vietnamese dialects. All languages are different — all languages except music, that is. Music is the same in every language.

There are seven notes in a musical scale, and it does not matter what country you are standing in or what language you speak. There are still only seven notes in a musical scale. Granted, those seven notes might have different names in different countries; but the music is the same, and if the note is written on a musical staff, every musician plays the very same note.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” He was right. All humans have the same well of emotions. We can all feel happy or sad — hopeless or hopeful, joyful or depressed, defeated or victorious. Moreover, the same music can evoke the same emotions in people who speak different languages. We all bleed red, and we all feel the same inside. We all understand “music” no matter what language we speak.

I cannot imagine a world without music. Sometimes music merely is background, and sometimes music is the star. However, there is always music, and it is a language that all musicians can read and “speak,” and all the rest of us understand.

Moreover, it is not only humans who understand the language of music. Music therapy has proven effective in plants and animals, too. Furthermore, it has shown that both plants and animals respond in a positive way to the sound of music.

Cover tiny file
look inside
The Red Sarafan for Chamber Orchestra
Composed by Alexander Varlamov (1801-1848). Arranged by Lisa Lenke Sousa. 21st Century, Romantic Period, Classical Period, Folk, European. Score, Set of Parts. 34 pages. Published by Lisa Lenke Sousa (S0.298957).
Dec 112017


Music and politics are married. It does not appear that such a marriage would be one made in heaven, but they are married nevertheless, and divorce or even separation is not yet a remote possibility. Politics is all about power, and music is powerful — you can see the attraction.

The marriage of music and politics did not take place in the 21st century. The two have been bound together probably since the first politician on earth made his first stump speech.

Music, used as an anti-establishment or protest tool, is also used as a tool to inspire patriotism. We have both antiwar songs and national anthems. Modern-day politicians probably choose the music that will be used in their campaigns before they decide what position they will take on current issues.

Nobody can deny the power of the Bob Dylan song “Blowin’ in the Wind” during the Vietnam war era, or the power of “We Shall Overcome” during the Civil Rights Movement.

Political music is written in every musical genre and during every decade:

Classical political music: An example is Beethoven’s Third Symphony, which was initially titled “Bonaparte.” When Napoleon crowned himself king, Beethoven changed the name by scratching out “Bonaparte.”

Folk political music: Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” was a favorite antiwar protest song.

Rock political music: Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Rage Against the Machine, Protège, and System of a Down all deliver political messages in their music.

Punk Rock and Hip Hop political music: Almost all of the music of both genres are political in nature. They rage against racism and inequality. Both are anti-establishment.

Country political music: The political music of this genre is pro-establishment. Merle Haggard’s “The Fightin’ Side of Me” and “Okie from Muskogee” are both excellent examples.

Music and politics, or politics and music — which came first, we will never know!

Dec 052017


People of all walks of life have opinions about every topic you can imagine (and maybe about a few items you would never want to believe). Music is no exception. Both the famous and the infamous have opinions about music, ranging from what it is to what it isn’t to what it could or should be.

Here are a few quotations about music:

Kin Hubbard was a well-known cartoonist (he created “Abe Martin of Brown County,” which ran in U.S. newspapers from 1904 until his death in 1930) and a humorist. There are a great many terrific quotations attributed to him, but his comment on music is one of my favorites. He said, “Classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune.”

Oscar Wilde was a famous playwright and poet. He was also a scoundrel in many ways, but he did have insight. About music, he said, “Music makes one feel so romantic — at least it always gets on one’s nerves — which is the same thing nowadays.”
J. K. Rowling (the Harry Potter books author and my heroine because she got kids to read) said, “Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!”

Oct 032017

Indie music is a type of alternative rock which exists in the independent music world. The word is periodically used to refer to all underground music and is the opposite of indie pop music. Indie rock music emphasizes electric instruments such guitars and drums. Musicians in the genre are also known for using abstract sounds. Because these players work under smaller record labels instead of the major record companies, the term indie rock applies to them.

Though indie rock is not technically a genre, it is considered to represent the underground culture in many aspects. Indie artists are known for demanding a large amount of creative control over their music, and this is something which often alienates them from more major companies. These artists strictly rely on word of mouth, tours, and independent radio stations to promote their music. Many of the famous artists will end up becoming popular with mainstream audiences and may be signed by large record labels.

In the US indie music is considered to be a spin-off from alternative rock. The movement is believed to have started during the 1970s or 1980s. The indie rock music of the 1980s had sounds described as being cumbersome and distorted. Indie music groups in the 1990’s such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam became mainstream and indie music became better known. Once the genre became popular, major record companies begin investing large amounts of money in it.

Once this happened, the term “alternative rock” became more of a misnomer. Traditionally, many musicians who have signed with major record companies were considered to be “sell-outs” by their hardcore fans. My Original Music is an indie music site located at myoriginalmusic.com. Here you can find music by independent artists from all over the world. Today, indie rock is a term which has come to describe a wide variety of music. Psychedelic folk, synth-pop, and post-punk is also considered indie rock in a genre.

Sometimes the term indie rock becomes blurred, and some believe that the word will soon disappear much as alternative rock did. Mainstream artists such as Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys have been known to reach high levels on the indie music charts, especially in the United Kingdom. Some mainstream artists also signed to independent record labels. Many popular indie music artist become mainstream, and once this happens, they are no longer independent.

Despite the fact that many indie artists become mainstream, this is not always the case. In fact, most independent artists are not mainstream and do not wish to be. Money may be a motivating factor, but many artists play their music for the passion and not the money. Many major record labels exert a significant amount of control over their artists, and the music sold is more often the product of the record companies than the artists themselves. Because of this, many artists have fought with the major record labels over creative control of their music.



Sep 262017

baby violin


There might be different views as regards music as it has a significant effect on our emotions and scientists have proved that music also affects the development of human brain too. When a baby is born, it has billions of brain cells, over time these cells grow stronger. Children who grow up listening music have strong music connections. It affects the way of your thinking, for example, listening to classical music improves your spatial reasoning, and if you are learning by playing with an instrument, it affects individual thinking skills.

Is it true that music makes one smarter?
Music controls some cells of the brain for a particular way of thinking, and after listening to classical music, one can quickly perform some spatial tasks such as solving a jigsaw puzzle. This improved performance is because the classical music pathways are similar to the channels used in spatial reasoning. When one listens to classical music, these channels are turned on and are ready to be used. These open channels result in solving the puzzle quickly but lasts for a short time after listening to music. Playing an instrument also improves the spatial skills as research has proved that music training creates new pathways in the brain.

Use of classical music
Due to the complex structure of classical music, a child who listens to classical music quickly picks out the structure and recognizes any classical music he has heard before. Therefore, listening to classical music has a different effect as compared to other forms of music.

How to nurture your child with music?
You can easily help your child to build his love for music by playing music for your baby, singing to your baby, start taking early music lessons, sing with your child or help your child to learn music education at the school.