Are we too obsessed by melody?

Composing and improvising can seem difficult when we approach it top down, trying to come up with good ideas. Trying to come up with a good melody can often generate terrible pressure that blocks us creatively. Here I explore how to wriggle out of this common trap.

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What is groove?

The groove in music is its underlying rhythmic structure and the main source of musical meaning. It functions just like metre and form in poetry. The meaning of the words in poems are enhanced by musical rhythm. So groove is a kind of musical logic, a natural flow and...

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Music is human not machine

Music is human for me, or maybe more than human, maybe divine. It is love. It comes from the same place as beauty and grace in nature. It is a communion between hearts and souls that is profoundly consoling or cleansing. It releases our darkest nightmares and...

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A musician’s perspective on music shaming

When people feel that their musical taste is superior to others’ they are obviously committing a sin of arrogance. It’s fine to be an enthusiastic champion of our beloved genres and artists and to appreciate all their amazing qualities, and equally, there is no sin in...

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Mannerism and natural expression

Music is a kind of language and just like verbal language, it inevitably has mannerism. Different periods of history and different social circumstances demand different manners. This is equally true of music. Different genres of music have different manners....

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Musical Meanings

Have we heard it all before? In our culture, music has become something which we either perform or consume. The focus of music education is upon correct execution. In classical music, it’s all about the interpretation of “great” repertoire. In jazz, it’s all about...

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Sudden shifts in the tonal landscape

A short talk about how sudden changes of key can transport us to a new place in the tonal landscape, generating different kinds of emotional shifts, followed by an improvisation that uses this kind of tonal exploration.

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