For my king, etiquette.

24/11/2012

This time I’ll focus on an individual musical domain which I love and connected to since ever. I’m talking about this ‘royal’ element that you can’t necessarily relate to a particular musical genre. The most related thing to a musical genre that I can think of was in the late 1960s – Baroque pop, and as you could listen soon this royal element is leaking between many genres outside of pop, and that’s good. I mentioned in some previous post about Modal character which is essential to this musical domain. The composers of the above field embraced some common musical principles from the Baroque era which its roots are mainly from Italy, but also from the British folklore that includes the whole area – Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and even parts of France and other places in western Europe. It is interesting to mention, maybe naturally, the Modal influences and harmonies that are suitable for them, came to other areas through the Christianity and the church, to the eastern Europe and the Balkan folklore music.
The Modal musical materials alone, are familiar with cultures around the globe. But with our ‘royal’ case we can distinguish a typical vocal presentation that includes some particular phrasing or word cutting that became familiar in other countries far from the British Isles. As you can listen in the next nugget, one of the most common instruments is the Harpsichord which I really love. (One of my dreams is to own a harpsichord when I reserve enough room for it… beside some other fantasies…)
The Harpsichord was a predecessor to the piano that we know today. Its way of producing the notes is entirely opposite to the piano. When we hit a key on the piano, we’re triggering an internal hammer to hit the strings. With a Harpsichord, hitting a key causing to pluck a string as you can see in the following video: (I suggest to forward it to the 1:15 min)


I think that the choice of using the Harpsichord helping to emphasize the majesty that characterizes the music and the performance in this domain. More common musical ingredients that we can find here are the massive vocal harmonies, and Counterpoint in particular, and of course the use of acoustic instruments like flutes and plucked instruments. On the first ‘nugget’ that I posted here in this blog, we have some great example for the folkloric use of Modal motives of the young Israeli state. In this nugget, I chose to pick some tracks that contain the ‘royal’ domain but have some additional values that keep them out from the classic folklore music. I think that at least half of the tracks that presented here, come from the Progressive Rock music genre which is one of my musical foundations, and also as an important musical form it will get a tasty nugget series in the future.


 

The suitcase of wonders

26/10/2012

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I’ll expand my words about my musical birthplace – My first record player. It accompanied me, placed in the room’s corner on some cabinet while it plays and plays… My parents taught me how to turn it on since I remember myself. The amazing thing is that I didn’t have a clue then that this is a changer turntable, one that can play six records continuously, as a matter of fact, six sides of records. You can watch this clip with my lovely first record player:


I discovered this trick only much later. As a child, I listened to the records in the usual way – one by one. A typical picture you could see if you entered my childhood room in my parents’ home was a small child sitting on the rug and playing with Lego for hours while listening to records from the 1960s. In much fewer times I listened to some children records, especially the Israeli Children Music Festival records that were very popular in Israel while my sisters and I had grown. These were the only newer records that my parents bought beside those 1960s records my father purchased in his teens. One of my first memories as a young child was that I wanted to have a good stereo system. (How many toddlers in the age of 2-3 you know that wish for a good stereo?) Probably at this age, I was already aware of the existence of lower and higher frequencies that this record player couldn’t produce. It is a device that plays through one built in speaker (as is, it is Mono), the sound quality is minus mediocre, especially because of the use of a Ceramic cartridge. In general, this piece is very primitive built, even though it contains vacuum tubes (something that considered good these days), it has a small diameter speaker that can’t provide impressive sound quality. I must point that the suitcase and the internal amplifier built in Israel (there is a label of the manufacturer inside the case). The turntable itself made by Garrard, which was one of the most famous British brands that era. It is an ‘autoslim’ model which means it senses the size of the record automatically while it drops down through the long spindle. There is a side lever that moves while the record falls to the platter, and then the arm knows where to land, whether it’s a 7, 10 or standard 12-inch record. The wish for a good stereo system fulfilled in a later age, and maybe because of this first absence, I collected (fixed and also gave to others) many types of record players through all the years.
And now for the music itself. The small record collection that I had then (and of course still exists in my current library), included mainly Rock’nRoll, Twist, Blues, Soul and some Israeli music that my father bought as a youngster from the beginning of the 1960s til 1966. Then he recruited for the military service (there are no any newer records that he bought after). When I was ten, I started to buy my own records.

Here are some things that he tells as a response to my questions:
“The first album that I remember that I had was of Chubby Checker [the singer that sings Let’s twist again]. “My exposure to new music and especially from abroad was very limited. We had in Israel only three radio stations back then, and they used to play western pop music very sporadically, there wasn’t any scheduled radio show for this music or rather a special DJ that played this music. We also listened rarely to some broadcasts from abroad like the BBC stations through the Short waves, and we had some exposure from there. I don’t remember any record purchasing experience. In the Qrayot area (Haifa’s suburbs) there were not any record stores, and in Haifa, there was ‘Hataklit’ record shop in Hertzl street, which was quite modest. I remember that there used to be some undedicated stores, like toy stores, or stationery shops that used to hold some records for sale. I remember I visit a record store on Ben Yehuda street in Tel Aviv, but that was it. I must say that differently from what today’s media use to mention about the 1960s in Israel – as the establishment was against the pop culture from USA and UK, I haven’t felt it. I was a cadet in the social youth movement, and then a guide. At the youth movement activities we had a very ideological environment, and still, I remember at the same time, there was a club, its name was ‘Fulfillment’ [And I add here – how ironic…]. In this club, they used to play music for dance, and we used to go there right after our meetings at the youth movement house, so I don’t remember that was any rebellion feeling among the youth. From the other hand, there wasn’t some form of typical engagement or swarming after the culture or fashion from abroad, and particularly not after Rock music. I don’t remember any Rock concerts in Haifa area, and I don’t remember any person that held an electric guitar at home or any group that played around.
About the record player – it was placed in my room; my parents didn’t care much about music. I knew about this function of the automatic record changing, but I didn’t like this feature, I thought it could damage the records, and I didn’t use it. Later I had a reel to reel tape recorder, and I liked the idea that I can choose the music myself [My father made mixtapes!], And I don’t have to be dependent on the fixed playlist of a record, that sometimes I didn’t like all the songs it contained. This way I recorded music from the radio or from records I borrowed from friends, and that was enough for me – the songs were what was important for me and not the audio quality, that was the reason that I never bought a stereo system. Even though I always find music entertaining, it has never been in high priority, and when I went to the military service I came only once a month to visit home and besides for relaxing I had other things to do that were more important than music.”
Big number from this record selection were various artists collections that been edited in Israel and published under ‘Hataklit’ label in Haifa. I found an interesting interview with ‘Hataklit’ owner, Dov Zeira that tells very briefly about his pioneering with this subject in Israel, by distributing this music. TL;DR he answers to the interviewer question about the past: “I had the sense to know what will be a success, that’s all.”

In this picture you can see the back side of the sleeve of one of these records, which says:
“For you only!
That’s our slogan!
This record designed and produced for you only!
You can say – every record created for me – I’m the customer
And therefore – we wouldn’t try to contradict your words, the customer…
But go out and see how many records can’t adjust themselves to the average music amateurs. “For you only” produced only for you, wherever you like Dion’s singing or the theme from the film “Navarone guns,” or if “The Shirrels” voices are your favorite or Craig Douglas or John Leyton.
This record contains a song like “Teen queen of the week” together with the fantastic tune from the movie “The singer, not the song.”
This record contains Twist following the voice of Jack Scott; this is a record for you, and for you only!
We hope that you will enjoy from the songs same as us while we compiled this record.
Sincerely,
‘Hataklit’ LTD Haifa”

As Dov Zeira’s words, like my father, you can hear some lack of particular interest that was in that era for this music, I guess they probably got these things as they are and didn’t feel that something new or important is happening. And amazingly, I don’t know if it’s luck or not, but those collections designed primarily my music taste and the way that I understand how the music changed profoundly in our days.
So yes, after I hear these things from an authentic source that lived in those days. As a witness to the development of the music and the modern fashion in the world and the way that it accepted in Israel, I have a little bit stronger and accurate perspective now, comparing to what the current media likes to tell about the 1960s in a nostalgic way.
There wasn’t such resistance for things that came from abroad, and from the other side, people and youngsters didn’t run after it, they were busy with other things. While I thank so much that I won, probably accidentally, to be exposed to that kind of music in that sort of way. So here is a nugget that contains a good selection from the soundtrack of my childhood. I think it has a lot of value, most of these songs didn’t turn to be classics, but I found a lot of musical value inside them, much more than a personal nostalgia. I made this nugget from the actual records that for my great pleasure, they survived the years especially after a small child abused them. I even hustled and connected my old record player to the computer to transfer this experience in the most authentic way that I can, with the limited monophonic sound. Pay attention – those of you who have sensitive listening capability will hear the slightly faster speed playing from the standard. That’s the way this record player is playing (it doesn’t have a Pitch knob like in advanced tables where you can adjust the playing speed accurately)
That’s it, now click the play:

Random retrieval

18/10/2012

With the last 3 years, I’m working as a music director and technician in a local radio station. Because it is a station that doesn’t occupy many live shows during the day, we have a lot of extra empty hours in which in regular times the computer use to random music and jingles or pre-recorded shows. When I had free time, I started to create my own playlists to broadcast in these open hours. And with my natural way, these playlists turned out to be extremely eclectic. So I decided to upload some of them for your pleasure:











Creating independently

13/10/2012

Oh, how long I waited to come back and to right here… There are so many materials and experiences I gathered through these months, and only now, after my ‘forced’ holiday vacation, I could find the time to seat and to finish some things for this precious blog. So here, I’ll take the advantage to present the first nugget after a long break, and this time I want to touch the new music that I’m being exposed to, new music that being created within the current years. I’m happy that I mustered the energy to listen to new music that being created these days around the globe and that after I felt that in those last years from some reasons, even the independent music is uninspired. I think that this feeling of mine, though others, comes from the enormous flood of information that getting bigger as long as the time moves, and like this the sources for creation and documentation, and also the storage availability and the easiness of sharing these materials are incredible. I think we are witnessing for phenomena that didn’t exist before – the number of productive musicians is relentless, and they document themselves like never before. I don’t pretend to bring here any news, only to tell about my experience. I have to put so much time to find some new music that will be exciting and interesting for me, and when I think about the Sisyphean investment I have to do – it makes me take distance from the endless search. But what can I do? There is always a time when all my musical sources are getting old, and the ears want to refresh with something new from our age.
So I spent the last weeks with deep digging after new materials, some of them are appearing in this nugget. Bands like ‘Greazly Bear’ that I shame to admit that I haven’t known before feature here on the side of more senior artists like David Byrne (Talking Heads leader). I think some music diggers will resent me for my old distaste for this band or some other acts from the cold 1980s. This song is an excellent example for co-operating between Byrne and St. Vincent (which is Anny Erin Clark, a notable musician that collaborated with great artists of the Indie domain through the last decade).


In short, I’m completely satisfied from this puzzle 🙂
I want to use this occasion to add another link for a guest mixtape that I made for the Israeli Jewish new year’s eve, on my friend’s blog ‘The Shell.’ Except this, there are many other nuggets waiting for exposure, and the next one is going to deal with one of my biggest loves. Keep follow!

Natural materials only

24/12/2011

For a while, I’m trying to make up my mind which kind of nugget I want to create, unfortunately, if you follow this blog you could feel my absence for a long time, and I can say it was only for good reasons – intensive work and creation. Last month I was busy with the recording of the new album of Keren Hecht as an arranger and music producer (I had the honor to compose some of the songs too). Last recording session we recorded a string section that includes the well-talented viola player Shir-Ran Yinon, the virtuoso violinist Ariav Buchris, Odelia Bar-Yehuda – successful architect and viola player that she and I know each other from elementary school, and Oded Uni which is a day working lawyer and a violinist in the night 😉
All this dealing with notes and transpositions and fitting the right scales to the players (I also wrote parts for a brass section that I’ll record next week) reminded me my big love for symphonic and classical music in general. Then I decided it would be the right moment to release this nugget – ‘Class.’ As you can see, I picked some different pieces that resemble my personal taste on this musical domain: I like mainly the Baroque and Renaissance eras that characterized with a lot of Modal motives that gradually disappeared through the Classic period (Which I’m less connected to). And then, of course, the end of the Romantic era and from there to the Modern which some define it that way until today – these are the colors that paint these presented tracks. I also picked some authentic performances like Rachmaninoff’s and Rubinstein’s, also some less known composers like Ibert and Kabalevsky (that I used to play one of his pieces). This is the tip of the iceberg, and I could fill hours of this musical domain, but I have some other ideas for other refreshing nuggets.

Mysterious airwaves

23/09/2011

You can’t imagine how I’m excited to upload this post. More than ten years ago I found several magnetic reel-to-reel tapes in one of my trips to the flea market of Jaffa (the old city of Tel Aviv), I bought these used reels to use them as a recording media. Most of these reels usually contained classical music (in the better case) and in a lot of worst cases they included boring easy listening music (like Ray Conniff, James Last, etc.), surely not something that justifies keeping such reel as is. In rare occasions, this kind of reels contained good music that was beneficial for me and here there is an excellent example. This particular series of reels included different recordings from a German radio station(s) that broadcast sometimes at the early 1970s. Most of the tracks were unfamiliar to me. I must remind that in this time (I think it was 1998) the Internet was still new, the options to discover new music was quite limited through the online environment, and I, like a good music digger, was frequently visiting the good music stores to find new Anonyme musical piece.
Each reel between these reels (I think they were four) contained 12 (!) recording hours. Surely not in high-quality recording (with the domestic reel to reel tape recorders you could record on the tapes with different options: speeds, and channel selection, mono or stereo – it’s like a digital bandwidth). I couldn’t take such an advantage as granted before the unlimited digital storage that we have today. Remember that in those days the most popular format for music playing was still the cassette tape that usually contained only 90 mins of recording, and here with these old reel-to-reel tapes I had much more recording hours and I could ‘fish’ the music that I wanted in that time.
Through quite long time I couldn’t find details about most of these tracks. I think that later I burnt a CD with these tracks and brought to one of the experts at a music shop which was willing to help me find the anonymous tracks. I don’t remember that there was any continue to this gesture. Some of the tracks I discovered accidently. For example the fascinating track of Kraftwerk from their first album that released in 1970, and as much as I know it never released again formally, The Doors’ song that made one year after Jim Morrison’s tragic death (when Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist, is singing entertainingly) and more. Well, here there is a remarkable typical symbiosis between now and then. From some search after music files for an entirely different goal, I found this directory with the files that I converted from reels to digital. Then I recalled that there are still many tracks that I haven’t found what or who made them. With the help of the current cellular apps ‘Shazam’ and ‘Sound Hound’ (except for one intractable track, that a great guy from one of the online musical forums for finding Anonyme music helped me to discover), I solved the old mystery.
This nugget contains the tracks that I chose strictly still on that era when I just found those reels. (I recorded them on a cassette tape that I used to carry with me in my walkman or the car). Only now they are presented for you and me from the first source and not from a dull monophonic recording. I did add the original German radio host that talked between some tracks, and that’s for the authenticity of the story.
I chose the AsymmetricK name for the nugget because of the eclectic-progressive character of its music.
Long live Modernism!

Sound reflections

10/09/2011

After a very busy month of creativity, I choose to begin this post with my last exciting experience that I had just this past week – An intimate solo performance of Laetitia Sadier which I just mentioned some few posts earlier.
Who could believe? I wished so much to watch Laetitia live, and it happened much faster than I expected, and even so close to my home, in the Tel Avivian ‘Levontin’ venue. Only when I came to the place I figured this is a complete solo performance, an ultra-intimate – Laetitia and electric guitar only. If I knew it before I would probably not attend, because a large part of my interest in her creation is her unique production ways in a studio environment, of course, her individual voice, the music, and the arrangement as a whole piece – these are the things that excite me. And so, I must say that I stood with eyes and ears wide open through all the performance. I think this is such bold step to stand this way on the stage and serve the music in the most naked way, especially with an artist that was always screened through effects and sound manipulations (that I really admire and love). Well, I was genuinely impressed and excited to listen to her pleasant voice that has such wide range. I could hear some songs that I knew before and in that way to absorb their music in their most basic form. That thing causes me to appreciate Laetitia even more, and for the end, I bought myself a great gift for the holiday – Her current debut album on a vinyl record, and she signed me personally with dedication… such an honor 🙂

And now for something completely different – One of the most formative events that I had recently was my participation with a first and only exclusive gathering of the musical project ‘We are ghosts’, under the conducting of Benjamin Esterlis, AKA Morphlexis. As you can impress from the fantastic website that created for this project, we’re talking about gatherings that take place once in some several months, in a studio, stage, radio station or this time – a cave. Last August 18, the group met in Loozit cave that located in the lowland area of southern Israel. We came to the place in some late evening hour, while we unpacking our instruments and equipment there was a large group of young American ultra-orthodox Jewish men that entered the cave. This cave is constructed from several large spaces, and these young men started to walk between the areas, and they began to sing, and the natural reverb of the cave was coloring their voices in a mysterious atmosphere – that was a very significant forward for our session…
After we spread our audio equipment and microphones, checked our gear, the location of the players and instruments, we had a short dining break with the legendary Hummus of Benjamin. The session started with spontaneous vocal experiments around the cave spaces without any kind of instruments, then slowly everyone gathered sitting on the floor in a semicircle near the microphones that surround David Peretz who was in charge on the recording but also played and made other sounds. It’s crucial to mention that the recording conditions were pretty challenging – the players didn’t have headphones, a major part of this session goal was to cope naturally with the unique acoustics of the cave. In general, all the sounds in this course were entirely acoustic. One of the principles of this project, maybe the most important is the spontaneous aspect. There is no kind of any planned musical materials to play, everything is done in the session through the playing and beyond of that principle of pure improv, the participants in this project are not meeting frequently at all (this was my first meeting without knowing anyone personally).
I can sum it as an extraordinary experience, primal mutual intuitive creation at its best. I must say that the people, personally were amazing, it was a big pleasure to meet them and to cooperate in that kind of extraordinary experience. And this is not the end of the story… on the following weeks, Morphlexis edited and mixed the raw materials while he participates all of us with the procedure on every step that he does with every track, what would be on the front, what the length of the track, where a particular track would be located on the final album. I honestly never encountered with such a thing, a musician and an artist, resourceful with such leadership abilities, it is rare, and I tip my modest hat in front of him, I thoroughly proud to be a part of this project. 
You are most welcome to click on this link, and then you can listen to the full album, freely download it and share with anyone, there is even an option for eminent listeners – you can donate as you wish for forward productions, and then you’ll get a link for a bonus album.

And now the last thing for this post – a modest gift from me in the shape of a musical nugget. Further to spontaneous creation, which actually made a great impression and inspiration for me, I decided to create an exciting psychedelic weave that has no relation to the cave but is reflecting another vital rib of my private musical building.
Here it is:

Color frolicsome

05/08/2011

It’s been a while since my last post; it is quite a hard month. This is the right time to refresh with something light. One of my greatest dreams as a musician is to produce a well crafted Disco album. Some may lift their eyebrow for this idea that joins to some of my other archaic loves. I was born in the pick year of the Disco – 1978. In our home, the music wasn’t important issue, and actually, until I was 13 I didn’t have a stereo system. I had a portable suitcase record player from the early 1960s (my father probably got it for his Bar Mitzva). It was located in my room since I remember myself – I’ll tell about it later in another chance. Anyway, most of my records were Pop and Rock music from the 1960s that my father bought as a teenager, and maybe some children music that my parents bought for us as kids. My parents never listen to music initially from their will, and therefore they never thought they should acquire a stereo system. But we had a radio of course, and it worked most of the day hours. In the morning we woke up to the mythologic radio program of some famous Israeli actor and presenter, and in the rest of the day, the radio tuned to The Voice of Peace station. About ten years ago when I worked as a clerk in the long gone Tower Records store, there was a new album release of a collection of songs and jingles that used to be played in The Voice of Peace station. When I first listened to these old jingles, I had such chills, and I went over the age of 5… I think then the notion came – The reason that I have such a great affection to Disco even though it has that bad reputation of a cheap entertaining genre. I think that at least half of the broadcast time of The Voice of Peace dedicated to Disco and the Funk of the 1970s. The basic groove that always accompanied this time is the first beat of the bass drum and the second of the snare and the handclaps.
In Discomat nugget I focused on this notorious genre, I collected some of my favorite tracks and thought that some of them could give you the proper example for a decent Disco. I think the most of them are not very familiar or maybe less familiar as hits. I included some interesting versions of the more familiar songs, and I guess that some of you will recognize some sounds that sampled through the last two decades in many newer tracks. I don’t know if it is the right place to mention, but many ‘serious’ musicians that are not considered as mainstream necessarily, using pure Disco motives in their current music.
Personally I especially enthusiastic about the full orchestral arrangements that sometimes could be even symphonic like. There is a common playing character, especially with the strings sections that designed in that era, I guess it is related to the way producers and sound engineers chose to execute the recording methods. Another thing that is so delectable for the ears is the quality of the players, and even the songs, even though they are very light and sometimes shallow from the textual point of view, musically they are just excellent.
Hit the PLAY:

Roots refreshment

06/07/2011

In an entirely spontaneous whim, I decided that I want to upload some old recorded materials of mine from the past. When I was in high school, and a little bit later, I had the great honor to have a band that played my own materials. One of the names of this group was ‘Karbaney ha mada’ which I can try to translate to English as The Science Coollerstandables. These were very talented musicians at a very young age they ventured with their musical abilities. I’m talking about Nadav Kats (who played on the bass, guitars and also done the audio mix on a 4-track cassette recorder!) and Sh’lomee Lavee (drums). Later Ory Gabay came to play on bass.

We played for hours each time in a space we’ve been given to in a factory in Haifa bay area. You can even hear it – the recordings been made live to the tracks, and I think some of them been recorded directly to a ¼” stereo reel to reel recorder and only later we added more tracks on Nadav’s 4-track machine. Anyway, these recordings are remarkably improvised, without any real professional equipment and without any digital based editing. I’m so excited to hear those recordings each time, what kind of boldness and dedication. Soon I’ll upload some more nostalgic pieces. Meanwhile, you’re welcome to click on this link:

‘Shir Teesh’rey’ is one of my favorite Israeli songs, and this was our instrumental version of it.
Colossal enjoyment for everybody! This is me in 2002 in the pic…

Urban surprises

03/07/2011

This post was about my personal experience from the ‘White Nights’ celebrations in Tel Aviv. In this English section, I rather summarize my words from this experience – I’ve listened to some concerts of both current artists and some very respectable Israeli musicians from the past. This experience reminds me how I love this music and led me to create a new nugget mixtape that dedicated for these giant musicians from the great era of the 1970s and early 1980s in Israel. It’s important for me to mention that this music is not an Israeli folklore music, but a more artistic type of music which we can relate to Psychedelic Rock, Progressive Rock, Folk, Ethnic and even Jazz.

A Lemonade on the balcony

17/06/2011

How nice is it! The summer is here, even though, as everyone knows, the summers in Tel Aviv are not always that kind of a blessing. I, anyway, will be glad if they give them to me to enjoy as long as I can. 🙂

As I promised earlier, the pleasant series “Sunshine Voice” is here again for another refreshing nugget. Go out to the balcony, to the garden or the park with headphones on your head with this nugget playing; a glass of lemonade with ice cubes and mint leaf biting your palate. The summer is smiling for you.

Playing in foreign fields

09/06/2011

And here we arrive at another festive stage in my general mixtape nuggets celebration, the Folklorella series, that resembles another course of my deep-loving musical inspiration. Now you can discover the best authentic musical phenomena from around our globe. This mixtape contains folklore music that sometimes can’t be really called 100% authentic, but it definitely doesn’t leak to the ‘world music’ genre; that unfortunately doesn’t always contribute honor to the roots.

Again, my general theme for assembling this jigsaw is my love for interesting melodies, harmonies and, of course, uncommon rhythms and grooves. It is very interesting to find some similar musical characteristics between distant cultures and times. The first track, for example, is from Japan and could be very confusing. There is a clarinet there with a mounding melody that could easily remind you of eastern European Polka, even slightly Jewish. The Japanese insanity increases with the track. In a track from Kyrgyzstan, we can listen to an interesting mix that can accidently mislead you to think that we hear a South-American melody. I also included some traditional classics from Rumania, a piece that is very familiar to the Jewish east European culture (this musical piece was usually played with a violin as the lead instrument, and here I chose to put the version of Zamfir, the pan flute player). This nugget is closed with a Yemen-Jewish representation with an honorable presence I can’t miss.

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