The field of music can be limiting – or limitless, depending on your point of view. Staying within the confines of what you’ve been taught as the norm can be a frustrating experience—whether that’s composing within the rules of classical music or doing whatever the music industry dictates is “marketable”. Thinking creatively can help break these boundaries and make for truly rewarding musical experiences.

Learn to think outside the box and suddenly there is a wealth of new options for creating interesting musical compositions, earning more money with your music or even meeting the challenge of musical expression while in a restricted physical environment. Read on to find out how…

Making Math and Music Look Easy

We recently featured “Weird Circles” by Tera Melos in our article Developing Your Rhythmic Ears because we were impressed with the band’s tricky rhythmic passages and fusion of progressive genres like math rock, punk jazz, and hyper-technical guitar pop.

drummer-john-clardy-does-the-math-practice-patience-timeWe sought out Tera Melos’ drummer John Clardy and he was gracious enough to agree to an interview with us. It turns out John has quite the mathematical mind! He also discussed his career with us and has some excellent advice for amateur musicians: practice, patience and time.

Not sure what “math rock” is? Don’t know if you should like it or not? Dig Boston explains what math rock is and why the world needs bands like Tera Melos, and the Listen To Better Music Blog does a sweep of some if their favorite math rock bands.

Are you interested in learning more about how to play complex rhythms? Have a look at this video from Harry Miree, who gives you five tips for playing complex rhythms such as 5/4 and 7/8 on the drums:

Music + Entrepreneur = Musicpreneur

What is a “musicpreneur”? It’s a musician who is thinking both artistically and entrepreneurially. Last week we introduced you to the term “Musicpreneur” and Darker Music Talks founder Tommy Darker.

stay-hobbyist-become-musicpreneur-interview-tommy-darker-2Tommy is passionate about guiding musicians to take control of their careers and manage themselves. Musical U had the opportunity to talk to Tommy about his new “U25” project and about becoming a Musicpreneur.

Don’t miss the opportunity to apply for the U25 Program!
Deadline: 29th September.

New Artist Model is an online business school that provides a great resource for musicians in their careers. For more advice on how to take control of your own music career, have a look at their founder Dave Kusek’s interview with Music Connection Magazine. Or check out Music Think Tank’s explanation of how you can advance your music career in a digital age.

For more from Tommy Darker himself, have a look at this video featuring Tommy and at an open mic panel for Midem, another organization dedicated to the business side of music.

Free (to be meter-free)

open-your-ears-to-free-rhythm-800What is freedom in music? Free improvisation? Freestyle? Free bird?

While for you it might just be “free downloads” that springs to mind, there are many examples of freedom in music, especially with rhythm. “Free rhythm” is a particular way to approach rhythm in music, popular in traditional forms of music in Asia and the Middle East such as Indian Raga and Klezmer. This week we opened our ears to a few of the infinite possibilities of free rhythm, including musical examples.

To learn more about free improvisation and freestyle, turn to Dom Minasi at All About Jazz and if you have developed a curiosity about either Klezmer or Raga music after reading this week’s article, have a look at clarinetist Paul Green’s video on Klezmer:

… and a lesson from Emory University on Indian Raga.

Creative Composing with Adam Scott Neal

Texas Instruments’ “Speak and Spell”. Erasers. Laptop computers. No, those are not just contents of a school backpack – they could be your next musical instruments!

We recently spoke to abstract music composer Adam Scott Neal, whose boundless use of everyday objects to create new sounds and compositions inspired us to ask him about his creative process.

compose-creatively-by-breaking-the-rulesNot restricted by classical composition, Adam has learned to listen more, read more and experiment more and the result is an impressive eclectic mix of music. If you are interested in learning more about abstract music, follow Adam’s advice and may just find the inspiration for a composition right under your nose!

Composer John Cage famously wrote for “prepared piano”, but how about preparing your piano to play the inside of it directly, like a harp? Sarah Nicolls does just that—and it’s not at all comfortable! Cellist Kim Souther has made a name for herself playing the cello with household objects in lieu of a bow, among other innovations.

Glasses, furniture, rubber bands—the ways of making music with household objects are almost infinite! Musician Andrew Huang has put together a video montage of music he has made with things found around the house.

How To Get Feedback When You Are Your Own Music Teacher

If you’ve decided to go it alone on your path to learning a new instrument or creating music, you may find that one thing that is lacking in your development is feedback. If you’ve shared your music to the vast world of the internet, the comments from strangers (and perhaps trolls!) who have no investment in your music personally are not helpful. Your friends and family probably just say what they think you want to hear.

What, then, can you do to get constructive feedback? Musical U lists four ways to get feedback when you are teaching yourself music—and no, asking your mom doesn’t count.

music-feedbackAsking for feedback can be scary, so how do you go about it? Take this advice from Blend Mastering. For more on how to ask for effective feedback follow these tips from Subaqueous Music.

There are certainly limitless opportunities to share your music online for feedback, and Sonic Bids lists not only the how for getting the most constructive feedback but also the where.

Surviving Ship Life

cruise-ship-musicians-survival-guide-part-1-copyHave you ever thought about taking a job as a musician on a cruise ship? Yes, it’s an awesome life full of instant rewards: money, travel, lots of new friends and getting to do what you love!

However, there is a less adventurous side to ship life that you should know about before you decide to take a contract…

In the first part of a two-part “survival guide”, Musical U gives you some basic information and practical advice for making the most of your cruise ship contract – and what you can expect from everyday ship life as a musician.

Before you set sail, Cameroon Hicks for Majoring in Music has some things you should know before you go and harpist Elizabeth Joy has assembled her own pro and con list of working on board a cruise ship:

From rhythm to creative instruments, the ways of expressing yourself as a musician can be without limit, if you just open your mind and experiment with new ways of creating. Don’t be afraid to break the rules, think outside the box and have fun!

You can even think outside the pizza box – and learn the circle of fifths!