Timothy's Blog

Timothy's blog on dulcimers, music, nature and life!
JUN
18

Three kinds of tempo flow

Three kinds of tempo flow

The Italian word “tempo” means “time” --- music moving through time at a certain speed, as we generally think of it.  But it also involves how we progress through time.  Offhand, I can immediately think of three different ways in which the tempo moves.  Let’s line them out:

1)    Steadily:  Like a metronome that ticks away every beat, or, with the human element, moving along pretty nearly like a metronome but with more life to it --- this is the most common tempo motion.  In fact, Pop music recordings often utilize a studio “click track” metronome that serves as a reference during the recording process so all the instruments and voices move along together and the song can be set up to be good for dancing. Then in the final mixdown the metronome track is removed.  We all need to be able to keep this kind of flow (click track or not) and to keep it consistent, no matter what genre of music we play!  Old-Time and Bluegrass music, for example, tend to keep this consistent rhythm.  It's the easiest "groove" for an ensemble's members to keep their timing precise.

...
Continue reading
83133 Hits
JUN
13

Phrasing for drama and meaning

Phrasing for drama and meaning

[By the way, in the photo I'm playing my tune "Big Meadows Twilight" in the twilight at Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park in 2000 --- photo by our daughter Karen.]

There are many approaches a musician can take toward a melody and arrangement:  Perhaps your choice today is choosing a genre to play it in, for example doing a reel as Old-Time vs. Bluegrass vs. Celtic; or perhaps you need to decide whether you’re playing toward an audience, or playing as if closed into your own little world and the audience just gets to listen in; or perhaps you need to figure out if you just want to play a beautiful tune as beautifully as you can, or if you want to communicate some additional meaning through it.  These and many other decisions come into play as we face the performance of a particular piece of music.

...
Continue reading
111685 Hits
JUN
03

We hear music differently! Some observations

We hear music differently! Some observations

As I play music, or as people listen to my recordings, I am continually startled by the vast range of comments I get.  Disregard the negative ones --- let’s even just consider the spectrum of compliments!

I’ll be pounding my hammers on the dulcimer in a dark minor key using dramatic chord changes and then I shift to a jarringly different key and an even more passionate and animated progression of what I consider to be compelling and powerful musical expressions and ideas.  Often at a time like this someone will come up and say, “This beautiful music is so soothing and relaxing, I could just fall asleep to it.”

...
Continue reading
128786 Hits
MAY
29

EXCELSIOR! Ideas concerning the concept of “Up” in music arranging

EXCELSIOR!  Ideas concerning the concept of “Up” in music arranging

“Excelsior” is a Latin word meaning “ever upward.” Aspiration is an important part of every aspect of our lives!  We need a sense of hope for better things, more noble things, more joy and adventure and ultimate fulfillment.  Certainly our music arranging can reflect this.  I have compiled ideas here that I employ to give a sense of “excelsior” in my arranging and playing music, and I often experience a new elation as I perform, no matter what the form of the music is.  Some of this concept is already built into the source melody or chords --- perhaps that’s why I choose to use them in the first place --- but I can consciously incorporate many other techniques as well to flesh out the progressive joy or drama.  I do hope that you too can find your own elation through using some of these!

(A couple of references in the text are for players of hammered dulcimer --- but all of these thoughts can be used by any musicians.)

...
Continue reading
24240 Hits
APR
23

Lessons learned from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass!

Lessons learned from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass!

In 2011, when I was considering tunes for the Civil War album Tenting on the Old Camp Ground, I thought of the spiritual “Wade in the Water” (and ended up doing it in a lively duet form with Bill Gurley, in an arrangement Bill originated).  I remembered that I’d first heard the marvelous melody on a record by the Tijuana Brass in the 1960s --- so I went looking for the track and ended up re-collecting in digital form all of their albums!  I began to realize that these, and especially the two records I owned at that time, What Now My Love and The Brass Are Coming, had had a profound influence on my musical sense and styling ever since.  I play different instruments and genres than Herbie and his group of first-rate session men, but the approach I use to production, arranging, and playing is definitely similar!

To convince myself that I wasn’t  just imagining this influence, and to perhaps share the ideas with others, I started a brainstorming list --- and it quickly became a large set of both general concepts and specific applications.

...
Continue reading
35522 Hits

Please Note: This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

Browser settings can be adjusted to control cookies. Failure to make adjustments constitutes your agreement to their usage. Learn more

I understand

Information about Cookies

A cookie is a small piece of data (usually a text file) that a website asks your browser to store on your computer or mobile device. It enables the website to remember your actions and preferences (such as login, language, font size and other display preferences) over a period of time, so you don’t have to keep re-entering them whenever you come back to the site or browse from one page to another. Most browsers support cookies, but users can set their browsers to decline them and can delete them whenever they like. Cookies can be used to collect and store user data while connected to provide you with requested services. More information about cookies can be found at http://www.aboutcookies.org.

In addition to cookies that remember your preferences mentioned above, cookies are used for the purpose of purchasing items off this website, and for login and user profile details should you provide them by creating an account or signing up for the blog posts or newsletter.

Third party cookies are also used on this site. Specifically, Google Analytics is used on this site -- a popular web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. Google Analytics uses cookies to help us analyze how users use this site. It counts the number of visitors and tells us things about their behavior overall – such as the typical length of stay on the site or the average number of pages a user views.

The information generated by the cookie about your use of our website (including your IP address) will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States. Google will use this information for the purpose of evaluating your use of our website, compiling reports on website activity and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage.

Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google's behalf. Google undertakes not to associate your IP address with any other data held by Google.

If you have Adobe Flash installed on your computer (most computers do) and utilize audio or video players, Google Analytics will try to store some additional data on your computer. This data is known as a Local Shared Object or Flash cookie. This helps us to analyze the popularity of our media files.

Finally, this website makes use of Google Maps. Google Maps is used to provide locations for Timothy Seaman's performances. In clicking on a performance location, you can allow or deny Google Maps knowledge of your location for purposes of getting directions from your location to the event site.

You can control and/or delete cookies as you wish – for details, see aboutcookies.org. You can delete all cookies that are already on your computer and you can set most browsers to prevent them from being placed. If you do this, however, you may have to manually adjust some preferences every time you visit a site and some services and functionalities may not work.

Your failure to control and/or delete cookies for this site constitutes your acceptance of cookies as outlined above.