Creative & Out of the Box Musical Exercises

Playing the same chord progression over and over? Want new ideas to spice up your compositional and improvisational skills? Then take a look at these exercises, designed to break free from the musical box that musicians can sometimes feel confined in.

Developing Associative Synesthesia

Pick up any painting you would deem art worthy (artwork from the expressionist, surrealist, cubist, or abstract modernist movement are preferable as they may provide more subjective personal interpretation). Deconstruct the painting in your mind’s eye; analyze the colors, the line weights, and the tones, etc. What is the emotion conveyed in the painting?

What aspects of the illustration support your reasoning for such emotional depiction? If the painting is an abstraction of shapes, is there is a method behind the artists’ abstraction? What do the lines, shapes, blobs express to you?

Synethesia translates sounds into colorsOnce you find that you have sufficiently spent time analyzing the painting and its emotive qualities, ask yourself what kind of music would you attribute to the painting? Imagine that you are a film scorer and compose a piece of music yourself that you feel successfully illustrates the artistic intention, or acts as an accompaniment to the piece (which you may choose to counterpoint with consciously).

This process helps the musician develop associative or metaphorical Synesthesia. Synesthesia is defined as “the mapping of one sense onto another,” and is a rare occurrence where certain individuals are able to see colors or shapes upon listening to music.

Getting Your Instrument to Sound Like Other Instruments

Trey Anastasio encouraged his students to emulate the tone of their favorite singers on the guitar (much more difficult than it sounds – try to differentiate between the tone of Whitney Huston and Dolly Parton while performing “I Will Always Love You”), while Steve Vai encouraged his readers to try to give a guitar value to mundane actions (like trying to emulate the act of sneezing or taking a whiz on the guitar). This next exercise shares the same theme – whatever your primary instrument is, pick another instrument, and try to get yourself to sound as close to the other instrument with your primary instrument as possible.

This has already been going on in the musical repertoire. For example, heavy metal percussive palm muting is an attempt for the guitars to sound more like percussive drumming instruments, while the bluesy and jazzy guitar bends are attempts to sound more like brass instruments.

Transcribing Soundscapes

Grab your recorder, and head out to town. Sit down in a comfortable spot, and record the sounds of your surroundings for about five-ten minutes. It doesn’t matter where you live (noisy city or quite a suburbia), every recording you make will be different and give you different criterion for you to work with. Upon returning to your studio, listen to the piece over and over, and start to establish a list of different sounds you have recorded (footsteps, animal sounds, ruffling leaves, sounds of transportation, electrical buzzing, wind…etc). Make sure you have listed and classified every sound on the recording, and have not missed anything.

After the classification process, score what you have recorded – or rearrange the sounds you have recorded into a sound collage until you have transformed the series of sound clutters into something that sounds musical. It is up to you to embellish it to make it sound musically emotive, or just transcribe the sounds you hear.

Jam Out of Tune

Get everyone in your band to each play on a different scale, a different beat, maybe even different tempo and try to create the most intolerable, most cacophonic, most chaotic jam ever. When each of you is playing on their island, you all start to perform what are you are most used to the standard licks and passages that you have practiced on and on. This initially isn’t an exercise to get you to improve, but rather an exercise to get to know your band members and their playing better. At first, what may seem cacophonic and chaotic will eventually spring forth new sets of ideas that your band has come up with together.

Rearrange and cover the songs of pop artistsRearrange Popular Pop Songs

Make it into every musical genre you can think of. Take a teen standard like Britney Spears “Hit Me Baby One More Time” (everyone has done this one… maybe you can think of something else), and arrange the music (no vocals) to fit the style and essence of many different genres. This will allow you to figure out what are the limitations of each style, as well as the boundaries of the chord progression and form of the pop song. Once you feel that this isn’t as challenging as it was, broaden your horizon to non-western music. Good luck with that, most non-western music is not based on chords, so you need to figure out different ways to seek musical expression (here is a word that might be handy: heterophony).

Fun Wedding Entertainment Ideas

Perhaps one of the things you wouldn’t want your wedding to be is to turn it into a snooze-fest. Boring your guests with lame wedding program is a total no-no. Of course, you want your guests to remember your wedding day as one of the most fun and wackiest weddings they’ve been to. Thus, your wedding theme and program are very crucial in your preparations. You’ve got to choose the fun activities to entertain your guests carefully.

Fun party games at the receptionTo help make your wedding day a really fun and unforgettable one, we’ve come up with some ideas that are sure to amuse and delight everyone present in your wedding.

1. Play Fun Party Games

Come up with as many lists of games as you can. As much as possible, avoid gaps or idle times so your guests won’t feel bored. Make sure your emcee is lively enough and could really liven up the mood by initiating the games for guests to play. Games are a great way to entertain the people at the wedding, and even if it would take you a long time to finish retouching your makeup after the ceremony, the guests wouldn’t really notice that if you banked on fun games, they could all participate in. Games are also useful when there’s technical glitch, and it takes a long time to play the on-site video. Your emcee can cook up some games while waiting for the video to be played so there will be no dead air.

2. Hire a Wedding Band or Singer

Wedding band keeps your guests in a lively moodMusic has always been part of every event or party. Thus, it is important that your wedding should also have one. You can hire a disc jock to play some music. Better if there’s a music band who can actually sing and play live music to very well entertain your guests. You can even ask them to sing all the songs in your wedding playlist. You can visit Around Town Entertainment for New Jersey weddings. With a wedding band or singer entertaining your loved ones on your special day, it can make them feel that they didn’t only attend a wedding, but it’s like they’re also in a mini concert.

3. Walk Down Memory Lane

Even before the official ceremony starts, you can already delight your guests by allotting a space in your venue where you can hang your photos as a couple and display them like in an exhibit. It will help of you can make it more artistic and creative wherein you can display your couple photos since you started dating until you became a couple and you got engaged. It can really make your guests feel like they are actually in your “romantic exhibit” and they are walking with you down memory lane.

4. Have Some Kids’ Corner

Activities for kids keep them away from troubleNot unless you stated in your wedding invitation that kids are not allowed in your wedding, you have to expect that some guests will really bring their babies to the event. Plus, usually, there are also kids who are part of the entourage like the flower girls, Bible bearer, ring bearer and coin bearer. So to avoid having the children run around or throw tantrums, prepare a small corner for them where they can do some kiddie activities like coloring, play with blocks or even watch some kid-friendly videos. When the children are busy doing their own stuff, their parents can all the more enjoy the wedding party.

5. Prepare a Dessert Buffet

One of the things you should avoid in your wedding is to make your guests hungry. So, while waiting for the ceremony or the program to start, you can indulge them with some sweets on the dessert buffet. You can hire someone to decorate the dessert station creatively so guests will all the more appreciate it.

6.  Get a Mobile Bar

Mobile bar for wedding guestsWe understand that not all of your guests may fancy sweet stuff and desserts, so it would also help to have a mobile bar where you can have your guests order some cocktails or wine. It is also a good avenue for them to socialize with their fellow drinkers so even if the program takes too long to start, they wouldn’t mind it since they are enjoying their cocktails.

There are a lot of fun wedding activities you can use on your special day, but we wouldn’t want to make your wedding into a circus. Thus, we only pick the ones that can add fun and entertainment on your wedding but will not take the focus off the special event itself.

Benefits of Piano Lessons for Seniors

Music is something that anyone and everyone can enjoy, and aside from that, it is not just a simple form of entertainment, but music itself is an art and medicine for the soul and the body. Often, people would have the notion that it is a lot way better to learn to play the piano at an early age and that it is only fitting for their ages. In truth, music is beneficial for elders too. Nothing competitive comes out of it and only pure experience and joy.

playing an electronic keyboad has therapeutic effectsOne of the greatest benefits for seniors of learning to play the piano is its effect on their mental health. Research has shown that playing a musical instrument reduces stress and it has also been discovered by The Music Making and Wellness Project that elders who learned using the keyboard reportedly had a decrease in levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. This is such a big help already because these problems are widespread among seniors. Even those who have Alzheimer’s can have an improved memory because music stimulates lots of parts of the brain and there are affordable lessons in New York City, which could help them deter this debilitating condition. According to Nina Kraus and Samira Anderson (Music Training: An Antidote for Aging? Hearing Journal, Vol. 66, No. 3, March 2013), there was an evident improvement among elders in processing speed and memory when they started having a 30-minute lesson within three months plus 3 hours a week of practicing the piano even if they had no experience in doing so. It could even also increase their self-esteem.

Physical benefits are also exhibited among them. One of the most interesting points is how music can keep your ears young because listening and playing it is an auditory activity. It is never too late to prevent these problems if given a chance. Also, playing music keeps an elderly calm as it lowers the heart and respiratory rates and the blood pressure is also well regulated. For those who have Parkinson’s disease, listening and paying attention to rhythms that are steady will also help in keeping their movements steady. At a closer look, it also causes our body to produce more HGH or human growth hormone.

There’s even more to that because seniors who take piano lessons can also get a benefit concerning social and emotional aspect. In music, your moods are being enhanced, and positive emotions are increased. Playing the piano will also allow them to express themselves and whatever they feel. It relieves the tension that has piled up inside them, and they get to show it in a very artistic and beautiful way. Overall, it helps them see life in a wonderful perspective.

In social terms, on the other hand, it is prevalent in elderlies to feel a bit isolated and detached. Taking up the lessons, however, encourages them to interact with others and even to those who are of the same age as them; trying to learn how to play the piano. It is quite fun to meet someone who shares the same hobby, and they don’t have to worry about who’s the best because doing it together just adds up the fun. One of the most concrete examples is how playing the drum helps Alzheimer’s patients to have a better connection with their loved ones.

There are lots of reasons why our seniors should start taking piano lessons. We may not be able to name each detail by detail, but we can assure you that it significantly helps. After all, the most important thing is for them to live out the best of their times and to make it the happiest! So, let them tickle those ivory keys, and we’d all enjoy the music.

MMHr Ep 68 Pt 1 Featuring – The Deep Roots Music Project

Deep Roots Music Project – St. Johns Poets Vol.3

Join us in Episode 68 Part 1 where hosts Jeremy Wilson and Sam Densmore bring you the 3rd Annual Deep Roots Music Project Special.

Bands featured in our special this year include:
Rasheeda Ameera, Kyle Lang Jessica Stiles, Keegan Smith & Tony Smiley, Bliss Junkies, Kim Viik.

music studioNow in its third year at Roosevelt High School, and over a decade and counting as an independent school music program, the Deep Roots Music Project added a new dimension this year. The North Portland School’s participating student lyricists, known as the St. Johns Poets, participated in a March 20-25 living history trip to Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia. There, they explored the history of our nation’s civil rights movement. (pictured: l to r Cody Palmer, Jermeisha Hampton, China Lundy recording this podcast at MastanMusic Studio.)

In preparation for a ten mile walk, titled “A Day In The Life Of Martin Luther King” the students studied the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s and also the political music that grew out of the events of the time. By reenacting King’s famous 1965 jaunt, the young writers came home with a sense of what it was like to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, back in 1965, when black Americans were taking a stand for their right to vote.

Two of the traveling students have collaborated on a song, which will appear on The St. Johns Poetry Sessions, Volume III, about this historic event of change. The new Roosevelt Deep Roots CD will be released May 21st 2009. You can hear this amazing song “My Change My Gain” with lyrics by Aundre Lesure and U’Aundrick Nath-Clark in this episode of The MastanMusic Hour.

MastanMusic Studio and producer Jeremy Wilson also celebrate three years participation in this fine project. Five of the ten tracks for the new CD were recorded right here at MastanMusic Studio. We hope you will enjoy this in-depth SPECIAL FEATURE on this year’s Roosevelt High School Deep Roots Music Project class.

This week we are releasing the DJ segment – Part 1 of Ep 68. Join us two weeks from now when we will release Part 2, featuring Lotus Isle recorded and filmed live for The MastanMusic Hour – Club Showcase at Kelly’s Olympian in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Visit our MastanMusic YouTube Site to see our exclusive MastanMusic Hour Video Singles. This week Western Aerial performing “I’ve Got A Van” live for The MastanMusic Hour – Club Showcase filmed and recorded from Kelly’s Olympian night club in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Episode 67 Part 2 Featuring New York Rifles

Join us in Episode 67 Part 2 where hosts Jeremy Wilson and Sam Densmore bring you the show live from Kelly’s Olympian in downtown Portland, Oregon.

This week we’re featuring
New York Rifles

new york riflesIn this Episode we have one of our all time favorite Portland punk rock outfits, New York Rifles – we recorded them last October before the release of their latest CD, Make A Wish (Buy at CDBaby) that came out in March on In Music We Trust records.

New York Rifles are fresh off a West Coast Tour, so if you didn’t have the pleasure of seeing them live, well at least you can hear them here. Catch Scott Young on vocals, guitar, Sean Moultrie on drums, Kari Schafer on vocal, keyboard, and guitar duty and Brent Williams on bass and vocals as they rock you in one of the coolest most high energy sets the MastanMusic Hour has hosted. These guys created a great vibe and we think we captured a really great performance. Please do enjoy!

This week we are releasing the LIVE segment Part 2 of our show. Join us two weeks from now when we will release a new DJ’d segment in Episode 68 Part 1

Western Aerial performing “I’ve Got A Van” live for The MastanMusic Hour – Club Showcase filmed and recorded from Kelly’s Olympian night club in downtown Portland, Oregon.

If you or your band want to be featured on the MastanMusic Hour Podcast or considered for the next round of live.

MastanMusic Hour – Club Showcase shows, please:

Send us your CD and press kit for consideration, to:

The MastanMusic Hour
ATT: Podcast
1028 SE Water Suite 230
Portland, OR 97214


MastanMusic is happy to announce our affiliation with the new concert listings website and podcast a/k/a The Concert Co-Op.

Jeremy Wilson is producing the new Concert Co-Op podcast that is hosted by two very cool and industrious music fans, Christian and Junichi. We are sure that you will be very impressed with the extensive (and we mean COMPLETE!) concert listings for Portland that is updated daily; the massive amount of cool extras like free song links and videos; plus a fabulously produced podcast that also features full length tracks from some of the best bands around.

Seriously, is something both music fans and bands of all stripes will want to be part of. The Concert Co Op is the real deal! Check it out and don’t forget to subscribe to their podcast, “it’s GGRRRREAT!”