The Legend That Is The Audio Note Phono Cartridge

Even among audiophiles who are generally hardened to such things, Audio Note (or Audionote to some) is a company that is held in inordinately high esteem, to the point of what appears almost reverence. The company's (actually, companies', but we'll come to that) products often achieve legendary status among enthusiasts, a status that appears bizarre to most 'outsiders' not familiar with the hallowed environment of the audio enthusiast.
The status of Audionote stems from one man. The Japanese Hiroyasu Kondo was an electronics engineer with a passion for audio reproduction and music, and a fastidious way of working. One of the first designers ever to use silver wiring in audio circuits, he has often been referred to as 'the audio silversmith'. Kondo San used highly unusual techniques to design and produce what are still considered some of the finest audio amplifiers ever made, and the earlier examples of which fetch dazzling prices today. Simple, but inordinately time consuming, amplifiers were designed and built, then an enormous amount of time was spent changing even the most minor components and listening extensively to discover the combinations that gave the best results.
Kondo, or Audio Note Japan became a serious manufacturer of very low volume, exclusive products. A few distributors were set up around the world and, highly unusually, the English distributor eventually branched out into their own manufacturing under the name Audio Note UK. Today, the two companies produce totally different product lines, though all with the same commitment to providing the ultimate musical experience. There is one exception however, which is the Audio Note Io phono cartridge.
Many years ago, Mr Kondo had decided that existing designs of cartridges were mostly not up to the standards of music reproduction he aspired to and achieved, and accordingly set out to design his own. The engineering skills required to produce a high-end cartridge are not to be taken lightly. The ultra-miniature construction demands exceptional abilities, but this was no problem to the Japanese master. Not only did Audio Note manage to produce a cartridge of exceptionally high standards, they also incorporated man novel design features and the result was widely acclaimed.
Subsequently, the licence to produce the Audionote Io cartridge was given to Audio Note UK, and the models have been in production ever since. Almost uniquely, every cartridge is made entirely by hand, and by the same technician. As a result, production is incredibly low volume and prices are accordingly anything but low! The units themselves are, however, truly outstanding. Construction is based around an extremely powerful magnet, and a moving coil with a comparatively small number of windings. The result is a very low output, which needs special transformers to be usable, but a very fast transient response and an uncanny ability to reproduce music.
The Audio Note UL range also includes one totally unique cartridge, the Io Ltd. In this cartridge, an electro-magnet is used, with its own windings, instead of a fixed magnet. Incredibly complex, the Io Ltd required additional wires in a record deck tone arm, and also needs a sophisticated, extremely accurate and incredibly low-noise external power supply. Needless to say, the cost puts it way beyond the pocket of all but the most dedicated audio enthusiasts, but the results are suitable spectacular.
At the very top end of audio products, Audio Note manufacture for a very small minority of buyers. However, hear one in action with a suitable audio system and it is very easy to see what all the fuss is about.

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Music Business Book Review: All You Need to Know About the Music Business

Succeeding in the music industry takes more than reading books about it. There comes a time when you have to get in there and start throwing elbows. Where books will help is in how effectively you throw those elbows. Donald Passman's All You Need to Know About the Music Business is one tool that will be very useful for you.
Passman has a loose writing style that is very entertaining and keeps what could otherwise be daunting subjects fun and engaging. He's also experienced and current, something most people in this industry can't claim.
Passman has broken his book into parts. In the first section, he describes parts of the industry that will always be the same. For example, treating yourself like a business owner (yes, even though you're a musician) and making business decisions. Some of those decisions revolve around building a team. Who's on your team? For starter's, a personal manager, attorney, business manager, agent, and our favorites - the groupies.
Part II introduces you to the murky waters of Record Deals. A little shaky on record deal lingo? Passman introduces you to mechanical royalty calculations, advances & recoupment, 360 deal rights, and contract obligations. Passman gives you current examples of what to expect from record labels in today's modern music industry.
The third section introduces you to publishing deals, which can also be very confusing. The first few chapters in Part III are really important because Passman explains everything you need to know about copyright. As you'll soon find, if you want to make a living in this business, you need to own the copyright! Fortunately for you, after reading this book, you'll be way ahead. Some of the streams of income that come from publishing include printed music, mechanical royalties (monies collected from recorded music that you wrote the song for), syncing and transcription licenses, webcasting and performance monies.
The first three parts should be digested by all musicians. What follows are more specific sections. Part IV is titled "Group Issues" and is more for bands than individual artists. Part V covers all things you need to know about "Touring" - as it's title clearly states.Part VI, "Merchandising", should be read by everybody because that's a big income-maker nowadays. If you're a classical musician, you'll want to spend a lot of time with Part VII, "Classical Music." And last, because you're a savvy musician, you'll spend time with Part VIII, "Motion Picture Music". Music in movies can mean some nice mullah.
I hope this review gives you a good idea of why you need Donald Passman's book. Like I said at the beginning, his writings won't give you success, but they will give you a blueprint to follow and arm you with powerful knowledge. Other tools I've found to be extremely useful are The Future of the Music Business by Steve Gordon and the 2013 Songwriter's Market.

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Tips For Transcribing Music

Before You Begin
Practice Ear Training
Before you even attempt to play a note from the recording, warm your ears up. Sing and play through a few scales and intervals in different keys. Many solos will alternate between runs up and down scales and arpeggiated chords. Practice these patterns. It will help you hear these sections as they come up and also to be able to play them without having to think about it.
Listen, Listen, Listen.
Listen through the passage you are transcribing several times. You must be able to hear any melody before you can play it. I sing through passages to ensure that I know them completely. Singing in perfect pitch or on key isn't necessary, just make sure you have the rhythm and basic melody ups and downs.
Get The Basics Down
Familiarize yourself with the tune. Find the key, meter, and tempo. Then analyze the form of the song. Look for phrase lengths, check out which instruments play melody or harmony, and number of soloists. Knowing these things will save you time as you play through various sections of the song, and will come in handy when it comes time to perform.
Are you transcribing a solo? Transcribe the melody first. Many players will quote melody passages and embellish them. Plus, what's the point of learning a solo if you can't play the song?
During Transcription
Look for Patterns
Your favorite musicians aren't as good as you think they are. What? That's right, there are tools and tricks to soloing that every player employs. Once you find them, finding the exact notes is easy. For instance, large interval leaps are most likely going to be on chord tones or important notes in the key. Musicians' don't choose notes at random in most cases. If you're having trouble hearing a jump, think first: "What would make sense?" before getting frustrated trying too many things.
Scale patterns are equally easy to recognize. Jazz musicians love eighth note runs up and down the key scales. If it doesn't sound quite right, try chromatic scales or sections beginning and ending on chord tones.
Take Breaks
We all take breaks while we practice to keep our embouchure fresh. Your ears get tired too. If you find that things are getting more difficult, take a silent break for a few minutes and try again.
Don't Cheat
If you can't get a section, whatever you do, don't look it up. Yes, many transcriptions and songbooks are out there that could tell you how to play it. But learning a song will keep it in your memory far longer than playing it from paper, and will often not include any of the articulations or stylistic notations you gain by learning from the record.
I equate this point to watching a movie before you read the book. If you do that, you no longer have the means to imagine the characters and scenes as they originally were, you can now only see how the movie depicts them.
Tools to Use
Using a keyboard can be a great tool during hard sections. If a section is difficult to play, it can be almost impossible to replicate it over and over while trying to figure the notes out. A keyboard or piano will give you a break from playing so you can just listen. Keyboards are also a good device for learning the harmonies of multiple players at once.
There are many computer programs that can help in transcription. A great one I use is The Amazing Slow Downer. It lets you slow the tempo while keeping the key the same, or change the key while keeping the tempo the same. You can also break up small sections to be repeated.
After You Finish
Once you have all the notes down, don't think you are done with the transcription. The most important thing about learning a piece is not the notes that were played, but the style they were played in. Listen for dynamics and articulations, as well as other brass techniques like scooping notes or glissandos.

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The Changing World Of Latin Jazz

When most people think of Latin Jazz, a salsa dance party comes to mind, with hot dance rhythms charging behind jazz harmonies and improvised solos. This is certainly one aspect of this style - musicians like Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Cal Tjader, and Ray Barretto have gotten people on the dance floor for years with jazz and Cuban rhythms.
Dance rhythms certainly hold a place in modern Latin Jazz, but a growing number of artists have abandoned the dance floor for different cultural and artistic influences. These days, many Latin Jazz musicians integrate rhythmic traditions from a broader spectrum of the Caribbean and South America, often blending cultural elements with modern jazz influences.
Traditional Afro-Peruvian rhythms have played a large part in the expansion of Latin Jazz, bringing rhythmic styles like the festejo and landó into the style as well a more guitar heavy approach. Guitarist Richie Zellon has combined these traditions with jazz harmonies extensively while trumpet player Gabriel Alegria has developed a distinctive approach with his Afro-Peruvian Sextet.
While stateside Latin Jazz always carried a Puerto Rican influence, it has only been recently that artists have put a distinct emphasis upon the idea of traditional rhythms like bomba and plena supporting jazz contexts. Trombonist Papo Vazquez has utilized his ferocious command of bebop over Puerto Rican rhythms while saxophonist Miguel Zenón has dived deep into plena and classic Puerto Rican songs as a foundation for jazz.
Argentina has always been known for it's passionate tango, and many musicians have discovered that this music is a natural fit for jazz. Bassist Pablo Aslan has built a distinct language for improvising around tango structures while pianist Pablo Ziegler has continued the work of influential composer Astor Piazzolla with a distinct jazz twist.
Listeners often think about the lush bossa novas of Antonio Carlos Jobim when they consider the blend of Brazilian rhythms and jazz, but the style has grown into something much more dynamic. Pianist Jovino Santos Neto has built upon his long tenure with composer Hermeto Pascoal and developed a highly creative repertoire of original Brazilian jazz while drummer Duduka Da Fonseca has blended the freedom behind a New York jazz sensibility with dynamic samba rhythms.
The dance floor is certainly still a part of Latin Jazz - just listen to the music of Poncho Sanchez or Pete Escovedo for a healthy dose of danceable jazz. The style has certainly expanded artistically, reflecting a more encompassing spectrum of Latin traditions and giving listeners a more diverse experience.
If you're looking for more about Latin Jazz, check out the Latin Jazz Corner, where you'll find interviews, album reviews, listening suggestions, history, and much more!

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The Rappers

Music is a piece of art which everybody loves to listen since years and decades. The songs or the art people hear depends upon their mood and their choice for listening. There have been a number of entertainers entertaining us and a number of viewers getting entertained by these singers. No doubt, these entertainers are the stars of everyone's lives since they achieve what interests us.
One of the most popular entertainers is Aubrey Drake Graham. Born in Canada on October 24, 1986, Aubrey uses his stage-name everywhere as Drake. He plays multiple roles in the entertaining industry like song writer, rapper, actor and an artist. He started his first mix-tape named as Room For Improvement. His genres of music are R & B and Hip-Hop. His songs are enthusiastic and heart touching. In one of the websites, Drake quotes "I'm not heartless. I've just learned to use heart less... ". He has not only sung mind blowing songs but even helped himself in playing roles as actors on television. His first highly and widely accepted was of 'Jimmy Brooks' which he played in 'Degrassi: The Next Generation' series on television. He has come up with many single hit albums; out of them was 'Thank Me Later' of the year 2010. It achieved the first and the top most position on the Billboard 200.
The other marvelous artist in hip-hop is the renowned singer, Lil Wayne. Lil Wayne is his stage name as his real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. He is born in New Orleans of the United States of America on September 27, 1982. His career began in 1996 by joining the team of Hot Boys. He has also given multiple single as well as collaborated hits. The scream for him from the crowd when he appears on the stage speaks his popularity. He works as a rapper, CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and a producer. In one of the Lil Wayne quotes, he says "You can keep knocking but cannot knock me down". This shows the freedom-loving attitude of the artist. He should have such pride in him since at the age of 15 he became known to almost everyone in the field. His great fans' list speaks it all. Though he received mixed and negative response for his first album, Rebirth, it was made to certify gold. He has seen many downs also with success. He was sent to prison for 8 months on being caught for possessing a weapon in the year 2007, but this did not let him go down. He is still the favorite of all.
These two international singers have proved to rock the stage after coming together for albums. Drake, in collaboration with Lil Wayne, gave multiple hits like 'Miss Me', 'I'm Going In', 'She Will' and many more. Every song of their collaboration has earned huge positive response. It proved that Drake and Lil Wayne are this generation's top-most singers and will prove to be the best also in the future.

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Top Ideas for Music School Trips

Sometimes, when looking to broaden your students' awareness of music, school trips might have an important part to play.
Cultural links
For example, there is a connection (even if the history is disputed) that links the music of parts of Scotland, to Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany in France. Sometimes called 'Celtic music', perhaps the best-known example is the bagpipes. This instrument and the accompanying music are found in Scotland, Northern England, Ireland, parts of western Normandy and Brittany. In the latter area of France, there are numerous Breton music festivals where the Celtic heritage across Western Europe is explored in music. It's also possible for students on music school trips to put those links into a much broader cultural context including links between art, architecture and linguistic traditions.
Music school trips and more recent links
Of course, musical legacies aren't just about times past. More recently, Liverpool was the centre of a phenomenal explosion of musical talent that was for a time known as the Merseybeat. A decade or so later, the centre of UK musical inspiration moved to London, then again to Manchester. Movement and trends in popular music such as Punk and New Romanticism can be explored in various venues and centres.
The central belt of Scotland has also produced its own superb modern music, often reflecting a blend of traditional and industrial Scottish culture. It's also worth considering trips to the Welsh Valleys, where a legendary choral tradition blends seamlessly with brass orchestral and a proud, if today rapidly receding, memory of a past based around tight communities, mining and heavy industry.
Combining history and music
Some towns, such as Warwick or York, evoke the medieval past through their architecture and ancient remains. Exploring medieval music in great local centres or via local music societies can sometimes make a little more sense if students are close to the buildings and art of the period. Sometimes it's easier to understand the sentiments and motivation behind some earlier music when you have something to provide a broader insight into the minds of those that originally composed and performed it.
London and the great orchestras
The effects of a sense of place upon musical interpretation can't be over-estimated.
The great orchestral works arguably demand epic acoustics and space. London has many venues par excellence where some of these great works can be heard at their very best - perhaps during world-famous events like The Proms.
Some forms of music also reflect the periods, values and aspirations of the times they were written in. For example, some might argue that some of Elgar's works can be best heard in the surroundings of a type that were originally built as part of the same cultural system.
Music in isolation
Music can be experienced for itself and some might argue that is the purist way to experience it. Yet linking it to a broader environment is often extremely useful for students, and music school trips to some of the above destinations might just help achieve that.
Angela Bowden works for EST (Equity School Travel), the UK's largest educational travel company, providing music school trips for seco

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What Are the Top 10 Movies of All Time?

Top 10 Movies - the break down
This topic is always debatable and critics around the world have been debating this list since movies were first made. Questions have been asked and technology advances have made older films look outdated and irrelevant, however, this list will judge films solely by there presence at the time of release.
So what makes a top movie?
There is a list of questions that have to be asked when reviewing a film:
Was the lead actor/actress good?
Was the supporting actor/actress good?
Was the film revolutionary?
How good was the script?
Was the cinematography good?
Was the directing good?
These basic questions help breakdown a massive list of hundreds and thousands of movies.
So here is the list starting from 10 downwards:
The list
10. The Silence of the Lambs 1991
Thriller in every sense of the word. Anthony Hopkins plays Hannibal Lecture sublimely in this world class production. This film keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through, from the creepy music, to the intense investigation going on behind the scenes of Hannibal's prison cell.
9. Titanic 1997
Another ground breaking film for theatrical advancement of epic scales. This romantic love story and quality CGI really pushes the boundaries for 1997.
8. Schindler's List 1993
One for the quiz bank: the highest grossing black and white film ever made. There is a reason behind this value and this film truly represents quality in its unique risk and reward by reintroducing a black and white film into the movie industry years after the introduction of colour. As a classic war film, Schindler's List is sure to please.
7. The Dark Knight 2008
A DC adaption of the popular hit series of films Batman. This takes the stereotypical spoofy Batman films and twists this into the dark city that Gothem encompasses. Heath Ledger really sets the bar with his take on the Joker and just for Heath's acting master class alone, this is good enough to get on any top 10 list.
6. Lord of the Rings: Two Towers 2002
Which Lord of the Rings to put into the top 10? Difficult one to chose, however the epic battle of the two towers and the story line behind the film really sets this film apart and makes fans want to watch the return of the king even more.
5. The Godfather 1972
Classic. Not much more to say that this is a must watch film in anyone's books. If you are a fan of Gangster films and you haven't watched this yet... Get in your car and go to the store and buy yourself a copy of this film DVD or Blu-Ray!
4. Gladiator 2000
The story behind this film and the classic speech encompasses this film and takes this to another level. Russell Crowe really puts in a performance in this film and he sets Gladiator on a path to glory. This film will have you instantly hooked.
3. Star Wars: Empires Strikes Back 1980
The second film that was released in the Star Wars set and this didn't disappoint at all following the massive success of the first film. With all the characters now strongly set, this really sets the tempo for the rest of Star Wars releases.
2. Shawshank Redemption 1994
Pure class in ever sense of the word. From acting to the set this film has everything. The story behind the film and it's clever take of prison life gives this film it's rightful place as number 2.
1. Forest Gump 1994
You just knew Tom Hanks had to be in the top 10 somewhere and where better than number 1. Your normal American guy tells a story from a park bench of a life that is so interesting it makes you wonder what your doing with your own life. From action to romance this film has it all.

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