Category Archives: Music

Carl Frederick Becker: the dean of American violin making

The 17th and 18th centuries produced the Stradivariuses. But the 20th and 21st centuries had Chicago violinist Carl Fredrick Becker.

The Chicago Fine Arts Building, a jewel of the City of Wind a few steps from the Symphonic Center and home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is home to Carl Becker & Son. The company now employs a fifth generation in the Becker family, which produces excellent violins, violas and cello.

But perhaps the best known among the Becker family is Carl Frederick Becker (1919-2013), who was the second generation of the family to become a violinist. His father, Carl G. Becker, was also a violinist (and also made cellos) in the employment of William Lewis & Son in Chicago. But while the two worked together for more than 20 years (1948-1968), they did not open their own store under the name of the Becker family until 1968, just seven years before Elder Becker died. Together, they made more than 500 instruments.

Although Carl Becker Jr. only manufactured 13 instruments by himself, he was recognized among violinists and string instruments for his ability to repair and restore violins. He is credited with having restored the Stradivarius “Lady Blunt”, using a method of applying light pressure and some water at room temperature in a small dimple in the center of the violin.

Becker influenced several notable modern violinists who trained with him before his death in 2013, including Peter Beare, Charles Rufino, Samuel Zygmuntowicz and Eric Benning.

“He made these little mini brass bars that would exert a very slight pressure on the dent, pushing it out. I would moisten it very slightly with water and apply the slightest pressure,” says Charles Rufino, a New York luthier who spoke to The Violinist after Becker’s death in 2013. “He didn’t have to warm it up or do anything destructive or threatening. He worked like that all the time.”

During his 76-year career, Becker developed a sense of the relationship between the human musician and the “live” instrument. Ruffino noted that “Carl’s whole focus was: make it sound great and make it comfortable for the musician,” he says. “There is a great deal of arcane knowledge that makes an instrument comfortable.”

Becker’s great nephew, violinist Eric Benning, described his training with Becker as marked with a quality of accuracy. “One day I tried to assure him by saying: ‘I will be careful.’ Carl stopped me and said,” I don’t want you to be careful. I want you to be sure. “There is a world of difference between the two,” Benning said. “It was a vital perspective to share at that time. I’m always attentive to differentiation.”

Another principle of Becker’s approach was to treat the repair of a violin as an engineering project. He dominated the distribution of tension by manipulating the pressure of the strings, changing the angles of the neck, altering specific points on the fretboard and adjusting the sound post and the bridge.

The line of musicians and instrument makers of the Becker family goes back to Carl Jr.’s grandparents, who lost their first violin shop in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Today, the children and grandchildren of Carl Becker Jr. work in the Fine Arts Building. Store, some as luthiers, others in the aspects of business administration of the company.

Bow Making Port Townsend: The Mirecourt of the United States

Violins, violas and cellos receive all the attention. They are the main instruments of the orchestra; they are played by the most recognized string musicians (rare exception: Yo-Yo Ma and his cello). When he sees a violinist traveling at an airport, the shape of the box reveals the nature of the content, but that form says nothing about the accompanying bow. An arc for all string instruments is commonly considered an appendix, a support player at best.

But that is for the unconscious, not trained, not a musician. Consumed violinists, alive and missing, such as Joshua Bell, Lindsey Stirling, Fritz Kreisler, Giuseppe Tartini, Antonio Vivaldi, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Hilary Hahn and Leila Josefowicz, know that the bow is as essential as the instrument itself. That’s why the bow makers of Port Townsend, Washington, are so important among contemporary musicians and music lovers. But not only looking for violin bows.

Those bow makers include Kanestrom Bows, a store run by Norwegian native Ole Kanestrom, preceded by Charles Espey and Paul Martin Siefried. A promising young man is Cody Kowalski, who was an apprentice to Espey and has already won international medals for his crafts. Siefried learned his trade in his native Los Angeles, but moved to Port Townsend in 1991, attracted by the natural environment of the coast.

The arches are made of increasingly rare pernambuco, which comes from trees that grow only in the coastal forests of Brazil. The laws of the economy tell us that the rarer a supply of something, the higher the price (assuming that thing is of valuable utility, which is certainly an arc) But those same laws suggest that if something reaches a price high, it will attract other manufacturers that will increase the offer and lower the price.

It is not likely that a price drop will occur in the short term. These are not easy to make, they cannot be manufactured of such quality with machines, and the dedication to this craft, as seen in the archers of Port Townsend (what is called bow makers, the counterpart of the violin makers, which they are called luthiers).

That job begins with a conversation between archetier and the violinist (also cellos, viola and viola da gamba). This is because an arc is very personal, and where an arc can work with the style and art of one player, it may not be for another; an arc that can be handled through a bright glow might be less capable of producing the expected sound in a low-register sound passage. The important characteristics are balance, sensation and weight. The ropes, made of mane, also matter, but they will be replaced many times during the long life of the bow.

So why Port Townsend? The archers and violinists in Mirecourt settled in the city of northeastern France as early as 1629, partly due to the guild system of master craftsmen and their apprentices. Port Townsend also has its experts, Kanestrom, Espey, Siefried and Kowalski, which attract both customers and apprentices. In a global supply system of pernambuco, ebony and silver (for the arch frog) and mane, the location is less important than the presence of master teachers.

Port Townsend is also an enclave of artists, which undoubtedly contributes to its place in the elaboration of this essential part of the string instruments. After all, isn’t it the end result of artisan work, good music, a better archer?

Benefits of music for the elderly

In general, it is recognized that musical activity can have beneficial results for the elderly. These benefits come in different forms for different people depending on their circumstances.

“Music therapy” is a well established method to help people with physical and cognitive disabilities caused by conditions such as dementia. “MT”, as it is known, often involves relatively passive activities such as listening to music under controlled conditions. But it can also involve singing, playing drums or playing, and playing other simple instruments such as harmonica.

Research has shown that the relaxing effect of music leads to better social interaction and often helps improve communication skills when they have been affected by things like a stroke, or as a result of some other injury or illness. .

For what we might call “common” older adults, music is often used in retirement communities and senior centers in the form of special musical entertainment, singing songs and even dance classes.

Participants are encouraged to sing, clap and dance according to old family standards. This type of musical experience provides a pleasant and pleasant social interaction, some valuable physical activity and a positive emotional stimulation shake.

Can older people benefit from playing musical instruments?

Listening to music can be emotionally stimulating, but it is a relatively passive activity. Can older people benefit from participating more actively in the creation of music, for example, by singing or playing a musical instrument?

Of course, it depends a lot on the older person and the instrument. Many older people have physical limitations that make playing a violin or a guitar almost impossible. But those same people could benefit from participation in a drum circle.

Participants in activities like this quickly get involved in making music, having fun, even dancing, singing and singing.

As Shannon Rattigan of says,

If a facilitated drum circle is presented correctly, in a matter of 10 minutes, everyone can play the rhythm of the drums together … The key is to set the correct tone to make this fun and fun. You can improvise, play and have a good time. As we did when we were children.
Can this be done with other instruments?

Again, it depends a lot on the older person and the instrument.

Many older people have played a musical instrument when they were younger, and stopped playing when family and work intervened. I often read in the music instruction forums comments from older boys (most of them seem to be men) who have picked up the guitar after it was in the closet for 40 years.

Yes, 40 years! That is not an exaggeration. I am an example. I played the guitar and trumpet in my teens and twenty years, and did not actively resume them until I turned 60.

The incentive for me was the opportunity to teach some of my grandchildren a little of what I knew. And that gave rise to many opportunities to act with them in family gatherings. And, of course, that has resulted in the joy of seeing children become talented musicians in their own right.

The point is that it is possible to dust off old talents if the circumstances are correct. Reliving old talents and playing in a small informal band with friends or family is a possibility.

A retirement community seems to be the perfect place where a group of people could gather to make music in a more structured way, for example, as a singing ensemble or a small band.

An entrepreneurial social director in a community of older people could even form a larger band, using regular or simple musical instruments such as whistles, harmonics and a variety of percussion elements (drums, tambourines, agitators, wooden blocks, etc.)

Play traditional musical instruments.

Is it realistic to think that a person of 70 or 80 could continue playing a traditional musical instrument such as a keyboard, a guitar or a trumpet? Or could he or she learn a completely new instrument: a keyboard, for example, or a banjo, harmonica or even a saxophone or a guitar?

Again, it depends on the circumstances in which a person is, in particular, their physical limitations. Many older people have lost flexibility in their hands. They may have back pain or hips that make it difficult to sit in the positions required by some instruments. And often an older person has difficulty seeing or hearing.

If none of these things stop a person, why not try?

A Wave file is a Wave file

Software products, theories and preferences within the record industry have taken the best and the worst options on what to use to get the perfect CD. Engineers and recording specialists always spend their time thinking about the best way to mix and master a wave file and how to really do the job. However, the need to have specific measurements for different software and hardware is not necessarily important.

No matter what you record, the brand you use or the software that is part of your study, there is only one general rule to remember. That is, a wave file is just a wave file. The sound that enters the computer from your instrument will always be the same wave file, no matter what you try to use, change or create to make it the perfect wave file.

This means that the software you use, the way you connect your information for recording and the type of instruments you use will lead to the same. The sound wave No matter how many theories or ideas intersect in which is the “best”, it is always about this general term. This is important not only to not be overwhelmed by the amount of information available, but also to recognize that the entire recording process is based on this concept and how you can use it better.

What should be observed in terms of wave files is what can be done to create the best sound. He wants his mix and mastering to take him to the sound that remains as a unique and creative sound. You also want it to maintain a certain level of control with volume and clarity. With each step in the mixing and mastering process, this is what must be taken into account first, not necessarily what must happen to achieve it.

Beyond this, your general rule should be how to make wave files work in the best way. This is related to the care of spikes and low points so that it sounds in the way that best suits the format in which you are putting it, as well as the skills to create a complete sound for the ear.

The reason why these should take priority is because it is the demonstration of the wave file in the ear that ultimately becomes the most important. If you can remember this as your ultimate goal with the recording, you can go through whatever is necessary to make the correct associations with the songs you are playing.

The importance of the wave file is that it is your music communication. Because of this, you should make sure you use the right tools and those that best suit what you need. This is not something that should be associated with instrumentation, software or the amount of things you have in your study. If you know how to use a wave file and how to create the best sound, then you are on your way to making a professional CD.

10 tips for a better song

If you are preparing to enter a studio to record, be sure to start thinking before putting your foot near the microphone. While the recording has allowed new wonders and expectations to be met with music, there is still a need to make some old-fashioned needs to make sure your songs are worth the extra track. The following are ten tips that you can remember to make sure you have the correct layout before you start recording.

1.Balance. Is your instrumentation balanced? It must have a uniform number of ranges, from lowest to highest. If you have too much of one and not enough of another, your recording may not sound as good.

2. Harmonies. You must ensure that there is good support in the melody of your song. Without the correct harmonies or the alternative sounds to the melody, it will sound as if your song is missing a piece of the puzzle.

3. Musical arrangement. This is based entirely on the ability to organize the instrumentation in the song. Not only must it be balanced, but it must also include contrasts and similarities in how music follows what you are trying to say. If you are stuck with the creation of instrumentation that fits, go into some basic theory concepts to help you.

4.Space. More important than all the melodies and harmonies, it is the room that you put between each one. This means you don’t want to rush your song and you don’t want to take too much time. Be sure to give the melodies some breaks and change the harmonies enough to keep it interesting and move properly.

5.Tempo. Many times, there is supposed to be a specific tempo and that is all. However, you must ensure that your tempos are defined and that all follow them without losing rhythm. Once you enter the studio, you do not want anything to go out for a second, as it will make the recording difficult to place.

6.form. The easiest way for a listener to relate to their song from the beginning is to have the correct form. If you focus on the lyrics, this will be the hook that will be used during the choir. If you are experimenting with the form, make sure there is always a place in the music that goes back and keeps the listener’s attention so that you can relate to the music.

7. Variety. One of the parts overlooked by the organization is the variety in the song. This means that, even if you repeat choirs or verses, make sure you have some different movement or instrumentation in your recording.

8.movement. The movement of the song goes beyond tempo and goes into the extra small things you do with a recording. This is what a song will do or break. Things like speakers and softs, ornamentation and other small accessories will help move the song the right way.

9. Consistency Along with the variety of the song there must be a certain consistency that allows the song to adjust. In part, this is related to the shape of the song and is also linked to things like linking the song with the correct lyrics and musical concepts. Within each of these areas, you may have some variation, but make sure that the framework allows the listener to follow what he is doing.

10. Creativity Of course, this should never be left behind. Too often, musical ideas are heard that come close to what was heard before. The first rule for a good song is always to get carried away, follow your creativity and let the rest adjust.

With these simple tricks you can improve your song and prepare it for recording. From this, you can make sure that your songs and pieces are polished, stand out from the crowd and make your voice heard among other musicians.

W.E Hill & Sons: a legacy of quality and vision

The auctioneers promote the company for its restoration and scholarship work in the families luthier Stradivarius and Guarneri. And in the field of fine violin cases, there really is no comparison with W.E. Hill & Sons for intricate crafts and beauty.

The fact that the very different perspectives of fine string instruments, from players to collectors and academics, find ways to appreciate, respect and even revere the work of this firm, says a lot. They were experts with levels of experience and breadth that are rarely found under one roof.

To illustrate the attention to detail, this store supposedly made its own tools. It is what allowed them to perform at the top of their game in all other aspects, particularly in the manufacture of the bow. Consider how the market values ??W.E. Hill & Sons bows in recent auctions: in 2017 and 2018, the viola, cello and violin bows sold for between $ 1,298 and $ 18,788 (US). The prices obtained in the auction of instruments were as high as $ 54,000 (cello), $ 26,400 (violin), $ 23,600 (violin), $ 16,851 (violin) and $ 16,571 (violin). Auction houses that handle the manufacturer’s work include Tarisio, Freeman’s Auctions, Bonhams, Skinner and Ingles & Hayday.

Based in London, on the elegant New Bond Street, the violinist was established in 1887, the height of the Victorian era, a time when it was thought that English fine-string instruments had surpassed the workmanship of those manufactured in France.

This was also a time when the Hill organization made elaborate and ornate violin cases, one of which was sold at auction in 2016 for $ 17,220. This particular case was one of the legendary “12 apostles” of the firm, named that way because only a dozen were made over a period of eight years (1887-1895), and he was commissioned to house a Stradivarius. The boxes of this exceptional harvest were embedded with exotic woods in musical motifs, with brass fittings and lined with fine paper.

The violinist was also acclaimed for his work with damaged instruments, as well as for his mastery in the identification and authentication of violins, cellos and bows. The firm handled at least three Stradivariuses (the Alard, the Messiah and the Lipinski).

The legacy of the violin store was honored with a special exhibition in the Bate Collection of the University of Oxford at W.E. Hill & Sons bows in 2016. Titled “Fiddle Sticks, the history of bow making in Hills violin experts,” included 17 signature bows that were made over a period of 75 years. The tools and molds to make arches, a recreated workshop, plus a short film, biographies of acclaimed luthiers employed by Hill and several photographs were also part of the exhibition.

The firm was dissolved in 1992, culminating more than a century of fine craftsmanship, research authentication and restoration work. Today, almost everything W.E. Hill & Sons headdress carries great respect and value.

Top ten bands named after fruits

In addition to the refreshing summer drink to which it gives its name, the lemon has to be among the most disrespected fruits. Cars that often break down or do not run are called lemons, rather than tangerines or plums. An unhappy facial expression is often described as a lemon face, depending on the acidity it indicates.

Given their unattractive tradition, it is surprising to know that popular bands have chosen that particular fruit by their names instead of more desirable ones, such as bananas or pears. For example, at the end of the sixties and seventies we were given the Lemon Pipers, who came to the charts with the single “Green Panourine”.

A decade later, New Wave music fans delighted in a group that called themselves Mighty Lemon Drops, whose sound was often compared to Echo and Bunnymen. Then, in the 1990s, singer and songwriter Evan Dando directed a post grunge band called Lemon Heads, which attracted Nirvana fans and the late Kurt Cobain.

Although the lemon has overwhelmingly surpassed the rest of its juicy genus, other fruits have managed to appear in some popular band names. Here are ten of the best.


Eric Carmen and his three young friends made a great impression in the early seventies, marking the great hits “Go All the Way” and “I Wanna Be With You”.

Wild cherry

A blow was all it took to shake this group, a quintet of white children who wanted to play funky music, towards immortality.

Apples in stereo

Among the pioneers of the genre called indie rock, this eclectic band has survived most of its first companions.

The electric prunes

Psychedelic rock combined with a clever play on words helped make these guys a familiar name for a while, since “I had too much to dream about (last night)” came up on the charts in 1966.

Moby grape

The former members of Jefferson Airplane formed this band that fused rock with country and jazz, making comparisons with Buffalo Springfield mainly due to their line of three guitarists.


National success for the most part eluded this talented group in the late 1970s who had minor success with “Fear is never boring,” but they are still highly revered in their hometown of Cincinnati.

Strawberry alarm clock

By mixing incense with some mints in 1967, these guys could smell and taste a simple Top Ten.

Blind melon

“No Rain” became the great success of the group, partly due to its infectious melody and partly due to its bee-themed video.

The Cranberries

No Need To Argue was the 1994 album that allowed the Irish alternative band to break through, mainly due to strong singles like “Zombies” and “Ode To My Family.”

Breaking pumpkins

Billy Corgan directed this alternative rock ensemble of the nineties, which in addition to dozens of successes obtained an appearance in an episode of The Simpsons.

Top ten artists who became famous using nicknames

Elvis Costello will release a new album in October, the first with the Imposters from the Momofuko disc of 2008. Two Look Now singles are already being broadcast, one called “Under Lime” and the other called “Unwanted Number”.

His release will almost coincide with the fortieth anniversary of his first album, the sensational My Aim Is True. Hits like “Allison” and “Watching the Detectives” helped ensure that the man born Declan McManus would become a legend almost as big as that of the singer who shares his name.

Here are ten other artists who adopted pseudonyms that they have immortalized.

Fred Bulsara

He became one of the most extravagant lead singers in rock history, known forever as Queen’s Freddie Mercury.

Vincent Furnier

At first, the entire band became known as Alice Cooper, but very soon that name was used only for their lead singer.

Robert Zimmerman

Of course, the native of Hibbing, Minnesota, would take the name of a poet, since Bob Dylan himself would eventually win the Nobel Prize for Literature by force of his remarkable verses with music.

David jones

As the Monkees and their lead singer had existed for several years, this aspiring young folk rock artist would go on to “fame-fame-fame” as David Bowie.

Reginald Dwight

Like his original identity, his new last name was a common name like John. His adopted first name, Elton, is now the only one he needs.

Gordon Sumner

One can assume that his pseudonym didn’t hurt much, since Sting led the rather popular rock band called Police.

Steven Tallorico

He cut the syllables in half while maintaining the same initial, making the lead singer of Aerosmith always known as Steven Tyler.

Richard Starkey

Anyone with a slight awareness of the history of rock knows that this influential drummer became Ringo Starr just before finding immortality with a group known as The Beatles.

William Michael Albert Broad

Four names were reduced to just nine letters after becoming Billy Idol, who achieved great successes with “White Wedding”, “Dancing with Myself”, “Eyes Without a Face” and a version of “Mony Mony” that became famous for first time. Tommy James and the Shondells.

John Richard Baldwin

He can be heard playing the organ in “Stairway To Heaven”, but mostly he kept up the rhythm as bassist John Paul Jones of the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin.

The 10 best songs of I Want You Back

Once again my mental discography has been turned on by the presenters of Sound Advice, the popular music debate program on National Public Radio. On a recent topic, their theme was what they called I Want You Back songs, and each presenter presented their six favorites.

Among the half-dozen Jim DeRogatis was “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman, his first single after a successful tenure as a vocalist for Eric Clapton. His lyrics uncover the plea to make her old, Boeing, that no one else could replace him.

Co-just Greg Kot offered a package of six different, highlighted by “Working on my way back to you” by the Spinners. The legendary pop group songs about a boy who has regretted his infidelity, now that the girl he had taken for granted left him.

Here are ten other songs that could have been mentioned in a program focused on songs about someone who wishes to recover his former lover.

Baby Come Back by Player

In the choir, he acknowledges the fact that he was wrong and cannot live it, a confession that is magnificently backed by a rhythm that would make his colleagues Hall and Oates proud.

I have returned by Squeeze

After calling his friends a lot of Muppets and insulting his sister, the man apologized and returned with the intention of winning his heart again.

Bad Boy by Ray Parker Jr.

As a sequel to an earlier coup in which he confessed to having fallen in love with another woman, the leader of Raydio is now expressing his desire to return to the one he had left.

Come back to me for the bongos

His girl left him in the old ruthless way by leaving a letter from Dear John, but nevertheless he begs her to return to his arms.

Can’t you hear me calling? by Bill Monroe

This timeless bluegrass classic focuses on a man full of regret after abusing his ex-wife, whom he hopes will return with him.

Band of Gold by Freda Payne

In most cases, the ring has to return to the man, but in this blow of the sixties, the abandoned girl would rather have the liver than the piece of jewelry.

Child with a problem by Elvis Costello

Squeeze lyricist Chris Difford provided the words for this Imperial Bedroom song, which has Elvis willing to turn around and kill himself now that he is in his doghouse.

Don’t pull your love for Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds

Because his old girl leaves him, the man swears that he will cry for a hundred years and drown in his tears.

Big Mouth Strikes Again by the Smiths

On this big side, two openers of The Queen Is Dead, Morrissey regrets the recent occasion in which he threatened his now ex by hitting her on the bed and tearing each tooth in the head.

I threw it all away by Bob Dylan

One of the five Nashville Skyline singles, the regret here is obvious in lyrics like “I once held the mountains in the palm of my hands, and the rivers ran every day.”

Ten songs about Paris that could help the French celebrate the World Cup

The World Cup was the dominant theme in the world of sports last week, but since I wasn’t even a lukewarm football fan, I only saw about ten minutes of the action. The only reason I saw that limited segment is because a game ran for the estimated time, which was ahead of the Judge Judy episode that I intended to watch.

However, a fragment of the post-championship game caught my attention and, more importantly, my ear. While the video showed the Croats, after a heartbreaking loss in the final round it was heard singing a song that I recognized immediately.

It was the success of Oasis “Don’t Look Back In Anger” from the most popular album of the British band What’s the Story Morning Glory. It is the second most famous song on that album, which follows only the classic single “Wonder Wall”.

I thought it was a strange tune for the runner-up of the World Cup, but it made me think what song his victorious opponents would choose. Those in the circle of winners could celebrate by playing a well-known song that mentions the capitol of their country, the European nation of France.

Here are ten songs that mention that same city in their titles.

Let’s Tango In Paris by the Stranglers

This is one of Feline’s acoustic numbers, the 1980 album that marked the definitive transformation of the punk rock band into a more accessible sound.

Free man in Paris by Joni Mitchell

“Help Me” and “Chelsea Morning” combined with this classic to make Court and Spark the most successful commercial album of the folk singer.

Paris crimes by Elvis Costello

French landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower are mentioned in this excellent song from the production of Nick Lowe Blood and Chocolate.

Join Nuit A Paris for 10cc

A three-part musical epic, this opener sets the stage for the group’s revolutionary album The Original Soundtrack.

Paris 1919 by John Cale

After leaving Velvet Underground, Cale made many solo albums, none better than where this main song came from.

I’m throwing my arms around Paris by Morrissey

The city of love does not seem to be a likely destination for the often melancholic singer of the Smiths, but figuratively hugs her here.

Dreaming of Paris by Van Dyke Parks

In addition to producing great albums by Phil Ochs, Harry Nilsson and Biff Rose, Parks demonstrated here and on other tracks of Songs Cycled that he could make his own albums.

Go to Paris for the Waterboys

It was not a hit as big as “The Whole of the Moon”, but it is more representative of the typical British alternative band sound.

I love Paris by Frank Sinatra

Ella Fitzgerald turned the song into a standard, but Old Blue Eyes is responsible for my favorite performance.

Leaving for Paris by Rufus Wainwright

Loudon’s son and Martha’s sister have made many good albums, as this track shows.