Hello, my name is Cooper Johansen and this is my Music History 2 blog. I am attending Full Sail University in order to advance in the music industry. My first distinct memory of music is of an orchestra playing on TV and ever since then I knew I wanted to make music. Shortly after that, at the age of 7 I asked Santa Claus for a violin, which he rented for me that year. In Junior High my orchestra played a Creed cover with a live band and upon hearing a drum set stage in the auditorium I immediately knew that I needed to learn how to bang on the drums. I began recording with my band in 8th grade and have been recording with band mates ever since. Along the way I’ve played hundreds of live shows as a drummer and violinist ranging from pop-rock to hardcore to jam to cover band. I plan to keep on down this path for as long as I keep finding satisfaction in it.


Peer Comment

Crystal, I found your post on Mike Matthews to be very interesting. Before reading it I had never heard of the guy. I have used Electro-Harmonix pedals before and I know some guitar players that swear by them but I was completely unaware of their history. I found it interesting that they also specialize in vacuum tube effects. Also it is pretty cool that he invented the D.I. box. Any idea how he got into making overdrive guitar pedals after being an R & B keyboard player? He must be a pretty smart and creative fellow. I thought your post had a lot of good information and am glad that I read it. Just one thing to look out for is capitalizing your “I”s! Haha I’d tell you to cross your “T”s too but they were all crossed. Good job.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemain Rhapsody by Queen is one of my all time favorite songs. There was a period in time when I would listen to it every night before I went to bed until I was able to memorize all of the lyrics. According to David Chiu of the New York Times, Bohemian Rhapsody inspired Slash of Guns N’ Roses to become a musician, as well as Joe Elliot from Def Leppard. One measure of greatness is something’s ability to be the cause of more greatness. That is what Bohemian Rhapsody did by creating a course of events that led to the creation of so much music from so many great bands, including those two legends, Guns N’ Roses and Def Leppard. One of the things that make it such a great song is the amount of dynamic changes that it takes the listener through. From soft piano and soulful vocals, to funky breakdowns, screaming guitar solos, and a monumental climax rolling into a gentle yet eager resolve that leaves the audience in utter blissful agony- the song has got it all. I think it must take some serious drugs or a sociopath to not be able to feel some sort of emotion while listening to Bohemian Rhapsody, particularly at the end. At the time the song stood as its own entity, as it will to the end of the ages. Perhaps it is Freddy Mercury’s piano and voice, combined with those distinctly Queen harmonies that enables Bohemian Rhapsody to be so unique. Or maybe it was just darn good song writing. Maybe divine intervention. Most likely it was some combination of all those things, and many others. However the sound and song were achieved, this type of originality is something every creative person strives for. Personally, I would love to create a band that creates it’s own new style of music. Over the next five years I want to avoid playing music in ways that I’ve heard it played before, and strive to play music in new ways based on what I feel, perceive, and believe. Bohemian Rhapsody is an extremely passionate song, and is greatly responsible for my own love of music. Keeping that passion going by putting my own emotion into music will be key to finding success in the industry.

Peer Comment

Susan, isn’t it crazy how even with “minimalistic” music like Kraftwerk’s, it is still possible to hear new things each time?  I love it when music is able to do that.  I think your comment about how music can be crowded at times is an important reason for how it is possible to notice more sounds in a song- when the song isn’t too crowded.  I like how on Autobahn they  added vocals, yet used a vocoder to make them sound unique.  I think that their music was able to sound fresh, as you describe, largely due to their custom instrumentation and technological developments.  Also their mindset must have been very different from most people’s in society at that time, which made it possible for them to be so innovative. 

Melodyne and Electronic Music

Melodyne is an extremely powerful digital audio editor made by Celemony.  Melodyne can work as a standalone program or as a plugin in a DAW.  The idea for a program like Melodyne originated with the use of auto tune, primarily for vocals.  Antares was the most popular developer for auto-tune, but their program was lacking the tools necessary to do precise pitch correction.  Celemony took pitch correction to the next level with Melodyne by redefining the standard format and functions for pitch correction editors.  Prior to Melodyne, auto-tune worked in the background according to parameters set by the engineer. However, rather than simply calculating the frequency of a pitch and auto correcting it to certain parameters, Melodyne gives complete control to the engineer who is running it.   One of the primary differences in how Melodyne works is that audio must be first recorded into the program before any editing can be done.  After the audio is recorded in and Melodyne has analyzed it, there tons of tools that can be used to do everything from gently correcting intonation to drastically altering the pitch, formant, and timing of the audio.  This is possible through Melodyne’s ability to selectively edit any portion of a waveform that is recorded into it.  This means that a musician can record an idea on a piano, or any other instrument, and then select the whole part in Melodyne and drag it up or down to hear it in a different key.  Or, if they like the key but don’t like certain notes, they can select just the notes they don’t like and transpose them to different notes, or cut them out individually.  A girl can be made to sound like a boy, and vis versa, using the formant tool.  Vocal notes can be stretched and compressed using the timing tool.   A drum set can be adjusted to fit in the key of a song.  The creative uses for Melodyne are endless.  However, the destructive properties of Melodyne are equally powerful.  A misguided engineer or producer can easily butcher a fine performance if they misuse the software.   This does not mean it should not be used though.   The benefits of using Melodyne effectively are extraordinary.  Melodyne is being used in electronic music to do amazing things.  The “T-Pain” effect has been popular since the days of auto-tune, and now pop and electronic artists are using (or over using) the “whoozsh” vocal drop effect, which can be done in Melodyne.  As I mentioned earlier, arrangement and pre-production can be done with Melodyne to quickly audition variations of parts and compose demos for songs.  The use of samples is extremely popular in electronic music and Melodyne provides the tools to adjust samples to be in whatever key and tempo is necessary.  The creative uses of Melodyne are so extensive that, through using it innovatively, entirely new forms of electronic music can be made.   After hearing about Melodyne I immediately made it my next goal to purchase and now I love using it.  I do worry about its use at times because it can be dangerous.  When something sounds “Melodyned” it is usually a bad thing.  However, that sound can be used  creatively, and it is not too hard to learn how to avoid adding unwanted artifacts, so I think it is definitely a positive development for the industry. 

Electronic Music – Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk made crazy music.  At first people didn’t know what to think about it or how to take it in.  Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter, who were primarily responsible for the formation of Kraftwerk and the music that followed, met in post World War 2 Germany while studying classical music.  They knew that something needed to change for German culture, as they feared it had become too American.  They made custom electronic instruments, which led to making custom music like no one had heard before.   The first two albums, Kraftwerk 1 and Kraftwerk 2 resulted from Ralf and Florian’s interest in minimalistic electronic music.  The group performed live successfully yet they were concerned that people did not take the music seriously.   Naturally they wanted to prevent they’re music from becoming a passing fad and began to develop their sound into more of a pop format.  The release of Autobahn in 1974 propelled them into pop culture.  However, the group was far from selling out, or conforming to any sort of industry standard image.  They performed in suits and ties rather than the typical leather and open chested blouses of the time.  The success of Autobahn facilitated an international tour, which was fitting since Autobahn was full of themes of the “road”.  Concept albums were popular at the time, largely due to the release of the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album.   Kraftwerk thought that making concept albums was relatively uncool since so many bands were making them, yet all their music contained distinct themes.  The 1975 release Radio-Activity was a pun discussing nuclear radio activity as well as communication via radio waves.  The album was not as successful as Autobahn in western markets, but it did fairly well in Europe.  Similarly, their next release, Trans-Europe Express was not an immediate commercial success, but it would grow to be known as one of the most iconic electronic music albums to date.   Trans-Europe Express contained themes of travel in Europe, particularly on the extensive European rail system.  Accordingly, the band did a press conference on a train for the album’s release. The next two albums, Man-Machine and Computer World continued the Kraftwerk’s progression into technology drive music.  Man-Machine was made almost entirely using synthesis and sequencers.  Computer World spoke of the technological takeover of society and appropriately contained a single titled “Computer Love”, which was a huge success.   At the origin of Kraftwerk, they had foreseen the inevitable progression of technology in society, which drove them to create their form of electronic music.  By creating their own synthesizers, drum machines, and other studio tools, they were able to create something uniquely their own.  Their musical ideas were ahead of their time and influenced artists such as David Bowie and Brian Eno and can also be heard in the music of modern electronic pop artists like Daft Punk and Radiohead.   These are a few of the reasons why Kraftwerk is regarded as the most influential electronic group.  As I was listening to Spotify this week Autobahn immediately stuck out to me.  It was clear right away that I had heard the sounds being made before, yet I had never listened to that particular song before.  This of course is due to the huge influence that Kraftwerk has had on electronic music, which I enjoy listening to.   To be able to create something new, while also making it marketable to pop culture, is a difficult feat to achieve and Kraftwerk did it brilliantly.  In a way, they made their own industry, which is the ideal way to be successful in any industry.

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