Author: Ian Davis

  • How to Orchestrate an Endless Rising Tone Effect

    How to Orchestrate an Endless Rising Tone Effect

    + Welcome to Soundfly! We help curious musicians meet their goals with creative online courses. Whatever you want to learn, whenever you need to learn it. Subscribe now to start learning on the ’Fly. The “Shepard Tone,” also known as the “Shepard Scale” or “Shepard Illusion,” is an auditory illusion discovered by American cognitive scientist Roger Shepard in 1964. Shepard presented…

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  • Remember the Rounds We Sang as Kids? They’re Actually ‘Canons,’ and Canons are Awesome

    Remember the Rounds We Sang as Kids? They’re Actually ‘Canons,’ and Canons are Awesome

    A canon (or round) is a single melody line that provides a counterpoint to itself. Canons can, at times, feel lighthearted and happy go lucky (“Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or “Frere Jacques” for example), but even the simplest sounding pieces require careful attention and are difficult to craft well, especially where more than two voices are…

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  • What Is “Prepared Piano” and How Do You Notate It?

    What Is “Prepared Piano” and How Do You Notate It?

    American composer John Cage was arguably the most prolific composer of prepared-piano music and is often credited as having invented the prepared piano, so to speak. While there were earlier instances of composers placing objects on the piano strings, or bypassing the keyboard in order to directly manipulate the strings in performance (most notably Henry…

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  • Putting the Maelstrom of Politics to Song: PUBLIQuartet’s Live Score of the Final Debate

    Putting the Maelstrom of Politics to Song: PUBLIQuartet’s Live Score of the Final Debate

    Last Wednesday, October 19, presidential candidates Donald J. Trump and Hillary R. Clinton faced off in the third and final debate leading up to the 2016 US presidential election. With absolutely no reasons remaining for viewers to continue to tune in to further coverage of this news media maelstrom, Stephen Colbert and his team at The Late…

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  • Loud Silence & Quiet Sound: The Illuminating Music of Toru Takemitsu

    Loud Silence & Quiet Sound: The Illuminating Music of Toru Takemitsu

    Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) was arguably the most well-known and influential Japanese composer of the 20th century. In addition to composing prolifically for the orchestra, Takemitsu wrote many chamber works, solo guitar music, electro-acoustic pieces (incorporating the use of magnetic tape loops and found sounds), a number of pieces that feature soloists playing traditional Japanese instruments…

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  • 14 of the Most Influential Latin American Composers of the 20th Century

    14 of the Most Influential Latin American Composers of the 20th Century

    Unless you’re a classical guitar student, odds are your music education is sorely lacking in the works and legacies of Latin American classical composers.

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  • Breaking Down Radiohead’s Orchestration in “Burn the Witch”

    Breaking Down Radiohead’s Orchestration in “Burn the Witch”

    Radiohead’s new release “Burn the Witch” marks the end of a long period of silence from the band. It is a patient, driving piece with an engaging form that seamlessly incorporates orchestral string instruments into the music. Often when rock songs use strings, they feel like an extra topping daubed on at the end of…

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