Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tracing Gospel Music Back To Its Roots

Ever since some cognitive human beings have set foot on Earth, music has greatly taken part of their lives. Some people prefer to just listen to music. Others enjoy to take a more active approach, for instance, those that want to learn how to play violin. The folks belonging to the days of yore created their own musical arrangements by plucking strings and hitting things like wood, hide, or stone. The sounds of nature have also served as one pleasant musical sound for them. They undoubtedly took pleasure listening to the sound of the waterfalls, the animals, and even the weather-related reverberations.

Music has then taken a further course. Throughout the passing of time, people have invented creative means of creating music. From the schools to the churches, there is music. The music industry has also created varied genres of music for all occasions.

You will often see or hear people preaching about the word of God. The gospel of the Lord is being delivered through the means of other people who serve as His own instruments. Simply listening to His words enlightens your spirit, right? God has often reminded His people to love one another as he loves everyone. He places every creation he has made under His care. Although every person has been created in His image and likeness, still no one leads a perfect life. To put it in a much simpler term, no one is as perfect as God is.

One’s spirituality and faith can thus be manifested by several means. Reading the bible, following the ten commandments of God, praying, singing gospel music, and attending mass are among the typical ways by which one’s spirituality is nourished. They often say that those who sing praise twice. Thus, by singing the gospel music, you are praising twice!

What is gospel music?

Gospel music is a religious music that contains the word of God. Gospel music is at all times used as one medium to praise God Almighty. In varying tunes and arrangements, gospel music can always be heard during the celebration of the mass, praise and worship activities, and healing mass.

There is no limit as to the use of gospel music. You can even make it as your morning praise habit. You can listen to it while driving your car. Or you can let it resound in your house. Some gospel music singers perform the genre in nightclubs and secular settings. These days, more and more gospel music are hence becoming danceable therefore making the enlightening of the spirit more effective.

The Roots of Gospel Music

The gospel music was first popularized by the African-American churches way back in the 1930s. Two styles of the gospel music emerged in those days—that of the black people and that of the white southerners. Despite the two separate styles, gospel music still traces its roots from the Methodist hymnal. There came a time when the artists from the two separate categories sang the gospel music of each other.

The onset of gospel music has marked a phenomenon in America regardless of the distinction between the while and black churches. Indeed, gospel music has reached Australia that gave birth to the gospel choirs of Jonah and The Whalers and The Elementals plus the beginning of the Australian Gospel Music Festival. Norway also gave rise to both the Oslo Gospel Choir and the Ansgar Gospel Choir.

The Influences of Gospel

The trendy pop music had greatly influenced the gospel artists. In turn, gospel music has also influenced the rhythm and blues singers of the 1940s up to the 1950s.

Gospel music has reached the peek of its popularity. Until now, several other gospel musical artists are gaining their own fame for the genre and a lot other patrons are getting drawn on them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Free Sheet Music - Fact Or Fiction?

The search “free sheet music” (without the inverted commas) on google spews out an impressive 17,300,000 pages. Even the most inexperienced internet-user will immediately realize that the truth cannot be quite so bountiful. I click on the first hit on google (results on yahoo and msn will differ) and am promised thousands of downloadable scores. On closer inspection this turns out to be a number of Irish tunes at most, with most of the promised pieces in fact consisting of links to more so called “free sites”. Funnily enough the owner of the website at one point even points out not to send him any nasty e-mails about the lack of free scores on the site.

So let’s try the second hit. After navigating round the site promising me free scores, I always end up on a page telling me that all of these scores are free to download - for a small fee of 20 Dollars a year. As a user I am starting to feel confused - I haven’t seen a single piece of sheet music. Can I trust this site? What would the quality of the scores be if I paid the 20 Dollars?

Frustrated, I move on to the next search engine result. This site at least has the courage to tell me on the main page that the so-called free scores will cost me 30 dollars a year, yet once again, I fail to detect a single quaver or treble clef. No scores are available for preview. This is starting to remind me of the “free DVD” I get with my Sunday paper. Only that I have to purchase the Sunday paper first.

Yet another site turns out to be just like the first, the promised pieces of sheet music being links to more so-called free sheet music sites. I am starting to get bored of being re-directed. Aren’t there any sheet music sites out there?

The story of my search continues in similar fashion, until I encounter a site that does offer sheet music, albeit a limited quantity. I download a score only to find that the graphics aren’t quite where they should be, and this makes me wonder about the general quality of the scores and the arrangements that are available. Indeed. Why should anyone create a score and put any effort into the arrangement and editing, if they aren’t making any money through direct sales?

Even other hits take me to a site where I am charged $1.60 for the “privilege” of downloading a badly scanned copy of a Bach composition. Hm.

Frighteningly, I also find a site that offers extremely basic versions of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and other music that is in fact still under copyright. This website is clearly an illegal operation, and one that might find itself in the crosshairs of the Music Publishers' Association (MPA). The MPA, as highlighted in a recent article on the BBC Website ( is intending to clamp down on websites selling music still under copyright, or where the arrangements are still under copyright. In a way the publishing world is doing what record labels started a few years ago by actively prosecuting those participating in illegal download of sheet music.

I eventually find a project similar to the Gutenberg Project where people contribute scores freely. The quality seems ok, but I am restricted to pieces by a handful of classical composers, and with anything relying on donations and free contributions, I doubt there are regular updates. However, as with Wikipedia, the authenticity of the product has to come into question. The standard review process that an encyclopaedia has and Wikipedia and other websites dependent on volunteers lack will have to be considered when downloading scores (or any other information for that matter) for free: does the end-user believe all the notes are accurate? When the founder of Wikipedia himself was found to manipulate information on the very site how much can these so-called democratic sites be trusted? Obviously no one would benefit from changing a note in a score, so no one would deliberately manipulate a piece of music. But what are the skill levels of those involved in the creation of these scores? It is highly unlikely that a trained musician would edit these - he would be destroying his own industry to a certain extent. Furthermore I will not be able to find simplified arrangements of a piece, as this is a time-consuming effort, and anyone engaging in such an operation would clearly charge for the service.

After many days of searching, I give up in my quest in search of good free scores.

But what is one to make of all this? Why are there so many sites that don’t actually sell anything, and what is the point of them?

The problem is created by advertising. The people who run these sites own the most obvious url titles (i.e. the web site address) that one might type in when looking for free scores. As an example: if you were looking for free glasses, one might type in Hence, these sites get a lot of direct traffic. Furthermore they have also done a very good job at search engine optimisation, which makes you wonder whether google and Co are actually missing a trick here. Yet as these sites have nothing to sell they try and get the frustrated user to click on one of the many adverts, and many of these are so-called google ads. Every time someone clicks on one of these ads or paid-for links, the aforementioned website earns a small amount of money (so-called click-through). What is even more disconcerting is that some of these ads lead to legitimate sheet music download sites, making it even harder for the user to distinguish between the real thing and some dodgy operation trying to make a buck on click-throughs. This clearly does not help the industry.

Well, what about those free scores then? Well, there are some out there, basically a handful to be found on the five or six legitimate sites that are out there. These sites have the highest quality in terms of the arrangements, the quality of the score both graphically and in print-out quality.

So why no free scores?

Think about it: why should anyone go through the effort of either
A) scanning hundreds and thousands of pages of music, and then offering them for free?


B) creating hundreds and thousands of arrangements for free?

Exactly. If you were to upload loads of tunes, you’d want to make money out of it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Playing Gospel Music

Learning how to play gospel music is one thing many people choose to pursue when they begin playing music. This is a great way to learn how to play the piano, or other instruments, since it allows you to concentrate your efforts on the chords, notes, and harmonies specific to gospel music. And if you love gospel, knowing how to play your favourite songs on the piano this will only add to the fun.

The piano is one the most beautiful instruments in the world. The sound it emits is enchanting and melodic, while at the same time it can be played with great enthusiasm and dynamics. If you decide to start out playing gospel on the piano, you won’t be limited to just this style, as the piano is so versatile that many people play everything from classical to jazz to rock music on it.

If you are interested in purchasing a piano for your lessons, make sure you are aware of the cost. You might want to start out with an inexpensive piano or keyboard as you learn how to play. Or, there is the choice of renting a piano until you feel confident enough to go out and buy one for your home. This way you can be sure of the type of sound you are looking for.

Once you take your first lesson, you will be amazed at the sounds that come from your own fingertips. You will feel confident and proud as you play your first song, no matter how simple it is. Within a few lessons you can start mastering the chords and scales common to all types of music. Playing any gospel song will be easy once you have the right tools.

If you are interested in learning how to play gospel music, make sure you find the right courses that will teach you the basics of gospel music and music theory. An online lesson series that focuses on the chord patterns and melodies specific to gospel is the best way to familiarize yourself with playing this kind of music. A program that also specializes in helping you learn to play music by ear is also extremely important. Gospel music is often learned and shared simply through listening, which means it is important that you can easily play chords and melodies without the aid of sheet music.