About robertsyvret

Musician at Full Sail University, Florida who loves music.

Peer Comment – Ryan Jumper’s Mike Matthews – Electro-Harmonix

Hello Ryan,

I really enjoyed your blog on Mike Matthews and Electro-Harmonix. I am a guitar player myself and I have always been a big fan of the Electro-Harmonix brand. What I really liked is that you took a very popular item and explained its popularity without sounding like a spokesperson. I never knew that Jimi Hendrix used a BigMuff, but that makes sense why his tone is always so killer. If I were you I would have included the other effects that Electro-Harmonix does, like their killer Reverbs and Delays, and their “synth-based” sitar simulator. David Gilmour of Pink Floyd used their flange/chorus on the Wish You Were Here album and made it very popular as well. There were a few misspelled words and grammar errors but nothing that took away from the great information. I really enjoyed reading this blog and look forward to more from you.

Best,

Robert Syvret 

About Yes – Fragile

     When musicians are asked who inspires you, you will usually hear: The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, etc. When I am asked the same question I say: Boston, Yes, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Johnson, Frank Zappa, and much more. Although I would love to write about all these wonderful artists, I am going to focus on my biggest influence of all, Yes. The album I will be focusing on will be Fragile, although I highly suggest listening to the Yes Album, Drama, and 90125 albums, Fragile is by far one of my favorites.

     In 1971, Fragile, the 4th studio Yes album, included a new keyboardist by the name of Rick Wakeman. Roger Dean did the album cover art, to whom would make a unique cover for the album that explained the mysticism that the album had to offer. The album ended up going gold and the biggest single from the album would be the mind boggling Roundabout. This album along with other Progressive Rock albums around that time (Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, Frank Zappa, etc.) has set the ground work for what future progressive music will be like. The album includes virtuosic musicians, instrumentation, arrangements, and harmonies that this 5-piece band was able to produce.  The album had songs that ranged from 36 seconds to almost 12 minutes. The album also included solo songs that were the “spotlight” on some of the musicians in the group. The Fish, featured Chris Squire’s bass solo, Mood For A Day, Steve Howe’s solo guitar song, and Cans and Brahms, Rick Wakeman’s classical piano piece. This was different for albums at that time and to come because there were three songs that were meant to highlight the different musicians in the group (not like the long instrumental sections of the other songs don’t already). Just because Steve Howe (guitarist), Rick Wakeman (Keyboardist), and Chris Squire (Bassist) had their shining moments in the album, doesn’t mean that Jon Anderson (Singer) and Bill Bruford (Drummer) aren’t incredible. Jon Anderson has the very high-pitched signature singing range, which made his voice stand out in a mystical way. Bill Bruford is considered one of the best studio/session drummers because of his ability to play the most complicated things. The song Long Distance Run Around has a permutation in the verse, which means the drums play the snare ever other beat every other measure (1st measure the snare is on 1, 2nd measure the snare is on 2, 3rd measure it is on 3, etc.). This made the song sound that much more difficult because of Bill Bruford’s ability to morph the beat into something outstandingly difficult.

     What made this album different than other albums at the time were the complex instrumentation, song writing, and theme. The theme would set the stage for future progressive rock bands because it included fantasy and science fiction elements that went perfectly with the other worldly sounding melodies and harmonic content. Each song on the album had a strange feeling, and what I pick up from it is a Baroque/Medieval sounding band from the 1800s, writing Progressive Rock music. You can hear the classical influences in their music, especially this album the most. It went perfectly with the theme, and immersed you into listening. The other thing that made the album different was the three “spotlight” solo songs. This really showcased the different band member’s abilities as musicians.

     Coming at this album from a musician’s standpoint, this is one of my most influential albums. The incredible playing and songwriting and arrangements just still blow my mind every time I listen to it.  Steve Howe is one of my favorite guitarists, and his ability on the guitar is beyond what I hope to achieve myself as a musician. It is also one of those albums where you don’t appreciate just one or two musicians. When you listen to Led Zeppelin, you think of Jimi Page or John Bonham, Jimi Hendrix, you think of Jimi Hendrix, Santana, you think of Santana, Frank Zappa you think of Frank Zappa, etc. All of these groups have amazing musicians beyond talented, but you just hear the main musician, with his solos or showcased riffs. With Yes, each musician will put forth a very complex musical part, where you can appreciate every band member’s ability on his respected instrument. This has always inspired in more ways than just musically. I believe that whenever you are in a group, you shouldn’t just have one person that gets the spotlight, and that everybody has a part in what is being done. Each band member had such a high respect for each other that they let each other shine so that you the listener are reminded that you aren’t listening to a band, but a group of virtuosic musicians.

     This album has led me to write music in a way that they do, in which the songs are either structured with 3-4 different parts, or very non-linear with 7-10 different parts. I love really complex music and it really challenges me as a musician to try and write challenging music that can also be very easy to listen to like all the songs on the Fragile album. Overall, if this album didn’t exist, I do not know where Progressive Rock music would be, or my biggest musical influence would be.

Peer Comment (Zhen Yang Loo)

Hey Yang,

I really enjoyed reading your blog. It was full of interesting factual information. I really enjoyed how you included specific details and historical dates and events. This brought me into your blog even more because it included interesting side facts that I didn’t even know of. The only thing that I could see change is that there are some grammatical and spelling errors. This is not a huge problem because your structure was very well done and it was chronologically ordered. You also provided such great information that you barely notice them. They can slow you down when reading but you still want to read on because you wrote about Marvin Gaye in such a good way. I am also glad that you enjoyed Marvin Gaye’s music because he is one of my favorite Motown artists. I also like how you compared the album to Michael Jackson’s Heal The World. I didn’t know the song, and now I can’t stop listening to it. Thank you for sharing the song and your opinions and facts on Marvin Gaye.

 

Best,

Robert Syvret

Electonic Music Innovation – MiniMoog

      If you have ever listened to Progressive Rock, Electronic Music, or most bands with a synthesizer from the early 70’s to present day, then you might have heard a MiniMoog. The MiniMoog was invented 1971 in Trumansburg, New York. At R.A Moog, a man named Robert A. Moog was building Theremins, Guitar Amps, and huge synthesizers. He wanted to make a more portable synthesizer that could be brought on stage, but also wanted the huge sound that his over the top synthesizers brought to a record. He invented the MiniMoog, and since then, synthesizers have never sounded better. It was also one of the first synthesizers/keyboards that had a pitch wheel that could give a whacky bending sound to the notes being played.

     A few artists of the hundreds of artists that featured a MiniMoog in their group were Rush, Yes, Chick Corea, Kraftwerk, Bob Marley, and Gary Numan, Beegees, and Gary Numan. Rush’s more popular songs, Tom Sawyer and Xanadu, use the sound of the MiniMoog to get a cool Analog Lead sound. It is considered one of the most popular Synth sounds. The entire album Autobahn, by Kraftwerk, uses the MiniMoog in excess, and this is an album that had such a huge impact on the world of electronic music. Bob Marley first introduced the MiniMoog to Europe when he played with it on a BBC concert. Gary Numan, another very influential artist, started turning to the MiniMoog because he wanted to, “step away from organic instruments completely.” The fact that the MiniMoog could be used across all genres of music (due to the fact that it is a palate of morph-able, and unlimited sounds) is a huge step up in the music industry, specifically electronic music. The MiniMoog, like stated before, had a Pitch Wheel that could control a bend of the note being played (another first for synthesizers).

     I am a huge fan of Progressive Rock music, and seeing that two of my favorite bands (Yes and Rush) used the MiniMoog to get that iconic synth sound, it very much surprised me. I believe Robert A. Moog was not just an innovator, but he was a true genius because without his invention, I believe that most of the songs and artists made famous by it wouldn’t have had such a huge impact. 

Electronic Music – Kraftwerk

     If someone were to see the name Kraftwerk, you would think it was German. Well this is true because Kraftwerk is a German Electronic Music Group. The music of Kraftwerk spanned from futuristic/scientific sounding music to very Dance/80s era Pop music. Their musical works range from just instrumental to having heavy processed vocals with a synth heavy backdrop. The image of Kraftwerk was nothing like their music. You would think that a group of Sci-Fi astronauts with Flock of Seagull’s lead singers hair, but they are normal looking hipsters (before it became a thing).

     Kraftwerk’s more popular works from 1974-1981 include: Autobahn, Radio-Activity, Trans-Europe Express. Each of these albums had their own Conceptual Theme. Autobahn’s theme was about road travel, and was inspired by a very fast travelling road in Germany by the name of Autobahn. One track that peaks my interest is Kometenmelodie 2. This song has its moments where I feel like I am listening to a classic rock song turned into an electronic music song. It has that feel and it just has that sound with the chord voicing’s and rhythms. Trans-Europe Express was written based on the international railway service across Europe. The song Trans-Europa Express is my favorite off the album because it has a very cool beat and the different instruments fall on different accented beats which leads to a cool grooving sound. The “Trans Europa Express” vocals in the song are very haunting and heavily processed that it feels as if you are in a sci-fi movie going through space on a train. This album feels different than Autobahn because it is darker at points and seems to have more experimenting with different sounds. Finally, there is Radio-Activity. Radio-Activity is a very clever name for the album because the theme of the album is based on two things: radioactivity and activity on the radio. The title track Radio-Activity is the one song that stood out to me on the album because of the sounds and the panning of the drums. The panning of the drums gave you this dizzying and trippy vibe. This song I felt could have described the 80s migration to the unique and not yet fully explored world of electronic music. I felt that this album out of the other two had the best songwriting and arranging because there’s much creativity with the “studio as an instrument” technique (panning, time-based effects, etc.) and the instrumentation of each song. Each song had its own unique sounds but they all just morphed together to have this similar sound, which gave the album its own specific sound.

     Kraftwerk indeed were an influence to the world because of their creativity and their bizarre sounds that swept people off their feet. Kraftwerk was very original with their sound because there were few to none that would do a completely synthesized record that sounded as if it were orchestrated. Their ability to take a bunch of dissimilar sounds and to bring them together to create a haunting texture is what Electronic Music/EDM is all about nowadays. They also were unique because of their concepts. They did concepts on things that you wouldn’t necessarily relate to music with. They also used this concept and wrote not just the lyrics around the idea, but also the music. It immersed you into the theme and you felt as if you were on the Autobahn, or riding the Trans-Europe Express.

     I am not a fan of electronic music, nor am I in any way a fan of Kraftwerk. That is just my aesthetic view on Kraftwerk, but I can fully appreciate and understand how important they are in the influence they had towards electronic music and the kind of sound they were going for. The reason why I appreciate Kraftwerk is also because unlike present day Electronic Artists, Kraftwerk was, and is, the most original.