Bandvista Blog


Sing it, baby: 5 vocal traditions of music

From opera to throat singing, vocal traditions from around the world – some centuries old – are every bit as relevant as they were three hundred years ago. Some of the most ancient vocal traditions have made their way into modern music, bringing new understanding to a variety of regional and national histories of music. Here are five vocal traditions of music worldwide.

Traditional Japanese Singing

Traditional Japanese singing dates back thousands of years, and is enjoying a revival in western tradition. This kind of singing involves a great deal of nasal tone, warbling, and sustaining tones in the back of the throat in the area of the soft palate. Very often, a great deal of leaping and vibrato is involved, in which the singer changes tone quickly and effortlessly. Traditional Japanese singing can typically only be studied in Japan, although a few instructors in this technique live outside the country.


One of the most famous western traditions of singing, the operatic singing technique is usually rooted in the Italian bel canto style, involving beautiful tone, firm support, and, often, intensive vibrato depending on what is being sung. The operatic style is more than five hundred years old, and is applied not only to opera, but other classical forms and even vocalizing in modern genres of music, like metal and gothic industrial. The opera or bel canto style can be studied almost anywhere in the world, and in the west is taught as the standard singing technique for all vocal music students. 

Throat Singing 

Throat singing is an incredibly complex form of vocalizing that takes place almost entirely in the throat and the back of the mouth. Experienced throat singers can also sustain two tones simultaneously using this technique, which baffles many who aren't familiar with this particular capability of the human voice. Believed to have originated in Mongolia, throat singing spread as a tradition through Asia and the Middle East.


Swedish and Norwegian in origin, kulning – or “herding song” - was used by reindeer and other cattle herders to call their herds home for the night. This ancient vocal tradition involves high, piercing tones and a great deal of ululation, and can often be heard in traditional Scandinavian folk music, especially twenty-first century creations. Kulning is being rediscovered in its home region as a method of vocal music. 

Indian Classical Singing 

Indian classical singing consists of two major traditions: Carnatic and Hindustani, with the latter being the more widely performed. This style of singing consists of exceptionally smooth and straight tone, and “scooping” or “sliding” from one tone to the next, creating a melodically consistent and swooping vocal line. Indian classical singing informs the modern Bollywood and pop styles of Indian music. 

No matter where you are in the world, each of these singing traditions is fascinating in its own right –

5 Tips for Music Students

Whether you're pursuing music courses in high school or attending a licentiate program in composition, being a music student is challenging in a lot of ways – tons of hours in the practice room, chamber and ensemble rehearsals, and stiff competition for awards and scholarships. But a well-maintained music student is a successful one, so here are five tips to follow if you're a music student. 

Don't Blow Off Sleep

A lot of music students will force themselves to practice for hours on end along with their other students, particularly in undergrad. Do yourself a solid and resist that temptation. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, particularly if you have a lot of work to do or you have auditions or performances coming up. The less sleep you get, the lower the quality of the work you do will be. Go to bed when you're tired – period.

Remember to Eat

Of all the problems music students have, this seems to be one of the most prevalent. If you have to, schedule regular food breaks on your phone or in your planner – even if it's just fifteen minutes to grab a snack before rehearsal or class. Don't skip meals no matter how much you have to do – like getting enough sleep, having enough to eat is key to helping you maintain your focus and doing great work in your classes, your ensembles, and in the practice room. 

Take Regular Practice Breaks 

Many students spend a lot of hours in the practice room, and for good reason – good musicians only become great with regular practice. However, don't force yourself to spend too many hours in the practice room without a break. Every hour or two, put down your instrument (or rest your voice) and take a short walk around, grab some water or a snack, and take the time to rest your body and mind.

Don't Overwork

Work smart, don't work hard – this should be your mantra. Don't force yourself to work so hard that you become exhausted. Exhaustion and burnout are common problems among music students, especially for those working through college. Instead of overworking, keep close tabs on what needs the most work – your embouchure, your chorale writing, and the like – and ask instructors for feedback on what they think you need to most work on so you can dedicate your time to working on those areas. 

Leave the Drama at the Door

While healthy competition is always a good thing, don't concern yourself with petty drama or departmental feuds. Music school is demanding, and investing energy into melodramatic will only take away from the quality of the work you do. Spend your time with the students who are dedicated to becoming the best musicians they can be, and taking others up with them – and leave the drama at the door. 

Taking care of yourself physically and mentally are the keys to success in any music program. These tips will help you stay on top of your work in music school, as well as grow personally, professionally, and academically.

On Point: Getting Organized

The life of a musician is nearly always a frenetic one – between rehearsals, shows, tours and studio sessions, there's always a lot to be done. Staying organized can be tricky, but it's key to success – and maintaining your sanity. Here are five tips to getting and staying organized. 

Clean Up Your Workspace

A clean workspace is one in which you'll get more done. Studies show that working in a messy workplace reduces productivity and focus, which is the last thing you want. Start with organizing your desk and home studio. Use a few tools if you need to, like a filing cabinet or desktop file separators. Keep your equipment tidy, too – not only will it look nicer, it'll stop dust and dirt from settling too deeply into your instruments and equipment, helping to maintain them for longer periods of time. 

Labels, Labels, Labels

Labels are great for everything from separating out sheet music to differentiating between cables. Whether you use labels with writing or a color-coded system, labels can help you stay organized, particularly if you have a lot of equipment to keep track of. Label systems aren't for everyone, but for musicians with a lot of stuff, it can be a godsend. 

Try an App 

If you have a lot of projects to manage, a task management app can be a huge help. Most are cross-platform and sync across devices, so you can use it on anything from your smartphone to your laptop – and you can customize most to give you desktop or on-device notifications when you have a task due, along with how far in advance it notifies you. Some of the best on the market are Wunderlist,, and Remember the Milk, and almost all of the ones you'll stumble across offer a free option.

Use a Calendar

Whether it's in a planner, on your wall or on your smartphone, use a calendar to manage everything from gigs, tours, and lessons. If you use your smartphone's calendar, you can set custom notifications for every event you schedule – so you'll always be on time. 

Plan Ahead 

This ties in with utilizing your calendar. Before you commit to anything – a gig, a tutoring session, a studio segment, anything – check your calendar first. This will prevent you from double-booking yourself, and in addition to reducing your stress levels, it will earn you a reputation as a true professional who is always on top of their game.

Staying organized as a musician isn't always the easiest of tasks, but these few simple steps will help you stay on top of everything you need to do – and will help you achieve greater success.

Old School: How Classical Styles are Informing New Music

We have entered a new age of music: the Neo-romantic period. The sturm und drang of the Romantic era – advanced by composers like Berlioz, Clara Schumann, Liszt, and Chopin, to name a few – is creeping back in a way that even leaves its hallmarks on genres like pop and rock. 

So what is Romantic-style music? The Romantic era featured music that was wildly varied. Lots of key changes, dramatic dynamic shifts, new methods of orchestration, and innovation of and with instrumentation made this era of music a musically exciting one – although at the time, not all of it was well received. During the premiere of Stravinsky's “The Rite of Spring,” the audience rioted because it was so unusual. Berlioz's “Symphonie Fantastique” is often pointed to as a prime example of Romantic era music – unusual combinations of instrumentation, wild and sweeping chord and key variations, and lots of dynamic variation combine to create what we now know as a quintessential example of Romantic music.

But more than just a theoretical distinction, Romantic music was all about emotional landscapes, from sorrow and despair to joy and love. Schubert, one of the most famous composers of the era and the father of the lied (art song), wrote variously of love, the beauty of nature, and the supernatural (hello, Erlkonig).

Now, in the Neo-romantic era, we see this style of composition – and its accompanying feels-pile – emerging in new music. Rihanna could be considered a Neo-romantic performer, combining emotionally intense lyrics with unusual instrumentation and intense climactic crescendos in her songs. The same could be said of Bella Morte, an internationally well-known act in the goth rock genre, which combines soaring and operatic vocals with hard rock and sweeping symphonic sound.

While many musicians think that modern music has nothing to do with classical, nothing could be further from the truth. The musical traditions of classical music has informed the present – all music is interconnected, and the many eras of classical music, from Renaissance to Modern, has provided a foundation for all that we write and hear in today's music.

If the history of music genuinely interests you, try listening to a variety of compositions from older eras of classical music and see if you can hear their influence in what you listen to now. From the Rolling Stones to Patsy Cline, from Voltaire to Vamps, the echoes of the past can be heard in the present – in every note, every chord, and every beat.


Managing Chronic Illness as a Musician

Whether it's chronic depression or lupus, managing chronic illness as a musician can be an immense challenge. Many professional musicians put in long hours, both onstage and in the studio, and endure lengthy tours and many late nights. Even for musicians in perfect health, all of this takes its toll – and for chronically ill musicians, the impact can be far greater. Here are four tips for managing chronic illness as a musician. 

Take Your Time

Having a chronic illness often means needing to at least occasionally take time off to rest and recover. As such, the careers of professional musicians who live with chronic illness may progress at a slower pace than that of their non-chronically-ill peers. 

Know that it's perfectly alright to take your time. Accept opportunities in accordance with what you are able to do at any given time – slow and steady will win you the race. Some of the most successful musicians in history live with chronic illness – including Madonna – so don't feel that your illness will be what gets in the way of your success.

Know When to Say No

If you're already busy – and especially if it's challenging your health maintenance – it's incredibly important to know when you should turn down an opportunity or show. Consider carefully before you say yes, and know approximately how much time and energy it will take from you in addition to what you're already doing. If you think it will push you over the edge – or even skirt you close – say no. Ask the entity offering if it can be pushed down the road apiece, and keep the lines of communication open for future opportunities.

Self-Care: Not Just a Mani-Pedi

Of course, treat yourself to that latte if you're feeling crappy, that trip to the day spa, or that soak in the tub. But don't stop there. Self-care means doing all kinds of unpleasant things, including regular visits to your health care practitioner, staying on top of your medications if you take them, and engaging in physical or mental exercises that help you manage your illness. Make time for these things above all else. Taking good care of yourself means that in all likelihood, your illness may impact you less – and you'll be able to consistently do your best work.

Collect Tools

Living with chronic illness demands a variety of management methods and tools to lessen its impact and the suffering it causes. As mentioned before, keep in regular contact with your physician and treatment team. Ask for routine recommendations on how to manage your illness. Explore methods you think may work. Ask others for tools they use to manage their illness if they have the same one(s) you do. Anything that will help you live with your illness without it dominating your life should be investigated. 

Many musicians live with chronic illnesses. Your illness does not have to define you, nor does it have

Four Benefits of Live Streaming

Live streaming is an immensely popular method of broadcasting live performance or events, and more and more musical acts are turning to live streaming to engage their fans in real time – especially those who can't attend concerts in person. Here are four benefits of live streaming for musicians.

It Creates Urgency

If you've ever been on Facebook and seen the notification “X is live now,” you'll know firsthand the sense of urgency that live streaming can create. Getting those popups on whatever platform they're browsing will let your fans know that something cool, fun, or interesting is happening right now – and that they should tune in to check it out. Creating that sense of urgency is a wonderful way to get fans to interact with your content – and stay connected.

It Can Be Monetized

Live streaming via a variety of platforms – including Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and YouTube – can be monetized. If you have a wide-reaching fanbase geographically, offering live streaming options for concerts and tours can be a great way to allow fans to see you perform live – while netting you some decent cash. Whether you monetize and live stream all your shows or just a few every now and again, it will boost your band's finances handsomely, especially if you're doing consistent marketing to build your fanbase.

It Creates More Engagement

More engagement with your band's content will eventually translate to more sales – of show tickets, albums, and merch. Live streaming, especially if you do it regularly, is a great way to increase your fanbase's engagement with your non-live content, like posts, videos, and online listening platforms. Increased engagement means increased income down the line – and so just like monetizing your live streams, it will contribute to your band's financial success.

More Exposure

Live streams are a great way for your fans to learn more about you and your work, and what you're offering in terms of performance and engagement. You never know who's going to be watching a live stream – and sometimes, live streaming can engage the kind of viewer that can offer your band new opportunities.

Whether you do it once a month or once a year, live streaming is an incredibly valuable tool in your band's marketing tacklebox – and using it effectively will help to build your fanbase and your earnings for years to come.


SoundCloud - How To Get Your Music Noticed

In the 1990s I worked as a talent scout and band manager. I loved scouting for labels. I was lucky enough to work with a number of small independents and a major label. I would spend my nights visiting rehearsal studios and live music venues.

During the day I would work for the bands I managed. I would spend hours phoning labels and making new contacts. I would spend a small fortune duplicating demos, stuffing them into mailers and taking them to my local post office.

Now the game has changed. In one way it is a lot easier to get your music seen by the right people. In another way, it is a lot harder for artists to get noticed.

With thousands of hours, of new music, added daily, SoundCloud is an ocean of new music. It is also one of the number one tools used by talent scouts, though artists continue to make the same mistakes when using this service.

Here are some things to consider if you want to get noticed on SoundCloud.

Only The Best

Many artists use SoundCloud as a showcase for their music catalog, by uploading everything from demos to live performances. This is a mistake if you want to get signed.

Your Soundcloud page should be for the best, the very best. You should treat your SoundCloud page as a showcase. When I was stuffing cassette tapes into an envelope in the early 90s, I would only have three tracks on a tape. The very best three tracks. Artists are much more fortunate now. They can showcase entire albums, but they should be selective.

If the music on your page sounds old and not up to your current standards, remove it. If songs are badly mixed and edited, remove them. If badly mixed tracks from live performances are there, remove them.

Get Plays

Getting plays on SoundCloud is fairly easy with little effort. SoundCloud is a community that rewards interaction, so the best way to get thousands of plays and look popular is to find other SoundCloud users with similar music and tastes to your own.

Interact with them, like their music. If you like their music, they will come looking for your music. Keep interacting, make new friends. This is a music platform, and we all love talking about music.

Get friends and family to play and like your music and get them to comment. I would set up a SoundCloud account for my granny if got me a few plays and a nice comment. They all count.

The final thing you can do is spend $5 and buy 1000 plays of a specialist company. A quick Google search will throw up lots of companies who provide this service. I know some people frown on this. Personally, I don't.

If a SoundCloud page has nothing but paid for plays, it is easy to spot. As the play count will be high and there will be no comments or interactions. If a page has lots of interactions and a block of paid plays somewhere in the middle, nobody will ever know. Music scouts look for talent and popularity above all other things. Play the game a little. Major record labels buy plays all the time (cough, allegedly). So why can't you? Just do it in a smart way, just like they do.

If you use SoundCloud in a clever way, you can have thousands of plays and followers in a very short period of time.

Create Your Image

You want your page to look popular and professional. It is not hard to create a good image for yourself and look professional. Design a logo. You can do this yourself with free software or a pencil and paper. There are a million and one ways to create a good logo.

If you can't do it yourself, grab a graphic designer of a website like Fiverr for $5, and they will make it for you. It is so easy to look good, and it does not have to cost the earth.

Write an interesting biography, don't be boring, Be creative. Give your listeners something to read while they listen to your music. If they are engaged and interested in your page, they will stay there for a longer time.

You can then use your logo and bio across the rest of your social media. This will create a unified image and make you look professional and like you mean business. Use the same logo on everything. Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and Band Camp.

Music fans love this; talent scouts also love it. You will love it as you will feel professional. If you use SoundCloud effectively, you will gain followers who genuinely like your music. You will also have a brand and a page that looks attractive to talent scouts.

Musician Versus Performer - 5 Key Differences

The terms “musician” and “performer/performing artist” are used almost interchangeably these days, but these terms are not actually synonymous. Musicians can certainly be performing artists, but performing artists cannot always be strictly considered musicians; musicianship involves a broad array of different skills; whereas performance involves a somewhat more limited set of them. Here are five key differences between musicians and performing artists.

Theoretical Training

A musician will always have some level of training in music theory, whether they undertook it in degree studies or via online classes and texts. A performing artist may have some theoretical ability as it applies to their professional practice, but they will rarely have the deeper understanding of music theory that a musician may have.

Aural Skills

A musician will also typically have training in aural skills – the ability to analyze and learn music based on hearing. Performing artists, however, may have a sharper ear for tone, dynamic, and trouble spots, due to their extensive time spent with singing or playing music; a musician may not spend nearly as much time on performance as a performing artist. Some performing artists learn their instrument entirely by ear, and subsequently develop aural skills independently of academic training – in some, this can be more effective than the kind of aural skills drilling practiced in many music degree programs.

Compositional Ability

Musicians will, due to their theoretical training, generally have at least basic compositional ability whether via notation programs or on manuscript paper. Performing artists who are strictly that will generally not write their own music or lyrics; musicians who are also composers are often hired to write music for them.

Instrumental or Vocal Training

Generally, both musicians and performing artists will undertake academic training or private lessons on their instrument or for their voice part; but performing artists may spend somewhat more time training on their instrument(s) than musicians with more general practice. However, trained musicians often spend years – even entire lifetimes – receiving training on their instrument, whereas performing artists often only take lessons for a few years before embarking on their careers.

Educational Capability

Because most musicians are trained, either privately or academically, they possess a greater array of tools (music theory, aural skills, and instrumental or vocal instruction) that permit them to pass the skills of musicianship to students. While some performing artists occasionally instruct, most performing artists have not gained the intensity and depth of musicianship necessary to teach as trained musicians have (though there is certainly crossover, as previously mentioned).

Ultimately, the role of the musician is broader, while the role of the performing artist is more focused; and dependent on the situation, either role may have an advantage in the creation or interpretation of music.

Keyed Up: 5 Awesome Keyboards for Beginners

If you're a budding keyboardist – or an aspiring one – no doubt you've looked at tons of brands and models, trying to figure out which one might be best. While the pro models are certainly worth investing in, finding your way around a simpler board while you're still learning the keyboardist's tricks of the trade can help you master a more complex one later on. Here are five of the best keyboards for beginners.

Yamaha S03

The Yamaha S03, while being one of the older models of synthesizers, nevertheless is on par with other brands of its generation. This easy-to-navigate synth features sixty-one keys, over seven hundred different voices across three patch banks, drum kits, and MIDI capability with an interface included. The backlit screen is easy to read and navigate, allowing the player to easily switch between voices on the fly – and the keys feature smooth and dynamic-sensitive action.

Casio CTK-6200

This keyboard comes loaded with all kinds of brilliant features, including sixty-one keys, a CD/MP3 player interface for play-along, MIDI capability, and seven hundred patches. Fairly lightweight, the Casio CTK-6200 also makes an excellent touring keyboard for musicians who play keys live. It also includes a metronome function, an arpeggiator, and a pitch bend wheel capable of up to twenty-four different semitones on the same note.

Axus Digital AXP25

A more obscure brand but no less for all that, the Axus Digital AXP25 is an excellent board for the true beginner. Featuring sixty-one keys, three hundred patches, a sturdy sheet music stand, and built-in lessons – an ideal board for the budding pianist or those who want to teach themselves keys. The AXP25 also features USB connectivity for MIDI control via a software interface, a sustain pedal, and headphones output.

Yamaha PSR-e353

This basic, lightweight keyboard model is nevertheless chock-full of advantageous features for the aspiring keyboardist, including the Yamaha Education Suite with several stages of successive learning and more than a hundred built-in songs, nearly six-hundred voices, and MP3 player hookup for play-along. Like the S03, the PSR helps to bridge the gap between pro-quality sound and affordability.

Nord Electro 3

A standard in the goth industrial community and a must-see for those interested in modular synths, the Nord Electro 3 features sixty-one or seventy-three keys. With hundreds of voices, a sample editor, and a wide range of sound effects, the Nord Electro 3 is a fantastic keyboard that still caters to the beginner while allowing a huge range of creativity in sound creation.

Each of these boards has something different to offer – and for the musician on a budget, also offer up great bang for the buck. If you're an aspiring or beginning keyboardist, consider one of these boards – and even once you've become a polished keys player, one of them might still end up on one of your albums!

The Finish Line: Organizing an Album Release

You've spent months – maybe even years – producing your material. Countless hours have been logged in the practice room, in the studio, or at your machine. But after that big push, there are always some loose ends that have to be tied up. Whether this is your first studio release or your twentieth, check out these tips that can help you organize a studio release.

Make a Spreadsheet

For those who are visually oriented, making a spreadsheet of the album can be an enormous help. In the first column, list each track – preferably in the order you want for the final release. In succeeding columns, list components of each track – vocals, keys, guitars, and subcategories like keyboard notation, vocals recording, and the like – and mark where each phase is at in production. This will help keep you on task and let you know at a glance where the album is in terms of completion – which means no nasty surprises if you realize you forgot to do something critical near the album deadline.

Make a Promotions List

Once your album is complete, you're going to want start promoting it. Whether you use an app like Wunderlist or just a straight word processing program, make a list of magazines, online publications, promoters, DJs, and radio stations that you want to receive your album – whether in digital or hard copy format. Write down the physical or email addresses of each outlet and check off each one as you send out material. You'll want to start generating your list a couple of months before you finish your album – and once it's complete, you can probably finish materials submission inside an afternoon.

Start Generating Buzz

Although you'll want to announce your commencement of making a new album almost as soon as you begin, start generating an online buzz a few months in advance of the release. Getting your fan base excited about what you're going to release can take many forms – you might post promo images from a music video you're producing for the album, or offer up a free downloadable track from it. Once your album drops, you'll want to have cultivated a sense of excitement over what you've produced – which will generally mean better album sales.

Organize a CD Release Party or Concert

Starting around the same time you start generating buzz about your new album, start looking around for promoters or venues that will help you organize a CD release party or concert. Talk with other bands and artists and get them on board to present a well-rounded bill, or talk with local promoters and see what their recommendations are. CD release parties are great opportunities to sell albums – especially if you offer an exclusive discount to folks who purchase your new album at the CD release party.

Organizing the release of a new album can seem daunting, but these four tips will help you break down the process – and release your new album with panache and style.


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