Yay! 开工大吉！What a splendid break this CNY was! Maybe it’s to do with age or with more time spent away, CNY is getting more and more precious every year. This year has been especially nice to switching off from work and spending time with family and friends. Laughing at the same stories year after year, and contributing more to next year’s gathering.
Here’s some pics to share…Hope you enjoyed your CNY as well!
And on the 8th day we started work with a feast!
And after a well deserved break, we’re back to work full force! I’m really thankful work is fun, Kenny’s new album is gonna be exciting! We’ve already have tons of songs and ideas in our heads. 开工大吉！！
Wow this has been such a hectic year. I’m writing this from the plane from Shanghai (I’ve been here 5 times since the start of the year?!) heading back to Singapore as Kenny was invited to perform at a televised charity event on the eve of CNY. The event was organised by 玉佛襌寺, a famous temple in Shanghai. Well even though I missed my reunion dinner and my 1st day of CNY, I think being able to play a part to help people in need makes up for it Plus I got to experience my 1st all vegetarian reunion dinner. Music never fails to surprise me in the places it takes me. I shall say no more as you’ll read more about it very soon. I’d say it’s been an interesting and meaningful trip over the last 4 days!
Will be back on the 1st day and I’ll finally get to have a good switch off time with family for CNY! Woo hoo!
Have a great CNY 2015 everyone!
Yeah! It’s a wrap after 9mths plus of our Career in hit songwriting course! Just like the 1st batch, it’s with great satisfaction as I can hear our trainees all taking a step up from the songwriting skills and being more aware of not just the music but the industry as well. Of course I’m sure they’ve had many laughs along the way. During the course, I emphasised more than once, the importance of forming their own teams as music is really people coming together to make great works. And I’m sure thruout this course, they have forged their own valuable networks with like minded trainees. As with the previous batch, I’m also happy to plan to/have signed some of these trainees and involved them in our production work.
Pop music has always depended greatly on ‘the song’ and it’s really up to these guys now to carry on the torch to more great hits!
I’m on the road to Jia Xing, a place 1.5 hours drive from Shanghai to watch the episode in which I played music consultant for Hua Jian in his contestant’s battle round.
Having travelled this route for 5 times in the last 2 months, I’d say it’s very relaxing. Some people can’t stand travelling, but I for one don’t mind it. Especially that this route is very straight with not many cars, it allows much 放空 to be done. In Singapore, where everything is within reach, plus with the internet, what’s apps and what have yous. Everything can be accessed and done fast. However being in the creative field, I think it’s really nice when your mind is allowed time to wander, and to stretch. And especially in long rides like these, where I’m not the one driving, I can put on my headphones and really get into the music that I’m listening to. It’s a real treat for me I tell you.
With so much ‘noise’ happening around life, we tend to not be able to do just one thing at a time. And I cherish experiences like these.
In the plane on the way here, I managed to catch this show called ‘Whiplash’. For those who think they are passionate about music, I suggest you go catch this show. Some might think that it’s dramatised, but I don’t think so. I’ve managed to meet many people along my travels who are really willing to give anything for their art. Maybe after you watch this show, you might think…hmm, I might not want this so badly after all.
If you think, aiyah, this is just fiction, you can also go read up about a real life example about the singer songwriter of the moment, Ed Sheeran, on his life and him being homeless, sleeping in subways for 4 years and the many other sacrifices he made to end up being the 1st artist to perform solo, just him and his guitar at Wembley Stadium.
I know to many a parent, this kind of total uncertainty in life which has no proven formula or route to success, is totally daunting. But now me being a parent myself, having experienced starting something from nothing, I’ll trust my kid with her choices if she decides to move into a risky route in future as well.
Just as I thought when I was 20 years old, Don’t try don’t know. As a good friend in the corporate world told me that what I get to experience is something that most people won’t get. To which I said I know, and am grateful everyday for this. I know that even if one day this all fails, these experiences of trying my best, giving it all for passion, will make for beautiful memories in future.
At the time of writing, I’m sitting on a plane from Shanghai heading to Genting, interrupting myself from watching “Sonic Highways”, by Dave Grohl of Foo fighters to write this blog. The TV series follows the Foo fighters travelling around the United States to various cities, musical landmarks and recording a track in each city that eventually made up their album. As I’m watching it, I’m thinking to myself, what an inspiring month!
In this month alone I’ve travelled to 嘉兴 3 times, a 1.5 hour drive from Shanghai where I am working with 华健 for the Sing my song China 中国好歌曲 singer/songwriter competition. I knew right from the start that I will be experiencing hell as at the end of all that, I’d have to arrange 5 songs within 48 hours so that the contestants can practice in time for their battle, but I jumped at the chance when I was invited as I knew this will be fun and inspiring.
And so yes, I did experience hell, thank to the powers that be that I’ve always had no problem seeking help from collaborators when I needed them, so I had my usual string arrangement partner Bang Wenfu helping me and this time I also pulled in one of my Hit songwriting trainees, Tan Kah Kong to also work with me on some of the tracks as well on strings and brass parts. By the time I finished the 5 songs and had to hit the plane again in a few hours back to 嘉兴
I was…totally…shagged out. And for those people who know me, I won’t usually say I’m tired from work =D
So in that case, where did the fun and inspiring part come from? Aside from working with Hua Jian on this, it was also working with the highly productive and talented show production team, where they really seem to have thought of everything to make their show an entertaining but yet highly musical one. Coming back with the 5 arrangements and watching it unfold before me with the totally kick ass ‘basic’ band set up(which already had 9 members) and later having the 18 piece live string section come in is truly a treat to watch.
And finally of course, watching these talented singer songwriters at work, composing stuff in front of us, putting their total heart and soul into it, totally takes me back to when I 1st started. Except that honestly I really don’t think I was as driven, hungry, and all ready to absorb and learn anything they can as these guys.
So yesterday, back in the hotel room after all the madness, I started to watch “Sonic Highways”, learning the amazing culture of the various musical soundscapes each city brought about. I’m just being hit back and forth by inspiration from the East to the West!
As January comes to an end, judging by how it turned out, I think 2015 is gonna be a super kick ass year!
Have you watched LylaHZN’s 1st song MV＃TouTouTouFlo? If you haven’t…Here it is!! =D
I’ve also put this song up on Youku, for my friends in China who cannot access Youtube. I actually showed this song to 金池 and she was so tickled that she decided to share my post on Weibo with the Youku link. And in less than 2 days after putting the link up. 120 000+ people have seen that Lyla released her 1st song on Youku! Ahhh, the power of the masses in China.
I’ve been asked if we’ll continue making more music. Hahahah. Her 1st song was created by chance, a spark of fun, so for that, I’ll leave it up to Lyla. I created her very own Youtube page LylaHZN, Instagram and Facebook. For her fans just type LylaHZN on these platforms. I believe when she grows up, we’ll have such a laugh looking thru all this, like a picture and video diary of her childhood!!
10 Jan 2015 was the first show that kicked off 华健’s new Tour 《今天唱什麽》2015世界巡迴演唱會 concert tour at Taipei’s 小巨蛋 Taipei Arena. I played guitars (4 guitars to be exact) and arranged some of the songs in the concert programme. This was a completely new tour and the band rehearsed hard from December onwards, this time we had a brass section and the songs I’d say are more dynamic as there are more fast and mid tempo songs thrown in. Total hats off to 华健 for working his ass off for this tour, working with us and refining all details of the music, arrangements and being hands on with every aspect till the very last minute!
I think the most fun part of this current tour for me is the 江湖 (Hua Jian’s latest album) segment where I got to play the craziest guitar part I’ve ever came up with, which is the solo bit for a song in the album entitled 客梦. I clearly remembered taking almost 3 hours toying around with that part with the instructions from Hua Jian being “use the western 12 string guitar and make it sound like a Chinese instrument”. Which was the basis of the whole album in general. So I locked myself in the studio and kept playing and playing what must have been almost a 100 takes and then picked out bits and pieces like a jig saw puzzle. After I finished putting together something, I remember telling Wei Sheng, Hua Jian’s production team’s engineer saying, “Ok I’m not sure what I just did. But I’m done!” To my delight, 华健 loved it so much that he insisted he wants to feature this during the concert. And in which he did.
After touring with Hua Jian for almost 4 years, my respect for him and his tireless drive to excel, even at his level never dies. To be part of the production of an album, without commercial pressures with the only goal to fulfil the artist personal artistic vision, though super fun, is also super tiring, as it also means constant experimentation as there are really no rules here. But once you get it down. The results are extremely satisfying! In a perfect world, this is how all music should be done.
I think Lyla agrees as well, as she’s watched the video of my guitar part for 客梦 at least a few 100 times! =D
Ah haha, I had a surprise call from Yun Hong 姐 on new years day. It’s been long since we touched base and we had a nice chat about things that been going on in the past year and what’s happening for me in 2015. So we were chatting about the upcoming tour with 华健，my recent collaboration with 金池 that garnered over 10 million listens etc. Just before we ended the call, I mentioned casually, oh! my daughter Lyla is having her 1st ’single’ released on Youtube soon =D That got her all excited and we ended up talking almost an hour while I was in my car with LJ and Lyla who waited very patiently and quietly for me to finish!
So I shared with her that it’s a fun project that I was playing around with over the last few weeks and yesterday I was pleasantly surprised that she decided to feature that as the headline of our chat and had Lyla’s cute pic splashed on 晚报’s Facebook and in the evening papers!
I can’t tell you how much fun and laughs I had doing this one with my friends!
So while we’re putting the final touches to the music video, do enjoy a sneak peak of LylaHZN’s 1st song which will be up on Jan 10 on Youtube! Ever since I launched it yesterday, I’ve been getting many “Aaaahhh, I can’t wait!!” messages hahaha. It’s super funny, at least to me that is, being a proud parent and I can’t wait to show you too! So in case you missed it, here’s the trailer to LylaHZN 黄姿宁’s very first song #TouTouTouFlo.
Woo hoo! Year end are always super fun times because there are so many festivities happening. So happens that most of my good friends bday happens during December and that includes mine!
I wish all you guys the best 2015 ever!!! Let’s appreciate the good things and learn from the bad!
Happy New Year!
From Wikipedia ;
In music, an arrangement is a musical reconceptualization of a previously composed work. It may differ from the original work by means of reharmonization, melodic paraphrasing, orchestration, or development of the formal structure.
To some, it might be totally cheem, to some, it might be something natural. Over the weeks I’ve been working with my team on creating an effective syallabus for music arrangement. I think it’s something worthwhile handing over to those who are interested to arrange their own music, as the task of putting instruments together, combining groove and harmony, layering and getting the right instrument, with the right chord out at the right time seems totally baffling to some.
However, it totally doesn’t need to be!
Especially in this day and age where technology has made music making much more accessible, enjoyable and most importantly, affordable to all. I, for one, who can’t read or write notes have benefitted greatly from technology. For things that I can’t communicate thru writing on paper, I can thru the aid of computers and music software to program what I hear in my head, ultimately getting the message out
When I 1st started, (ok, ‘uncle’ talk again), getting a good serious music arrangement set up will mean getting a keyboard, sound modules, a midi sequencer, a sampler plus a tape/ADAT/MD recorder, all of which will add up to almost 10 000SGD or more.
Nowadays, all that stuff is summarised to a computer, a USB music keyboard and a music software. If you want to sing into the comp, you can pick up a decent recording condensor mic at a fraction of the price compared to the past as well( I’d say from 80SGD onwards)
However, just like painting, having all the different colours readily at your finger tips all means nothing if you don’t know what to do with it. You can stack 20 different shades on the canvas and it can look like a complete mess or you can just use one color and create the ultimate masterpiece. All that takes experience.
And it’s from that experience of having arranged songs like those below, in which I’m working with my team, drawing to create the most straight forward way for those interested in music arrangements to quickly find their way to get started immediately. I believe being able to apply what you’ve been taught ASAP is the quickest and most fun way to improve yourself and take you to the next step, getting you closer to allowing others to hear what you envision.
Over the years, I’ve received so many requests from people interested in learning music arrangement. So if you are one of those, do look up FM Pop Music School on Facebook, “like” us if you haven’t done so already ( https://www.facebook.com/fmpopmusicsch?ref=br_tf ) and watch out for updates on when we’ll be launching this music arrangement course!
Meanwhile, here’s a tip, just go find a music software to install on your computer(as a Protools and Garageband user, that’s what I’d recommend), fiddle with it first for getting your hands dirty in the deed is the best way to get started on anything!
Arrangements I’ve done over the years