Pop Goes Classical: Why the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s “Uncharted Series” Just Works

Steve Hackman, Creative Director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s “Uncharted Series”

Pessimists will argue that classical music is dead because it is inaccessible, too expensive, or worst of all, boring. Those same people would say that pop music has no value because it lacks complexity, is overproduced and – wouldn’t you guess it – also boring.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if we didn’t have to choose between Beethoven or Beyoncé, Brahms or Radiohead, Stravinsky or Kendrick Lamar? Well, thanks to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Uncharted Series, you don’t have to choose between classical, pop, rap, or rock. You can have it all!

I’ve attended three of these “Uncharted” concerts, the first of which was “Brahms X Radiohead,” a reimagining of Radiohead’s seminal concept album, OK Computer, mashed up with ideas and motives from Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C minor.

At times one hears the themes and lyrics of Radiohead suspended over Brahms’ symphony; at times the orchestra plays the music of Radiohead but filtered through the counterpoint and harmonies of Brahms. Every combination of synthesis is explored in Hackman’s recomposition, as the music moves from one to the other so seamlessly that many times the audience is left wondering which is which, and how the combination was even possible. – stevehackman.com, Brahms X. Radiohead

The combination of Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C minor and Ok Computer might seem gimmicky, but the two works have more in common than you might think. The TL;DR version of what I remember from my music history courses (which I got a B in so there is an 80-89 percent chance this is accurate), is that it took Brahms over two decades to complete what would become Symphony No. 1 in C minor. This was partially due to him scrapping ideas that would become parts of his other works, but close friends attributed it to his anxiety of living up to Beethoven’s legacy.

Fast forward a measly 121-ish years, and Radiohead releases its 3rd studio album, Ok Computer. The themes of anxiety, isolation, paranoia of technology, and consumerism ruining our lives are riddled all over the album. The feelings of anxiety and fear portrayed throughout Ok Computer are probably what Brahms was feeling while working on what people allegedly called “Beethoven’s 10th.”

This is what makes the Uncharted series so brilliant. Music does not exist in a vacuum. There are stories, emotions, dreams, and fears baked into every piece of music we listen to, and these are what Steve Hackman and his Orchestral Fusions evoke so well. Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Radiohead’s All I Need, and Miles Davis’ Moondreams, all hit me the same way, and none of them hold the title of being better than the other, they are simply great pieces of music that make me feel something.

I could write so much more about this, but if you’re curious about experiencing for yourself, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Steve Hackman, will be performing “From Beethoven to Beyoncé” on June 5th at 7:30 PM. Until then, Steve Hackman, when is Taylor Swift’s Tortured Poets Society X Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire dropping?

Exploring String Types: A Guide to Choosing the Right Strings for Your Instrument

Are you curious about the evolution of string materials and how they affect your instrument’s sound? Join us on a journey through history and innovation as we explore the world of Strings!

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) national conference in Louisville, KY. It was an enriching experience filled with reconnecting with old friends, forging new connections, and attending insightful educational sessions. One such session, hosted by D’Addario, delved into the intricacies of string materials and their impact on performance.

At Paige’s Music, we proudly offer a variety of D’Addario string brands, including Prelude, Kaplan, and Helicore strings. During the session, D’Addario experts elucidated the distinctions between strings made from gut, steel, and synthetic materials.

Historically, strings crafted from sheep gut were prevalent until the 1920s. Renowned for their beautiful, warm tone, gut strings nonetheless posed challenges related to temperature and humidity fluctuations. The advent of steel strings in the 20th century introduced enhanced durability and tuning stability, albeit at the expense of the rich complexity associated with gut strings.

However, manufacturers soon developed gut strings with metal windings, combining the warmth of gut with improved stability and durability. Additionally, synthetic strings emerged as a viable alternative, offering a similar feel and sound to gut while boasting superior tuning capabilities.

The choice of string material significantly influences both the feel and sound of your instrument. Gut strings, characterized by lower tension, facilitate easier fingerboard manipulation and produce the warmest, most complex tones. Synthetic strings, resembling gut in feel but with enhanced tuning stability, serve as a practical alternative. Meanwhile, steel strings, renowned for their stability and durability, yield bright, direct sounds albeit with higher tension.

Selecting the right strings for your instrument is a deeply personal decision influenced by both preference and instrument compatibility. Each instrument responds uniquely to different string types, presenting a delightful challenge in finding the perfect match. At Paige’s Music, we’re committed to assisting you in this endeavor. Whether you prefer the warmth of gut, the stability of synthetic, or the brightness of steel, our knowledgeable team is here to guide you every step of the way.

Ready to embark on your string journey? Contact us today, and let’s find the ideal set of strings to elevate your musical experience.

IFS Showcase: Trevor James Flutes

First off, thank you all that came out to “It’s Electric” with Dr. Melissa Keeling on Thursday April 11th! We had a great time with Melissa showing off Trevor James low flutes, so I feel that this is the perfect time to write in more detail some of the GREAT features of Trevor James Flutes (also check out our YouTube videos on this subject!). Below are some details from our videos on the featured TJ Flutes:

Voce Headjoint Series Flutes:

I had the opportunity to try out both the Chanson and Virtuoso models, and I absolutely love them! Both of these would be great for the advancing player ready to step up their game on their flute playing skills. The Voce headjoint on each of these is made up of solid 958 silver.

The Chanson model has a solid weighted crown, silver plated body, open hole keys, pointed key arms, and B footjoint. This model has a sweet, yet rich tone quality and is effortless to play. I felt that the dynamic flexibility was so easy to master!

The Virtuoso flute contains the same specs, except that it has a solid silver body. This flute is powerful! I loved the rich, dark, and luscious sound it projected. This flute was also effortless in dynamic control, and Trevor James Flutes perfectly described that it has “versatility to blend in an ensemble or stand out as a soloist”. I completely agree with this!

Specialty Flutes:

The Copper C Flute is beautiful! The lovely light golden color makes it pop out among all of the silver flutes. This flute has such a sweet, light sound. It is made up of copper alloy headjoint tube, body, and footjoint, a 958 silver Voce lip and riser, silver plated mechanism, open hole keys, pointed key arms, and B footjoint. I was told, before ever trying it out, that this is a flute popular among jazz doublers. I put that theory to the test and had our Single Reed Specialist, Trevor, try it out for himself. Turns out he loves it too!

The second specialty flute is my absolute favorite: the Grenadilla Wood Flute! The nice and mellow, yet dark tone gives the flute the “woody” sound that makes you want to play some Irish jigs. This flute was designed as “a stylistic nod of appreciation to the wonderful wooden flute makers of the past”. It’s a beautiful flute! This model contains a Grenadilla wood headjoint, body and footjoint, a silver plated mechanism, open hole keys, pointed key arms, and B footjoint. I also really like the design of the lip plate on the headjoint. I feel that the carving of the lip plate makes it nice and secure.

All of these flutes (and more) will be available to try out in store! Feel free to set up an appointment here, and keep a look out for a recap on our Melissa Keeling event!

3rd Annual Tuba & Euphonium Day at Paige’s Music

I am thrilled to announce Paige’s Music’s third annual Tuba & Euphonium Day on Saturday, April 27th.

This year, we’re partnering with the Eastman Music Company, along with Willson Band Instruments and S.E. Shires Co. to bring you a full day celebrating all things low brass, and welcome the world-class Scott Sutherland as our featured artist!

Top 5 Reasons To Play The Trumpet

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Students all throughout the country are trying out instruments and deciding which one is right for them. Within this blog, I will give you the top 5 reasons to choose the trumpet! For the record, there is some satire involved in this blog. As a true trumpet player, I must say that there are many more reasons to choose the trumpet, but we’d run out of space within this blog.

Top 5 Reasons to Play the Saxophone

Have you ever considered learning a musical instrument but felt overwhelmed by the choices or the challenge? The saxophone, with its sleek design and soulful sound, might just be the perfect start. Whether you’re looking to express yourself musically, join a community of passionate musicians, or simply enjoy the myriad benefits that music brings to your life, the saxophone offers an accessible and rewarding path. In this post, we’ll explore the top 5 reasons why the saxophone stands out as an instrument worth your time and dedication. From its ease of learning to the endless musical genres it spans, let’s dive into what makes the saxophone a fascinating choice for beginners and seasoned musicians alike.

1 Hour of Bad Practice VS 30 Minutes of Good Practice: Quality Over Quantity

Practicing music with efficiency is paramount to mastering your instrument and elevating your musical skills. However, it’s easy to fall into counterproductive habits that hinder your progress. At Paige’s Music, we believe in the power of good practice habits. In this post, we’ll explore three essential elements of effective music practice: setting goals, maintaining a schedule, and optimizing your practice environment.

Setting Clear Goals for Every Practice Session

Begin each practice session with a clear objective. If you’re enrolled in private lessons, maintaining a practice notebook is a brilliant strategy. Here, you or your instructor can jot down specific areas to focus on for the upcoming week. Aim to limit yourself to three or four targeted goals per session. Instead of vague ambitions like “improve my tuning,” specify the exact measures and notes that need attention. For instance, “In measures 10-15, the G is too low; I’ll adjust my third finger’s position to correct this.” This specificity not only makes your practice more directed but also more manageable. Don’t worry if identifying these specific goals is challenging at first; your instructor should guide you through this process.

The Importance of a Consistent Practice Schedule

Consistency beats quantity. Practicing for 30 minutes daily, six days a week (we recommend a day of rest), is far more effective than longer, less frequent sessions. Select a practice time when you’re alert and focused. While evenings work best for some, choose the time that suits your energy levels and schedule. Ensure this time is exclusively reserved for practice, free from distractions like homework or chores.

Crafting the Ideal Practice Environment

The space where you practice significantly influences the quality of your session. Ideally, dedicate a room for practice equipped with a music stand, metronome/tuner, and your instrument. If a separate room isn’t an option, a quiet corner of your bedroom can suffice. The goal is to create a space that minimizes distractions and allows you to focus solely on your music.

Top 5 Reasons to Play the Flute

Top 5 Reasons to Play the Flute

It’s that time of year! You’re thinking about joining band in the fall, but you’re not sure what instrument to play. Maybe you’re interested in picking up a second instrument, or you’re just curious about what playing flute is all about. I’m here to help! I personally think there are tons of reasons to learn to play the flute, but I’ve narrowed it down to five for you.