Choosing Music to Fit Your Style and Your Venue

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Whether you're exchanging vows in a park with flowers in your hair or wearing the latest European fashions as you gather in a cavernous cathedral, the music you choose for your wedding ceremony should fit your style.

Mendelssohn's Wedding March is a phenomenal piece of music, but it's not for everyone. Don't be afraid to think outside of the box on your wedding day. You may just discover an idea that is much more meaningful and beautiful than going with the "standard" wedding marches and classical music.

How do you find the right music for your style? "The best advice I can give is to listen," says Aaron Mauldin of Aaron's DJ Services in Kern County, CA. "Write down an idea if something strikes you that you would like to incorporate into your wedding music. You might hear a song on the radio or at the end of a movie. You might hear the mellow notes of a harp, saxophone, or piano and know that this type of sound is what represents your feelings. Buy CDs and find music that means something to your soul," he says.

The type of music used in a wedding ceremony must be a good fit for your venue. In churches, couples often have to stick close to an approved list of musical choices. A bride who has her heart set on walking down the aisle to the very popular Bridal Chorus by Wagner (also known as Here Comes the Bride) may be disappointed to find that the pastor or musical director will not allow those pieces to be used because of the negative connotations of its original setting (from the opera Lohengrin, to mock an ill-fated wedding). In fact, in 1971 the Roman Catholic Church and its Congregation for Divine Worship of the Sacraments issued a document forbidding the use of Bridal Chorus at weddings.

In secular venues or garden weddings, a couple can usually choose any type of music they'd like, though there may be some limitations if their chosen minister is affiliated with a particular church and set his or her own guidelines.

In any type of venue, wedding music can be further dictated by the amount of space and the availability of instruments. Some very old churches may only have a pipe organ, which might limit your processional choices to traditional organ pieces such as Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. Alternatively, some newer churches may have only a piano, which could slightly diminish the grandeur of the bride's entrance. In these cases, couples may choose to bring in a string quartet or add instruments to play along with piano for a fuller sound. At outdoor weddings, instruments are often limited to ones that can be easily carried and don't need electricity. Guitars, harps or string quartets are most often used at outdoor weddings, and can be exactly the right fit - a string quartet playing Spring from Vivaldi's Four Seasons at a beautiful May or June wedding when flowers are in full bloom can be breathtaking.

Music Notes: The Basics Of Musical Notation

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The pitch of a note is represented by its placement on a musical staff (five horizontal lines) or on ledger lines above or below the staff. For example, the first line of the staff (treble clef) is the note E, the space between the first and second lines is F, and a note on the second line is the note G. As the notes ascend on the staff (on the written music), they are played as continually higher pitches, and as lower and lower pitches as they descend down the staff. These notes are played separately to create a melody, or in combination with each other to produce chords.

The following note names are used in music notation: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G (then they resume the same pattern an octave higher (or lower) beginning again with the note A). In addition to these "natural" notes, there are also notes named as sharp (A#, C#, D#, F#, G#) and as flat (Ab, Bb, Db, Eb, Gb). A sharped note is a half step (or one semitone) above the note it affects, and a flatted note is a half step (or one semitone) below the note it affects. In other words, a G# is played one half step (one piano key) above a G, and a Eb is played one half step below an E.

It is important to know that the notes B#, E#, Fb and Cb do not exist like other notes -- they are "enharmonic" (looking at the piano, you'll see there are places on the keyboard where two white keys exist without a black key between them). These notes are not included in scales or chords.

The duration (how long a note lasts) of a note or group of notes (chord) is marked by its appearance. A whole note, for example, is an "open" (oval not filled in) note without a stem and its duration lasts for a complete measure. A half note is a whole note with a stem, lasting for half a measure. A quarter note is "closed" (i.e., a filled in oval) with a stem and lasts for one beat.

Stems (attached to notes) extend below or above the note depending on where the notes appears on the staff. An eighth note (one half a beat) is written like a quarter note but with a "flag" appearing on the note's stem. A sixteenth note has two flags on its stem. Sometimes eighth or sixteenth note appear in succession. In that case, they are attached to each other with a bar that crosses the top or bottom of the stem where their flags would normally appear.

Notes are tied together in a number of other ways including ties, slurs, glissandos and triplets. These have an effect on how the music sounds. For example, notes with slurs are played smoothly (such as one stroke of a violin bow or a passage sung without the singer taking a breath between notes). A smooth glide through a series of notes is called a glissando.

Ties add the time value of two or more notes, where triplets are three notes played against one beat (or two or more beats in come cases). Triplets are sometimes marked with the number 3 to indicate they are to be played equally in tempo.

History Of MP3 Technology: The Age Of The Free Legal Music Download?

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Have we now entered the age of the free and legal music download? Fifteen years ago asking such a question would have elicited a puzzled response. However, today with the proliferation of iPods and taking into consideration that many independent artists now offer free samples of their music to build a following and to drive concert ticket sales, you could answer that question with a firm yes.

MP3 is a digital audio encoding format. It stands for MPEG Audio Layer III. MPEG stands for Motion Pictures Expert Group. It is a standard for digital audio compression and playback. MP3 uses lossy compression to decrease the size of a music file with small or no loss in quality. This compression works by perceptual coding, which reduces or discards components that are not as audible to human hearing. MP3 is a common format for audio storage and is widely used for sharing music.

MP3 technology traces its development back to the early 1980's. Doctoral student Karlheinz Brandenburg started working on digital music compression at Germany's University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. After he finished his doctoral work, Brandenburg joined James D. Johnston at AT&T-Bell Labs to work on music compression.

In 1987, the Fraunhofer Institute began doing research on high-quality audio coding. The project was code-named EU147, the EU stood for EUREKA. The EU147 was financed by the European Community from 1987 to 1994. Brandenburg joined the staff of Erlangen-Nuremberg as an assistant professor in 1990. He continued his work on music compression with members of the Fraunhofer Society, a group of prestigious scientists, and later became a member of the Fraunhofer Institute staff.

The institute received assistance with coding from professor Dieter Seitzer of the University of Erlangen, and the Fraunhofer research team was led by Karlheinz Brandenburg. Together they continued working on the challenge of creating superior, low bit rate coding. The groundwork had been laid with OCF and PXFM coding. Now it had to be evolved.

To test and develop MP3 technology, Brandenburg chose the song "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega. The simple tune was extremely difficult to reproduce without a great deal of background noise, and compressing it caused severe compromises in audio quality. He listened to the song repeatedly, each time making refinements to the technology. Finally the developers had a breakthrough and the encoded song sounded true to the original.

In 1991, the algorithms for MPEG-1, Audio Layers I, II and III were approved by the ISO. They were finalized in 1993 and the MPEG-1 standard was published. MPEG-1 does not adhere to an exact specification for an MP3 encoder. Because of this, a number of different MP3 encoders exist and each creates a different quality of file. MPEG-2 was published just a year later. Also in 1994, the first MP3 encoder, called l3enc, was released by the Fraunhofer Society. The Fraunhofer team chose the filename extension .mp3 in 1995. This year also saw the release of Winplay, the first real-time MP3 player, compatible with both Windows 95 and Windows 3.1.

Fraunhofer received a U.S. patent for MP3 in 1996. Around this time, music lovers and internet users began sharing MP3 files online. This was assisted in part by the increasing use of Winamp. Winamp is an MP3 player created for Nullsoft, a company founded by Justin Frankel, who created Winamp with Dmitry Boldyrev. Peer-to-peer file sharing quickly became widespread, and soon became a source of massive copyright infringements. Major record labels began filing charges against individual users and filesharing networks. However, this has not stopped peer-to-peer file sharing. To help combat this "music piracy" without alienating consumers, companies such as iTunes, Rhapsody and allow users to purchase music in the MP3 format.

In 2007 Radiohead sent shock waves through the corridors of the music industry when they informed fans that they could pay as much or as little as they desired for their album "In Rainbows." Today artists such as British singer/songwriter Tom Fox, offer legal free music downloads of songs, which is testimony to the fact that a growing number of today's musicians are embracing the age of the free music download.

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