Professor B's Blog

August 7, 2013
by Professor B
1 Comment

Welcome to the Fall 2017 Semester!

If you are here, you probably are in one of my classes somewhere. Check here often for interesting information, notices, links, videos, and music related to the courses I teach. You can use the category list to the right to find posts related to your class. And be sure to also check out the Links and Miscellaneous tabs at the top right.

I encourage you to engage in a conversation here about the music we are studying. You can reply to my posts and add your thoughts, links, videos, or anything else that is relevant. You will receive extra credit for each thoughtful response you provide.

Please note that course materials are not on this site and you cannot turn in your homework here. For that, please visit the Blackboard site associated with the course.


October 4, 2017
by Professor B

BSU Uke Jam Fall 2017

We’re up and running with the BSU Uke Jam again this year and we have more ukuleles to lend out, thanks to the BSU Music Department. We meed on Wednesdays at 5:00 in Hunt 109.

The repertoire we’re working on so far includes (some of these have been transposed to keys that are easier to play and possibly harder to sing):

April 11, 2017
by Professor B

MUSC 299 – Trends in Music for TV

Television dramas have been reaching for new heights in conception, writing, acting, and production. Think of shows such as “Stranger Things,” “West World,” “Mad Men,” or “Scandal” and compare these shows with the dramas of earlier decades. The use of music in the shows has also evolved, with more use of carefully-placed songs doing the work of setting the scene or describing a character rather than carefully composed underscoring. Judy Berman explains the role of a music supervisor and explores the integral role of music in TV’s Best Music Supervision in 10 Shows.

January 28, 2017
by Professor B

Review of Chordtunes by EUMLab

Chordtunes is an iPad app from EUMLab that helps you create song sheets with ukulele chords. Creating a new lyric/chord sheet is easy and fairly intuitive. After you click on the + icon to create a new sheet, you will see 2 input boxes: the top one is for the chords, the bottom for the text. Once you’ve typed the text, you can position the cursor in the chord box over the appropriate lyric and select the chord by choosing the letter name then the quality and any additional chord tones. To add the next line, press the + icon to the right of the line and two new edit boxes appear below the current line. To delete, choose the icon on the left.

You can choose between a tenor uke with GCEA tuning, soprano with ADF#B, baritone with DGBE, standard guitar tuning, mandolin, and mandola. The chord diagrams will change accordingly. I wouldn’t mind a banjo tuning since I just got one. You can also transpose the song to different keys.

I found that lining up the chords in the input boxes did not correspond to what they looked like in the “chords on top” PDF preview. In the first line in the first picture, the chords have been placed over the corresponding syllable. On the second line, they have been adjusted so they will appear correctly (or nearly so) in the “chords on top” PDF file, as you can see in the second screenshot. However, making those corrections misaligns the chords for the “chords and lyrics” PDF format, shown in the last picture. Click on the pictures for a closer view.

Input screen. Chords are lined up in first line, not in second.


“Chords on top” PDF preview


“Chords and lyrics” PDF preview

I would like to be able to import text because typing on an iPad tedious. Also the interface requires a lot of back and forth between the input boxes and the onscreen keyboard: you type a line, touch the box to add chords, add chords, hit the + icon to add another line, reposition to that line, and repeat.

You would think that the share arrow at the top right of the main screen would be how you export a usable file, but instead it only saves a copy of their proprietary file format in the location you choose. To export the PDF, select the eyeball icon, select an output style (chords and lyrics, chords on top, only chords), then select the share arrow at the top right of the screen. I found it a little confusing that to save the PDF to my Dropbox I had to choose import with Dropbox.

One other little nit: you can’t add labels for sections such as verse, chorus, and bridge.

Aside from those relatively minor issues, I recommend this app for those of you trying to create song sheets for yourself or others. I’m going to find my external iPad keyboard, charge it up, and get started creating song sheets for my ukulele ensemble this weekend!

Available in the iTunes Store from EUMLab for $2.99.


December 13, 2016
by Professor B

BSU Ukulele Ensemble Debut Performance

Ukuleles all tuned up and ready for the BSU Ukulele Ensemble debut performance

A long-held dream came true yesterday when the BSU Ukulele Ensemble had its debut performance at the Mid-Year Symposium. We actually performed twice–once in the lobby (we called it rehearsing but the people who stopped and listened thought it was a performance) and again as part of a set of performances organized by the Arts and Social Justice seminar and colloquia.

We performed four numbers. The first was “Riptide” by Vance Joy. This song uses 3 chords in the same order for all of the song except the bridge, making it a good one for the beginners. To learn this song, we often played along to a YouTube video of Vance Joy accompanying himself on ukulele.

Next we performed a 12-bar blues (again with just 3 chords) with verses written by the students in my Folk Musics of the United States seminar. One student was the lead singer (call) and the rest of echoed the ends of phrases or interjected other words and sounds (response). Two of the players took a solo on their ukes. It was quite improvisatory and loose, as the blues should be.

The third song was Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which many people are familiar with from the movie Shrek. This song uses 2 chords in the verse and chorus, but the pre-chorus gets more complicated. The more experienced players carried that part. The pre-chorus swells with the emotion of the melody and lyrics and the singers tend to crescendo, so a drop in the number ukes playing isn’t really noticed.

We finished off our performance with “Frosty the Snowman,” a relatively easy one until the bridge. Again the experienced players handled that part and the others joined in when we got back to the verse.

The Ukulele Ensemble will start up again in the spring semester so stay tuned. No experience or instrument necessary–just bring a willing attitude!

In the meantime, I’ve added a ukulele resource page on the blog.

January 27, 2015
by Professor B

MUSC 299 – Rez Metal

The band Testify is a Native American metal band with a positive message. The drummer, Edmund Yazzie, is a member of the Navajo Nation Council, the legislative branch of the Navajo Nation. The band is one of many Native American metal bands; the genre has even acquired a name, Rez Metal. Like rap, heavy metal speaks to the frustrations, fears, trials, and tensions of being part of a disenfranchised or marginalized group within the American society. According to their official band page, they are “committed to inspiring Native youth and young adults to be proud of their heritage and to promoting positive social change.”

Read more…

Check out their Facebook page or their page on Reverb Nation.

January 27, 2015
by Professor B

FAA 1320 and MUSC 168 – American Idol

Phillip Phillips, American Idol winner, strumming guitar

Phillip Phillips, American Idol winner

Phillip Phillips, the winner of season 11 of American Idol, has filed a claim with the California Labor Commissioner that challenges Idol‘s control over his career. Note that the article begins by referencing the Faustian legend, suggesting that he made a deal with the devil in order to secure his fame and fortune as a singer. He is now claiming that the company has engaged in unfair employment practices and manipulated him and his career. He essentially wants control over his own destiny. Idol and its talent management company likely feel he owes them loyalty because they have made his career possible.

Read more…

Where do you weigh in on this? Do you think he should be allowed to get out of his contract? Do you think reality shows take advantage of people when they sign them to these restrictive contracts? Do they owe anything to the reality show participant? What does the participant owe to the company?