Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Stalkers: A Short Film

Hey there! I realize this isn't really a blog, but I just wanted to let y'all know that you should really go see my friend Haley Hudkins' short film! It's called "Stalkers" and it's super duper cute (and she even features my original song "Maybe It's Just Love" at the end!)



Let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed it!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Gender Inequalities: They Show Up in Outer Space, Too!

As I prepare to write my junior theme, the equivalent of a long term paper anywhere outside of my high school, I will be researching humans in space - specifically, women in space. Our paper must focus on a "why question" and then attempt to answer that question. In my class, our teachers are requiring us to have a historical aspect in our paper, so I immediately thought of space. There is a lot of history in NASA's flights and accomplishments, and I thought that my approach to the topic, the gender inequalities in astronauts, would be a good fit for what is required of me along with my general interests.

As of today, there have been a total of 354 American citizens to go into space - 305 of them men, but only 49 of them women (NASA). These statistics shocked and confused me. Why is there an enormous gap between the number of men and women to go into space? This question led me to the book I am currently reading: Promised the Moon by Stephanie Nolen.
What I have read so far has been incredible. In 1959, 21 American women were recruited to take NASA's astronaut tests as part of Randy Lovelace's "Women in Space" program, the same tests taken by male astronaut candidates. (Lovelace was the chair of NASA's Life Sciences Committee.) Thirteen of those women passed the first series of tests, but before they could take the second series, the testing was cancelled in 1961 and never resumed. These women, who thought they were going to be some of the first female astronauts, never got their chance to prove they could do the same jobs as their male counterparts. NASA's History page states: "NASA required all astronauts to be graduates of military jet test piloting programs and have engineering degrees. In 1962, no women could meet these requirements. Although the Subcommittee was sympathetic to the women's arguments, no action resulted." In an age when women needed their husband's "signature to buy a car" (Nolen 4), I think it wasn't unusual for these thirteen women to not be able to meet the requirements to be astronauts as set by NASA.

Personally, I can't even begin to comprehend this issue. While I still have yet to finish my book, I think the gender gap issue in space is outrageous. Hopefully some more research in preparation for my junior theme can bring answers as to why the gap is so large today.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Whatcha Say?

A little while ago I heard the song "Whatcha Say" by Jason Derulo. In it, he literally inserts bits of the chorus of Imogen Heap's song "Hide and Seek", a practice called "sampling". I think this is quite interesting that as a musical artist, he is allowed to just take whatever part of a song he wants and put it in his song. I thought I'd use this topic as a continuation on my posts about similarities between songs.

I say that Derulo was allowed to take a part of Heap's song and put it in his own - but he didn't do it without permission. Imogen Heap gave her formal permission to Derulo (Quora.com) and defended her decision on her Twitter account in 2009


Heap is shown here as credited with co-writing the song (Wikipedia)
And as you can see from the photo below, Imogen Heap is credited as one of the authors of the song.




I think it is interesting that Derulo chose to sample "Hide and Seek" in his song. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of the rap/pop style his music embodies, but I do have to give him musical props for the way he mixed Heap's song in with his own lyrics. I think musically the song is adventurous, new, and something different that I haven't really heard before. 

Some people on his YouTube video weren't too pleased with the new, remixed song:


But I think that Derulo should be allowed to experiment with his music, and if Heap gave him permission to use her song, why shouldn't he see if he can make an interesting new song? And for that matter, wouldn't the new song provide exposure for the original song?

What are your opinions of Jason Derulo mixing Imogen Heap's song with his own? Do you think he was rightfully allowed to sample from her music, or do you think Heap shouldn't have let him use her song?

Things You Should Never Say To A Musician

"Wow, your song sounds so much like this other song I know!"
"Have I heard this song before?"

No, you probably haven't. There are so many songs that sound alike, I'm surprised someone hasn't put together a really long video of every single song that shares the same chord progression. Because while a song can sound completely original to the writer, there is at least one other song out there that has a similar, if not exact, chord progression. What people need to understand is that there are only a finite amount of chords that can be used to write a song - and writing a song that sounds kind of like another song can happen really easily. I remember writing this song I thought was really cool on the piano, only to realize an hour after I'd written it that I had subconsciously taken the chord progression of "Let It Be" by the Beatles. Mega embarrassing.


For example, in class a couple weeks ago, we discussed the recent "scandal" of Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" sounding an awful lot like Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" (Digital Music News). Rolling Stone magazine wrote that Smith's representative in the case called it a "'complete coincidence'" that the two songs' choruses sounded similar, and Digital Music News called it "a clear cut case of 'subconscious borrowing.'" The dispute eventually came to an "immediate and amicable agreement in which Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne are now credited as co-writers of 'Stay With Me' along with Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips" (Rolling Stone). 


TubeChop - Sam Smith's (01:07) (click to watch the similarities)

I believe unless there is immediate proof of a song being plagiarized or permission was not given for the similar-sounding song to be published, little bits and pieces of other songs in your own music is okay and can happen. I know that even if I'm not directly taking from other artists, many times my songs sound similar to the people I listen to because I am influenced by them. Digital Music News even posted an article of a list of songs that sound similar to each other - some being coincidences, and some that may need further investigation.

What do you think about songs that sound similar? Do you agree that "subconscious borrowing" can happen because of the chords available, or do you think that it isn't coincidence at all?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Are You Right or Left-Brained?

I was scrolling through BuzzFeedViolet's YouTube channel a couple of days ago and came across a new video that I hadn't seen before: "Left Brain Friend vs. Right Brain Friend." I watched the short comedic video and thought that really, it was quite accurate. The left brain friend was portrayed as extremely organized and on top of things, borderline annoying in her set ways, while the right brained friend was chill and creative, but very forgetful. The video had seven scenarios that played out; for example, the clothing sketch at the beginning. The woman who portrayed the left-brained friend (Allison Raskin) says, "Well, Mother said 70, so I should probably wear a sweater and bring a jacket for later", while the right-brained friend (Sara Rubin) says, "I feel really good about this. *looks at shirt* Just the right amount of cats" (BuzzFeed). And in another sketch about their diets, the left-brained friend says as she writes in her notebook: "Fruit intake for the day...one clementine. I should eat some protein before three" while the right-brained friend eats two chips at the same time and says: "Mmm! I think I just made a new flavor!" 

watch the video here!
While some may choose to view this video as insulting based on their "type", I thought it was very cleverly put together and personally got my "left-brained" personality down pat. In the end of the video both friends come together, and despite their differences, work together. I think the ending could have been a bit longer, but otherwise this video was really fun to watch.

What are your opinions on these kinds of videos? Would you continue to watch more BuzzFeed videos based on what you saw here?

Year in Space

On March 27, NASA's Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko launched into space for a year-long mission on the International Space Station, "the longest amount of time anyone has ever spent living and working on the lab" (Space.com).  They will be part of an experiment to see what happens to the human body in microgravity for an extended period of time. 
Astronauts Kelly and Kornienko after arriving onto the ISS

Normally, an astronaut only spends about six months on the ISS, so NASA scientists currently have no way of knowing how the human body will react to a longer amount of time in space and weightlessness on say, a trip to Mars in the near future. This is why Kelly and Kornienko were sent to the station for a year, which "NASA officials hope...could help send astronauts to Mars by the 2030s." What is also incredibly interesting is that Kelly's twin brother, Mark, will be doing tests here on Earth for NASA scientists so they can compare the brothers later - one who lived in space for a year, and one who lived on Earth for a year. It takes about a year to fly from Earth to Mars, and if NASA and private companies intend to put humans on Mars in 2030, I think it is imperative that physiological studies like these are carried out.

The Shortest Eclipse of the Century

Yesterday morning I got up at the awful hour of 6 AM to see the lunar eclipse. As I stepped outside, I saw a bit of the gigantic moon very low in the southwestern sky, and I had to walk to a park close by my house to even see her in full. Unfortunately, as predicted by those at NASA, I wasn't able to see the total eclipse as some people in the east might have, but I did get to see some light reflected off of the moon disappear slowly as the earth moved into the path between the sun and the moon. She set before I experienced totality, but nevertheless, the pictures that I saw online were absolutely breathtaking. I came home and turned on NASA TV to see if they were covering the event, and those at NASA's Griffith Observatory had trained a telescope on the moon and were videotaping the eclipse. According to CNN, the eclipse was "nearly five minutes -- what NASA says will be the shortest such eclipse of the century." 
The so-called "blood moon" as seen from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California
Even though I didn't get to see the entire eclipse, it was worth it to get up early and watch the broadcast that showed the eclipse through totality!