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Another Bergbrau Music Pub date added

Hello! I want to thank everyone who came to see me at the Bergrbrau Music pub  for coming out this past Saturday to see me despite the rain I had a blast! Another date has been added for next Sarurday for those who missed it at 8PM! BKT :) 

My German Trip

Hi! I'm excited that I'm leaving to catch a plane to Germany tonight! I'll be there until October 29th, then back home to New York City. It's always such a pleasure to play and sing there! Thanks for the continued support and please feel free to come back because I have so many more things to share with you! BKT :)

Bergbrau Music Pub

Hello! I'm proud to say that I am honored to be received as an artist consistently year after year at the Bergbrau Music Pub in Karlsruhe, Germany. Ralf and Patrizia, the proprietors, have always welcomed me with open arms. I'm performing there again next Saturday the 18th and I always look forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting new fans and friends. I must admit that we artists are sensitive and it's important for us to feel appreciated; I always do here. For those who frequent the place that may be reading this post, I want to say thank you for all of the support and I will see you next week with even new material I have written! BKT :)

New Website!

Hello and welcome to my new website! For long-time fans and visitors of my site, I hope you like the subtle changes I've made! The music links are back in order and can be heard by just clicking on them in the Music section! I'm looking forward to continuing this journey with you and sharing my new adventures! BKT :)

New Music Link

Hello! I just wanted you to know that I am currently updating the music link system so for now if you want to hear my songs, just go to the following YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niSOi0KxIZc&list=OLAK5uy_l38hOacrzT3pgXIuTmbaG8O3CzBO8KB5A&index=2&t=0s

Title Change

Hey gang! Thanks for checking out my website more than ever! I really appreciate it! I decided to change the title of my next CD which I will start working on next year. It will be called "Time is the River" because instead of "The Potter's Wheel." Why? Because I remembered that I always wanted to name a project of mine after a song I wrote many years ago that deals with time as a friend instead of an enemy. The more time that goes by, the more I appreciate my family, friends, and people who enjoy my music. Well, there it is. Come back and find out more about my continuing journey and feel free to listen my current music of which I'm quite proud in "The Byron Taylor Songbook":) BKT

More to Come :)

Hello! I am definitely looking forward to playing in different venues this year where people can hear my music. There is nothing like being on stage or even just sitting in a chair playing for people who may have never heard your music before. I don't discriminate. It's always thrilling for me. As an artist, I hope to reach as many people as possible with my music because I put my heart and soul in it. I just finished writing new music tonight for another CD I plan to put out next year called "The Potter's Wheel." For my long-time fans, I think they will be surprised at the new musical twists and turns I've made with these new songs. But, "The Byron Taylor Songbook" is definitely a priority right now.It sums up my musical life up to this point. Please keep coming back for up to date news because this year is not over yet. There is more to come (working hard at it) :).BKT

Gearing up for a New Phase

Hey gang! Thanks to my new fans and supporters who have seen my Facebook ads for "The Byron Taylor Songbook!" I hope you really enjoy the music and please continue to follow me because there is a NEW album on the way for next year! In the meantime, I'm getting ready for more gigs here AND in Germany! Keep coming back! :) BKT

P.S. I also want to give my fullest support and sympathy to all of the families and friends who lost loved ones in one of the most heinous crimes ever perpetrated against a city and nation. My heart and prayers goes out to the 9/11 victims who have suffered and lost their lives.

Much more to come!

Hello! I'm taking a brief rest from performing before starting again in September! I always learn and continue to grow as an artist through my live performances. I have been writing new material and continue to do so in the meantime. I'm looking forward to going back to the studio next year! Also, I will be performing in some of my favorite places in Karlsruhe, Germany in mid-October! Come back for more news and info! BKT :)

Having a Blast!

Hello! So far the solo performances have been working well for me and I really enjoy playing in front of live audiences! In addition to that, I've been writing new music for the new CD I plan to release next year called "The Potter's Wheel." But for now, I am still promoting "The Byron Taylor Songbook" which is close to my heart because it sums up the music I've been writing all of my life up to this point> If you haven't already picked up a copy, please feel free to do so by going to the main page of this site and click on the BUY CD icon where it will take you to a few simple steps in getting the album. Take care and I'll write again soon!BKT :)

A New Chapter Begins...

Hi! Today I'm starting new rehearsals for upcoming shows! There is a lot more to do in 2019 so keep coming back for more news and content! BKT :)

Behind the Songs Pt.7

Hello and welcome back  to the seventh part of my series, "Behind the Songs" which is based on the release of my CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook." This week I will discuss another song from the album, "The Hero's Journey." I decided to put a brief instrumental on my project because t expresses my interest exploring other musical territory besides a Pop song. I studied under a wonderful composer and former teacher, Thea Musgrave, who taught me how to write for orchestra. The song's title was inspired by the writings of the famous mythologist and teacher, Joseph Campbell. His theory about how heroes throughout the centuries follows a certain pattern that he called the MONOMYTH. It even inspired George Lucas when he was creating Star Wars. The orchestration for this song was simple: violins, violas, cellos, basses, French  and English horn. It's under a minute long but I envisioned a brief musical interlude about a classic hero deciding to answer the call to adventure. BKT:)

Behind the Songs Pt.6

Hello! I hope that my fellow Americans had a wonderful Fourth of July vacation and I always hope for peace, love, good health, and happiness all around the world! It's time for another installment of Behind The Songs. This time, I'll talk about not one but two of the songs from my CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook." First, "The Raven Trail" is based on a concept I had many years ago about about an African-American raised by Indians  after the Civil War. It was influenced by a book I read by William Loren Katz called "Black Indians" which is about an underwritten chapter in American history concerning the relationship between African Americans and Native Americans. They had a closer relationship than what has been hinted at in cinema and literature. They were allies before, during, and after the Civil War and contributed to the vast panorama of American culture. I created a character called Kaw la Na which is Raven in the Cherokee language (I even snuck that name in the song. I loved the idea of putting a Cherokee word in a Pop song!). Later, after I wrote the song which takes place "across North Carolina plains" where they "Hug the earth " and "Kisses the rains." I got so carried away with my own self-made mythology about this fictional character that I even wrote a novel called "The Raven Trail." One day in the near future, I hope to publish it.

The other song I want to talk about is called "Tales from Worldhaven." It is based on the first novel I wrote called "Tarknelion's Quest," which is about a young man who finds a special sword but also finds himself embroiled in a war that has been going on for decades between two wizards that I call Lorecrafters. Worldhaven is a Steampunk realm I created where computers and magic co-exist, where horse carriages are computerized, where great goverrnments rise and crumble. The lyrics in the song basically tell the story about the novel, so listen closely the next time you hear it :). I am striving for it to be published as well as my songs. My primary influences for Worldhaven are the Eternal Champion book series from one of my favorite writers, Michael Moorcock, Robert E. Howard's "Conan" stories, Dr. Strange from Marvel Comics, and the Steampunk movement.

I looked at my discography again today and it reminded me about my life so far. Between the release of "Dreamwalk," and "The Raven Trail," as John Lennon mentioned in his great song, "Beautiful Boy," "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." Life did happen which is why there is such a huge gap between albums. I went to Ireland to study Comparative Literature at Dublin City University for a while, wrote two novels, finished most of what will be a third novel,composed many more songs, performed in different parts of the world, AND wound up getting three Master's degrees in the process. Needless to say, I was busy!:) 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this latest segment of talks; please come again because I have so much more to share with you! BKT

Behind the Songs Pt.5

Hello again! I'm really enjoying the process of talking about my songs in this format. Not only does it remind me of the inspiration behind them, but I hope it elucidates things about them for those who are curious about my writing process. This week, I'll discuss what went behind another song , "Nothing Lasts Forever." This song was a lot of fun to record because I was trying to show how much the Beatles have inspired me as a musician and artist.  When I sat down to score it, I knew that I wanted horns, specifically trumpets. I remember seeing a wonderful trumpet player in the subway whom I knew I wanted to invite to the studio because I enjoyed his playing so much. His name is Eganam and I ran into him again while he was playing at a street food fair. Then, I saw him playing a Bach trumpet which, as the name suggests, originated during Bach's time, and it was the solo instrument in the Beatles classic, "Penny Lane." When I started writing songs, I was listening heavily to the Beatles and was (and still is) a student of how they masterfully constructed songs. It was the perfect opportunity to add this element to this song I have been dying to record since I wrote it. I didn't go out to necessarily try to imitate the Beatles, but let's just say that I wanted to evoke a Beatles-like quality to the overall arrangement, It's a coming-of-age song about someone who has reached maturity and has to leave the comforts of home behind in order to grow as a person in the outside world. Take care and remember that the song can be listened to in the MUSIC section of my site. Take care! BKT

"Castle of Dreams"; the Lost Album

Hey gang!  For those of you who have seen my discography and are long-time fans of mine (thank you again!), you're probably wondering why you can't find a copy of my very first CD, "Castle of Dreams" anywhere. It's because I was never truly happy with the mix and mastering, so I decided to pull it from circulation until I fix it. But I promise to re-release it one day re-mixed, re-mastered, and sounding better than ever! :) BKT 

Behind the Songs Pt.4

Hello and welcome to the fourth part of my series, Behind the Songs, which includes brief discussions about some of the material from my CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook." Today. I'd like to discuss the song "With All Of My Heart." I took me only fifteen minutes to write the song (I kid you not!). The words and music both came to me at the same time in a rush and I couldn't stop writing and re-writing till I finished the song. Also, the events in the song actually happened to me. A long time ago, I met a British girl who was on holiday at a bar after I came from recording, and it was like love at first sight. We hit it off that night and we kept in touch after she went back to England. We wound up having a long distance relationship and I even went to visit here a few times. But alas, like most long distance situations, it didn't work out. This song is really about trying to maintain a long distance relationship which is not always easy (I'm sure that those who have had one know exactly what I'm talking about!). Well, that's the story behind the song. Come back for more! BKT :)

Back in the USA

Hey folks, I'm back! London was a blast! I had so much fun playing in wonderful places like OLD STREET RECORDS pub where musicians are truly treasured. The next time I'm in the UK, I'll play there again in a heartbeat! Now that I'm back in New York, I have a lot of work cut out for me like organizing shows and writing more music. Keep coming back for more news!:)BKT

London!

Hey gang! I'm here in London with my brother and having a blast! The interview with MuzicNotez online magazine is here! Click below on the link and check it out! BKT :)

http://www.muzicnotez.com/magazine/interviews/artist-interviews/2019-interviews/byron-taylor/

 

Upcoming magazine interview

Hey gang! I have an upcoming interview with a music e-magazine and once I do it, I'll give you the link here! In two days, I'm celebrating my Bday! Also, tomorrow, I'm performing briefly at a Bed Stuy place called Tilly's. I'm looking forward to it because I live close by! (convenience is a blessing!). For my next post, I'll continue the Behind the Songs series! BKT :)

Behind the Songs Pt.3

Hello again! This week, I'd like to talk a little about the song, "She Doesn't Know It." I wanted to start the album with this song because I thought that it would be a nice start to the project since it's one of my earlier songs.Of course, the James Taylor influence is unmistakable, but I didn't really set out to imitate him who is one of the greatest Singer-Songwriters. I recorded with my Taylor acoustic guitar for the first time and will be my standard guitar for recording and performing from now on! The sound is unbelievable! I tried to write a song based on the male perspective regarding relationships. Men do feel and long for love even when we don't realize it. For the men who are reading this, haven't you ever thought of someone so much romantically but were afraid of exposing your true feelings? I hope I succeeded in capturing what I have certainly felt from time to time and I also hope that the song is relatable :). BKT

Behind the Songs Pt. 2

Hello again! It's time for a brief look at another one of the songs that is on my latest CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook, which is called "The Knight and the Queen." I wrote it a week before "With all of My Heart" and it was inspired by my love of medieval literature and myths. I wanted a love story between a knight and a queen to have a happy ending for a change instead of a Tristan and Isolde kind of fate. I wrote the score for strings,  French horns, and English Horn as a sort of Bach minuet since the song has a 3/4 time signature. I had so much fun writing the score with a glass of Chardonnay by my side (a habit I admittedly enjoy when writing scores, I may add, but only ONE glass of course!). I played every other instrument and sang the lead vocal in one take after having a hamburger(something I would not recommend but, hey, it  made me feel more comfortable!). So the next time you hear the song, think of it as a mini-tale of medieval love but also as a metaphor for a man who would do anything to protect his woman because he loved her and her strength added to his own.:)BKT

Behind the Songs Pt.1

Hello! I hope you're enjoying the weekend. This is the first of a series of posts called "Behind the Songs" that will include a brief discussion of my songwriting process behind the music on my CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook." The first song I'll discuss is "Livin' Without Your Love." This is the oldest song on the album because I wrote it when I was 14. Back then, I had a band and after rehearsal on the way home, I heard this bass line that jumped in my head and would not leave! I turned to my brother and said, "We have to get home right away! I have this song in my head!" So once we got home, I sang the bass line in my tape recorder and about 30 minutes later, I wrote the whole song! When my brother suggested that I re-record it for this latest project (and I'm so glad he did!), I went to the recording studio and recorded all the basic tracks myself and kept that lead vocal I did in one take (it wasn't my initial intention but I liked the vocal so much, I decided to keep it). Later, I scored the trumpet parts that were eventually played by the terrific Eganam Segbefia. David Dallon, my longtime friend, played and improvised those magnificent sax solos. Daryl Serrano, another longtime friend played the live drums. And last but not least, my brother, Lonnie sang the second lead vocal and background vocals with me. So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading!:) BKT

The Potter's Wheel

Hello! I hope you all are well. If you haven't already, pick up a copy of my CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook." In my next post, I will start delving into the origins and influences of some of the songs. I will continue to perform solo for a little bit before I break out with a small band of friends who will play and sing with me. I'm really looking forward to it! I've mentioned many times before that I always plan an album ahead, so the new record way down the road will be called "The Potter's Wheel." I've written quite a few new songs for it that will take me in very interesting directions! Incidentally,  I just did an interview for Music Notez magazine, an e-zine that asked me some great questions. I'll post the link in the next blog! Keep coming back! BKT :)

Latest Update

Hello! I was just notified that I won the runner-up spot in the Unsigned Only Internet Radio competition which has led to MORE airplay for my music! That is quite an honor for me! My London trip is actually scheduled for mid-May and of course, I will be performing as well as getting some rest in-between. I have always loved the city and I'm really looking forward to going back there and my brother will be with me!:) I'm very excited about that because he has never been there before! Also, I have written more music for a future project that is already in the works! But now, my major concentration is on my latest CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook." My next blog here will begin an in-depth look into some of the songs. The first one will be about "Livin' without your Love," which is a song I wrote when I was just 14 years old. I normally play just about all of the instruments usually in my recordings, but this one has a special line-up I'll tell you about in the next blog, so keep coming back because I have a lot to share with you!:) BKT

London, Here I Come!

Hi gang! I plan to do a performance in London. Looking forward to it! Will tell you more !:) BKT

Oscar Night

All I have to say is that I PRAY that "Black Panther" wins SOMETHING tonight!:)BKT

Soundcloud ROCKS!

Hello! I just found out that my station on SoundCloud is one of the suggested stations! That is extremely flattering! Here's the link:

https://soundcloud.com/stations/track/byron-taylor-16/01-she-doesnt-know-it

Come back for more info! :) BKT

I Will Walk With You

Hello! I decided to upload another one of my songs from "The Byron Taylor Songbook." It's called "I Will Walk With You." Today, I was thinking about the time when I wrote this song. I was so smitten with a particular woman that the song basically  (pardon the cliche) wrote itself. Have you ever been so in love that you could hardly see straight? Of course you have! Well, at the time, I was thinking of strong imagery that would show my devotion to her and what turned out to be an unrequited love  turned out to be one of my most requested songs in concert but, hey: I look back on that time and smile because at least I got a song out of it!  In fact, it was played at a few weddings of which I am VERY proud. Click on the link in the MUSIC section and don't forget to pick up a copy of the CD which is available here as well as in CDBaby! :) BKT

Soundcloud

Hi! You can check me out on Soundcloud as well. Just copy and paste the link:

https://soundcloud.com/byron-taylor-16

 

 

Planning Stages

Hello! I hope you enjoyed the holidays! Now that they're over, I'm getting back to work, so continue to follow the latest developments here in my website news! :)BKT

Happy New Year!

Hello. I wish everyone a healthy and Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to sharing my latest news with you in 2019! There are a lot of events in the works and I will definitely keep you posted! :) BKT

Livin' Without Your Love

Hi! I've made a new song available for you to hear in its entirety from my new CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook." I wrote it when I was 14 years old and remains one of my all-time favorites! Enjoy!:) BKT

Happy Holidays!

Hello! I hope everyone had a great Christmas yesterday with family and friends! I enjoyed playing my new keyboard and coming up with new musical ideas! I think it's a good head start for the new year! :)There is more news to come so keep coming back! BKT :)

The Bitter End in NYC

Hi! I'm playing again at the Bitter End tomorrow during the open mic sessions starting at 1:15. If you want to come down, check me out, and say hello, please do! I'm pretty sure that I'll want to have a few full-fledged gigs there; it's such a cool place! Hopefully, I'll see you there either tomorrow or at future performances!BKT

With All Of My Heart

Hello! I hope that everyone is having a great holiday season! I've decided to include for a preview one of the songs I am most proud of in my songwriting life which is "With All of My Heart." It took me only 15 minutes to write overall;(I kid you not!). To say that the song adheres to the old cliche that "it wrote itself" would be appropriate for sure! Check it out! I played all of the instruments EXCEPT for the real strings and English Horn which I scored myself. I was blessed to study with the renowned Classical/Opera composer, Thea Musgrave, who taught me how to write for orchestra when I studied at Queens College back in the day:). What inspired me to write was a long-distance relationship I had a long time ago and trust me, I fell in love with her BIG TIME! However, it didn't work out after all, but the song is one of my favorite achievements. Just copy and paste in your web browser on the link below: I hope you like it!:) BKT

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzhfWirEMrk&list=OLAK5uy_l38hOacrzT3pgXIuTmbaG8O3CzBO8KB5A&index=3

 

 

Playing this week

Hi! If you want to stop by and say hello, I'll be at the Red Lion this Wednesday after 9 PM performing and at the Bitter End again this Saturday after 1:15 PM this Saturday!:) BKT

Going Back to the Bitter End

Hi! I enjoyed playing at the Bitter End open mic so much last Saturday that I'm going back! I enjoy the artistic community there and the people are very nice! If anyone wants to meet me, the doors open around 1:15, so feel free to stop by and say hello! BKT By the way, I'll be at the Red Lion in NYC tomorrow at 9 with other musicians! :).

Open Mic Month

Hello! I can't believe this year is almost over! I'm going to spend this month performing solo at many open mics to get ready for performances next year! I'll keep you posted where I'll perform! Happy Holidays!:) BKT

About the Songs Part 1

Hello! I'm so excited about my new release. "The Byron Taylor Songbook," that I thought I would write some things that have inspired the dongs. Let me start with "The Knight and The Queen." I wrote it as an anti-tragedy. Remember Tristan and Isolde? Antony and Cleopatra? Lancelot and Guinevere? Of course, you do! These legendary romances all ended with the same result: tragedy. Tristan killed himself and Isolde afterward (at least in the Wagnerian version); Antony committed suicide and Cleopatra followed; Lancelot went mad and Guinevere became a nun out of guilt because she cheated on her husband, King Arthur. In this case, I wanted to see what it would be like to invert the trope of classic fantasy romances (although Antony and Cleopatra really existed). What if the soldier and queen actually had a happy ending? That is what my song is about. Check it out on the BUY IT link on my welcome page in this site :). BKT

Gigs are forthcoming!

Hello! I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'm in the process of arranging gigs for next year in order to support my new CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook." Once they're finalized, I'll post the upcoming dates here! In the meantime, feel free to buy the new CD through this site! See you soon! BKT

New Formats

Hello! My new CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook," is now available in digital formats like Spotify and Apple iTunes! It's also available through this site! Be sure to get a copy! Also, there will be more news to come! BKT :)

Another Uploaded Song

So I've uploaded another full song from my latest CD. It's called "Nothing Lasts Forever." It was inspired by my lifelong love of the Beatles. When I dreamed of being a Songwriter and composer as a kid, I listened to the Fab Four religiously. Once again, my friend Daryl Serrano is on drums, and I played and sang everything else except the Bach trumpet played by an excellent musician I met after hearing him play on the subway named Eganam. A Bach trumpet was originally used on the classic track, "Penny Lane." I didn't try to mimic that solo but I scored the part with the instrument prominently in mind. Just go to the home page and click on the MUSIC section to hear the song :). Hope you enjoy it!:)BK

CD now available for Purchase

Hello! My new CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook," is now available for purchase! Just go to the home page of this website on click on the CD cover icon with BUY NOW attached to it!BKT :)

Excerpts from the New CD

Hi! I just posted excerpts from my new CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook," on this site so please take a listen: "She Doesn't Know It," "Nothing Lasts Forever," "With All of My Heart, "  "The Hero's Journey," and "The Answer"." Much more is to come! BKT :)

Back in the USA

Hey there! I just got from Germany where I spent my semi-vacation but that didn't mean that I totally took it easy:). I played at my favorite little spot in Karlsruhe called the Bergbraqu Stube where I was greeted by fans, old and new. I must say it was one of the most enjoyable musical experiences of my life. People were really appreciative of my music. Now that I'm back in NYC, the next stage begins where digital distribution kicks in. For the next few weeks, I will be working on getting my new CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook," to as many digital formats as possible.  So keep coming back because I have a lot of new music to share with you! BKT :)

One Week Left!

Hi! I'm pleased to report that my new CD, "The Byron Taylor Songbook," is mixed and will be fully mastered next week! Then, of course, I will submit the project for duplication and streaming! The album took three solid months of hard work to make and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out! See you next week! BKT :)

The New CD cover is HERE!

Hello! For regular visitors to my website, I'm sure you see something different on my homepage: it's the cover of my upcoming new CD! I have a little over one week left before postproduction is over! I'm so excited! Take care and I hope you like the new cover :). BKT

New CD Update

Hello folks! Production just wrapped up for the new CD a week ago! Post-production begins next week and I'm thrilled! However, I decided NOT to make it a double album as originally planned. You know the adage: less is MORE :). Anyway, it will consist of songs, old and new.I'll keep you posted as always on my progress! BKT

CD Update

Hello! I'm excited to tell you that there is so much material already recorded that "The Byron Taylor Songbook" will be a DOUBLE ALBUM! (Ok, not 25 songs, but much shorter than that; I mean a double album by TODAY'S standards since EP's and singles seem to be the norm now). It will have 4 sides like a classic double album with four or five songs each with the titles, Innocence, Love, Awakening, and Maturity. It really is an anthology of my favorite originals and a good representation of my life's work up to this point. I'm really excited about the project and I am already having a blast revisiting some of my older material that I never got around to recording considering that I've written hundreds of songs! Anyway, keep coming back for more updates! :)BKT

The Byron Taylor Songbook

Hello! I just wanted to give you an update on the progress of my new CD in the works; things are moving smoothly and everything, including post-production, should be finished by the end of August. It will be called "The Byron Taylor Songbook" which will include some of my best work as well as a lot of songs never before recorded or released along with new ones. This is the most exciting project yet and I can't wait to share it with you! BKT :)

New CD Under Way

Hi gang! I just wanted you to know that I am working on new material and a major session is taking place this Saturday! Also, this is my BIRTHDAY WEEK, so please feel free to write to me in this forum! I would love to hear from all of you! My birthday is this Thursday the 26th. Take care and all the best! BKT :)

Sorry for the Delay

Hello to all of my fans old and new! I'm in the process of working on a new CD project which, as I said before, will be a mixture of old and new material; in other words, it's a retrospective of many years as a singer, songwriter, producer, and arranger. I must say that it's a lot of fun revisiting old sessions which is what I'm doing first. Once that process is over, then I will record new material that I am currently writing. In addition, my fiction writing will continue, so stick around for the ride because it's going to be a good one!:)BKT

Happy New Year!

Hello, and Happy New Year! I hope that everyone is having a healthy and happy life. There is so much planned for 2018 like a new recording, more Fiction work, and a ton of other surprises I will unveil for the next months ahead so please keep coming back for more entries in my News journal! BKT :)

Back in the USA

Well, I'm back in America and I must say that I had a blast in Germany and France! One of my favorite music spots in Karlsruhe, Scruffy's, was absolutely delightful and it was fun getting to know new people and meeting new fans! And what can I say about Paris? It is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the Parisians could not have been friendlier! Now that I have refreshed my batteries, I'm already making new plans for the upcoming year. For example, I will record some new songs to accompany remastered and reimagined songs of mine from the past and of course, like all of my work, I intend to play all of the instruments save for one or two. The project will be called "The Byron Taylor Songbook" which will consist of what I feel is my very best work. I've also asked the opinions of fans, friends, family, and perfect strangers feedback and the CD will be a result of my research. I'm thrilled to start a new project as well as continuing my Fiction writing.After all, I love to write short stories and novels just as much as writing songs. Well, that's all for now! Take care! BKT :)

Europe Bound

Hello! I'm excited that I'm leaving for Europe in a few days to play my music. Being there is always exciting and extremely satisfying. If you haven't already, feel free to order a copy of either "The Raven Trail" or "Tales from Worldhaven" CD. Single songs are also available for purchase :). The new project will be called "The Byron Taylor Songbook" which will be a musical retrospective of my work. But for now, off I go! :( BKT

Paris on the Horizon

Hello, my fans! I'm happy to report that Paris is also on my itinerary for gigs in December! I will keep you more up to date, I promise! This is a very exciting time for me with new performances and a new CD on the horizon as well for a new release next year! :) BKT

Back To Germany

Hey gang! I have been so busy getting ready for my next German trip but NEVER too busy to reach out to you! I will be back in Germany for the first few weeks in December and I am going all over the beautiful country after being invited to perform! Before I go, I am already working on pre-production for the retrospective CD I will release next year of old material as well as new songs! I'm really looking forward to re-visiting the old stuff which will include remixes and updates as well as new material I have written. I don't know what I will call it yet, but I have a few ideas:). This has been an interesting year and 2018 is sure to bring new challenges, but I'm ready for them! Take care!:) BKT

Youtube

Hey gang! I want to give you the opportunity to revisit stuff I have done in the past by going to my youtube link I will provide below. For the new project, some of these songs will be remixed, remastered and enhanced (vocals will definitely be more upfront!) but I thought it would be cool for you to check out what I did many years ago before the new CD is released next year. 

copy and paste this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIyIsSlS9bA&index=2&list=PLjVIF9tqC590c2aqs2W0s8WRNS-t__us5

Hope you like it!:)

New Developments

Hi! Sorry that it's been a while since my last post! First, I want to thank the people who have supported the release of my CD, "Tales from Worldhaven." Currently, I'm making plans for my most ambitious project yet which is a compilation CD of what I consider to be my best material for the past 40 years I have been a Singer-Songwriter! It will include some special editions of previously released material as well as newly-recorded songs. I'm pretty excited about it and it should be released by the middle of next year. I have quite a lot of music I have written to review after all! well take care and I'll keep you posted as always! BKT:)

Back in Town

Hi gang! Sorry for the long wait! I decided to take a small vacation to New Orleans and it was worth it! There is so much music in that wonderful town! Anyway, I'm still getting wonderful feedback from the "Tales from Worldhaven, Vol.1" CD and in addition, I have been writing and revising my novels and short stories.If you haven't had the chance, pick up a copy of my CD which is available here as well as Apple iTunes and Amazon as well:). See you soon!BKT

Happy Easter!

Hello! I want to wish everyone around the world a happy Easter! There are some exciting posts coming your way here, so keep coming back!BKT:)

New Outlets

Hello! FYI, there are new online sites that have the CD for purchase; of course, the quickest way is to order through this website by clicking on the small CD cover icon in the introduction page, but it is also available at Spotify, Apple iTunes, and more are forthcoming! I hope you have the chance to pick up the new CD:)BKT

Amazon

Hello! The songs from my new CD, Tales from Worldhaven, Vol.1, are available on amazon.com for purchase via digital download! Many more outlets are forthcoming! BKT

The Songs are here!

Hi,everybody! For a limited time, the songs for the new CD, "Tales from Worldhaven, Vol.1" are available for a free preview in the MUSIC section; enjoy!:)BKT

Happy New Year!

Hello! The new CD, "Tales from Worldhaven, Vol. 1" is FINISHED! I will have the cover graphics ready sometime next week, so once I get it, I promise to share it with you!: It's a project I'm really proud of and I hope that my listeners, old and new, will enjoy it. It's another EP but quite different from my last release. This is the lineup of songs:

1- Another Door

2-How Many Days?

3-Tales from Worldhaven

4-Journey to Nornheim

5-Brother

When I have the sound clips here, I will also write a new blog explaining the background of each song and what they have in common. Take care!BKT

Official Wrap-Up Date

Hello! I'm pleased to report that the final day of post-production is December 15th, so in less than a week, the new CD will be a finished reality! :)BKT

New CD Update!

Hey gang! I mentioned in my last post that I intended to wrap up production for my new CD in late November, but guess what? it's wrapping up instead in early November instead! Post-production will last until early December. I'm very pleased that everything is going so well! Take care and keep coming back for more!:)BKT

Late November Wrap-Up

Hello and welcome back! The new project is progressing smoothly and I expect to finish production in late November and start post-production in early December.I go back in the studio for another big session next week.Last week's session was absolutely marvelous and I have chosen the opening song for the CD. It's called, Another Door, which is one of the new songs I've written in the theme of this project which is courage and positivity. Take care!:)BKT

Excited about the new CD!

Hello! I have another big session scheduled for this Friday and I am looking forward to working with new engineering talent along with continuing my musical journey with my favorite engineer, Brian Cid. I've also hired the same graphic artist that designed The Raven Trail CD and wait till you see what it will look like! As I've stated in the earlier entry, the new CD, Tales from Worldhaven, should be finished and ready by Christmas. Please come back for more info and entries here as well as in the Fiction page (if you haven't checked it out yet, feel free!). Take care!BKT:)

Christmas Release

Hello! I just want to give me fans and new visitors an update on my new CD, Tales From Worldhaven. I just confirmed the year's remaining recording schedule and it looks like it will be a Christmas release for sure! I'm looking forward to sharing my new music with all of you; Take care and see you soon!:)BKT

Thanks for the Support!:)

While I am in the middle of working on a new CD project, I want to thank my new followers who are giving my website rave reviews! I have never been busier not only working on new music, but getting my stories in shape for hopeful publication!Please keep coming back for more music news, stories, and such! My new CD, Tales from Worldhaven(inspired by the third book I am writing), will be closer to completion by the end of the month!BKT :)

Getting Closer to the Finish Line:)

Hi there! I've been hard at work on the new CD, like I posted earlier, and it is three big sessions away from being finished! I hope you keep coming back for more news because this is only the beginning!:)BKT

Half Way There

Good news! By next week, I will reach the half way mark for the new CD that I'm working on, "Tales from Worldhaven," and it is exceeding my expectations. I always strive to release my best material at a given time, and this project will be no different. I believe that artists should always challenge themselves and I have tread upon ground so far that has been hitherto undiscovered which is one of my greatest joys during this recording process. I can tell you that the new songs will cover topics from brotherhood to self awareness. I can also promise you that I will do my best to make it it a truly special CD! In the meantime, please feel free to enjoy the songs from my past EP, "The Raven Trail," that is based upon the novella I wrote with the same name.  There are even excerpts from the book on this website, so check out the Fiction section here! Take care!BKT:)

Another Update

Hey gang! Production is well under way for the new CD; so far, there are three songs already formatted and recorded and I'm really happy with the project so far. Already, I can tell you is that it will be stylistically different from my previous CD, "The Raven Trail" (which will still be available through this site and other major social media). I even have a new cat! In the next post, I will tell you all about some of the new songs, so keep your eyes peeled! Don't forget to check out my original fiction which ranges from Steampunk to superheroes!:)BKT

CD Update

Hello! I just want to give you an update on the new CD: all is moving smoothly and I plan to release it on Christmas Day. I look forward to sharing my new music with all of you:).As aforementioned, the songs will be loosely based on a new book I have been writing about the Steampunk realm I invented. Take care and come back for more news!:) BKT

P.S. I just adopted a new kitten and named her Cupcake:).

New Recording Date

Hello! I have been busy writing new songs as well as new fiction and I start work on my new EP on June 15th, so I'm really excited. Writing songs and stories are synonymous with my creative life and I feel privileged to explore both areas. I want to encourage anyone reading this blog to never settle and pursue what makes you the happiest:). BKT

Prince: Forever an Icon

I remember when my brother brought an album home one day with this cool-looking brother with a big Afro and asking,"Who is that?" and in his usual cool aplomb, he said, " I read in Billboard about this guy from Minneapolis who played EVERY instrument as well as wrote, arranged, and produced all of his songs on his debut album." We listened to it and I was amazed! Of course, his name was Prince. From that moment on I want to hear everything that he ever recorded and I did. He inspired me to learn how to play every single musical instrument I could put my hands on and to this day I still follow that idea. I am very sad about his passing. He was a true icon and legend. He was a true genius despite self-acclimations from certain artists whom shall remain nameless. Anyway, I just wanted to say that he influenced me reply and I miss him very much. Much love from BKT:)xoxo

About Mom

Hello everyone! I have been so busy writing new Fiction, writing new songs, recording,and just keeping myself in creative mode that I haven't had the chance to come back to my home forum, so here I am! This has also been a heartbreaking month for me because ten years ago, I lost my beautiful mother, Jean Taylor, to breast cancer. I wonder what she would have thought of Trump's presidential campaign, Hillary's momentous pitch for the White House, the new Star Wars movie, Bernie Sanders, terrorist attacks abroad, and even the Food network (which I admittedly love). She probably would have accompanied her opinions with an optimistic fervor for which she was unabashedly famous in my family. She never shirked away from candor. Anyway, she was the one who put me on the path to being a creative writer; I thank her to this day for not buying me that Sesame Street Grover hand Muppet and bought me books instead. I think it was definitely a fair trade. She must have seen how much I enjoyed reading everything from Homer to Dr. Strange comic books at 13. I would often huddle over books on my bed while the TV flashed images of Fonzie thumbs ups on the Happy Days show and Captain Kirk flirtations with alien women who had no choice but to succumb to his overwhelming id. I think that Freud would have just loved Captain Kirk. Anyway, my mom taught me not only to just dream, but to act on them. There would be no Byron Keith Taylor website,no three Master's degree (she always pushed me to go back to school; guess I got carried away), no short stories, no Steampunk and History Fantasy novels, no brother, no education, and certainly no Byron Keith Taylor without her. Thanks for everything Mom because I know that you're reading this blog in Heaven. I miss you. xoxo

New Entries for the Fiction Page

Hello! I've included a few more entries for the Fiction page which include a Batman poem I wrote for my graduate studies a few years ago that was published in tribute to the new movie, "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." As always, keep a look out for more stories, blogs, and new music to come! BKT

New Studio Date

Hello! I've been busy writing a lot of new music as well as Fiction; now I have an official  starting date for my new CD project: March 30th! I'm looking forward to going back to the studio because I'm itching for all of you to eventually hear what I've been up to! It should be fun and I'm already getting great feedback from my brother who has already heard some pre-production on my keyboard workstation:). Thanks for coming back and there is more information to come!BKT:)

Update

Hi guys! It looks like my recording date has been pushed up a week later, but the new CD is definitely happening! Please keep coming back for further updates and a new entry is coming to the Fiction page very soon!:)BKT

Back In The Saddle Again

Hey there! Thank you for all of your support for my CD, "The Raven Trail." It is still available here or on Apple iTunes for purchase and review. I go back to the studio on March 3rd to start the follow-up CD, "Tales from Worldhaven." Hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will return soon with more Fiction to read and stories to share!:)BKT

Happy Holidays!

Merry Xmas to all of you and your families! BKT:)

Update

Hi! I hope everyone here had a great Thanksgiving! The music for the new CD is almost finished as far as the writing. I will still heavily promote "The Raven Trail" in the meantime:). Keep coming back for more updates! BKT:)

Writing New Material

As a writer, it is always imperative to stay fresh and keep busy. I'm writing new material for an EP I plan to release sometime next year so keep coming back for more info, surprises, and more original fiction in the SHORT STORIES section. Take care!:)BKT  

Spongy

Hello. Today is a very sad day for me because I just came from the vet with a heavy heart because my cat, Spongy, whom I've had for nine glorious years, just passed away this morning. The only comfort I have is that he is no longer suffering from his affliction. He was a dear friend, family member, and loving companion. He would sit on my lap while I was at the keyboard writing music and was always close by whenever I was in front of my laptop writing my stories and novels. I'm back home now and it seems emptier. He is in my Photo Gallery, so please take a look at this beautiful Mainecoon cat who gave me so many years of joy and love.Spongy will always be in my heart and mind forever. I miss him terrribly. BKT:(

Here's the Article!

Hello! I decided to show you the article that the Clinton Chronicle newspaper wrote about me and my latest efforts:

Byron Keith Taylor's Latest CD

Catching Up With A Busy Hell's Kitchen Artist

By Spoons, Saloon Columnist

Not long ago, back in the dog days of summer, I needed a quick cold one so I popped into Rudy's Bar and Grill at 44th and 9th, I mean, where else can you get a cold, refreshing Bud for just $3?

As I evaded the onset of heat prostration, I saw a familiar face at the bar, deep in conversation with several other people. Could it be? Was that...Byron? Yes it was and we greeted each other warmly. Had it really been over TEN YEARS since we wrote about Byron here in Clinton Chronicle? Yup! "So, uh, what you been up to?" I asked... "Not much,Byron said. "I just received my third Master's degree, which is in English and Creative Writing, from Southern New Hampshire University.I want to go for my PhD starting next year as well." 

"And you?" Byron asked. But your MUSIC, I said deftly changing the subject...I asked Byron about his music. Since Byron is a well-known Hell's Kitchen performer, he has been writing songs since the age of 12, I asked if anything was happening there.

And that's when I learned about the new CD "The Raven Trail." It sounded great! So I asked Byron to send me some info for the readers. Here's a rundown of the tracks:

(1) Beautiful: This song was written a few years ago as a homage to a man loving a woman without any hidden agendas or schemes. I wanted the song structure to be simple and the lyrics direct and concise.

(2) I Need You Now: I wrote this song when I was just 15 years old. Just like "Beautiful," I played all of the instruments on this one. In fact, I sang all of the vocals and arranged and produced every track on the entire EP.

(3) Come with Me: This song was fun to write and record. It's what I call Wagnerian Pop because the story is inspired by the Flying Dutchman legend where a sailor is doomed for eternity to roam the seas until he finds a woman who is willing to love him forever.I'm often inspired by myths and legends in my work.My first CD, "Castle of Dreams," was inspired by Arthurian legends and archetypes.

(4) Promises: This song is derived from the basic narrative of the second book I wrote which bears the same name as the title of the CD, "The Raven Trail,"which is the story of an African-American male who was raised by Cherokee Indians to become one of the last great chiefs during the latter part of the 19th century. it was an idea I had after reading the book, "Black Indians" by William Loren Katz. One of the great missing chapters in American history is the close relationship between African-Americans and Native Americans especially during the post Civil War years and this is my way of respecting that often-ignored fact.

(5) The Raven Trail: I'm very proud of this song because it's what prompted me to write the novel about my fictional character, Raven, or Kaw La Na (in Cherokee). It's unique in my catalogue of songs because the verse part is in 3/4 while the chorus part is in 4/4 time signature.

Bonus Tracks:

(1) The Little Things: Inspired by the book "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson. (2) Christine Marie: Written for my girlfriend's recent birthday and is a sneak peek for the next project I plan to work on next year.

For info on this CD and everything else this human dynamo does, go to http://www.byronkeithtaylor.com. The visit will be rewarding!

I hope that you agree with him that my site is rewarding and I hope you come back for more music, fiction, and news!BKT:)

The Clinton Chronicle

Hello! I'm honored and privileged to be featured in NYC's Hell Kitchen paper, The Clinton Chronicle, this month! I will upload the article for those outside of the NYC area to read.Keep coming back for an update!:)BKT

The Raven Trail Novella

Hey guys! My last entry was about the mythology behind the CD, but what about the book I wrote with the same name? As far as I'm concerned, the novella is a natural extension of the song and CD because I felt that more background was necessary for my fictional characters. The Raven, or Kaw La Na as he was called in actual Cherokee, was an African-American man who was raised by Cherokee Indians from my made-up Yona(Bear) tribe. This group originated from the tribe that avoided the Indian Removal in the 1830's and was led by the legendary leader, Yonaguska, head of the Eastern Band of Indians. Yonaguska actually existed and led the North Carolina Cherokee who evaded US soldiers.My fictionalization is from the first four letters of his name and I made it into a tribe that followed his legacy. My Raven character's father was named Chinmay, which in Cherokee, means wisdom. He was mentioned a few times in the song but never by name. Maybe in the back of my mind, I did that on purpose because I wanted people to find out more about the characters in another form. In the book, Raven, like his foster father, received a Christian education from an Irish priest, Father Doyle, who traveled to Indian reservations to spread the gospel. Doyle's name comes from an author whom I admire, Roddy Doyle, who wrote the Barrytown Trilogy of books which include "The Commitments." (which, of course, was made into a popular movie). There are other real life characters that show up in the book like Senator Dawes who was famous for the Dawes Act of 1887 (the year in which my story takes place) that offered Indians US citizenship if they renounced their tribes and accept assimilation into modern society, and Bass Reeves, possibly the first African-American sheriff and perhaps the finest lawman ever.Then, of course, the book talks about the real premise of the Raven's Trail, which is t protect the lost treasure from one of Columbus' ships (actually, one of his famous ships did sink during a voyage).Well, I hope that you enjoyed my blog. If you did, please check out some of the chapters from my book that I would like to be published in the near future in the SHORT STORIES section of this website. thanks for reading!:) BKT

The Mythology behind "The Raven Trail"

Hello everyone! I decided to re-post an entry I made a while ago which helps explain the genesis of my current project since many people ask me about the true meaning of the songs, so here goes:

I thought I'd take this moment and share with you some of the background behind the songs on my new EP, The Raven Trail. The first two songs, Beautiful and I Need You Now are simple, basic love songs that I have had in my 400+ song catalog that I have written over the years. I was happy to dust them off and breathe new life into them for this project.

As for the third song, Come With Me, it is the direct product of my desire to write a song that is loosely based upon the Flying Dutchman legend. I'm a huge Wagner fan (the music, not the man) and I've always loved Der Fliegender Hollander (The Flying Dutchman in German) as an opera. it was the true beginning of Wagner's maturation as a composer and the music is simply beautiful. I was introduced to it while I was studying composition and orchestration under my great teacher and former Nadia Boulanger student, Thea Musgrave, who is very well-known in today's Classical music world.

Anyway, I've always wanted to write a Pop song that was based upon the Dutchman, so I wrote a new version of the legend where a magician actually placed a curse upon the sailor because of an indiscretion with his wife, so he was doomed to sail aimlessly on the oceans of the world until he learned the true meaning of love. Since I also write fantasy novels, it was a natural transition for me to construct a story for the song which leads me to the remaining two songs, Promises and The Raven Trail.

I wrote the title song first (which started the whole project) after talking to someone about how I wanted to write a song about the connection between African-Americans and Native Americans well after the Civil War in America. Then, as if it were God-sent (which I believe it was), I heard the first verses in my head and immediately wrote them down. I went home and finished the entire song in 20 minutes. Talk about inspiration! I wound up creating the Raven character as a personification of my idea and crafted this story around him as a Black child raised by Indians. I was so inspired by the song that I decided to take it a step further and wrote a novel with the same title. Currently, I'm revising it for a final draft (if there ever is such a thing in writing fiction :)).

Finally, the song, Promises, is a direct musical representation of a scene from the novel where Kaw La Na (which means Raven in Cherokee) is making a speech to a tribe for more unity. The Raven in Native American folklore  is a powerful symbol. It is a bird that stands for metamorphosis and self-revelation. My character in both the songs and the upcoming book stands for the same things. Please feel free to comment on anything I have said in this post; I welcome your input and thanks for letting me share with you my vision:) BKT

Happy Labor Day!

I want to wish everyone a happy Labor Day and keep coming back because I have quite a few things up my sleeve!:)

The Fiction Page

Hey gang! While I work on the few surprises I have in store, please don't forget the SHORT STORIES section in the site where I have excerpts from novels I have written as well as, well, short stories!:) There are, for example, samples from my book, "The Raven Trail," which were initially inspired by the song of the same name, so check it out!:)BKT

A few surprises in the works

Hello everyone! Thanks for visiting my site again; I have a few surprises to unleash in the coming weeks, so stick around!They're going to be fun!BKT:)

Christine Marie

Hey folks! As promised, I've included a new song. It's called "Christine Marie," and it's named after my girlfriend who just celebrated her birthday. You can go to the Music page and check it out. I hope you like it!:)BKT

Does any artist truly like getting reviewed?

I read my first review of my CD, "The Raven Trail," and of course, I have mixed feelings. Of course, it is probably any artist's wish for people to like everything that is in one's work, but that is, unfortunately, an impossible task. I smiled and winced at some of the things that were said about my music (even though the CD can be considered a past work since it was released last year) and it only reminded me that I consider songs to be my children especially since I don't have any biological ones of my own. Overall, I was pleased with the review which stated that there was some good writing, production, and musicianship all around. As for new material, I have a treat for you who have stuck with me through thick and thin: I wrote a new song for my girlfriend's birthday and I will include it in the website very soon. It's the beginning of a new project that I will be working on throughout the year into the next one and it will be unlike anything I've ever done before. Most of the music is already written.For the current CD, check out the review with this link: http://skopemag.com/2015/06/08/byron-keith-taylor-the-raven-trail-ep-review.

New Chapter in the Fiction page

Hello! I've just added Chapter 3 from my novella, "The Raven Trail," to the SHORT STORIES section of my website. I hope you enjoy it!:)BKT

Returning to New York

Hi folks! I'm just having a blast in Germany singing, performing, and of course drinking plenty of beer! I'll be back in the States by next Tuesday, so look for more content, stories, and surprises!:)BKT

Partnership with Skope Magazine

Hello Ravenites! I have some exciting news! I'm partnering with the e-mag Skope Magazine for an aggressive campaign for my EP, "The Raven Trail," so keep coming back for more news and updates! Also, thanks must go to the readers of my Fiction page which contains my short stories and excerpts from my second novel, "The Raven Trail." There will be another chapter coming very soon!:)BKT

Heading to Germany

Hello! I've been so busy lately planning my activities and getting ready for my trip to Germany. I love going there because  of the friendly people, lovely sights, and of course, the beer!:) Keep coming back for more info about the promo drive for "The Raven Trail," more chapters from the book I wrote with the same title, and a few surprises!:)BKT 

The Raven Trail Novella- Chapter 2

Hi gang! while I'm gearing up for what's ahead for me this year, I thought I would share with you another excerpt from the novella I wrote that shares the name of my latest CD, "The Raven Trail." Just go to the SHORT STORIES section and check it out!:)BKT

Not an April Fool's Joke

Hi Ravenites!  This is not an upcoming April Fool's joke; effective tomorrow, I will graduate with my THIRD Master's degree! It's an MA in English and Creative Writing:). In addition to working on my new EP, The Raven Trail, I studied online like a maniac trying to become a better writer, so now I'm getting this degree!:) April is my birthday month, so this is a very special time for me; come back for more news! Chapter 2 of "The Raven Trail" book is coming exclusively here very soon!:)BKT

Never Giving Up...

Hi gang! I have bittersweet feelings at the moment. I was being considered for a nomination for the 24th Annual Independent Music Awards, but unfortunately, I didn't get it. Oh well. There's always next year!:) Anyway, there are other developments in the works as well as new stories and poems I'm working on for the SHORT STORIES section, so keep coming back!:)BKT

Skope Magazine

Hey gang! I'm happy to report that a popular e-magazine, Skopemag.com, will feature my music on what they call Skope Radio which is an internet radio station for independent artists! I'm honored and thrilled. The song, "I Need You Now", will be in rotation there, so check it out! BKT:)

Submissions

Hey folks! I've been busy sending the new CD to Internet radio stations and e-magazines for review, so come back for more info regarding my release"The Raven Trail"! In addition, keep your eyes peeled for a new entry in my SHORT STORIES section: Music and Fiction are related after all!:)BKT

Bass Reeves: An Unsung American Hero

Hello! Thanks for coming back to my website. For those who have come to my sight before, you know that my new CD, The Raven Trail, is inspired by a fictional character I created who lived in the latter part of the 19th Century in the  American Wild West. This week's entry, which can be found in my SHORT STORIES section, is about a man that actually existed named Bass Reeves. It is unfortunate that many people have never heard of him, but he was the first African American appointed as a sheriff in the West. I wrote a short story that is loosely based upon one of his many adventures. It is also a little known fact that his arrest record FAR EXCEEDED Wyatt Earp's with over 5,000 fugitives apprehended. Also, he rode a white horse at times, had an Indian scout, wore disguises, and left behind silver coins as his trademark. Sound familiar? Most historians and scholars agree that he may very well be the prototype and inspiration for the fictional character, The Lone Ranger! Mr. Reeves was also an expert shot and spoke many Indian dialects. One of these days, I will write a song about him, but for now, I've included an original story in tribute to this extraordinary individual who not only deserves a well-made movie about his life, but far more public exposure. Once again, check out the story in the SHORT STORIES section! BKT :)

Another entry in the Fiction page

Hi! I hope you enjoyed the first entry in my new Fiction page. Just go back to it and you'll see a new entry that is a short screenplay based upon one of the songs from my "The Raven Trail" CD, Come With Me. The story is rooted in the imaginary realm I created for many of my stories and the first novel I wrote. I re-imagined the Flying Dutchman legend and put my own spin on it with airships and magic. Take care and come back next week for an excerpt of my Raven Trail novel! As for the music, I'm working on more performances and publicity for the CD, so keep coming back for more updates!:)BKT

The Fiction page is HERE!

Hello folks and fellow Ravenites! My Fiction page is now official. Just go to the SHORT STORIES section to read "The Trial of Virtue" which is based upon the fictional realm I created, Worldhaven. Pretty soon, I'll include an excerpt from the second novel I wrote that has the same title as my new CD: The Raven Trail!:)BKT

Coming soon: my Author's section!

Hello! This has already been a great year and I look forward to sharing my new adventures with you. In addition to being a Singer-Songwriter, I'm also an author of short stories and novels. Soon, there will be a new section in this website that is devoted to my Fiction writing. It will also give you a chance to see another side of me:). I'm reaslly excited about it, so keep coming back to discover the upcoming new features!:) BKT

Fan Support

I want to take the time to thank my fans all over the world who have been tuning into Internet radio, buying the new CD and mp3s  as well as writing me. I truly appreciate it! There is much more coming your way, so stay tuned!:)BKT

Happy New Year!

Hello! I want to wish everyone a great 2015! Keep coming back for more music and surprises! BKT:)

Merry Christmas!:)

Hello, my Ravenites and visitors around the world! I want to wish you and your families a wonderful Xmas and a Happy New Year! As promised, I have a present for anyone who comes here today: a free, downloadable NEW SONG called "The Little Things." I was back in the studio recently and I pulled this song from the archives. Of course, down the road, I may change a few things here and there, but this version of the song is fully mixed and mastered. Just go to the MUSIC section and click on "The Little Things." Take care and have a happy holiday! BKT :)

Christmas Present

Hello! I have a Christmas present for all of my fans, past and present, who have supported me and my new release, The Raven Trail, so keep coming back!:)BKT

The Holiday Season

Well, Thanksgiving is almost here and so is the holiday season. I'm going to take this time to evaluate what has been done so far and will always keep my Ravenites up to date about new dates and events. Keep coming back because I have some special plans for the new CD!:) BKT

A Major Accomplishment on the Horizon

Hello, my Ravenites! Sorry that I have been away for quite some time. I just finished two more college course in addition to marketing my new CD. Now I am two classes away from getting my THIRD Master's degree! I am a strong advocate of education and I try to use what I have learned in the classroom in my music as well. I hope everyone is liking The Raven Trail. I am also hard at work polishing the final draft for the book version. One of my degrees is in Creative Writing, so I am putting what I have learned to use! Well, take care! :) BKT

Complete Songs Again...

Once again, the songs from my new CD are available to listen to in their entirety here. Enjoy!:) BKT

Smith's Bar: A Memorial

Hello everyone! Have you ever heard a bit of news that made you sad because of your emotional attachment to the subject? Well, I just found out that one of my favorite places to play in New York City, Smith's Bar on W.44th Street and 8th Avenue, is closing its doors permanently this Thursday. When I think of Smith's, my mind goes back to the days when friends like the late great Eric Smith, the Human Jukebox (his musical memory for cover songs was astounding), would play and sing with Joey Lodes, the best guitarist I know, and they would call themselves the Beatle Brothers. I remember singing to crowds from all over the world and even meeting a beautiful Irish woman with whom I became seriously involved at one point; I remember playing with Tom Riccobono and singing" You've Got a Friend" with Mark West on bass and me on acoustic guitar singing a duet; I remember flirting with some of the most beautiful bartenders in the city; boy, do I feel sad now. Places like Smith's Bar do not just spring up and become special; they are nurtured by a loving community that believes in making visitors feel special and welcomed.I'll never forget those days and Smith's Bar will always hold a special place in my heart. BKT:)

Now on Twitter!

Hello my fellow Ravenites! (That is what I affectionately call those of you who enjoy my music ;)). I just wanted you to know that I am now on Twitter. This is yet another way you can contact me if you have any questions, comments, or just want to say hello. Just click on the link below or cut and paste it into your browser. Have a great day! :) BKT

https://twitter.com/byrtay

October is Performance Month!

Hello everyone! As I said in my last post, I'm gearing up to play live. I'm still sorting out where I play, but once I am finished, I'll let you know! In the meantime, pick up my new CD, "The Raven Trail" ! Take care!:) BKT

Gearing up for Performances

Happy October everybody! This year is going by so fast! Well, I'm getting ready to go out and do some performances to support my new CD, "the Raven Trail." I will definitely keep you up to date about the appearances. See you soon!:) BKT

Free Download Now Available

Hello! Welcome to my new visitors as well as my fans! In appreciation for all of the wonderful responses and interest I have been getting about my music, there is now a free download of the song "Beautiful" available on this site! Just go the MUSIC section and click on"Beautiful." The download option is right on the page. Thanks again and see you soon! :) BKT

More News

hey everybody! So far the ad campaign is going well. I will start to do some live performances this month so keep posted! :)BKT

Ad Update

Hey gang! Advertising has just been approved for my new CD, "The Raven Trail," for Billboard Magazine, Rolling Stone, and others I will mention in the future! :) eep coming back so that i can tell you more...

Ad Campaign

Hi folks! The ad campaign for The Raven Trail should start in a few days. The CD will be advertised in Rolling Stone, Billboard, Amazon, and many other digital and traditional outlets! I will keep you update :)BKT.

More developments to come

Hi again! Currently, I'm working on getting the CD reviewed in some webzines as well as physical magazines, so keep looking out for new posts!This is going to be a busy year! I hope that everyone had a good weekend. Take care!BKT:)

New Facebook Store

Hey gang! For Facebook lovers, I've just installed a New Music Store for the CD on my Artist page! Just cut and paste the link below in your browser and in the page, the store is on the left hand side in the APPS section! There is so much more to come!:)BKT

https://www.facebook.com/bktraventrail

The Mythology Behind the Songs

Hello everyone! I thought I'd take this moment and share with you some of the background behind the songs on my new EP, The Raven Trail. The first two songs, Beautiful and I Need You Now are simple, basic love songs that I have had in my 400+ song catalog that I have written over the years. I was happy to dust them off and breathe new life into them for this project.

As for the third song, Come With Me, it is the direct product of my desire to write a song that is loosely based upon the Flying Dutchman legend. I'm a huge Wagner fan (the music, not the man) and I've always loved Der Fliegender Hollander (The Flying Dutchman in German) as an opera. it was the true beginning of Wagner's maturation as a composer and the music is simply beautiful. I was introduced to it while I was studying composition and orchestration under my great teacher and former Nadia Boulanger student, Thea Musgrave, who is very well-known in today's Classical music world.

Anyway, I've always wanted to write a Pop song that was based upon the Dutchman, so I wrote a new version of the legend where a magician actually placed a curse upon the sailor because of an indiscretion with his wife, so he was doomed to sail aimlessly on the oceans of the world until he learned the true meaning of love. Since I also write fantasy novels, it was a natural transition for me to construct a story for the song which leads me to the remaining two songs, Promises and The Raven Trail.

I wrote the title song first (which started the whole project) after talking to someone about how I wanted to write a song about the connection between African-Americans and Native Americans well after the Civil War in America. Then, as if it were God-sent (which I believe it was), I heard the first verses in my head and immediately wrote them down. I went home and finished the entire song in 20 minutes. Talk about inspiration! I wound up creating the Raven character as a personification of my idea and crafted this story around him as a Black child raised by Indians. I was so inspired by the song that I decided to take it a step further and wrote a novel with the same title. Currently, I'm revising it for a final draft (if there ever is such a thing in writing fiction :)).

Finally, the song, Promises, is a direct musical representation of a scene from the novel where Kaw La Na (which means Raven in Cherokee) is making a speech to a tribe for more unity. The Raven in Native American folklore  is a powerful symbol. It is a bird that stands for metamorphosis and self-revelation. My character in both the songs and the upcoming book stands for the same things. Please feel free to comment on anything I have said in this post; I welcome your input and thanks for letting me share with you my vision:) BKT

More Information

Hello! I have some more news; I am currently working on advertising the CD in major music magazines like Rolling Stone and Billboard. In addition, the songs from the new EP are now available for preview and they are not merely sound clips. I will keep them like this for at least a week so that you can hear the songs in their entirety and decide if you want to buy the album, so keep coming back; this is just the beginning!BKT :)

New Formats

Hello again! I just found out today that my new EP, The Raven Trail, is now available on Apple iTunes and Amazon.com. Digital singles are available for purchase on the sites as well as the whole CD. There are many more digital formats to come! Stay tuned! :) BKT

For my German Fans

I just wanted to tell you that there are two new links that are advertising The Raven Trail. Guck mal:

https://www.facebook.com/MusicPubBergbrauStube?ref=hl

https://www.facebook.com/sabine.pilawa?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Just cut and paste those links and see them. Take care! :)

I'm back

Hey everyone! I just came back to the States last night; Germany, as always. was terrific! I played a couple of dates at Scruffy's in Karlsruhe and the audience couldn't have been better! Now that I am back, I will concentrate on getting the new CD in all formats to as many digital venues as possible. Also, I'm finalizing a draft for the tie-in novel I have written sharing the CD's title. I will tell you more about that in the near future, but for now, keep coming back and I hope that you get yourself a copy of the new album. Take care!

Ready for Purchase

Hello everyone! My new CD, The Raven Trail, is now ready for purchase through this site. Just click on the link that you see on my Welcome page. MP3s will also be available for single songs as well. Their links are forthcoming :). I hope that you'll enjoy the new album!:)BKT

New CD Update

Hello! I've just made arrangements to have the new CD available for downloads and purchases by the middle of next week so keep a look out for my notification. I hope to make "The Raven Trail" accessible in all digital formats. Take care and have a great weekend!BKT:)

Challenges

I just wanted to share with my listeners some of what I experienced while making what I call my most challenging album to date. I played all of the instruments except the sax, did all of the vocals, produced, arranged, and wrote all of the songs. I wanted to do something different than the past projects I've done because I always believe in challenging myself. I never want to be complacent. That is the spiritual death of any artist. Anyway, I spent months writing songs and doing arrangements on a new workstation keyboard I bought so that when I went into the studio, I would be more prepared than ever before. I never like going there without a plan. Spontaneity is good, but when one is on a budget, it is not advisable when it comes to making an independent project. I spent my life trying to make the best music possible and I hope that this new effort of mine lives up to great standards. I hope you like the music!:)BKT 

Travels

Hi everybody! I'm hard at work working with the CD duplication plant getting the CDs ready for purchase while writing new material AND getting ready to go to Germany soon. it has been an exciting year so far. Keep coming back so I can update you on the new release. Take care!:) BKT

The Raven Trail

Hello everyone! I am proud to present three of the five songs that are from my new CD, "The Raven Trail." Just go to the MUSIC section of the site and you'll find them. For now, they are the full versions until I am able to have the CD ready for purchase in another week. I hope that you enjoy them! :)  BKT

A New Update

Good news, gang! The CD is done! I just have to look at the final details next week (graphics, etc.) and I should have it available for purchase here in a few weeks! Come back next week to see what I've decided to call it :). Take care! BKT

Update on the EP

Hi everyone! My upcoming EP will be mixed and mastered on July 3rd. Once the duplication process is complete, I will have it on this site for purchase. I'll keep you informed!: BKT

New CD on the way!

Hey folks! I am happy to report that the new CD is almost finished. It will be an EP of five new songs and I think it's the best thing I've done so far! I will keep you posted!:)

My first post for the New Year

Hello everyone! Sorry for the delay. This is going to be the busiest year of my life. I will start recording again next week (FINALLY!) In addition, I'm finishing up my final drafts for the two novels I've written. I look forward to the new challenges in my life and who knows? Maybe I'll even find love! LOL Take care and keep checking back to my website because I will be writing more essays about music, film, and fiction as well as keeping you informed about NEW MUSIC I've written!:) oh and Happy belated New Year!

Long time No See!:)

Hey gang! You know how it is when life takes you over sometimes; such has been the case with me. Going overseas again to play and I have written some new songs and Fiction. Before the end of the year, new songs will be recorded and I will premiere one on this site for sure. I have never forgotten my fans and supporters! Thank you so much!:) There is definitely more to come! Take care and keep coming back here!:)

Another Journey

Hey there! I know it's been a long time since I signed in but I have been very busy. In fact, I have some exciting news: I've just been accepted into a PhD program that starts this Monday! it will be going towards a doctorate of Philosophy in Education. That's right: I'm working towards becoming a doctor! LOL Who woulda thunk it?:) Anyway, I'll still have plenty of time to record new music this year as well as write new Fantasy Fiction. I will keep you all up to date! Take care!:)

Happy New Year!

Hello all! I hope that this new year is already a good one for you. I have a lot of plans for 2013, so keep a lookout on this site. There is new music to come, new essays, and even new fiction short stories that I am in the process of writing as well! Take care and for those who have bought my music online, THANK YOU!:)

My MATLT (Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning with Technology) Portfolio

Hello everyone and welcome to those who are visiting my site for the first time! I thought that I would take the time to give you a little information about myself and at the same time, show my appreciation of the technology that allows me to share my thoughts with people around the world. This is my final project for my EDU 697 class for my Master's in Teaching and Learning with Technology. I am glad that I am sharing this experience with my fans as well as old and new friends. Being an e-learner has allowed me to apply technology to many aspects of my life including my pursuit of higher education and my music. Below, I have included facts about myself as well as how I feel about the world we live in today. I hope you enjoy reading it and please feel free to explore other areas in my website such as the sound clips of my songs. Thank you for coming!:)

About Me

I am a Singer-Songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and producer who is also a budding teacher in Creative Writing and English as well as an aspiring novelist.

Introduction

Since I have started the second Master's program in Education, I have learned that there is more than one way to approach teaching a classroom. Being involved with the City College Writing Center enabled me to go beyond what I thought was possible and apply certain methods that I learned in EDU 697 to enhance student learning. This website is not only a showcase for my musical talents, but is also a cyber-testimony to my continuing journey to use technology for good in today's educational world. I view myself as an educator as well as a musician and to ignore the advantages of e-learning would be a definite mistake. 

Interests

Music,Education, Books,Movies, Cooking, Biking 

Favorite Movies

Original Star Wars trilogy, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Excalibur, The Godfather trilogy

Favorite Music

Beatles, Toto, Richard Wagner, Serge Prokofiev 

Favorite Books

Lord of the Rings, The Iliad, The Odyssey

Goals

To reach as many people as possible with my music as well as through education 

Hope Everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!:)

Hello all! I hope that everyone had a nice time with their families and had great food, giving thanks to all that life has to offer. As for me, I have been busy working on my second Master's degree,teaching myself how to play new instruments like the banjo! I have plans for new music as well as working on my original fiction! I will keep you all up to date on whatever is new! Also, be on the lookout for some new essays on music, film, and fiction!:) Take care!

Been a Long Time:)

Hey gang! Sorry it took so long to make an entry but my life has been crazy! I'm trying to play music as much as I can, earn another degree, and be heard! Life for unsigned and unknown artists can be tough! Nevertheless, I celebrate life every day and I encourage all of you to do so:). Life is just too short for excuses. Anyway, I promise to keep you posted on new developments and as always, I'm writing new songs!:) Take care!:)

Informal Gig

Hi all! Last night, I had an informal gig at a bar called Siberia in the Hell's Kitchen area of NYC and it was a blast! I saw some old friends, met some new ones, and had a great prelude to the work I plan to do next month including work on my thesis novel. I will be playing and singing as always so I'll keep you up to date!:) BKT

Why the Star Wars Prequels are Underrated

Hello everyone! It has been a long time since I have written an essay in my website, so I thought I would include the last one I wrote about one of my all-time favorite movie series, Star Wars. I hope you like it. I'll have more music updates in the next installment.

 

 

The Star Wars prequel trilogy is underrated because it actually compliments the original trilogy as a modern myth that incorporates the same elements as ancient myth: love, compassion, hate, friendship,and family.George Lucas' epic Star Wars saga has now been around for almost thirty-five years and it does not seem to slow down. The offshoot computer-animated TV series, “Star Wars: Clone Wars” has brought the mythos of Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker's quest for peace and stability in “a galaxy far, far way to a whole new generation of post-baby boomers and Information Age afficionados. There has been much speculation as to why the classic Sci-Fi Fantasy series has endured for so long, but most cultural scholars agree that it is because of its classification as modern myth. This discussion willexplore the roots of Mr. Lucas' grand creation as well as a reflection of human interacting with each other from ancient times to now through the language of myth.

In order to do the saga any justice, the prequel trilogy will be briefly analyzed to show that they collectively give us archetypes through which we can see classic examples of myth. Mr. Lucas decided to continue his “Space Opera” with what is now known as “Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope,” but in true Wagnerian fashion, he chronologically went back to the origins of the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker even though the story of his redemption through Luke Skywalker, his son, was already told in the original trilogy. Therefore, “Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace” will be looked at firstsince it sets the stage for the entire saga.

 Mr. Lucas, a former anthropology student in college, was exposed to myths and the works of famed mythologist Joseph Campbell, whom he eventually met in later years. This must have had a profound influence on the film maker: “Yes, I consider him a mentor,” Lucas said at a recent New York press conference. “He was an amazing scholar and an amazing person. When I started doing Star Wars,I re-read Hero with a Thousand Faces. After Return of the Jedi, somebody gave me a tape of one of his lectures. I was just blown away by that. He was much more powerful as a speaker than he was as a writer.” (Persall, 1999.) However, the Hero's Journey concept that Mr. Campbell created in his book,Hero with a Thousand Faces” was only faithfully followed as a blueprint in Lucas' “Episode IV,” the  first Star Wars film that was released in 1977; since then, much has been written about Campbell's influence on Luke and company, but not the much-maligned prequel trilogy.

As aforementioned, “The Phantom Menace” is the first film to be examined not for Campbell's take on it (the scholar did not live to see it), but under the microscope of world mythology. There is quite a number of archetypes in the film. First, Anakin Skywalker is known as “The Chosen One” because ofhis miraculous Virgin Birth: SHMI: “There was no father, that I know of...I carried him, I gave birth...I can't explain what happened” (Lucas, 1999). The Christian symbol here is clear. If Anakin were to become a Christ-like figure of the Force, then he was expected to redeem both Sith and Jedi as well asrepair the rift that was caused over a thousand years ago when they warred against each other in the Old Republic.

The blood sample that Jedi Master Qui Gon Jinn surreptitiously takes from Anakin's arm is symbolic of Christ's blood as a role in determining his divinity. Only Jesus' blood could wash away the sins of humanity, thereby establishing a New Covenant between humans and God; only Anakin's blood could prove that he could wash away the stench of sin that the Jedi-Sith wars left in the galaxy as a Savior who could “balance the Force” and save humanity from its own eventual self-destruction.

Anakin's precocious nature is also reminiscent of Christ who was able to debate with holy men at an early age. He is a slave like Moses once was, but is freed by the intervention of a mentor (Qui Gon, for the time being, is like God to him). Roger Ebert, famed film critic of the Chicago Sun Times was obviously in on Mr. Lucas' insistence upon including Biblical archetypes in “Phantom Menace” when talking about the Podrace (a Ben-Hur chariot race homage?): “Why is Qui Gon so confident that Anakin can win? Because he senses an unusual concentration of the Force---and perhaps, like John the Baptist, he instinctively recognizes the one whose way he is destined to prepare.” (Ebert, 1999.) And like John the Baptist, Qui Gon Jinn had to die for a greater cause: to help usher in a new Light into the world. 

 On the other hand, not only Biblical archetypes are present in the movie; the Jedi Council, headed by the Sage of the Star Wars universe, Yoda, is the galactic Knights of the Round Table who test poor young Anakin because he could be their Galahad. Their Grail, only through him, is a balanced Force and Obi- Wan Kenobi, the father figure of Anakin, is the Lancelot of Star Wars who fails to achieve the Grail of success with “the Chosen One” by the end of the prequel trilogy ( more on this later).

 Queen Amidala, Anakin's eventual wife much later in the Star Wars cycle, is the young Kabuki queen who is at times impatient, yet sympathetic to the suffering of her subjects on the planet Naboo. It hasoften been said that Mr. Lucas is an admirer of Japanese films and culture (examples are especially noticeable in Episode IV), but the Kabuki makeup and robes of Queen Amidala are an obvious manifestation of it. Kabuki plays were done as far back as the early seventeenth century and were the entertainment of Japanese people in the same way that movies and plays are to us today; both serve a purpose: they not only entertain but carry the viewers on a ride fraught with myths and legends,modern and ancient. The emergence of superhero movies as today's blockbusters is a prime example.

 Makeup plays a role in the movie also with its most alluring character, Darth Maul. He is not just a horned-headed Satan with a double-bladed lightsaber, but a spirited tribal warrior...and his tribe is the Sith. Now there are only two (a common number in Star Wars): the Sith are now Maul and his master, Darth Sidious who is actually the “good-natured” Senator Palpatine awarded the Supreme Chancellorship at the end. The Sith tribe is powerful and evil. Darth Maul's face tattoos hearken back to African tribes who paint themselves to strike terror in the hearts of their enemies. Palpatine is the two-faced Roman god Janus of beginnings and transitions. When the temple doors of Janus are swung open,it is time for war. He is, in fact, the perfect catalyst for the Clone Wars. A few Americans believe that former presidents have brought about negative changes like war in our government to mythic proportions.

 And finally, what about Jar Jar Binks? This Gungan fool is essential because it is the trickster that brings about change in mythology. Loki, the Norse God of tricks, brought Ragnarok to Asgard because knowingly caused the death of Baldur. Jar Jar, in the next movie, “Attack of the Clones” plays a vitalrole in the change of government: he proposes the election of Senator Palpatine as the Supreme Chancellor with “emergency powers.” Yet, Jar Jar's role is still underrated in the series. Kids know best, though; according to many of them, he is one of the most beloved characters in the prequel trilogy which is why Mr. Lucas did not kill him off in "Revenge of the Sith."

 Amidala is no longer Queen in “Attack of the Clones” but is now known simply as Padme or Senator Amidala; gone are the Kabuki makeup and Oriental robes. Here, she is accoutered in the guise of a simple, but powerful politician. And she falls in love with Anakin. The forbidden love myth is prominent in the Arthurian romances. Lancelot falls in love with Guinevere, King Arthur's wife with disastrous results: she joins a convent and he goes mad; Tristan, nephew of King Mark, and Isolde, the monarch's wife, fall in love with disastrous results: Tristan is mortally wounded and Isolde dies with grief. Mr. Lucas must be well aware of these stories since he uses Padme to warn Anakin of what would happen if they fell in love: disastrous results. And as is shown in “Revenge of the Sith,” she wasright. Love affairs that are doomed from the start are certainly around today; just look at certain celebrityunions that have failed. Joseph Campbell had this to say about marriage: “I would say that if the marriage isn't a first priority in life, you're not married. The marriage means the two that are one, the two become one flesh. 

If the marriage lasts long enough and you are aquiescing constantly to it instead of to individual personal whim, you come to realize that this is true---the two really are one.” (Campbell, 1988).When he marries Padme at the end of “Attack of the Clones,” he succumbs to love but his ambition to become “the most powerful Jedi ever” will ultimately destroy the marriage. The message here is that, as Mr. Campbell said, marriage in any planet is not strong enough to survive greed, selfishness, and ambition.

 Anakin is now the Padawan learner to Master Obi-wan. Yoda warned Kenobi that training “The Chosen One” could be dangerous at the end of “Phantom Menace.” Their relationship is reminiscent ofGilgamesh and Enkidu who were best friends and had many adventures together. This friendship,however, ultimately brought each man to separate destinies. Another famous mythical friendship that parallels the depth of Anakin and Obi wan's is between the Greek warrior Achilles and his cousin,Patrocles which was sort of a master-apprentice one with an unhappy ending. Friendships today can be just as strained as these even in modern times. Of course, it would be remiss to leave out the anthropomorphic C3PO and feisty, little R2D2; they bickered throughout the entire series; regardless,their relationship gives the modern viewer a core message that the best of friends can still get alongdespite their differences. In fact, other than Yoda and Obi-wan, their relationship is the most permanent one in the Star Wars canon.

 Another moment in “Attack of the Clones” that suggests the influence of myths is the shapeshifitng of Jango Fett's partner Bounty Hunter, Zam Wesell. A shape shifter is an excellent person to be inbounty hunting because it is easier for one to trick, trap and kill their prey if they are under another guise. Vampires, werewolves, and berserkers are all effective killers who happen to be shape shifters.

 Of course, what would a myth be without fantastical, over-sized creatures like the ones in the arena thatwere ready to kill our heroes before the start of the first Clone War? Monsters like the crab-clawed“Acklay” can even have more human like forms such as the claw-fingered Dementors in the Harry Potter series. These fictional life forms are actual metaphors for the inner problems that we have yet to conquer. Padme, Obiwan, and Anakin each had a monster to fight.

 When Obi wan fights Jango Fett on the water planet, Kamino, it is as if Odysseus himself were resisting Poseidon on the wine-dark seas. Water is a great symbol in myth. Sinbad had many exotic adventures on it (Obi wan was almost Sinbad-like when he sailed through Coruscant skies); Narcissus drowned in it looking at his own reflection; the Kraken lived in it. Water is another symbol of the unconscious emerging to take the human psyche down. For example, Clarence's dream sequence in Shakespeare's “Richard III” was all about the fear of being killed in the Tower according to the king'sgreed for power. Obi wan lives of course (as he did in Sith) to fight another day, but soon he has to battle his worst fear: that his own apprentice may not be “The Chosen One.” His trip through the planet core of Naboo in the first film with Qui Gon and Jar Jar in a “bunko” is the “Night-sea Journey”which is when the hero or in this case, heroes are “enclosed in a box or in the belly of a sea creature,”which “is a vital part of his adventure.” (Henderson, 1997). The Gungan-made bunko is quite fish-like in its construction if one looks closely. Perseus made such a journey as an infant in a box with his mother; Moses also made such a journey as an infant in an enclosed cradle.

 At the end of Clones, the Wars have officially begun and Anakin, with an artificial arm courtesy of the Sith Lord, Count Dooku (poison in Japanese), holding Padme's hand in marriage. The chess piecesare set. Act Three, or rather, Episode Three culminates in an epic struggle for dominance. “Star Wars:Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” is the fall of the Hero and rise of the Antagonist. According to JosephCampbell, it was inevitable: “ A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Campbell, 1999). Anakin thought that he was doing that, but was instead, thinking only ofhimself. He could not bear to lose Padme as his dreams warned him. He lost his mother in Clones and he could not bear losing another woman he had loved; after all, his dreams warned him of Shmi Skywalker's death as well.

 The loss of the mother in myth is a major theme. The most ubiquitous Grail Knight in literature,Perceval, lost his mother Herzeloyde while he was seeking adventure away from home, just like Anakin; Theseus and of course, Oedipus lost theirs as well. Once again, Mr. Campbell made a good point: “ The mother is really a more immediate parent than the father because one is born from themother, and the first experience of any infant is the mother.” (Campbell, 1999). Of course, the father myth is just as important in the Star Wars saga, with Luke's discovery that Darth Vader, his worst enemy, is his father.

 However, it is the loss of his mother that propels Anakin to his journey towards the dark side of the Force. When he is confronted by the reality of his dreams which expose the future loss of his wife,Padme, he spirals down the path to the netherworld just as Orpheus did once he lost his belovedEurydice. He made a Faustian pact with the Mephistopheles of Star Wars, Chancellor Palpatine, the Sith Lord soon known as Darth Sidious. The Dark Lord tells Anakin in an Opera theater of all places (a haven of myth unto itself) that “cheating death” is possible by using a “parable” of the Sith Lord, Darth Plagueis, whose apprentice stole the secret and killed him in his sleep (naturally, Palpatine was the apprentice which is why he was an expert in telling the story). The temptation, like Jesus' in the desert, is too seductive for the hero and he succumbs to it eventually. By killing Count Dooku out of revenge early in the film, Anakin opened the doors of Janus, the two-faced god who is Palpatine. One war may have ended but another one begins: the Great Jedi Purge. He may have slain the Tusken Raiders who“walk like men but are monsters” as Shmi's husband said, but the hero become a monster himself.

 Incidentally, the Tusken Raiders could be the equivalent of the anthropomorphic Minotaurs that heroes like Theseus killed; creatures that appear with human traits but actually are not.Anakin's betrayal of Jedi Master Mace Windu was his initiation into the Sith Order. His  “mistreatment” at the hands of the Jedi Council turned him into a Mordred of sorts: a traitorous son of a father (Obi-Wan). As promised, the Grail motif turns up at this moment in the discussion. Obi-wan thought that the galaxy's problems would be all over once he defeated General Grievous; he thought that he achieved the Grail, but instead was dealt a blow with Anakin's spear of betrayal; he was givena Fisher King wound from which he would never heal, just like Lancelot in John Boorman's film,“Excalibur.” It is here where Obi-wan truly leaves behind his child-like optimism about Anakin's  potential of being the “Chosen One. In the original story of the Grail, the Fisher King was wounded byburning his fingers on a salmon roasting on a spit and cooling them by putting them in his mouth; thus,he was was “wounded by a fish.” (Johnson, 1977.) The taste of the salmon changes him forever, but he is still wounded: “All men are Fisher kings.” (Johnson, 1977.) In other words, all men have come across an unbelievable situation that starts the path to what Jung called his “individuation” or spiritual enlightenment. The realization that Anakin has become the new apprentice to Darth Sidious wounds him and he bleeds all throughout the series from that moment on until his former friend'sredemption in “Return of the Jedi.”

 Now Anakin was Klingsor, the ousted Knight from the order of Grail Knights in Wagner's last Opera, “Parsifal” who sought to destroy them and is now a very powerful sorcerer who has become a great threat ; yet he is also Kundry, a woman who is torn between serving the Grail Castle(the Jedi Council building in Coruscant) and Klingsor who is bent on destroying it and all it stands for.In other words, Anakin's personal struggle, like Obi-wan's Fisher King wound, is with his anima (his feminine side in Jungian terms represented by Kundry as Light fighting the Dark.) It is much easier to be Klingsor and accept the idea that his master holds the key to “cheating death,” thereby saving his wife, so he agrees to serve Mephistopheles at the cost of his own soul. Anakin's inner struggle with his anima makes “Revenge of the Sith” the most psychologically complex Star Wars film other than “TheEmpire Strikes Back.”

 The Great Jedi Purge resembles the real-life purge of the Knights Templar by the Church on October 13, 1307 which, as the “Da Vinci Code” book stated, stigmatized the number 13 as unlucky. Yoda feels the death of each of his Jedi colleagues, including Mace Windu, and realized that he was in danger himself. After defending himself from two Clone Troopers, he jumps on a member of the original trilogy's shoulders: the lovable, 7'4 inch tall Chewbacca. This is significant because “Chewie” is one companions to Anakin's son and future hero of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker. Here, the friendship motif shows up again.

 While Jedi Grand Master Yoda battles the newly crowned Emperor Palpatine, Obi-wan smuggles himself in Padme's ship and finds Anakin fully embracing the Dark Side on the volcanic planet,Mustafar. A very pregnant Padme is Force-choked into unconsciousness by her husband who clearly is drunk with jealousy and rage: two emotions that ironically were supposed to help save her since they comefrom the dark side. Yoda fails to kill Palpatine, but Obi-wan wins his duel by maiming Anakin in the bowels of a Dantean Hell. The fallen hero in myth is shown in examples like Hercules who was killed by a poison robe given to him by his jealous wife, Deianeira; it burned and maimed him. The legendary strong man was then reassembled as a God in the heavens. Anakin's rebirth as the Darth Vader we all recognize in the black helmet and suit occcurs simultaneously with Padme's death while delivering her twins, Luke and Leia.

 Life juxtaposed with death was also seen in the film “Excalibur” where Uther and Igraine conceived the future King Arthur while the Duke of Cornwall died in the High King's camp. John Boorman, the film's director, likens his retelling of the King Arthur legend to myth as adolescent fantasy: “It's very basic to adolescent fantasy---look at Star Wars---to have the notion of a young boy who is suddenly chosen, picked out to be a leader or king. Almost all little children are drawn to the fantasy that they were foundlings and that their real parents come from some extraordinary background. Star Wars hit on these things and tapped into something perenially popular.” (Boorman, 1981.)

 The Force, as the spiritual glue that holds together the struggle between the Jedi and the Sith, and tells his then-apprentice Obi-wan to “be mindful” of is living presence and the small lecture that he gives young Anakin makes mention of a symbiosis between the midi-chlorians, which are “microscopic life forms living together for a mutual advantage. Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to you, telling you the will of the Force.” (Lucas.) Christ once said “The kingdom of God is within you” and “May the Force be with you” is perhaps a reference to the Christian salutation, “May the Lord be with you.” All has a spiritual and religious purpose in the Star Wars universe, just like ancient myths do.

 The lightsaber, like the katana sword of the samurai, is the soul of the Jedi. Obi -wan scolds Anakinfor almost losing his lightsaber while chasing Zam in “Attack of the Clones” because the sword is his life. He later tells his son , Luke, in Epsiode IV that it is a weapon of elegance. The colors of the bladesbear significance because they reveal the character of their users. Red is the Sith color while Blue and other hues are the Jedi colors. The role of tricksters in mythology was discussed earlier, but a story told by Joesph Campbell about the West African trickster god, Edshu clearly shows the role that colors can play regarding conflict: “One day, this odd god came walking along a path between two fields. He beheld in either field a farmer at work and proposed to play the two a turn. Her donned a hat that was on the one side red but on the other white, green before and black behind (these being the colors of the four World Directions: i.e. Edshu was a personification of the Center, the axis mundi, or the World Navel); so that when the two friendly farmers had gone home to their village and the one had said to the other, “did you see that old fellow go by today in the white hat?” the other replied “Why, the hat was red.” To which the first retorted, “It was not it was white.” “But it was red,” insisted the friend, “Isaw it with my two own eyes.” “Well, you must be blind,” declared the first. “You must be drunk,”rejoined the other. And so the argument developed and the two came to blows. When they began to knife each other, they were brought by neighbors before the headman for judgement. Edshu was among the crowd at the trial, and when the headman sat at a loss to know where justice lay, the old trickster reveled himself, made known the prank, and showed the hat. “the two could not help but quarrel,” he said. “I wanted it that way. Spreading strife is my greatest joy.” (Campbell, 1949.) It appears that the “Phantom Menace” itself is a myth archetype, played in this case by Darth Sidious.

 As for the Jedi being the “guardians of peace and justice” in the galaxy, Anakin and friends resembled at times Jason (the motherless leader) and the Argonauts (comprised of famous warriors),especially in Episode II where they were airborn in their gunships fighting their Separatist enemies. It is the only film where we see the Jedi together for the first time together in battle. The Golden Fleece in Episode II is Count Dooku himself because his capture would stop the continuation of the CloneWars since he was the Separatist leader.

 Overall, the Star Wars saga is a continuous tale of conflict replete with mythic archetypes which is what gives the cycle longevity because there are characters who are given a multi-dimensional framework in which to act. The prequel trilogy does not deserve the critical treatment it has received over the years simply because it gives another examination of myth beyond Joseph Campbell's concept of the Hero's “monomyth” or journey. Upon closer scrutiny, one would be able to see that George Lucas' world is much larger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with A Thousand Faces. pp.44-'5. Princeton, NJ:

 Princeton University Press, 1949.

 Campbell, Joseph, The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. pg. 6, 151, 207. New York,

 NY: Doubleday, 1988.

 Ebert, Roger. Rogerebert.com. Phantom Menace Review,1999.

 http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article

 AID=/19990517/REVIEWS/905170301/1023

 Henderson, Mary. Star Wars: The Magic of Myth. pg.82. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1997.

 Johnson, Robert A. He: Understanding Masculine Psychology. pg. 9. New York, NY:

 Harper & Row, 1977.

 Kennedy, Harlan. EXCALIBUR. JOHN BOORMAN---IN INTERVIEW.

 www.americancinemapapers.com/files/EXCALIBUR.html

 Lucas, George. Star Wars: Episode I: THE PHANTOM MENACE Illustrated Screenplay. pg. 61,108.

 New York, NY: Del Rey, 1999.

 Persall, Steve. Folkstory.com. http://www.folkstory.com/articles/petersburg.html. 1999.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year

Hey everyone! I want to wish you a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year! There are a lot of things I am planning for the upcoming year and I will keep you posted on them! Sorry it took so long to qwrite a new blog but I have been very busy! Take care! BKT

Back again in NY

Hi! Just came back from Germany two weeks ago. It seems I have been doing some traveling this year! It is going to be busy. I am still working on the new Cd project , doing my Graduate studies, and getting a head start on the novel that I will complete for next year once I am done recording:). Take care and I will write another blog pretty soon!:)BKT

Hey, I'm Back

Hello everyone! sorry for disappearing for a while, but I had to take care of a few things in my life. I am currently in Germany and having a ball! Also, I am continuing work on my CD as well as playing around in Karlsruhe. I am also hoping to get some TV exposure here, so wish me luck!BKT

CD Update

Hey gang! The "Raven Trail" recording sessions are going very smoothly and as I said, it will be just an EP this time.  It should be about six songs and I must say that I think that this is some of my very best work. I have put so much heart into this project. I hope that you will all like the results once I am done. I can only do a little at a time because of my limited budget, but this is a mixed blessing because I am really taking the time to get the music right in every aspect. Ok, that is all I have right now; take care and I will write again soon!:) BKT

Back in the studio

Hey folks! My work on "The Raven trail" CD will resume starting tomorrow and I am excited! I will keep you updated on its progress and I promise more essays and literature is on the way! Happy New Year!BKT

Merry Xmas!

I just wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday season! The new project is WELL underway and I will give you updates and more blogs as always!:) BKT

An Interesting Discovery...

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a serious Beatle fan and I recently read about a rather unique session after the breakup. Paul and Linda McCartney visited John Lennon at a session in 1974 where the bespectacled one was producing an album for Harry Nilsson and it turned out to be a jam session! Look at the lineup:

Guitar, vocals: John Lennon, Drums, background vocals: Paul McCartney, Keyboards: Stevie Wonder, for starters. It turned into a bootleg album notoriously called "A Toot and a Snore in '74"( I guess that you could probably figure out why it was called that:)). Now I don't normally like bootleg albums because they do not benefit the artists financially and the public usually gets a pretty bad recording in the process, but it was fascinating to me to listen to these music legends jamming with each other. Now don't expect a high quality recording or great production, and there were other factors that led to the overall outcome of the session but who cares? This is a unique way to see that John and Paul DID get along after the breakup of the Beatles. Check it out. Just click on the link below.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4dQprvk5RY

Sorry for the delay folks:)

Hello! It's been pretty busy for me lately with getting the CD together as well as pursuing my Master's. I promise to have more stories, happenings and blogs coming up really soon most likely before Thanksgiving. Keep coming back because I plan to make it fun!:BKT:)

The Raven Trail as Fiction

Hello everyone! I just finished writing some more music for the upcoming EP which is already turning into a full album's worth of material! More ideas are coming my way and I am certainly not complaining! I just finished writing a little fiction based upon my song "The Raven Trail" that I hope to one day publish in a novel of my own. I thought that I would share it with you; it serves as a narrative companion piece to the song, I think. The names are of real Cherokee origin and I use them to pay homage to the spirit and courage of these courageous people. African-Americans and Native Americans have many parallels in history and culture; wouldn't it be nice if it were talked about more and fully appreciated?:) BKT.

Her name was Adahy, which translated into the Cherokee language as “living in the woods”. She was the widow of one of the last great war chiefs before we lost our lands. He was known as the Kaw la new, or the Raven. Adahy and their son, Ashwin, lived in Big Stone Lake, South Dakota where the legend of the Raven Trail is still preserved. They will never forget the Trail that leads to the famed “City of Gold” which is actually a small mountain cave where the secrets and treasures of the Raven's Cherokee tribe are safely hidden. Who in their position could ever trust a bank? The Raven Trail was defended by the pride and blood of the Kaw la new and his tribe. Our tribe, Adahy thought. Even the Great Father and his United States army gained interest in us. Adahy now rests a rose bouquet on her husband's grave, bending uncomfortably from her arthritic pains. The Kaw la new loved roses. She swiped a lock of her gray hair back in place, remembered how her husband's biological family were slaughtered by former taskmasters while they rode a wagon to a new life in the Reconstruction period...and how her own father, Chief Chinmay ( meaning full of knowledge) and his tribesmen, killed them and became his foster father. Adahy also remembered how she and her Kaw la new walked primrose paths, talked about their future, ran through elm thickets, and made love near clear, sunny streams. “Mother, do you think that my father would've been proud of me?” Ashwin asked. Adahy squeezed his right hand, replied : “Your name in Cherokee means strong horse. He would have agreed that it fits you". Ashwin grinned. After passing a few more monuments carved with strange Sioux names, they walked slowly through the cemetery archway towards a young, docile reporter from the local newspaper. Adahy smiled.

Copyright (c) 2010

Essay Series Part III: Fassbinder, Pasolini, Fellini, and Godard

Hello all! Here is another entry that I will include in my website. I t was in Ireland where I truly got to discover and research the complex world of European Cinema. Unfortunately, this essay does not contain one of my favorite directors, Jean Cocteau, but I will leave him for a future one.

Italian Neorealism and its Children

: How “Fear Eats the Soul” of Tragic Women in

European Cinema

 Fear is occasionally an emotion that is carefully explored in the annals of great cinema; however, there are specific examples of how it is manifested through the main female characters of European film and its effects upon them as well as the world around them. Through the works of Federico Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, one can observe how fear is the ultimate catalyst of destruction for female characters. Federico Fellini, the famed Italian director, explored this idea in one of his the most successful movies, “La Strada. Gelsomina, the lead character, is the epitome of a woman who was drowning in the cesspool of what was expected of her and it will be shown here how trepidation kept her there to a tragic end.

Another Italian film released in 1962, “Mamma Roma”, directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, offers a fascinating glimpse of a middle-aged prostitute who is fearful of having her son not only find out what she really is but what he may become. Jean-Luc Godard has his own version of human disquietude with his film “Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux”(1962) which literally means “My Life to Live: A Film in Twelve Scenes”. As a major exponent of French New Wave Cinema, a movement of the late 1950’s and 60’s that dealt with the evils of social inadequacy and class struggle influenced by Italian NeoRealism , Godard believed that “there is no real distinction between criticism and directing---both are ways of making movies” (MacCabe, p.42).

Fassbinder’s BRD (Bundesrepublic Deutschland) trilogy consists of “The Marriage of Maria Braun”, “Veronika Voss” and “Lola”: three films that constitute the director’s love of expressing female suppression; however, one of them will be explored here as well as “Ali: Fear Eats up Soul” which will show the fear motif in a different light than the other films. Rainer Werner Fassbinder was one of Germany’s most notable directors and completed 44 films in his brief, but illustrious life; he was also known for approaching controversial subjects in his works like racism, sexism, and corrupt bourgeois values. First, “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” will be discussed in relation to Fassbinder’s idea that women are the best representations of how the Bundesrepublic Deutschland, or Federal Republic of Germany, had turned into a malignant, repulsive country that fed upon the fears of the oppressed.

Emmi, the film’s lead character, is  awoman who is a passive onlooker of the life that is passing her by; she is not necessarily tragic, but she eventually does think and ends tragically. Also, Fassbinder’s film “Veronika Voss” will be explored later as a work of considerable depth when it comes to understanding how manipulation and fear are close relatives of the human condition. It appears that these filmmakers’ method of making movies is using the camera as a visual expose of human consciousness when it is overwhelmed with adversity. There are no predictable happy endings, no soliloquies on the aesthetic nature of life according to the visceral feelings of the characters. Fassbinder may have admired Douglas Sirk’s films, but they were far from resembling Hollywood melodrama because in the world of European cinema, at least as far as from the late 1950’s to early 1980’s, stark realism prevailed.

Fellini’s “La Strada” broke new ground when it premiered in 1954; the story of a strongman who trains a naïve girl in the ways of show business may seem simplistic on the surface, but in reality there are many layers. “Writing La Strada took more of Fellini’s time and effort than any film until then; more, in fact, than he would spend on almost any film until then; in fact, than he would spend on almost any film of his career” (Baxter, 1993). Gelsomina, the film’s tragic heroine, played by Fellini’s real-life wife, Giuletta Masini, had little dialogue, which was unusual for those times; women in lead roles normally had more than just a few things to say. Perhaps this was Fellini’s metaphor of the female’s limited role in society because Gelsomina communicated mainly through movement: “She has a very unusual walk. All the agility is in the feet. On the other hand, an enormous weight presses on the shoulders, which gives the impression that she drags her life behind her” (Baxter, 1993).

At the beginning of the film, Gelsomina carried a pile of firewood on her shoulders which indicates that her life is already burdened by the weight of a hard life. Zampano, Gelsomina’s “husband”, treated her like property which he could discard at a whim and had done so on occasion. It did not occur to him until the end of the film that she was actually a human being with feelings and had a mind of her own. Zampano preyed upon her fear of the unknown: “he gives her a broken-backed hat (she’s delighted) and teaches her a comic act in which, for the first time, she understands the pleasure of performing.

She remains, however, no more than a slave” (Baxter, 1993). Zampano also treated Gelsomina as a child that needed to be punished after her wrongdoing which, in essence,heightened her terror of this new disciplinarian in her life; he beat her with a self-made whip from a branch when she failed to play a drum the correct way according to his crude teaching methods. She cowered in his shadow whenever he was near. Yet, somehow, that fear turned into an undeniable sense of loyalty to her master: Gelsomina could have left with the circus, with the Fool whom she met later in the film, and even could have stayed with the nunnery but instead she remained with the cruel Zampano. This laid the groundwork for her destruction: “emerging from Zampano’s shadow, she evolved into the film’s tragic heroine, an emblem of man’s inhumanity to women” (Baxter, 1993).

Gelsomina was indeed, starting to see a world outside of Zampano when she saw the Fool for the first time on the high wire, balancing himself above the square in angel’s wings like a worthy member of the seraphim. It is this same character, Il Matteo or The Fool, who observed Gelsomina’s fear of progressing in life and mentioned that everything in existence has value, even a pebble; yet she failed to understand what he was saying because she did not want to understand that even she had a purpose; her fear of continuing to experience the unknown world, despite brief, past experiences with it, kept her in line with Zampano.

 Fellini chose to clothe his characters in the costumes of classic carnival garb almost like the commedia dell’arte performers of 16th century Italy but the only difference is that the Fool, the strongman, and the actress/musician were actually clothed in their own shortcomings: Zampano wore almost no clothing when he broke the rusted chain of social conformity and marital fidelity; the Fool wore wings but could never fly past levity which led to his accidental death, and Gelsomina with her quasi- Pagliacci face never smiled openly because of her fear to leave the dominant Zampano who eventually left her to eventually die years later. It was the smile that showed everything: “Fellini told her to smile with her mouth closed…” (Baxter, 1993).

Another Italian tragic heroine appeared in Pasolini’s “Mamma Roma” (1962) tells the tale of a former prostitute, played by the ever-popular Anna Magnani, whose love for her son, Ettore, was the true source of joy in life despite her infectious laughter throughout the film: “Magnani plays the sort of character called “indomitable”; she is absolutely self-sacrificing and obsessed.”(Schwartz,1992).

 Yet, there is one driving fear that tortured her soul: her son’s discovery of her secret that she was a prostitute and his father was her pimp. “Mamma Roma" is actually a sort of Passion play where the female lead is tormented at every turn by her past despite weddings, church visits, a new apartment, and a new job at a fruit and vegetable stand, so she tries to forget by concentrating on her son’s happiness. Mamma Roma rebukes his interest in a local girl as a way of rebuking herself for her past penchant for commonality.

 Regardless, Ettore goes so far as to sell her tango records to buy his girlfriend a medallion. Unlike Gelsomina, Mamma Roma uses fear as a catalyst, not as an excuse for passivity. She chooses to act instead of cowering in the shadow of her tormentor, Carmine, her former pimp and lover who wants to use the secret of Ettore’s parentage to his advantage. Unfortunately, this was a dark road indeed because her fear of telling her son the truth was counterproductive. Ettore’s fate was sealed: “When Ettore learns the truth about his mother, he throws himself into crime. Traumatized by the confrontation with what he sees as hypocrisy, Ettore destroys what his mother has built: himself” (Baxter, 1993).

Mamma Roma even went back into prostitution to give her son the material things he needed but despite the counsel of the local priest, she could not be the perfect mother for him; her concern of herself and her son staying losers in society doomed them both: “Despite her efforts, both mother and son are dragged down by forces they cannot control” (Baxter, 1993). Pasolini upheld the tradition of Italian NeoRealism with this film since it seemed to suggest that the marginalized faction of society are prone to drowning in their own fears and as in later examples that will be given here, women are the preferred symbols: “Any of the subproletarian people who try to struggle up and out will be pulled, or pushed, back and under” (Baxter, 1993).

 Convicted of a petty crime, Ettore dies on a hospital table stretched out in crucified fashion while his mother’s worst fear is not only fully realized, but amplified by the guilt that she could have prevented it if she were a better mother: “She tears open the cupboards, grabbing the clothes she had bought him, symbols of her hope for his social integration and rise.” (Schwartz,1993). Pasolini might have thought of Mamma Roma as an amalgam of the two Marys in the Bible: one the mother of God, the other a former prostitute because both had feared for Jesus’ life and had still lost Him; after all, the image of Ettore on the table does resemble Mantegna’s painting, “The Dead Christ”.

During the same year that “Mamma Rosa” came out, another film giant released his “Vivre sa vie” (1962). Jean-Luc Godard had his own prostitute lead character, Nana, played by his wife,Anna Karina, who feared the possibility of not becoming a successful actress after a failed marriage. Unlike Gelsomina, Nana finally found the courage to leave prostitution in the midst of finally finding love, but it came too late and she was eventually killed. In true French New Wave style, the director does not sugarcoat anything: “Godard preferred the straight French approach to the American double game.

He is not discreet; he paints his characters’ psychological quirks in black and white” (Moullet, 1960). There are twelve tableaux in the film, each depicting the lead character’s descent into Tartarus like a blind female Orpheus ready to return to the land of the living with an Academy award waiting not far behind. Nana’s world is situated in a Godardian Paris where pop culture is prevalent with posters everywhere and an underworld where gangsters and prostitutes live comfortably as a sub-culture. This is where dreams are born and where they can easily die; Christian ethics are in rapid decay: “the erosion of Christianity since the end of the last century---which Godard being of protestant origin, is very conscious of---has left people to choose between the Christian concept of a shared human existence and the modern deification of the individual” (Moullet, 1960).

By watching Dreyer’s classic film, “The Passion of Joan of Arc”, Nana is enraptured by the idea that a woman can stand by her principles even to the point of impending death; she vacillates between the sacred thought of dreaming to be an important member of society to the profanity of selling her body, but not her soul. Her fear of being trapped in the underbelly of Parisian society leads her to fall in the trap of Pandora’s Box: “Although she was forbidden to open the box and warned of the danger it contained, she gave way to her curiosity and released all the evils into the world” (Mulvey, 1992, cited in Pietropaolo & Testaferri, 1995).

Nana’s curiosity of profiting financially from the underworld was fuelled by her anxiety for success. Her pimp, customers, and colleagues all vindicated her profession in her eyes; one day, an acting job may come but at least she will have the money to survive in the meantime. As in the E.A. Poe story, “The Oval Portrait” read by her lover in the film, Godard paints a camera portrait of Nana frame by frame like the painter in the tale, until the subject of the artwork lays prone in a gutter, robbed of her life because she was too afraid to fully pursue her dreams.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder tackled the notion of a heroine’s paralyzing fear in the racially-charged “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul”; he was a true product of the Oberhausen Manifesto, which ironically started in 1962 when the aforementioned films, save “La Strada”, premiered: “Political concerns and the desire to present a critical picture of Germany, features that had been missing from German cinema up to that time, now became articles of faith for the directors who had demanded and promised the renewal of the national cinema in their Oberhausen Manifesto” (Pflaum, 1990).

This paved the way for Fassbinder’s legendary use of emotion as a driving force behind his filmmaking; the director was eager to share his views: “The American method of making [films] left the audience with emotions and nothing else. I want to give the spectator the emotions along with the possibility of reflecting on and analyzing what he is feeling” (Fassbinder, 1976, cited by Kardish & Lorenz, 1997). In Ali: Fear Eats the Soul”, Emmi, played by the award-winning Brigitte Mira, is the only heroine that does not deal with death in this discussion, at least not a physical one. Her apprehension starts once she invited Ali to her apartment and they slept together; after all, Emmi and her late father were members of the Nazi party. She confesses happiness with trepidation, but Ali, in his broken German, states: “Fear eat Soul".

Emmi and Ali are met with disgust and prejudice throughout most of the film, but the heroine’s fear reaches its apex when they cannot have a simple meal together without prying, Teutonic eyes; yet, once they come back from holiday, German society seems to finally accept their marriage. At this point, Fassbinder decides to unravel their relationship because it appears that her despair of never being accepted went beyond social issues; it inhabited their life together as well. Racism was a problem because he is Black in Postwar Germany, but her age brought down the Furies for getting a man twenty years her junior.

 They wanted to tear her apart just as the original Furies did to Orpheus. The tragedy is that Ali decided to go outside his marriage for comfort, leaving Emmi to suffer under the vices of her own childhood trauma that must have accompanied her by being raised by Nazis. This is the different kind of fear that was hinted about earlier: the kind that virtually suffocated the relationship near the end of the movie; however, this, once again, fits in with the genre of the new German school of filmmaking: “ But the New German Cinema ought not to be confused with the avant-garde: it was for the most part an attempt to create something that would not fit at either pole of the rigid dichotomy between the avant-garde and the commercial, something that would, in Fassbinder’s words, let the audience “feel and think” (McCormick, 1991, cited by Frieden, McCormick, Petersen, & Vogelsang, 1993). Emmi’s fears nibbled on her soul but did not consume it; she was at Ali’s bedside at the movie’s end when he became quite ill; his doctor condemned him to a perpetual ulcer but Emmi is the only heroine here that did not die a spiritual or physical death from utter torment. Now a new fear of ultimately losing Ali forever replaces her old insecurities about their relationship.

“Veronika Voss” (1982), the last film of Fassbinder’s BRD trilogy, tells the story of a morphine-addicted singer who is afraid of letting go of her past. “UFA and Treblinka are key concepts in understanding the film” (Pflaum, 1990). UFA (Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft), was the film studio that produced German cinema until 1945, and Treblinka, of course, was the Nazi concentration camp from which two Holocaust survivors came in the film. Veronika Voss, played by Rosel Zech, was a former UFA film star who reportedly had an affair with Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of Propaganda. Her background provided the mental landscape for her fear that she would never be the same kind of celebrity she was during the war years after being lauded by the Nazi government; thus, she decided to live in a haze of opiates provided by her corrupt neurologist, Dr. Marianne Katz who, in a very calculated way, set up her own kind of concentration camp in her private practice by providing patients with a slow death from which she would profit.

 It is pure irony that the film starts in the exact same way that Godard’s “Vivre sa vie” starts: the tragic heroine cathartically watching a film in a theater which mirrors her real-life situation. At times, she fearfully closes her eyes unable to bear seeing her true self on screen. Nana, from Godard’s film, and Veronika are total opposites but are going in the same direction: one aspires to be a successful actress and is spiraling down to the depths of obscurity, the other is a successful actress spiraling down to the depths of obscurity.

Both deal with their own soul-eating fears in their own way: Nana tries to placate her fear by suggesting that love can help conquer it, but Veronika allows her fear to be submerged in drugs and alcohol so that it can re-emerge. Yet, Robert Kuhn, Veronika’s lover, represents love in the same way that Nana’s boyfriend does as a possible savior from the torments of her fears of not being a happy and satisfied human being; this is why he posed a threat to Dr. Katz’s rule over the aging actress: one cannot give an inmate in her medical concentration camp any hope of being released. Fassbinder was very careful to give the doctor’s hospital a look of deadly confinement with its bar-like windows, secret rooms, and somber surroundings (It is no mistake that the film was shot in black and white): “Fassbinder erects a monument to those favored by the former system, who cannot adapt to the present---which actually speaks in their (Veronika’s) favor---as well as victims of the system, who are so damaged they are unable to go on with life” (Pflaum, 1990).

Thus, Veronika’s apprehension of being a loser was created by a former Germany society’s opium-like addictive qualities when it related to celebrities. Now that the old Nazi regime has been replaced, the addiction has not abated; Fassbinder clearly made his opinions known: “His hatred toward the new power brokers, who supply society with the drugs that it (whether actually or presumably) needs; the journalist (the detective figure in the film), who represents the principle of democracy, doesn’t stand a chance against the conspiracy” (Pfaum, 1990). Veronika Voss died from not only her own self-degradation born out of fear, not only from an overdose of drugs, but from Dr. Katz’s selfish manipulations which run rampant throughout the film (e.g. her concentration camp-like coldness towards treating the elderly couple who were both Holocaust survivors, thereby condemning them to death, the blatant murder of Kuhn’s girlfriend due to the neurologist’s own fears, the ostracization of Kuhn, etc.); in other words, Dr. Katz was able to secure Veronica’s wealth when she died because her drug pusher mentality capitalized on her fear of making a decision without the doctor’s “advice.

Italian Neorealism and its far-reaching influence on women in European cinema has many more examples such as in another Fassbinder film “Angst vor der Angst” (1975) translated as “Fear of Fear” which included another drug-addicted woman, Margot, who was too fearful to cope with life; although it was a TV production, the film retained all of Fassbinder’s trademark realism from the tragic heroine motif to the complicated family life as was depicted in “Fear: Ali Eats the Soul”. Like Veronika, Margot assumed that she was losing her mind and turned to drugs out of angst that she could not solve her problems without them. Fassbinder had never been afraid to address death and depression in the same breath just like his colleagues, Fellini, Godard, and Pasolini.

 Fear is a major emotion which drove the engine to a great deal of European films from Neorealism to the New German Cinema because it was prevalent during the times in which each film was made: “La Strada” was filmed during the post-Mussolini years when Italy was still suffering from the after effects of World War II (thus, the nationwide consternation of rising above adversity symbolized by Gelsomina); “Mamma Rosa” was created as a result of a Cahiers du Cinema- awakened Italy that had an agenda to express realistic elements despite fear of opposition; “Vivre sa vie” was a response to the opposition of reform in cinema :“The New Wave was born in 1959, and by the end of 1960, it was already an object of contempt” (Truffaut, 1960, cited by Hillier, 1986); Fassbinder’s works “Fear: Ali Eats the Soul” and “Veronika Voss” were further extensions of both French and Italian schools of filmmaking regardless of state funding that was steeped in the expectation of traditional German cinema.

The words of Fassbinder himself can explain why fear is such a powerful subject in the films that were discussed: “Every decent director has only one subject, and finally only makes the same film over and over again. My subject is the exploitability of feelings, whoever might be exploiting them. It never ends. It’s a permanent theme. Whether the state exploits patriotism, or whether in a couple relationship, one partner destroys the other” (Fassbinder, 1976, cited by Kardish & Lorenz, 1997). Each director, whether from Italy, France, or Germany, was not immune to using emotions like fear as a device for storytelling.

 

 

Bibliography

Baxter, John, Fellini, pp.105-‘7, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993

Elsaesser, T., Rainer Werner Fassbinder. In Kardish, Laurence & Lorenz, Juliane, eds. Rainer Werner Fassbinder. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art, 1997, pp.15-19.

Moullet, L., 1960. Jean-Luc Godard. In Hillier, Jim, ed. Cahiers du Cinema 1960-1968: New Wave, New Cinema, Re-evaluation of Hollywood Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1986, pp.41, 108-‘9.

Mulvey, Laura, 1992. The Myth of Pandora. In Pietropaolo, Laura & Testaferri, eds. Feminisms in the Cinema, USA: Indiana University Press, 1995, p.8.

Pflaum, Hans Gunther, Germany on Film: Theme and Content in the Cinema of the Federal Republic of Germany, Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University, pp.62-‘3.

Schwartz, Barth David, Pasolini, New York: Pantheon Books, 1992, pp. 395-‘99.

 

Film Bibliography

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, 1974.[DVD] Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Germany: Criterion Collection.

Mamma Roma,1962. [DVD] Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy: Criterion Collection.

La Strada, 1954. [DVD] Directed by Federico Fellini. Italy: Criterion Collection.

Veronika Voss, 1982. [DVD] Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Germany: Criterion Collection.

Vivre sa vie, 1962. [DVD] Directed by Jean-Luc Godard. France: Criterion Collection.

Angst vor der Angst, 1975 [DVD] Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Germany: Criterion Collection.

 

 

John Lennon; One of my heroes

I know that I am a little late in saying this but I am so glad that people all over the world are celebrating the great John Lennon's birthday. Being a Beatles fan, I credit my exposure to their music to be a primary influence over my decision to be a musician. Who am I kidding? It wasn't a decision. I have always maintained that one does not choose music, music chooses one. I can safely say, however, that John's influence has been prevalent  all my life. When I was in junior high school, my brother bought me a copy of his greatest hits in the post-Beatle period, known as "Shaved Fish". I love intriguing titles and this collection certainly caught my attention.  Even at this time, my desire to perform was irrepressible. Can you imagine (no pun intended) how the school officials felt when I played my version of "Cold Turkey" unashamedly?:) Then I started singing "Imagine". We never fully rehearsed as we should have in those days but we were just kids. we didn't even have access to a full drum kit; my drummer played his sticks on a makeshift ensemble of chairs and coverings; we were too poor to be ble to afford anything else. needless to say, this is one of my fondest memories of my early musicianship. To say that Mr. Lennon is one of the greatest 20th century artists is an understatement; he, along with three other geniuses, helped to define the 20th century as well as popular music in general. Happy Birthday Mr. Lennon:). BKT

New Copies of Dreamwalk

Hello everyone! I hope you have enjoyed my essay series so far; I know that they are rather lenghty, but the topics require and deserve serious discussion and exploration. My apologies to those who have tried to order a copy of my CD, Dreamwalk; I just ran out but I will have replenished the supply before the end of the month. I will keep you posted when they are back in stock. For those who have bought a copy, thank you; for those who have not yet, once I get new copies, please do no hesitate, regardless that there is a new project underway:). See you soon!BKT

Essay Series Pt.II: "The Influence of Wagner's Ring Cycle" or "Greed as a Motif in Wagnerian Art"

Hello! Here is another essay I wrote in Ireland that focused upon the influence of one of my favorite composers, Richard Wagner.

 

The thirteenth-century epic poem, “The Nibelungenlied” or “Song of the Nibelungs”, based upon early Icelandic sagas about the life, death, and redemption of Siegfried the dragon-slayer has been an object of speculation for centuries. Richard Wagner, the famed nineteenth century century composer, took material from the poem, expanded it, changed a few details, and added new elements to the story, thereby giving it a new life through his opera tetralogy, “Der Ring des Nibelungen” or “The Ring of the Nibelungs”. The comparisons and contrasts between music drama and text will be explored as well as why both works have endured for many generations.

 There are strong motifs that are present in both versions such as revenge, murder, jealousy, and retribution but the most powerful one that is present in both accounts is greed: it is, by far, the most underlying emotion in the story with the exception of love.

 Siegfried is actually a pawn in a deadly game of wills in the original poem and a manufactured, God-like mortal meant to restore order to dysfunctional worlds of chaos in Wagner’s epic music drama.

In fact, the 1976 Bayreuth Centennial production, Patrice Chereau’s famous Ring Cycle, owes much to George Bernard Shaw’s treatise “The Perfect Wagnerite”: an interpretation of the Wagnerian mythos which claimed that the tetralogy is a metaphor for corporate greed and lust at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century; the singers were not in traditional warrior-like garb, but instead, were clothed in the business suits and formal dresses of the period.

Shaw’s take on the myth will be a subject for discussion as well because it plays a significant part in allowing it to blossom in the post-Wagnerian twentieth century; his words echo in the relevance of today: “First, The Ring, with all its gods and giants and dwarfs, its water-maidens and Valkyries, its wishing-cap, magic ring, enchanted sword, and miraculous treasure, is a drama of today, and not of remote and fabulous antiquity” (Shaw, 1898); however, the story of Siegfried seems to resemble the story of Achilles: “Both were young and courageous, both were invulnerable except in one spot, both fought a warrior maiden, and both were murdered” ( Lorre Goodrich, 1961).

Regardless, the tale escapes Homeric duplication and has made a mark on comparative literature in its own spectacular way. Kriemhild, Siegfried’s wife in “The Nibelungenlied” avenges her husband’s murder in the poem after years of plotting and manipulating her new husband, Attila the Hun. One can see why her name requires further study (Chriem=grim-grief; hilde= bearing).

The poem speaks of how greed and the lust for revenge can destroy not only one but two societies which belong to the Burgundians and the Huns; in Wagner’s Ring, they belong to the Gods and mortals. Although there are four operas that tell the tale, only the last two in the cycle, Siegfried and Gottedammerung, contain the main details of the basic story from the poem; in fact, Wagner wrote the libretti of each in reverse starting with “Siegfrieds Tod” or “Siegfried’s Death” which was originally a poem he wrote in 1848.

Andrew Porter’s celebrated English translation of Wagner’s texts alone has allowed the ‘Nibelengenlied” characters to transcend the original poem from which Wagner drew his inspiration and highlighted the composer’s Gesamtkunstwerk (“Total Artwork”) theory that Music drama should be an amalgam of music, theatre, and dance: “This translation of The Ring was made for singing, acting, and hearing, not for reading”. This is definitely an example of how “The Nibelunglied”, albeit drastically changed, has evolved into a new art form via Wagnerian Opera. Mr. Porter’s understanding of the composer’s German text merits discussion.

Under the auspices of cinema, particularly European, the Nibelung legend climbed to a new apex. Fritz Lang, the famous German director, made a two-part movie based upon the epic poem and entitled it “Die Nibelungen”; the first half was called, in pure Wagnerian fashion, “Siegfried” while the second half was called “Kriemhild’s Revenge”. How Mr. Lang’s reverence for the poem was apparently influenced by the Ring cycle, as well as its role in complimenting the Wagnerian ideal, will be also examined.

 “The Nibelungenlied” is an anonymously Austrian written poem (although widely thought of as German) written around 1200 A.D. and is an important document with three direct sources: “actual history of the invasions of the fifth century, Scandinavian mythology---which in turn comes largely from Icelandic myths---and Oriental legends partially remembered from Asia, the original home of the Indo-Europeans” ( Goodrich, 1977).

Wagner decided to discard the Oriental elements of the poem (e. g. Kriemhild’s marriage to Attila, the clash between her kinsmen and the Huns) as well as its historical aspects (King Attila actually defeated a Burgundian king named Gundicarius in 430 A.D.); he wanted to show that the myth alone was enough to explain how greed can lead to anyone’s climactic downfall. Siegfried’s successful conquest over the dragon and its hoard, the Nibelung treasure, fed his bravado in the “Nibelungenlied”, but in Wagner’s “Gottedammerung”, he is warned by the Rhinemaidens of the doom that awaits him should he not relinquish the Ring cursed by the dwarf Alberich; the stubborn hero adamantly refuses: “The world’s wealth I could win me by this ring” (Wagner, 1848); spoken like a true capitalist, Wagner’s lead character knows no fear especially since Fafnir the dragon failed to teach it to him.

Arrogance is a road that certainly leads to greed. King Midas proved this to be true in the classic Greek story of a ruler who was so proud of his wealth that he acquired from Dionysus a magic touch of gold, much to his later dismay. After slaying the dragon, Siegfried bathes in its blood which makes him invulnerable save for a spot in his back that was covered by a linden leaf; the anonymous poet must have been well aware that linden leaves are normally heart-shaped which must be a subtle hint that the object of the hero’s heart will eventually be responsible for his death.

Hagen is one protagonist in the “Nibelungenlied” who easily represents the power of greed; he is quite the villain. He uses Kriemhild’s naively-offered information on how to exploit Siegfried’s “Achilles heel” to his advantage; once he kills the hero, the Nibelung treasure can be claimed for his own. Wagner wisely used Hagen again in “Gottedammerung” to show his understanding of this character’s importance in the saga and remembered that he is the son of Alberich, the original Nibelung treasure owner.

Hagen clearly has an agenda early on as he tells King Gunther how they would both benefit from Siegfried’s murder: “I’ll kill him---you shall gain! All the world is yours to command when you set hands on the ring that in death alone he will yield” (Wagner, 1848). Now here is the Nibelungenlied version based upon another manuscript: “Just think, King, how many lands you would encompass, however, if he were dead” (Goodrich, 1977). Wagner expanded the idea of Hagen’s lust for Siegfried’s death from mere kingly annexation to world domination.

There were other important characters that the composer borrowed from the poem like Brunhild, the Icelandic queen that Siegfried had fooled with his magic cloak which allows its user to shift into any other person or become invisible. Wagner used the invisibility cloak or magic Tarnhelm once with Alberich in the first opera, “Das Rheingold” as well as in “Gottedammerung” with Siegfried.

The Brunhild of both tales wanted Siegfried dead because she felt dishonored by his treachery. The Tarnhelm is a part of the treasure that the hero had won from slaying the dragon; it can also represent the interchangeability of avarice in the world; in other words, there are many forms of greed that exist as is shown in the story. King Gunther, a minor, but pivotal character, not only wanted Queen Brunhild because of her beauty and battle prowess, but she would also be a welcomed addition to his wealth and prestige as a powerful sovereign.

By adopting the semblance of this Burgundian king, Siegfried is an example of the dangerous brevity of lust when he is the only one who is able to go through flames on the mountain where Brunhild sleeps, and once again, arrogance started it all with Alberich proudly displaying the powers of the Tarnhelm to Wotan, King of the Gods. Siegfried used the magic device in the “Nibelungenlied” to help Gunther win the hand of Queen Brunhild but he was not totally selfless either when he first came on the scene in Burgundy: “Whether you like it or not, I have come to deprive you of your possessions and also to subdue your towns and villages” (Goodrich, 1977).

In this world of dragons and treasure, there is wealth to be had for anyone with proper ambition. Wagner must have discovered elements of what was happening during his time within this medieval story; as was aforementioned, he wrote the libretto for Gottedammerung in 1848 which is also the year of the Dresden revolution to unify Germany under a strong democracy in which he strongly supported; the uprising had failed and of course, the composer was thoroughly disappointed.

Fifty years later, George Bernard Shaw’s “The Perfect Wagnerite” was published. Friedrich Nietszche, the German philosopher and personal friend of Wagner’s, had long since critiqued the composer’s works, but Shaw’s account of the hidden meanings behind the Ring cycle appeared under greater scrutiny.

First, Shaw had no reservations whatsoever of his “superior” understanding of the Ring: “It is generally understood, however, that there is an inner ring of superior persons to whom the whole work has a most urgent and searching philosophic and social significance. I profess to be such a superior person…” (Shaw,1898).

The Irish poet and playwright may have perhaps believed in his own greatness to a level of pomposity, but he also did understand the political underpinnings of what inspired Wagner to write the Ring in the first place; the Nibelung myth provided the instruments through which his ideas were voiced.

The Dresden uprising of 1848 had failed because of the human capacity for greed which suppressed the progress of civilization, according to what Shaw believed to be the real story of the Ring: Wotan, the Father of the Norse Gods, is the true villain of the entire tetralogy, even more so than Hagen, because his initial greed is to own the Nibelung treasure transformed into an all-powerful Ring, and is the head of the ruling class that resists change in Valhalla as well as Earth which leads to both of their ultimate destruction: “And he owns and controls a new god, called the Press, which manufactures public opinion on his side, and organizes the persecution and suppression of Siegfried” (Shaw, 1898).

According to Shaw, Siegfried is “a totally unmoral person, a born anarchist...” (1898). Wagner’s version of the hero does not have to answer to the cosmic laws that were created by Wotan and his wife Fricka; he is a free spirit and the perfect embodiment of the noble savage. Wotan did not appear in “The Nibelungenlied” but Hagen instead presided over a good deal of the events in both the poem and “Gottedammerung”. Greed has to linger and be personified, after all.

The opera, “Siegfried, displayed the anarchistic nature of the title character as the man without fear or morals: no one else could have subdued a bear, re-forged a sword, slain a dragon, and got the girl in the end. Unlike the Austrian poem, Siegfried actually met Wotan, disguised as a Wanderer, and challenged his authority: “Stretch out your spear and see it break on my sword!” (Wagner, 1848).

The composer chose to make this a crucial scene in “Siegfried” because the hero defies the order of things; it would not have made a difference if he knew that he stood in front of Wotan himself or that he is actually his grandfather; Siegfried’s arrogance drove him on to break the Spear of the Gods, the instrument and symbol of order and conformity in the universe, and climbed the mountain of fire where Brunhild was asleep, waiting for him.

Ironically, Siegfried’s life ended at the tip of Hagen’s spear; therefore, one cannot shatter the spear of the law establishment (Wotan) without facing dire circumstances. Another dwarf character, Mime, is another example of how greed plays into the drama; he raised the young, orphaned Siegfried not out of love, but for eventually taking whatever future possessions he might acquire.

Wagner transported him to “Siegfried” as comic relief as well as to convince an audience that unlawful commercial gain will be costly: Mime planned to kill Siegfried, but of course, the young hero killed his foster father instead after discovering his treachery.

In “The Nibelungenlied”, Brunhild, the proud Icelandic queen, was defeated by Siegfried who was hidden under the Tarnhelm and working alongside King Gunther in many displays of athletic greatness. Here, Siegfried earlier in the poem defied authority by tricking it: “You must not fear the Queen. Give me your shield and let me bear it, and take careful note of what I say to you. Now you go through the motions, and I shall do the deeds” (Anonymous, 1200).

Now here is Wagner’s carefully written scene of Brunhild’s deception in “Gottedammerung”: “An eagle has flown here to tear me to pieces!” (Wagner, 1848). This alludes to the very first scene in the poem where Kriemhild had dreamt of a bird being torn asunder; this cannot be an accident. As one goes through the libretti of the Ring cycle, one may be able to detect other references to the original poetry that inspired it (e.g. Siegmund and Sieglinde as Siegfried’s real parents, the murder in the forest, etc.).

Wagner must have been always conscious of taking what he had read and transforming the material into the story he concocted to fit his ideas on the misuse of government while using archetypal imagery borrowed from mythology. The epic prose went so far as to show the grandeur and almost ridiculous manifestations of wealth in many stanzas; our hero, Siegfried and his retinue of knights must have been well off indeed: “…their gem-studded saddles and narrow poitrels were hung with bells were hung with bells of lustrous red gold; thus magnificently did they come riding up to Brunhild’s hall (Anonymous, 1200).

Wagner’s Ring had ostentatious displays in many productions as well but Chereau’s 1976 version clearly followed Shaw’s interpretation of the music dramas, carrying the Nibelung story well into the twentieth century even without the strong medieval pageantry of the poem; other productions “followed suit”.

No longer are there choruses of armored knights, but instead, modern weapons and clothes: “I have seen, at Covent Garden, Chicago gangsters with tommy guns running about during the overture to Act I of Die Walkure …” (Donington, 1990). This is the true meaning of myth, whether the interpretation is successful or not: the transcendence of the original material where the outward appearance may differ, but the hidden meanings remain consistent throughout the ages: “Myth is true for all time. Symbols explain themselves…in a symbol, there is concealment and yet revelation” (Donington, 1990).

Alberich’s taskmaster mentality towards the Nibelungs in “Das Rheingold” reportedly enhanced Hitler’s warped ideologies about race relations between the Germans and Jews during his rise to power which is of course, an extremely unfortunate legacy of myth gone awry.

Fritz Lang in his film “Die Nibelungen” (1924) was a favorite of the Nazi leader and wanted the director to create Third Reich movies. Hitler’s love of Wagnerian opera ignited his imagination to celebrate the Aryan supermyth by furthering it into cinema; if he had lived, there could have been a Parsifal or even Lohengrin on the silver screen. Mr. Lang brought “The Nibelungenlied” back to its original story but with Wagnerian subtleties.

Understanding that Hagen and Wotan share an equal greed for the ring of power, he chose to have a composite character in his film: Hagen looked very much like a Burgundian Wotan with an eye carefully obscured as if the Ravens of memory and knowledge took it.

Mr. Lang released “Metropolis” three years later, which is a film noted for its statement about the ills of corporate and societal greed. “Die Nibelungen” bore the weight of more Wagnerian symbolism with its ethereal landscapes, dream-like imagery, and ornate costumes.

Through film, the two different art forms of literature and music came together in a way that complimented both genres; sadly, however, it did not translate well to all audiences: “I remember when Die Nibelungen was shown here, in Pasadena. The audience didn’t understand it.

They had no fun with it because they had no relationship to the legend. The only legend which, in my opinion, the American knows are the westerns” (Lang, 1972). Nowadays, new mythologies like Star Wars have emerged into American consciousness and reliably steadfast ones like Star Trek and “Lord of the Rings” have re-emerged; however, the Nibelung legend does take root in the same source as Professor Tolkien’s epic fantasy literature which could be regarded as the “other great Ring story”.

Mr. Lang’s re-telling of “the Nibelungenlied” goes with his tradition of showing action instead of violence; the poem had quite a few scenes of abhorrent activities; for example, after Kriemhild killed Hagen, along with several other Burgundians, out of revenge for Siegfried’s murder, she became a casualty herself: “He leapt at Kriemhild in fury and struck the Queen with a heavy swing of his sword.

She winced in dread of Hildebrand----but what could her loud shrieks avail her? There lay the bodies of all that were doomed to die. The noble lady was hewn to pieces” (Anonymous, 1200). Even Wagner was not so graphic. Mr. Lang simply allowed her to die suddenly after killing the villain and later explained his aversion to violence in his films by giving an example of another of his classic films, M: “Immediately we know that the girl is dead and then we see the balloon flying away. This is action in a certain way” (Lang, 1972).

Mr. Lang could have used the excuse that medieval battles were quite violent and graphic, but instead, he chose to deviate away from the graphic nature of the poem because he felt that Kriemhild’s actions would kill her spirit as well as her corporeal self anyway. This is not to say that there were no scenes of a horrifying nature in “Die Nibelungen” because there were a few (e.g. the burning of the Burgundians in King Attila’s great hall); however, they were not gratuitous but faithful to the pre-Wagnerian story. Greed still gave birth to carnage in the film version as well.

Mr. Lang made sure to have all of the key characters in place for the calamities to come. Hagen was just as evil and corrupt as before, Gunther is still a sniveling coward who cannot do his own dirty work, Siegfried is the same arrogant whelp who has the classic symptoms of a megalomaniacal fool, Kriemhild is vengeful, and Brunhild is an icy-cold warrior queen. Wagner, on the other hand, took the story to a level where there is more expostulation of the characters which could easily fit into a sixteen-hour musical epic that would span four evenings.

George Bernard Shaw looked at Wagner’s re-invention of “The Nibelungenlied” under the microscopic precision of a Socialist: “the danger is that you will jump to the conclusion that the gods, at least, are a higher order than the human order. On the contrary, the world is waiting for Man to redeem it from the lame and cramped government of the gods” (Shaw, 1898).

Thus, from a medieval poem fraught with revenge and murder, had arisen a new story written by a composer turned dramatist that dealt with how the greedy need to contain and control the order of Man can be a counterproductive force that will eventually destroy a society if it stays unchecked. Fritz Lang was obviously familiar with the legend and decided not to industrialize it like Shaw did, but instead, return to the original story outlined in the poem, tone down the violence, and kept in mind the overall influence of greed without sacrificing it. The legend has lived on.

 

 

Bibliography

Anonymous, 1200. The Nibelungenlied. Translated from German by A.T. Hatto,1965. London, England: Penguin Classics.Chesley,L. & Gould, M., 1972. Fritz Lang: The Lost Interview. MovieMaker: The Art and Business of Making Movies [Online] (85) 21, May 2004, Available at http://www.moviemaker.com-drecting-article-fritz_lang_the_lost_interview_2953

[Accessed 21 May 2010]

Donington, R., 1990. Opera & Its Symbols. 1st ed. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Goodrich, Norma L., 1977. Medieval Myths. 2nd ed. USA: Mentor in assoc. with New American Library.

Porter, A., 1977. Richard Wagner: The Ring of the Nibelung, 1848-1853. 1st ed. Translated from German by Andrew Porter, 1977. New York & London: W.W. Norton & Company.

Shaw, G. B., 1898, The Perfect Wagnerite, 4th ed., 1923. London: Constable & Co.

Film Bibliography

Die Nibelungen, 1924 [DVD] Directed by Fritz Lang. Germany: Criterion Collection

Essay Series Pt.I: The great movie "300": Fact and Fiction

Often, people have asked me to show them my essays on various topics from music to film.Therefore, I decided to post some on my website. I loved the movie, 300, so I decided to do some research based on the Greek historian, Herodotus, and his account of what actually happened. Oh, and by the way, I am still writing for the upcoming CD including scores for the strings and woodwinds:). I hope you like what you read!

Zack Snyder’s 2007 film, “300”, has certainly brought back speculation as well as interest in the events that led to the last stand of 300 Spartans against the innumerable might of King Xerxes’ omnipotent Persian armies in the famous, narrow pass in Greece known as Thermopylae. The Greek historian, Herodotus, gives an historical account in his “Histories” about a three day battle in 480 B.C. that captured the spirit and imagination of a whole nation trodden under the heels of tyranny. Frank Miller, former writer for Marvel Comics (“Spiderman”, “Daredevil”, “The Hulk”, etc.) and director/screenwriter for such films as “Sin City”, was enraptured by the legend ever since he saw the film “300 Trojans” (1962), which is practically unobtainable these days, when he was a boy.

It lead to an eventual graphic novel that he made with Lynn Varley depicting the brief struggle at Thermopylae between two opposing cultures that is still talked about in modern times. Thankfully, both the film and graphic novel have led curious people who yearn for the true story back to Herodotus’ “Histories” in order to discover what actually happened in the battle; however, this does not detract from the contribution of Miller’s and Zacker’s visions in any way: due to their intervention, the legend has truly entered the realm of art; the “300” phenomena has proven, once again, that literature and film do not have to be mutually exclusive forms of human expression: “We are now standing, being should to shoulder, as sister art forms with film and literature” (Miller, 2009).

Of course, there are those who do not choose to explore the true meaning of the story and its historical significance to the advent of Western civilization, and read the graphic novel or watch the film as pure entertainment. Scholars have often derided the Miller-inspired “300” projects as as purveyors of gratuitous violence, but they do not see the overall importance of re-telling the story that may or may not be palatable to the general public; not everyone will automatically go to the public library and read Herodotus, much less be aware that he ever existed at all. This is one of the many purposes of art: to inspire education. Aside from Frank Miller, there have been other artistic tributes to the sacrifice of Leonidas and his troops: Napoleon’s court painter, Jean-Jacques David, painted his vision of the legendary Trojan king “Leonidas at Thermopylae, 480 BC” (1814); “Gates of Fire”, by Steven Pressfield, is a popular novel based upon the historical facts of the Spartan-Persian battle and is even on the recommended reading list for the Marine Corps; the noted science fiction author, Jerry Pournelle, wrote “Go Tell the Spartans” (1991) and “Prince of Sparta (1993) using the principals of the Greek legend as interplanetary names for his worlds. Therefore, it does not really matter that Thermopylae was fought over 2,500 years ago; each example shows war as the ultimate paradox: the process of trying to maintain peace through violence whether it is to fight the outlandish behavior of   currentreligious extremists or the arrogance of Xerxes’ and his preoccupation to dominate Greece is the same. War will always transcend time.

Nonetheless, this discussion will focus upon Mr. Miller’s and Mr. Snyder’s contributions to the story and how he preserved more of Herodotus’ account than was given credit by the scholars who were quick to admonish their efforts: “Their greatest crime is that they reduced to a dehumanized video game one of the most moving events of Greek history” (Borza, 2007). Moreover, Mr. Snyder’s film continues dialogue and events from both Miller and Herodotus, giving the story added interest to a modern audience. This triumvirate of art has given rise to a whole new appreciation of early Spartan culture and the discernment of truth from falsehood will be emphasized here in this study of the Battle of Thermopylae. It is not the intention of this discussion to pass off both the film and graphic novel as totally sound representations of history, but as celebrations of it in different ways.

Not even Menelaus, the other famous Spartan king of the ancient world, famous for losing his wife, Helen, to Paris--- thereby starting the Trojan war--- has the same intrigue that follows Leonidas. Both had died in their prospective wars, but it was Leonidas who sacrificed himself for the good of his nation. However, Herodotus’ writing style and choice of subject were not immune to the influence of Homer: “…by choosing a war between east and west, Herodotus was consciously emulating the greatest of Greek poets, Homer, and his narrative of the Greek war against Troy” (Marincola, 2003). Even though the “Histories” are based upon irrefutable facts, its historian was inspired by the heroic deeds of Achilles and Odysseus: “…part of his work, like the Odyssey, is full of adventures and tales, and the historian himself, like Odysseus, is an experienced traveler” (Marincola, 2003). Greek mythological characters are prevalent in Herodotus’ text and the Spartans are said to be the descendants of Heracles (Hercules) himself in Snyder’s film.

Reverence for the old ways is not placated; the presence of Heracles is felt strongly throughout the books of the “Histories” and can be associated with the origin of the name Thermopylae which means “Hot springs”: “There are hot springs in the pass---known locally as the Basins---with an altar over them dedicated to Heracles” (Herodotus,440 BCE). Miller’s graphic novel calls them the “Hot Gates” as does the Snyder film. The reason is clear: they consist of sulphurous waters that give off a smell of burning even to this very day. So far, the accuracy of information is consistent all around in this part of the storytelling. Yet, there are inaccuracies abound which shall be told later.

At the beginning of Miller and Snyder’s storytelling which are almost synonymous with each other, a Spartan child is scrutinized at the top of a cliff: “If they judged the crying baby to be unworthy of carrying a Spartan shield it would be taken immediately to a nearby cliff off Mt. Taygetos and thrown over the edge” (Eger, 2007). This screening process led to the system known as agoge: an intensely rigorous military training regimen of Spartan youths from age seven: “They were fed, but it was a weak broth and in quantities only enough to exist. It was expected that the young, starving boys would steal or otherwise find enough food to keep them strong” (Eger, 2007); young Leonidas in the “300” projects must have been caught at one point which would explain why he was brutally punished during one scene; he must have been caught and if so, suffered from the usual punishment.

The agoge discipline instilled in Spartan youth the ultimate physical and mental conditioning of the human body in war, including stealth and cunning in the face of death. The famous scene where the young king slays a demonic wolf in a narrow rock opening indicates his skill acquired by his stoic mentors. “His form is perfect” (Miller, 2006) as he impales the wolf through the mouth. The wolf head is a motivic film device appearing on walls occasionally and the wolf tooth necklace is an expression of the connection between Leonidas and his wife. Ironically, what differs in reality is that the heir apparents to Spartan kingship were not allowed to undergo the agoge program normally; however, Leonidas was the exception; he was third son of his father, Anaxandridas; Cleomenes was the first-born child: “Thus while Cleomenes trained for kingship, Leonides learned to endure hardship and pain, and literally stole food side-by-side with all the other Spartan boys of his generation” (Schrader, 2010).

Therefore, Leonidas could identify with his Spartan troops much more than his other brothers (there were four boys in all). According to Herodotus, Cleomenes eventually went mad, “poking his staff in the face of every Spartiate he met” (Herodotus, 440 BCE) and paved the way for Leonidas’ eventual rule in a rather drastic fashion: “As the result of this lunatic behavior his relatives put him in the stocks. As he was lying there, fast bound, he asked his jailer, when no one else was there, to give him a knife.”(Herodotus, 440 BCE).

Herodotus then proceeds to give a graphic description of how Cleomenes, co-king of Sparta with another brother, Demaratus, mutilated himself to death. It is important to mention Cleomenes because Leonidas married his daughter, Gorgo, who was prominent in the film but had a very limited role in Miller’s original graphic novel (Demaratus, by the way, later defected to Xerxes’ side). Zack Snyder apparently decided to ignore the fact in his film that the king was the husband to his own niece. She is the one who says an important line that described the mentality of Spartan women sending their men off to war: “Come back with your shield or on it”. When the Persian messenger appeared at the steps of Leonidas’ court mentioning “Earth and water”, this statement is straight out of Herodotus as well. Here is one example of its use by the Scythian king Idanthyrsos in response to Xerxes’ father, King Darius: “…I acknowledge no masters but Zeus from whom I sprang, and Hestia the Scythian queen. I will send you no gifts of earth and water, but others more suitable; and your claim to be my master is easily answered---be damned to you!” (Herodotus, 440 BCE).

 Perhaps it was through pure sardonic humor that Miller wrote in his narrative the messenger’s famous descent into the well with help from Leonidas’ foot while hearing the film’s most quoted line, “This is Sparta!” After all, one cannot blame the king’s response; he merely represented the Spartan ideal: “The citizens, or Spartiates, were a relatively small group, perhaps numbering some 9,000 men. They were forbidden to be traders or manual workers; instead they were full-time warriors” (Morkot, 1996). Yet, “tradition was something that even Leonidas could not defy”, according to Dilios, the film’s narrator. The “300” projects had to include the magistrates of the day known as ephors which had an agenda other than the acquisition of gold pieces: “The ephors formed a check on the power of the kings, swearing an oath to support them, but only if the kings kept the constitution” (Morkot, 1996).

They were portrayed in Miller’s work as lecherous old priests who succumbed to the ravages of leprosy, as well as in Snyder’s film, and their obstinate refusal to grant Leonidas to take the Spartan armies to war was based upon superstition: the festival of Carneia should not be interrupted because it would have been a serious offense to the Gods. It was celebrated for nine days in tribute of the god Apollo where sacrifices were made and males were only supposed to devote themselves to the idea of purity; this prevented any further Greek troops from participating in the Persian conflict before its end. The Oracle, a beautiful woman under the influence of a drugged trance, replaces Herodotus’ Delphian oracle who prophesied: “Pray to the winds…” (Herodotus, 440 BCE).

An ephor said those instead in the Miller/Snyder story, translating from the Oracle’s trance-subdued lip. Throughout the audio commentary of “300”, Snyder consistently mentioned that he wanted to pay homage to Miller’s graphic novel and used it as storyboards for many scenes in the movie. Among the criticisms that the Miller/Snyder re-telling had garnered were that the fantastic creatures and beasts of burden were unnecessary.

Herodotus did mention that Xerxes’ army had more than just troops: “I am not surprised that with so many people and so many beasts the rivers sometimes failed to provide enough water…” (Herodotus, 440 BCE). This can certainly leave room for poetic license on Miller’s part and Snyder took the ball and ran with it. It would do the film a disservice to judge it on mere historical grounds because cinema has the ability to sensationalize actual events and can get away with it if taken in the proper context. Ephialtes, the traitor of the Spartans, could not have been more exaggerated with his massive hunchback and misshapen face. Herodotus only briefly mentioned him in Book seven of the “Histories” but that does not stop the speculation about this important character in the story. He came at the right time because Xerxes was clearly frustrated, according to the historian, since the battle at Thermopylae was not a decisive victory for him right way: “Xerxes was watching the battle from where he sat; and it is said that in the course of the attacks three times, in terror for his army, he leapt to his feet” (Herodotus,440 BCE).

Then the tide had turned in his favor: “…a man from Malis, Ephialtes, the son of Eurydemus, came, in hope of a rich reward, to tell the king about the track which led over the hills to Thermopylae---and thus he was to prove the death of the Greeks who held the pass” (Herodotus, 440 BCE). Miller had Ephialtes follow the Spartan army early in the story to give him more dimension in the story and to explain his betrayal. The malformed traitor is the antithesis of the perfect Spartan warrior; Snyder gave him enhanced deformities such as the inability to raise a spear by Leonidas’ standards to accent the point.

Nothing is mentioned by Herodotus of what “the rich reward” of Ephialtes’ treachery was, but Xerxes must have been very pleased to place an army under his command. The lure of sex and wealth is the promised reward of the Persian king in the Miller/Snyder world. King Leonidas explained to Ephialtes the importance of the Spartan phalanx formation with devastating effect: “We fight as a single, impenetrable unit. That’s the source of our strength” (Miller, 2006).Thus, the hunchback was used as an excuse to explain the Spartans' secret of defense. Actually, Herodotus tells us later on that Ephialtes was later murdered. Perhaps the most famous historical line lies in the words of Dieneces who was not present in either the film or the graphic novel, but in Herodotus’ story: “…if the Persians hide the sun, we shall have our battle in the shade” (Herodotus,440 BCE). Miller changed the origin of those words and had the Persian emissary boast that his army’s arrows would blot out the sun; the heroic Dieneces of the film, Stelios (a Miller character), replied with the latter half of that phrase. Miller’s reiteration of “We march”, in chapter one of the book entitled “Honor”, is matched in the film. The steadfastness of the Spartan army could not be better emphasized. Stelios stumbled from fatigue in the graphic novel and admits in Spartan fashion: “I’m ready for my punishment,sir” Miller, 2006).

Snyder took this out because the punishments suffered under the agoge were already established at the beginning of the film. During the march episodes of the book, Miller draws his characters with tall spears and mountains pointing high to the heavens in defiance of foreign tyranny but at the same time, keeping the overall army always grouped heavily in the horizon; the writer/ artist explained why in a youtube interview: “Mythological lands tend to be horizontal; that’s why when I did “300”, for example, I went for a horizontal format” (Miller, 2009). The major difference between Miller’s book and Snyder’s film is the participation ratio of the different Greek states; only the Arcadians joined the three hundred bodyguards of Leonidas in the film while the book had a more diversified gathering: “ From Tegea and Mantinea they come---from Thespiae and Thebes and Opus and Phocis and Malis. Some by the dozens. Some by the hundreds…” (Miller,2006). This is a more accurate portrayal of the battle than in the film; “The contingents of the various states were under their own officers, but the most respected was Leonidas the Spartan, who was in command of the whole army” (Herodotus, 440 BCE).

Historically, seven thousand men instead of the three hundred Spartans stood against the Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae: Seven thousand strong…we march” (Miller, 2006). The Spartan king did not lack confidence because he “traced his descent directly back to Heracles” (Herodotus, 440 BCE) and the Miller/Snyder stories never failed to mention it. This may have given him the courage to confront the overwhelmingly large Persian army which numbered to approximately 1,700,000 according to the “Histories”. On the Persian side, the Immortals were an impressive fighting force that King Xerxes sent against the world’s greatest warriors. Miller chose to dress them in iron-like masks which hid monstrous features. This caused some controversy: “Tehran reacted furiously to the Hollywood epic, which depicts many of the Persians facing Leonidas at Thermopylae as grotesque monsters and Xerxes as an effete, heavily made-up pervert with numerous body piercings” (Marozzi, 2008).

 Nevertheless, the Immortals “who advanced to the attack in full confidence” (Herodotus, 440 BCE) were no match with their wicker shields against the superior length of Spartan spears and forty-pound shields, much less the impenetrable phalanx; perhaps their inhuman faces symbolized for Miller the inhumanity of trying to subdue a free nation. As for Xerxes, his androgyny was the idea of Miller who inspired Snyder’s cinematic version. The book was careful also to document Leonidas keen military thinking: “Dispatch the Phocians to that goat path---and pray to the Gods that nobody tells the Persians about it” (Miller, 2006); unfortunately, Ephialtes did and the encounter between the Phocians and his contingent was mentioned: “Leaping to their feet, the Phocians were in the act of arming themselves when the enemy was upon them” (Herodotus, 440 BCE). Another historical saying preserved by Miller was “Come and get it”: this alludes to the famous “molon labe” retort to the Persian embassy that promised Leonidas kingship of all Greece if he submitted to Xerxes. Miller combined this Herodotean scene with his own in his book’s fourth chapter, “Combat”. Snyder kept the book’s version for his film which effectively shows Leonidas’ resolve never to accept, to borrow from another classic film, “an offer he can’t refuse”.

There are many other examples of how Miller’s graphic novel seems to best capture the spirit of Herodotus’ original text despite the success of Snyder’s oftentimes inaccurate, but still enjoyable film. The author/writer took the time to really know his subject: “I spent three weeks in the Aegean studying Greek terrain, old Greek battles. I went to the Hot Gates and absorbed it all. I learned that researching history starts out like a chore but quickly turns into a treasure trove” (Miller, 2006).

 His personal experiences must have truly worked on his creatively active mind. The mighty power of the Spartan phalanx opens up the “Combat” chapter that expresses the perception of it as something akin to an atom bomb during its day; “we strike” replaces the “we march” announcements; “desert beasts” roam the battlefield; the pomposity of King Xerxes is only dwarfed by his bad temper; the defeat of Xerxes’ father, Darius, and his armies at the Battle of Marathon ten years earlier; Dilios, the film narrator, rallying the assembled troops of all the Greek nations on the plains of Plataea (a true battle that was heroically decisive after Leonidas’ tragic fall): many Herodotean descriptions are alive and well with Miller; however, Snyder’s almost ekphrastic approach to the graphic novel has merit as well.

The Phocian wall mortared with dead soldiers is a striking symbol of Spartan intolerance to Persian dominance; the careful dance between light and shadow, thereby imitating Miller; the inclusion of most of the dialogue captured in the book almost verbatim. In other words, the book and film are perfect compliments to each other as well as to Herodotus’ classic. They both display historical facts in their own way while making the material not necessarily plausible, but interesting enough for the modern audience. As was said before, not everyone has the inclination to discover Herodotus on one’s own; sometimes it takes a little nudge to go in the right direction. Some may disagree with the methods of recounting the events of history, but it is really irrelevant when it comes to honoring the memory of fallen soldiers. In this case, the Spartans’ story must be remembered as a never-ending one that is a testimony to humanity’s need to overcome the worst adverse situations for a better life. Frank Miller and Zack Snyder both read Herodotus and understand that neither of their works are meant to replace the legendary historian’s epic, but instead, to honor its importance forever. One can view the facts from all three works of art collectively.

 

 

Bibliography

Borza, Eugene N., 2007. Spartans Overwhelmed at Thermopylae, Again. Archeology.[Online] Available at: http//: www.archeology.org/online/reviews/300.html [Accessed May 25, 2010]

Epstein, Daniel R., 2006. Frank Miller, 300 Interview.UGO.com [Online] Available at: http//: www.ugo.com/ugo/html/article/?id=16424&sectionId=106 [Accessed May 25, 2010]

Herodotus, 440 B.C.E. The Histories. Translated by Aubrey de Selincourt and John Marincola, 2003. London, England: Penguin Books

Marozzi, J.,2008. The Way of Herodotus.1st ed. USA: Da Capo Press

Miller, F. & Varney, Lynn, 2006. 300. 3rd ed. Milwaulkie, Oregon: Dark Horse Books

Morkot, R.,1996. The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece. 1st ed. London, England: Penguin Books

Schrader, H.,2010. The Smile of Leonidas. EzineArticlescom.[Online] Available at http//: ezinearticles.com/?The-Smile-of-Leonidas&id=3983128 [Accessed May 25, 2010]

 

 

 

My Love of Shakespeare

Hello! I am happy to report that things are going well for the new project and I have even unexpectedly written new material for it! That kind of thing ALWAYS thrills me. I have often said that quite a few of my songs come in dreams and already I have dreamt TWO songs that I will include in the new EP "The Raven Trail". During my Creative Writing studies for my Master's, I discovered that Fiction writing and songwriting are not distant cousins at all; there are MANY similarities. I would highly recommends writers everywhere to read Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft". Not only does he give a brief account of how he came up with some of his most celebrated works ("Carrie", "Misery", "The Shining", etc.) but he gives an honest account of his feelings about the wonderful craft of reading. He even goes so far to say that he was not interested in writing another book about writing just to make money(Like he needs it! lol).

He is my kind of writer! Anyway, I found myself reading not one but TWO Shakespearan plays today which are among my favorites: Richard III and of course, Hamlet. My brother and I discussed Shakespeare today at length and among the topics we touched upon was how much for granted the Immortal Bard is in our native tongue.

Did you know that Shakespeare is credited for introducing 3,000 words into the English language? It's true. His quotes and phrases are literally a celebration of English itself. I know, I know: but what about all those archaic Elizabethan words and phrases? Well, we still use them today now more than ever. I'll give you a few examples: the most famous one from Hamlet is of course, the "To be or not to be" soliloquy but there are so many others.

From the same play, Polonius, the father of Laertes and Hamlet's girlfriend, Ophelia, tells his son: "This above all:to thine own self be true (Act I, Sc. III). Sounds familiar? How about this one? same play: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" (Act I, Sc. IV). I love  that one! Or how about the variation of that quote? "O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven" (Act. III, Sc. III). Here, the murderer of Hamlet's father, Claudius, the new king, has a rare moment of regret for killing his brother, the king but it was too late by then; the seeds of revenge had already been planted and sprouted to dire consequences by the end of the play.

Shakespeare's influence upon English language idioms would be too great for me to express in this blog but I will certainly give you a few more examples:

"Now is the winter of our discontent" (Richard III, Act I, Sc. I)

"A horse! A horse! A kingdom for a horse!" (Richard III, Act V, Sc. IV)

"Off with his head!" (Richard III, Scene IV) Shakespeare said this before Lewis Carroll's Queeen of Heart's character in his immortal work "Alice in Wonderland"

"Friends, Romans, countrymen; lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him" (Julius Caesar, Act III, Sc. II) Mark Antony's speech after Julius Caesar was murdered on the Senate floor.

"But for my own part, it was Greek to me" (Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II).

"The course of true love never did run smooth" (Midsummer Night's Dream" Act I, Scene I) Amen to that brother!:)

"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child" (King Lear, Act I, Scene IV)

"T'is neither here nor there" (Othello, Act IV, Sc. III) How many times have you said that in your life without the "T'is" part?:)

"I will wear my heart on my sleeve for daws to peck at" (Othello, Act I, Scene I). Oh it gets even better!

"It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock" (Othello, Act III). And I could go on and on.

The point is that even if we don't quote from a Shakespearean play line for line, the idioms have transcended well beyond the Elizabethan period from where they came. It has always been my assertion that a lot of people don't approach the Bard's works because the speech is hard to understand and the plots seem complicated; as a Shakespearean admirer all of my life, my response is that one does not have to understand every word spoken right away because (a) there a quite a few lines in the plays that are quite simple and understandable, (b) they are not to be read just once, in my opinion, and (c) everything that one could find in a slew of today's movies (death, sex, revenge, violence, love, etc.) can be easily found in Shakespeare's plays.

Since we are on the subject of movies, here is a recommended list that I have compiled if you are interested (I don't claim to be an expert; I just like to share my ideas):

I-Hamlet (1948) Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons (when she was 18 years old and STILL a hottie!): One of the quintessential Shakespearan movies directed by the master himself,Mr. Olivier, considered to be possibly the greatest ever.( Remember the classic movie "Spartacus" with Kirk Douglas? Jean Simmons and Laurence Olivier acted together again in this epic!)

II- Richard III- Another Olivier gem with him starring, directing and producing. Check out this phenomenal cast: Sir Ralph Richardson, Sir John Gielgud, AND the legendary Claire Bloom. A must-see.

III- Henry V- Hey, I had to include Mr. Olivier again. It is another perfect production.

IV-Henry V- Kenneth Branagh's version which is pure magic! I am looking forward to his Shakespearan bent on the upcoming movie "Thor"  that comes out next year! (I was a fan of the comic book).And Emma Thompson! What a  terrific actress AND a hottie to boot!:)

V- Ran- Akira Kurasawa is one of my all-time favorite directors and this is his version of Shakespeare's "King Lear": a breathtaking panorama of dialogue, sound, and visuals. I saw his original paintings upon which the film's scenes are based and they are nothing but astounding. This is a prime example of how the Bard's works can be told in other forms.

VI- "Looking for Richard"- Al Pacino's personal views on the story of Richard III as well as a documentary that has him actually going out in the streets and asking evceryday people what they think of Shakespeare. An over-looked film in my view.

I could also mention Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood" (MacBeth) as well. I will stop here because I do not want to belabor the point. Well, I hope you enjoyed this new blog of mine. Stick around for many more including those that will feature updates on my upcoming EP "The Raven Trail". Take care! BKT:) 

 

 

 

 

 

Work is underway...

Hey gang! Now that I am back in the States, I am trying to keep as occupied as possible with work on my Master's degree in Creative Writing, re-working a Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel I wrote many years ago, AND preliminary work for my new upcoming EP which shall indeed be called "The Raven Trail". A lovely friend of mine just emailed me and said that she is already working on sketches for the cover. I am very excited at the prospect of having a painting as a cover that would exemplify the mood and feel of the album. Well, stick around because there is A LOT more to come! BKT

I'm BAAAACK!:)

Hey gang! Sorry about the disappearance for a while but I had to take care of a few things. The new CD project is well underway, I am meeting with the graphic artist for the new cover and you will DEFINITELY hear some new songs! There will also be new essays as well...stay tuned!:)BKT

Back in New York

Well, I have been back for about a week now and it is the same Big Apple I left three months ago but with slightly more problems like a new terrorist threat, increased Metro fare, and new buildings here and there. I am looking forward to seeing how the music scene has been going here because things happen more rapidly here than in most major cities of the world. I will keep you posted about the new CD project! BKT

My Concept of Music Fiction

Well, my time here in Ireland is coming to a close and I have never had more fun or learned so much! The semester is over and all I have to do is hand in my essays and continue production on my latest CD project. In retrospect, my purpose for coming to the Esmerald Isle has become even clearer. It has inspired me to write more songs along the lines of what I call "Music Fiction" which is, in essence, songs that are like short stories instead of just raw emotions. By no means am I claiming to be the founder of this movement, because others like Bob Dylan, Harry Chapin, Gordon Lightfoot, Don McLean, and others have been telling stories through their songs since time immemorial and I do not, by any means, endeavor to put myself in their esteemed company. Originally I was going to write, as aforementioned, about Music and Literature, but then I decided that this would be the best way to do it. I enjoy reading about myths, legends, and stories and I enjoy the idea about writing songs that express my interests as well as my heart. My idea of "Music Fiction", if you will, entails giving an audience a story that can be mentally viewed almost like a movie or the way one makes one's own internal movie when reading a novel. Of course, songs are much shorter than literary works but their importance should not be diminished. Music Fiction should inspire thought, feelings, and opinions just like a novel should. Naturally, escapist fun is not a problem and is oftentimes, a breath of fresh air from literary headiness and pomposity, but I want to write more songs that I have written before like "The Knight and the Queen" and "The Raven Trail" along with my love compositions. As an artist, I constantly push myself to go beyond what I think I am capable of doing because the worst trap that a Singer-Songwriter can fall in is complacency. BKT

The Tolkien Revival

I am so excited that work on the the "Lord of the Rings" prequel, "The Hobbit" is underway! I have been a longtime Tolkien fan and I will always be thankful to an old girlfriend of mine who introduced me to two things: the music of the Doors and Tolkien! The appreciation for his masterful works of fantasy fiction is at a fever pitch and I think it is well-deserved. I must also recommend, through my endless quest for more material to watch on youtube, two fantastic fan made films: "The Hunt for Gollum" and "Born of Hope" which tells the story straight from the appendices of the book LOTR of Aragorn's father and mother's struggle to keep their world from becoming extinct from Sauron's growing power. Also, "Hunt for Gollum" is from the appendices as well so these are Professor Tolkien's own extensions of the classic story of the One Ring. Both films are excellent for different reasons and they prove that one does NOT need an over-inflated Hollywood budget with big stars to make a high quality movie; they were made on shoestring budgets but the beauty is that one could not really tell even with close scrutiny. "The Hunt for Gollum", directed by Chris Bouchard is very Peter Jackson-like in the direction and feel of the movie whereas "Born of Hope" directed by the talented and lovely Kate Madison, who also produced and co-starred in the movie, has a different mood but well worth watching because it acts as a natural extension to the world of Middle Earth.So for all of those revelling in the Tolkien revival like I am, go to youtube and check out these gems; you won't regret it! BKT

More about the Vocals

You know, ever since I came to Ireland, I have felt stronger and stronger as not only an instrumentalist but as a vocalist as well. I do enjoy hearing peple tell me that that enjoy how I sing, admittedly. However, I must credit my vocal style not only to the influence of the great Stevie Wonder but also someone whom you may or may not know, the lead vocalist of the sadly defunct group, Mr. Mister: Richard Page.When the "Welcome to the Real World" album came out, it had three smash hit songs: " Kyrie Eleison", "Is it Love" and of course, the wonderfully ubiquitous "Broken Wings". It still is one of my all time favorite Pop albums because, in my opinion, EVERY song is a KILLER! I could not get over the beautiful artistry of that record: the arrangements, expert musicianship,the excellent songwriting, production, and the vocals. It was at a time when I feel that my voice was changing and I sang alot and trained my voice listening to that record. Mr. Page's reverence for MELODY influenced me to have the same. My mom, who wasn't a musician, gave me the most important lesson of all as a singer: "It ain't singing if you CAN'T understand the words". My mother was an exceptional woman for many reasons and I miss her every day. In fact, this blog, as well as my career, is dedicated to her because she had seen me grow as a singer PERSONALLY. She never told me to stop playing that record! She just smiled. I lost her 4 years ago to cancer and wherever I may go in life, her memory always stays with me. Mr. Page is the OTHER big vocal influence besides Mr. Wonder. His phrasing, careful breathing, and enunciation of words have helped me to become a better singer and if I ever get to meet him, I want to thank him for showing me how to be a good singer. Naturally, nothing beats proper vocal instruction but since I could not afford it, he was the next best thing as far as learning. BKT P.S. The preproduction for the new project is underway and I PROMISE that this will be the most vocally-centered and acoustic guitar-oriented CD ever from me!:)

Happy Easter to Everyone

Hi folks! I just wanted to wish everyone a happy Easter! This special holiday is, of course, in remebrance of the Resurrection of our Lord and I want to just take the time to also thank Him for the many blessings that He has given me.BKT

The Bleeding Horse

Hello everyone! I know that I promised to deliver a blog on Music as Literature but so many interesting things have been happening to me in Dublin; one of my favorite spots in this terrific city is called "The Bleeding Horse". Some of the finest singer-songwriters and musicians call this pub home. I even met a great songwriter who worked with John Denver. Also, another great spot is at the Bankers Inn were the "Dave and Friends" open mic takes place every Tuesday. There is a great deal of amazing talent here and I look forward to working with some of these artists on my next project which willl definitely be called "The Raven Trail". I premiered it on the radio show which went very nicely. They will have a CD ready for me by next weekend and then I will have a link that one can click on to hear my interview. I had so much fun talking about my adventures here in Dublin, American politics, my love of the opposite sex, and of course, my songs. John and Gary, my two interviewers could have not been more gratious and funny and I thank them for a great time in my first real radio interview. I promise that you will be able to hear it once it gets into my hands! Take care!BKT

Update on Radio show

I have been informed that, indeed, it will be a live show so if you live in the Dublin area, I will be featured sometime between 5 and 6:30pm on the Regatta Show.Check it out!:)BKT

Upcoming Radio Interview

Helly everyone! I hope your St. Paddy's Day festivities were safe, enjoyable, and full of good alcohol!:) I had loads of fun here in Dublin since it was my first time celebrating the holiday here. The Irish are such lovely people. So , tomorrow I am off to do a radio interview at Dublin South FM on 93.9fm. It exclusively airs in Dublin and I will be performing some of my songs and discussing them. I don't know if it is live or not, but I will upload the interview on my website as soon as I receive a copy of the interview. I am honored to be a guest there and I am really looking forward to it. Have a great day!:) BKT

A Little More About The Music

In life, I find that the more one lives it, year after year, one truly finds out more about oneself. Coming to a foreign yet beautiful land, I am thinking about my music more than ever before when I was in the States and that I HAVE to do this next CD even though it will only be a few songs. Oftentimes, people ask me who are my influences. For those who know me, I have said many times that James Taylor and Stevie Wonder are great heroes of mine.; yet, if I truly look at my musical makeup, aside from the Classical influences like Wagner, Profofiev, Mussorgsky, and Beethoven, my musical style has been shaped by a basic pattern( but not confined by it): Stevie Wonder influenced me in terms of not only his great artistry but his vocal style; Paul McCartney influenced me to the degree of being a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and performer; James Taylor influenced my acoustic guitar style;the late great (and GROSSLY underappreciated) Dan Fogelberg without a doubt, influenced my songwriting style along with the magnificent Gordon Lightfoot; Billy Joel was also a HUGE influence on my piano playing which, I am sure, you can hear in my song "The Knight and The Queen". Looking back, I can safely say that these are my idols and always will be and the music world has greatly benefited from their towering examples.BKT

Happy Belated Mother's Day!

I want to take this time out to wish everyone a Happy Mother's Day and to NEVER forget the important role that mothers play in this world. They are the true beacons of wisdom and frtitude in our lives and this cannot be denied. I was raised solely by my mother without a father after he died prematurely when I was 6 years old. She was the strongest, most influential person in my life and I think about her every day. I lost her to cancer four years ago and I try to live my life as a testimony to her spirit and confidence that she had in me while she was alive. I still feel her incredible spirit with me wherever I go and I only hope that I make her proud with what I am trying to do with my life.BKT

Gig and Recording Update

Hey everybody! I just came from playing a set of my songs in a pub called"The Bleeding Horse";it was one of the most rewarding performance experiences of my life! Being the adventurous soul that I am, I looked into the open mic situation in Dublin after a fellow musician told me about this place just to get back into performing mode. Normally in an open mic, a performer would only be allowed to play 2 songs, but the crowd was so wonderful, they asked me to play 5! There would have been a sixth one, but the place had to close. This is one of those kind of experiences to remember! I feel truly blessed to have been received so well. As for the recording, I had to delay it for a week because I am still just getting over a really bad cold I had but I am 98% back to normal. I want to be PERFECT for this EP I am planning to record! So take care and I promise to deliver that blog on Music as Literature I promised you!BKT:)

Before the Essay Blog...Great News!

Hey! Now that I have decided what to record, I will be in the studio starting next weekend in a whole new country, working with different engineers, working on a new project! As mentioned before, it will definitely be an EP and it will most likely be called "The Raven Trail". I will keep you posted..so busy! Cheers!BKT

About the Upcoming Blog

Hello folks! I am currently working on a new blog for you that will be called "Music As Literature" so keep your eyes peeled:) BKT.

Special Thanks

Sometimes, as an artist, I wonder just how far my music has gone as far as being heard. Well, I made a pleasantly recent discovery that the internet radio station, Celticaradio.com, has consistently put me on their playlist with a song I submitted "Just One Kiss". In fact, it was featured in the Continental Breakfast edition last month with other independent artists. I must thank celtica radio.com for believing in my music and keeping me on their playlist; now I am truly psyched about recording the new music! BKT

A Month Later

Hey gang! I have reached Ireland and I must say that it is quite a wonderful experience! The staff here in my university is grand and I am finally settling in. Now I can concentrate on writing essays, fiction, and of course, music. Sorry it took so long to write my latest entry; I have been rather busy.Please feel free to pick up a copy of my CD, Dreamwalk if you have a chance. Currently, I am still doing preproduction work on my latest project which will be an EP of new material. Also, check in again soon because I will write new blogs on film, music, and literature as well as complete my series on "writing for Orchestra". Take care! BKT:)

Going to Europe

Hey gang! well, it's a done deal; I am heading overseas during the first week in February to finish my Master's degree and work on my new CD. I am so sorry I have not made a new entry in a while. You can only imagine how busy I must be now!This is, without question, the most exciting period of my life and I cannot wait to record some new music, learn new things, and meet new people! I promise to be more consistent with my future updates! BKT

Happy New Year!

Now that I have recovered from all of the holiday festivities (lol), I want to wish you all a prosperous new year! I have so much planned for 2010, it's not even funny! Preproduction for the new project is going smoothly and my studies are moving ahead quite well. The "Raven Trail" EP may be my most interesting CD to date but I don't want you to forget about "Dreamwalk" because I haven't!:) More to come, so stick around! BKT

"Dreamwalk" CD is still Available

Hey gang! If you haven't done so yet, feel free to get a copy of my past project, "Dreamwalk", that is available on this site! Take care! KT

Hope You Had a Good Christmas

Hello everybody! I am finally able to have time enough to make a new entry here. I want to wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and as usual I will have more to come and more to share with you for the coming year! BKT

The Beauty of Tristan and Isolde

Hey gang! I know that I haven't posted anything in a while but I have been very busy making preparations for a new project as well as embarking upon the next leg of my journey towards a Master's degree that I plan to get next year before I pursue my doctorate. Anyway, some inner voice told me to go and rent the 2006 movie version of the classic Tristan and isolde story starring James Franco. Admittedly, I went to the theatre with bated breath anticipating a spectacle that would have made Wagner proud and initially I was disappointed. How dare they leave out the potion exchange between the two lovers on the ship that is headed towards King Mark's land???? (as a sidenote, someone said in the Special Features section of the DVD that the potion was taken out because it created love between them when Tristan and Isolde drank it in a cup unwittingly, but this reading is clearly wrong: the potion only brought out feelings that were already there!) What about the Liebestod where Isolde mentions love as a transcendental force that can even conquer death? Well, at least they DID hint at the idea in the movie:). Now let's fast forward four years in the present time: I watched it last night and got teary-eared at the end ( I have no qualms being a man and saying that! lol) Then, I was compelled to watch the Special Features section and then I got it: if the filmmakers were attempting to Wagnerize the feature film that would have to be palatable to the general audience, it would have been an abominable mistake!Why? Well, for starters, Film and Opera renditions are different manifestations of Art which require different approaches to the material at hand. Second, I truly appreciate the care of attention and detail the project had in addition to the wonderful performances of James Franco (Tristan), Rufus Sewell (King Mark) and the lovely Sophia Myles (what a hottie!). Long ago, I watched a movie version "Lovespell",  starring Nicholas Clay as Tristan (who played Lancelot in one of my all-time favorite films, "Excalibur"), Kate Mulgrew as Isolde (Captain Janeway in the Star Trek TV series "Voyager" among other things in which she has appeared) and----get this---the late great actor Richard Burton as King Mark! If any of you have any ideas how I could procure a copy of this version on DVD, I would be eternally grateful:) So why has the legend of Tristan and Isolde, two star-crossed lovers, that are pre-Romeo and Juliet Elizabethan era, so endearing, so immortal in our hearts, minds, and souls? Well, I can only speak for myself by saying that they are indicative of the idea of human love as an inextinguishable flame that burns eternally if it is ignited by two people who are right for each other. No matter the circumstances, no matter the obligations of honor and duty, love is a true force that permeates and ultimately dominates destiny if allowed, regrdless of either blissful or tragic results. Love is the conflagration of souls that constantly burn for each other. Unfortunately for Tristan and Isolde, the flame consumed their existence, but when they were alive, the flame kept them alive in a barren world of desolation and tradition. I hinted in my own way about this kind of love, this Liebestod (pronounced LEE-beh-Shtode) or translated from German as Love/Death in my song "The Knight and the Queen" but fortunately, my protoganists did not die from mortal wounds, sorrow, or jumping into flames in order to be cleansed of an ancient curse like two other doomed Wagnerian lovers, Siegfried and Brunnhilde. My characters in the song have a flame that burns and is sustained throughout their lives. What is the beauty of Tristan and Isolde? In my opinion, it is simply the willingness and openness to subject oneself to what true love can give you. "When you reached out to me, it was not hard to see that true romance was not just a dream for the Knight and the Queen"...BKT P.S. How could I forget Anne Dudley's excellent score?:)

"The Raven Trail" CD

Hey gang! Now that I am back talking about music, I want to give you a little more insight into what I ahve planned for my next project. It will definitely be called "The Raven Trail" and I will try to incorporate elements that go back to my folk and country roots. My family is originally from the lovely Tarheel state of North Carolina, so naturally I love the indigenous parts of it like beautiful nature, great barbecue AND country/folk music. But here's the rub: since I plan to finish my Master's degree in Dublin, Ireland starting early next year, I want to show the relationship between indigenous American music and Irish music. I have always felt that the two compliment each other because they both share wonderful virtues. First, I want to use more more solo violin for certain songs and also I may even play mandolin in this record! It will be much more organic than the last project, of which I am proud, and include even such instruments as the Irish instrument, the bodhran which is a hand held, small drum played with a mallet. Historically, it has been used as a battle drum for past wars. When I hear Celtic music, oftentimes I think that it has similarities to Jazz because of the free style nature of the music and its organic makeup reminds me of Folk and Country. I will try and use these features in the new CD and I have finished writing a few of the new songs and I am quite happy with them. Amidst current romantic heartbreak, plans for my future, and constant writing, the floodgates of my creativity have been reopened. Simply, I try to write and record the best material I can and I hope that you will like my new musical offering once it is completed. I plan to start recording next month and will finish it up in the Emerald Isle. I look forward to sharing future thoughts and experiences with you about this process. In the meantime, feel free to pick up my current release, "Dreamwalk"!:) BKT

Instruments of The Orchestra, Part 13: The French Horn

This is a curious instrument because it is neither French nor a Horn. From WHENCE did the name came? Who knows? One thing is for certain, though; it is one of the loveliest sounding instruments in the orchestra because it can be mellow, yet biting in its timbre. Writing this entry reminds me of my days in Music and Art High school: my first girlfriend was a French horn player. She was my official coach for entrance into the wonderful world of kissing. Haven't you heard that brass players are excellent kissers because of the embouchere they have to use to play their instruments?:) Remember in my last entries that an embouchere (pronounced EM-Boo-SHER) is the method of positioning one's lips in order to produce a sound. Anyway, a French Horn is tuned either in Bb or F. It is also the second highest instrument in the brass family; naturally, the trumpet is the highest. I like scoring it in a number of ways. For quick, playful passages I like a few eight notes, sixteenth notes and variations. What automatically comes to mind is Richard Strauss' "Till EulenSpiegel". There is a famous French Horn passage that is considered to be a classic and is a major theme of the piece. Also, Mozart wrote the Five Horn Concertos which are definitive explorations of the instrument. How about that French Horn solo in the Beatles' "For No One" ? The French Horn has a great, expressive power in slow passages as well. Here are a few recommendationw for further listening: (a) Poulenc's "Elegie" (b) Richard Strauss' "Horn Concerti" (c) Brahms' "Horn Trio" Go to your nearest library, take out these musical treasures and enjoy! A note for Star Wars fans: did you know that ewan MacGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) plays this instrument?:) BKT A second note: Dennis Brain, the principal Horn player for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the time of the legendary conductor, Herbert Von Karajan, was scheduled to appear at a Beatles recording session but was unfortunately killed in a car accident. He is also known for popularizing the instrument in the twentieth century and came from a family tradition of Horn players! BKT

Take a Second Look At "Hellboy 2"

A few weeks ago, I caught Guillermo del Toro's second installment of the Hellboy series and I must say that I really that it was a beautifully made film. for those who enjoyed it as I did, I thought that Iw ould add a few things in this blog that would want to make you give it another look. First, the villain ogf the film was called Prince Nuada. Now I remember my Celtic undergraduate studies in college and when I first heard his name mentioned I smiled: Nuada, in Irish Myth, was the first king of the Tuatha De Danann ( the early race of gods and goddesses that fought against the Fir Bolg, their enemy tribe) and played an important role in Celtic lore as a fierce warrior and eventual king. Now when he lost his hand during battle, a clever physician, Dianchecht, with a magical cure, fashioned him with a new, silver hand and thus, he was forever known as Nuada Silverhand. One of my favorite authors, Michael Moorcock, was obviously inspired by this story with his Corum series (which I am currently re-reading; I grew up reading these stories!) Moorcock's hero was called Corum of the Silver Hand in the sequel trilogy he wrote for this great character based upon his multiverse that is populated by different aspects of a hero that spans the ages called the "Eternal Champion". Anyway, I thought that it was very astute of Mr. Del Toro to use Celtic images to add weight to his screenplay. Oh, and by the way, since Peter Jackson is not directing the film version of the Lord of the rings "prequel" that Prof. Tolkien wrote (even before LOTR), "The Hobbit" (at last!) I think that he is the PERFECT choice to helm the project! His sense of filmaking is astonishing! Foe anyone who has not sieen "Pan's Labyrinth", do yourself a favor and rent it! It is quite a film! Ok, let me get back "Hellboy 2". Nuada's father in the film, King Balor, is also taken from Celtic mythology. He was King Balor of the One Eye of the race of Giants. I might be wrong but he may have evn had one eye in the film! (don't quote me on that one, though; I have to see it again). Mr. Del Toro also directed the first hellboy film which was also a triumph in storytelling and art direction. My recommendation would be to rent BOTH films in Blu-Ray format for the best results. Enjoy! BKT

Introduction to the Guitar

I can virtually play almost twenty different musical instruments but there is one that I always go back to and is usually my first choice to pick up when I start writing a song: the guitar. It is a very handy instrument and one cannot certainly pick up a piano and go outside to play!:) However, a guitar does not have this handicap (nothing is wrong at all with a piano, of course; one literally has the orchestra at one's fingertips and it was my very first instrument!). I thought it would be interesting to share with you how accessible the instrument actually is and can instantly become your new friend. When I was a kid, I thought of every instrument I acquired as a new friend. Oftentimes, the mistake of quickly alienating a student to the guitar or any instrument is made. I do not want to make that mistake here, so welcome to a new world!:) I am imagining now how I would teach the instrument. First, here are some questions: (1) Where are the frets located on a guitar?(a) (a) near the tuning pegs (b) near the saddle (c) near the soundhole (d) near the pick guard (e) on the neck (2) From where did it come? (a) England (b) Afghanistan (c) Africa (d) The United States (e) Spain (3) How many strings are on a basic guitar? (a) 8 (b) 6 (c) 5 (d) 4 (e)12 (4) Where is the bridge located on the guitar?:) (5) Who is NOT a guitar player? (a) Jimmy Page (b) Jean-Luc Ponty (c) Brian May (d) Paul McCartney (e) Angus Young (6) Which song is NOT necessarily a guitar-centered one? (a) Stairway To Heaven (b) Dust in the Wind (c) Classical Gas (4) She's Got a Way (5) She's Got A Ticket To Ride Ok, ok, the last question may have been a no-brainer, but you got my point!:) Now here are some answers: #1: (e) ; #2: (e) (although there is evidence that it really is (c); #3: this was a trick question because there are six-string and twelve string guitars, so the answers are (b) and (e); #4: The bridge is located near the saddle where the strings end at almost the bottom of the instrument; #5: (b) and (e): Jean Luc- ponty is a famous jazz-rock violinist and Angus Young is the lead singer of the classic rock group, ACDC; #6: (4) Ok, the Billy Joel song was a given:). Well, now that you tried my little pop quiz, check out the video I chose: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2DfAY5K_tc

Once again, Sorry for the Delay...

Hello! I have a lot of things planned for this month to share with you all! I am working on a new project which willl definitely be an EP, but a unique one: in between full-fledged songs, I will have musical vignettes that relate to the concept of the CD. It will be called "The Raven Trail" as opposed to my other title, "Time is the River". Also, I am also working on finalizing my third and last draft of a Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel I wrote many years ago and plan on creating two more sequels. It will be a trilogy but not of Tolkienesque size: more C.S. Lewis , if you catch my drift. The Instruments of the Orchestra series will be finished this month, and I will give you my views on the fascinating Hellboy series as well as updates on the forthcoming EP, so stick around guys: there is MUCH more to come from me!:) BKT

Blogger.com

Hey gang! So sorry for the inactivity for a while! Now I can fully pay my bills here!:) Anyway, I also have a blogger.com account so sometimes I will post links from it here so that you can see more content. Check out this latest entry of mine: Star Wars As Modern Myth It is generally known that George Lucas' epic space operas, "The Star Wars Saga", have taken their place among the elite of classic movies, have worldwide acclaim, a huge fan base (of which I am a part), and have a multi-generational appeal. Yet, can Mr. Lucas be considered a modern mythmaker like Homer was in his day? It can be arguably said that the Greek storyteller would have wanted to make movies of his art if he were alive today; but Homer was around over three thousand years ago. Are modern myths even possible? This week's topic is about discovering whether or not Star Wars can qualify as Modern Myth. First, I want to present to you a brief link that includes the late great Joseph Campbell: a scholar, writer, professor, and even a symbologist whom one could easily call the real-life Robert Langdon (for you Dan Brown enthusiasts) sans secret societies and adventure. George Lucas' creation was largely inspired by Mr. Campbell's book "A Hero With A Thousand Faces" which examines how all heroes throughout myth follow a certain pattern. From Ulysses to Luke Skywalker, they all have a common thread. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_jGxUkPz8I If you'd like, here's another link you should see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O5cJ9-iXQg I hope you enjoyed learning more about the underlying meaning of "Star Wars", so here is a very short, simple, and stress-free mini-test on what you may have gleaned from watching the YouTube video link: (1) How did Joseph Campbell perceive the hero? What was his role? a-plot device b-a personification of a culture's mythology c-a simple warrior (2) How did Mr. Campbell get the idea of writing "A Hero with A Thousand Faces"? (3) What is "The Hero's Journey" and how does Luke Skywalker follow it ? (4) What does it mean when the Hero makes his"Descent into the Underworld"? (5) What was Luke Skywalker's "Call To Adventure"? Answer to #1: b; the remaining questions can be answered according to how you perceived the viewing. Here are more things to consider: "Nobody paid $7 to hear Homer read The Odyssey, or lined up to buy Thomas Malory's 15th-century version of King Arthur's legend. But, when Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace opens at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, George Lucas' epic of galactic good and evil will be seen by more people in one day than Homer or Malory ever dreamed of reaching in their lifetimes" (Persall, 1999) . In retrospect, this turned out to be true. "Lucas is the first mass media mythologist, which causes some academics to question placing him among the elite creators of legends. Ancient myths thrived on the power of their stories alone, not mass communication" (Persall, 1999). "However, Star Wars is a fairy-tale too. Skywalker is larger than life, but not too large. Unlike Beowulf, who wrestles with a sea-monster as a starter before even hearing of Grendel, Luke starts life as just a good ol' country boy - the woodcutter's son, in other words. His real father may be Darth Vader, but it takes another two films before he learns that this is the case (or that Princess Leia is actually his sister - Jedi families seem to be pretty dysfunctional). Again, hidden nobility is a common theme of fairy tales: the woodcutter's son is really a prince" (Anonymous, 2009). In essence, Star Wars is more than just entertaining movies. They contain the Hero's Journey and all the other classic elements that are defined as Myth and it is certainly modern because of all the technological advancements and settings that a 21st century audience can enjoy. The next time you pop in a DVD of any of the six films, remember thatthis story has been told for centuries. References Persall, S. (1999) Move Over, Odysseus, here comes Luke Skywalker. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved October 6, 2009 from http://www.folkstory.com/articles/petersburg.html Anonymous (2009) Star Wars: Myth, Legend, and FairyTale. Sensible Marks of Ideas. Philosophy and Linguistics Pages. Retrieved October 6, 2009 from http://neptune.spaceports.com/~words/starwars.html Posted by BKT at 4:23 PM 0 comments

Is Opera Accessible to the General Public?: A Look At Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville)"

An interesting thing happened to me today at work: a friend of mine, a doctor who happens to be an opera buff, was kind enough to give me two season tickets to Rossini's immortal opera "The Barber of Seville". I started to think about how this opera has left an indelible mark upon society without much acknowledgement from the general public. What is it about opera tha makes a lot of people either run for the hills or give out the general impression that it is just burgeois entertainment? I have loved Opera since I heard Pavarotti sing "Nessun Dorma (No One Will Sleep) from Puccini's great opera "Turandot". This blog is intended to give the reader a meditation on one example of how one may be more familiar with the art form than previously realized. Remember Bugs Bunny and his shenangins with Elmer Fudd in the 1950 Warner Brothers cartoon, "The Rabbit of Seville?" The music came from the overture from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" and this classic cartoon is still being played to TV audiences around the world. How about Eddie Murphy's Buckwheat character singing "I'm da Barbah od Dabill, Figaro, Figaro!" Do you see my point now? Opera does not have to be stuffy or inaccessible. It has more influence in popular culture than you may know. For your pleasure, I have included the aforementioned examples of how Rossini's music is alive today and as an afterthought, I have also included an excerpt from an actual performance of the opera which revolves around a plot concerning a Count's love of a beautiful woman( sorry to oversimplify). The style is what is called opera buffa or comedy. I have included three links that you should follow in order to see what I was talking about before. Just click on the links and meditate on how you may not have realized that Opera was already with you and you may not have even realized it. Afterwards, click on my guestbook and tell me your thoughts. Enjoy!BKT Links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvXEElJFR6g http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qxa4DfLBjvE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyhuIC1sxJY&feature=PlayList&p=75361D295F74A965&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=14 As an added bonus, I have included another link related to Opera's realtionship to popular culture: A Flintstones episode where Fred discovers Barney's vocal talent: Barney sings "Figaro, Figaro" near the end of the clip... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UXoHj1k_UQ

The Sacred Feminine

I promised that I would deliver this essay on my thoughts about the concept of "The sacred Feminine" and here it is!:) Sorry it took so long; I have been rather busy. Anyway, I thought that this would be a perfect time to talk about it since Dan Brown, the author of "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels & Demons" has released a new book. I have not read it yet but I am sure that it will be chockful of action, intrigue, secret conspiracies and symbols. So what is exactly the Sacred Feminine? Dan Brown suggested in his novel that the early church went out of their way to suppress women as leaders. Is this true? I will not say yes or no but the idea of the sacred feminine actually goes beyond Christian origins. Has any reader here ever read "The Mists of Avalon" by that wonderful writer, Marion Zimmer Bradley? She brilliantly showed the power of the sacred feminine by having Arthur, the future king that would embody the virtues of a Christian life and kingship join with a symbol of The Goddess in a fertility ritual. Unfortunately, in her version, that led to the birth of his son and mortal enemy, Mordred, but the meaning here is clear: in order for us to accept and understand how great God truly is, the great power of women MUST be loved and acknowledged. It can be said that the Sacred Feminine is about feminine power being closer to divinity than the masculine power but I think that it is more than that. For a full, enriched life, in my opinion, what Jung called the anima and the animus must BOTH be enjoyed and loved. No sex should have authority over the true divine nature of love and spiritual life. But that is not to say that feminine power should not be respected, loved and admired because I believe that it is not revered ENOUGH. This is one of the things I love to write about in my works. BKT:)

My Trip To Ireland

Hello Folks! I know I have not been here ina while but I just got back from the most amazing trip of my life! Ireland is not called the Emerald Isle for nothing! I have seen some of the most beautiful people, country, city life, and cultural spots the world has to offer and I feel very privileged to have been there. It will not be my last time, believe it. For those who ahve never been or was always curious, let me give a few reasons why you should make the journey: Grafton Street ( a mecca of shopping and street performers), Trinity College (where the famous Book Of Kells is on display; don't forget the Long room which houses over 200,000 books of history, literature, and culture), the pubs, the pubs, the pubs (I recommend Brogan's Pub which is a few blocks away from Christ Church Cathedral), the countryside (Bray, and my favorite part, Sally's Gap full of hills and mountains that truly make one feel dwarfed by beauty), and that is just a few! Take care and I will post that essay I keep talking about as well as new musical developments! BKT:)

Sorry for the Delay, Folks...

Hi there! I have been so busy planning my trip to Ireland, I did not have a chance to make a new entry so here it is! There are new songs in the woks as well. I hope to do some recording before the year is out and when I do, I will premiere the new stuff on this site! Ok take care and I will post the essay in the next entry for sure!:)BKT

I'll Keep You Posted...

Keep coming back because I will deliver that essay on "The Sacred Feminine" as I promised and of course, musical updates! :) BKT

Michael Jackson

I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of one of the true greats in popular music, Michael Jackson. He was truly a gifted singer, dancer and entertainer. I would like to talk about another gift he truly possessed: GREAT SONGWRITING. We must remember that he wrote such gems as "Beat It", "Billie Jean", "Bad", "Black or White", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", and the list goes on. Often, he would record his ideas on a tape recorder and use that as a reference point. I want to thank him for being so inspirational to millions of people all over the world and breaking down barriers. It's crazy to think that an artist of such high caliber had trouble getting on the cover of Rolling Stone and getting "Billie Jean" played on MTV (Thanks must also go to Walter Yetnikoff, who was the head of CBS/Sony Records at the time who stood up for Michael). Anyway, the world is not quite the same after Mr. Jackson's passing, and I will always do my best to follow his example of being the best I can be as an artist. Michael, you will greatly missed. BKT

Sneak Peek

Stay tuned because I will have a very interesting, or at least I hope so, essay about my feelings about the "Sacred Feminine" subject that was so prominent in "The Da Vinci Code" in the next entry and no, I have not seen "Angels & Demons yet:) BKT

Making Preparations

Right now, between preparing to go to Ireland in a few weeks, getting ready to record, and studying for my Master's, life is pretty interesting! On my spare time, I am watching some pretty cool new stuff! Did you know that Paramount started re-releasing the classic Star Trek episodes but with digital enhacements to commemorate the 40 year anniversary? I freaked out when I saw new planets, a totally revised Enterprise and more updated special effects on an episode I caught recently on TV! Anyway, I have more to tell you in new entries to come including more on the new project, my trip, new essays on music, film, and literature, and of course the continuation of my "Writing for Orchestra" series! Please stay tuned and, oh yes, BUY a CD!:) BKT

Still Not Too Late

Please feel free to buy a copy of my current CD, Dreamwalk, if you like the songs you have heard here!:)BKT

More About The New Project

Hey gang! I just wanted to give you a little more insight into my next project. it won't be as dynamic or aurally operatic as my last effort, "Dreamwalk", but instead it will be more downscaled with emphasis on my vocals and acoustic instruments, especially guitar. There will be more more story songs including the new one I wrote "The Raven Trail" which is a fictional account of a character I created inspired by two books I thoroughly enjoyed: "Black Indians" and "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee". As usual, I will keep you posted about the latest news! BKT:)

Happy Memorial Day

I want to give a shout-out to all of our Armed Forces and the daily sacrifice that they make to insure security for not only our nation but the world as well. They deserve our respect and praise. For those who around the world that are not familiar with this important American holiday, it is to commemorate our soldiers and veterans who have risked and given their lives protecting our country. I am not a supporter of war, but I am a supporter of the troops:) BKT

Plans for a New Project

Hello! I am planning to complete an EP of about 4 new songs to compliment my "Dreamwalk" CD, which is still currently available so if you have not picked up a copy yet, please do so! I need the support:). take care and I will tell you more about the new project in the next entry!:) BKT

Why I have always loved Star Trek

I am so thrilled that the new Star trek movie is doing so well! I feel that this movie, which I saw with my brother yesterday at an IMAX theater, TRULY represents what the franchise is all about: action, intrigue, a hint of sex, humor, and drama that sometimes goes to an operatic level. I LOVE the new cast! They obviously put a lot of time into studying the classic Trek cast even down to their mannerisms! (Notably, Karl Urban, of "Lord Of the Rings" fame, has the late great Deforest Kelley's Leonard "Bones" Mccoy character down to a tee!) Anyway, I have loved Star Trek ever since I was a boy and Captain Kirk has always been my favorite. Unlike Picard, he is the rogue adventurer, the symbol of rebellion against the stiff, and oftentimes, didactic Federation. Picard was more of a diplomat, but Kirk CLEARLY is a warrior personified which would explain Lt. Worf's exclamation in a time-travel DS9 episode where he and the crew go back to the classic "Trouble With Tribbles" episode": "It would be an honor to meet him". Even Klingons admit that Kirk reminds them of their warrior spirit! Also, I think that Trek at its best represents hope for a future where different races can put aside their differences, working towards a common goal of peace and understanding. We could learn a lot from that model of behavior. As a musician, I see that music brings people together also; that is why I am proud to be a musician.BKT

A Word To The UNwise

It looks like I have to make another statement about the guestbook: it is intended as a healthy blog/forum for discussion about music, film, books, and other subjects talked about in this website and NOT for solicitation of any kind. I will NOT tolerate drug or sex websites publicized on MY site! Feel free to try and do it but you are wasting your time because I will only DELETE it. Once again, ANYONE in the world is more than welcome to write to me or comment on my music or any topic I discuss here but please RESTRAIN from posting non-related material here. This is my site and I have the right to choose what is here! Thank you for your attention. BKT

Writing For Orchestra: The Trombone

When I was a kid, I remember sitting through a grade school assembly session where the kids were subjected to an animated movie about the different instruments of the orchestra and I admit that my favorite part was the "Trombone Song". The singer wailed Trom-BONE..Tro-o-omBONE!" and I still remember it! It is still a rather intriguing instrument to me. It is long and and cylindrical while producing these exquisite sounds. It was called a sackbut before the 18th century. Mozart and even his father Leopold loved to use the instrument. Mendelssohn founded the Musikhochschule where the trombone took on a new life. Christian Friedrich Sattler re-designed the trombone which spread widely throughout Europe and is the basis for what the instrument looks and sounds like today. Beethoven's use of trombones brought the instrument into 19th century recognition and admiration. I love using trombones in coherence with trumpets because I always felt that they were brothers in the family of the orchestra. Trombones, of course, have a more somber tone and can be used in counterpoint or in lower unison with the trumpets easily. They go together quite well. Also, the trombone is not a transposing instrument like the trumpet. They use either the bass or tenor clefs in a score. Of course, it is widely used in Jazz as well, but pop artist Thomas Dolby used it brilliantly in "Hyperactive" which shows the instrument's widespread appeal and diversity. Hope you enjoyed this week's blog; sorry for the long wait!:) BKT

Birthday Thoughts

Hey gang! It was my birthday this past Sunday so I had a chance to really relax and think about things. You know, being an artist is tough and one must really love what one does in order to stick with it. I intend to do some recording possibly in Ireland this year and will continue to promote my CD, Dreamwalk. There are other things I am working on and will keep you posted. Take care and I promise that the next post will be a continuation of my "writing for orchestra" series!:)BKT

Dreamwalk is back

Once again, thank you for your patience. My current CD, Dreamwalk, is available for purchase through this site as well as on Amazon and iTunes so don't hesitate to pick up a copy! BKT:)

About Those Nasca Lines...

remember when I wrote months ago about how much I enjoyed the latest Indiana Jones adventure because it touched upon real-life things like the Nasca lines in Peru? well, the latest issue of "Archaeology" revealed some interesting new discoveries about them thanks to German archaeologist Markus Reindel and Peruvian archaeologist Johnny Isla. According to their research using the latest 21st century technology and careful empirical analysis, they have suggested that the lines were that the Nascans and their predecessors, the Paracas may have drawn geoglyphs for rain ceremonies. Fascinating! Imagine these ancient people performing a ritual while treading on these lines to summon rain to water their lands! Since I am an avid Indy fan, It has led me to read about the latest discoveries and research projects in archaeology today. A singer-songwriter should always have interests outside of music!:) Oh and check out www.archaeology.org which is the official site for the mag! Till next time and I will tell you about my future plan to do some new recording in the Emerald Isle! BKT

Happy Easter!

I just want to wish everyone a happy celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord and I wish you and your families peace and prosperity this year! BKT

Latest news...

Hey gang! Sorry I have been out of the loop for a while but I can happily say that I just got a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science! While I continue to pursue my music career, I am also studying for my Master's as well. Education is important to me and as an artist, I always search for more things to write about. I will keep you posted on what's going on with me music-wise. Keep coming back! BKT:) Also, look for new installments to my Writing for Orchestra series, the BKT Movie and Book Club, and more!

Dreamwalk is back in stock!

Hello! Just a reminder that my CD, Dreamwalk, is back in stock and available for purchase now as I promised! Please feel free to buy a copy here or if you want, you can also purchase digital singles from the album as well. I need your support! Thanks again! BKT

At Last!!!!

Good news, guys: the Dreamwalk will once again be available to purchase by the end of this week! I just had some new ones made so please do not hesitate to buy a copy when it is available by this Friday at the latest!!!:) BKT

Sorry for the Delay...

Hey gang! I took a few weeks off from music just to clear my head, write some new material (and I did) and formulate a gameplan for 2009. As I mentioned a few months ago, a campaign is underway for my CD, Dreamwalk, and now I am trying to get the finishing touches done before it starts including getting more CDs made! So please be patient with me; I promise to deliver! take care and God bless!:) BKT

FYI...

Hi gang! Next week there are a number of things I plan to do including the acquisition of new CD copies!!!! Finally, I will be able to get them. Thank you for patience. Also, the writing of new material continues and I will demo a few songs next week. Also, I would like for you to check out a new link on myspace: www.myspace.com/sonyasky . Sonya Sky is an international dance singer who also happens to be a dear friend of mine for whom I wrote two songs: "Forgive Yourself" and "Catch-22". Recently she had a performance that I was not able to attend but I know she did very well. Sonya and I wrote "Catch-22" together and let me tell you that the experience taught me that I can write all types of styles once I put my mind to it. Check out her myspace page and the four songs on it. Ok, see you next time! BKT

I'm Back!

Hello! If you had trouble getting the website site before, I apologize. Some work needed to be done. Anyway, here I am again and I have a few things lined up for this year. Celtica Radio Ltd. has agreed to play some of my music on their radio broadcasts ; I'll keep you up to date about this new opportunity for me. Also, I am finally graduating with a BA in Social Science next month. I am quite thrilled about it! Then I will start my Master's Degree program in English immediately. As a writer as well as a singer, I want to be able to express myself the very best I can and another degree certainly won't hurt me while I pursue a career in music!:) The surprise I was planning has to be postponed until I find the proper medium to expose it. Moreover, I apologize for currently not having a copy of my CD, Dreamwalk, available but that will change soon. In the meantime, the digital singles of each song can still be purchased through stores like Amazon and Apple iTunes at a very reasonable price, so don't hesitate to buy one! I promise that the CD will once again be available. These hard economic times are hitting everyone and grassroots artists like myself are certainly no exception! Well, I must be off! Till next time! BKT:)

A New Start for America

Sorry it took so long to write another blog, guys; I have been busy and I am still working on that surprise for you! So we have officially inaugurated our first African-American president and it is a beautiful day! I look forward to preogressive changes that will affect our way of life around the globe and for artists, let's all move forward and get our careers going!:) BKT

Happy New Year!

Hey gang! I hope you had a wonderful time bringing in the new year! I know I did! Anyway, there is a lot to come this year so keep coming back and that surprise I was telling you about is on its way!BKT:)

Merry Xmas!!!

To you and your family, I would like to wish you all a safe and happy holiday season!:) BKT

The Campaign

It starts in January so watch out!:) BKT

New Stuff...

I have a surprise for you guys before the end of the year so keep coming back:) BKT

About the New Material...

I have been working diligently on some new material which includes a Pop song version of the Flying Dutchman legend. Once again, I have enjoyed writing on the flip side of legendary stories and actually making some kind of happy ending to them in my own warped way! (lol) Anyway, I will tell you more about one of the new songs in blogs to come. If you recall, I did this with "The Knight and The Queen" where I took a medieval archetype that traditionally ended in tragedy and gave it a happy ending. Well, I love myths and legends of old and especially placing them in contemporary settings. Part of songwriting to me is being able to do things like that! Well, take care and I will write more in the next blog! :) BKT

Well, I'm Back...

These were the words that Samwise Gamgee, the true hero of Lord of The Rings, said top his wife after leaving Frodo baggins and company as they sailed away to the Undying Lands. It was a new beginning for him as was explained in the appendices that followwed the Return Of The King chapters(he was elected mayor of Hobbiton SEVEN times! I could not imagine if Mayor Bloomberg had the same fate!:)). Anyway, I have,indeed, been away from the site for a while to clear my head and think about what I want to accomplish next year. Before THIS year is out, you will see new photos, a YouTUBE presentation of my performance in the Songwriters Hall Of Fame showcase for undiscovered talent, AND more CDS are on the way! Thanks for being patient! BKT P.S. My previous blogs seem to have stirred much discussion about favorite movie soundtracks; thus, I will have an addendum to my list which undoubtedly seems to be growing! (How could Ihave left out Ennio Morricone's "Cinema Paradiso" score??????) Take care!

And The List Continues...Pt.2

Hello! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I certainly did! I am still stuffed from all the food I ate last night. Interestingly enough, a few friends and relatives were discussing with me the list I made of my favorite soundtracks and I decided to expand it to 25 choices. Here is the remaining list, once again, not necessarily in this order: 11-Shaft: Isaac Hayes- that eight note hi-hat pattern, then that unmistakeable wah-wah guitar that starts the Shaft theme captures the attention right away. The whole soundtrack is stunning from start to finish. "Soulsville" can still be applied to today's urbansocietal problems. 12- Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring: Howard Shore. Spectacular! The Fellowship theme soars; the descending 8-note Isengard/ Ring motif is chilling, indeed! 13- Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers: Howard Shore. Brilliant opening music that cradles the mountain slopes; the Celtic fiddle for the Golden Hall music is captivating. 14- The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King: Howard Shore. Perhaps my favorite score of the three. Astoundingly beautiful new motifs including the ones for the Amon Din beacon sequence, Shelob's Lair (frightening), and the mournful parting of Frodo and Sam at the shores that lead to the Undying Lands. Excellent! 15- The Last Unicorn: Jimmy Webb. One of my favorite songwriters wrote the score for an animated feature that isn't really talked about much, but the music deserves another listen to, for sure! Mr. Webb never ceases to amaze me. 16-The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: Ennio Morricone: perhaps some of the greatest music ever for a western. It should be noted that maestro Morricone wanted to go for unconventiality as far as the orchestration, from hyena howls to a rather strangely beautiful tune"The Story of a Soldier" that acompanies a rather brutal treatment of Eli Wallach's memorable charachter, Tuco. "The Ecstasy of Gold" is a triumph as Tuco is feverishly searching for the grave of his promised fortunes.Its piano ostinato drives the music and underlines one of the greatest climaxes in film history. 17- Beowulf: Alan Silvestri. I listyen to this score over and over again. Glen Ballard and the composer wrote some great songs sung by Wealthow (Robin Wright Penn). 18-Superfly: Curtis Mayfield. Excellent urban soundtrack with "Pusher Man" as a highlight. Mr. Mayfield, one of America's great musical treasures, is sorrowfully no longer with us, but his legacy continues. 19-Goldfinger: John Barry. I am also a Bond fan and this score by Mr. Barry, in my opinion, elevated the franchise to new heights. Shirley Bassey's powerful vocals in the title song are unsurpassable. 20-On Her Majesty's Secret Service: John Barry. Another Bond treasure that is underrated as far as a film and score, I might add. It also contains a performance of the iconic Louis Armstrong ("We Have All The Time In The World"). 21- Journey Through the Secret Life Of Plants: Stevie Wonder. This is a film I never saw but Mr. Wonder's score is utterly brilliant, from "Earth's Creation" to "Finale". He has included Japanese chants, nature sounds, and the latest in technology. At the time of the album's release, digital recordings were very new. "Send One Your Love" was the hit. 22-The Dark Knight: Hans Zimmer. I LOVE that one-note Joker motif and as I mentioned in a past blog, Batman's theme only has two notes repeated over and over, D, and F. Talk about minimalism!:) 23-BraveHeart: James Horner. Such a massively impressive score with beautiful orchestration. 24-Star Trek 2: Wrath Of Khan: James Horner. Excellent treatment of horns and strings, especially. 25-Alexander Nevsky: Sergei Prokofiev. Yes, the Russian maestro and composer did write films scores for noted direstor, Sergei Eisenstein. I study the manuscript once every year. I always discover new things. (How could I forget "Psycho" by Bernard Hermann; ok, I guess that makes 26! lol) Well, there it is: this list is based solely upon my favorites and by no means, purposely demeans other great composers or scores. These are just a humble musician's opinion and is expressed all in good fun:). Hope you enjoyed reading! BKT

My 20 favorite movie soundtracks of all time, Pt.1

Hey gang! I thought it would be fun during this period where I am working on songwriting and business to write to you about one of my favorite subjects: movies! I am an avid movie goer and film buff. So what would I consider to be twenty of the greatest movie soundtracks ever? First, I have to give the first ten soundtracks to perhaps the most dominant film composer ever with over 100 scores to his credit: John Williams. Is it a small wonder why Steven Spielberg has said that he would not make films without him? I heard him say that personally when I attended a performance of John Williams with the New York Philharmonic as a birthday present. Included in the program were excerpts from "Pscyho", "North by North West", "Taxi Driver", "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", and of course, "Star Wars" (the first released of the saga)! Thus , here is my first ten not necessarily in order: 1- Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Imperial March and Yoda's theme are among my favorites) 2-Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope ( a perennial favorite) 3- Raiders of The Lost Ark (perhaps my all-time favorite movie) 4-Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Love that Holy Grail theme!) 5- Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Magnificent theme for the aliens and that sultry motif for the lovely Cate Blanchett's character, Dr.Irina Spalko...hot!) 6-Jaws (how about that Bruce the shark motif with two notes repeated over and over on the double basses?:)) 7- Schindler's List ( Itzhak Perlman's plaintive violin soloing is enough to make one cry) 8-Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace ( The astounding "Duel of the Fates" is a magnificent choral piece that could easily rival any excerpt from Brahms' masterpiece "Ein Deutsches Requiem") 9-E.T The ExtraTerestrial:a truly uplifting score. 10- Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: Who could have thought that five notes could say so much:) Well, this is the end of Part one: come back for part two where I name such luminaries as Howard Shore, Bernard Herrmann, John Barry and Ennio Morricone!:) BKT

Heavy Songwriting

Hey gang! I am in the middle of writing some new material which I am pretty excited about. I will let you know in a future blog more about what I am up to in that area! I have some interesting things to share with you in my next entries so come back for more!:) BKT

New Beginnings

A few days ago, I bought a new guitar (the old one was getting very bad) and now, I can truly begin writing more material. I have been already composing for the past few weeks, but now it seems like I am even more inspired ow to write new music. As for the CD, I'm sorry that it has not been available for a while ( I had a few problems) but I will do my best to make sure that they are back in stock with my distributors before November is out. I would like them to be available once again for the holidays considering that a campaign is in the works for my CD, Dreamwalk. Thanks for being patient! BKT

A past letter from Senator Hillary Clinton

Hello! I decided to re-post a blog from last year that was truly special; please read on: I am honored to have received an email from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton regarding the future of Internet Radio which I would like to share with you: Dear Mr. Taylor: Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the proposed new royalty rates for online radio. I always enjoy hearing from New Yorkers about challenging public policy issues that are important to them, and I particularly appreciate your concerns regarding the future of I nternet radio. As you may know, I am a strong supporter of maintaining an open Internet that fosters innovation. No other communications medium in recent history has had such a profound impact on the expression of speech, education, the dissemination of information and the exchange of ideas. Online radio is a great example of how the Internet has helped to cultivate innovation and offered consumers access to new an d personalized information. However, the great technological and commercial progress that has come with the ongoing development of the Internet has also brought with it numerous new public policy dilemmas, such as how to balance copyright protection for music and other property with the innovation that the Internet continues to cultivate. As you know, in March 2007 the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) proposed a new online radio royalty structure, which would amend the system that has been in place since 2002 and establish a new scale for royalties charged to Internet radio companies on a per-song, per-listener basis. The proposed rates will begin at 0.08 cents per song per listener, retroactive to January 1, 2006 , and will reach 0.19 cents per song per listener in 2010. The CRB has since announced that it will hear appeals of its previous ruling. Your concerns about this matter are significant and I hope that this period for appeal will enable the CRB to carefully consider points of view like yours. Thank you again for sharing your concerns regarding these important Internet radio issues with me. Please be assured that I will continue to follow this issue closely and that I will keep your views in mind in the future if related measures come before the Senate. For more informa tion on my support for an open I nternet and other important issues before the United States Senate, please visit my website at http://clinton.senate.gov . Sincerely, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton I feel that this is indeed, encouraging news and if the CRB truly hears the voice of the people, then Internet radio can continue to thrive! I encourage any American who loves the freedom of choice to write to Senator Clinton as a step towards guarding the spirit of music on the Web. Millions of independent musicians like myself will thank you!:)BKT Update: Well, now that a year has passed there is indeed good news concerning this issue: The Senate has recently approved the Webcaster Settlement Act which enables healthy royalty negotiations between copyright owners of songs and Internet Radio. President Bush has to sign it. I know that the economy is first priority, of course, but I think that it is a step in the right direction. If you want to read the full article,look below. Senate Approves Webcaster Settlement Act Solution for Webcasters May Be Nearing WASHINGTON D.C. – Legislation authorizing SoundExchange to negotiate royalty agreements with webcasters on behalf of copyright owners and performers before the end of the year has been approved by the U.S. Senate. The Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008 (H.R. 7084), passed unanimously in the House of Representatives earlier this week, was approved by the Senate yesterday evening and now awaits President Bush’s signature. “This legislation is not the final answer,” said SaveNetRadio spokesperson, Jake Ward, “but it is an essential step toward a lasting and much-needed solution. For more than eighteen months, our champions in Congress have fought battle after battle to ensure Internet radio’s survival and the prosperity of independent artists; that fight has not been in vain. The SaveNetRadio campaign and its members thank the original sponsors of the Internet Radio Equality Act, Congressman Jay Inslee, Congressman Donald Manzullo, Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Sam Brownback for their tireless support and leadership for innovators and artists. We also thank Chairman Berman, Chairman Conyers, Chairman Leahy, and Ranking Members Smith and Specter for their leadership in support of the Webcaster Settlement Act. Thanks to them and many others in both the House and the Senate, today’s approval of the Webcaster Settlement Act has cleared the way for private negotiations that hopefully will confirm Internet radio’s future.” The Webcaster Settlement Act specifically authorizes Internet radio services and agents for copyright owners and performers to negotiate new royalty agreements retroactive to 2005, and could potentially resolve future disputes through 2015. The bill (H.R. 7084), was originally introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman (D–WA) Jay Inslee and co-sponsored by Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA), Donald Manzullo (R-IL), John Conyers (D-MI) and Lamar Smith (R-TX). BACKGROUND: A March 2, 2007, decision by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), a division of the Library of Congress charged with establishing performance royalty rates for “digital radio” broadcasters, increased rates for webcasters by an unjustified and unprecedented 300 to 1200 percent. Since the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) increase royalty rates for webcasters 16 months ago, there has been an immediate and devastating effect on Internet radio services. Three of the most-listened-to services (AOL Radio, Yahoo! Radio and Pandora) have either left the business, limited listener access to their services, or announced they are likely to shut down in the near future if royalties are not significantly reduced. Just as importantly from the perspective of the artists that depend upon Internet radio, recent Arbitron data demonstrates clearly that royalty-paying webcast listening has diminished substantially since the CRB decision. Legislation introduced in May of 2007 to correct the discrepancy between Internet radio and cable and satellite radio providers by establishing an equal rate for all digital radio – cable, satellite and internet radio – at 7.5% of revenue has been cosponsored by more than 150 Members of Congress. The Internet Radio Equality Act (S. 1353/H.R. 2060) was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sam Brownback (R-KA) and in the House by Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Don Manzullo (R-IL). For more information on the SaveNetRadio coalition visit www.savenetradio.org Privacy/Legal | Link Kit | Contact

An exciting time for America

Well, I am just ecstatic about the fact that for the first time in history, my country elected its first African-American to the Presidency. It's so great that it has happened in my lifetime! If my mom were still alive, I am sure that she would be very proud. I know that I haven't talked much about politics on my site, but trust me: I am quite politically opinionated and informed. I think that in this day and age, it's important to know what is going on not only in one's own country, but also the world at large. As an artist, I feel that being politically erudite can benefit one's art greatly and can inspire others to think and feel. Barack Obama is the embodiment of a new era in the United States and I am thrilled about it. It was a pleasure going to work today being greeted by smiling faces and upbeat people. There is a special spark in the air that has ignited alot of Americans in a way I have never seen before.I had to correct my roommate when he called me from work after finding out the election results, "congratulating me". I reminded him that the congratulations is for all who voted for change in America, not just African Americans. This involves ALL of us. I look forward to four years of change, development, and maturity for the United States of America. BKT:)

Writing for Orchestra Part 11- The Trumpet

We have come to the brass part of the orchestra now and I am glad to briefly talk about one of its most colorful members: the trumpet. I remember in my conservator days when Maestro Musgrave gave me my first assignment which was to write a simple fanfare for trumpet and I rose to the occasion the best I could. I still remember the piece quite well even to the point where I could probably reproduce the whole score by memory if I have to; however, I am sure that I have it in my archives. Anyway, what can I say about the trumpet? It is probably the most well known brass instrument next to the trombone and is wquite flexible. When I was studying how to write for it, it blew my mind that it was what one would call a transposing instrument. That means that if one sees the note D on the score, then one would hear C. There's a funny anecdote about how John Lennon and Beatles producer George Martin had a mild argument because John wanted to hear the brass play certain notes and couldn't understand why he was hearing different notes. Maestro Martin explained that the brass were transposing instruments. Of course, John thought it was weird and I must admit that sometimes, I agree with him!:) However, that is how they are made. Now about the trumpet, it has the highest register in the brass family. The B-flat trumpet is the most commonly used out of the different versions of the instrument. I mentioned my favorite group, The Beatles, before. They used the instrument quite exquisitely in "Penny Lane". Originally, an English Horn ( not a brass instrument) was used for the solo but one day, Paul McCartney mentioned to Maestro Martin that he heard a terrific trumpet solo in one of J. S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. He was told that that was a Bach (or piccolo) trumpet, which is smaller in stature than a conventional trumpet and is in A. Naturally, it has a higher pitch than even a B-flat trumpet. It was played by David Mason, the same gentleman who played in the Bach piece Mr. McCartney heard (Incidentally, it was Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No.1). This may have been one of Pop music's introductions to the instrument. The trumpet has a flexible range, dynamic sound, and incredible versatility. It can also be plaintive if it it is scored that way. All one has to do is hear a few Miles Davis recordings to hear it. Originally, I had a flugelhorn play the countermelody for "With All Of My heart". I loved the way it sounded in Dan Fogelberg's classic "Longer". A flugelhorn is also in B-flat like a regular trumpet bout its conical bore is wider and the sounder is wider as well. Among the greatest trumpeters I can think of besides Miles Davis are Louis Armstrong, Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard and Maurice Andre. Ok, thanks for reading! BKT:)

I'm Back!

Hello all! Well, I am back from vacation and I am REALLY ready to work now because there are less than two months left to this year! In a few days, we will be electing a new president and I am excited to see a new prospective, positive turn for my country after all the trials and tribulations we have suffered. There are many things I plan to do before this year comes to a close so please keep coming back; I promise that you won't regret it!:) BKT

My last vacation before the Holidays

Hey gang! I plan to take a trip next week to the Midwest and possibly gig there as well. I need to see some mountains! Anyway, I will have more to come for you in the very near future so please stick around and see what I have to offer in the coming weeks! I guarantee that you'll like it! :) BKT

Major Campaign for Dreamwalk

I am very excited to tell you that a major publicity campaign is on the way for my CD, Dreamwalk, and also please bear with me concerning the availability of it for purchase. I had a little problem and I will have it available again soon through this site and other distributors. I promise!:) BKT

Writing for Orchestra Part 10 ~The Bassoon

Now we have come to the last official member of the woodwind family; some have considered it rather cumbersome because of its unique size, but it is still a beautifully noble instrument, nonetheless:the bassoon. I haven't scored it yet in a CD of mine but when the need arises, I definitely will. So what about this enigmatic instrument? A ninteenth-century teacher and composer, Carl Almenrader, is noted for having devised the instrument to the model we know today. It has a wide range of four octaves and has 17 keys to play. It is rumored that Beethoven was especially interested in his new developments for the instrument! He worked in what was known as the Schott factory, reputed as a popular and innovative musical instrument factory and Almenrader eventually left and started working in his own factory with his partner, Johann Adam Heckel. To this day, Heckel's standards forever dominates the bassoon-making process since he even took them a few steps further than Almenrader. Heckel models are the Stradivari of bassoons. So what are some famous examples of this instrument which can be conmsidered as the bass instrument of the woodwind family? Mozart's Bassoon Concerto is one that comes to mind right away. Also, if we jump a few centuries ahead, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles classic "Tears of a Clown" is the best example I can give as far as a modern use of the instrument in Pop. If you have trouble locating it, it is the percussive, low-sounding instrument that is under the countermelody once Smokey sings the title in the song. I would use the bassoon sparingly in tender parts because it also has an expressive power that can even equal the oboe or English Horn. Ok, next time I will start talking about the Brass family. For my next few blogs, I'll share with you some of my latest musical adventures and before the year is out, I will have some MAJOR things to put on this site so keep coming back coming!:) BKT

More on Myspace...

For my latest entry in the BKT Book, Movie, and Sound Club, check out www.myspace.com/byronkeithtaylor in the blogs section of my page..Excelsior! BKT:)

Remember...

I can read the Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet fluently so please guys, NO Porno ads in my guestbook! Thank you:). BKT

A few new things on the way...

Finishing up with some new developments at the moment but I will be back soon with the latest news and blog entries. I have a few rabbits to pull out of my hat so kee your eyes peeled! BKT

New Entry on Myspace page

Hey gang! Do me a favor and go to www.myspace.com/byronkeithtaylor and see the new entry I posted under the blog section regarding my BKT Book and Movie Club! My Myspace page is still being worked on but feel free to check it out! Also, I need MUCH MORE FRIENDS on this page so also feel free to be a friend request on it; I also welcome new friends!:) BKT

Writing for Orchestra Part 9: The Clarinet

Now this is an instrument that almost made it to the final mix of one of my tracks from my first CD, Castle of Dreams, "The Wanderer's Tale". Originally, I wanted a clarinet to solo in the bridge part where there is no singing. Unfortunately, I could not get a hold of one, so my sax player for many years now, the great and talented David dallon, played the soprano sax, changed his embouchure (the tecnique of changing the shape of one's mouth while blowing through a reed of an instrument) a little, and actually succeeded in imitating the unique style of clarinet playing...and it worked! I wanted a Klezmer-like sound to the track. You can hear the results on my MUSIC page in this site.(For those who are unfamiliar with Klezmer music, it is a style of Jewish music normally played for weddings). Anyway, on with the clarinet! It has the largest pitch range of any woodwind instrument save the bassoon. All you have to do in order to hear it is to listen to the clarinet glissando that starts George Gershwin's classic orchestral piece "Rhapsody in Blue". (A glissando is when an isnrument glides from one pitch to another; the most extreme example I can give you is the orchestral glissando that divides and ends the Beatles' "A Day in the Life"). The word clarinet is derived from the Italian word "clarino" which means little trumpet. which makes sense because the earliest clarinets had a similar tone to trumpets. I hope to one day use this instrument at some capacity in future recordings because it adds an almost pastoral, woodsy feeling to music in certain ways. How I would use iut would be to not only express its extraordinary range, but to accent its expressive power. A great orchestral or even chamber liaison would be between the clarinet and flute. Or maybe the clarinet and bassoon (more about this instrument in my next entry of this series). The clarinet has only a single reed. Another great example in Pop that shows how beautiful a clarinet can be is, well, once again, from the Beatles. MCartney's playful "When I'm Sixty Four" dances around parodying the melody.Also check out Mozart and Aaron Copland's beautiful Clarinet Concertos. Ok, see you next time and I hope you enjoyed my new Press Release!:) BKT

Please bear with me...:)

Due to my current financial restraints, I have to delay more copies of the CD until next week. By then, I should have more printed out for my fans. These are indeed hard economic times for everyone...BKT

New Bio/Press Release

A publicity company that I am working with has just updated my Bio/Press Release so please feel free to read it on the Bio section of this site. I am quite pleased with it! BKT

Writing for Orchestra Part 8: The Oboe

Now this is an instrument that its certainly close to my heart because it is the only woodwind instrument on my CD, Dreamwalk. I got the idea of using it while listening to the third movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony (one of my faves). It is double-reeded and the sound can be anything from sharp to somber in quality. Beethoven used it rather effectively in the aforementioned movement almost as if a duck were quacking. The oboeist on Dreamwalk, Timothy Dutemple, and I talked about that particular movement in the 7th Symphony while we were in the studio looking over the score I wrote and eventually he just came out and played the EXACT musical passage I was thinking about! The oboe is also unique because unlike the flute or clarinet, it has a conical bore which gives it its heightened volume. The orchestra tunes to its A at the beginning of a piece because it has the most stable pitch of all the instruments regardless of temperature change. Let me talk about one of my favorite songs on the CD: "With All of My Heart". Originally, I had a French Horn play the countermelody that starts the song but then as time went by, I thought that the sound of the oboe would cut through the layers of my orchestration better..and I was right. Once I heard the playback in the studio, I knew that I had made the right decision! Timothy did a beautiful job conveying the mood that I wanted on that track: the oboe represents the somberness of being isolated away from the woman I loved in the song. Yes, this song is a true story. I also enjoyed using it contrapuntally with the main melody in the song that starts the album, "Carousel". At the very end of the chorus, I wanted the oboe to soar like a bird over the strings in order to lift the song a bit before going back to the verses. Then on the title track, I kept a relatively low range and had Timothy play a harmony near the end of the song as a companion to the original line. I feel that the oboe has varying possibilities depending on how the composer chooses to use it. it can be somber like a bulldog, quacky like a duck, or even seductive like a beautiful lady. No matter how one uses it, the oboe has an extraordinary range of emotion and power. here are some of my recommendations to hear more examples of its flexibility: (A) Mozart's Oboe Concerto in C Major (B) Stravinsky's "Pastorale" (another favorite of mine) (C) Ennio Morricone's "Gabriel's Theme" from the film "The Mission (D) J.S. Bach's Brandenburg's Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 (E) Richard strauss' Oboe concerto Now how about in the Pop world? I'm sure you know these songs that feature an oboe (A) Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe"; it's that oom-pah-pah instrument in the chorus (B) Madonna's "Crazy for You"; it plays a plaintive melody reach time she finishes singing the hook in the chorus before she goes to another verse (C)And my favorite song of Seal's : "Kiss From A Rose"; it plays the along with the counter melody "La, la, LA, LA,LA, la, la, la, LA... well, ther you have it; my brief take on one of the orchestra's most versatile instruments. Come back for my next pick in the BKT Book and Movie club reference as well as my continuing plans for my CD and future concerts! BKT

Now that I am back from Vacation...

I know that I haven't written a significant blog in a while, but I had to take some time off to really reflect on a few things. But I am back now. There will be MANY more blogs to come and I am looking forward to writing them!:) Please bear with me about more CDs because I am trying to get more in the site and I will have them soon. I promise! Keep checking back becasue this is ONLY the beginning! BKT:)

Writing for Orchestra: Part 7: The Flute

This is an instrument of the orchestra that I want to write more for in the future: it has a light, but brilliant tone; it is automatically soothing' it is also one of the most popular woodwind instruments by far. what makes it unique in the woodwind family is that, unlike the others, it is a reedless instrument. Sound is produced by blowing a flow of air across the sound hole, or embouchure hole (I will talk more about the method of embouchure more with the brass family). Its pitch starts with middle C (on the piano) and can go up to three octaves. its cousin is the piccolo which is an octave higher. Therefore, its range is quite extraordinary and is dextrous when it comes to its role in a score. Here are some famous examples of this lovely instrument: (A) Debussy: Afternoon of a Faun (B) The Overture to Bizet's opera "Carmen" (C) Mozart's Flute Concerto The wonderful thing about this instrument is that it goes extremely well with a clarinet or oboe pairing. The parts can be in unison, harmony, or contrapuntal, depending on your imagination. It is even used in Jazz with legendary artists like Bobbi Humphrey and Hubert Laws. well, that's all for this segment; keep checking in and I will tell you more including updates concerning my CD, Dreamwalk. Have a good weekend! BKT

A Note about more CDs

I will have more copies of my CD, Dreamwalk, available by the middle of next week so keep checking! BKT:)

Just to let you know...

I have some new blogs and news coming up pretty soon so keep your eyes and ears peeled. This year isn't over yet!:) BKT

Yahoo! Musica

For my brothers and sisters of Latin descent, my CD, Dreamwalk will be available on Yahoo Musica this week including downloads! Chevere! BKT:)

A New Link

Now, I have one out of many new links to come for my CD, Dreamwalk. Please feel free to visit musicianmp3.com and look under my name, Byron Keith Taylor.:) BKT

Happy Labor Day

I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday and check back because there are some developments I want to inform all my fans and readers about regarding the upcoming campaign for my CD, Dreamwalk! Take care! BKT

More CDs on the way

My apologies for the current sold out status of my CD, Dreamwalk; there will be more available starting next week. I will confirm to you in this forum once my distributors have more copies by next week, so bear with me!:) BKT

More About Myspace

My Myspace is up now, albeit basic for now, and I would love new friends! Please feel free to stop by @ www.myspace.com/byronkeithtaylor.com, ok? Take care! BKT

Writing for Orchestra Part 6: Woodwinds

Hi Gang! Once again, I return to my blog series: Writing for Orchestra. This week, I will focus upon anopther integral section of the orchestra: woodwinds. Not what are they? Remeber what I said before? THINK OF FOUR. In this case, they are the oboe, flute, clarinet and bassoon. They are calles woodwinds because mostof these instruments were originally made of wood. The sound that is made by them is caused by the player blowing into or against an opening and the blowing moves against a resonator which is a reed in most of the instruments save a flute. Beethoven used them most effectively in masterpieces like the Seventh Symphony, where in parts, the oboe plays staccato or accented lines in conjunction with the orchestra. His "Pastoral" Symphony alsop has beautiful examples of woodwind playing. Apparently, the maestro wanted to give a wopodsy, outdoor type musical setting by using these instruments as painstrokes against a canvas of sound. One can hear trees swaying, the birds chirping, the flowers blooming. That's the beautiful thing about music: it can transcend physical description. One point I must make is that there are occasions when the oboe is either replaced or doubled by an english horn. Saxophones also shjow up in orchestras from time to time and regardless that they are made of metal, they are still consider a part of the woodwing family because they are reed instruments. So do you see? The number FOUR rule applies but with more variation than even the glorious string section. The next blog in the series, I will start with the OBOE and talk about its many virtues. Till next time!:) BKT

Happy 150th Birthday Puccini!

Puccini was was one of the composers that got me into Opera: I remember taking home a recording of "Turandot" with Pavarotti and once I heard him sing the aria that was his signature tune "Nessun dorma" I ws hooked! If you have not heard of Giacomo Puccini or his operas, check theses out: 1-Turandot (his last unfinished but still great Opera); get either the Birgit Nilsson version or Pavarotti. 2- Tosca ( another Opera with a tragic ending of two lovers( the lustful villain, Baron Scarpia, is the Italian Darth Vader of Opera besides Iago in Verdi's Otello, obviously); I recommend either Maria Callas' 1957 version 3- Madama Butterfly (a tragic love story set in Japan about honor and betrayal) Domingo and Freni's version is excellent 4-La Boheme (simply one of the greatest operas ever written) Pavarotti and Freni is my favorite 5-Il Trittico ( a trilogy of one act operas fashioned after Dante's Divine Comedy even though they have modern settings so do yourself a favor and check out the music of one of the greatest melodists of all time! Happy Birthday Maestro Puccini!:) BKT

The BKT Book and Movie Club

I know that I haven't made an entry about this in a long time; there is a reason for that. I am in the process of making my Myspace page a sister to this site and I will blog the Book and Movie Club there as one of the new features. In fact, if you go to myspace.com/byronkeithtaylor now, you can see my latest choice of books which I am currently reading. Forgive the grpahics or lack thereof because I am still constructing it. Anyway, I will do a follow up to it with a few more books and my movie picks so that if you prefer, you can respond and tell me what you think. Just look in the blog section of my Myspace page:).BKT

Once again...

I must warn those who choose to post porn ads in my guestbook that I can read Cyrillic (The Russian alphabet) ...FLUENTLY! To all my OTHER Russian visitors, please feel welcome to send me messages anytime!:) BKT

MySpace is Coming!!!

Well, I have finally decided that it would be best to include a MySpace page so look out for it because it's coming this week!!:) BKT

In Memory of Isaac Hayes

One of my fondest musical memories of when I was a child is my brother playing the SHAFT soundtrack. he told me that this gifted musician who wrote the score, Isaac Hayes, was the first African-American to win the Academy Award for Best Score. I have admired him ever since. I also enjoyed the albums my brother Lonnie wwould bring home like his duet album with Dionne Warwick and subsequent movie scores like TRUCK TURNER. Sure, he had a flamboyant style with his chain vests and rabbit skin boots but I found out today on a public radio telecast that originally aired in the 90's, he ENJOYED being different:). I KNEW I liked this guy!:) Before I even got into classical music, I was introduced to the sounds of an orchestra with the scores of John Barry (James Bond), Barry white albums(he normally used a full-sized orchestra and wrote a score to a movie himself called "Together Brothers") and of course, Isaac Hayes. Who could forget that classic sixteenth-note ta-ta-ta-ta on the hi-hat, that infectious wha wha guitar that starts his most famous piece? Forever a classic. How about co-penning classics like "Soul Man" and "Hold on, I'm comin'" for the classic soul duo, Sam and Dave? Mr. Hayes' legacy to me and other aspiring professional musicians is that ANYTHING is possible. He dropped out of high school briefly and was encouraged by his former teachers to get his degree and got one at 21. He was also a self-taught musician adept at playing the piano, flute, saxophone and organ. Now that kind of talent was apparently unstoppable! One of my favorite tracks of his was his cover of Jimmy Webb's classic "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", originally covered by Glen Campbell ( I think I have told you in former blogs that Jimmy Webb, whom I have had the honor and privilege to meet, is one of my all-time favorite songwriters). What made this unique is rthat he started the song off with a spoken word introduction. This was unheard of during the radio days of two and a half to three minute songs only. One could say that he is one of the true grandfathers of rap! So Mr. Hayes, THANK YOU for inspiring me to want to write for film, for filling my childhood home with sweet sounds, and for making an indelible mark not only in Black Music, but in AMERICAN Music as well because the two are really intertwined:). BKT

The Dark Knight as Modern Music Drama

And now for something REALLY fun: Batman has always been my favorite superhero. As a kid in grade school, I would beg my mopm to buy my a Batman costume for Halloween and eventiually she relented. I loves parading around, acting like Adam West from the old 60's TV series. I worshipped that show! when I got older, I started reading the darker comics and graphic novels, especially Frank Miller's brilliant revionist version of the Dark Knight. I enjoyed Tim Burton's take on it until he had to relinquish the movie franchise which led to the eventual decline of quality in the movies. Anytime, you hear Uma Thurman say "Curses!" in a movie, it's pretty bad!!! LOL I mean, exactly what was Joel Schumacher, director of that horrible "Batman and Robin" thinking? Thankfully, "Batman: the Animated Series" made up for that calamity of a movie. Now that "The Dark Knight" is THE movie of the year, I wanted to explore its dark underpinnings, its mythology, and especially its MUSIC! I love Danny Elfman's original theme and Shirley Walker's terrific "animated Series" theme which also accompanied some of the Animated movies which far surpass their action counterparts with the exception of the last two Batman movies. I noticed that each of the Batman composers used a specific number of notes for their motifs. Mr. Elfman used FIVE notes for Tim Burton's movies which are B, C#, D , G, F#. Ms. Walker's 9 notes in the motive sequence are A, D, F, F, F, E, C, E, D. Now let's get to Hans Zimmer's magnificent score: he chose to use a more minimalist approach, almost in the manner of Philip Glass. I find it fascinating that he composed his Batman theme with only TWO notes: F and D repeated while weaving a whole orchestral fabric around them. Upon hearing a public radio interview with him, he mentioned that his collaboration with James Newton Howard was exciting because he really did not want to score THE DARK KNIGHT alone. Fascinating. Now the Joker's theme only has ONE note ascending. I have to see the movie again in order to tell you which one it is because when I hear music, I can SEE the notes in my head if I want to. So why do I call the Dark Knight MODERN MUSIC DRAMA? Put quite simply, if Wagner were alive today, I'm pretty sure he would have scored the movie AND wrote the storyline! Incidentally, in Opera, there are examples of dark-themed stories: Marschner, a contemporary of Beethoven and Weber, wrote "Der Vampyr" (no translation need, I think) and "Der Freischutz ("The Marksman"; please forgive the omission of the umlaut on top of the the "u"; I don't have a German keyboard:)). Anyway, in Part 2, I will discuss these issues further. I hope you liked this blog!:) BKT P.S. Coming up: Part 2 of "Dark Knight as Modern Music Drama, "Writing for Orchestra: Woodwinds" and further current events concerning my CD, Dreamwalk, and my endeavors, so stick around; it's going to be fun!;)

More digital music sites to come

For those who have purchased my CD, thank you, thank you, thank you!! I really appreciate it. It will soon be available for purchase on many more sites to come so stick around and see where!:) I will send more copies to not only CDBaby but to others this week so don't be discouraged if it is currently sold out because it won't be after this coming week.:) BKT

Target.com

Hi folks! My CD, "Dreamwalk", will also be available at target.com soon! In the meantime, you can still pick up a copy here through my website here!:) BKT

YouTube Live!!!!

I did not think I would be on YOUTUBE THIS soon but if you want to check me out singing with my good friend, Eric "Beatle" Jackson a classic Don McLean tune, "American Pie" then please go to this link: http://ca.youtube.com/beatlejacksonlive Go to the clip "American Pie" with Byron I hope you enjoy it! BKT:)

Writing for Orchestra Pt. 5 "The Double Bass"

When I entered in high school, I was disappointed that they did not have any guitar programs in the Fiorella H. LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts, the sister institution to the school featured in the "Fame" TV series and film. I argued, "This is supposed to be like the Fame school with kids being able to dance on tables durring lunch hours and I can get more guitar lessons?" :) Anyway, I was really introduced to the power of the symphony orchestra when I was assigned to be a part of the school's freshman ensemble. They gave us all the opportunity to choose whichever instrument we felt best suited or interested us. In retrospect, I should have chosen the violin or cello (less heavy) but since the strings most resembled at least a bass guitar (E A D G), my choice was the double bass. Outside of an orchestra, this instrument is also used in acoustic folk and country ensembles as well as of course, jazz groups. If you haven't guessed already, in any case, the double bass provides the bottom voice of any ensemble or orchestra. As I mentioned in the last "writing for Orchestra" installment, a natural practice is to double the basses with cellos for a naturally rich and fat sound. They sound absolutely GLORIOUS together! Like the other stringed instruments, it can be bowed (arco) or plucked (pizzicato). So how is it used in popular music? Marshall Lyte of the famous early rock and roll group"Bill Haley and the Comets" used it extremely well. JKust listen to "Rock around the Clock". When I write for the deepest stringed instrument of them all, I try not to go too low and certainly not below its register. It gives a deep enough sound not to go too crazy! Did yopu like the 80's rockabilly revival group,"The Stray Cats"? Its bassist, Lee Rocker, used the instrument well also. In the classical and folk world, Edgar Meyer, a bassist whom I have listened to quite often, recorded some terrific stuff with legendary cellist, Yo Yo Ma based upon Appalachian music.Did you know that Brahms' father was a double bass player? Check out any of his great symphonies and you will nhear part of what this marvelous instrument can do! Also, Beethoven loved the instrument; listen to the beginning movement of his most monumental symphony, the 9th. Now this completes the STRINGS section: one of the FOUR groups in the orchestra. Next time, I will start on the WOODWINDS section. Also stay alert because I am going to write a blog about the DARK KNIGHT and how he relates to music and drama. Also, there are upcoming blogs about my musical endeavors for the DREAMWALK CD, so don't be a stranger!:) BKT

Something to share with you all...

Hi gang! A friend of mine sent me a beautiful email and I was so touched by it, I want to share it with my fans and first-time visitors. Here it is: Subject: FW: Two Choices Definitely worth the read. Subject: Two Choices > You always have a chance to touch a life and sometimes it depends on the > choices you make. > Two Choices > What would you do? You make the choice. Don't look for a punch line, there > isn't one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same > choice'? > At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning disabled > children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would > never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its > dedicated staff, he offered a question: "When not interfered with by > outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my > son. Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand > things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my > son?" > The audience was stilled by the query. > The father continued. "I believe that when a child like Shay, physically > and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize > true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people > treat that child." > Then he told the following story: > Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were > playing baseball. Shay asked, "Do you think they'll let me play?" Shay's > father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on > their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to > play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some > confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps. > Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not > expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and > said, "We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I > guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the > ninth inning." > Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a > team shirt. His Father watched with a small tear in his eye and warmth in > his heart. The boys saw the father's joy at his son being accepted. In the > bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still > behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and > played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was > obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from > ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of > the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the > bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled > to be next at bat. > At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win > the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit > was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat > properly, much less connect with the ball. > However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that > the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, > moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make > contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The > pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards > Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground > ball right back to the pitcher. > The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and > could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have > been out and that would have been the end of the game. > Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, > out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams > started yelling, "Shay, run to first! Run to first!" Never in his life had > Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down > the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. > Everyone yelled, "Run to second, run to second!" Catching his breath, Shay > awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the > base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had > the ball ... the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance > to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the > second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so > he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the > third-baseman's head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the > runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. > All were screaming, "Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay". > Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by > turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third! > Shay, run to third!" > As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were > on their feet screaming, "Shay, run home! Run home!" Shay ran to home, > stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam > and won the game for his team. > "That day", said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, > "the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity > into this world". > Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never > forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy, and coming home > and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day! > AND NOW A LITTLE FOOTNOTE TO THIS STORY: We all send thousands of jokes > through the e-mail without a second thought, but when it comes to sending > messages about life choices, people hesitate. The crude, vulgar, and often > obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion about > decency is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces. > If You're thinking about forwarding this message, chances are that you're > probably sorting out the people in your address book who aren't the > "appropriate" ones to receive this type of message. Well, the person who > sent you this believes that we all can make a difference. We all have > thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the "natural > order of things." So many seemingly trivial interactions between two > people present us with a choice: Do we pass along a little spark of love > and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a > little bit colder in the process? > A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it's least > fortunate amongst them. > You now have two choices: > 1. Delete > 2. Forward > > May your day, be a Shay Day I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Come back for my next installment of "Writing for Orchestra" and some information about new developments for my CD. Also, I have an interesting blog I have in mind about BATMAN that I will post here in a few days so keep coming back!:) BKT

And Don't Forget...

Pick up a copy of my CD, Dreamwalk, and you can hear how I used the cello in tracks like "Caruosel" and "The Knight and the Queen". You can get it hear through the site for a special offer! Take care and I will give you the latest updates on my plans for the rest of this year in blogs to come! :) BKT

Writing for Orchestra Pt. 4 "The Cello"

Now this is one opf my favorite instruments; it has a richness of tone unparalleled to any other string instrument. The cello's origin can be placed back to the days of the bass violin invented by Jam de Fer in 1556. It is actually the bass instrument in string quartets and marries extremely well with the instrument I will talk about in the next installment, the double bass. The Tuning for the cello is as follows: C G D A.As you may have noticed, they are tuned like the viola but is only an octave lower. I often l;ike the pairing of the cellos and basses because they are a great support for the upper strings and they give the overall orchestral palette much broader strokes in sound. I think of them as layinmg a foundation for the strings. By itself, the cello can be an extremely exxpressive instrument. One day, you will hear the title track of my first CD, Castle of Dreams where I wrote the score for a sollo cello playing against a solo acoustic guitar with my vocals on top. it remeeains to be one of the my very favorite tracks.I scored it mainly in the upper register because I wanted it to be a worldless counterpart to my lead vocal, almost like an independent Vocalise. sdo there you have it: a cello can add as support and as an independent voice, so it is quite a versatile instrument. If it were a chess piece, i would say that it would have the equivalent power of a knight which can move ina variety of directions. The next time you are in a library, check out these important cello compositions: (A) Dvorak's Cello Concerto (B) J.S. Bach's 6 Suites for Unaccompanied Cello (C) Beatles "Eleanor Rigby", "Strawberry Fields Forever", and "I am the Walrus" The relly thick- sounding string instruments are the cellos. (D) Elgar's Cello Concerto (the famed British cellist, the late great Jaqcueline Du Pre, recorded the definitive version. Take care everybody! BKT P.S. Oh, I forgot: Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" is also a perfect example of the cello's great espressive power as a solo voice unto itself.

Guestbook

I want to encourage any blogger, musician, student, whoever likes my website (and is not a solicitor) to feel free to post a comment or question to me. It is part of my forum and I enjoy reading what is sent to me very much!:) BKT

Another Reminder

I am sure that I have mentioned it before but I will do so again: for those who choose to blatantly sign in my guestbook with porn advertisements, don't bother because they will be instantly deleted, trust me. If one is inclined to post porn ads here, please do it someplace else because you will find it to be a waste of time.Thank you. BKT

Before I write the next "Writing for Orchestra" installment...

I wanted to remind you that my CD, Dreamwalk is available through this site so you are welcome to purchase a copy @ $8.99! If you buy two, the price is discounted! BKT:)

Writing for Orchestra Pt. 3 (Viola: an underrated instrument)

Truly, the viola is without question, in my book, the string section's most underrated instrument. It does not get the "press" that the violin or cello does and it isn't a standout instrument as much; it is surely not used as a solo instrument in Pop and if so, only rarely. So why the disrespect? Well, let me tell you that it is not deserved. I'll give you a little info on the instrument. It is a little larger than a violin, hence the deeper sound it gives out. The tuning for it is C G D A . Its 4th string is tuned in C like a cello but the tone, like the remaining three strings, is exactly an octave from the open strings of a cello. It is the middle voice of the string section of the orchestra; therefore, it is quite an important instrument for sure. When I was studying under Maestro Musgrave, one of the first things she taught me was how to write for the viola. It has its own Clef! It is called the C Clef. Iot took a while getting used to writing for it but I did especially after writing a few string quartets. Actually, I'll tell you a secret: remeber the classic Kansas song, "Dust in the Wind?" (That happens to be on my list of all-time greatest Pop songs, by the way) That was NOT a violin you heard playing the solo; it was, yes you guessed it right, a VIOLA! Think of the richness of its sound; then you can truly compare its timbre against a violin. Doesn't it sound a little deeper? The next time you hear that song, think about what I said here in my website. Alison Krauss also uses the viola alot in her latest album, "Love Runs Both Ways". Certainly, I enjoy writing for the instrument whenever I am scoring one of my songs and when I get to writing at the beginning of the staff, I always smile with delightful glee when I get to that C Clef. When I am scoring, I always try to give this beautiful instrument some dexterity but I don't go too crazy otherwise I wind up doing a no-no in oprchestration: crossing voices.That is when one instrument invades the territory and range of its neighbor instrument which winds up sounding like they are in competition instead of complementing each other. Brahms wrote some amazing music for vioal in his Sextets for strings and Mozart apparently loved the instrument because he wrote his Sinfonia Concertante showing that it was just as important as the violin;it is also featured in his Sring Quintets which are considered among his greatest works.So let's here it for the amazing VIOLA!:) BKT

Writing for Orchestra Pt.2 (Violins and the Mystery of the Stradivarius Solved...)

Well, hello again! Sorry it took so long to write a new entry but life has indeed been a bit crazy for me lately. Anyway, I mentioned in Writing for Orchestra Pt. 1 that the maghic number in learning more about this massive musical organism is FOUR. Let's take a look at one of the four groups, the String Section, specifically the Violins. For a huge orchestra, there are usually about 16 violins and they are divided into the First and Second Violins. The Second violins usually have the lower notes while the First have the higher ones, although there are as always,in life, exceptions to the rule. If I want the violins to have an exceptionally rich sound with more than two lines going simultaneously, I would write the Italian word DIVISI; its meaning is self-explanatory. In my CD, Dreamwalk, this was the case when I was writing the short score for the title song. I really wanted a rich sound on that one! Have I succeeded? Well, its up to you, my public, to decide. Anyway, I am sure that many of you have heard about the most famous brand of Violins, the Stradivari, originating in the early 18th Century from the Italian master violin maker, Antonio Stradivari. What makes these instrument so priceless? Why do they sound so good? I want to share with you a recent discovery: Dutch scientists placed a few of these rare instruments under a CT scanner and discovered that the wood was uniformly dense with little variation in growth rings. In ther words, the trees that Maestro Stradivari used grew more sense especially in the summer than winter (he lived in what is known as the "Little Ice Age" which spanned from the 16th to 19th Century; it was merely a cooling period after another climate period "The Medieval Warm Period"). The Violin has FOUR strings and is tuned G D A E. Both the First and Second Violins have this system. Check out these legendary examples of the musical diversity of one of my favorite instruments in the world: (A) Mozart's Violin Concertos 1-5 (B) Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major (he only wrote one) (c) Brahms Violin Concerto in D major (d) Dvorak's Violin Concerto in A major (e) Prokofiev's Violin Concertos 1 & 2 (f) Tchakiovsky's Violin Concerto in D major Ok, well I hope you listen to my recommendations and keep coming back for more entries! BKT

Still working on the next entry...

Hi folks! I promise I will get the second installment in this week about writing for orchestra. Just a quick reminder: you can pick up a copy of my CD, Dreamwalk, through this site or at other digital music distribution centers like Amazon.com, Apple iTunes, and Napster. Check it out!:) BKT

Writing for Orchestra Pt. 1

I decided to write this blog for not only musicians but for music lovers who have a slight curiosity for the inner workings of the symphony orchestra. I was taught by one of the best teachers in the world, Thea Musgrave, a world-renowned composer who studied under the greatest composition teacer of the 20th Century, Nadia Boulanger, and I am proud to say that. Now I am not in any shape or form trying to make myself out to be a master orchestrator like, say, the great Rimsky-Korsakov was, but I thought it would be fun to write down for my readers and fans my personal thoughts on the subject of orchestration. First, let me start by hopefully de-mystifying a few aspects of this rather huge musical organism: the magic word is FOUR. There are FOUR basic groups which make up any orchestra: Strings, Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion. Guess what? There are FOUR sub-groups WITHIN those basic groups so let me talk about them for a minute. First, the Strings section(which happens to be my favorite): it consists of four instruments: Violins, violas, cellos, ad double basses. When I was growing up in high school, I was playing the double bass because, according to my thinking, it was the closest relative to a guitar in terms of string tuning! Anyway, according to Walter Piston's book "Orchestration (a classic treatise on the subject), a full-sized orchestra has 16 first violins, 14 second violins, 12 violas, 10 celli, and 8 double basses. You might say that this is certainly an orchestra in Wagnerian terms! So what are the differences between each of the stringed instruments? Well, come back for another entry in a few days and I will tell you!:) I hope you like what I wrote so far!:) BKT

A New Promotion

Hi gang! I just want to tell about about a new promotion for my CD, Dreamwalk: www.amiestreet.com Check out the site and find out about the $5 gift cards for downloading music! Ok, next time, the "Writing for Orchestra" blog is coming! BKT

Happy Birthday, Sir Paul McCartney!

I have mentioned befrore that if I had to name one musician who has influenced me the most in my life, it would definitely be Sir Paul. I mean, he is considered to be the most successful Singer-Songwriter of all time by the Guinness Book of records but that's not all: he's simply a great musician. I remember my brother buying a Beatle album a week for me since he saw my enthusiam for the band; I immediately liked Paul because of his pure vocal skills and that he was able to play so many different instruments.As I grew older, I began to appreciate his "Wings" period" and learning songs especially off his "wings at the Speed of Sound" and the live record "Wings over America". Besides my favorite Stevie Wonder album "Songs in the Key of Life" and James Taylor's "Greatest Hits" and "In the Pocket" albums, Sir Paul's, along with John Lennon's, repertoire were my musical bibles. He will always be my all-time favorite for many reasons including the fact that he gave me the idea of being a musician in the first place. Happy Birthday, Mr. McCartney! I hope to meet you one day. BKT

Soon to Come...

I will write a new mini-essay on composing for Orchestra, more about movies, new literature, new songs of course and more surprises so please don't be a stranger! Remember also that my CD, Dreamwalk will be available again by Wednesday here in the site, Apple iTunes (you can download there), and Amazon.com so pick one up!:) BKT

Knowledge is Treasure

Hi gang! Once again, I am so thankful that I have this forum to share my thoughts about not only my music, but the things I love as well: art, film, poetry, and literature. I have always believed in the value of education which is why, in addition to puruing my music career, I am taking online courses towards a doctorate in order to not only learn as much as I can in the human experience, but to also become an even better person. I do enjoy the new Indy picture for many reasons including his love for education. The Exraterrestrial(s) in the film were/was actually (an) archeologist(s). (If you saw the film, you'll know why I parenthesized a lot of words:). Anyway, I liked when Indy said "Knowledge was their treasure". it made me think of how much I value knowledge. I never know enough in life and my brain is pretty much like a sponge. I take in whatever I can. When I was reading a book written by one of my favorite songwriters, Jimmy Webb, he mentioned the need to "read everything". I took his advice to heart, even though I am a voracious reader anyway. I am constantly thirsting for adventure, new experiences, new friends, new laughs, and of course new knowledge. However, I also understand the importance of consistency in life, as well. I value my friends and one day, I will value the woman I fall in love with one day. BKT

Music and Stereotypes

Hello folks! The weekend is finally here and there are a few things I want to talk about. First, I had to send companies like Amazon.com and CDBaby more copies of my CDs because I was informed that they sold out!!! My Cd, Dreamwalk, will be available again via the Internet by Tuesday or Wednesday, so if you haven't picked up a copy yet, please do so:)! I would highly appreciate it! Second, I am planning a major publicity campaign with some business people regardimg my music so keep coming here for updates! Third, I chose the title of this new blog because I heard a wonderful broadcast on public radio today concerning an article written by NY Daily News music columnist, Jim Farber. I have read his column and reviews for years and it was a pleasure to finally hear him speak. Mr. Farber adddressed the issue of race and music in the program, Soundcheck, a favorite of mine that I listen to religiously while I am at my day job. So here I am, with headphones on, listening to the mediator, John Schaefer, talking to Mr. Farber and Living Colour frontman, Vernon Reid talk about how we are not living in the days of MTV-based visibility anymore. The Internet rules now and bands don't HAVE to be seen. I was thinking about the great band, Living Colour's video featuring their song, "Cult of Personality". They were not really shown in the video for fear of lessening their "marketability". I can see their record company's execs scratching their heads wondering "How can we sell a Black rock band?" Let me finally speak about this subject with as much candor and fervor that I can muster! People must realize that Rock music was created by Black artists in the first place! Why are eyebrows raised when a Black band plays Rock? Artists like Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and of course, the architect himself, Little Richard, were the true progenitors of Rock. It used to be called "Race music" back then until a swivel-hipped boy from Memphis with long sideburns brought it to a new audience and I think you know who I am talking about. I have nothing against Elvis: he was one of the all-time greats but we have to also give credit where credit is due. Jerry Lee Lewis snuck behind African-American churches to take notes on how to play the music. So how about MODERN Rock as we know it? Well, in my opinion, Jimi Hendrix blazed the trail for Modern Rock because NO ONE played like him before! Even Clapton could not deny his genius. Now I am in no way placing myself in the company of these musical giants but I cannot get over how many times I have been confronted about people's ridiculous music stereotyping. "Oh, so you are a musician? what do you play? Jazz? R &B?" I smile and usually respond "Music". If I were a different color, I am sure I would simply be asked "What kind of music do you play?" Do you see my point? When I sit down to write a song, I don't say to myself, "I am going to write a Black song now" I sit down and keep in my mind"I am going to write the best song I can". Period. I guess that when I heard the broadcast today, it sparked a need to address this topic at last on my site. It amazes me that there are still people out there who are surprised that I don't necessarily do what is expected of me. "This is where the fun begins", as Anakin Skywalker said in Episode III. I like surprising people. As an artist, I strive to be the best that I can without the predilection of pidgeonholing myself to sterotypical thinking. It is exciting to see that times may indeed be changing, after all. Groups like Gnarls Barkley are fighting musical stereotypes; the musical "Passing Strange", a tale about growing up as a Black Rock musician, is nominated for a Tony ; we have a Black Democratic nominee for the highest position in America; all I have left to say is that "Let's keep it up!" BKT P.S. I am sure that I will have more to say about this topic in future blogs.

My love for Folk and Country Music

Today, I was listening to Emylou Harris on public radio and it was such a treat (I am a public radio junkie!). It reminded me of the rich traditions of music that are homespun from our very shores. Of course, Jazz is one of them and country along with folk is another. Anyone who has heard my music can automatically hear the influence of country/folk. Sure, I am what is widely considered to be an Adult Contemporary artist but I have many influences and this is at the core along with my Classical and Pop training. when I was learning guitar, my teacher never taught me how to fingerpick. I learned by listening to James Taylor records! I guess that is how my mind works: I was DETERMINED to fingerpick so I went at it for a little while till I got it down pat.I think that JT is one of the most underrated guitarists EVER. His style of fingerpicking is nothing short of brilliance; just listen to tracks like "Mexico", "Fire and Rain" and "Something in the way she moves" and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about! With regards to my music, check out "With all of My Heart" and "Carousel" to hear the country influence. Another artist I thoroughly enjoy on the folk side is Mr. Gordon Lightfoot. I also really love Shawn Colvin. he has a way of conveying a story in a song unlike any other and you can believe in what he is singing, that's for sure! "I will Walk with you", a song available here via my MUSIC page, is another example. If you haven't already, please pick up a copy of my CD, Dreamwalk, available here through my site. I recommend for those who want to buy the 99 cent downloads or the complete CD to put on your ipod, go to Apple iTunes. It is also available on Amazon.com.Take care! BKT

Working Hard as usual...

Hello! I am currently working on getting more exposure via magazines and other press so keep coming back for updates! This year is half over so there will be a few mpore surprises coming your way! BKT

A Historical Day

Well, we have our first ever Presidential candidate who happens to be an African-American for the first time ever! I must say that this is a very exciting time! I started to think that I would not see it in my lifetime but I am glad that I was wrong. Regardless of his race, I feel that Mr. Obama has people talking about POLITICS again and that can't be a bad thing at all. Also, today is my brother Lonnie's birthday and I want to wish him many more! He is the guy that introduced me to music in the first place so I guess you could say that he is ALSO responsible for this website:). Happy Birthday Bro'! Also, more songs are on the way; I am currently finishing up some music for new stuff! All in all, I would say that June the 4th was a terrific day! BKT

My Retort against the Critics for the new Indiana Jones Movie

First, there are a few spoilers in this blog about the movie so be warned for those who have not seen the movie yet:).As I mentioned before in the last blog, there were a few naysayers about "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". I personally LOVED this movie for various reasons and it easily is my recommendation for the BKT Book and Movie Club. Here are a few things worth considering:(1) How was Indy able to survive a nuclear blast inside a refrigerator? It had a lead casing; a very cool way to survive! LOL I talked to my roomate about thios, who is older than I am, and he said that during his time, kids were warned NOT to crawl in refrigerators because they had a lead lining. Even an officer in the briefing room made a slight joke to Indy referring to this common warning during the 50's. I always joke to my friends that if he could survive Nazis and a Thugee cult, he could survive ANYTHING!:) (2) The movie was set in 1957 when the Cold War was at record heights; McCarthyism was the talk of the day and America foolishly accused many Americans of being Communists even to the point of discriminating against the intellectuals of the day. For example, the famous African-American singer, orator, and actor Paul Robeson was on the McCarthy list. Naturally, Indiana Jones, an academic, was held in suspicion of the American government by certain narrow-minded bureacrats. For those who don't know, McCarthyism, was coined after Senator Joseph McCarthy, a fervent anti-Communist. (3) The carefully-preserved extra-terrestrial that Indy helped the Soviets discover in the warehouse crashed ten years before in, of course, Roswell, New Mexico. The Roswell Incident of 1947 involved a supposed UFO crash that the American government "covered up". Actually, remnants of the crash were recovered NEAR Roswell. (4) Indy's son, Mutt, in my estimation, is probably a play on words again by Mr. Lucas since Indiana was his dog's name; hence, the American slang for a dog is usually a "mutt". (5) Franscisco de Orellano, mentioned in the film, was a Conquistador who was famous in real life for exploring the expanse of the Amazon River. Indy's friend, Prof. Oxley, hid the Crystal Skull among his remains so that the Soviets would not get it. He joined the army of another famous Conquistador, Francisco Pizarro, in 1533. Indy mentioned that De Orellano disappeared but actually, he died in a second expedition to the Amazon. (6) The tradition in Indy flicks is to have a scene with some kind of disgusting pests or highly dangerous animals with abundance: snakes, bugs, and rats. This time ants take over and this species actually exists. They are called siafu and they have been known, like in the movie, to consume human flesh. Uggh! LOL (7) The Nazca Lines in the desert are actual geoglyphs or drawings that cannot be erased by weather made by the Nazca culture in the area which is now in Northern Peru and Indy wars right: they had built an impressive series of aqueducts which are still around even past 1957 when this adventure "took place":). The Nazcas are known for their wonderful artistry with not only those drawings in the desert which depict various walks of life, but also pottery which exhibited their spiritual beliefs about beings that copntrolled certain ways of life, These superbeings were in usual combinations of human and animal life. (8) Indy also mentioned that during the war years, he served for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) which is the early version of the CIA or Central Intelligence Agency. He was a Colonel. So if you have not seen the movie yet, treat yourself. If you already have, bear in mind what I have written here and hopefully, you will enjoy the movie even more so like I did after doing this research. For the next blog, back to music!:) BKT

Indy is BACK!

I just saw the new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and let me just say that it was TERRIFIC! I certainly liked it better than THE TEMPLE OF DOOM adventure. Once again, Mr. Lucas has proved my point that he is indeed, the Homer, the Tolkien, of our times. He was able to combine Mayan culture, a folk legend, and even the Roswell controversy all in one neat, exciting package! Don't listen to some of the naysayers, the man in the fedora hat is BACK! I'll give an indepth analysis of Crystal skulls and Mayan culture along with the Roswell site in my next blog! In the meantime, I am writing new material as well as exploring that new opportunity I was hinting about; I can't say much now but I will let you know!BKT

Happy Memorial Day

I want to take this chance and say how much I support the men and women who put their lives on the line for us everyday. I DON'T support this war but I DO support THEM. Happy Memorial Day!BKT

Further Advancements

I am currently working on ways to get my music heard and played to another level which I have not had before. Wish me luck and I will clue you in on the details in the near future. Hope all of you are well! BKT

And Don't Forget...

My CD, Dreamwalk, is available on Amazon.com, AppleiTunes, and here! You can even purchase single songs if you prefer! BKT

Happy Birthday George Lucas!!!

Well, one of my favorite people in entertainment turned a year older today. I call George Lucas the modern day Homer because he gave the whole world a myth that will stay around for many generations to come. Here are some facts about this genius storyteller: (A) He created the Indiana Jones character in response to the Bond franchise not allowing Spielberg to direct a Bond movie (B) The Discovery Channel named him the "100th Greatest American" a few years ago (C) Indiana was actually the name of his pet dog (D) Joseph Campbell, the late great mythologist, spoke highly of "Star Wars" as a modern myth in the classic "Power of Myth" PBS series and even used it as an example of some of his theories(which makes sense because Mr. Lucas admitted that his book "Hero of a Thousand Faces" inspired the basic Star Wars outline in the first place) (E) The Force was inspired by a short film called "21-87" which included a statement by Warren McCullough, an artificial intelligence expert, and Roman Kroitor, the man who developed IMAX. Mr. Kroitor mentioned some kind of "force" that we can relate to and we are not simply complex machines. well, there you have it: come back and I'll give you some updates on my musical pursuits and oh..there will be more musical essay-like blogs to come. May the Force be with you!:) BKT

Classical Music should NOT be used as just a Sleeping Aid!

As with most independent artists, I work a day job in order to pay for my studio and performance expenses. Yesterday, something alarming happened: I turned on the radio in the office and when I put on the Classical music station, boy oh boy did I hear some pretty scary stuff!!! "Oh, I put that on when I want my daughter to go asleep"; "Why do you have that sleepy music on?"; " How can you listen to that stuff?" I mean, COME ON people! Is Classical music really all THAT bad??? LOL Admittedly, I have heard some pretty boring pieces myself but thankfully I never condemned the music to an audio purgatory!!! Then the same people who made those comments explained to me why they felt that way: they came up in an educational system where it was hammered in their heads during college by a dogmatic professor. Now that is a tragedy! learning about this great art form should not be bogged down by dates and memorizing pieces. I think that more music teachers today should make the learning process much more fun. Talk about Mozart's love for billiards, and Beethoven's estranged relationship with his nephew. How about Wagner's penchant for womanizing ? Tchaikovsky struggled with his homosexuality for years! No one ever talks about things like that. I'm sure that when you read these things here, you wanted to know more, right? It should be noted that these great composers were human beings first and foremost! Also, I hear this siully talk that the music is simply boring. well, that is certainly not the case if you really do some listening. In my part to quell this horrible persecution of Classical music, check out my reccomendations for rip-roaring rambuctious pieces that are NOT sleep-inducing: (A) Holst's "The Planets" (first movement) It starts sof but when it gets some serious momentum, look out!! John Williams took this as inspiration for his Star Wars main theme. Gustav Holst was inspired to write this music by the impending horrors of World War 1. (B) Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture": today is Tchaikovsky's birthday, by the way, and this piece even ends with the famous cannon blasting in unison with the cacophony of orchestral instruments. (C) Orff's "Carmina Burana"(first movement) This is a choral/orchestral piece that never lets go from being to end. Carl Orff's masterpiece has even been usued in films like "The Omen" and one of my all-time faves, "Excalibur"(remember the scene when King Arthur and the remainder of his Knights are riding through a rejuvenating land because he regained the Grail and is preparing for his final battle?) This was the music that was playing. (D) Sergei Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky: the Battle on the Ice" I think the name of the piece speaks for itself. And those are just a FEW examples! Feel free to write me with some of your suggestions as well! Classical music made me a far better musician than I deamed of! I could have never scored the string and oboe parts for my CD, Dreamwalk, if I did not go to school and STUDIED! BKT

Amazon.com

Just a reminder to let you know that my CD, Dreamwalk, is available not only through my website but also on Apple iTunes and even Amazon.com!!! I just found out last night that Amazon.com has opted to pick up my CD for online purchasers.What is also really cool is that even if you don't want the entire album, you can buy each download for under a dollar! So please don't hesitate and feel free to support an artist who is really trying to make a difference: ME!!!LOL:) BKT

Much More to Come...

I will have more to tell you in the coming week regarding my plans for the Summer Solstice concert. I hope you stay tuned! BKT

Alexander Nevsky

Well, it's time again for me to name a movie that I recommend in the BKT Book and Movie Club! I always find this to be so much fun. My first choice this month is a classic that is sometimes overshadowed by "The Battleship Potemkin", Sergei Eisenstein's most famous film. Still, it was quite successful. It's called "Alexander Nevsky". This has long been one of my all-time favorite films not only because of Sergei Prokofiev's great score( I still study it to this day), but it is also based upon a true story. Prince Alexander defeated the Swedes in 1240 after a decisive battle near the Neva River (hence his moniker "Nevsky") when he was only 19 years old. One year later, he defeated the invading German army. Eisenstein's depiction of the famous Battle on the Ice is astonishing; cloaks and helmets plummeting to an icy doom, Nevsky sheathing his sword with great pride after the final Knight on the Ice sinks far below. Prokofiev's score is a warm companion to the visuals. I always liked how the German helmets in the film denoted a sense of malice; now we are talking about a pre-George Lucas era before Darth Vader: the film was made in 1938 under Stalin's watchful eye. He even rushed it into theaters because he knew that it could be great propoganda against the Nazis. Unfortunately, because of this impulsive leader, the soundtrack quality was staggeringly horrible (I rented this version from the library and I could not that the orchestra was rendered to a whimper). Now, of course, there exists a version that reconstructed the score according to the needs of the film and one can now hear the highs and lows of this wonderful music. I admit that in my first CD, Castle of Dreams, I was inspired by the choral power from Prokofiev's score and put it in a song (the Russian maestro even made a cantata or concert version of his movie music). Wait a second..you can actually hear my song I wrote in the website! (I had almost forgotten). This Russian Choral presence is prevalent in "The Wanderer's Tale" (Just check the MUSIC section here). Anyway, Nevsky is still considered a Russian hero today so rent this movie; it's well worth it! BKT

Hustle and Flow

Another choice of mine in the BKT Book and Movie Club as a must see film: a tour de force film about dreams, not necessarily about rap: HUSTLE AND FLOW starring the dynamic Terrence Howard (he's also in this year's blockbuster, IRON MAN). As far as I am concerned, he should have one the Oscar for Best Actor. I was riveted to the screen from beginning to end! I am sorry that I did not see it sooner when it originally played in theaters. It's the story of a pimp who lives with three of his "ladies" but also aspires to change his life and become a successful rapper via his "connection" with an already known, but EXTREMELY obnoxious rapper (played deftly by Ludacris). For those who have not seen it, I won't give away the ending but I was also surprised how much I enjoyed the music! Actually, "It's Hard to Be a Pimp" won the Oscar for Best Song that year. Now I am not necessarily a Hip Hop fan per se, but I opened my mind up to the genre thanks to this great film. If you have not seen it yet, please rent it: you won't regret it. BKT

Song of the Sirens

In keeping with my current motif of Ulysses-based themes recently, I would like to mention the scene in Homer's "Odyssey" where the hero king asks his crew to tie him to the ship's mast so that he will not follow the doom-laden Song of the Sirens. Recently, I watched the SciFi Channel's take on this scene as well as the latter part of the legend sans Ulysses' return to Ithica called "Oddyseus: Journey to the Underworld" ; I have to say that I was thoroughly disappointed! I thought that even the Conan movies were better!! Sure, it was an interesting idea to have Homer himself accompany the crew but come on, a "Hellfire Cross"? Vampires??? You've got to be joking!! I thought that the TV movie cheapened the legend to the level of a really horrible B movie. For those who witnessed the debacle, PLEASE don't follow the Song of the Sirens to a literary doom (lol); PLEASE read the original poem, or at least portions of it instead or at LEAST, watch the Kirk Douglas movie version. BKT

Summer Solstice

Now that my birthday is over, I am currently on vacation planning my next strategies for my CD, Dreamwalk. The concert I was going to tell you about was going to have TIMEOUT Magazine as a sponsor for the Make Music New York all day concert series. The initial idea is to have professional; and amateur musicians play outdoor concerts throughout all of the five boroughs; my original choice was to play on Coney Island's boardwalk. Unfortunately, I was informed that it wopuld be impossible since the Mermaid Parade has the boardwalk hook, line, and sinker on the day of the performance which would be Summer Solstice, June 21. What is Summer solstice? Well, it's officially the first day of summer. Also, the earth's axis will be tilted directly towards the Sun. Solstices happen twice a year but in winter soltice, the axis is directly AWAY from the sun. As for my Summer Solstice concert, I have another venue in mind and I will make my decision about it sometime during the week so keep coming back for more information! BKT

"You say it's your Birthday! Well, it's my Birthday too, yeah..."

Happy Birthday to me! Today, I have turned the ripe age of....No, no; you thought I would reveal my age, didn't you?:) Anyway, I also have a very exciting concert planned for the summer that I will tell you more about in the next blog. I am also happy that my readers and listeners are looking into the classics of literature and music, I recommended. They are,indeed, fun to read and listen to, aren't they? I am honored that people are responding to my words and music. Ok, off I go to celebrate my Birthday! Have a good weekend! BKT

Penelope's Cloth

I have revisited the Odyssey tale with Ulysses' exploits after the Trojan War through an ionteresting medium along with the actual text: Opera. Claudio Moneverdi is widely known as probably the first great master of the art form which would be known as opera(as well as helping to move along the transition of music from Baroque to Renaissance). Of course, I have heard his many madrigals but never much of anything else. Finally during Saturday afternoon visit to the library( I go every weekend), I rented the DVD of "Il Riturno D'Ulisse in Patria"(The Return Of Ulysses). It explores of course, the latter part of Homer's "Odyssey". As I was watching Penelope unravel the cloth that she had been "working on" in order to delay her suitors' quest for her hand before her husband's return, I thought to myself just how beautiful an image that is.She loved her husband so much that she never gave up on him and would not falter. The reunion of Ulysses and Penelope is, in my book, one of the most moving scenes in all of poetry, of all literature. Not until he describes the source of the bed he made with his own hands, did Penelope finally believe that he was indeed her husband(the Goddess Athena had originally disguised him as a beggar). another beautiful passage which I re-read today on my way home on the train was Athena actually delaying the onset of sunrise so that the King and Queen of Ithica could rapturously enjoy their first night of love after twenty years!(The Trojan War lasted ten years and his return home took another decade). Penelope's cloth is a striking image, though. The weaving and unravelling of destiny and the will to control it. Jut how much of our lives are like that cloth? How can we hope to control the tides of change? I think that we cannot without the help of what is bigger than ourselves. BKT

One of my Fondest Memories

As I continue to try and find new ways for my music to be heard, I thought back for a moment at one of my fondest memories: meeting the Grammy winner, Marc Cohn. I was involved with a church group at the time and a member whom I knew spoke to Mr. Cohn on a regular basis. Thus, she arranged to have him speak at the Singers Fellowship group which I used to lead and I can't tell you how thrilled I was that he was coming! Marc Cohn is probably best known for writing and singing an American classic song"Walking in Memphis". I listened to his album all week long and of course, I wanted to pay tribute to him by laying all the songs on piano by memory during the reception. (Mr. Cohn, if you ever read this blog, I apologize for my zeal if you got annoyed! lol) Anyway, I remember playing "I Will Walk With You" for him and he seemed to really like it. However, herein lies the regret: I was so entranced by a major artist actually listening to me that I did not have enough wherewithal to at least ask if he knew a publisher, prodecure, ANYONE who could help me in my musical endeavours. I regret my shyness to this day. If there is any kind of encouragement, I could give other artists out there, I would say CARPE DIEM! That means "Seize the Day" in Latin. Don't EVER be afraid to ask questions that could help you in the long run. Now that I look back on that wonderful evening, I know that I will never make the same mistake again of being too afraid to try and succeed. BKT

Privileged to Have This Forum

I am very happy to see that I am inspiring people to read classic literature again. Part of my songwriting comes from the passion of those immortal stories from which our collective human experience emerged. In addition to writing songs in that spirit, I hope to one day show that there is indeed a correlation between modern songwriting, mythmaking, and all of the prodigy of spoken and written literature. I encourage those who have comments about this to write in my guestbook and truly be a part of this forum. Please stay with me to discover my songs, old and new, and to communicate with me from all over the world!:) BKT

The Power of Modern Myth

So what exactly is modern myth? Poetry? Film? Music? Well, it's a little of all the above I think. I am so pleased that Spike TV is broadcasting the spectacular Star Wars series on weekends the way George Lucas probably hoped it would be: through the medium of almost episodic television which is what inspired him to write the movies in the first place. Flash Gordon and other serial cliffhangers are certainly paid homage top even with the Indiana Jones character. So is Star Wars a modern myth? Well, let's look at the facts: before the first movie came out in 1977, we did not really have a modern fairytale with which to relate and now after more than thirty years, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo have become synonymous with Ulysses, Hercules, and Achilles in importance. Why? Beacause they speak to our unconscious. They are, as Carl Jung would put it, archetypes that have been repeated over and over throughout the tapestry of myth: the unsuspecting hero who answers the call to adventure (Luke/Anakin), the wise old wizard (Obiwan), and so forth. Joseph Campbell, the famed mythologist, called these rites of passage, the Hero's Journey.So where am I leading to with all this talk about mythology? Well, songwriters are mythologists as well. I think that we try to weave the same spell of intoxication as a Homer or Lucas: writers like Dylan, Springsteen, Mcartney, Lennon, all have a story to tell. I hope to one day prove myself worthy to be amongst that illustrious group of marvelous storytellers. Songs, as a part of modern myth, allow us to transcend ourselves and look into the mirror of our souls and examine who we truly are as human beings. That is the Power of Myth, modern or otherwise. BKT

More Afterthoughts

I am currently seeking new venues for me and the Odyssey String Trio to play. I had so much fun with them that I want to do it again! I listened to the CD of the performance and I may include an excerpt here for sure for your ears. Alright, next blog: the power of modern myth. BKT

Afterthoughts

So the gig at 169 Bar is now history. I have not listened to the CD that was made of the performance yet but I will before the end of the week. Let me first say that I had so much fun. The place was small but it was interesting meeting other musicians and sharing with them. of course, as a performer one is always disappointed about who didn't show up, but I did have a loyal following of friends, fans, and family come see me which was a pleasure. The String Trio sounded great and I think we played pretty well. Now I have to think about my next show and II have been toying with the idea of having a basic band including drums, bass and another guitar player. Ok, I'll have more literary blogs coming up for this coming week, so stick around! BKT

Tonight's the Night

Well, I will be performing at the 169 Bar tonight; for details, please go to the home page. I am so excited! I hope to see you there! Have a great weekend! BKT

In Loving Memory To Jean Taylor

Two years ago today, I lost the most important peson in my life to breast cancer; she was my confidant, best friend and biggest fan. I will always cherish her memory and live my life in which it would have made her proud. This is for Jean Taylor, my mother.BKT

Across The Universe

I mentioned the meaning behind John Lennon's line in ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, "Jai Guru Deva Om", remember? Now I want to recommend an excellent new movie that has recently come out on DVD which bears the same name as this famous Lennon song that was featured in the "Let It Be" album. Many friends of mine who know that I am a Beatles nut were after me constantly to see it and I finally bought a copy today...and I LOVED it! Julie Taymor, the famed Broadway ("Lion King") and film director("Titus") did a marvelous job with her partner and collaborator, Elliot Goldenthal, incorporating the songs of the world's greatest pop group with a love story set in the turbulent times of the 60's. the covers are excellent and what I like especially about them was that special attention centered on the poetry of the lyrics as well as the contemporary setting of the music. there's even a finale on a rooftop a la "Let it Be" ! That was especially touching, so if you are a die-hard Beatles fan like me, this is a must-see treat for the eyes and ears. BKT

A Note about the Guestbook

I want to thank everyone around the world who has written me very nice things in my guestbook; it has always been one of my favorite features in my website, one that I always look forward to visiting; however, I must address an issue that needs attention: this is no place for porn advertisements whatsoever and I will delete any posts that contain them, including their links, WITHOUT HESITATION. I am trying to maintain a certain standard here and I do not want to jeopardize it with this kind of solicitation. I hope you understand and for those who feel inclined to post these links, please do so elsewhere. Thank you for your attention. BKT

The Unveiling Of The Grail

Right now, I am at my day job (that's right; on a Saturday!) working and listenning to Wagner's last opera, "Parsifal", the story about the young fool who becomes a knight,saves the fisher King, defeats a powerful magician who was formerly a Grail Knight(sort of like Darth Vader,opera-style), and eventually becomes the Guardian of the Holy Grail ,the Holy Brotherhood,and the castle it is kept in. I am at the part when Guenemanz,who is actually Parsifal's uncle according to the original poem that wolfram Von Eschenbach wrote, shows hime the secret path to the castle and the sacred ceremony where the Grail is unveiled which nourishes the spirits of the Grail Knights and its ailing current King, Amfortas.It is one of the most enchanting sequences in Opera and I wonder: how am I slowly unveiling the Grail in MY life? What is the secret of the Grail? Whom does it serve? These questions were asked in Chretien de Troyes account of the Grail story centuries ago. I guess my anser to these questions are slowly but surely coming to me during the course of my life. The string trio concert is one of the fabrics that is being lifted from my personal Grail which is starting to show. The rehearsals are exceeding my expectations and going marvelously. Little by little, I will unwrap my Grail corner by corner until it is finally revealed. So what will it look like? I don't know but I hope taht among the things itwill resemble is spiritual happiness in my chosen field of music as well as life in general and also achieving the Romantic yet realistic ideal of Love that I have always wanted to share with a special woman, whomever she may be. BKT

Publicity in the works

This month I am kicking it up a few notches by aggressively working towards getting the word out for my CD, Dreamwalk. My plans include local paper coverage, concerts, and magazine reviews so keep coming back because I am JUST getting started!:) BKT

Jai Guru Deva Om

Ever wonder what John Lennon was singing about with the words "Jai Guru Deva Om" in "Across the Universe"? Well, I finally decided to research it and here's what I came up with: "Jai" means "Thanks to" in Sanskrit and of course "Guru" means teacher; 'Deva" means "heavenly one" and "Om" is the word central to tapping into the powers of the universe in meditation. Thus, it roughly translates as "I give thanks to my divine teacher" which refers to the Maharishi's teacher. Of course, it is well known that the Beatles studied with the Maharashi in India and their daily prayer's included his teacher. So there you have it! BKT

Facts about the Aeneid

Well, rehearsals begin soon with my newly-formed Odyssey String Trio which is comprised of a vilionist, viola player and cellist. I haven't asked yet if they would like their names in print so for now I will keep them anonymous. Now how about that great book, "The Aeneid"? Well, for starters, it takes place after the Fall of Troy and the Trojan Horse hoax and a new hero,emerges while Ulysses is on his way home to Ithica: Aeneas. As Troy was burning around him, Venus tells him to flee the city and thereby his adventures begin. Like the Illiad and Odyssey, this is a poem as well written by Virgil. So Aeneas escaped with his son Ascanius and Anchises,his father who later dies peacefully during the voyage to new lands. Perhaps the most famous part of his adbventures is his romance with the Queen of Carthage, Dido. During a hunting expedition, a storm drives them both in a cave where they, er, consummated their love.However, the spicy union did not last: Aeneas was reminded by the gods that his duty was to find a great city in Italy which would become a legend for generations to come. Henceforth, Aeneas reluctantly leaves, Dido kills herself on a pyre with her former lover's sword and she presages that there would never be peace between her people and Aeneas'; sure enough, Rome and Carthage were bitter enemies in later years.There is also an overriding theme of the important relationship between fathers and sons in the poem. Respecting one's father was a Roman virtue especially during the times of the Empire. Ok, well I hope you liked my very brief review of "The Aenied". Till next time! BKT

Facts about the Odyssey

Well, I hope you enjoyed my last entry and now I will talk about Homer's "sequel" to the Illiad, "The Odyssey".The title is a kind of play on words because it has a two-fold meaning: first, it refers to Ulysses" 10-year odyssey or journey back home to his kingdom Ithica after the Trojan War ended and second, he is also known as Odysseus. He was a favorite mortal of his patron Athena, goddess of wisdom. Ulysses is known for his cunning wisdom which has gotten him out of tough spots like almost being eaten by Cyclops, and he virtually ended the Trojan war single-handedly by conceiving the idea of the Trojan Horse in the first place. He was so revered that the gods offered him a spot in the pantheon of deities but he refused. I guess he loved his wife and son so much he could not bear to be separated from them so one can only imagine his torment from being away from his family for 20 years!( actually, I guess he didn't suffer TOO much for being with the beautiful siren, Calypso, for seven of those years! lol Hermes, the god's messenger had to force her to let him go). Nikos Kazantzakis, author of "The Last Temptation of Christ' even wrote a sequel to "The Odyssey" chronicling the events after Ulysses' return to Ithica. Ulysses is my favorite Greek hero because of what he embodies: wisdom and patience. In tribute to "The Odyssey" I have named my String Trio that will play with me soon,the Odyssey String Trio. this is a part of my idea where I will use Classical players in lieu of some performances of my Pop songs. Eventually, I hope that the Trio will also grow into the Odyssey String Quartet for certain situations. I will talk more about them in the next blog. Till next time! BKT

Facts about the Illiad

Hi gang! I am well under to writing the scores for the string trio and I am excited that this is a new form that I have not yet written for so it should be interesting! Anyway, I recommended a few books in an earlier blog, one of which is Homer's classic, the Illiad. There is debate to this day as to whether or not Homer authored this monumental work because the style suggests that perhaps multiple authors contributed but for now, I will stick to Homer. Why is it called the Illiad? Well, the title roughly translates as "pertaining to Ilion(Troy)" and mostly covers the final year of the Trojan War. Achilles is the main character of the story. It deals with his rage after Briseis, his "prize" was claimed by Agammemnon, and ESPECIALLY his wrath after his cousin, Patrocles, is killed by Hector. One of the cool things about the poem is that the Greeks and Trojans were not the only combatants on the battlefield: warring gods fought alongside them. It was truly a war of epic proportions according to Homer! There is even a section in Chapter Twenty where Achilles tries to kill the hero of the Aeneid, Aeneas! Obviously, Achilles failed (lol). Well, I hope I piqued your curiosity a bit because it truly is one of the great stories of the world and fantastic reading! BKT

Dido and Aeneas

In an earier blog, I discussed the Tolkien literary legend of Beren and Luthien, two doomed lovers akin to Tristan and Isolde whose conquered the confines of death. well two of my favorite poems of all time are Homer's "The Illiad" and "The Odyssey" which cover events that started the famous Trojan War (Paris' "abduction" of Helen who was "the face that launched a thousand ships") to the end of King Ulysses' 10 year journey back home to his wife Penelope and son, Telemachus which included outwitting Cyclops, escaping the siren Calypso, avoiding certain death between the Scylla and Charybdis(Sting used this imagery in his song "Wrapped around your finger"), and even going to the Underworld briefly, encountering his dead mother. Well after Troy fell via the Ullysses-conceived Trojan Horse stunt, Homer covered what happened to the Greeks but what happened to the Trojans that survived? This story is not told as often as the greek one. Well, Virgil composed the great poem "The Aeneid" which tells the adventures of Aeneas, the surviving Trojan prince and son of Anchises and the goddess of love Aphrodite, who is said to be the father of a little city eventually called...Rome. During Aeneas' travels, he comes upon the ancient city of Carthage where he meets the Queen, Dido. they fall in love. But the gods tell Aeneas that he has to go to be a founder of a future great city, so reluctantly he leaves Queen Dido behind where she laments to her death. Sounds like a cool subject for a play or opera, right? Well, the English Baroque composer, Henry purcell thought so. He composed a fantastic one act opera, "Dido and Aeneas"(a one act opera? Hard to believe, isn't it? lol) As I mentioned in a previous blog, the highlight of this composition is "When I am laid in earth.." it has a basso continuo in the orchestration and a repeated musical phrasing that accompanies the singer. Dido is telling her servant to"remember me" while giving instructions on how she should be laid to rest after she dies. So my official BKT Book and Music Club recommendations are, if you have never read them : Homer's Illiad and "The Odyssey" and as a companion poem, please read Virgil's "The Aeneid" but please take your time reading them even if they span over a few months and savor these stories because they are true classics.BKT

String Trios

whether or not I decide to include a string trio in my latest concert, I thought I would talk a little about what a string trio actually is and which works are among the most significant in the repertoire. first of all, a string trio, as the name suggests consists of three streinged instruments traditionally: violin, viola, and cello. It grew from the style of composition known as the baroque trio sonata which had two solo melodic instruments and a "basso continuo"( a bass line which repeats over and over in the piece).This kind of music wa popular around the 17th and 18th centuries. Arcangelo Corelli, a well known composer around that time, wrote some of the best of these sonatas. Also, Henry Purcell,of "Dido and Aeneas" fame, wrote some fine examples(incidentallly, if you want to hear one of the greatest laments ever written, check out "Dido and Aeneas' "When I am laid in earth..."; I'll talk about the Dido and Aeneas legend in the next blog). Now as time went on, composers like Mozart expanded the form with his great Divertimento in E-flat, K 563. Beethoven wrote five string trios as well. Since the scoring is leaner, it poses some interesting situations for a composer to overcome: "Since there are three voices instead of four, how do I make the music sound fuller? Will I have much harmony between two instruments? Will the cello simply be a bass part?" and so on.I am asking these questions to myself as I type this but the music is already in my head so I'll trust that and write down what the notes I see. I have had this uncanny ability to see notes in my head since I can remember and when I got older the notes got even clearer. Strange. But I am very thankful for it. Now, the string trio form was even tackled by such 20th Century giants as Richard Strauss, Max Reger, even Arnold Schoenberg! After writing this text, I think I WILL have a go at it!BKT Recommended listening: Mozart: Divertimento in E-flat, K 563 Beethoven: String Trios 1-3 Op.9

Full Speed Ahead

Ok, things are looking muchbrighter as far as with whom I shall play on April 11th, I am happy to report. it will definitely be a string concert. I am even entertaining the idea of making it a string trio instead of quartet because of financial constrictions and also, I have never scored for a trio before which would be cool to do. I want to be well- diversified as a composer and I welcome the new challenge. My next blog will have some very interesting things, I promise so come back and keep checking me out!BKT

New Developments...

Hi gang! I want to first of all say that I am flattered that I am getting emails and guestbook comments from all over the world! When I first created this forum, I never dreamed that it would be so widespread. I had forgotten that a website can virtually go anywhere in the world and I am so glad that I decided to make one with the great help of one the web designers here at hostbaby.com. My website has actually gone beyond my original concept of just being a vehicle for my music; once I figured out that it is also a place where I can share my thoughts and feelings with the rest of the world, I started talking about many things including literature, poetry and film because where would my music be without these important topics? They have all influenced my writing one way or another so I have decided to make a new addition to www.byronkeithtaylor.com: the BKT Music and Film Club. Every month I will post at least two books I have read and would like to share with my readers and listeners. No, of course I am not Oprah but I would like to share my discoveries with yopu and please write me back and tell me what you think. I would enjoy that very much! I am also thinking of reviewing a film or DVD release a month for fun. Ok and now, about the concert: I am still talking to musicians in order to have the right combination of people to be ready for next week's rehearsals. Take care and be well!BKT

New Concert Date

Hey gang! I have confirmed the new concert date and time for my show at the 169 Bar: Friday, April 11th @ 7:30pm. Now I am trying to find some new musicians to accompany me and hopefully, it is the string quartet I have in mind. I will tell you in a later post if I were successful or not; however, one way or another, the show will definitely go on! BKT

Good News and Bad

Well, here's an update on the concert: first, the bad news: I have to change the date once again because the quartet cancelled out on me..and now the good news, not only will the concert take place in early April but I hopefully have a new quartet that will definitely be a sight to see! I will tell you more in a future blog. Have a great weekend!BKT

Beren and Luthien

For all of you Tolkien fans out there, I decided to name my new post after two of Tolkien's most tragic characters in his pre-Lord of the Rings mythology, Beren and Luthien. Beren was a warrior and Luthien was an elvish princess who fell in love and had a tragic ending after the Quest for a Silmaril jewel that was a part of the crown worn by a villain even more evil than Sauron, Morgoth.Tolkien loved his wife Edith so much that upon her death he had "Luthien" inscripted along with her name on her grave and Tolkien himself had the name "Beren" incripted with his full name. Luthien's father disapproved of Beren because he thought he was a commoner and Edith's parent didn't like Tolkien because he was Catholic and too young, so at 12:01am on his 21st birthday, he sent a post to Edith asking for her hand in marriage! Isn't that a great story? Of course, in "Lord of the Rings" the mirror love story of a "commoner"( who really is a king) and an elvish princess is between Strider (Aragorn) and Arwen. In the special edition DVD version of "Fellowship of the Ring", Aragorn tells an almost slumbering Frodo about the story after the hobbit asks him about the song. I am not comparing myself to Tolkien in any way, or any other master storyteller throughout the ages, but my attempt at medieval or classic romance is in the song, "The Knight and the Queen". I will say once again that it is the basis of what I would like to be my musical one day. The great romances have always touched me since my youth and I don't think that it will ever stop. Beren and Luthien literally went to hell and back again for love. Beren even lost his hand to the werewolf guarding Morgoth's gate, Carcharoth, with the great, glowing Jewel still being clutched by it and it drove the Beast mad with pain all over parts of Middle Earth. Beren's hunt for Carcaroth led to his death and Luthien, like Isolde, grieved to her demise. Tolkien wrote that their souls were reuntied with their bodies by Mandos, the God Judge of the Dead and they lived in Ossiriand with mortal lives until a second death. Beautiful stuff, isn't it? That is what I really love about literature: its ability to transcend our own consciousness and transport us to new realms; I just thought I'd share the story with my listeners and readers.And yes, I still believe in love. Oh and the scoring is almost done! BKT

String Quartets: Pt.2

Well, the scoring is well underway and let me say that it is going pretty well. I mentioned in a previous blog about well-known string quartets that were a part of the Classical repertoire but how about in the Pop world? How do these instruments apply? Well, let's take a look: Christina Aguilera's classic song "Beautiful" does not necessarily have one, but a rather plaintive cello accompanies her throughout the song; Oasis' "Wonderwall" has a cello and violin accompany the band that gives it a strong English flavor; how can I have this discussion without the Beatles? "Eleanor Rigby" actually is not just one quartet but two over-dubbed; McCartney did not want a Mantovani-sounding "Yesterday" so George Martin scored a string quartet for one of the all-time great Pop songs; another favorite genius of mine, John Lennon, wrote "I am the Walrus" and George Martin scored a few cellos for it, making it sound orchestral, along with a choir; Elvis Costello recorded a full album with the Kronos Quartet( I love how they do "Purple Haze"!) called "The Juliet Letters" and that is just a few examples. So check out these recordings again and see if you can pick up what instruments are used... BKT

Beowulf: A New Favorite Film Of Mine

Once I stopped to take a break during the scoring process, I popped a DVD into my player that I had to purchase: Robert Zemeckis' brilliant 3D adventure, Beowulf. I am convinced that this is one of the best fantasy films ever made! Of course, it can't miss considering that it is based upon on of the first stories, if not the first, ever written in English, the original anonymous poem that was written between the 8th and 11th centuries. It is interesting to note that evryone at some point has either been forced to read it during their school years or at least, have heard about it. Well, I am one of those people that loved even the poem when I first read it in my teens! Not only did Neil Gaiman (I read his "Sandman" graphic novels years ago) and Roger Avary write a wonderful screenplay, they re-told the tale in a bright, innovative way. who would have considered the dragon that ultimately is responsible for Beowulf's demise turns out to be his son he had sired with Grendel's mother? The screenwriters wisely reenacted an Arthurian motif which I enjoyed: the son coming back to haunt the father; Mordred came back to haunt King Arthur as a reminder of past sins.The special features of the DVD is correct to point out that Beowulf is the grandfather of fantasy literature which has inspired everything from the Arthurian mythos to the Lord of the Rings; even Star Wars has to pay homage to its depth. Also, the animation is first-rate second only to real life action; it is very hard at times to tell the two apart! If you're a fan of excellent moviemaking or a SciFi/Fantasy buff(or both), please check this great film out! Ok, now back to my scoring...LOL:) BKT

Future Plans

I've been thinking a lot about what I plan to do after the string quartet gig and one idea that popped in my mind for my next concert would be to go full circle and form a basic band comprised if me on piano and guitar, a bass player, another guiraist and drummer and do some material that will not be covered in the upcoming concert. I always like to stay fresh and keep myself open to new things.right now I am also waiting on news for a few developments. I'll keep you posted!BKT

Scoring the Music Now

Hey there! Sorry it took so long to get back to you but right now I am scoring all the individual parts for the string quartet I will play with later this month and as you can imagine, it's a lot of work! The violins, viola, and cello each have a specific character and I have to write the music in their prospective personalities. I think that each instrument has a personality, a different sound color and the composer is responsible for not only expressing this fact, but for the instruments to sometimes go BEYOND their persona. Ok, gotta run! Take care and I'll have a new blog for you in a few days. Enjoy the weekend and Happy Leap Year!:) BKT

Wanna See a Cool Movie Classic Now That the Oscars are Over?

Well, my journey towards finishing the string quartet scores is underway and in between sessions, I have rediscovered a cool two-part flick directed by a great German director, Fritz Lang. You know, he is the guy that directed the classic film Metropolis and Petter Lorre's disturbing classic "M" (I'll never think ogf Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" the same ever again!). Before he made Metropolis in 1927 (at the time the most expensive silent film ever made), he made a fantasy epic comprised of two films, "Siegfried" and "Kriemhild's Rache" (Kriemhild's Revenge) collectively known as "Die Nibelungen". I know that Wagner automatically prings to mind seeing "Siegfried" but even before the German master wrote those exquisite music dramas, there was a Middle High German poem called "the Nibelungenlied" which tells the tale of Siegfried the dragon slayer, his journey to the Burgundian court after becoming a rich and powerful lord thanks to the newly-captured dragon hoard, his marriage to Kriemhild (Wagner changed it to Brunhild, who was in the poem tricked into marrying Gunther, the Burgundian king), his treacherous murder by Hagen (Wagner kept that idea), and his widow Kriemhild's revenge against the Burgundians using Attila the Hun in the process! What a story, huh? well, it is all captured in this glorious two-part story captured on film. Wagner obviously loved the story and used this legendary 13th century poem along with other classics like the Volsunga Saga to inspire his mighty musical tale of Gods, giants, dragons, and mortals. I have always called Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" as the "other" great Ring story besides Tolkien's epic "Lord of the Rings". So if you find yourself in a good video store or library, borrow "Die Nibelungen" for a treat that dates before the advent of mainstream special effects movies. You'll enjoy the ride!BKT

Stay Tuned

I have a few interesting blogs in the works for you to read so keep coming back! BKT

New Date

Hey everybody! I just got word when the the show will finally be: Saturday, March 29th, 7:30pm. Hope to see you there at 169 Bar and I will give you a lot more details in the coming blogs!

Concert Update

Hey gang! I had to once again change the concert date because I nmeed a little more time to rehearse with the string quartet, write out the parts, etc. I will keep you posted about the new date just as soon as I find out for sure so keep checking! BKT

Happy Valentine's Day!

Well, here it is again! Any one who knows me knows that I am indeed an incurable romantic but this one will be tough for me without a woman I love to share it with; however, I do intend to perform tonight at Smith's and make the best of it. Dreamwalk is a romantic album without a doubt.I wanted to make a CD that lovers can listen to without getting up, if you know what I mean:). Love is the motif in this album and I stand by its premise that no matter what happens in life, it is one of the most important things one can ever have. To all the couples out there, I wish you a happy and healthy Valentine's day with MANY more to come! Enjoy!:) BKT

String Quartets: A History

I am so excited about the opportunity to play my songs with a string quartet! I thought that I would go into the backround of this illustrious grouping of instruments. A String Quartet in the Classical music sense is usually comprised of two violins, a viola and a cello. In other words, I had to write individual parts for each instrument in order for them to play with me. Unlike jazz, this is not improv at all! EVERYTHING that I want them to play has to be on that manuscript paper just like I did when I wrote the string parts for my CD, Dreamwalk! The string quartet itself dates back to the middle of the 18th century. Franz Joseph Haydn is widely regarded as the "Father of the String Quartet". Now here's the catch: writing for this type of ensemble is really a true test of a composer's merit because there are no other instruments of the orchestra for the quartet to fall upon. The palette of sound can only come from those four instruments. I will be playing guitar and piano, however while Mark West will be on bass; still, this will be a chamber concert for Pop music.Mozart and Beethoven expanded the repertoire of the string quartet and paved the way for Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Dvorak to really play with the art form. Then composers like Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Janacek, and Berg took over. Ok, well I hope that gives you a little insight into this small, but powerful musical group. Come to the concert on March 14 at the 169 Bar and hear one in person! BKT Her are some recommendations for you to hear: (A) Borodin: String Quartet No.2 (B) ANY of Mozart or Beethoven's String Quartets (C) Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" (D) Samuel Barber's String Quartet No. 11 ( better known as the "Adagio" which is normally heard in string orchestra format; remember the prevailing music in Oliver Stone's classic film "Platoon"? Well, this is the music he used!

Sneak Preview

Hi gang! Tomorrow night, I will join my friends, Tom Riccobono and Mark West, off and on, performing at SMITH'S Bar and Restaurant and at some point in the evening, Mark and I will try out a few songs of mine that will be in the March 14th concert at 169 Bar; it should be fun; however, the string quartet WON'T be there @SMITH'S (come on, I have to leave a LITTLE suspense! lol) If you want to meet me, Smith's is located at West 44th St. and 8th avenue (Manhattan) right on the corner. You can't miss it! The music starts usually around 10pm. Take care!BKT

A "minor" correction:)

I got the date wrong for my show; it is actually 7pm, Friday, March 14th, NOT the 24th! Sorry about that gang! Look at the introductory page for this site and you'll find all that you need:). BKT

Now about that Concert...

Well, it's official: I will be playing at 169 Bar in Manhattan (169 E. Broadway & Essex St.) on March 24th at 7:00pm and FINALLY, I will have a string quartet with me!!! My friend, Mark West,an alumnus from Smith's Bar, will be on bass and yours truly will be on vocals, guitar and piano for this gig. I will be performing selections from my Dreamwalk CD as well as a few new songs I have written. If you have the chance, please come down and support me!:)BKT

Congratulations Giants!!!!!

Well, we now have a sports team to root for in New York with a ticker-tape parade today: the Giants won the SuperBowl! I was there with my brother and roommates cheering them on and when it was apparent that they were going to win, well I was amazed that buffalo wings weren't flung in the air! lol (Thank God that they weren't!) What IS a ticker tape parade you ask? Well, let me tell you: it is a parade where thousands gather in the streets to greet their American heroes such as astronauts, sports figures, etc. Shredded pieces of paper are thrown into the air and NYC Sanitation employees cry (lol). Ticker-tape came from machines back in the old days that spat out tape with stock market quotes. It's a tradition that goes back to 1886. Our New York Yankees had a few and now it's the Giants. I'm proud of them because NO ONE ever gave them a chance. I believe in underdogs. Unsigned artists like myself are underdogs every day. BKT

And Now, Back To the Songs...

Hey gang! I also want you to know that I plan to upload a few more things for you to hear in the neafr future and there will be talk about my latest plans, so keep coming back! BKT

Divorce: A Sad Reality

This is a blog that I never thought I would submit but I think it's time I talk about it. In August of this year, this website will be two years old and I purposely have been careful not to reveal too much about my private life but then somehing happened: the more hits I got, the more people that checked out my site, the more I felt obligated to talk more freely about things that pertain to my life. Well, I also want to reveal a little bit more about myself for my fans around the world who want to know more about me. I was happily married for a few years until I found out that my wife cheated on me for two years. Other than my mother's death, it was the toughest thing I ever had to face. I mean, how does a spouse feel after finding out that thier loved one has not only been unfatithful, but lied to you consistently in the process: well, that's what happened to me. Now I am going through the painful process of filing for divorce while I try and get my career and head together. It is not an easy period for me at all. When I finished recording my CD, Dreamwalk, shortly afterwards, I found out. "Won't Leave You Tomorrow" is about my suspicions. I guess that this is a catharsis for me saying these things in my website and I know that I'm not the only one who is going through this horrible process. I guess that those who hear my music know that I am a hopeless romantic so it's not hard to see how I feel about this betrayal. However, I still believe in love and marriage. I never thought I would but I do. I even joined a support group to help me. What I am really saying is that we are all human beings and when times get a little too rough for us, we should not carry a burden alone. Get help. It is part of the healing process. I felt compelled to write this because as I said before, there are millions of people all over the world who are dealing with this situation on a day-to-day basis and I want whoever is reading this with similar problems to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Talk to someone close to you about it; if that is not possible, join a support group. Believe me: you won't regret it. Also, feel free to write me if you want. I'll be happy to respond. I loved this woman very much but I know that I will be alright and that there is someone out there for me. Hell, there is even room for more songs about this! :) BKT

Buffalo Wings Day!!!!!

Well, it's here! The biggest football game of the season will be played between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants:the SuperBowl! This is like an unofficial holiday in America for those who do not know. Pubs will be FILLED with people today and of course, there will be special deals where one will have access to ALL YOU CAN EAT food and unlimited drinks in these places. Buffalo wings will be consumed at a record rate; they happen to be my favorite snack. They are actually deep-fried chicken wing parts coated with Frank's Red Hot sauce. For the uninitiated, let's take a look at their origin: The most popular version of how Buffalo Wings came to be is that the co-owner of the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York had to come up with a quick snack for his son and guests one night and came up with deep-frying chicken wing parts and coating them with hot sauce. Today, as I write this blog and get ready for the game, I am marinating chicken wing parts in this delicious sauce(usually served with margarine or butter on top). Usually when one orders Buffalo Wings in America, they are served with blue cheese, carrots and celery. My favorite part of the dining process is dipping the chicken parts in the blue cheese BEFORE popping them into my mouth. Yummy!Well, enjoy the game! Go Giants!!!

Show in Chinatown

Well, I am currently getting back in shape as far a live performances with my time at Smith's and I will also do a show at 169 Bar in New York City Chinatown at 7:00pm, Friday, Februrary 29th . I have never played in that area before so it should be fun! I'll give more details in the next blog. I hope everyone is having a good weekend!BKT

New Partnerships

Hello! In addition to writing new music, I am feverishly trying to form new alliances with people and companies to promote my CD, Dreamwalk. Wish me luck! BKT

Songs Keep Comin'...

I am on a roll! I will most likely be writing all this weekend; I probably won't play at SMITH's for once. I think it's a good time to concentrate on songwriting right now. I believe that a songwriter should NEVER be too complacent, NEVER be too relaxed and so, I constantly challenge myself. I never want my music to be predictably the same all the time. I KNEW that this year would be special! BKT

Congratulations New York Giants!

I must admit that I was skeptical that the Giants would be able to survive but I am pleasantly surprised to see that they are finally going to the Super Bowl(football's biggest game for those who do not know)! I'll go more into the origins of the Super Bowl on February 3rd, the day it takes place. As for the new material, I plan to go back into the studio sometime soon and record a few demos because I really want to have something to build a future album on. Ok gang, see you soon! BKT

"Happy Birthday to ya, Happy Birthday to Ya, Happy BIRTH-DAY!"

I want to talk today about a great American who is no longer with us, but his struggle for equal rights for all in this country is still a great inspiration: Dr. Martin Luther King. Of course, it is widely known that he was THE leader for the Civil Rights movement in the 60's besides Malcolm X but here are some other facts I should disclose to you about him: (a) yes, he believed in non-violence and was influenced by Mahatma Ghandi, but he also visited the Ghandi family in India and was furthered inspired by the Indian leader's masterful approach to British oppression (b) he was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (c)There was another Bloody Sunday besides the horrible incident sung about in the U2 song( 26 Irish civil rights protesters were shot by the British military in Derry, Northern Ireland): the first of the "from Selma to Montgomery" marches of the demonstrators ended in bloodshed because of police brutality (d) Dr. King was awarded 20 honorary degrees from various colleges and universities worldwide (e) in a statue gallery of 20th century martrys, Dr. King stands with other greats like Mother Elizabeth of Russia (a former grand Duchess who sold her possessions after her husband's murder to aid the sick and poor of her country and was later murdered for her convictions.Ok, well I hope you liked my blog! Till next time! Happy Birthday, Dr. King! BKT

Football Sunday

Well the NFC Championship will be decided today and I will watch the game with my brother. For those who do not watch football, this championship win will determine which one of two teams will go the the Super Bowl. I cannot help but remember going to Wisconsin and teaching master classes to those wonderful kids who had so much enthusiasm learning more about the art form that I love so much and devoted my life to: Music. I myself learned so much from the experience and I even watched a Packers game in a bar there! Boy, Cheeseheads sure love their football, God bless 'em! Now if I said that I support the Green Bay Packers against the New Jersey Giants, I will forever be labeled a traitor by my fellow New Yorkers( I know: why would that happen since the Giants actually are a New Jersey team: well, it's one of those strange situations in spotrs: please don't ask me to explain! :) But I WILL say that since we really don't have a New York football team to root for, the jets and the Giants are the second best thing lol). Of course, the rest of the world knows football as soccer.I wish it were more popular in this country. Did you know that it is acknowledged that soccer actually originated in ancient China? Anyway, whatever the outcome of the game today, may the best team win! BKT (No I will NOT predict a winner! LOL)

The Floodgates Have Opened...

As I plan out the new year and talk to new prospects for my career, I am writing new material for this year and the next to come. It has been a wonderful experience working on these new ideas.I will have more music I will upload to this site for you to hear so keep coming back and for those who are listening to my songs for the first time here, welcome! BKT

Dreamwalk: The Title Track

And now, back to the music! I have been asked by many listeners why I decided to make the title track so short and I have a number of reasons. First, I wanted to have a short musical string interlude that would act as a bridge to the next song, I LOVE YOU. Second, I guess I wanted to stretch my orchestral muscles with a tune that has a hint of Classical in it and I thought that it would be nice for something unlike any other track on the CD to stick out. Third, I admit that I was influenced by a track I grew up with on Eric Carmen's self titled album( which contains the classic "All by Myself") called "Everything". I thought it was cool that the track was purely Classically-influenced (Eric Carmen apparently had some training: another track"Never Gonna Fall In Love Again" borrowed themes from Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony) but it always bothered me that it was so short until much later in my life when I realized why he composed such a short piece: as far as writing music, the length of a piece really depends on the mood of the composer. I think that he felt that he said all that he wanted to say in that composition; therefore, I said musically all I wanted to say as well for Dreamwalk. Once again it is a musical bridge. Why did I name the album after the track? Well, the title Dreamwalk actually represents where I am musically at this point in time. This CD is a bridge which shall hopefully lead to new musical territories and opportunities. BKT

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Hi!! I'm back!!! Sorry it took so long for a new blog, but I had a touch of the flu which incapacitated me for quite a while but I am 100% again. It hasn't stopped me too much, though, from making plans. I am pitching certain songs from the DREAMWALK CD to the film industry. As I said in my previous blog, I LOVE MOVIES and I am sure that fellow movie buffs like myself will recognize the title of the latest Indiana Jones epic coming out in late May which I chose as the title for today's installment. While I was laying in bed recuperating, I watched the Indiana Jones trilogy films back to back including the bonus features which gives insight into the actual film-making process. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK is one of my all-time favorite movies and it will always have a special place in my heart because I saw it on the big screen the night before my very first big performance with my band (back then, we did two sets, 12 songs each!). I thought it would be fun to share with you what I learned while I was nursing myself back to health: (a) Mr.Spielberg's name in German actually means "Play Mount" in German; the Indy films are distributed by Paramount Films(get the play on words? lol) Mr. Spielberg made fun of the comparison in the "bonus features" CD (b) The characters Indiana, Short Round, and Willie were based on the names of dogs of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and the screenwriters of the Temple of Doom (c) the submarine used in RAIDERS is the same one that Wolfgang Petersen used afterwards for his masterpiece "Das Boot" (d) Kate Capshaw, Willie Scott, eventually married Mr. Spielberg (e)Originally, THE LAST CRUSADE was going to be a haunted castle story but after POLTERGEIST and such, Mr. Spielberg wanted another story, so Mr. Lucas suggested the Holy Grail; the original script even STARTED with a haunted castle where the Nazis where searching for it (f) EVERYONE got sick while shooting in Tunisia for the Cairo sequences in RAIDERS except Mr. Spielberg who wisely chose to eat canned goods A year ago, my brother treated me with a ticket to see maestro John Williams conduct the NY Philharmonic performing classic film music including Star Wars and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Mr. Spielberg, along with Martin Scorsese, was the narrator. I mean, can you imagine? That was certainly a treat for me!!! Now I plan to give you guys quite a few surprises this year on this site so keep coming back! I hope you enjoyed this blog:). BKT

The Cup for the Well of the Soul

This is exactly how I see the wondrous art of Songwriting: it is indeed the cup that dips into the well of an artist's soul. Sometimes you like what you taste, sometimes you don't; the bottom line is whether or not you choose to swallow. I woke up this morning with a lovely melody in my head. Now I know that when I go back home tonight, I will look at what came from that well this morning, taste it again, and decide whether I will swallow or simply spit it out. It has been this way for me as far as I can remember. I was happy to see in a scene from Antonio Banderas' movie, "Once Upon A Time in Mexico" which was on TV today, where a man was playing the piano, commenting to another that music is a soul thing. I believe that it truly is. For those who know me, I LOVE movies. I hope to write for them in the future. The NEAR future, if I have my way!Ok, more to come in a future blog! As Stan Lee from Marvel Comics always says...Excelsior! BKT

Funny How Time Flies...

So the weekend is here already! Man, that was fast! This year just started and we are already at this point. It is indeed scary how quickly time passes. well, I am taking this week to plan the rest of my year so keep coming back because I have BIG things planned! Also, I will continue blogs that include hopefully useful info since I have gotten responses that they are appreciated. Take care and have a good weekend!BKT

2008-The Year of Magic

Well, it's here: December 31, 2007 and I can't help but look back on what I have been blessed with this year: (a) featured artist in the Inside Connection Music Magazine (b)soon to be featured artist in the Indie Revolution podcast ( I know I mentioned giving you more info about this current breakthrough; I'll give you more info once they give it to me) (c)featured artist in the Alpha Music group REVIEWS section (d)featured artist on indie radio playlists including mvyradio.com, iradioLA.com, and Arizonahotlipsradio.com (e) to date,with many thanks to you and my fans around the world, www.byronkeithtaylor.com has received over 60,000 hits and I am also proud that I have received emails from people I don't know who thank me for the site;once again, I thank all of you!:) I hope that regular visitors of my site have enjoyed my historical blogs, news blogs, soundclips, and pictures that I have included. I promise you that for the upcoming new year, this site will be bigger and better than ever before. You have inspired me to continue not only my musical exploits with you, but my life's as well. I am a humble musician whose dream is to share my music with the world and to be the very best person I can be. I hope that my mom is looking down on me with pride; she inspires me most of all.Thus, for 2008,what I will call the Year of Magic because I plan to do miraculous things, the journey will STILL continue and be better than ever so keep coming here because I want to take that journey with you...Happy New Year! BKT

New Year's Eve Traditions

Before I post the final blog of the year tomorrow, I thought that I would talk about the things that make New Year's Eve unique: (a) the ball that drops every year is actually 1,070 pounds of Waterford Crystal (as in Waterford, Ireland); the dropping of it at 23:59:00 comes from a tradition of signalling at noon for harbors. (b)In Germany, the celebration is known as Silvester and a short English program,DINNER FOR ONE,with the catchphrase "same procedure as every year" is generally watched so please don't think of this wonderful country as detached from us... (c)In Japan, Buddhists ring their temple bells 108 times (d)Spaniards believe that wearing red underwear on New Year's Eve brings them good luck. I just thought it would be nice to look into how others celebrate.Come back tomorrow and I will have a wrap-up of the year ready for you! BKT

Time to Reflect

Hey gang! I haven't been posting here longer than usual because I have been feflecting on all the happenings of 2007 in my life. I'll post a special blog on New Year's Eve. Keep coming back! BKT

My favorite time of the Year

Hey gang! Christmas time is finally here! I have always loved the holiday since childhood. Normally, I would go into the origins of an important holiday but I think we all may know that Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ: however, here are a few facts you may NOT know:(a) the word Christmas comes from a combination of "Christ's mass"(b) After Charlemagne was crowned on Christmas Day, 800 the holiday gradually become extremely important to celebrate(c) the holiday was not so important for a while in the U.S. after the American Revolution because it was considered as an "English custom".Ok There you have it! Ok take careand I wish all of you a MERRY CHRISTMAS and don't drink too much of that eggnog!;) BKT

Indie Revolution

Hi gang! I have recently been picked to be a feature in an Indie podcast entitled "Indie Revolution" and I am honored! I will give you more info in the next entry but to be included in this program is very flattering. I believe that there truly IS an indie revolution going on and it is finally changing the way people hear music. Back in the day, the major record labels had an iron-clad monopoly on the music business; now with the advent of the Web, artists are taking matters in our own hands! Now don't get me wrong: I would LOVE major label support and it is my dream, but while I don't have it, I have to be my own manager and record label which is not always easy, trust me.So please keep your eyes peeled because I will give you more info about this new venue of mine soon!:) BKT

Catch-22

I'm still reeling over the untimely death of one of my all-time favorite artists, Dan Fogelberg. I don't care what Maxim magazine or any of those mags or surveys said about him: I feel that he wrote some great music and has inspired me as far back as I can remember. I just finished another song for my dear friend Svetlana to sing: it's called Catch-22. It's a dance song that she commissioned me to write for her and I think it came out pretty well. I hope I have the opportunity to premiere at least a portion of it here on the site. I think you'll like it.Take care, have a happy weekend! BKT

In Remembrance of a Great Artist

It is with deep regret and sorry that I must report that Dan Fogelberg passed away from prostate cancer yesterday. To me, it is an end of an era. He was one of the most influential musicians in my life and I will miss him deeply. When I heard the album "Phoenix" I could not believe the artistry that was coming from those grooves. The song "Longer" came from this record and is a radio staple for sure in America. He never performed it live very much but it is definitely a classic. "Leader of the Band" was about his father and I think it is one of the most poignant songs ever written about family. I think he was a genius, playing virtually all the instruments on his records with a few exceptions. Tonight, I am very saddened by his death. It's as almost if the people I really care about are passing away from this horrible disease. As many of you know, I lost my mom to cancer. I also feel for his family in this difficult time.If there were any artist I would most want to be like other than Paul McCartney, his name would be first on my mind. He didn't really care about music videos,Hollywood parties, or being in tabloids. To me, he was a TRUE original, one who cared more about THE MUSIC than wanting to benefit from controversy or publicity. That is a rare thing in today's age. So please join me in saying a prayer for his family. His soul is indeed in a better place and his music will not be forgotten.BKT

Sailing on New Shores...

Hey there! I've been busy writing new material and I have one new song I will reveal to you here in the near future. This time, I explored the subject of nostalgia, the days before CDs and iPods.Also I am reflecting on all I have down from the beginning of this year till now. Soon, another league of my journey will be crossed and now I look forward to greater waters, whether they be rough or smooth.I'll have more next week! Have a good weekend! BKT

The Truth About Beowulf

Hi Gang! I just came from JURY DUTY. For those who don't know, Jury Duty is an American duty which all citizens must serve. The state government mails a summons to us every four years or so in order for us to go to a courthouse and wait to be possibly picked to serve on a jury. It usually entails hours of waiting. I was dismissed because there were enough jurors that were picked, so here I am writing this new blog for all of you. Currently, I am still working on a few musical ideas, finishing my first Online course, and even had a chance to go to the movies. I saw BEOWULF and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. I read the classic Old English poem upon which the film is in my childhood and am surprised after talking to a few people how little known it is to them. First, it the poem was written somewhere between the 8th and 11th Centuries in England even though the events take place in Scandinavia.If not the oldest poem, it is one of the oldest to transcend the oral tradition of storytelling and survive in written form, making it one of the earliest examples of English literature; thus, it is a VERY important work of art. Beowulf is NOT, I repeat, NOT a wolf of half-wolf,or werewolf as is thought by many: in fact, the etymology of his name (Bee-wulf) actually suggests a Bear and he does have bear-like strength in the poem. The tale rivals the importance of Homer's Illiad and Odyssey in scope and vision. Tolkien, "the Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" creator even talked about it in his 1936 British Academy lecture"Beowulf: the Monsters and the Critics".More than likely, scholars agree that his writings were influenced by the epic poem, to some degree. Tolkien's pal, C.S. Lewis ("The Chronicles of Narnia") is another author whose works more than deserve to be on the screen, I thought and when I examined this phenomena more, I began to see interesting patterns. Lewis' child characters, Lucy,peter, Susan, and Edmond, were known in the Narnia books as the sons of Adam and the daughters of eve while Beowulf's characters, Grendel and his mother, could very well be known as the son and daughter of Cain, the first murderer of the world.It is often hinted in the poem about their genealogy. Do you see the parallels? Cain is known in fantasy literature to be the father of ogres and monsters in our world. Interesting huh? I thought so.:) I'm glad to see that there is more interest in fantasy and classic literature with the filmmakers of today. I want to write more songs like "The Knight and the Queen", in fact. I have written a few more medieval- based songs from my "Castle of Dreams" CD but I want to go much further because it is one of my dreams that one day, my collection of fantasy-themed songs will be included as a musical. Ok, see you later! BKT

More About "I Will Walk With You"

I want to give you a little more backround on this song. I recorded it 7 years ago and I wanted a simple, almost bluegrass feel. Lorenza Ponce, violinist for Sheryl Crow, played the countermelody parts on violin and I think it came out beautifully. I played all of the other instruments. I am still proud of how it came out. I truly believbe that love IS a spiritual force and when one is experiencing it with a special person, each partner is transcended beyond themselves. The imagery was inspired by Robert's Frost nature symbols in "The Road Not Taken". I also wanted to convey worst case scenarios that I would grow through willingly for the woman I would love and one of the first things that came to my was a Sandstorm. I read one time that when Lucas was writing "Return of the Jedi", a sandstorm sequence was shot in order to take place right after the Sail Barge Battle Scene and was later scrapped, hence the line "I will walk with you through a blowing desert wind, of a storm that never ends since we are together". Okay folks, I'll be back with more. Till next time! BKT

New Song Upload!!!

As promised, I have uploaded "I Will Walk With You". I hope you enjoy it! BKT

I Will Walk With You

I am going to upload this song, "I Will Walk With You" in a few days for you to hear because it is one of my favorites that I have written. I was influenced by God, Robert Frost, George Lucas, and a woman that I was in love with at the time! Check out the lyrics: I WILL WALK WITH YOU Words and Music By Byron Keith Taylor Copyright 2000 I will walk with you through the changin' rivertides, Through the currents of our lives now and forever I will walk with you through a blowin' desert wind of a storm that never ends since we are together I know it's hard to say for some people but I'll say it anyway I really care for you and you care for me, too The Light that guides our way to the Father makes us stronger every day whatever we'll go through I will still walk with you I will walk with you on a cold, dark winter night when the moon is shinin' bright on both our shoulders I will walk with you as the seasons start to change, while our time is rearranged as we grow older I know it's hard to say for some people but I'll say it anyway I really care for you and you care for me, too The Light that guides our way to the Father makes us stronger every day Whatever we'll go through, I will still walk with you Every day we'll reach brand new horizons You are everything that a woman should be Do you find my feelings so surprising? Don't hold back the way that you feel for me I will walk with you through the changin' rivertides, Through the currents of our lives now and forever I will still walk with you Have a great weekend! BKT

Music and Sprituality

I am a musician but I am also a Christian. I believe in the teachings of Christ and now I must talk about a powerful force in my music: God. Many years ago, I wrote a song that I later performed at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City in front of 2,000 people called "I will Walk With You". I did not realize when I wrote the song that it could be interpreted in two ways: as a walk with the man or woman you love and/or a walk with the Higher Power.Especially, the line"the Light that guides our Way to the Father makes us stronger every day" is still, I think, one of my best lyrics, because it shows my feelings about spirituality in song. Whenever I record, perform, sing, arrange, or produce I am mindful that all of my abilities come from a very powerful force that is responsible for me being here in the first place. Music is my way of sharing myself with the world. There is something vibrant inside of me when I sing: Sometimes I feel like another energy is inside me that gives me focus and energy . I really believe it to be God's influence that keeps me going.In the next entry, I will share the lyrics with you as my testimony to my love of Love, God, Music, Nature and the gift of Human life. BKT

The Essence of Engineering

I believe that there is so much time devoted to exploring the world of the songwriter, artist, or producer, that the fascinating underdog, the unsung hero, the recording engineer,has the tendency to be sorely overlooked. I mentioned before that making a CD, making an album is pretty much like making a film: the producer is the director, the artist has the lead role, and the hired musicians or band are the supporting cast. But what about the cameraman? The cinematographer? That role is firmly planted in the hands of the engineer. He is the producer's(director's) right hand man. All pertinent decisions related to ensuring a successful CD depends on this crucial relationship between the artist, producer, and the engineer. Ever see any photos of your favorite artist in the recording studio? The guy behind the console fiddling with those weird faders and controls is most likely the engineer. I have had the pleasure of working with a two great engineers for my first CD, "Castle of Dreams", and my latest released one, "Dreamwalk": Dave Fisher was an engineer for a Lou Reed CD called "Ecstasy"; we worked on my first CD together; Walter Randall engineered "Dreamwalk". I had to play many different roles for my latest CD as artist, producer, and in a lot of ways, supporting cast since I played almost ALL of the instruments myself. I am inspired to write this new blog because of the current book I am reading, "Here, There, and Everywhere", a personal account of recording the classic Beatle albums by their primary engineer, the legendary Geoff Emerick. Reading his personal take on the Beatle years, since he was right there in the studio with them, is akin to reading John Dykstra's account of the groundbreaking special effects it took to make the first Star Wars film. Before "Eleanor Rigby", string quartets were recorded with the mic suspending four or five feet above the ensemble. Paul McCartney, however, wanted an agressive sound for the strings so Geoff miked the instruments VERY CLOSE. This was UNHEARD OF during those times and Mr. Emerick even suggests that the string players resisted but George Martin had to keep them in line with the accordance of the composer's wishes. And the rest is, as they say, history. reading that was like looking at CGI for the first time. Engineers are the cameramen, the ones that not only capture, but manipulate the sound. This is a craft unto itself. I am STILL learning about the true meaning behind compression,equalization, editing, and all of the other skills that are essential for good engineering and I won't even get into MASTERING because that requires a different kind of engineer altogether! generally, I like my CDs to sound pretty big although I will scale down considerably in the future for one album I plan to make which will be a very simple guitar, vocals, strings and bass approach a la Springsteen's "the Ghost of Tom Joad". I am also listening to his marvelous" Devils and Dust" record. One day I want to do an album like that full of narratives and sparse instrumentation. But that is WAY into the future! God willing, it will happen, though. I'm sure I have any more thoughts about this fascinating subject which I will leave in another future blog. Have a good day! BKT

A little more time...

Hi gang! I am spending this weekend off and on trying to see which new uploads I can send to this site so bear with me; I think you'll like what I have planned! Now that this is the first of the last month of the year, I am going to give you a few surprises! Ok, ok...I will say that the next blog entry will be my take on Music and Spirituality:).BKT

Coming Attractions

I will have another new song uploaded soon but I haven't decided which one yet, so it will be a surprise for me as well as you! Also, I will uploaded some more of my personal manuscripts, essays, lyrics,and other surprises I think you will like. LOL Time is moving so quickly and I want to make the last month of this year special for all of my fans and newcomers so stick around because the journey is more and more interesting! BKT

So Far So Good...

Well, my online college course is ok so far and I am currently working on some new material. I was hearing a country song in my dreams and I thought I had the television on or something but when I woke up, the TV was off! Therefore, it came from my subconcious. So there I was, ecstatic that the song was still in my mind, including words, and I dragged my keyboard from uner the bed( the only place I could keep it in my shoe box of a room:) ) and lo and behold, I could not hear what I was playing in the headphones! Needless to say, I started to panic! I did not want this great idea to suddenly be lost so I took off the headphones(they turned out to be defective), played the sequence of chords and melody I remembered, and saved it all in the keyboard's memory. Whew! That was a close call! Anyway, I will be working on it this week and following up my business leads for the rest of this year which is quickly coming to an end. I have my work cut out for me! BKT

New Song Uploaded!!

Hi folks! As promised, I uploaded a new song for you to hear.It's called "The Wanderer's Tale" and it is taken from my first CD, Dreamwalk and I talked about it a while ago. Now you can hear it. Just go to the MUSIC section in my site. And reread the November 2, 2007 entry I wrote about it in the NEWS section if you can. Enjoy! BKT

For my Non-American friends all over the world....

As usual, I like to explore the origins of a holiday. For those who are not Americans and read my blog today, I hope you find it useful and entertaining. And for those who are, I hope I touch upon something that you find amusing.For America, Thanksgiving is probably the biggest holiday next to Easter, Yom Kippur, and of course Christmas.The earliest Thanksgiving celebrations took place in the British Colonies which are now known as Virginia and Massachussetts between 1619 and 1621.As the name suggests, the holiday is about giving thanks to the fruits of labor after the harvest. Nowadays, we give thanks for good health, our families, jobs,etc. In the US, it really is part of a four day long weekend traditionally which includes the closing of schools and other institutions.Following Thanksgiving which always takes place on the fourth Thursday of November every year is the notorious Black Friday, the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season where stores open very early to allow the madness to begin.Discounts are abound in his environment!And accidents of course. George Washington made it an officail holiday in 1789 in the Constitution and president Franklin D. Roosevelt made it official as teh fourth Thursday every November starting in 1939 andcongress put their stamp on it in 1941. Now as far as the Native American involvement, among the many Indians that helped the pilgrims survive when they settled in the New world,Squanto, was an interpreter,former slave, and taught them how to grow corn and hunt eel: A great Native American who helped bridge the gap...at least for awhile. I won't get into how the Indians were treated later.And of course, turkey is the bird if this day served with mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing,cranberry sauce, the works! Ok, I hope you liked what I wrote. Take care! BKT

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving

Well, I finished eating and now I'm stuffed! LOL Now that the holiday season is officially underway, I am trying to wrap up the year on a good, solid note. The uploads are coming soon! Bye and have a good weekend! BKT

"O Brave New World that has such people in it..."

Miranda's speech in Shakespeare's last play, "The Tempest" (one of my favorites of his) inspired Aldous Huxley to write the classic "Brave New World" novel which was his vision about the future. I wonder what he and the Immortal Bard would have thought of the Internet which is truly the most dominant invention in the age we live in. I would not be able to reach people all over the world with my music without it. It has forever changed human existence. I have decided to embark upon a journey simultaneously with my musical pursuits. While I write songs, gig, network and do all of the necessary things for hopeful success, I will take online courses in my spare time in a special University program for another degree. I feel that an artist should be as educated as possible in order to continue writing about the world around him or her. This is my path towards this prerequisite. On top of everything else, I think my mom would have been proud.It's amazing that I would not be able to be a student again if it weren't for the Internet.The online course program is the newest thing for adults like myself who would be too physically busy to sit in a class.it's quite exciting actually.So it would be cool going to a computer, logging on, and submitting homework during quiet time after getting off a stage playing for an hour or so. I believe that Music will change, too. I think that in ten years, the recording and music making process will be totally different than it is now,thanks to the world wide web. I must tell you that I really enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings with my fans all over the world and I will not stop. I encourage any artist to go back to school while pursuing their music to do so. In the information age we live in, the academic and musical worlds can coexist. I really believe so.It is my intention to be the best person that I can be and I think that this will hjepl me. more songs are certainly on the way and I assume that I will be busier than ever even though I do not know what the future holds for me yet. I can only be hopeful that wherever my pursuits take me, they will be in the light of positivity, enlightenment, and ultimate happiness. There are many plans I have for more music for you to hear; the journey is STILL continuing and getting more interesting.Keep coming back here and you will see:). And don't forget to pick up a copy of my CD "Dreamwalk" here!:) BKT

New Uploads

Hi gang! This is an exciting week coming up. First, I plan to have a few new uploads for you to listen to. I won't exactly tell you when but trust me, they will be there by the end of the week! In between stuffing myself with Thanksgiving food, I'll find a way!:) I can't believe that the holiday season is already almost upon us. So please stay tuned because I have a few surprises coming your way. Just keep checking daily to see what I have up my sleeve. Bye! BKT

More Territory to Cover

Well the weekend is near! My songwriting continues. I'll be on the keyboard all night tonight fiddling around with new ideas. I'll have much more to share with you next week. I would also like to say hello to the newest country listening to my music: the Emerald Isle...lovely Ireland! Also for those in New York check out WMIR/100.9 FM or for those who are not check out www.wmir1009.com and here me and other artists on this station. Thanks for coming by and have a great weekend! BKT

FYI

You can still take a look at my feature page in the Inside Connection Muisc Magazine. Just go to www.insidecx.com and go to the A & R Resource Guide section in their home page. Thanks! BKT

More Songwriting...

Hi gang! This week I am concentrating more on Songwriting because I am starting to have ideas more frequently now. I may do once again what I did with "The Raven Trail" and share the process with you here in the site. Stay tuned! BKT

The Value of Orchestration

I went to dinner with a friend this past Saturday evening and while we were waiting for our food, a familiar musical motif came on the speakers: the first melody that introduces Frank Sinatra's classic,"It Was A Very Good Year" :it was played by an oboe. I personally think that today's Pop music by and large sadly neglects the use of the traditional instruments that have been around for centuries. I found it amusing that someone suggested once that I use "modern sounds" for my arrangements. So what does that mean? I should JUST use digital keyboards? I think that music is much broader than that. I use whatever compliments the piece. If I need to use elements of tradition as well as modernism, then why the hell not? My philosophy is that BOTH are valuable. Christina Aguilera has a haunting cello on her great song"Beautiful". Does that mean that the song is dated? Of course not. Arranging is so wonderful because one can use a palette of so many different colors with which to paint. Smokey Robinson's" Tears of a Clown" has a wonderfully playful bassoon throughout the song. I believe that a composer should use whatever is at his or her's disposal to communicate a musical idea. I love digital keyboards but I won't go crazy with them. I like a natural sound to my music as well; to blend the old with the new is my method. A good orchestration, in my view, is the result of exploring all possibilities to make a great-sounding song and then making proper decisions to best compliment it.The best of all possible worlds, as Voltaire's Dr. Pangloss said in Candide.It would be nice that if I am blessed enough, for someone to recognize"With all of My Heart" especially because of the oboe part before they even hear my voice. A single instrument can play an important role in a song,too. BKT

EPK

Hi! Just wanted you to know that anyone who wants to see my Electronic Press Kit can now click on my Sonicbids link her and see it. Everything is back to normal.Till next time!BKT

A Night of Guinness

Well last night was certainly good at Smith's! I got to play some songs earlier than usual in the show and to top things off rather nicely, I was greeted afterwards by visiting people from the Emerald Isle and boy, do they know how to celebrate!:) Today, I am feeling the after effects of a few pints of Guinness. I HAVE to Ireland one day and play. When I was in Germany a few years ago, I played with a few Irish musicians and it was joyous! It was almost like playing jazz wher musical creation was on the spot! Anyway, the Sonicbids hookup will be up and running for certain by before Monday finally, so those who want to see my Electronic Press Kit may do so by then.Keep checking in and have a good weekend! BKT

Decisions and Revisions

I have been thinking long and hard on a few things and I have made a few decisions; (a) My first CD, "Castle of Dreams", will NOT have a refit; I think it's best to leave it the way it is because as I was listening to it again over the weekend, it occurred to me that it is like being in a musical time capsule. It represents me in a particular place and time and to try and improve on it would actually ruin it;however, I will pick a song or two from it and include it on a future project with a fresh,, new arrangement; (b) I still am looking for the right situation for me business-wise and it looks like I haven't gotten to it yet. I am still working towards that goal though and by January, I will have a set gameplan; (c) there will be more gigs to come. There! That's it so far and for those who are wondering, my SonicBids membership will be back in force by tomorrow 3pm EST so my submissions can be responded to once again from that time forward. Keep a look out because I have more to come soon! BKT

Who is my Biggest Musical Influence?

many people continue to ask me that question so I decided to answer it in today's blog ntry. I'll give you a few hints beforehand. Hint #1: he is one of the few artists who has performed in Red Square and St. Petersburg. I was watching those performances on DVD last night while eating dinner. Hint#2: he has been knighted. Hint#3:he was born in Liverpool, England. Hint#4: he is according to the Guiness Book of World Records, the most successful Songwriter of all time. And the final Hint if you haven't guessed by now: his on again, off again writing partner was the legendary John Lennon...STILL don't know who it is? SHAME on you! LOL Of course, I am talking about the great Sir Paul McCartney, a man who has influenced me since childhood. When I heard "Got to get you into my life" for the first time, I was hooked! Is pent HOURS a day learning his songs, singing along, becoming a better musician because I wanted to be just like him. He taught me how important the marriage between a good melody and lyric is. Being a Classical Music buff, he helped bring that aspect into the sound of the Beatles and of course, I was inspired by that, too. He gave me the idea to play as many instruments as possible. When I was scoring for my CD, Dreamwalk, I was wondering how I would pull off having a few string players sound like a full-blown orchestra on my VERY limited budget(I mean it was HARD financing an album paycheck to paycheck!!). Then, I remembered a book I read written by Beatles producer/arranger George Martin and he said that he only used about seven cellos for John Lennon's great "I am the Wal;rus". Hmm. Didn't it sound like he used a whole string section to you guys? Well it did to me! So I figured I would use the same technique. Did it work? Well, I'll let the public be the judge. So there is the answer. Mr. Paul McCartney has been and always shall be my musical idol. BKT

A Few words about my Electronic Press Kit

For those who are trying to access my EPK (Electronic Press Kit) via my Sonicbids link, try agin after November 8th because that is when I will have the funds again to keep it accessible!:) Have a good weekend! BKT

The Wanderer's Tale

This is another song of mine that could be considered a "Movie Song" inspired by Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", a character in Wagner's Opera SIEGFRIED,(Wanderer/Wotan, Father of the Gods),and Russian Choral music: THE WANDERER'S TALE Words and Music by Byron Keith Taylor Copyright 2000 I'm a poor, weary traveller Now that I'm on my own I don't have a career, I don't have a home I have journeyed to foreign lands for the thrill of the hunt Is the future still in my hands? Will I ever know just who I am or will good fortune prevail? This is the Wanderer's Tale I have sailed on forbidden shores, crossed through rocky terrain Fought with cutthroats and bandits just to have a name I'm still looking for paradise or what's left of it now I don't know where I will wind up but that's part of what I'm all about Someday, I know you won't fail to tell the Wanderer's Tale I'm a poor, weary traveller With a sword at my side working for every meal I have Will I ever know just who I am or will good fortune prevail? This was the Wanderer's Tale Before the year is out, this will be a new soundclip from my unreleased previous CD, "Castle of Dreams". I scored it with pizzicato strings (where the strings of a violin or other stringed instrument is plucked rather than bowed), a driving lead piano, a pseudo Russian choir, soprano sax, synths, and timpani. I'll get more into specifics later.:) BKT

Decisions, decisions...

Well, Halloween has come and gone and now we are in the next to the last month of the year. I am still contemplating the few offwers I have had and making decisions about where I want to go from here. I will keep you abreast of all the news I have to offer of course and I ahve not forgotten about the sound clips I have promised earlier. it's taking longer than I thought to get that together, but I will. Please keep coming back and I have more surprises in store! BKT

The Art of The Movie Song

Hey folks! I hope your weekend was good. I performed once again at Smith's and it was generally a very good crowd. Today, I would like to reflect on the subject of what I call "The Movie Song". What is it? Quite simply, a style of songwriting where there is a narrative being told in the song with or without dialogue; what I also call a"movie for the ears"; hence my title, "The Movie song". What are some examples? Well, the latest song I've written" The Raven Trail". If you look at the lyrics in my last entry, you will see that I worked on not only telling a story but including a landscape (e.g. mountains,wide plains, vistas, snow, etc.). I wanted the listener to literally SEE what is going on in their minds. An earlier and far more famous example is Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis". I had the pleasure of meeting this incredible singer/songwriter many years ago and I am glad that he's doing ok now (a couple of years ago, he was shot). I guess that I was influenced by this style of writing for a long time. Harry Chapin's classic "Taxi" is another famous example. It is an art form that is rarely explored these days but Iw ant to help bring it back. There are a lot of stories I want to tell that I haven't even made up yet. Another geat Movie Song is Gordon Lightfoot's great "Don Quixote". My song "The Knight and the Queen" is a Movie Song I wrote over a decade ago. I'll include another song with lyrics in a future entry that explores this genre I love so well. DREAMWALK, my current CD, is indeed an album of love songs but I will have more Movie Songs in my next CD. Ok, take care and I'll write more soon! :) BKT

"The Raven Trail": the final draft

You guys will probably think I'm nuts but I made even more changes to the song and this time they will be final. Part of being a composer, a songwriter, is that just when you think something is finished, it really isn't. Of course there are exceptions but in this case, it's true. I really wanted to refine the story of my song which has turned into a narrative not only about a Black Indian chief. I wanted to give him more of a reason why he became a legend besides his unique heritage: he holds a powerful secret that was passed down to him by his Indian father. A secret that has grown in legend: a trail that leads to the famous Seven Cities of Gold that was long coveted by even the Spanish Conquistadors. Thus, the final title of the song is "The Raven Trail". Now the song has elemnts of both real history, legend and a mythology made up by me. This hopefully makes for an even more interesting song. I never really planned to write this song online but these are indeed strange times when I can share my songwriting process with people all over the world simultaneously!:) So anyway, here is the FINAL draft of the song in its entirety: THE RAVEN TRAIL Words and Music by Byron Keith Taylor Copyright 2007 Born in 1835, Family killed, I'm left alive Carried from a wagon bed After many thieves lay dead A tribal chief had called me son He taught me how to shoot a gun My skin is black; he did not care Soon, I'm a legend everywhere (Chorus) Tell me who hasn't heard about the Raven Trail? Is it true that the children know it well? I must do all I can to guard the secret way Son, If I fail Don't forget the Raven Trail Across the Carolina plains It hugs the earth,kisses the rain The sun melts fast upon the snow Soon it will be time to go My foster father had been claimed By a greedy soldier's aim My wife then bore a my first-born child Upon the slopes deep in the wild (Chorus) (Bridge) Remember the Mountain to the Cities of Gold? Its path was named after me The Confederate army must do what they're told We've got to fight to stay free (Chorus) Have a great weekend! BKT

Revisions

Today, I looked back at my new song, THE RAVEN'S TALE and to my horror, I realized that I made a HUGE blunder that has something to do with the historical part of the song: I had my character born originally in 1865 and then growing up to fight with his tribe that consisted of natives and African slaves whom he accepted. But the problem was that slavery was ALREADY OVER by 1865 because of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendent. So I had the make the date that the Raven was born much earlier, so now the line reads" Born in 1835..." I think it's a better time period because (A) slavery was still in effect in America at that time so when the Raven grew to adulthood, he could defend his African tribesmen against those who wanted them for profit; (B) it is five years after the famous TRAIL OF TEARS Indian deportation to the West; (C) He would be involved in the Civil War years (1861-1865) which would entail many adventures I could write about in a future song. I'm glad I realized my mistake before all the history buffs got on my case!:) I also learned something new and important about songwriting: even a minor change can greatly improve a song overall.BKT

Song Titles

Hello! I am now undergoing a major writing period right now. I have a few musical ideas floating around and written on some manuscript but in the meantime, I am also doing an exercise that has always worked for me: writing done random song titles. Throughout the years, I have used some, changed some and discarded others. What exactly is in a song title? Well, there are some songs that have a title but NEVER appear in the song; instead it is used to suggest a mood or subject matter. Usually my titles are in the songs themselves. I like to attract people with my titles: make them intriguing. If someone who has never heard my music sees a title like " Love has an Open door" or "Carousel", maybe that person would be interested in hearing what the song actually sounds like. Check out some of my titles and better yet, check out my CD, Dreamwalk, which is still available through this site. Also, I will probably be playing at Smith's again this Thursday on W.44th and 8th. Take care! BKT

CMJ Party Report

Hi gang! I had a blast at the party last night! I got to hear a pretty cool teenage Canadian band named High Voltage and not only were the songs impressive, but the kids were quite mature for their ages.After their performance, I was asked by the emcee to perform a song and I did "with All of My Heart". I got to meet a few other singer/songwriters and I even sampled a special Canadian shot which I downed rather quickly! All in all, it was a good affair. Have a great weekend! BKT

The Raven's Tale

THE RAVEN'S TALE Music and Lyrics by Byron Keith Taylor Copyright 2007 Born in 1835, Family killed, I'm left alive Carried from a wagon bed After many thieves lay dead A tribal chief had called me son He taught me how to shoot a gun My skin is dark; he did not care Soon, I'm a legend everywhere (Chorus) Tell me who hasn't heard about the Raven's Tale? Is it true that the children sing my name? I must do all I can to guard our mountain trails, Son, If I fail Don't forget the Raven's Tale Across the Carolina plains I hugged the earth and kissed the rain The sun melts fast upon the snow Soon it will be time to go My foster father had been claimed By a soldier's perfect aim My wife then bore my first-born child Upon the slopes deep in the wild (Chorus) (Bridge) Do you remember the mountain to the Cities of Gold? My father showed it to me Men of my tribe are dark warriors who will not be sold We must defend liberty! (Chorus) Well, that's the song! I am so excited completing it, I already copyrighted it! As for the music, well, I may perform it in a concert this year but I will certainly record it next year. I just thought that I would share with you what I had been talking about in past entries. Hope you like the lyrics! One of my many surprises I plan for you before the end of the year! BKT

The Art of Lyric Writing (or at least what I think it is)

Tomorrow, I look forward to going to this CMJ party where there will be chances to network. I apologize for my last entry because not everyone would know what CMJ would stand for. It is the College Music Journal, a yearly gathering of bands and musicians from all over who have a slew of show covering a wide array of clubs all over the city. Anyway, I have been writing lyrics EVERY DAY now for the past few weeks and I am coming up with some interesting verses that I may or may not use. I have been writing for a few decades and I must say that this is a first for me. I don't think that there is a real formula for writing lyrics. of course, there is structure like AABA, ABAB, Verse/ Chorus and so forth butnI think that Lyrics have a way of springing forth on their own. When I write a story song, I try to think of the most entertaining way of introducing characteras and explaining their adventures. certainly, one has a limited time to do so withina spn of 5 minutes but that, to me, is the fun of it. The Music ALWAYS dictates the words to me. ALWAYS. There MUST be a perfect marriage between lyrics and music r the song won't work at all. I don't think that lyrics should EVR be forced. If it even SOUNDS forced, then I think it is a bad lyric (e.G. cramming a word that has more syllables than a musical phrase will allow). So that is some of my ideas about lyrics. Hope you enjoyed the latest entry! More to come later. Till next time! BKT

CMJ Party

Hey gang! I've been invited to a CMJ party at Bango Jim's this Thursday where I will finally get to meet a music licensing firm based in Canada who may be interested in one of my songs. I have never been toa party like this before so it should be interesting. If anything, there's BEER! LOL Anyway, I am also close to completing perhaps one of my most important songs to dat, "The Raven's Tale". Ia am also reading a wonderful book called "Black Indians" by william Loren Katz which is inspiring me more to finish the tale of an African-American boy raised by native Americans in post-Civil war America and grows up to become one of the last great chiefs of this era. It is indeed an ignored chapter in the history of this country about the relationship between Indians and Blacks and I think it's about time that something is written about it. My account is fictional but the events and circumstances will be very real. I have never been more excited about writing a song. it usually takes me at the most, a half an hour to write a song but I am taking my time with this one for sure. "With All of My Heart", for example, only took 15 minutes to write so something like this is quite a change AND a challenge! I always love a good challenge! So I must be off. Take care; till next time! BKT

An Unexplored Subject...

While I am still deciding on which tracks I will finally upload next week which have been hitherto unavailable to the public, I have been writing the "Raven's Tale" song. Half of it is already done. The character, like the others I have created, is purely fictional however, he is based on a group of people rarely talked about in the demographics of this nation: the Black Indians. Yes, they have and do exist (a famous example would be a certain left-handed guitar extraordinaire named Jimi Hendrix:through his maternal grandmother, Nora Rose Moore, he had Cherokee ancestry). In fact a good percentage of African-Americans do have Native American blood in their veins. My character is not an Indian biologically speaking, but was raised by Native Americans. I wanted to explore the melding of these two cultures together which I thought would be an interesting thing. African Americans were introduced and accepted as well as bred with Indians in a racially hostile America even before the Civil War and as I continue to research this fascinating topic, I am reminded that this too is a part of American history in general. So I hope that once the song is finished,which shall be very soon, it will touch upon a far too unexplored aspect of Americana and will inspire others to read more about the Black Indians. In truth, what I really wish to accomplish, besides writing a great song, is to say in my own way that we human beings are much more alike than we think, regardless of ethnic backround. Have a good weekend! BKT

Happy Birthday, John Lennon

People often ask me what inspired me to be a musician: well, I must honestly saythat the biggest inspiration I ever had was listening to the music of the Immortal Beatles:McCartney's gift for melody, Lennon's wry lyrical wit, George Harrison's mysticism, Ringo's legendary drumming brought together a legacy that will never die. I remember hearing" Got to get you into my life" on an outside radio during a parade when i was a boy and I aked my brother, "Who is THAT?" Lonnie said"The beatles". I replied" Can you please buy me one of their records?" Next thing I know, he comes home with a double album set "The Beatles: Rock and Roll Music". I'm sure that it's out of print now but those records changed my life FOREVER. I would spend hours going over every riff, every vocal line, every song with a fine- tooth comb because I loved the music so much. I admit that Paul has always been my favorite but I have a great fondness for the genius of John Lennon. I wanted to play and sing and write my own material just like he, Paul, and George did. I eventually learned how to play guitar and piano because I wanted to play aalong witht he records. Evn though I had some training with a teacher, I am really mostly self-taught. I loved ohn's post-Beatle work too. Among my faves are "GIve Peace a Chance", "Working Class hero" and of course "Imagine". I still think that "Beautiful Boy", the song he wrote for his son, Sean, is one of the most moving pieces in music about the wonder of childhood. His legacy of songs and activism for peace in the world will never be forgotten and I am sure that he will remain as one of the great immortals of Popular music. Happy Birthday John and THANK YOU for the great music and the inspiration for becoming a musician in the first place.BKT

More Magazine Coverage? I Hope So...

Today, I am looking into getting more magazine coverage of the CD ; I love reading my revieews, believe it or not! I always learn something from them. I think it's healthy for an artist not to become too complacent with themselves. Also, I am writing new material. One song I have been toying with in my head for the longest time is called "The Raven's Tale" about an African-American boy raised by Indians right after the Civil War who grows up to become a great chief. I already have some of the verses written. I like writing songs that have some kind of cinematic appeal to them(e.g. "The Knight and the Queen")and I want to continue the tradition of writing many more. I always wanted to also approach the subject of the Native Americans,whom I think have a beautiful culture, and by the way, my great grandfather on my mother's side was a Cherokee. Ok, that's all for now. Till next time! BKT

Further developments on the way...

Hello! Well, the first week of October is almost gone and I am preparing to upload some songs from CASTLE OF DREAMS like I promised. I'm still working on other developments and as always, I will keep you posted. have a great weekend! BKT

Classical Music and Popular Music: Not So Different After All

Hi folks! I was just pondering on the premise that I think keeps music interesting: the melding of different genres. Of course, as I have mentioned before in my Bio and one reviewer of my music had mentioned, the Classical influence in my music is prevalent. When I started writing songs, I had no idea that one day I would be influenced by the early Masters so much that it would be a characteristic of my songs. But do you know what? I am not the only pop composer who has been bitten by the Classical bug. Billy Joel mad a whole CD of piano compositioons a la Chopin.; Eric Carmen's classic "All by Myself" was based on Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto; Dan Fogelberg paid homage to Tchaikovsky's main motif in the 1812 Overture with the beginning notes of his song 'Another Auld Lang Syne" ; Paul McCartney , during his mature composing years before and after the Beatles, was heacvily influenced by Classical Composers ("Penny Lane" 's famous Bach trumpet solo composed and recorded after he hearing Bach on TV one evening; a Brandenburg Concerto, I believe). I could continue listing examples but what's my point? Well, I think theat composers should be very open-minded about the world around us and different musical elements are a result . I ahve always approached music with an open mind. Classical music has taught me how to go beyond the tape recorder, go beyond basic melodies and explore worlds that were hitherto unknown to me. For example, when I hear a score for a film, I know that the composer had to study or at least appreciate the old Masters in order to properly use an orchestra to convey all sorts of feelings. Strings are my particular favorite, for example. I remember listening to a lot of Ottorino Resphigi, Samuel Barber, and Ralph Vaughan Williams who wrote these lush pieces. I think Williams' Fantasia on a Them,e by Thomas Tallis uses a double string orchestra if I'm not mistaken! I did explore woodwinds to the extent of an oboe but if I am blessed with doing the next CD, TIME IS THE RIVER, I will most certainly keep strings of course, but also use more woodwinds and there are a few songs I have written with brass in mind as well. The challenge, naturally, will be to perform all of this music in public! Hopefully, I'll get the funding somehow. Well, those are some of my impressions on this topic. I hope you enjoyed reading them. Till next time! BKT

A New Month

Well, September has come and gone on now there are only three more full months left to this year. Now that I have recuperated and I am back to normal, the time remaining will involve gigs, more reviews(hoprfully), more music on this site like I promised, and other surprises I won't disclose yet. Stay with me folks because it's going to be an interesting ride! BKT

Smith's and Wesson...

Playing at SMITH's was a BLAST last night! I had so much fun. My friends, Tom Riccobono (guitar & vocals) and Mark west (bass) are always fun to play and sing with. it was an international crowd with everyone from Michigan to Germany as the inhouse crowd.Well September is almost gone and the year will be over in another three months. Time goes by so fast! There is so much I have to do before 2007 is over! Keep coming back to my site and find out exactly what! Oh and don't forget...I have bonus tracks coming up from my old CD, CASTLE OF DREAMS that I will upload onto the MUSIC section of my site soon. Have a good weekend! BKT

On Literature and Music

When I was reading the book "Tunesmith" authored by one of my all time favorite songwriters, Jimmy Webb, he mentioned that it is important for a writer to "READ EVERYTHING." So I felt good that I have always been an avid reader and I pretty much read anything that copmes my way, especially if it's of great interest to me. Owning a library card, I think, is STILL essential even in this day and age of teh Internet. Nothing beats the feeling of leafing through a book no matter how many technological advances there are. Currently, I am reading a book I have always been curious about: Edmund Spenser's classic "The Fairy Queen". He was an Elizabethan poet who lived during the time of William Shakespeare and he wrote this great poem with many Cantos and books in tribute to the Queen. He even starts it off with a flowery dedication to her as her servant. So far it is an interesting read with verses of slaying a monster in a cave, impressing his lady, conversing with a dwarf. Venus evn visits the Knight in his bed during a dream! Pretty cool stuff. I was surprised that one line included the verse "The daughter of a king..." I had just finished writing a song called "The Flower of Venus" and that was one of the lines! Was I channeling Spenser? LOL Anyway, needless to say, I think I'll enjoy this book. Many composers have based thir works on literature and poetry: Gounod based his "Faust" on Goethe's poem of the same name, Bernstein based "Candide" on Voltaire's story, Wagner's many music dramas were based on the Nibelungenlied, Wolfram Von Eschenbach, and many other sources, Debussy's" Pelleas and Melisande" was based on Maeterlinck's play of the same name, and so on. I try to always get new ideas from literature, the news, the printed word in general. I believe that a composer's eyes and mind should be wide open in order to write the best music possible. BKT

Jogging Down Memory Lane

Hi! I've decided to include some tracks in the MUSIC page of this site from my first CD, CASTLE OF DREAMS. for those who enjoy my music, I thought it would be nice to show some of my earlier work here. Whether they will be full-fledged songs or audio clips, I don't know yet but I would like visitors of my site to see where I came from musically.So keep a look out for them!:) Also I am tinkering with a few new musical ideas which should become future songs so as always, I'm keeping busy!:)BKT

Portals and Carousels: the Mythology Behind My Songs Pt.3

Well, I hope you have enjoyed my last two entries concerning the literary origins of my songs and now I think I will conclude with two more songs off of my CD, Dreamwalk: CAROUSEL and LOVE HAS AN OPEN DOOR. I never thought that I would get this kind of reception towards CAROUSEL, the album's first track, but there have been those who name it as a favorite track. others have said, WITH ALL OF MY HEART, THE KNIGHT AND THE QUEEN, and a few others. I guess it's a good sign that I made a pretty good album if I get different choices from different people about what their favorite track is. Let me start with Carousel: even before I moved to a spot near Coney Island, I always loved the image of a carousel ever since I was a child. One of the first things I wanted my mom to take me to at Astroland amusement park in Coney Island was the Carousel,even if I never got on it. On a sad note, Astroland was officially closed as of last week and I feel that a part of New York, specifically Brooklyn culture has died. why condominiums? Don't we have ENOUGH in this city? Anyway, I wanted an image of thoughts going round and round inside my head so I thought of a carousel. Did you know that US carousels go counter-clockwise and European ones go the opposite way? Did you also know that the earliest known carousel depiction dates back to 500 A.D. on a bas-relief from the Byzantine empire? Horses were not even involved! The word carousel originates from the Italian garosella and the Spanish carosella which means "little war". Now this made sense to me because I wanted the song to talk about a "little war" of opposing thoughts battling for supremacy in my mind. Do I really love this girl even though she resists me? Does she know how I truly feel? Or should I just leave when she goes on these little trips of hers? This is the essence of the song. Now I will go to LOVE HAS AN OPEN DOOR: I wrote this as my personal tribute to the wonderful genre known as R & B. I wanted the feel of the song to be something like "My Cherie Amour". I enjoyed how romantic that was but my particular song also explored the raw need for sex as well. I won't go into the suggestiveness of the open door as an obvious metaphor for femininity but I will go into why I chose an open door as a metaphor. I grew up reading all that I could find including comic books and one of my favorites was Marvel's, "Dr. Strange". I thought it was cool that he could go through all these portals that led to differenet dimensions. I guess that image stayed with me. so to me, going through a portal or door signaled a transition, an entrance to another way of life. The door that my character in the song offered the girl was not just pure sex, but purity of heart as well. I also fancied the SciFi/Fantasy books of still one of my favorite authors, Michael Moorcock. His Eternal Champion series( Elric, Hawkmoon, Corum, etc.) explored the adventures of an ever reincarnating hero throughout the ages battling evil whether he liked it or not and of course there was much talk of him going through portals in order to achieve a certain quest. That stayed with me, also. I liked the idea that my character in the song so nonchalantly said" So what are you still waiting for? Just walk right on through; you'll find me waiting for you..." So there you have it1 Some of the thoughts I had while writing these songs. Of course, there are MANY more I have written I would love to write about in the context of myth but since you have not heard these songs yet, I think I shall refrain...for now:). BKT

The Mythology Behind My Songs pt.2

Hi there! I am still in the process of figuring out my performance schedule: I hope you guys in the US are able to get a copy of the Inside Connection music magazine with me as a featured artist. If not, send me an email and I will get to the bottom of it.:) I also want to let you know that I recently underwent minor surgery on my left leg in order to get rid of an abcess and I am fine now. In a week or so, I should be 100 percent healthy again. Now I am taking this time to reflect and plan for the rest of the year. By the way, I made a mistake in my last entry. Gottfried Von Strassburg was the actual writer for the famous literary work, TRISTAN AND ISOLDE, NOT Geoffrey Von Monmouth who actually wrote a pseudo-history of King Arthur. I guess that I have read so much on the subject that these names just come out of my sub-concious! :) Anyway, let me give you a little more insight about another song of mine, LADY SVETLANA. Originally, when I was working on my first album, CASTLE OF DREAMS,the song was called LA FEMME SVETLANA. I know, I know: like the fmaous film, LA FEMME NIKITA. The title was not my idea but the ida of my girlfriend at the time whose name was indeed Svetlana. I later changed it to lady because I did not like the juxtapostion of a Slavic name with a French moniker. And besides, I think that LADY SVETLANA sounds better. Svetlana is a very common Russian name which is actually from the Russian word that means "light", "clean", or "holy". It's a perfect name for my queen character that the Knight falls in love with in CASTLE OF DREAMS because she brings a spiritual purity in his life that he lacked before he met her. I have always felt that love that is good acts a s a balm for the soul and cleanses it. I even included this idea in a song that will appear in the next album, TIME IS THE RIVER. It's called "She doesn't know it" and the line to which I am referring goes "she looked within me and washed away all of my pain...". But I won't get ahead of myself: let me continue on this road about Svetlana. As I had rpreviously mentioned, it is a popular nme in Russia and even to none Slavic people, I am sure it has been seen. I'll give you a few examples: Svetlana Alliluyeva was the youngest daughter of Joseph Stalin, Svetlana Nazarova is a character from the popular SciFi film, NIGHTWATCH, etc. Even though my song is an instrumental (originally I wrote words to it which does appear in CASTLE OF DREAMS), I tried to evoke a mysterious quality to the music so the next time you hear the song, remember what I wrote hear. Now as far as I know, there is no mythological character associated with the name Svetlana, but the name itself has the weight of history, culture and art when it comes to talking about the Russian people. At first I was worried about titling the song with a Russian name because English speakers would have a difficult time pronouncing a name that has an S and a V together because we have no such thing in our language, but I am pleasantly surprised that people seem to have no problem with it.:) BKT

The Mythology Behind My Songs Pt. 1

I thought I would take some time and talk a little bit about what goes into my songwriting. Years ago, I made an album called CASTLE OF DREAMS. It was my attempt at putting the famed mythologist, Joseph Campbell, and his ideas about the Hero's Journey, the common thread throughout the tapestry of myth, to music and lyrics. It started with one of my faves, THE KNIGHT AND THE QUEEN. This song was the basis for the whole thing. It also helped that I was also in love at the time!:) I wanted to write my own myth setting the two characters in a time after King Arthur's death , when anarchy was starting to rule again. I have always loved Arthurian literature and I created these characters as a metaphor about how two people met from different worlds and their lives were changed forever. My influences were Chretien de Troyes ( author of the first know Holy Grail story), Richard Wagner, Sir Thomas Mallory (writer of Le Morte D'arthur, the definitive account about Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table), and Geoffrey von Monmouth( famed writer for the most famous literary account of the Tristan and Isolde legend). And speaking of Tristan and Isolde, I wanted to write a song that twisted the tragedy around to an actual happy ending, being the optimist that I am!:) Anyway, that's just a brief analysis into one of the many ways I love to write: by virtue of being inspired by the great stories and mythologies that will be around forever. I am thankful that I redid THE KNIGHT AND THE QUEEN for my new album, DREAMWALK and had the pleasure to score it with REAL orchestral instruments: one of the true highlights of my life. BKT

More to Come...

Hi folks! I am looking at a few more venues and which have come my way. I'll keep you posted! BKT

Inside Connection Music Magazine Latest Update

For those who have had a bit of diffulcty picking up the latest copy of Inside Connection music magazine, I apologize. My main contact there assures me that the issue is officially out now and the distributor was behind schedule this month. I hope you guys really like it! Till next time! BKT

An Additional CD Store

Hi! As always I look for new ways and new venues for my music to be heard and currently I am reviewing another CD that I may add to the list that is growing of Net stores that carry my album. If you haven't already, please feel free to purchase a copy of my CD, Dreamwalk, through this website and I hope you all have a great weekend! BKT

The Flying Dutchman Syndrome

Ok, OK, I just couldn't help it! LOL I just HAD to do ONE MORE Wagner-influenced blog entry. Are any of you familiar with the Flying Dutchman legend? Well, if you're not, he was the captain of a schooner that was doomed to sail the seas for eternity and couild only land for only a certain time before having to go back to his ghost ship. Wagner's version had him coming to port every 7 years, looking for a love that would accompany him back into this doomed existence. Well, I was pondering on the tale and it had occured to me that up until now, I had been sailing on the seas of oblivion and obscurity since I recorded my first CD, Castle of Dreams. It wasn't for lack of trying to be more successful, though. But right now, I have never felt more focused, more determined, more organized than this year that my new CD, Dreamwalk, came out. As I had mentioned in my bio, I chose NOT to release the first CD for a number of reasons but there will be the day when I refurbish the project. I was suffering from what I call the Flying Dutchman Syndrome, never landing at a port until now, after seven years. Sure, I was suffering like the famed Dutchman but I will not return to that dreadful fate of sailing without end, without a destination; I will keep my feet firmly on solid ground and explore new possibilities. This year has been great so far with all the Internet radio airplay, podcasts,my first review and now the Inside Connection music magazine feature. But now that I am at port, I must continue to strive for new territory to explore and never enter that dreaded ship of inopportunity again. I refuse to fall under the curse of sameness like that Dutchman.:) BKT

In Remembrance of 9/11

Today is a solemn day not only for us New Yorkers but for the entire free world. Six years ago today ,marks the anniversary of one of the most tragic events in modern history. I remmeber I was in bed coasting through TV channels until I saw a teleprompter with the words" World Trade Center hit by airplanes..". I turned to CNN and that's when I saw the footage. I could NOT believe my eyes. I thought it was a Bruce Willis movie or something but unfortunately it was real. The many lives that were lost was real. The mourning families was real. Soonafter, the Concert for NY was a landmark with some of the greatest musical talent on the planet showing that they cared. Billy Joel. Paul mcCartney. And the list goes on. My friend, Lorenza Ponce, played violin with Bon Jovi and Iw as so proud of her. My best friend in high school, Eric, stood right next to one of my favorite actors, Harrison Ford, proudly in uniform. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was a rite of passage for me because it was the movie that me and my band saw the night before our very first concert performance. All of these images flit through my mind as I reflect on the sacrifices that were made and are still being made to protect our freedom in the US. This is a day that should never be forgotton and I will always take time and pay homage on this day to the fallen heroes and grieving families. I feel blessed to have the freedom to have a website where I can not only share my music with the world but to also share my innermost thoughts and feelings without regret. BKT

Special Week

Hi folks! Starting this week, the Inside Connection Music magazine will have me as a feature artist in the A N R Guide section of the issue. This is the first magazine other than Billboard that I have appeeared in and I am beyond excited! I am looking into even more magazines as well. Keep coming back because I have alot planned for this month! BKT

Pavarotti: a Singer's Singer

As I discovered from my roommate the demise of one of the world's greatest singers, Luciano Pavarotti, I lowered my head in tribute to the great Maestro's legacy which shall always be remembered. I started to write an entry about my thoughts on singing awhile ago but now seems the appropriate time for sure. I remember truly discovering Mr. Pavarotti when I worked at the Metropolitan Opera House Gift Shop may years ago and also the Performing Arts Gift Shop, which is closing. I would marvel at his enormous repertoire and took the opportunity afforded me at my old job as a clerk to play the CDs which truly educated me in Opera and Neapolitan songs. Of course, I had my favorites: besides the Wagner recordings(naturally), I thoroughly enjoyed Maria Callas' 1954 Tosca recording, Joan Sutherland's "La Fille du Regiment". Leontyne Price's "Aida", and of course, Pavarotti's and Freni's recording of "La Boheme". yet, the one I would visit more often than all the others was Pavarotti's and Sutherlansd's classic recording that got me into Opera past Wagner in the first place, "Turandot", Giaccomo Puccini's last, technically unfinished Opera. It is from this magnificent work that Pavarotti's signature aria, "Nessun Dorma( "No one's sleeping...") came. When I heard Maestro Pavarotti sing it for the first time, I was hooked. No longer did I think of Opera as music for snobs and showy intellectuals. It opened up a whole new horizon for me as a musician. I started going to Operas regularly (since as an employee, I could get standing room tickets) and I soon found myself conversing with noted orchestral musicians, conductors, and Opera afficianodos who would stop by and ask me about my opinion on a particular recording. I even briefly talked to and advised such notables as the then mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, Donna Hanover (his then wife who was so very nice), and even a Watergate reporter came by! It had whetted my appetite to study Classical Music in school which led to my ultimate studies with Boulanger pupil and musicain extraordinaire, Thea Musgrave. I remember one incident when even Donald Fagen, singer and co-writer for Steely Dan, came by and I saw how much he enjoyed not only Jazz recordings, but the Classical repertoire as well. No WONDER why he is so good! Anyway, being a Singer is also being a Musician. Sometimes this fact is overlooked. Singing is not only about breathing correctly but applying musical knowledge, feeling,personal experience,everything you are into a performance whether on the stage or in the recording studio. Normally, when I sing in a professional capacity, I usually drink plenty of unchilled water( cold restricts the vocal chords; it was said that another great Maestro whom I had unfortunately missed writing for at one point, the late great Luther Vandross, would request before performing ina small venue, not to have air conditioning), or tea. As a rule, I usually don't drink much soda at all because it hurts my voice as times. I don't mean to sound petty but it is true! LOL And of course, plenty of rest helps not only the voice but your general state of being, as well. Yes, the music world has indeed suffered a MAJOR loss today but I am sure that the angels are happy to hear him join the celestial choir.:) BKT

Inside Connection Music Magazine Latest Update

Hi folks! I just got an email from a nice fellow from Inside Connection music magazine which states that the September issue will be circulating starting next week! So please keep your eyes peeled around music stores, studios and so forth because I will be IN PRINT!!! Take care and I will tell you more when I get more info. Have a great day! BKT

The Knights of Labor

Hi gang! As is my custom on this site during a holiday season, I always explore the origins of a particular holiday, in this case, Labor Day. I hope you had a good one yesterday and did not get too drunk:). The Knights of Labor, one of the most significant labor organizations of the 19th century, organized the first parade on September 5,1882 and made resolutions to make this a national celebration. Then, in 1882 there was a general strike and afterwards, the 8-hour workday in America was official. Today, of course, Labor Day is acknowledged as a day of rest and of course, the official beginning of NFL season! LOL Of course, knowing me and my affinity for names with a medieval edge to them, I was attracted to the name of this labor group . I also liked the fact that they included everyone in their membership including minorities and women which was unheard of back in those days.This is without question a month of change for me and I look forward to continuing on my journey and sharing it with you. I'll be living in a new address soon, most likely with my brother, and of course my song ideas will go with me. A new concert is on the horizon and I'll know more about that soon. The Inside Connection Music magazine will come out this month with me as a featured artist and I will talk more about that in a future entry.Take care!BKT

Ebb and Flow

Hello folks! once agin we are reaching the end of the week and I am recapping in my mind the things I have done this month towards my career. It's been more of a soul-searching month than anything else because of certain personal changes in my life that I won't get into now. I am reviewing new possibilities, looking at old offers, basically I am turning the heat up. September is going to be a BIG month because it starts the last third of this year and I will begin to see exactly how much progress I have made, if any. It's hard work without a manager to help you. I see life as a river that ebbs and flows and it will be the subject of my next CD I will make a year from now, "Time is the River". Ok, there will be more news to come and a few surprises I have in store so keep visiting and have a good weekend! BKT

An Urgent Message

Hello everyone. I was websurfing today and I happened upon the website of one of my all-time favorite Singer-Songwriters, a hero of mine for a long time, Mr. Dan Fogelberg and I found out some news that hurt me terribly. Since 2004, he has been struggling with prostate cancer. I was wondering why there was no new CD or concert and now I know why. My mom lost a battle to cancer a little over a year ago and now I am confronted with it again after finding out that Mr. Fogelberg is fighting the same battle. I wrote to him and said that I would encourage any male in their 40s+ (especially African-American males who are the highest at risk) to PLEASE get a PSA test (Prostate Specific Antigen) and a DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) EVERY YEAR. The first test is a simple blood test and even though the second one sounds scary to us men, DO IT! I know that I am a little fish in this big pond of music but this is a big problem for all of us so men in your 40's and beyond, do yourself a favor and have yourselves checked out. BKT

169 Bar

I just got word that an establishment called the 169 Bar would like me to play a gig there. As soon as I know more, I will give you all the details about this new venue. I hope that everyone had a good weekend! Take care! BKT

It's all about the song

You know, the musicbusiness is indeed a challenging, often CRAZY business full of setbacks,hangups, disappointments and one must be crazy to want to be in it but I never claimed to be sane! LOL Anyway, songwriting is one of those things that make it all worthwhile. I finished the words and music to " Flower of Venus" yesterday and now I am polishing up the lyrics to the dance tune I mentioned a while back and I may even have an unexpected collaborator if I find that the lyrics she wrote fit the song: Lady Svetlanan herself:). she just emailed me a bunch of ideas she had and if I like them, I will use them. She inspired one of the instrumental tracks on DREAMWALK, "Lady Svetlana". It just reminds me that regardless of all the business that takes place in the music world, it always comes back to the song and the songwriter: the backbones of this industry. Have a good weekend! BKT

The Tannhauser Song

Well, I enjoyed writing previous entries with a Wagnerian twist so much that it actually inspired a song! It's called "Flower of Venus". I just started working on it yesterday and most of the lyrics and music is already written. I set it in a Brazilian/Samba style which is a genre I rarely explore but I think it works. Basically , the song is about a servant of Venus, Roman Goddess of Love, Beauty, and Fertility coming to Earth in order to seduce men and eventually deliver them to Venus herself(since her presence here would be too much which is why she would need one of her servants in the first place ) in her otherworldly court of sin. I used metaphors relating to the infamously carnivorous plant, the Venus Flytrap, Boticelli's painting, and some mythology I created on my own. It will DEFINITELY make an appearance in my next CD, Time is the River but that won't be recorded for a long time because DREAMWALK is still a baby. Venus is a seductress in Wagner's opera, Tannhauser. The title character has been occupied in her court for a very long time and when her returns to Earth, he asked Pope Urban forgiveness for his sins; however the pope retorts that he can be forgiven ONLY if his staff starts growing flowers: a bad way of saying "not a snowball's chance in hell!" Anyway, the staff of course, miraculously sprouts flowers but it's too late: Tannhauser went back to Venus' court never to be seen again by mortal eyes. Intriguing story about forgiveness. Have a great day! BKT

Podcasting

Hello! I want to tell you that my music is being played on the Inside Connection Music Magazine Podcasts. Just go to www.indiecx.com and click on Podcasts . A quick way to find me would be to go to the podcast that features ANR artists. I also have a webpage in the Adult Contemporary section playing the full length of threee songs from DREAMWALK. As a reminder, I will be in the September issue of the Inside Connection Music Magazine so next month go to your nearest Sam Ash or any other music store, Guitar Center, music studio and even venues! Till next time! BKT

A retraction...

Hello! For those of you who tried to get to the hotlips radio program on Sunday, the 12th, I apologize because I did not know that there were problems with accessibility that day; however, the station manager just emailed me to say that the re-telecast will be on the 25th of this month so please tune into hotlipsradio.com or myspace.com/arizonashotlipsradio @ 8pm CST, 9pm EST and 6pm PST. Sorry about the misshap and please vote for my songs, JUST ONE KISS and I LOVE YOU to be played in heavy rotation! Thanks and I really hope you enjoyed the previous entry! BKT

The Swan Knight

Hi again folks! I was pondering on the entry a made a while ago where I stated that sometimes I feel like Parsifal stumbling through adventure after adventure, finding out more and more about myself within the journey of working towards being a successful musician. Well, the Grail Knight eventually did succeed, became the new king of the Grail Castle after the former one, Amfortas, was healed of his wounds by him , and even had a son. Now I am not saying that I will be a father anytime soon(lol) but I wanted to continue seeing similarities in the Grail story and my life so I decided to look briefly where the story continued especially via Wagner's opera, Lohengrin. Ironically, he wrote it many years before his last opera Parsifal, but it seemed like he liked doing alot of things in reverse(the libretti for the Ring cycle was written in reverse order). Lohengrin was apparently an adventurer too, travelling in a boat drawn by a Swan, hence his nickname, the Swan Knight. Now what do Swans represent? Let's take a look: the otherwise Mute Swan apparently have a gift for singing beautifully upon death, hence the term Swan Song; Helen of Troy ('the face that launched a thousand ships" starting the Trojan War) was supposedly conceived by Zeus disguised as a Swan mating with Leda, the Queen of Sparta; Swans are also symbols of love and fidelity because of their tendency for monogamous relationships.Now I find that interesting because the main theme of the music I wrote on DREAMWALK is EXACTLY about Love and Fidelity(or lack therof). It is also interesting to note,too, that Wagner has his hero, Lohengrin, the Swan Knight who marries the damsel in distress, leaves the same woman because she betrayed his trust (by the way, for those who do not know:the ever popular wedding song "Here Comes The Bride" is actually the Bridal Chorus from LOHENGRIN) I explore this theme in the song, "Won't Leave You Tomorrow"; however, I turned it around by having the woman leave after the man has already left her in his heart. I guess that subconciously, these medieval and mythological themes resurfaced in my music because I believe in love and fidelity. That is why I wrote DREAMWALK. BKT An added note: another favorite composer of mine, Jean Sibelius, wrote a popular piece in the classical repertoire "the Swan of Tuonela" as a part of his Lemminkainen Suite based on the Finnish epic, the Kalevala.And as a tribute to the Nordic countries that visit my site, it should be noted that the five flying swans are their symbol and the Whooper Swan is the national bird of Finland. Whew! I think that about covers it!:)

Rainy Night in NY

Amidst all the rain, I managed to do some more work tonight as far as writing music, creating a schedule of "must-do " things, and so forth. There's more news to come including a sequel to my PARSIFAL blog. Cheers! BKT

Open Invitation

Hey folks! I always enjoy seeing all the different countries and cities that check out my site and I would be more than happy to visit anyone (within my financial means, of course) for gigs so I invite you to invite me if you feel that there is an opportunity that would suit my music. I am still waiting for responses from various companies and so forth while I write lyrics, look for more opportunities, and play more gigs, especially at Smith's (cnr. of 44th St and 8th Ave). I also encourage you to buy a copy of my new CD, Dreamwalk, which is available through this site either by clicking on the image of the CD cover which appears on my welcome page or by going to the PRODUCTSpage. Thanks once again and have a great weekend! BKT

A period of calm...

Hey gang! I am just finishing up lyrics for a song I am collaborating on with a friend. It's a dance tune,which is interesting because I have written very few dance tunes, and I'll tell you more about that in the near future. Also, I am always looking for more gigs to play and trying to save money to do other things like the CASTLE OF DREAMS Special Edition EP I have been talking about. I hope you have already picked up a copy of my new CD, DREAMWALK:). Till next time! BKT

Just a reminder...

Hello folks! I want to remind you that today www.myspace.com/arizonashotlipsradio, an internet radio station will has a show all day including two songs from my CD, Dreamwalk. You can also vote for my songs, JUST ONE KISS and I LOVE YOU to continue to be played in rotation there! Just go to the address I provided above. Thanks! BKT

More Songs...

Today, I'm going to catch a movie, come home and do some writing! I'm in the mood to write some more music and today is the perfect day! Check in tomorrow for the next entry! Later gang! BKT

Inside Connection Music Magazine Update

Hi! I hope you folks enjoyed my last entry; I enjoyed writing it! I have just been informed that I will definitely be in the September issue of Inside Connection Music magazine in the A & R resource Guide and my CD, Dreamwalk, will be reviewed. I am looking forward to picking up that issue and once again, I must say that if you haven't ordered a copy of the CD, please do so; I hope that it gets into the hands of many people who appreciate independent music. Thanks and have a great day! BKT

The PARSIFAL in me

Ok, I know; who the heck is Parsifal? Well, let me tell you first that I identify with this classic Grail hero from Arthurian legend because, I am also on a quest. A quest for knowledge, insight, and of course success in the music world. Parsifal is the knight that ultimately captures the Holy Grail and redeems the ailing King of the Grail Castle. He goes through strange, often perilous journeys to achieve his goal and at the same time, undergoes a change in character, strength and intelligence. You know the old saying, "It's not the destination , but the journey that counts" right? well, this is the perfect story to illustrate that. Why do I include the Parsifal legend in my music website? For a number of reasons: one, it happens to not only be one of my favorite Wagner Operas, but also one of my favorite stories. Two: I love to tell the story. Three: I feel like Parsifal in this journey of mine going through strange adventures, learning more and more about myself and what I am capabnle of doing. An artist is like a Parsifal of sorts: we have to learn every day how to survive in the wilderness of the music industry, slaying our own inner dragons that threaten to consume us with the fires of doubt, self-evaluation, self-pity, anger, frustration,etc. However, as artists, I feel that we must choose to carry the Sword of Confidence that can cut down any obstacle that may lay before us, slay any Black Knight of Fear that threatens to keep us down. Actually, Parsifal slew the Black Knight without the usual knightly accoutrements. He didn't have wealthy armor or even a decent sword; he won with his heart even after he was laughed out of King Arthur's court for wanting to be a Knight in the first place. I guess you can see now why I decided to share my thoughts on this wonderful medieval hero. I am certain that the road that lies before will no doubt be perilous but I am ready to fight the good fight and persevere. Music is a tough business but I feel that I am tough as well and I hope that I have encouraged any artist reading this blog to use that Heart and Confidence like Parsifal did and cut through those barriers that stand in your way. Even on a poor, homely steed and ill-dressed for battle, Parsifal made an impression soon afterwards. I guess that we all can rise up to the challenge whether we are artists or not.:) Till next time! BKT

Spaseeba

I want to thank the people in the Russian Federation especially for checking out this site and listening to my music. You guys are great! Isn't the internet a wonderful thing? twenty years ago,artists would not have had this kind of opportunity to share their music electronically around the world. I LOVE the fact that so many countries can hear my songs now! I want to also thank each and every country that has not only looked at my site and heard the music, but has come back regularly. That makes me feel mighty proud!:) I am indeed a struggling artist and the more people who knwo about me and my music, the better! for those who don't know, the title of this blog means "Thank you" in Russian (just be thankful I did not put it in Cyrillic letters! LOL I can actually read Cyrillic, by the way; it's fun!) Anyway, there will ALWAYS be more news to come so stick around folks!:) BKT

The Producer's Corner

Hi! I hope that everyone had a good weekend; I sure did! I played a gig in Binghampton, NY where there was plenty of good, fresh air, trees,acres of grassy lands and sunshine! O)h and did I forget the beer? LOL Anyway, I had fun and it was a nice escape fror me to just be surrounded by the wilderrness. I was pondering on the CD review I got and I must say that it was nice also to be recognized as a good producer. I just try my very best to present to the public my finest representation of my current work. a producer's job , as I may have said before, is akin to being a director for a film: that person is responsible for the overall outcome of the artistic project. As a music producer, one's ears has to ALWAYS be open as well as one's eyes. Since I usually produce myself, it is my job to make sure that I have the best instrumental and vocal performances recorded for the project and that the instruments are balanced well . I have spent my life listening over and over again the recordings of some of my very favorite producers like Quincy Jones (Michael Jackson,and countless others), George Martin (The Beatles), Jeff Lynne (Traveling Wilburys, Paul McCartney, George Harrison), and one of the greatest working producers today, Mr. David Foster (Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Whitney Houston and countless others). Among those who I think are EXTREMELY underrated is Maurice White( Earth, Wind, and Fire).His recordings are always, sharp, clear, and ambrosia for the ears. I also had the honor of working with the fabulous Russian producer/musician extraordinaire Misha Shufutinsky (I know that I have mentioned that before). Just watching him work taught me what I still carry around with me today: the standard of excellence, the attention to every musical detail, and performance with heart. Being a producer takes patience, diplomacy, mental and physical stamina, and oftentimes the ability to make quick and final decisions. One also has to surround oneself with a cast of musicians that best compliments the recording. Even though I played most of the instruments myself, I invited musicians I felt would not only be best suited for DREAMWALK, but also knew how to have fun!(That's important) My dear friend, Lucinda let me borrow her drummer, Tom Nagy, for a couple of tracks and he is one of the highlights of the song, "Won't Leave You Tomorrow". And yes, I am still planning to revamp my 1st CD, "Castle Of Dreams", once I save enough money so it'll be awhile before that happens though. So the next time you hear a song, do me a favor and think about that guy behind the console who put it all together with the help of the engineer and musicians; the guy who hired the musicians, picked the musicians,picked the studio, picked the songs, supervised the arrangements, hired the arranger in the first place, inspired the vocal and instrumental performances, budgeted the WHOLE project, and supervised the final mixing and mastering that you, the listener, ultimately hears coming through your speakers or headphones. The producer: an unsung hero. BKT

Hotlips Urban Mix Show

Hi folks! Good news: the Manager for the internet radio station Arizona Hotlips Radio emailed me with the news that two of my songs" I Love You" and " Just One Kiss" will get airplay starting on August 12th! I need your support!Please vote for my songs on Aug.12th to stay in regular rotation by clicking on either myspace.com/arizonahotlipsradio or www.hotlipsradio.com. I will be a part of the Hotlips Urban Mix Show so be sure to listen to it!:) Thanks! BKT

Now back to DREAMWALK....

I had mentioned earlier that one of my songs"I Love You" was "podcasted". Now I found out that in addition, it was played this past Sunday night on WMIR/Middle Island (100.9FM) !!! My first FM broadcast ever!!! and I missed it...alas.BKT

The Restoration of "Castle Of Dreams"

I didn't think that I would make this a new entry but I have been thinking about it so much that I just can't help it. I am extremely moved by a recent email in my guestbook here in the site about how my first CD, "Castle Of Dreams", was the music of choice by a cancer victim. My heart goes out to ANYONE who suffers from this horrible disease or has a loved one suffering from it. You see, I may have mentioned before that I lost my beautiful mother to cancer last year in April and she always encouraged me to follow my dreams. I think about her every day. I sent an email back thanking the sender of the email for sharing her story with me. I am inspired to join the fight against one of the deadliest diseases around today and I will make it a point to always make time in my career to get involved. I was also reminded about my abandoned CD. I have second thoughts about it now. I have decided to resurrect "Castle of Dreams" but it will be remixed and remastered witha few other improvements such as adding real strings and orchestral parts to the arrangements.But of course, I have to wait until I save enough money to do this because even a small restoration like what I am planning can be quite expensive! I guess I am pulling a George Lucas and will eventually work on a Special Edition version of the album. It will be more like an EP, I guess because some of the songs that were on it now appears on my current CD, "Dreamwalk". Confused? I was at first but now things are getting clearer. Actually, the title piece on Dreamwalk has musical motifs that are derived from two songs on "Castle of Dreams". Anyway, I won't work on the restoration until probably later this year because I have a lot of work ahead of me promoting "Dreamwalk". If you want to know more about my 1st Cd, go to the PRESS section of this site and read the article that was written about it 7 years ago. 7 YEARS! Wow! Has it been that long? I've learned alot since then. I am still learning:). But as for "Dreamwalk", pick up a copy if you have not already!:) BKT *A special note to Emily: I tried reaching you by email but with no success; in case, my message does not reach, I want to say THANK YOU for sending it to me.It touched me more than you know.

"And now back to our regularly scheduled Podcast..."

Hi folks! Last month was one of the best ever! and now that August has just started, I'm even more excited! Inside Connection Music Magazine has a podcast special and one of my songs received some airplay from it this past Sunday, I am proud to say. For more info, check their website, www.indiecx.com. I welcome the chance for more people to hear my music! Anyway, this is hopefuly the start of a healthy trend!:) Till next time, see ya! BKT

It Ain't Easy but who ever said being an Artist is? :)

Hello! I am still waiting for quitea few replies to my submissions to agencies, magazines, management companies and the like. Boy, it's not easy! I perform still at Smith's with friends and network with other musicians in new spots like THE GROOVE which is in the Village in Mamhattan. I try to keep as active as possible and I am even composing a list of song titles that could turn into future songs. I do that once in a while to keep my songwriting fresh and entertaining. As the title of my new entry says, it's not easy but I would not be anything else in the world but an artist.:) BKT

The Strange, Yet Beautiful Art of Songwriting

Often, I wonder how I came to be a Songwriter. Sure, I was exposed to music at a very early age and thenI remembered that I did not choose Music: it chose me! How else can I explain songs like "I Love You" where I am sitting down on the sofa one day watching a silly sitcom and then all of a sudden, the main melody of the first verse comes pouring into my head. naturally, my TV watching period came to an abrupt halt as I made a mad dash to the little digital keyboard I have at home. "every day I wake up and see you sleeping..." those notes that accompany that line were so loud in my head, I couldn't hear anything else! On many occasions, I daydream music or wake up with an idea in my head (which is why sleep is so important to me besides other obvious reasons!:)) The craft of Songwriting has many shapes and sizes as well. Franz Schubert, a master composer of Symphonies and other works was actually a master Songwriter. He was a specialist of what is called Lieder (pronounced "leader') which means SONGS in German). He is one of the Classical Composers who also excelled in Songwriting. A much more contemporary composer who also wrote great songs (with the help of his lyricist brother) is of course, George Gershwin. I'm proud to say that he was a Brooklynite!:) Anyway, what I'm leading to is that if anything explains my approach to music, it is my belief that the more you expose yourself to different forms of Song, the better writer you will be. I listen to Jimmy Webb, Schubert, Lennon and McCartney, Wagner (yes , he wrote songs too! He had an affair with the wife of an early benefactor and she inspired them I think she also co-wrote lyrics with him as well.. Her name was Matthilde Wesendonck: hence the Wesendonck Lieder) Stevie Wonder, and many others to be the best that I can possibly be because there is ALWAYS something new to learn every day.BKT

A & R Resource Guide

Hello folks! Remember when I told you that I was working with the Inside Connection Music Magazine? well, they have just included me in their Indie connection section under the A & R Resource Guide. It's my hope that I will gain more exposure with labels this way since they seem to like perusing through important sources like this. Well, gotta go...later! BKT

"I Bless the Rains down in Africa..."

Hey gang! Tonight, I'm going to go see one of my fave rock bands, Toto, live at B.B. King's place here in New York! I am also planniong to network a bit there while listening to this great band. No one unfortunately remembers that they won 7 Grammys in one night but I do! LOL Anyway, I am stillwaiting for a lot more responses from indie radio, magazines and management companies(yep, I DO need management;can't do it all on my own, ya know!). Ok, well take care for now and don't forget: grab a CD from here if you haven't already! Bye for now!BKT

Magazines and E-zines

Hello! I just got my VERY FIRST CD REVIEW!!!! If you want to check it out, go to the PRESS/REVIEWS section here on the site and scroll down to see it OR go to the LINKS page, click on Alpha Music Group which will automatically take you to their site, and just click on my name. Also, it appears that I will be reviewed by Inside Connection music magazine for not the upcoming issue, but the one after which means it will be the first Fall issue! Have a good weekend! BKT

Ok, so it's three days instead of two:)

Sorry I took longer to get back to you guys. I thought I would be able to write a new entry two days after the Unsigned Artist showcase but I guess I wrong! LOL Anyway, I must say that the first word that comes to mind about the showcase is INTERESTING. I was able to meet a few artists who are in the same boat that I am (independent,poor,with big aspirations) but among my favorites was a very talented Singer-Songwriter from Russia named Natasha Tarasova. In fact, she was the only Singer-Songwriter besides me who actually performed! I was quite bewildered. It was mostly a Hip-Hop show!!! Sure, there were a handful of Rock acts but JUST a handful! I kept scratching my head wondering why the hell I was there! LOL To be fair to the organizer of the event, she tried to have a show with some variety but I felt that in many ways, it was not the case. It was,by and large, a Hip Hop showcase. Now don't get me wrong: I ALWAYS welcome the opportunity to perform; it's in my blood, but in my opinion, the acts should have been mixed much more frequently and with more diverse acts. However, I did enjoy the experience. I was impressed with Natasha Tarasova, though. I picked up a copy of her CD and among her credits, I found out, was that she was part of a recording called "Nietszche, His Music". Now aside from coining a very popular phrase( "That which does not kill you makes you stronger"), and being one of the late nineteeth century's greatest philosophical minds, he was also a musician. The story goes that one afternoon, he premiered some of his piano works for his close friend, Richard Wagner and once he was finished, the great Maestro went into another room, closed the door, and laughed his ass off rolling on the floor! I guess that Wagner did not think too much of his pal's musical prowess! LOL Anyway, I am anxious to hear her recording of Nietzche's works( I have heard a CD or two many years ago containing his piano pieces many years ago and I must have to agree with Wagner!) I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think that she and I were that appreciated at the showcase because it was the wrong kind of venue for us. I do thank the organizer for inviting me to perform however and I will never forget the experience. BKT

Tomorrow is the day

Well, the Unsigned Artist showcase is almost here and I feel a mixture of different emotions: anxiety, yet relief, adrenaline-charged, yet passive, contemplative, yet calm. I should hopefully meet some new people from networking(which is my hope), but at the same time, I am looking forward to meeting and hearing other artists. It should be a grand affair! I'll tell you about it two days from now. Till then, take care!BKT

A reminder...

Let your voices be heard and support Internet radio! You can click here on the link savenetradio. Take care!BKT

Almost Here

Well, the Unsigned Artist showcase is next Tuesday and I am excited because you never know as an artist who might show up. I will be singing and playing guitar without any other accompaniment and I'm scheduled to play late in the evening around 12-12:30. Anyone who would like to come, I'd love to meet you! Take care and have a great weekend!:)BKT

Education-an INVALUABLE Tool

Hi gang! As I continue to wait for more responses from all the magazines to which I have submitted my music, I think about my conservatory days. I would not have been able to orchestrate ANY of my CD, Dreamwalk ,without being educated by Thea Musgrave, a renowned world-known composer of Opera, symphonic, and chamber works. She helped me unlock all the hidden secrets in my brain that would allow me to go beyond just putting all my ideas on a tape recorder. I am hooked now and forever on writing them on manuscript paper! I am forever greatful to the one whom I call the Scottish Queen for all she has done for me. I just read in the German magazine, STERN, that Katarina Wagner, the great granddaughter of Richard Wagner, is now the new director of the famous Bayreuth Festpielhaus in Germany(Wagner's personal theatre for the performance of his operas). Not only is she beautiful but is very smart as well! Anyway, I was thinking about how listening to Classical Music changed how I thought about music forever and I became a better musician because of it. Going to a conservatory also gave me the discipline to study and study HARD! All in all, I would not change the experience for the world!:) There is more to come so please stick around! BKT

Another Opportunity

I have just been notified that a webzine is interested in reviewing my CD, Dreamwalk. I knew that July would be a hot month! My wish is that opportunities continue to come after working on this album for three solid years.Being a independent artist is VERY tough without the funding power of a major label and everything comes out of my pocket. I strongly believe in my songs and I also am happy that I am getting a good response from them. The train just has to keep on rollin'! BKT

The Essence of Diversity

Throughout the years I have heard many things said about my music and good or bad, I always keep in mind one simple thing: to thine own self be true, as Shakespeare said in Hamlet. My CD, Dreamwalk, is a concrete example of my philosophy.I am sure that you can hear all of mu influences: Pop, Classical, Jazz, R&B, Country, and Folk, to name a few. Ny musical tastes vary from Gregorian Chant to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I believe that music is such a broad palette of colors that any painting will do as long as it is from the heart, mind, and soul. One of my primary musical influences has been and will always be that rather controversial, 19th Century German composer, Richard Wagner.He believed in what he called,in German, a Gesamtkunstwerk ("total artwork" in English) which was, in essence, an amalgam of ALL the arts: poetry, art,music, and theatre. Now I am not saying that I have such lofty ambitions for my music, but I WILL say that I believe in the amalgam of different genres can only enhance the listening experience. that is not to say that I mix things together just to be different. Absolutely not! But since I have enjoyed all kinds of music throughout my life, of course, these homogeneous elements will find their way into my music generally and they have done so. To me, the essence of diversity is a genuine appreciation of music AS A WHOLE, and not according to trends, record sales, or status quo. Independent radio is a champion of such diversity and that is why I am its fervent advocate. I also support independent thought which is the companion to diversity. As long as I am a musician(which shall be as long as I live), I will always have my own mind about my craft but at the same time, leave room for others to contribute so I believe in diversity all around. Why am I babbling about this topic? I don't know; it seemed like a good idea at the time!:) BKT

Hotter than July

I chose to title this new entry after a great Stevie Wonder album. Some new things have come my way: I have been commissioned by a friend to write lyrics for a Techno song. Now that is DIFFERENT! I'll just have to see how THAT goes! LOL Secondly, things look well with the Inside Connection music magazine. I will give you more details when I know them by next week. There will be more performances, more new songs and a whole lot more! Keep your eyes peeled and remember to buy a CD if you haven't already!:)BKT

Happy Fourth Of July!

Well, I won't go into my usual research into the origin of a holiday because EVERYONE knows why we celebrate THIS one.:) I'm taking a day off today to reflect and also to mentally prepare what lies ahead in this very important month. Watching the waves on the beach sounds PRETTY GOOD TO ME!:)Take care and come back for more news that is sure to come!:)BKT

Inside Connection Music Magazine

Hi folks! I am proud to announce that I will have my own webpage on one of the most prominent indie music magazines in the country, Inside connection music magazine. Now THAT's the way to start a new month I think!:) It is not up yet, but once I email all the contents that they need, I will let you know when it's up so you can check it out. I am also proud to join this community of indie artists featured in this great magazine because I feel that they represent the best of the best in the American indie talent pool. Also, this month I will be performing at the Unsigned artist/Industry showcase at the Pussycat Lounge in NYC on the 17th. Well, that's all for now. Take care! BKT:)

A New Alliance

Hi gang! I am currently in negotiations with a really cool music magazine that would allow me to set up a webpage on their site, podcasts and other interesting features. Until all is settled, I won't say which one yet, but it is DEFINITELY an indie artist-friendly mag! Keep coming back for more news and have a great weekend!:) BKT

UpBeat Radio Podcast

Good News! Upbeat Radio Podcast will be adding me to their roster soon! Once everything is finalized, I will give you more information.:)BKT

Should I resurrect a former project?

I have been mulling it over as to whether or not I should rerelease my first CD, CASTLE OF DREAMS as a bridge between the current DREAMWALK project and my future CD, TIME IS THE RIVER. Well, all I can say at this point is that if I decide to do that, I will have it for sale exclusively on this site and it will be more of an EP as opposed to a full album because certain songs would NOT appear since they are already rerecorded on DREAMWALK. It's just a thought. I do like the idea of revisiting somehting I did many years ago but it would have to be remastered and so forth. In the meantime, I hope you pick up a copy of my current CD, DREAMWALK.:) BKT

Another Internet station!

Hi folks! I am pleased to inform you that audio-style.com, a popular internet radio station will be adding my music to rotation in a few weeks. I'll keep you posted as to when that will happen. Hope you are having a good weekend!:)BKT

"Hot Fun in the Summertime..."

Hey gang! Now that summer is officially here, I really have my work cut out for me!!! I am on standby to be reviewed for an Independent music magazine, the Industry showcase is quickly approaching week by week, I will inform you about surprise gigs, and I will even do some preliminary recording for the next project!Whew! And I want to be even BUSIER! How wild is that?:) Have a good weekend and don't forget: pick up a CD from this site!:)BKT

As a reminder...

Check out iradiola.com which is playing my music along with other indie artists and help to keep Internet radio alive!:)BKT

"Oh Canada..."

Hey gang! I am excited to find out that a Canadian company may be interested in licensing my music; we'll see how it goes. Now I am continuing to write new material and I am looking forward to the industry showcase I will be playing in next month.Well that's it for now; thanks for visiting and keep coming back!:)BKT

Oh and By the Way...

Don't forget to pick up a copy of my current CD, DREAMWALK, for only $8.99!:) BKT (Singles are also available through my CDBaby link page).

Still Playing at Smith's

I am heading down to SMITH's on 44th St and 8th Ave tonight to sit in with friends around 11pm to sing and play and you are more than welcome to come by and say hello! There's always plenty of dancing good drinks, lovely bartenders, and of course, good music!:)Thursdays and Saturdays are really the best nights there.BKT

New Material on the way...

Hi gang! Can you believe that this year is more than halfway over by now? Unbelivable. I got bitten by the writer's bug again and I think that I am coming up with some cool new stuff that I haven't expected to augment the material I have already written for my follow-up CD, "Time is the River". I won't work on that fully till sometime next year, though. Songwriting is,indeed, a funny process: when the creative juices are flowing, there is NOTHING like it but when writer's block is an affliction, oh boy....FRUSTRATION! But I am glad that I have steered past those rough waters and as for smooth sailing ahead, who knows? I am just looking forward to the voyage:). BKT

MySpace

I am seriously considering the addition of a MYspace link to my LINKS page as another way of reaching me. It may be included by the end of this week so look for it.There will be more news to come so thanks for checking out my site and keep coming back!:)BKT

More Changes...

Hi! I have made it available now for my CD, Dreamwalk, to be available for the low price of $8.99! Also, there are more options that have been included as far as purchasing alternatives: if you want to by a single off the album, the CDBaby page which pops up once you hit the new icons on my WELCOME and PRODUCTS pages will give you alternate links where you can just get a single. I wanted to give the public as many options as possible in order to grab my music. Well, folks, I am still waiting on replies from certain review publications about the record and as always, I will keep you posted! Till next time!BKT

Indierhythm.com

By next week sometime, my CD, Dreamwalk, will ALSO be available on IndieRhythm.com and I am corresponding with the folks there to have a track or two played on their internet station as well so look out for it!:)BKT

musicSubmit.com

By tomorrow, there will be yet ANOTHER way to purchase my CD, Dreamwalk: just go to musicSubmit.com and via the link I will set up here on my LINKS page and you're ready to go! Remember that it is now available for only $9.99 and can be shipped practically anywhere! I hope you pick up a copy today!:)BKT

TO Russia With Love

Well, it's officially the middle of the year now, gang, and it's time for me to look back on what I have accomplished in the past six months: the completion of the CD, Internet radioplay, a major showcase on the way,...hmmm,not bad. But there is SO much more for me to do! I remember the work ethics of a certain Russian maestro named Misha Shufutinsky who opened my eyes about the fine art of arranging Pop music. I was listening to one of his current CDs recently and the standard of excellence in his arranging, production and composition remains.One day I hope to meet him again to thank him for showing me the way to being a good musician. And a former love of mine inspired the instrumental track on DREAMWALK I wrote a few years ago, Lady Svetlana and she happened to be, of course, Russian...AND Brighton Beach(known in America as Little Odessa) is my home. I guess I have to thank the Russian influence for adding spark to my music...and my life.:)BKT

A New Event

Hello! I want to share with you some exciting news: I have been chosen to participate in an Industry Networking Party/ Unsigned Artist showcase where I will perform two songs in front of music industry professionals at the Pussycat Lounge (96 Greenwich St) in Manhattan on July 17 starting at 8pm. Sirius Satellite Radio, and other companies will be there as well. It should be quite an event and I am excited!BKT

DREAMWALK now on SALE!

Hi folks! I just wanted you to know that my CD, Dreamwalk, is now on sale for just $9.99! Just click on the LINKS page here, then on the CDBaby link and you can order one! It can be shipped practically anywhere in the world. Hope you pick up a copy!:)BKT P.S. And special thanks goes out to the lovely island nation of Niue for checking out my music!:)

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Well, it's about that time...BEACH time!!! Memorial Day weekend is just about here and I plan to take a vacation for a week. Sometimes, I wonder if I EVER take a vacation for real because even when I am not working my day job, I am constantly checking emails, company updates, etc. I have to keep busy in order to see progress; such is life. I am encouraged today because an L.A. based publishing company is interested in my material and I am waiting for more responses. The music business is so tough for many reasons including the need for patience but hey, I knew what I was in for the moment I stepped into the studio for the first session of the Dreamwalk project!:)BKT

And the Beat goes on...

Hey gang! I guess the floodgates of my creativity have been opened because it looks like I am really writing again ever since I wrote a song this past Sunday morning. Also, I plan to go back in the studio and put down basic tracks for a song I have not decided yet just to keep active and to have a starting point once I start recording the new CD in full gear even though that won't happen till late this year, early next. My current CD, DreamWalk, I am happy to say, is getting positive response and if you haven't picked up a copy yet, it's available through CDBaby by simply clicking that link on my site ofr if you prefer to just buy a single or two, you can go to the Aplle iTunes Link.And by the way, for those people who visit my site regularly in Japan, if you have any leads regarding how I can contact Kenji Hino, musician and son of the great trumpeter Teramasa Hino, I'd appreciate it if you emailed me through here with details. I would love to see my old friend and bandmate again!:) BKT

Living my Life Again

The title of this new entry is a new song I wrote this past Sunday morning in the spirit of the positive changes in my life. Last year, for me, was a disaster: I lost my mom to cancer, I lost a woman that was dear to me, I was still getting over a wrist injury but now I see so many good changes that this year has provided. I am so thankful for this website that allows me to share my music with virtually the entire world; I am getting more exposure, but I know that there is still so much more to do so hang on to this ride with me because it should be interesting! BKT

Apple iTunes is here!

Tracks from my CD, DREAMWALK, are now available for purchase on Apple iTunes! Just go to the site, Apple iTunes.com or go to my LINKS page and click on it. And of course, the CD is also available on CDBaby so pick up a copy!:)BKT

A Letter from our Possible Future President

I am honored to have received an email from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton regarding the future of Internet Radio which I would like to share with you: Dear Mr. Taylor: Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the proposed new royalty rates for online radio. I always enjoy hearing from New Yorkers about challenging public policy issues that are important to them, and I particularly appreciate your concerns regarding the future of I nternet radio. As you may know, I am a strong supporter of maintaining an open Internet that fosters innovation. No other communications medium in recent history has had such a profound impact on the expression of speech, education, the dissemination of information and the exchange of ideas. Online radio is a great example of how the Internet has helped to cultivate innovation and offered consumers access to new an d personalized information. However, the great technological and commercial progress that has come with the ongoing development of the Internet has also brought with it numerous new public policy dilemmas, such as how to balance copyright protection for music and other property with the innovation that the Internet continues to cultivate. As you know, in March 2007 the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) proposed a new online radio royalty structure, which would amend the system that has been in place since 2002 and establish a new scale for royalties charged to Internet radio companies on a per-song, per-listener basis. The proposed rates will begin at 0.08 cents per song per listener, retroactive to January 1, 2006 , and will reach 0.19 cents per song per listener in 2010. The CRB has since announced that it will hear appeals of its previous ruling. Your concerns about this matter are significant and I hope that this period for appeal will enable the CRB to carefully consider points of view like yours. Thank you again for sharing your concerns regarding these important Internet radio issues with me. Please be assured that I will continue to follow this issue closely and that I will keep your views in mind in the future if related measures come before the Senate. For more informa tion on my support for an open I nternet and other important issues before the United States Senate, please visit my website at http://clinton.senate.gov . Sincerely, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton I feel that this is indeed, encouraging news and if the CRB truly hears the voice of the people, then Internet radio can continue to thrive! I encourage any American who loves the freedom of choice to write to Senator Clinton as a step towards guarding the spirit of music on the Web. Millions of independent musicians like myself will thank you!:)BKT

More Internet Radio News!

I am happy to report that another top Internet radio station, iradiola.com, will add me to their playlist. I should be on there around the middle of next week! This particular station, incidentally, was voted #1 in the country by New Weekly Music Magazine! It is an honor to be privileged in such a way. The song, "I Love You" (a favorite of mine on my CD, Dreamwalk) will be played on the air. Whatever kind of rotation it gets, I will let you know in a future blog.Once again, it can be accessed by merely going to iradiola.com. There is more information to come so keep coming back,ok?:) BKT

Preliminary work for the future CD

Hello again! I am thrilled at the response I am getting for my CD, Dreamwalk from internet radio and the public alike and for those who have not picked up a copy yet, please do so by clicking on my LINKS page and then the CDBaby link which goes directly to my store page. Even though I am heavily involved in finding ways to promote my CD, in the back of my mind, I am already planning the next one. I usually like to have an idea of the follow-up ahead of time. The next one will indeed be called "Time is the River" and I will have a few surprises on that one. I have already picked a few songs from mmy catalogue already and am busy writing. I never want to become too idle in my writing even though I am busy with the business aspect of my current project. I will of course write more orchestrations (some scores I have already completed) but I will write more horn parts for the next one...and there will be ALOT more acoustic guitar! In the coming weeks, I will add more to the MUSIC section. For example, I am thinking of including demos, outtakes and a preview of what's to come on the next project. I ALWAYS like to keep busy! BKT

You CAN go Home Again...

Hey gang! I was just reminiscing about the time when I performed in the Songwriters Hall of Fame showcase for unsigned artists: it was definitely one of the highlights of my career as a musician and you know what? I have decided to rejoin the organization because it does many wonderful things. I am especially excited to be a part of the Jimmy Webb Masterclass in June. who is Jimmy Webb? Well, for those who don't know, he is one of America's finest songwriters. Remember that Donna Summer hit about leaving the cake out in the rain? ("MacArthur's Park") That is one of his songs. And many artsis have either covered his material or worked with him at some capacity. He even worked with legendary Beatles producer George Martin on an album! Any way, I met him a long time ago and he was very encouraging about my music. I look forward to talking to him again. He has always been one of my favorite songwriters. I enjoy his initmitable style of lyric writing and musical composition. He is indeed a musician's musican. also, the SHOF is artist-friendly. I have met good friends, good artists, and got some exposure. You can't beat that!BKT

Backround Vocal Singing: not to be underrated

Hi folks! I wanted to definitely take time out and also thank someone whom I haven't thanked enough for the wonderful female backround vocals that were supplied for my CD, Dreamwalk. She is a great singer simply known as La. Last I heard, she is currently working on her own CD project and I would be more than happy to include her website as a link on my site just as soon as I get one. Backround vocals are a great counterpart to lead vocals for many reasons: they fill in a musical void, add color to a palette of sounds, and enrich lyrical content.These are virtues that are meant to be observed. I did alot of the backround vocals myself but I felt that I would have a richer sound if i chose one great female vocalist to add something that I could not; hence, La's involvement in the project. And when you read this La, I want to say once again, THANK YOU! BKT

Just a reminder...

When you get the chance, go to the internet radio station, audio-style.com or evolvingartist.com,starting at 7pm tonight to hear one of the songs off my album, Dreamwalk, "Won't Leave You Tomorrow", which is getting heavy airplay.BKT

New Additions...

Hello! I just wanted to tell you to expect a few surprises this month on the site that I have always had in mind to include, so stick around!:) And don't forget to pick up a copy of my CD by clicking on the LINKS page and then on CDBaby which will take you to my store page!:) BKT

Rock and a Hard Place

Hi gang! I am excited to see that more people are checking out my music because of the radio exposure I am getting on I nternet staions like mvyradio.com and audio-style.com. I plan to continue this route and more! I was pleasantly surprised to hear one of them, audio-style.com which is primarily a Rock station which picked one of my songs," Won't leave you Tomorrow ", for heavy rotation and if any of the team from that place is reading this, THANK YOU! When I wrote that particular song, I had no idea that it would be even considered for airplay. I thought of it as a bit of an oddity because it is VERY unlike any of the other songs on the album. It is a Rock song that doesn't even have an electric guitar in it! It is in fact, a true story about a relationship of mine that went awry and I was so damned angry, I had to put it in song format. I have always maintained that songwriting for me is better than sitting on a couch confessing my soul to a 100 dollar an hour shrink! And now the fruits of my labor are now on air to hear. What a way to get even!:) BKT

Help Save Internet Radio!

Hey gang, I just found out some distressing news via an email: recent US government action has increased the amount of fees that Internet radio stations have to pay. In other words, if this does not change in the weeks,even days to come, many stations will be forced to close due to bankruptcy! I am very concerned about this. Besides you, the fans, the most supportive community for my music (or for that matter, probably ANY independent artist's music) BY FAR, is the smallest, most innovative new market for music, Web Radio. They are committed to helping artists like myself reach an audience without having to crawl down and BEG mainstream radio for a chance to be heard (without payola, of coure). I am a strong advocate of Web Radio and it has already helped me to build a bigger audience and every artist needs that. I believe that, given the chance, it could change the face of commercial music across the globe! Internet stations not only gives an audience diversity but also expose unknown artists like me who DESPERATELY need our music to be heard! If you want your voice to be heard by our government, then PLEASE click on the savenetradio.org link on my LINKS page and sign the petition to stop this madness and continue letting independent artists have what we need to survive in the already highly competitive world of music! Thank you. BKT

Update on Internet Radio Show

Hi folks!! Now that my birthday week is over, it's back to work. I had a BLAST though!! As promised, I will now give you the info on where to hear my music on an internet broadcast. Starting tomorrw, May 1st, one of my songs off the CD, Dreamwalk, will be in heavy rotation starting at 7PM EST. The song the programmers chose was "won't Leave you Tomorrow". The name of the broadcast is Joey Stuckey's Audio Style so just go to audio-style.com and click on the "Listen Now" button OR go to evolvingartist.com and click on the "Engage Internet Radio" button on the upper left hand corner of the homepage. There are new shows every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month and the 2nd and 4th shows are repeat broadcasts so CHECK ME OUT!:) BKT

"You say it's your Birthday...we're gonna have a good time..."

Hi folks! Before I head out and CONINUE celebrating my birthday which is today, I would like to inform you that ANOTHER internet radio station has picked up the CD! In a few weeks, I will be notified about the times, dates and so forth so you can check out the program which is called Joey Stuckey's Audio Style. Information will also be available on the EvolvingArtist.com website as well. I will keep you posted! Now off I go! Have a good one! BKT

"When I Get Older, Losing My Hair, Many Years From Now"...

Well folks, I'll be a year older in two days and I am looking forward to celebrating my birthday all this week. Being the workaholic that I am, I am literally FORCING myself to take a vacation from sending out press kits, contacting Internet radio, selling CDs, and so forth. It will be for only this week, though! There are a lot of things I have to do this year if I want my career in music to get to the level I want it to be, for sure. I guess that I have this insatiable appetite for success which drives me every day. I hope that people really like the music they hear on DREAMWALK and I may still include some outtakes from that album in the very near future to keep checking here, alright? It's only gonna get better! And PLEASE feel free to write to me either by email here or on my guestbook; whoever comes to my site is welcomed anytime! BKT

Local Music Cafe

Hi gang! In an earlier entry, I mentioned that I would be a feature artist on Martha's Vineyard radio, or mvyradio,and if you want to see my page there, just go to the LINKS section and click on the new link I have included after CdBaby! There is a show on Sundays called the Local Music Cafe . Check it out! Have a nice weekend! BKT

Apple of my Eye

Good news! I have just been contacted with the news that Apple iTunes will have my music available on their site soon! Once I get more information, I will let you know. Currently, CDBaby is the only online distributor of my CD but soon, I will have two ways of getting the CD into your hands. Also, it can be special-ordered depending on whether or not your favorite store carries my distributor so don't be afraid to email me if you have any questions. My CD, Dreamwalk, can be purchased on my LINKS page. Just click on CDBaby and you are on my store page! I'll keep you informed about this latest development regarding Apple iTunes. BKT

Am I a Crooner?

I don't know; I have been called so many things as a musician (usually good things, thank God) but one moniker I definitely like is CROONER. To me a crooner is a singer in the most traditional sense which is a song stylist whose best friends are the WORDS and the MELODY. As a composer also, this is first and foremost in my mind: to create a perfect marriage between the two. Are there many crooners anymore? Not too many, unfortunately. In my opinion, there are more poster boys and girls than real singers these days. Marketing before quality? It is an unfortunate trend; however, I believe that the true singing tradition of upholding the virtues of good song interpretation will never die. What are they? well, that is a discussion for another time but I think my mom said it best: "It ain't singing if you can't understand the words!" BKT

Martha's Vineyard Radio

Good news! I have been selected by a popular Internet radio station as a feature artist! It can be reached at mvyradio.com and it seems that alot of talent is being exposed at this venue. I'm excited! This is indeed a very nice way to end the week. I will keep you up to date with more news about this station in the next entry. Have a good weekend! BKT

More about "Dreamwalk"

Hi again gang! I am getting more responses from A& R departments in record companies, some encouraging, some not but that's ok: it's all a part of the business!:) My CD, Dreamwalk, my labor of love, is indeed, in the classic Pop/R&B style because that is what I grew up listening to. I keep getting comments from companies describing my music as "Classic". I find that interesting because I guess that sound isn't around as much anymore. Not that my material is dated, but I strongly believe in good old-fashioned lyrics and melody, the bread and butter of songwriting, in my opinion. Each song on the CD has its own flavor, but collectively, I wanted the listener to have a musical feast on the ears. remember to pick up a copy through this site and it can be shipped virtually anywhere in the world! Happy listening! And finally , I want to acknowledge all the wonderful foreign countries like Russia, Finland, India,Spain, Belarus,the Seychelles,the Ukraine, Colombia, the UK, and so many others who have listened to my music and continually visit this site! THANK YOU! BKT

Well, I'm back...

These were the last words that were spoken in Professor Tolkien's classic epic book, The Lord Of The Rings and it felt appropriate as a tilte for my latest entry. You see, to me this is not just a NEWS section of the site; I consider it a blog also. I hope you guys enjoyed the Esater Weekend. It was tough at first, especially after visiting my mom's final resting place here on earth, but I know that she will always be with me. Now, I will continue to work on getting my music out there where it needs to be heard. I am following up on a few updates for radio and I will have more copies made of my CD, Dreamwalk. Please get a copy if you can. It's available by clicking on my LINKS page, then on CDBaby which will lead you straight to my page.Take care! BKT

This is for you, Mom

Today, it will be exactly one year since I lost my beautiful mother. She was EVERYTHING to me. If it weren't for her, I would have never been able to take music lessons. She encouraged my talent for as long as I can remember. She noticed me having a knack for music since I came from church services and I played what I heard in them note for note, according to what she said. I also dedicated my CD, Dreamwalk, to her because she was always prompting me to "finish that CD" no matter what. even when she was sick, she STILL encouraged me. She was my greatest fan. And the greatest influence in my life. I am blessed to have had a woman like that raise me on her own.She gave me the name, Byron Keith Taylor, which is why I use my full name as a stage name: in honor of her. I know in my heart she would have been proud of me. I truly believe that. I am visiting where she is laid to rest today and I will NEVER forget the impact she had and STILL has on my life. BKT

Easter Break

WelI, I will not follow tradition on my site and go into the origins of THIS holiday because it is too well known.:) I am going to take this Easter break, relax, ponder on what I have accomplished during the first 1/3 of this year and continue my efforts on Monday. Radio is a big topic for me now as I had mentioned and will continue to be. I have a few offers there. In the meantime, I wish everyone a happy, healthy Easter holiday and to reflect on the true meaning of this important holiday. Take care! BKT

Internet Radio

Hello gang! I have a few new developments. I have heard word from a few Internet radio stations who are willing to air my music! This is indeed exciting news because the number one thing on my mind is exposure! I will give you further details in upcoming entries and as always, you can catch me on Saturdays playing at Smith's (cnr of 44th St. and 8th Ave in Manhattan) starting around 11 or so with the Beatle Brothers! Take care! BKT

Performance at The Bitter End

Well, I just came back from performing and let me tell you that I enjoyed every minute of it. Of course, I rigged it so that this entry would be seen starting today so let me give you the scoop of what happened on what would be considered to you as yesterday. I went in, spoke to Larry Oakes who runs the show (Keyboardist of the classic rock group, Bad Company), greeted people and walked to the back room where I was able to tune up. I was scheduled to play at 7:30 but the guy who was to perform before me never showed up, so I played a little earlier. Let me tell you that it felt so good playing some songs from my CD, Dreamwalk which included WITH ALL OF MY HEART, THE KNIGHT AND THE QUEEN, and a song not on the CD, PRISONER OF EMOTION( you'll hear it on the next CD, TIME IS THE RIVER but Iw ont start on that till late this year at least). When I got offstage, people came up to me and congratulated me. I guess I did ok:). No false modesty here: I think that I did a really good job and trust me, this is just the beginning. I will have many more performances to come and I will definitely keep you posted. Till next time! BKT

No Foolin', I'm REALLY playing:)

Hi folks! Today, I perform at the Bitter End at 7:30pm (it isn't a joke like some thought because it's on April Fool's Day) and I couldn't be more excited. There will be a few other Singer-Songwriters before and after me and it will be cool to meet and here them. Hell, I might even already know a few of them!:) Anyway, I always enjoy performing on this stage which is one of NY's best venues for unknown talent. It is almost a landmark place for music just like the sadly-defunct CBGB's (incidentally, I played in its CBGB's lounge last year). The admission is only $5 and I would love to see you down there if you can make it! Tomorrow, I will give an account of the show here so stay tuned! BKT

Origins of April Fool's Day

As my custom on this site allows, I will go into the origins of another "holiday", April Fool's Day, especially since I am performing on that day. It is not really certain how this holiday started but it is generally believed to have started from ancient cultures as varied as the Romans and the Hindus because they celebrated the start of the new year on or around April 1st until the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar in Europe. Some refused to accept this change and were made fools of, hence the title "April Fool's". It is not certain whether this is true but I thought you would find this interesting. Ok, well I'll see you on Sunday and I will give an account of the concert immediately afterwards. Have a great weekend! BKT

Classic Singer-Songwriter?

I recently received a critique from a representative of a well known A&R (Artists & Repertoire) department and among the things that were said about me was that I was a classic Singer-Songwriter. I wondered what that meant but as I continued reading, I saw we he meant. I don't really sound like a Justin Timberlake or an Usher; my sound, I admit, is rather old school but without being dated. To me the "old school" mentality means caring about writing good quality lyrics and music; it means having the best possible songs on a CD and not forgettable little tunes ; it means excellence all around. I believe in all of those virtues and do my best to have them. The rest is up to you, the public, as to whether or not I have succeeded. So if all of those things make me a Classic Singer-Songwriter, then I am proud to be called that. BKT

Rebel Without A Pause

Well, last night I went to see a colleague of mine play in a Singer-songwriter circle and it wwas interesting. For the uninitiated, a Singer-Songwriter circle is when four or five different artists go down the line, play a song each in rotation. I thought about becoming a part of this kind of venue since it looked like fun but in the end, I knew it wasn't for me. Sure, I love being around different artists, learning from them, hearing their songs, but the genre that they usually play usually is not my cup of tea. I guess I like being on the fringe, being a rebel who does not stop pursuing my vision that songwriting organizations stop being rivals with each other and concentrate more on helping indie artists;that more singer-songwriters themselves help each other more; that different kinds of music be explored in these circles which would make them more interesting, in my opinion. Now I am not trying to criticize, but these are my views and I guess that is why I have had difficulties at times, I admit; however, I stand by my opinions and I believe that this is a very exciting time to be had by all singer-songwriters on a budget like me. I get a thrill every time I get a hit on my site from a place as far as Belarus or India.I thank my new friend and colleague for inviting me to the evnt last night because it strengthened my resolve to excel in my craft. These writers were indeed talented even though it was not necessarily my kind of music; I still appreciated it. Now I am more inspired than ever and I must tell you that I cannot wait to kick ass on Sunday! BKT

Six Days from now...

Well, I'm excited about an upcoming show of mine at the Bitter End and I hope to see you there especially those who have been following my musical exploits on this site. There also should be a new pic or two to come, more news, more surprises so stick around!:) I also want to thank those people who continually visit my site overseas; it is such a thrill for me that people all over the world are hearing my music via the Internet. It is indeed an exciting time for us artists who do not have major label backing and have to do everything ourselves because of the new ways of distribution and marketing.Well, take care!Till next time, BKT

Don't be a Stranger:)

Hi there! I just want to encourage you to write me either through my email here or guestbook if you have any comments, suggestions (to which I am always open ) or you just want to give me a shout-out. Thanks and remember to pick up a CD copy through my CDBaby LINKS page! Bye for now! BKT

Any Favorites?

Hi gang! Once again I will shamelessly plug my CD, Dreamwalk which is available for purchase online by clicking on my LINKS page and then CDBaby. I always like hearing what people like best about the album so you can always email me or simply make an entry in my Guest book. What's your favorite song? With all of my Heart? Just One Kiss? These songs are my babies and I wanna know which one cries out to you the most, at the risk of sounding corny. Have a good weekend! BKT

The Scottish Queen

As I mentioned in the last entry, I would reveal my other mentor here. If you read my bio, you already know. She was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and was a student of the late great master teacher of composition, Nadia Boulanger: her name is Thea Musgrave, renowned composer of symphonies, chamber works, and operas. She even wrote an opera based on Harriet Tubman, the leader of the Underground Railroad during slavery times in America. Maestro Musgrave taught me more than just orchestration and composition techniques: I learned how to rely on my own basic, natural musical instincts. Not ONCE was I allowed to jot down my ideas on a tape recorder; everything in my head had to be written down. I am thankful to this very day for her instruction because I could have never written the orchestration for the songs on my CD, Dreamwalk and quite possibly, the album never would have been made because arrangers of that magnitude are WAY beyond my price range. So here's to the Scottish Queen. May she reign a long time!:) BKT

The Odessa Files

I chose this title (inspired by a movie starring Jon Voigt who is known nowadays as Angelina Jolie's father) as I was reminiscing about how the Russian influence (as well as British) has changed my musical life forever. When I was a teenager, I used to have my band rehearsals at a place called Prince Studios in Manhattan. The owner was a nice Russian man named Igor. His studio was where I met the great maestro, Misha Shufutinsky. At the time, I had NO concept of orchestration and arranging( especiallly since I did not really start listening to Classical and Jazz music till i was 18) so he came in and was hired to arrange a song I wrote called " I know what's on your mind" (one of these days, I will revisit that song, but not now). It took him only a few hours to arrange the song and I was utterly amazed! It dawned on me that I had to become an arranger, so I studied his approach as he laid down each single part to make the perfect whole. It changed my musical landscape completely. I was never the same after that day so the Russians whom I have encountered have my gratitude and respect. It wasn't until years later when I studied under a protege of Boulanger that I took it a step further by learning how to write for orchestra under maestro, Thea Musgrave but more about her in the next entry. BKT

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Hey gang! well, last nightI did my share of bar-hopping and even checked out some local music talent with a bunch of Russian friends of mine. I liked some acts better than others but it was strange not seeing a hint of green in this particularly Russian club in the village I went to. No one kissed the blarney stone there! LOL Anyway, I like the atmosphere of the Village and I am sure that a great deal of my shows in NYC will be there, starting with the Bitter End in April. I am also writing some new material that may be included in my next CD, Time is the River( I'll start working on it late next year), even though I usually plan about two albums ahead, so most if not all the songs are already written. So take care, and I hope your hangovers are not too severe!:) BKT

Celebrating the Green

Well, tomorrow is America's favorite drinking day second only to New Year's Eve, St. Patrick's Day and just like I was curious about St. Valentine' s origins, well, anyone who knows me would automatically assume I would be curious about this particular saint as well. So I was surprised about a few things I did not know: (A) St. Patrick is one of Christianity's most revered saints. (B) St. Patrick was rumored to have the power to drive snakes away (according to legend, of course). (C) St. Patrick's Day commemorates BOTH is feasting day and the day he died. (D) Irish immigrants came to the US and held the first St. Patty's Day parade not in Ireland, but the US ten years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. These are ALL interesting facts to me considering the fact that my history with Guiness is a long one!:) I even pay homage to Ireland's dominant color in one of my songs, The Knight and the Queen", in the line "Draped in a garment of green..." You see, I spent a great deal of my leisure time studying the old Celtic myths of old and what is commonly referred to as the Matter of Britain in scholarly circles. I even took up Celtic literature as an elective while I was in conservatory studying music composition and orchestration. The two subjects balanced out well for me because I love them both. It's ironic that the primary theme in my album cover is green. I wanted earth colors and the feeling of nature which would explain the back cover also with me walking up a path to the unknown, as I described in a previous post. So there you have it! My fascination with myth, nature, and songwriting all wrapped up into one!:) BKT

Hanging Low and Aiming High

Hey gang! Well, I am getting more standby statuses from my submissions to the media so I am chillin' for the moment and continuing the submission process to new opportunities that are coming my way. I hope that by the summer my itinerary will be pretty big and the CD is my priority especially since it is now online for purchase. And speaking of which, it is possible for you to special order it from many retail stores if you prefer to do it that way. Just email me and I will tell you whether or not it is available at your favorite store. CdBaby has made a deal with stores across the country and even in some foreign places to distribute CDs to them. I think that it's wildly exciting to have this option! For example, in New York City, a landmark store, Colony, on 49th St. and Broadway, can special order my cd. Just email me and I will give you the distributor name from which it is available so you can tell the buyer at the store where to get it from. It's that simple!:) BKT

The Singer/Songwriter Sessions

Hi again folks! Once again, please feel free to buy a copy of my CD, Dreamwalk, now that it is available online! Second, as mentioned before, I will perform at the Bitter End which is located at 147 Bleeker St. between Thompson and LaGuardia Place on Sunday, April 1st at 7:30pm. I will be one of the performers at a series called the Singer/Songwriter Sessions which features up and coming artists at 15-20 minute slots each. I wanted to get up there earlier because I didn't want to deter people from coming on a Sunday if I were scheduled later. I hope you can make it! BKT

CD now available !!!

At last! The CD is available for purchase at CDbaby.com. I have included CDbaby in my LINKS page so all you have to do is click on it and my page will automatically pop up. Thank you guys for being patient with me and the online distributor. I know it took awhile:). So if you like what you hear, please pick up a copy of my CD, DREAMWALK!:) Till next time! And when I understand better how you can get it at stores, I will tell you! BKT

The Dreamwalk Concerts Kick off...

Hi there! I just accepted a slot to play at the Singer/Songwriter sessions on Sunday, April 1st at 7:30pm at the Bitter End. Admission is only 5 bucks and I will be playing for about 15 minutes. I'm looking forward to getting back out there! And CdBaby is still working on my Webpage. By the way, thereare some VERY exciting options on how to buy my CD which I will tell you in the next entry. Keep your eyes peeled! BKT

The High Tenor Legacy

Hi! Before I start, I just got word that CDBaby has my shipment and it will take 5 or so days before the CDs are available for purpose so guess what? I am going to write about things I think should be written about ina ddition to filling you in on my career and so forth. Any one know who Jussi Bjoerling and Guisseppe DiStyefano were/are? They were the two tenors who paved the way for Luciano Pavarotti's reign of Opera for over two decades. Now let's jump to Justin Timberlake. His hit song, "My Love" smacks of a high tenor song to me, but what about his predecessors like Barry Gibb, lead singer of the BeeGees, Peter Cetera,lead singer of Chicago for quite a few years, El Debarge of Debarge("All this Love"), and the list goes on. My point is that a male voice does not necessarily have to sound like Barry White's(great as his was and still is through his surviving music). Sometimes people ask me why I sing so high and I often say, "Ask God". I just simply do what I do, that is all. I am proud to be a high tenor because we fall in a certain category of uniqueness. During the Renaissance era, a man named Farinelli, arguably the world's first music star BEFORE even Mozart, was a castrato (I won' get into the literal meaning of what a castrato is; look it up! LOL) and even though that is a very EXTREME version of a male high voice, nonetheless it proves that we have always had a foot in music's threshold. If I stand for ANYTHING, it is the right that I have to be the kind of artist I want to be and am, despite prejudices, preconceptions, and attitudes. Life's too short for that and a the life aof a music career is even shorter. BKT

Just a reminder...

Hey gang! do me a favor: if you have any comments , questions, or if you just want to give me a shout-out, please feel free to sign my guestbook. I LOVE hearing from you all! Peace, BKT

Feeling stronger every day...

I pikd the title of my new blog based on an old Chicago song(the group, not the city) because I was listening to some of their music tonight on a CD I got from the library, You see, I gop to the NY public library every Saturday early afternoon to unwind, read, listen to music, and pick up my orders. I DO feel stronger every day because I see that the fruits of my labors are starting to ripen. I get a thrill evey time I open up a copy of my CD from the wrapper; even more so when someone else does. It always tells me that I am on the right path. CDbaby, my current online distributor, says that it will take a few days more for a page to open up for me and then you guys can hopefully purchase a CD. Despite all that I have gone through last year, I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel; I just need to make sure that I don't drop the flashlight!:) BKT

So what's next?

Hey gang! Sorry it took so long to write again; I've been busy. The CDs are on their way to my current online distributor, CD Baby and as Borat would say, "I am very EXCITE!" LOL Anyway, I am getting alot of good comments on the CD cover and back cover which I like and I will get into now; the front cover was at the behest of my female fans who suggested that I have a pic but if it were really up to me I would have had a painitng or something! LOL All in all, I DO like the lovely photo that my friend Robin X took on the steps of my house and I must say that I never expected to have this pic as the front cover until I saw it and I IMMEDIATELY knew that it was right! The back cover, with me walking with a guitar strapped on my back going down a path flanked by nature was my idea because I wanted something to tie in with the CD title DREAMWALK. The path, I guess, represents my life because there is no definitive destination to it and that is EXACTLY what I wanted! The path is like some mathematical equation : it leads to infinity. I am not saying that I will live forever(of course not!) but it DOES say that I am walking on a path that leads to the unknown. It is sort of like a Joseph Campbell path where I could be walking into the belly of the beast, I suppose(PLEASE read HERO OF A THOUSAND FACES by this man: a remarkable piece of work based on comparative mythology). I liked the idea of me walking towards the unknown because with each step I take with this CD, that's EXACTLY what I am doing. BKT

What makes BORAT so damned funny?

I have to tell you folks that I have not seen a funnier movie in many years than BORAT. I was wondering what my new entry would be while I was in the shower and then it hit me. Why is this film so damned funny? I think that the Sacha Baron Cohen character, Borat, is so brave that he literally comes to America, infiltrates ultra-conservative communites in order to show us something: we as Americans sometimes take ourselves WAY too seriously.:) And he makes fun of that but in an interesting way. That is one of the things that is so endearing besides the way he hilariously slanders the English language. Now don't get me wrong, I love my country but I see alot of absurd things in it and Borat tackles them head on! LOLAnyway, I think it's wise to sit back sometimes and take a little breather from all the serious work one does (like making a CD) so that one can go back and continue refreshed and energized. I had to do that for a few days and now I am back. CDbaby will have the CDs by next week, the online store will be open, and then I will be ready for the next phase: more performances! BKT

Episode of my life: a New Hope

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the film maestro, one of my musical influences, Ennio Morricone accept a special Oscar for his extraordinary career in film scoring. Of course, it was well over due but didn't I talk about him in my last entry? I had NO idea that he would be honored in such a fashion on sunday; way cool! Anyway, I have received word from a few of my submissions: I am on standby status. I don't want to jinx it and say which ones but at least there is some hope. I am continuing to make new submissions including a few magazines. Wish me luck! BKT

So the Oscars are here!

Well aside from MUSIC as being my favorite thing I also LOVE movies! Now that Oscar time is here, it reminds me that Pop artists were and are not the only musical influences in my life. I grew up listening to the great John Barry's James Bond scores and I have always loved the sound of an orchestra. Of course, I wound up taking composition and orchestration courses later in life but that not all. My appreciation for Classical music grew also. Wagner and Dvorak are among my top idols( even though I was never crazy about Wagner's anti-Semitism). Films always stretch the human imagination to new heights and music is no exception. A PRIMARY influence on me is an elderly Italian man by the name of Ennio Moriccone, a great composer whose scores include THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY, FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, THE UNTOUCHABLES AND TOO MAY MORE TO MENTION HERE. Great directors like Sergei Eisenstein, Sergio Leone, and Steven Spielgberg know the importance of the marriage between the filmaker and composer, In fact, my first track, CAROUSEL, on the DREAMWALK CD has what I call an "orchestral carpet" upon which the other instruments lie especially in the chorus. That was definitely Morricone -influenced. I loved the way he had the instruments sit on the carpet of strings in his orchestrations. Anyway, the next time you watcha movie, remember that the music plays an important role as much as the lead actor. It's often said that a key to a good film score is that the music does not stick out too much and interfere with the story. The music, in other words, is the unsung hero of the story, the laidback actor.BKT

When the River runs dry..

Well, it's a done deal: the string quartet AND the string trios went bust which means that I will either go solo or play with a band when I start the new shows very soon. For those who have followed my exploits through this ite, I am sure you know that I had tried to finalize a small string section to accompany me during shows but right now it looks like that is not going to happen at least for now. So what does one do when the river runs dry? Find an ocean. BKT

Art for Art's Sake

I don't know; does this centuries-old belief still around today? Perhaps but I think that there is a limited number of artists around who still think this way. Today in the 21st century, the realities of rent, food, clothes, and other basic essentials are too powerful to ignore. Speaking for myself, it is my dream to be able to make a living from doing what I love which is music. My Dreamwalk CD is in fact the kind of CD I always wanted to make however, it was and still is in the back of my mind that it should have some sort of commercial appeal as well. Do we have to sacrifice art in order to make money? Definitely not, but an artist in this day and age has to be realistic if they want to eat. The songs on the CD are the best I have to offer at this time and as I have mentioned before, songs for the next CD, Time is the River, are already written and in some cases recorded. I will do whatever is humanly possible to make sure that DREAMWALK gets the best chance for commercial appeal and success because I worked too hard for it NOT to. By March 7th, the CD's internet release, there will be no Ides of March; there will be tides of March: tides of progress.BKT

Official CD Release date

Hey gang! Once again, I am back to tell you the official Internet release date of my CD, Dreamwalk. By March 7, the CD will be ready for purchase for anyone around the world.It has truly been a labor of love and I hope as many people as possible get to hear it, buy it, and share it with their friends. In the meantime, I will keep you up to date about new developments and events so stick around; the journey is getting more interesting!BKT

CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES

I feel like I am living that David Bowie song. There are a lot of changes that will happen starting today. My online distributor, CDBaby, will help me set up a system of selling copies of my CD, I am continuing to submit material for magazines and reviews, I will continue performing in different spots, etc. I can't wait to hold those CDs in my hands. For three years, I have dreamt about the moment when the fruits of my labors will finally have blossomed and the moment is today. Post-production is finished and now it's time to really fly! BKT

It's DONE!!!!!!

I have VERY good news; the whole CD package is FINALLY DONE and it looks terrific! I am picking up the CDs tomorrow and they will be on their way to CD Baby by the next day so that means that they will be ready for purchase by early to mid next week AT LAST. Thank you for being patient with me; it is a long and often arduous task when you are doing everything on your own. I will also upload the images for your review by the end of the week so you can see the product as well. Take care everyone! Till next time! BKT

Is it Pop or is it Soul?

Quite often, I get asked: "How would you categorize your music?" And I often raise an eyebrow and say, well you could call it Pop, AC, easy listening or whatever but there are also elements of R & B, Jazz, Folk, and especially Classical in my songs as well. Why do we need labels? Well, from the business point of view, it is much easier to market music to certain audiences and also monitor what kind of music sells best. But from an ARTISTIC point of view, let me go on record to say that as an artist, I HATE to categorize myself. I don't sit down and say that "Today, I am going to write a Pop song or a Country song" That is utterly ridiculous to me. However, if a publisher or other professional would commission me to write a song in a particular genre that would be a different story altogether. I know that many factors are included in the success ofa song or artist, including, unfortunately race, but I never let things like that stand in my way. I feel that the songs are the true attraction. I concentrate on writing the highest quality material I can and hope that the public enjoys it; that is all I can really do. Sure it infuriated me sometimes when some fool takes one look at me and automatically thinks that I only do R & B but now through time I realize that it really DOESN'T matter how someone perceives my music as long as it is listened to and enjoyed.That is my ultimate goal. BKT

"Some people wanna fill the world with SILLY LOVE SONGS; what's WRONG with that?"

One of McCartney's very best bass lines and a terrific song, I might add(Can't help it; he's my idol) is,in my opinion, SILLY LOVE SONGS off of his Wings at the Speed of Sound album. When I was growing up, this album was one of my favorite Post-Beatle records of his as well as the Wings over America record. I think that Sir Paul has a point; what IS wrong with love songs? Absolutely NOTHING. I have had it up to my eyeballs with cynics and snot-nosed critics who constantly put down perhaps the most consistent kind of song that permeates the airwaves: the LOVE SONG. My CD, Dreamwalk, is a paean to the love song genre. I wanted to write an album that was not too symbolic or anything(although "The Knight and the Queen" breaks this rule left and right as well as "Love has an open Door") and I feel satisfied when listeners come up to me and say that they have had romantic moments with my music; that makes it all worthwhile. I guess what I'm saying is that I believe in love, regardless of my past year of heartache I have had. As a songwriter and composer, to say that writing music is cathartic is putting it mildly. I never needed therapy because music IS my therapy. Dreamwalk is my current musical statement on how I feel about love and relationships and I am sure that there is MUCH more to come. I have hinted before that my next CD will have more topics covered but for now, I hope that people enjoy my work and somehow relate what I write to their lives. It's a writer's ULTIMATE wish. Now as far as the CDs for sale is concerned, all will be wrapped up by the end of this week so that by late next week they will be ready for sale on this site so keep up to date, check the site regularly and if you can, PLEASE sign my guestbook and give me a shout-out. I LOVE to read the comments on it! BKT

The Origins of St. Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! For those who are familiar with my music, Love is quite a popular subject of mine when I write songs and on the Dreamwalk CD, that is evident. Of course, I enjoy discovering historical truths and folklore so I thought I would share a little bit of my findings with you. One popular legend explaining the roots of St. Valentine's Day suggests that a priest named Valentine continued to perform wedding ceremonies when the Roman Emperor Claudius II outlawed them for his young soldiers, was discovered and then martyred. another legend suggests that birds mate during the middle of February. And yet another states that during the Roman empire era, men would draw names of ladies from an urn in honor of the Roman god Lupernicus and thereby have their way with them for a year starting on Feb.15th. Whichever legend is true, no one knows for sure(although it is believed by scholars that there is truth in the first one I mentioned specifically) but nonetheless, it is quite a popular holiday and love, I think, will remain a popular subject of songs for centuries to come...BKT

All the World's a Stage...

Well, I am beginning to get responses from a few submissions of mine: one rejection which is ok because I believe in my talent and a few more coming my way, some of which I hope are from overseas because I feel that I usually do well in non- American circles as well. When I was in Germany, I never felt so much love and support in my lufe as far as my music is concerned. I am not trying to take away anything from my lovely American audiences, naturally, but I DO want to see more of the world.:) I am also surprised to see hits on my site from such places as India and Japan which makes me VERY happy. I do encourage musiclovers around the world to take a listen to my music because I think I have something to offer and I would LOVE to travel more, of course. There is so much going on in the world today and I think that music, besides love and understanding, is the most unifying force, the most natural resource we have on the planet. There are many players on the world's stage and all I ever asked for was at least a playbill, but now is the time to open the curtain; that is what this year is about for me:)! BKT P.S. More on the CDs for sale VERY soon!

Trio vs. Quartet

As I mentioned awhile ago, I wrote a few scores for a string quartet to accompany me on my shows; well, it turns out that one of the string players will be pretty busy so it turns out that it will be a string trio: interesting. I never thought it would turn out this way. So I have to look at the old scores again and revise them.Unfortunately, I can't just simply eliminate one part from the scores; that would be like taking one wheel off a car and still expecting it to run!lol That would be a pretty big hole musically.a trio would obviously be more simplified but than a quartet but not too much. Certain key musical phrases would STILL have to show up. I welcome the challenge to revise them and I can't wait to go out to the clubs very soon and play for you guys. Dates are forthcoming and I am talking to booking agents now...BKT

Glad I DID watch the show...

Well, you know, I rushed home to catch what I could of the Grammys(unfortunately, I was too late to catch the Police) and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. who would have guessed that Country music's most controversial group would have garnered so many awards? I was sad to find out, however, that a great keyboardist, Billy Preston, who played with such lumanries as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, had passed away awhile ago. Anyway, I never care about fashions or backstage gossip when it comes to award shows(especially THIS one which I have not seen in years). The music is the only thing that counts, in my book. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were deservedly honored as well and Mary J Blige...what can I say? A TRUE vocalist! One of my favorite segments was when she sang with an orchestra: such a treat! Anyway, as far as MY most recent news, post-production is very nearly over and after this week, I will be able to finally REST! LOL But in the meantime, I am also submitting my material to various venues to keep me busy for the rest of the year. I will tell you more in the next entry...BKT

Should I watch the Grammys tomorrow?

Well, once again, the Grammys will be given out to the best mainstream artists of the past year. There was a time when I would have said the best-SELLING artists of the past year and to a degree, that is still true; however, I feel like the Grammy community has loosened up through the years and truly deserving talent in this business; however, I look forward to the day when INDEPENDENT artists like me also have their chance to sign (er, I meant"SHINE"; Freudian slip,huh? lol). I think that an Independent Music Awards show would be spectacular for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it would help NON-multi platinum selling artists gain agreat deal of exposure and also with enough viewer interest, it would make the top labels see potential NEW talent. It would also help them realize that independent music is a serious force in this industry.But I admit, I think I will see it tomorrow: I love the POLICE and I want to see their reunion! BKT

Indie vs. Major: which IS better?

I have often pondered onthis question many, many times and I'd like to share with you my thoughts on the subject. First, I don't think that there is an artist alive who doesn't want to be heard in some fashion or another whether they record a full-fledged CD or not. It is our natural inclination to WANT to be recognized. As far as being heard on a commercial level, that of course, takes time, perserverance and a hell of a lot of luck. As an independent artist, I strive to be heard and worked on for three years what I consider to be my best work ever but will my songs be better off on an indie label or a major? To answer that question, I did some deep soul-searching and my conclusion is that EITHER one will do. Of course, I would want NOTHING better than for the mainstream public to be exposed to my material (that is my ultimate goal) but I believe in the philosophy that one has to walk before one can fly. Sometimes it's hard for artists to do that but I feel that I will do whatever I have to in order to reach my greatest potential. Indie or Major? The answer really lies within the artist. BKT

Oh and one more thing before I forget...

I want to thank Robin at Robin X Photography for taking all those nice shots of me for the CD:) BKT

One more CD Update

Well, on Friday I will finalize the CD replication process which means that CdBaby will have the CDs by midnext week and the minute they arrive, I will let you guys know so that you can at least purchase a copy of Dreamwalk. I am so sorry it is taking so long but I want to make sure that the product is high-quality, ya know?:) BKT

The Bears are back in Hibernation

Well after watching the SuperBowl, I came back to reality and said to myself that final postproduction is just about OVER! And Thank God... this part of the journey is just about over. I may be able top salvage the string quartet by the way; there is a new schedule being talked about and maybe you'll see me playing with these folks afterall. I hope so because I want my music to be heard in different ways and it would be a shame to waste ALL of those scores I wrote...BKT

The Longest Yard

last night I was reminded of a surprisingly good movie which is a remake of a classic Burt Reynolds film, THE LONGEST YARD starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. I think that the whole point of the movie is that the main character that Mr. Sandler played realized that the prison football game he participated in was more than just about yardage; it was about what he learned about himself while trying to achieve the win. I thought about this for a while when I was waiting to play in the open mic last night at the Baggott Inn till the wee hours since I was number THIRTY on the list. I was certainly grouchy and impatient during the long wait of course, but what I learned WHILE waiting was how confident I have grown throughout the years about my playing and singing. I also learned that there are plenty of musicians out there who have the same drive and determination that I do. Being part of a musical community is important because it not only humbles you, it inspires you to do even more. This was MY Longest Yard. BKT

Once again in MiddleEarth

Hi gang! I will be at the Baggott Inn on Monday playing a few songs at the opn mic and to hopefully secure my gig there...and speaking of gigs, the Midnight gig at SMITH's went along rather smoothly and I feel like i am really getting used to playing the bass again. On my next CD, I plan to play more real bass instead of a keyboard one which should be interesting; have a great weekend and of course, there is ALOT more to come! BKT

Official Internet CD Release

Hey there! The CDs are being made and once they are, I will make appropriate arrangements with CDbaby so that they are Internet-ready by the first or second week in February for sure so keep coming here to find out because I want to get the music to you guys ASAP...BKT

Another Midnight Special

Hello! I will be playing once again at Smith's with my good buddy Erik Jackson this Wednesday starting around Midnight for those who can make it; also, I am still working on getting those CDs Internet-ready for you all so please bear with me; till next time!BKT

It's Here!

Hi gang! Check out the photo I chose as the cover in the official Dreamwalk CD release in the PHOTOS section...BKT

Front Photo Soon...

So the home stretch is finally in sight! By the weekend I will have the front cover available for you guys to see; this is PROBABLY the MOST frustating part of completing a CD because the front cover is just about as important as the music because even BEFORE ANYONE hears the music, the front cover is the FIRST thing that anyone perceives about your project ESPECIALLY if you are an unknown artist. EVERY aspect of an unknown artist's project is like GOLD. Sometimes we go overboard of course, but I strive for excellence, NOT perfection. The original album, CASTLE OF DREAMS, had a free clipart photo on the cover because I could not afford to hire a graphic artist, to be honest. However, there are creative ways to express yourself inxpensively. Robin, my dear friend, was an immeasurable help to me in many ways because I wanted something different than the last album. I used to draw and paint as a kid very well but in order to fully realize my ideas I needed someone who is truly an artist in the visual realm. I cannot begin to say how much I respect visual artists; they have a way of capturing TRUTH. BKT

A Tolkien of Good will

Hi folks! I hope you liked the photo of the back cover of my Dreamwalk CD. The front cover is still forthcoming. Last night, I did a little tour of the Village just to see some of the spots I was thinking of playing at. First, I went to the BACK FENCE, a nice little spot with a small stage and sawdust floors. It has been an institution at Bleeker and Thompson street for a long time. The bartender has worked there for 25 years! Afterwards, my friends and I went to the Baggott Inn which seemed a little more my speed. It almost looked like it came STRAIGHT out of a J.R.R. Tolkien book. I half-expected to see Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee stumbling through the door on their quest:). I played WITH ALL OF MY HEART and THE KNIGHT AND THE QUEEN (I loved the fact that they had a Kurzweil digital keyboard) to a very enthusiastic audience. They were very kind to me; it was an open mic so I thought I would try out the stage again after many years of not being there. Later on, I talked to the booking agent about having a gig there so hopefully, that will be my first official venue outside of SMITH's sometime at the end of next month. I will keep you informed:). BKT

Post-Production Photos

At last! I have at least the back cover photo of the CD for you to see! The front is coming very soon; just click on the Photos section and check it out! BKT

Upcoming Smith's Performances

Once again, I will be playing at my favorite spot, SMITH's (44th St. and 8th Av.), tonight; I will be sitting in , I guess, around 10:30-11:00 with the Beatle Brothers AND I will be playing with Eric Jackson at another Midnight show on January 24th...BKT

CDBaby Update

Hi Folks! I just wanted to let you know that I am changing the pics of my CD so it will take another week at least till I get it to CDBaby. In the meantime if you want to buy a copy, just email me here and I will make arrangements to send it to you, ok? Hope everyone is having a good New Year so far. Bye now! BKT

Druids and Magic

Hi gang! I want to let you know that my CD is in the jukebox at a place called Druids on 50th St and 10th Avenue if you wanna grab a beer and hear some of the tracks in full. To me, it is always magical to have my music played ina public place. Secondly, I have just approved the front and back CD cover photos and they will finally appear here shortly for you to see NEXT WEEK!BKT

Happy New Year!!!

Okay, if you are sober enough to read this, I hope you had a GREAT celebration last night!:) LOL Anyway, now that the new year is here, I have some breaking news for all of you: I FINALLY signed up at CDbaby! I will mail them some CDs tomorrow and once they receive them, I will make sure that in my LINKS section, you can click on their name and from there you can order my CD from them. I don't know why I didn't do this before! It will be so much easier for you to get a copy, so keep coming back so that you can get a copy ASAP, ok? Take care and I wish everyone a healthy, happy New Year! BKT

My greatest Xmas present BY FAR

Happy Holidays gang! I must say that I got the absolute BEST Xmas I will ever get thanks to all the wonderful kids I talked to in Wisconsin. I got in the mail the most wonderful surprise: they sent me the most beautiful letters I have ever received. They were filled with SO much love, I cried the whole night I read them. Absolutely AWE-inspiring! Letter after letter filled me with more inspiration than I ever received in the adult world. If any of the kids I spoke to is reading this entry, I must say THANK YOU, THANK YOU! And trust me, I will send a letter of my own soon. The kids gave me such a blissful night of reading that I could not believe it was actually happening. Sometimes an artist has periods of feeling unappreciated(I know that I CERTAINLY do) and let me tell you that these great kids were the best medicine I could ever have! I am going to reread the letters soon and I know that they will be a constant source of inspiration whenever I feel down. The year 2007 will be my most challenging, I know, but with support like this, I am ready!:) BKT

Xmas Greetings (the non-Hallmark version)

I am taking a hiatus from music for a few days to enjoy the holiday season.But can a musician REALLY take a hiatus from what they love? Can ANYONE just say ENOUGH from something they love and for a few days? All I know is that I am tired and I need break till mid next week...Merry Xmas to all and have a happy New Year! BKT

While my guitar gently weeps...

I feel so guilty that I spend more time lately to my bass than my guitar. Well let me be on record to day that that the Spring concerts WILL happen and as always I will let you know...BKT

Re-Learning the BASS-ics

Last night at Smith's was a SCREAM! I got to play bass for most of the evening up until 3 in the morning! Eric and I went through a slew of classics, old and new and I hadn't played like d that in over ten years! it was so much fun. The bass is a peculiar instrument for MANY reasons: one, it suppies part of the rudimentary backbone for the rhythm section of a band; two, it supports the melodic framework of a song by keeping the bottom steady and consistent;three, it can even be a solo instrument as well which was part of my approach to the instrument at the gig. I had forgotten how much discipline and mental acuity it takes to play the bass. The last time I put my hands on one was when I was recording the track, Carousel, for my new CD, Dreamwalk. The studio happened to have one on hand. Ironically, I did not like that particular studio, which shall remain nameless for reasons which included second delays in playback( a NIGHTMARE!) and an obnoxious, neurotic owner(which NEVER helps!lol) Anyway I quickly moved the sessions to a much better studio. Ok, ok...I'm getting off track here! LOL So I was reminded that the bass is an essential part of the music since it really is the foundation which lays the groundwork for any given song. who are among the best players? Larry Graham, The founder of the slapping thumb technique was a member of Sly and the Family Stone;Jaco Pastorius, an amazing bassist who was killed tragically in a bar dispute and my personal favorite, in fact my favorite all around musician, Paul McCartney whose accomplishments need not be repeated here. So there you have it: some of my thoughts on an essential instrument in the musical family... BKT

Latest Update

Hi! I will be doing a special midnight show with my good friend and Beatle brother Erik Jackson at SMITH's on 44th St and 8th Av. tomorrow so come check it out if you have the time or if you're still up!:) BKT

Another Auld Lang Syne

Hi gang! I just wanted you to know that starting in the first week of January, I will have arranged for my CD, DREAMWALK, to be available for mail orders FINALLY on CDbaby! I want to make sure that it will be as easy as possible to purchase it online. I visited Tower Records on 66th Street and Broadway recently and I walked back out extremely depressed. I had never seen so many empty bins (they even had price tags on them!) and there were no salespeople on the floor. I used to be a supervisor there and now that it is going out of business, it occured to me that this is indeed a changing world. People are not really going out to get CDs in record stores anymore. Now they are being ORDERED via the Internet. This is the world we live in now. I had to buy the CDs I wanted from Barnes and Noble, a bookstore! So it behooves me to set up an internet store once and for all. During these few remaining weeks of the year, I am prioritizing my time and getting ready for a year of hard work, enterprise, and fun...and of course, ANY new developments I will let you know here because I am going to be pretty busy! BKT

Looks like I'm goin' SOLO, folks...

I have tried and tried to hook up with the string quartet but to no avail. I even stopped writing the remainder of the scores because it is just taking too long and I want to start perfo