sketch of the BeatlesI take a creative writing class once a week and our assignment this week was to write a fictional story about a real celebrity. Actually, I chose the Fab five. Now, I know my story is not all that great, but I decided to publish it here on Fab Mania anyway, because why not? It’s my website, after all.

A lot of people wonder why the Beatles are called the Beatles. It’s not generally considered a great name. I decided to answer that question in my own little way. I should reiterate: none of this is true.

When he was 10 years old, Paul McCartney lived in a single-family home in Liverpool. He loved to play in his backyard and unsurprisingly, usually made music there. He would gather whatever things he could find and turn them into instruments. He made instruments out of buckets, or just by beating sticks together, etc. He even made string instruments out of rubber bands and cardboard boxes. Once, he supposedly used a horticultural light that was used for an indoor garden and somehow made that play music.

He would often get his friends together and pretend to be in a band with their makeshift instruments. Their sound back in that day was not great. They wrote weird songs no one would ever sing at karaoke and their neighbors were always complaining and one of them in particular had a huge problem with Paul and his friends’ little band. He complained about it a lot at home and his son overheard.

The son was named John Maxwell. He was a few years older than Paul and his friends and also much larger, Naturally, he thought about just being the crap out of them to get them to stop playing their music. Instead, he eventually came up with a much more brilliant idea to get them to stop.

He had gotten the idea when watching a TV show where someone tried to shut down a restaurant by releasing rats. His idea was to do something similar. He couldn’t afford to buy rats a store and he was kind of scared of them himself, so that obviously wouldn’t work. But he could get insects. Specifically, he got beetles.

rubber bands used to make instrumentHe purchased a couple hundred beetles and filled them into the instrument Paul usually played. It was one of his cardboard box string instruments. Then he wrote a note and attached it to the outside. The note said “stop playing your shitty music.” Not very innovative, to be sure, but he believed it would be effective.

The next morning when Paul and his friends picked up their instruments to play, Paul heard noises coming from the inside of his. It sounded like a whole bunch of little scratches. He opened it up and looked inside and abruptly dropped it to the ground. He was surprised and shocked, but beyond that he didn’t much care.

He opened the box completely and dumped the Beatles on the ground and then he and his friends watched them scurry away. Then they began their practice session.

When they started playing, the neighboring boy John heard and quickly rushed over. He said: “what you doing how can you play with this instrument? Didn’t you get any ideas about your playing from something that may have happened this morning?”

Paul McCartney thought for a moment and then replied: “Yes, we did actually get a great idea. There was some note about us playing out shitty music, but the bugs made me think. We’re not playing shitty music; we’re playing Beatles music. From now on, we’re going to to call ourselves the Beatles.”

They did call themselves the Beatles from that day forward and they went on to play twice as much as before.
Paul added: “You’ll see, someday we’ll become really good. So good that even you will love our shitty music. Perhaps your dad will, too.”

And 15 years later, both John Maxwell and his dad owned every vinyl recording Paul and his friends released. They were huge Beatles fans. As were the rest of us. And to this day, they are played everywhere and often still in very new and unusual ways, like at a DJ nightclub with violin music (seriously!).

For the real story on how the Beatles got their name, head here.

I recently took a three week trip to Japan and while there, I naturally tried my hand at karaoke. I’ve always loved singing karaoke and Japan is the birthplace of this wonderful pastime, so it only made sense to give it a try. I was a little worried I would have to try singing Japanese songs, but it turned out that wasn’t the case. In fact, everything I thought I knew about karaoke turned out to not be the case.

singing karaoke songsLet’s start with the music. Japanese karaoke rooms have huge selections, including a ton of songs in English and Chinese and Korean in addition to the millions of Japanese language songs. And when it comes to English, the most popular karaoke songs in the country are all by the Beatles. The Japanese absolutely love the Beatles and almost every Japanese person can sing at least one Beatles song in English, even if they can’t speak a word of English otherwise.

During my karaoke visits in Japan, I participated in sing-alongs for Lucy With Diamonds In The Sky more times than I can remember. It is by far the most popular Beatles song among the Japanese, but they love many of their songs. Imagine by John Lennon is another huge favorite that almost everyone can sing. And it’s another one I ended up singing probably 20 times along with other people.

The other big difference is that karaoke places in Japan are private. You rent a private room with your friends, instead of having to get up in front of everybody and singing. I actually like this a lot better. Not only is it more cozy and fun, but you also don’t have to listen to hundreds of other terrible singers. And you get to sing a lot more often when you’re only waiting on your turn among a few of your friends and not a whole bar full of people. Every song that comes on, several other people usually sing along with, because they are all your friends. There are always at least two microphones in these karaoke rooms.

Another great thing about them is that they serve food and drinks, including alcohol, right in your room. It makes for a really fun night out with friends. You also get instruments in the room. Maracas and tambourines seemed to be the most popular. This means anyone who is not singing can still participate. No one ever needs to be bored. Personally, I always spent my non-singing time eating, but that’s just me. We even saw some rooms with instruments like violins. This was a really cool and strange surprise. I loved this so much, since the violin is my instrument.

Karaoke places in Japan are just so much fun. I’ve heard they are the same in South Korea and also in China, but I can only speak for Japan. They are very reasonably priced, as well. Of course, you have to pay extra for alcohol and for food, but the price always includes free nonalcoholic drinks. I’m a big tea drinker, so this was great for me. I had so much tea to wash down my food. And that’s another thing, the food was always excellent. In fact I never once had a bad meal anywhere in Japan. Even the food from convenience stores is great.

As for the music selection, songs by The Beatles are far from the only English songs. Just about anything you can think of, they will have. There are a lot of things they don’t have, obviously, but anything popular they have and a lot of things that aren’t too popular, as well.

I sang songs from Green Day and Jay-Z and Nirvana, but also a few songs from bands like Mazzy Star or tool or Tori Amos. The selection is amazing, especially when you consider this is only the English language selection, which is I believe number three or maybe number two. Japanese is obviously the largest but there are a ton of Chinese songs, too and Korean ones as well. It’s pretty incredible. I even went to a few karaoke places where they had Spanish language and French language songs. Unbelievable. If you ever make it to Japan you will definitely want to go to karaoke place. It is a can’t miss activity.

the fab five beatlesHere at Fab Mania we own every Beatles album ever made. Not only do we own them, we own them on every possible medium. We have all of their albums on vinyl, on cassette, on CD and as digital files. They are the greatest band ever, so of course we want all of their music available to us all of the time in any format.

Despite having all these different formats, there is one we listen to almost 90% of the time. And that is vinyl. Nothing brings out the Fab Five’s beautiful music as well as a vinyl record player. There’s just something about that needle scratching through those grooves, picking up every little imperfection and every little detail, that you simply don’t get from more modern digital formats. And let’s not even talk about cassettes.

If you want to enjoy Beatles music the way it was meant to be enjoyed, you have to get yourself their albums on vinyl. There really is no substitute. If you already have a vinyl record player, then you likely know this and you probably already have the albums. If not, go out and get them. If your record player is not very good, as is the case for most of them these days, I would suggest upgrading. You want to get a new one.

Of course getting a new turntable is easier said than done. There are so many on the market and, these days, many of them are very gimmicky. They have features no one really needs. So many of their features really only serve to drive up the price and to make it seem like you’re getting a lot for your money. A lot of them play all kinds of different formats, but obviously, if the manufacturer is putting the effort into all of these little features, they are putting less effort and less quality into the actual playing of vinyl records. You do not want this.

turntable record playerWhat you want is a turntable record player that only plays records and that does it as well as possible. That means you do not want internal speakers and you do not want all these other features that you don’t need. You want just the record player and you want to hook it up to your existing stereo system for the best possible sound.

The problem is: how do you know which record player is the best? Obviously, this, in large part, depends on your needs, but I just told you what you need, if you are looking to enjoy Beatles albums the way they are meant to be enjoyed.

So let’s assume those are your needs. In that case you want a high-quality record player, but you probably don’t want to spend too much. If you spend thousands of dollars, you will get a great one. You can get good ones for a couple of hundred dollars, too. That’s probably what most people will want. In fact, that’s what we use.

Our player is actually more expensive than most, coming in at around $800, but it still costs far less than the several thousand dollars for the highest quality ones. I would check out the site called Top Record Players. They review the best record players on the market, both high-end expensive players and budget players, many of them costing under $100. They have comparison tables, detailed reviews and lots of photos. You should be able to find what you’re looking for on the Top Record Players website. At the very least, you’ll be able to narrow down your options quite a bit, which will make the purchasing process much simpler.

If you’re like us and you want to really enjoy Beatles albums in all their glory, you have no choice but to get a good vinyl record player. Any other music format simply does not compare. Of course, when you are on the go, you will probably be using a digital format like MP3s, but almost every turntable lets you transfer your vinyl collection into the digital format, so you’ll have both. And when you’re at home, you always want to use your new record player. Now let’s go enjoy some Beatles albums!

As a musician, and moreover, as a violinist, you know how hard practice and improvement might be. Training for hours, revising old lessons, trying something new, continuous learning can be devastating if you don’t see any progress in the end. However, there are ways to make your daily routine easier and improve the quality of your play.

Things to Do Daily to Improve Your Music and Life

There are a few techniques and pieces of advice that would help you achieve your goals and the new heights:

  1. A person who knows what a violin is and has heard those catastrophic noises the beginners make when they play it the first time, understands how important practice in the field is. And even if you are good enough, there is nothing stopping you from getting better, so improvement of your play never really ends.
  2. Do regime.
    This would apply to you violin as well as to your life in general. It’s proven scientifically, that regime helps us to maintain ourselves better and it’s preferable to do our task, sticking to your routine plan. That’s if you usually play in the morning, don’t switch it constantly back and forth, choose a specific time period when you know you won’t be interrupted by the irritated neighbors or you sleeping family.
  3. Talk to another musician.
    Understanding you are not alone with this, and other musicians tend to have similar a problem and getting some notes from them can be crucial for your improvement. Stuff also gets done easier, when you know that someone supports you in that. That’s what your music buddy can offer you.
  4. If you feel that your music and practice interferes with some other field of your life and that makes you feel uncomfortable, or you feel like quitting – that is the time to check your attitude and work on it. This one might be hard, but monitoring your emotions and feelings and working them out will make it easier to keep a stable positive attitude.
  5. Listen to music more.
    Listening to the professionals in the field is extremely important, and it makes you listen to the music, analyze it, find some ideas for yourself and of course give you plenty of inspiration. Make it your daily rule – listen to someone’s violin at least 20 minutes per day.
  6. Evaluate yourself.
    This is also a tricky one since maintaining a good balance with self-evaluation is hard. Don’t go harsh with yourself, but try to stay objective to understand how good you are. You could also ask someone for help.

An Important Thing to Remember

Your violin might sound bad sometimes and there definitely will be moments of failure. Most likely you’ll have to learn the same lessons at least 2-3 times before you master them. But it’s not bad, as long as you continue going and don’t give up.

In the end, looking back, you’ll understand the importance of each failure and learn from it. Playing violin is a constant practice and a battle with your own weaknesses.

Evolution is a continuous process of life, and we can bravely state that everything evolves, including human beings. Our preferences grow and get more complicated together with us, and the views change. Same applies to music, including EDM (electronic dance music), of course. If you look back, even to 90’s, you’ll see how much the genre changed over time. Just from the stuff you hear people blasting from their subwoofers in their cars.

What EDM Used to Be Cool

Most of that music started to appear around 1980’s-90’s, the peak for the most was in the 00’s. That is quite a long period of time when new stuff appears daily, so there were great changes in the EDM overtime. Let’s have a quick look into the past and see what the changes were and what dominates the particular e-genre now:

  1. Okay, that might sound little bit weird at first, but dubstep definitely should be on this list. After a short period of blossoming in 2009, many new bands came to work with it, turning those amazing beats into something completely different. That’s probably why so many fans turned away from the genre. It’s still popular now, but being mass-produced some amount of quality was lost.
  2. Everyone knows Madonna or U2 that brought techno music with its notes of futurism into the picture. But now it doesn’t seem to do much or to produce some outstanding quality tracks, or at least to make them less self-concentrated and more public-oriented. That said, there are still some really cool innovations in electronic music.
  3. Hip-hop. That one is simply running out of innovations and topics. As well as with technological inventions, music needs innovation, otherwise, it will have nothing to tell and offer people. Same thing applies here, people need something deeper and more complicated that “way-too-much-weed” topics.
  4. Slightly reminding you of disco, house originated in Chicago and quickly gained its share of popularity. What’s amazing with this music is that it will make even those people who can’t feel the rhythm want to move and dance. But then the same thing happened as with dubstep, caught on the peak of popularity, new artists, and famous stars, trying to incorporate house sounds into their repertoire made those mass-produced beats pathetic.
  5. It might be too early to talk on that one since trance music is still evolving and using new techniques, but there is a declining interest in the genre too. The real peak of the trance music was little bit later than it was for other types of e-music, so that might explain why it’s still up and running and is thought to be like this for some time.

What Changed EDM

Mainstream music always should appeal to the mainstream audience, so it’s no use to look for something worthy there. People like old hooks and old things, so instead of making a breakthrough and being a renegade, performers simply are trying to not go far away from the norm.

This follows the previous point, but an important thing is that we are all looking for the innovation. There are many things being produced now that are simply great, a lot of PC music, trap, deep-tech and other genres people don’t have the good names for. Another innovation wave is on its way, so no wonder the older things are not as popular and great now. Let’s hope it gets better, so that we get to hear better music coming from the subwoofers that drive around in cars all over our streets.