24 May

Recording Studio: Jamaican Music

Recording Studio: Despite the tiny size of the island, Jamaican recording studio music has long been a powerful force on a global scale. Even ignoring the deity that is Bob Marley and his reggae legacy, the island boasts a wealth of extraordinarily popular genres such as dancehall and dub, as well as having a long history of folk music, and lesser known, yet highly influential genres such as mento.

Recording Studio: Maroons & The Bongo Nation

Following the arrival of first Columbus, followed by the Spanish, and then Oliver Cromwell’s navy, the island’s indigenous population of Arawaks were soon wiped out. Small numbers of African slaves who had been armed by the Spaniards and instructed to defend the island against the British fled to the hills – where to this day, their descendants, the Maroons live in secluded communities. Their percussive style of music is difficult to find on recording, but still forms a vital part of the life of Maroons, as it is used in possession ceremonies.

Colonisation bought plantations to Jamaica – which were then thrown into turmoil by 1838’s abolition of slavery. To get around the new laws, plantation owners began secretly trading slaves of Angolan descent – who are the people behind the Bongo Nation, the people behind kumina religion and musical style which is not dissimilar to Maroon music.

Recording Studio: Rastafari

Given that it makes up a relatively small proportion of the island’s population, the influence of Rastafari religion on Jamaican musical culture, both locally and globally, is way out of proportion. Rastas hold reasoning sessions, in which they discuss religion, life, and politics, and smoke plenty of marijuana . These events are called grounations and, like any religious gathering, music is an important part of celebrations. Foot-stamping and slow drumming feature heavily. Count Ossie was a master Rasta drummer, and his band, Count Ossie and his Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, have made some extremely compelling recordings of grounations, which also feature players who went on to play with The Skatalites – showing the profound influence of Rastafari on Jamaican musical culture.

Recording Studio


23 May

Audiobook: ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ by J.K. Rowling

What Audiobook Are We Listening To?

This week at Crash Symphony Productions, we’re listening to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the audiobook as read by Stephen Fry. I found these audiobook adaptations to be a really easy way to get back into Harry Potter without having to pick up my old hard copies which are falling apart by now and probably couldn’t handle another read-through. There is no one better to narrate these books than Stephen Fry, whose personality, history, intelligence and sense of humour are at the level where they can do adequate credit to the intelligence, history, humour and personality possessed by the books themselves.

Audiobook: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Audiobook: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This audiobook follows Harry as he goes back to Hogwarts for his second year, even though a mysterious force seems to want to stop him. In this audiobook, Fry narrates as Harry meets the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, the vain and silly Gilderoy Lockhart, a house-elf by the name of Dobby, and the ghost of Moaning Myrtle. This is also the first book in which Ginny Weasely is properly introduced as a major character in the books.

It never ceases to astound me how much wisdom is contained in these books, even in these earlier ones you find the pearls of wisdom that we will come to see so much more of, and will define the tone of the books to come. When listening to this audiobook one of the lines that jumped out at me was:

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

It’s amazing how much you can re-read these books and different parts will resonate and jump out at you depending on which time in your life you happen to be reading them.

Voice over Sydney: Mongolian Language

Voice Over Sydney: Mongolian is an Altaic language spoken by approximately 5 million people in Mongolia, China, Afghanistan and Russia. There are a number of closely related varieties of Mongolian: Khalkha or Halha, the national language of Mongolia, and Oirat, Chahar and Ordos, which are spoken mainly in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China.

Voice over Sydney: Mongolian Language Families

Other languages considered part of the Mongolian language family, but separate from Mongolian, include Buryat and Kalmyk, spoken in Russia and Moghul or Mogul, spoken in Afghanistan.

Voice over Sydney: Written Mongolian

In 1208 Chinggis Khan defeated the Naimans, Turkic tribes living in Central Asia, and captured their Uyghur scribe Tatar-Tonga, who apparently adapted the Old Uyghur alphabet to write Mongolian. The alphabet created by Tatar-Tonga is now known as the Uighur/Uyghur Script, the classical or traditional Mongol Script, the Old Script, or Mongol Bichig in Mongolian.

Voice over Sydney: Traditional Mongolian Script

The traditional Monogolian script was not ideal for writing the Mongolian language, and even less suited for writing Chinese, so during the 13th century a Tibetan monk called Drogön Chögyal Phagpa was asked by Kublai Khan to create a new scirpt for the Mongol empire. Phagpa came up with the ‘Phags-pa script, which is also known as the Mongolian new script, and was based on the Tibetan script. This script was never widely used and after the Yuan dynasty fell in 1368, ‘Phags-pa was used mainly to provide Mongolian phonetic glosses in Chinese texts.

In the late 17th century a Mongolian monk and scholar called Bogdo Zanabazar created a new script for Mongolian called Soyombo, which could also be used to write Chinese and Sanskrit. It was used mainly for Mongolian translations of Buddhist texts and in temple inscriptions.

Bogdo Zanabazar also created another script for Mongolian known as the Mongolian Square Script or Mongolian Horizontal Square Script, (Хэвтээ Дөрвөлжин бичиг / Xäwtää Dörböljin in Mongolian), which was rediscovered in 1801. It was based on the Tibetan script, but what it was used for is uncertain.

In 1567 the translator and scholar Ayuush Güüsh added extra letters to the traditional Mongol Script to make it possible to write loanwords from Tibetan, Sanskrit and Chinese in Mongolian texts. This version of the script is known as the Galik script.

Voice over Sydney: Latin and Cyrillic

In February 1941 the Mongolian government abolished the traditional Mongolian script and from 1st February to 25 Match 1941 Mongolian was written with a version of the Latin alphabet. Then the Cyrillic alphabet was adopted as the official writing system in Mongolia. The official reasons for abandoning the Latin alphabet were the the spelling system used did not represent the sounds of Mongolian very well, however books and newspapers were published in the Latin alphabet, and the decision to switch to the Cyrillic alphabet might have been political.

Voice over Sydney: Reintroduction of Mongolian Script

Since 1994 there have been efforts to reintroduce the traditional Mongolian script and it is now taught to some extent in schools, though is mainly used for decorative purposes by artists, designers, calligraphers and poets. The average person in Mongolia knows little or nothing about the traditional Mongol script, though there is high literacy in Cyrillic. In Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China the traditional Mongolian script is still used.

voice over sydney mongolian

17 May

Recording Studio: Magical Music of Mali

Recording Studio: Music of Mali is dominated by forms derived from the ancient Mande Empire. The Mande people make up most of the country’s population, and their musicians, professional performers called jeliw (sing. jeli, French griot), have produced a vibrant popular music scene alongside traditional folk music. Influences also come from the hundreds of ethnic groups surrounding Mali, as well as Moorish and European musical forms.

Recording Studio: Mande music

The Mande people are divided into various groups based on language. They all claim descent from the legendary warrior Sunjata Keita, who founded the Mande Empire. The Mandeka kan, language of the people of Mande is spoken with different dialects in Mali and in parts of surrounding Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Senegal and The Gambia. The most common dialects of Mandeka kan are Bamanan kan and Djoula kan. Djoula kan, a sub-dialect of Bamanan kan, is spoken by descendants of Bamanan people who settled mainly in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso through trade or the expansion of the Mande Empire and the Bamanan and Kenedougou kingdoms. Djoula which means trader in Bamanan, and kan means language. The Djoula kan dialect was born from the influence of local languages on Bamanankan, which is itself a Mandekan dialect. As local people in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso called the travelling traders by their trade name (Djoula), they also used the same name to identify the language they spoke (Djoula kan). Mande music remains a very important aspect of Malian culture. One confusing aspect of the Mande groups is the integration of Fula people (French: Peuls; Fula: Fulɓe; Bambara: Fulaw) into Mande culture. The Mansa Sunjata forced some of these pastoral herders to settle in various regions where the dominant ethnic groups were Maninka or Bamana. Thus, today, we see a number of people with Fula names (Diallo, Diakite, Sangare, Sidibe) who display Fula cultural characteristics, but only speak the language of the Maninka or Bamana.

Recording Studio: Maninka

Maninka music traces its roots back more than eight centuries to a folkloric epoch at the time of the great Mansa Sunjata during the great Mande-centered Mali Empire, and his semi-mythic rivallry with ruler Soumaoro Kante. Mansa Sunjata sent his jeli (modern day historian/musician/orator), or advisor, Diakouma Doua, to learn the secrets of his rival Soumaoro of the Susu people. During this encounter he finds a recording studio instrument now known as the “Soso Bala” (believed to be the semi-magical first Balafon). In jeli folklore this instrument is said to have been the source of the great sorcerer Soumaoro’s power. When Soumaoro heard the beautiful music that Diakouma played on the bala (currently referred to as a balafon, fon was added by Occidentals) Soumaoro named him Bala Fasseke Kwate (Master of the bala). The Soso Bala still rests with the descendents of the Kouyate lineage in Niaggasola, Guinea, just across the modern border from Mali.

Recording Studio: Diatonic Music

Maninka music is often mistakenly labeled diatonic. Actually, Maninka uses multiple tunings, both major and minor, as well as some “semi-tone” scales. Adherence to note relationships (not writing), decades of ear training and transpositions, that enables the Maninka musician to easily adjust to other styles, tunings, and repertoires of music. Maninka music is a major part of the African roots of American blues music.

recording studio

14 May

8 Tips for Corporate Video Production

1. Who is the audience for your corporate video production?

“To me the recognition of the audience is part of the filmmaking process. When you make a movie, it’s for them”

– Michel Hazanavicius

The most important first step is knowing who you’re making your video for. This will guide you in your finding the appropriate company for the production of your corporate video so that you know your needs and demands will be met.

2. Don’t skimp on quality.

It’s tempting to cut corners but in the end, the kind of money and effort you put into your project will be reflected in the traffic and attention that you get.

3. Ask around.

Most people will be able to tell you quite freely about their experience with different agencies and could recommend someone to you who might not show up in your searches, but who delivers fantastic quality work at a competitive rate.

4. Know your message.

You will have the most success with finding and agency and realising your vision if you have a clear idea of your video’s purpose and look.

Crash Symphony: Corporate Video Production

Crash Symphony: Corporate Video Production

5. Do your research.

Make sure you watch the kinds of corporate video productions that have come from the companies that you’re interested in hiring. Asses their track record.

6. Get several quotes.

Make sure you get several quotes from multiple different agencies and companies. If you do this you will ensure that you get a competitive rate with the company that you do eventually settle on.

7. When it comes to corporate video production: show, don’t tell.

This is a cliché, but the most amateur mistake and the easiest mistake to make is to be heavy handed with your audience. There is no faster way to turn off potential customers or clients than to make them feel dumb by over-explaining yourself.

8. Don’t be clinical.

The most effective way to connect with your audience and make them believe in you and your message is to communicate and emotional message. So give your video some heart.

Crash Symphony Productions

Audiobook: ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ by J.K. Rowling

What Audiobook Are We Listening To?

This week at Crash Symphony Productions, we’re listening to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the audiobook as read by Stephen Fry. I found these audiobook adaptations to be a really easy way to get back into Harry Potter without having to pick up my old hard copies which are falling apart by now and probably couldn’t handle another single read-through. There is no one better to narrate these books than Stephen Fry, whose personality, history, intelligence and sense of humour are at the level where they can do adequate credit to the intelligence, history, humour and personality possessed by the books themselves.

Audiobook: Harry Potter

Audiobook: Harry Potter

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 33 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Pottermore from J.K. Rowling
  • Audible.com Release Date: November 20, 2015
  • Language: English

“A marriage made in heaven, Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter.” (The Times)

“Turning the envelope over, his hand trembling, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake surrounding a large letter ‘H’.”

Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

“A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours’ time by Mrs. Dursley’s scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk bottles, nor that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley…He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: “To Harry Potter – the boy who lived!”

You can find the audiobook for purchase on Audible or Amazon.

13 May

Recording Studio: Japanese Traditional Instruments

Recording Studio: In traditional Japanese recording studio music, there are three general types of instruments – percussion instruments, stringed instruments and wind instruments, mostly flutes. There is a huge range of instruments beyond the scope of this page, ranging from bells used in Buddhist ceremonies to various kinds of drums used in gagaku (Imperial court music).

In the last few years, there have been a growing number of artists who have been bringing these instruments to younger audiences. Taiko group Kodo and young shamisen duo the Yoshida Brothers are two well-known examples of artists who give the old instruments new life and energy, and have been very successful abroad.

Recording Studio: Japanese Drums

There are many large Japanese drums, or taiko. Most have two membranes which are nailed or laced and are struck with sticks. The most dramatic is the Odaiko (big drum). The physical energy and sheer excitement of an Odaiko performance is an integral part of many Japanese matsuri (festivals). Perhaps because they see this all the time, most Japanese people don’t get particularly excited by taiko performance groups like Kodo, while foreign audiences are enthralled by them. Each year, Kodo host Earth Celebration, a festival of taiko drumming, international music and performance art in their home base on Sado Island. Many people come to Japan from around the world to enjoy the festival and it is certainly a highlight of the Japanese cultural calendar. Kodo also tour extensively abroad every year.

The hourglass-shaped recording studio tsuzumi was introduced from the Asian continent around the 7th century and the name is derived from Sanskrit. Two varieties, the smaller kotsuzumi and the larger otsuzumi are used in both noh and kabuki performances. The kotsuzumi is held on the right shoulder and the player alters the tone by squeezing the laces. The otsuzumi is held on the left thigh. Like all other traditional arts in Japan, there are several schools of tsuzumi.

recording studio taiko