Sunday, 19 November 2017

Mumbling about Pink Floyd "Time" again

After I had recorded my 2017 progress of Fingerstyle'd Dark Side of the Moon I was immediately inspired to take on a bit more work. I took to "Time" which I had played badly; added more bassline appeal (easing back on the freestyle'd verse) and most importantly started on the iconic solo. I have put that off for a decade, because how do you play a *huge* soulful solo while driving away at a bassline and filling in the mids? Well, turns out, at least to start with, it's not as bad as it seemed! See how useful it is recording progress - it drives further progress!

So have a look and a listen at the new parts, it's a bit rough, I accidentally over exposed the video and I'm mumbling about it as I go, but as a minimum Ryan will be pleased :)

Monday, 30 October 2017

Relearning...

The other day I was practising through my Aussie rock setlist, keeping them fresh, and when the sax solo came up in INXS "Never Tear Us Apart" I said to my son "Your mum would love it if you could play this on your sax...do you know all these notes?" After a brief check, yes, it is within his capabilities. "It's E, then an Eb, then..." "Dad, can you just give me the score to look at?" I searched the internet and found a copy. It was a different key signature, but it was MuseScore format so a few clicks I transposed it, and did a quick test play though - hang on, that's not what I play...uh oh!

Sure enough, listening to the recording - I've been playing two notes in it wrong all these years! Hate that! So there's a question - shall I relearn those two notes or just accept that I'm not playing it right? Well anyone with a bit of OCD wouldn't be able to let that go, so I began relearning it.

Relearning is the worst! For starters, you once put effort in, and now, you have to apply even more effort to undo the old and put in the new. If it was just a melody it wouldn't seem like a big thing, but when it is bassline, mid fills and melody on top, you are relying on muscle memory quite a lot to keep it together. I found a resolve for the correct notes (required different fingers) and played the two affected bars over and over again. It started going into my brain, but it required immense concentration. I figure the two bars over and over again for a few more sittings a few days apart and I should be right.

Over the years I've changed bits and pieces in songs here and there, so it's not too bad modifying learnt music. In fact I will go so far as to say that forcing yourself to change bits and pieces in your songs is a good thing - it stops your back brain from doing _everything_ and gives your front brain some work. In songs which are second nature to me I will often slip melody notes an eigth of a beat forward, or backward - for starters it mixes up the song so it's not just the same verse, chorus, repeat; but it seems like a good thing to get the whole of your brain busy while playing.

...but not relearning a mistake.  Don't do that. Get it right before you commit to putting it into you brain...as a wise lady once told me, "Practise makes Permanent." :-)

JAW

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The future of creating art

I listened to a very interesting TED talk last month that got me thinking, the main theme being how artists can earn a living in this day and age. How 100 years ago if you wanted to hear music, you had to see it live, then the invention of recording, right through to the massive industry dedicated to just the distribution of music, and finally to digital downloads now pretty much superseded by streaming. 100 year juggernaut distribution industry. Now it's all free streaming.

And not that long ago, how an artist would create an album and play venues cheaply to promote the music so people would buy the album. And now, the music is streamed cheaply (free) to get people buying tickets to see the artist live at a venue. A complete reversal!

And many other interesting observations. It's worth a look: https://www.ted.com/talks/Jack Conte - Artists get paid in the digital age

Something that I could relate to was how early adopters were making money (I was, through adverts on youtube) and it boomed until 2013 when it all but stopped. I saw it happen!

What he went on to discuss was the future of how artists can get paid for their art. He started "Patreon", which I had come across and thought was a great idea. Basically crowd funding for art...as a consumer of art, you nominate you will pay a few bucks (whatever you like) each month to an artist. Simply because you want them to keep producing their art, so you fund them. We are talking art that can be digital, as in, art that can be delivered to you for zero distribution costs. So music, video, picture type art.

Artists on Patreon can then get a regular income so they can afford to live (given enough supporters) while producing their art. Consumers get a warm fuzzy, but more importantly, their artist can continue to produce the art they like. It feels so right. Is it the way forward? Maybe. Does it work? Seems to - there are a lot of artists there, and the numbers are published, and we aren't talking small amounts. Many artists living and producing art. Is it working for everyone? I doubt it, but that's not a reason to dismiss it. Will it keep working where it is working? Who knows.

I makes me also think of the Netflix/streaming video providers...as people have switched to streaming, the income to those content distributors has gone through the roof. The people want good video content, which isn't always available, so with the bountiful income, Netflix pay creators "Netflix exclusive" to make art, and the stuff I've seen is really good stuff. Such that Netflix (et al) are doing better as content creators than content distributers!

Interesting times. Huge disruption with technology - but people still love art, and artists still love to make art, what is the future of connecting them? Good food for thought.

Me; I just want to play my quaint arrangements to crowds who enjoy it as much as I like playing it. Nice when you can derive a bit of income from it too - what if I could make the same income from creating music as I do from engineering - would I? Probably not. Largely because I'm not good enough ("but if you could apply the same amount of time to music as to engineering you could!" "Yeah nah, I know proper musicians YEARS ahead of my ability/talent who already don't make a living from it"). But mostly because deep down, I'm an engineer first. Engineering fingerstyle arrangements on the side for fun :-)

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Fingerstyle of the Moon progress 2017

I haven't been gigging recently (slowly going rusty) but it has turned my head back to arranging. After my recent other pop/rock songs (The Angels, some Cream and even Van Halen), I've gone back to my old friends Pink Floyd.

Some of my internet mates know that I've been working on a fingerstyle cover of the whole album "Dark Side of the Moon" for longer than a care to mention, with no real update since 2014.  I've further enhanced "Breathe", gone backwards on "Any Colour You Like" and "Great Gig in the Sky", the rest are largely the same. I decided to sit down and play them all back to back for the camera, even though some aren't finished.  But most importantly, I have begun documenting the work in MuseScore.  Only scatterings of tabs currently exist, it's mostly in my head.  One day I'd like to have a book/video.  There is a good chance that will never happen, but if all the songs are documented then it wasn't all a waste of time :-)

Se here you go.  I messed up quite a few times; it is hard to play continously for 19 minutes without bungles.  Much of the work isn't yet done.  But that's why this is a "progress" video, not a "complete, done and dusted" video.

0:00 Speak to me.  JAW can tap the guitar body!
0:10 Breathe.  More freestyled now than just fingerpicked. Now features intro solo with an "innovative technique" I'm still trying to master, check it at 1:08
3:02 Time.  Forgot what I was doing, pretty awful play through, I normally do a lot better. Sorry.
6:19 Breathe Reprise.
7:25 Great Gig in the Sky.  Only the intro, been too long since I played the vocal part I didn't attempt.
8:36 Money.  Still in progress, I need to make it more interesting than just the verse/chorus.
10:36 Us and Them. I can normally make the detuning to Drop D fit in nicer, and get it a bit more accurate.  The pressure of the video camera.
13:40 Any Colour You Like.  Forgot what I was doing again, this needs a lot of work, I almost shouldn't include it.  "Progress".
14:55 Brain Damage. Occasional brain fart.
17:50 Eclipse.

If you make it to the end here, have this kudos ribbon, and pop on a comment letting me know which bits didn't work for you (I have broad shoulders).  Thanks!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Teaching 101: Easy access

I'm not a guitar teacher...no wait, I am a guitar teacher!

This seems like a simple idea, like it's just about degrees of laziness, but until a student finds the deeper love and want to play guitar (indeed for anything that requires time and effort to achieve a goal) - then you have to remove blockers. Such as taking your guitar out of its bag after coming back from a lesson, that alone can block a student from practising.

(Learning something that is hard, that takes a long time, that takes a lot of work, that can be frustrating - it's a important undertaking more so than ever in our world of instant gratification. It's this good stuff that lasts and doesn't come easy, that's the stuff worth doing.)

I'm calling that the second most important thing to buy after you buy your instrument is a stand to put it on. They are so cheap too! I bought a heap of instrument stands for around $AUD15 online delivered to my door, and everyone in my house learning an instrument got one.

So at any time, the instrument is right there, and they can pick it up and play. Even 5 minutes a day gets those neurons synapsing and creates new behaviour.

Do it. Instrument stand. My youngest daughter is learning the cello and look it's right there in her room, waiting for her, at all times. And it's made a difference, she plays it regularly, often without prompting!

Now there are other options for easy access to your instrument. It's great to have one guitar on a stand somewhere handy, but when there are say 4 of them gathered into a room they take up a lot of space. I switched to wall mounting instruments, again, easily sourced online and very cheap. My wife likes the "look", they are still easy access, and the best part is you get floor space back. And how nice is it to sit in a calming room full of instruments. Good if you have an available room that is!