Sunday, 30 March 2014

DSOTM update

Never to go away, my Dark side of the Moon fingerstyle arrangement/cover is medium warm active at the moment.  One thing that has re-sparked the interest is the many full album covers of Dark Side of the Moon I have been listening to over the past few months, while driving or doing really tedious database work.  Let me give a summary of what I have studied so far:

Listened to more than once:
  • Easy All Stars - "Dub Side of the Moon".  Reggae, really well done.  Have listened to more than ten times.  Note there is also "Dubber Side of the Moon", I found that one too hardcore, more house music than reggae.
  • The Flaming Lips - "Dark Side of the Moon".  Psychedelic/Alternate Rock.  Took me a while to "get it", but it has become good stuff for me.  A few songs didn't work, but overall, two thumbs up.
  • Poor Mans Whiskey - "Dark Side of the Moonshine".  Bluegrass cover.  The voilinist -oops- "fiddler" and banjo players are great.  Surprisingly well done, and you can actually listen to it more than once, it's silly but still musical and pays tribute.
  • Dream Theater - "Dark Side of the Moon".  Only just makes this list, a bit too close to the original, but was well done.
  • "Return to Dark Side of the Moon".  Hit and miss - various artists, some with great covers, others not so much, worth a listen though.  Time/Breathe Reprise I really liked.
  • "Moon8" - Brad Smith.  NES (yes, Nintendo) cover.  Well done, cheesy, some really impressive touches considering the limitations of the NES, but you know what, I've listened to it a few times.
  • "Dark Side of the Moon" - Roger Waters live in 2007.  I didn't like his singers much but you can't argue with The Man.  Worth a listen or two.
  • "Dark Side of the Moon" - Pink Floyd 1974.  A recording of a live show at Wembley Stadium.  Really good insight into what they were doing with the album after it was recorded and they took it on the road.  Great stuff.
Listened to only once:
  • The Squirrels - "Not-So-Bright Side of the Moon".  Aiming for comedy, but started to come over as a piss-take.  Didn't like it.
  • Out of Phase - "Dark Side of the Moon". Slightly Ambient, I wasn't a fan.
  • "Any Colour You Like" with Alan Parsons.  Old school rock feel, not bad, but the sound recording is too dodgy.  A little bit hacky in the singing and guitar department as well.
  • Trance Remix "Dark Side of the Moon".  Just couldn't get into trance style.
  • "The Moon Revisited".  It was okay, but I didn't feel the need to listen to it again.
  • Phish - "Dark Side of the Moon". Again okay, but only listened to once.
  • String Quartet - "Dark Side of the Moon".  Look it was true to form, it was just what you'd expect from a string quartet.  I guess it's not my thing, I was hoping for more "DSOTM" than "string quartet".
  • "Dark Side of the Moon a Capella".  Yeah, nah.
  • "Dark Side of the Moon" Acoustic.  I didn't like it.  The guitar work and the singing were not my style, and too much layering over the original recording. 
  • The Problemaddicts - "Dark Side of Oz".  Hip Hop.  Yeesh.  Please no.
There is a heap of stuff on YouTube as well which is worth a listen to but I haven't yet ripped the lot to mp3 for my mp3 player, all these reviewed here were only from a list I found of "proper CD albums".

For my own cover I have touched every single song.  I owe you guys this year another youtube video of where I am.  The project won't be finished this year, but hold me to another video.  This is where I'm at:
  1. Speak to me - currently just tapping guitar body.  I'm going to have to get more creative.
  2. Breathe - Done.  There are a few ways I play it, and I add lib so the "final", like all my covers, will vary from where I am toady.
  3. On the Run - I have ideas and I've played with some concepts.  It has moved from "don't include" to "will do".
  4. Time/Breathe Reprise - all but done. All concepts are in but I haven't done the Time solo.  I will.  Lower priority, I don't "need" it, but I "need" it :-)
  5. Great Gig in the Sky - Done, pending.  The work for the piano was done years ago, the skeleton is in place for Clare's oo-ah, just needs to be finished.  At the moment I just shorten it a lot.
  6. Money - Concepts are done, except for solo.  I struggle to play it, it's the newest one on my progress sheet.
  7. Us and Them.  Done, no solo though.
  8. Any Colour You Like - All concepts in place.  I struggle to both play it and remember it.  Solo not quite finished.
  9. Brain Damage - Done.
  10. Eclipse - Done.
There you have it, still a long way off, but never forgotten!
JAW


Monday, 10 March 2014

Tabs back online...

UPDATE:  I couldn't wait, so I have hacked some code and got the tabs working again.  Yah!  Enjoy!

JAW

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UPDATE:  Still no joy, I have zipped up all the tabs and put them here for now: http://jaw.iinet.net.au/jawmunji/tab/JAWtabs.zip

JAW
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Sorry everyone, the tabs still aren't working, but I hope to have it resolved soon. My ISP recently upgraded some stuff and my old perl scripts stopped working.  I have worked out what is going on, and if you are super desperate for now, edit the link address from something like http://jaw.iinet.net.au/cgi-bin/showtab.cgi?JAW%20-%20Canon%20in%20D  to  http://members.iinet.net.au/~jaycole/cgi-bin/showtab.cgi?JAW%20-%20Canon%20in%20D

I'm hoping we will be back online in the next day or two! :)

JAW

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

What's happening February 2014

Merry happy new year...hmm, okay that's all over and done with, I'm a bit late, apologies. Feels like I haven't said anything for a while. I had nearly 5 weeks off over the Chrissy holidays, did a lot around the house, and "general stuff". Not so much guitar. But that can only happen for so long... m u s t. . . p l a y. . .

In a completely out of character move (and dropping what I was working on) I have been arranging a brand spanking now song. As in, it was only aired for the first time LESS THAN SIX MONTHS AGO! In fact, when I started it, it had only been out THREE MONTHS! I know, I know, where is Jawmunji and what have you done with him!?

Sadly for 95% percent of my audience you will never have heard of Eskimo Joe, a band formed just down the road from me in Fremantle Western Australia. Quite a number of hits in the past decade, alternative rock style. In September 2013 they put out a new single "Got What You Need", a well crafted pop song, nearly synth pop but I'll give them a break. Singer Kavyen smashes it out in falsetto which is good fun and not normally their style. It got a bit of airplay around November and they were playing it as an acoustic number at seemingly every morning show/muso show that screens in Australia. Considering how hard it was pushed (as part of their new album) and that it is indeed a fine pop song, I'm surprised it didn't make much of a dent on the charts. Perhaps because it was crowd sourced and self-labeled...conspiracy detection!

Anyway, it jumped out of the radio and into my brain and onto the guitar. The falsetto fits nice and high above what is essentially just an E-A chord progression, so it made me do new interesting things. I kept to a fairly standard pattern, bass/flick, you've heard it all before. But flying up to the high notes off beat and returning to low E and A bass notes has proven challenging.  I like challenging

It's tabbed out, and mostly ready to record but it might be another month or two. So I just sat out the back then "in the cool of the evening time" (song lyrics :)) and played it nice'n'slow to the backdrop of crickets and occasional rumble of the wind in the mic (sorry).

Other stuff still happening, but for now let me leave you with the recording, and a link to the official video clip, if you are so inclined. My playing is mediocre, quite a few mistakes, but I think you'll get where I'm coming from. Must perfect my slides up to high notes! :)

Jawmunji - Got What You Need Fingerstyle Demo
Official Video Clip

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Play to your own style/laziness

I have mentioned in the past that tabs are good for you where I talked about how to digest and play a tab.  I've seen a couple of YouTube messages recently asking me about my latest tabs, and if they are all there, that some notes seemed to be missing, that sort of thing. My answer - "play to your own style/laziness".

On the other end of the scale, some people ask me why I don't include chords.  Mostly I just forget to add them and really I should always remember to add them, they are pretty important.  Not so much that it shows you what chords to strum (you can get chord/lyric sheets anywhere, much easier for following) - but again it helps you to play to your own style/laziness.

What do I mean "play to your own style/laziness"?

If you had a note-for-note tab transcription of a really stylish player like say Tommy Emmanuel (and I've seen those types of tabs) then you will notice be a lot of notes.  And even as you try to follow timings, and picking patterns, an attempt to perfectly emulate his style, you will struggle and it will take a long time.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid of hard work, but tabs should be a guide.  Your ear will hear the subtleties and inflections when you listen to the recording, trying to track it note for note is not a good use of your time.

Maybe there will be little sections that a really accurate tab is important, but generally, you only need enough notes (or chords!) to get a feel for what is going on, and then develop it into something that you can play.  That is, into your style.

And your style will be as lazy as you want it to be.  If you are note-for-note learning then you are pushing your style out to match the arrangers style.  That's fine but it would be better to find the happy medium between playing the piece note-for-note and how you would play it if you arranged it yourself...that is, make it as lazy as you want it to be!

Drop notes, add notes, do everything as a tremolo, convert it to alternating bass.  Only play the bass note on beat 1.  Play a one fifth down bass note before each in-chord bass note.  Flick chord fragments on the 2nd and 4th beat.  Make it your own, take it (only) as far as you like.  I still believe, as a hobbyist,  it is better to be able to play 10 good pieces of music than 1 excellent piece of music.  Life is short, perfection is bad.  But don't be too lazy, always challenge yourself just a little bit, always move forward.

The other side of my "is the tab all there?" question is when I've only included the skeleton of the song.  I've noticed some songs only have maybe 20 bars of actual "information".  It might be a 5 minute song, but it is the same 20 bars of information played over and over, in different orders, with perhaps some subtle differences (that your ear will notice and you can improvise).  All you need is that 20 bars of information and you can work out the rest!  Imagine, just one piece of paper for a whole song!  You can make your own structure of verse/chorus/verse/chorus once you know what they are.  A bridge or a solo adds more information, but perhaps you don't even want to weigh yourself down with that.
 
It annoys me to see two pages of a tab where there are maybe 4 notes difference between them.  That sort of over-tabbing looks daunting when you first pick it up, and really, it is making stuff more complex than it needs be.  I'm all about simplification, about giving enough to get you started along the road, and letting you choose your own destination.  There will be times when you need to be 100% spoon fed, (in fact some of my tabs are indeed like that), but sometimes I'm going to give you a rod and teach you how to fish.  And sometimes, you should go make your own fishing rod...

JAW

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Youtube stats 2013

Ah YouTube, what a great platform.  It has greatly helped my guitar enthusiasm and performance.  Without it, I would probably still be like I was during my twenties - maybe play a few hours a month, when I could be bothered.  If you aren't playing regularly for a reason - that is, for an audience, could be a gig, church, guitar teacher, something that forces you to play and practise regularly - then YouTube can fill that space.

I first posted a video on YouTube as part of a discussion on a forum about fingerstyle guitar.  A guy inspired me to record a video.  But how was I going to send a video - too big for email, too tedious with ftp!  He said "Use that new YouTube thing".  I'd never heard of it, it had only been around for nearly a year when I created an account.

It wasn't until Sept 2007 that they started recording proper statistics.  I do love a good statistic.  Here is a simplified lifetime statistic for my Jawmunji channel:


The graph shows number of views per month, each dot is a month.  May 2010 was the all time high just short of 200,000 views in that month.  All time highest day ever, 7,344.

But the graph shows a rise and fall.  Currently I'm down to half of the views from where I started; and at 10% of my peak, and it looks like it is continuing to fall.  Why?  I have a few ideas:
  1. In the early days, there wasn't many fingerstyle guitarists.  Now every second fingerstyle guitarist has videos on YouTube, so the viewers have a lot more videos to choose from.  Supply and demand.
  2. You can see that more than a third of my views come from "Canon in D", so that one pretty much dictates my channel performance.  Over the years, YouTube has featured that video, which drew far more views.  None of my videos get featured anymore, see point 1.
  3. Most of my views come from YouTube/Google searches, so as each time they update search algorithms, it can cause a lot more views, or a lot less.
  4. I don't post as much now as did originally.  YouTube "rewards" frequent posters, "engagement" is what's in, "social networking" is everything and that drives search results.
  5. YouTube is changing.  It's more like watching a TV station than watching random videos.  Since people can now upload videos as long as they like, it means that the total amount of time spent by people watching is no about 20 x 2 minute videos, it is 2 x 20 minute videos.  Less clicks, less "channel surfing".  This change will be to increase income through advertising.  YouTube/Google model people's behaviour, and tailor YouTube to drive (and reward) what works best for them.  After all, YouTube is a business, that Google paid a lot for.
  6. YouTube isn't all there is.  There are plenty of other places to find video.  YouTube is the biggest (at 82% of the market Google tells me), so this probably isn't a major factor.
Videos watched has never been the driver for me; I have watched it increase and decrease over the years with fascination, but the reality is that the conversations I have with just a few people are far more valuable to me than thousands of silent views.  I did "monetise" my videos a while back, and I kind of regret it now.  For the $20 a month I get, it's not worth making people watch advertising to see it.  Too late now, I can't go back.

It's been an interesting project, and one that I will continue.  I've got several songs I'm planning to record soon, watch this space.

I'm not exactly sure why I wrote article, perhaps it's just my love for statistics, and analysis of them :)  But if you had ever wondered how my Jawmunji YouTube stats went over the years, now you know!

JAW