Monday, 21 September 2020

Sad songs

Music evokes emotion, that is kinda the point. There are some really sad songs, like Eric Claptop's "Tears in Heaven" about loss of a loved one, or Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" about an awkward father/son relationship.  There are however only three songs I can think of that have ever brought me to tears.

Mike + the Mechanic's "The Living Years" is one of them, about death and regret. It did have a little bit of hope in the end.  Pink Floyd's "The final cut" is about depression leading to attempted suicide.  Yikes, that one doesn't have any hope.

But the last one, which I reckon has taken my sad song top place, is from the most unlikely of places - Rebecca Sugar's Steven Universe's "Drift Away".  When the animated kid's movie came out last year I watched it with the kids, and when that song came on I couldn't believe it, I lost composure and teared up.  It is a song about rejection and loss of innocence that leads to the main protagonist's anger/revenge/insanity. The way the movie portrayed it certainly added to the sadness, but the music itself and the lyrics, whoa.

My eldest daughter learned to play it on the ukelele when it came out, I stumbled across it again the other day, and still whoa, teared up. In order to understand why, I looked into it and noticed a few things:

  • 6/8 time signature is a good choice for sad songs, not quite a dirge but you can't bop to it;
  • An unusual verse chord progression G-G7-C-Cm really adds to the lament feel;
  • Not starting on beat for most of the melody, has that slow falling-behind sad feel;
  • Keeping the verse range down low, then having the chorus up high, has that despair-frustration-despair feel;
  • A nice bridge that leaves the established feel, offering some relief, but winds you right back;
  • It has a slightly Pink Floyd/Roger Waters feel with a hint of The Beatles, I would say the author is a fan.

This song is masterfully crafted and achieves its goals, my hat is off to the writers. During my obsessive research into it I of course arranged it for solo guitar, watch this space.

I have listened to it enough now that the sadness impact has been dulled - but like "The Living Years" and "The Final Cut" - if I hear them infrequently, whoa. Emotionally manipulative song writers! Grr! :-)  Watch it here https://youtu.be/lRS2ciJ5rOk

JAW

Saturday, 29 August 2020

What's happening August 2020

Quiet month on the guitar front, I've recently spent time purchasing a second hand car with manual transmission, fixing it up/servicing it and teaching my eldest daughter how to drive it...

I play "Sweet child of mine" through almost every day, it is locked in.  Most of my arrangements go from development stage to learning stage through a brief period of tweaking.  I add in extra notes, fiddle with the structure, play with it until it feels release-worthy. All done now, just practice and get ready for release!

Patreon has inspired me, I have another piece or two for release next month.  It is quiet there too, no new members for a while, but if you don't produce content madly that is expected!  Although I had begun drafting my "How to play Jawmunji's tabs" last month I have made no further progress. I need to get excited about it again, it is going to be just as important work as the tabs themselves!

JAW

Friday, 31 July 2020

What's happening July 2020

About a month ago I launched my  https://patreon.com/Jawmunji Patreon page.  I didn't do it with any trumpet blasts or fanfare, because I don't think there is enough content on there juuust yet.  But seven people have pledged support which both surprised and pleased me! I've done a lot of work over the years putting together sheet music to go with my arrangements, and it's inspirational to know that people find them useful enough that they would support me with their hard earned cash. I'm going to publish at least one new or "refurbished" one per month for the foreseable future.

In August I will be releasing "Losing My Religion" which is a great introduction to fingerstyle chord flicking, and "Wish You Were Here" which is such a good song I'm calling it essential to your fingerstyle repertoire.

I also plan on making a "How to play Jawmunji's tabs" video which will deal with a few concepts and ideas that can't be explained from just sheet music.  Watch this space!

Other than being excited and motivated about getting more arrangements onto Patreon, I am still practicing "Sweet Child Of Mine". It is challenging, it's not one that I'll be able to play cleanly and easily, but it is a lot of fun.  And it's one of those songs that casual listeners won't expect and yet be delighted to hear in fingerstyle :-)

Good playing to you all!
JAW

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Tabs for Patreon

Yep, I have set up a Patreon account and I will be posting all my tabs there.  Why JAW, why?  I have lost inspiration for making tabs to give away for free for a while now.  Just felt like so much work and I put them out there and hear no more of it.  But, I like creating tabs, it is part of my arranging work flow... Could I sell them? Well yes, but I don't own the copyright so I'm not really entitled to.  But if I gave them away to people who support me on Patreon, that doesn't seem quite the same.  And Patreon, $3, download whatever you want and walk away, or stay and get new ones and updates, well, that's a bargain! Once upon a time people used to donate to me on paypal, but I haven't seen one in years.

Having people support me on Patreon is inspiring.  I like to share my work!  I have agonised over this for a long time, I first mentioned it back in 2017 and I'm still not sure it is the right thing to do, but I can tell you one thing - it certainly got me cracking on my back catalogue of tabs! I have been tidying up previous ones and releasing them for Patreon supporters.  They are coming out really nice, much nicer than the old ones. I need to write up a general "Playing Jawmunji Tabs" instruction sheet - reminder to self.

But to really make people think they are getting something worthwhile for their initial $3, I decided to make my top watched youtube video from the past year into beautiful new tabs.  Which are:

1 The Ecstasy of Gold (done) 
2 Pachelbel Canon in D
3 Wish You Were Here
4 Losing My Religion
5 Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
6 The Chain
7 California Dreaming
8 Goodbye Blue Sky/Anybody Out There?
9 Rock-a-bye Your Bear / Where's Jeff?
10 Without You
11 Here Comes the Sun
12 Funky Town
13 Reckless
14 Never Tear Us Apart
15 Telephone Line
16 1979

Yah! Getting there! Find my Patreon here: https://patreon.com/Jawmunji

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

What's happening June 2020

Three days, three videos.  Well, I recorded them all in one sitting, but processed them over three nights. "The Logical Song", a re-play after my original recording was taken down 12 years ago. "You're So Vain" which I've kept short and sweet, and then finally the epic "Band On The Run" which is based on Jake Reichbart's arrangement he posted in January. I mentioned to him at the time how great it was and that I was going to try it, he emailed me and said the tab will soon be available, but I'd already started making it my own arrangement/transcription. Ah, I've sent Jake a few bucks in the past from his live streams, I'm sure he won't mind!

I have been practicing a number of other songs to polish them for YouTube, I'm still targeting 100 videos. In the recording session I set up two cameras and two mics. Had a lot of dramas. My house wasn't particularly quiet, the kids and the missus were chatting, but you can only hear them in the really quiet sections. But I had two flat batteries during the session, one full memory card, and I forgot to turn one of the mics on for the whole session. Argh! But I managed to salvage the three videos.

Because I use my DSLRs for "high quality" videos, I don't get to see my framing while I'm playing. Maybe modern cameras you can? Dunno. I use a mirror on a stand to get it initially right, but because I like to frame tight sometimes I move and go a bit out of frame. The last video was not so good for framing.

First song and second song I botched the endings in my takes, but because they have distinct song parts, I played the endings again, and spliced them in.  Because I have two cameras, I can switch between cameras in the final video and you don't know the take is spliced. I played each song around three times, picked my favourite take, and then punched out a few missed notes from the other takes.  I do this to most of my videos, I'm a functional perfectionist which means that I have to fix errors but I'm not afraid to post even with a few errors still in there. Around 20 mins to record, around 2 hours to post edit and produce.

Time to work on the next songs on my punchlist!  Really enjoying a Naudo inspired version of "Sweet Child of Mine", I'm a bit sick of "If You Leave Me Now" but it's good so I should finish it. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is going well but I'm also a bit worn out with it.  That's the problem - if I can get a good arrangement down and learn it before I get bored of it, I will record it!  I've got all these songs at 80-90% not ready to record, and it feels like work! Ha ha!

JAW