Sunday 17 April 2011

When in doubt, medley it out!

I've had a few opportunities recently to look at arranging some new stuff. Since I've got quite a few songs on the back burner half finished, rather than start on something new, I've revisited them with an aim to finishing. Well, not quite...

Rolling Stones - classic stuff, everyone knows a bit of 'stones. They are however not arranged for fingerstyle very often...certainly not as much as Beatles, Queen, Pink Floyd and the like. My theory is that the songs are, erm, "simple". What made the 'stones popular was more about Mick's singing, Keith's guitar playing and their general antics. The bulk of the songs are melodically simple. Good 'ole simple rock'n'roll.

But converting that to fingerstyle is a challenge, because there isn't much going on, it becomes kinda dull. Okay you get a verse sorted, you mix one up with some arpeggios, you percussify up another one...but really, some great songs are plain boring in fingerstyle (I generalise; the super-music-savvy types will do something with anything, I'm talking about mere mortals such as myself.)

The solution? A medley! 3 songs from the same band - maybe same album, maybe same era, maybe across an era! Do two verses and a chorus, say up to 2 minutes, then morph into another song.

I've focused a bit on Aussie classic stuff over my time, and a while ago I worked a cool arrangement of an AC/DC song. But it suffered from repetitiveness. So I grabbed another AC/DC classic and had a go at that aiming for medley. Even better, Iggy P had already done a cool arrangement so I've borrowed heavily from his one. (Interestingly, if you look at the youtube version of his "You shook me all night long" he has actually pitch shifted the song down two steps - unless he detuned the whole guitar down a tone, which I doubt. Interesting.)

The one other great aspect of medleys is you only have to learn a verse, chorus, maybe an intro...but you don't *need* to put any effort into bridges or solos. Unless you are a natural improviser, like Naudo, I find I spend just as much time - if not more - working on the bridges, refrains, solos - than I do on the chorus and verse!

I wouldn't like to medley everything, but when in doubt, and when after a few cheap attention grabbers, medley! :)

Thursday 14 April 2011


I have been communicating with HFA in the US for a couple of weeks now, to get a feel for what it would mean to pay royalties on the songs I cover. It's the right thing to do; I've been in a less-than-gray area handing out free tabs, but since I haven't made any money out if it, I justified it away.

I like arranging fingerstyle covers. I like to share them with you guys. I'd like to provide quality video lessons on the songs so you can play them too. And I want to respect the ownership of the works.

I have all but come to the conclusion that an advertising based model to fund the costs of licensing does not work with the expectations of royalty payments. Essentially, every time somebody downloads a tab I'd need to pay (say) 20c to the license holder. Let me assure you that my intial sojourn into advertising does not come anywhere near 20c per download, more like 0.2c per download! Perhaps I could entice high paying advertisers but I don't ever want to be out of pocket, I don't need that sort of risk in my life.

What I feel would be possible is have an online shop sort of thing where you'd purchase a video lesson and tab - and I'd try my very hardest to make a great lesson - and work out a cost that covers licensing fees, hosting server fees, and a little something in my pocket to pay for my efforts. I suspect it would only need to be in the order of a couple of bucks; in the next week or two I will know what that number would be when I get feedback from the license holders - if I choose to go down that path.

But then it will start to feel like I'm becoming what I told my online mate Nil I wouldn't do - become a "learn guitar" website. It wouldn't be would it Nil? It would be a "learn song by video lesson and tab", for a few bucks to cover the cost of doing this legit? I am completely unqualified to teach guitar, but I can show punters how I approach playing songs they'd like to learn how to play in this style.

If it all falls in a hole and I feel I have to take down everything leaving only the blog (and the youtube videos...I'll leave that for a later discussion) - well, at least I still have my 4 mates to chew the fat with :)

Let me know what you think, I post this post with trepidation, be kind, but firm...

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Take the Survey!

A mate of mine who has been pushing me recently about my webstuff - responsible for me setting up - "Do it now." "No." "If you don't, I'm going to do it." "Argh, okay, okay." - told me I need to find out what people want, and give it to them. He's far more an "internet entrepreneur" than I am. I've always given people what I like, and what I think they like...but it's a good question, what do people like?

If you were to use my youtube viewcounts as a guide, then most people are after classical and folk...but that doesn't sound right to me.

The reality is that exists because I like to ramble on about fingerstyle guitar stuff that interests me. And my mates keep it interesting by challenging my rambles, and giving me new ideas for new rambles. (I'm back to only 3 mates now, according to my blogger subscriber list, the other 18 got left behind at wordpress. I miss you guys)

But hey, one of the rambles I have called time and time again is - "play for an audience!" One of the subtleties in that statement is "know what your audience wants".

So my mate created for me a survey. It will be interesting to see what us fingerstyle guitarists - and the people who like to listen to fingerstyle guitarists - are the most interested in. So head on over to the survey, it's pretty short and sweet, I'll report back later on what the verdict is! :)