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! :)
JAW

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Licensing...

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...
JAW

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 Jawmunji.com - "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 Jawmunji.com 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! :)

JAW

Monday, 28 March 2011

What's happening March 2011

Okay, everything has been moved onto jawmunji.com...I'm not sure I like the layout, but that can change later.  I particularly don't like the lack of links to old blog entries - Blogger only uses "labels" unlike wordpress that had categories and labels - and the archive blog widget on the side isn't all that useful.  Worse still, the search widget just plain doesn't work.  I'm pretty sure it is something to do with exporting from wordpress to blogger, but I don't know.  Fortunately the global search engines look like they've caught up with the site, but now all the pages are at the bottom of a search list...will be a while before they work their way up to replace the wordpress ones I reckon!

Meanwhile, the guitar playing front is quiet.  Since getting Super Mario Theme out, I've spent most of my time just playing the things I am currently enjoying; stuff like "Sunshine of your love", "Another one bites the dust", "Breathe/Time" and "Wish you were here."  Not focusing on my songs in-the-works, just having fun.  Sounds nice?  Well, I thought over the weekend I should revisit some of my old tunes.  Because one day I will be doing some gig work, and I need to keep them fresh.

I played about two bars into "A Whiter shade of Pale", which I love but haven't played for about 6 months.  I couldn't remember it!  Argh!  I had to go back to my tab (lucky I write these things down) and refresh myself.  Rusty, and even after playing it through twice it was no longer "natural".  A few more plays should fix that, I hope.

So that's another reason why I need to have a regular gig.  Just to make sure I play every piece I know on a regular basis!  That might sound a bit strange and dumb, but as with everything, you do the stuff you like, and ignore the stuff you don't for as long as possible.  Maybe it's not even stuff you don't like, it's just stuff that isn't as much fun as other stuff.

In other news, since I haven't been playing much recently, my left hand pinky is actually feeling almost normal again.  Perhaps it's just time, perhaps it is less stress from less playing; either way I'm pretty happy about it.  I've even been tentatively doing root A-chord pinky barre formations up the neck again.  It's my favourite way of doing a root 5th barre chord (uses just two fingers). I'd been using "standard" barre + 2-3-4 versions for the last several months, not as quick nor as adaptable.  I promise not to go too hard with it though, just use it here and there, okay? :)

The future.  I guess anyone who's been following me for a while has worked out that I like information to be shared; I like to teach anything useful I've learnt myself to others.  I love to see someone respond to one of my youtube videos having learnt from my tabs.  What I've been missing for a long while now, and what I've wanted to do for a while, is actual video lessons.  Work through songs phrase by phrase, showing the phrase tab and talking through it.

I've done three lessons in the past, all three still exist on the internet (somewhere), but they were a bit clumsy and not very well produced.  I've now got myself a nice HD webcam - I shot my Super Mario Theme on it - which will do quite nicely for lessons.

There are some challenges.  I've got some software I used in the past where I can do overlays and stuff, it's time consuming but do-able.  There are copyright issues, and I'm going to continue to look into it.  With copyrights comes costs, I'm hoping the advertising here will offset those (and any other) costs.  There is my ability to do lessons, but just like if you look back on my very early youtube videos (please don't) I'll get better the more I do.

The main challenge is time.  My work life and family life has grown to consume all available time.  I'm typing this during my lunch break.  I'm hoping in the next few weeks to try out my lesson skills at "Here Comes the Sun"; both a great starter for fingerpicking newbies and a pretty straightforward one for me to begin with.

Watch this space!
JAW

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Hello. Welcome.

Hello and welcome to Jawmunji.com.  Why are we here?  Mostly, to organise all my Jawmunji stuff into one place!  Previously I had a blog, a website with tabs, an ftp site for mp3, videos on youtube and a site and sevenload and mojo24...well, it was silly.  So here we are, (soon to be) all in one place.  A very Googley place.

You may also notice that there are ads here.  Sold out you say?  Well, as some of my regular old blog readers would know I've talked about giving away stuff for free, and how I have had a donation page for about 4 years and well...it doesn't work.  To all my friends who have donated in the past, thank you.  Now, you don't need to.  Advertising will take care of things.  Enough that I will be able to buy new strings...and if one day a guitar manufacturer decides to give me a guitar if I promote it, well, they will be the best guitar manufacturer in the world! :)

Business as usual.  I'll be blogging, and adding new songs to youtube...but everything else goes here.  Youtube is just too big and widely used and Googley to boycott; it brings in listeners.  But here is where you get the "value add", this is where I'll put the stuff that hopefully is useful to you, or brightens up your day a bit.

It will be a while before the move is complete; in the meantime, thanks for coming!
JAW