Sunday, February 10, 2008

Can't Change The Weather

This post is about the latest recording. I usually don't record any song for any other holiday than for the December holidays. But this time around I actually recorded a valentine's song, but it's more of a personal gift to Dawn.

Can't Change the Weather

Speaking of weather though...

The weather here in Iowa really has been terrible. I hate it more and more each passing year, living in this shit hole.

On to some musical stuff. I had meant to post this when I read about it the first time, but eh, time flies. I heard of this guy in Columbia that made Ak-47s into guitars. Pretty cool. Then I did a little more investigation. Turns out Peter Tosh had an M-16 guitar given to him earlier than this. In either case I think that I'll be on the lookout for something like this... Perhaps a remington 870 sawed off 12 string gauge?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Winter NAMM show - A Call 4 Help (Acoustic)

Twice a year there is a major event for music retail and manufacturing businesses. This event is a showcase of new products and a platform for the industry to make major announcements. It often involves elaborate tutorials by experts in the field, celebrity musician endorsements, and other swag propaganda handouts. It is called "N.A.M.M". Which stands for National Association of Music Merchants. I always look forward to this show, because typically there are some pretty sweet pieces of gear that come out of it. Here's a video summary of this years winter show that just completed.

A Call 4 Help (redone acoustically)

This is the song that I recorded on the last post, but this time I did it acoustically. I just did a 1 track recording of me singing and playing the acoustic Taylor 314 guitar. It's a little rough, but you get the idea.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Call 4 help

Recently I hit that "dead zone". Where lyrics somehow don't seem to exist for a particular riff or arrangement on the guitar. I call it dead zone, because it's synonymous with that spot in the gulf of mexico that doesn't harbor life. It's just this vast area of nothing, including no life. That's what writer's block is for song writers. It's a dead zone. Terrible.

One strange thing is that I can be going strong on riff or guitar writing and then sit down to fill out the song with lyrics and nothing. That's the worst. It's totally makes the guitar stuff seem worse than it probably is. Song writing is a strange thing. I don't personally like matchbox 20, but I heard an interview with Rob Thomas the other day and he said that to him song writing is like having a radio that he randomly tunes to the creativity channel. Occaissionally he hears something that sound good so he quickly writes it down. I would have to agree. To me there's no reason for a good song or lyric, it just happens. Much like fishing.

Call 4 Help

Although, the luck of fishing and the luck of song writing are similar in that they share sweet creative spots. "Secret fishing holes" or "Song writing nooks" that bring "dead zone" to life!

A Call For Help!

This song relates to something I'm sure most people have dealt with. A friend who calls who is going through some hard times asks for help or advice. I think this is self-explanatory. I'll probably record the acoustic version of this song next

Monday, December 31, 2007

Where are my fucking keys?

Ok, it's almost the end of 2007. It's been a very interesting year. I'm almost sad to see it go. Anyway, I just recorded a song called:

Where are my fucking keys?

Yes, it's about just that. Misplacing things. I hope you can catch the hidden meaning though. It's not a faux song. It really is a serious one. "Keys" often signify many things. In practice keys provide security and act as a tool to get something opened or started or closed. Metaphorically keys have often been given to a person or group to a city as if cities had gates any more. It's often a prestigious thing recognizing the accomplishments of the receiving group. Keys are often portrayed as more than that though. Anywhere a door can be thought of in an abstract sense a key can be thought of to open this door.

Speaking of being given keys to the city... I'm not sure but perhaps it's related to British Monarchical history. In any case it's become a term synonymous with welcome. I found these stories interesting regarding musical acts. Did you know that Alice Cooper was given the key to the city from a town in North Dakota named "Alice"? That's pretty cool if you ask me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Moldy Buns...

Here's a riff that I've been struggling to figure out how to use. Should It be in a major key like this:


Or a minor key like this:


Which one do you think sounds better? I think I've already moved on to the next stage of the song, so this might already be too late.

This sort of difference illustrates a part of music theory that is often taught to the most elementary of students. I grew up with a music teacher as a parent and would always hear student lessons including the song "hot cross buns" shortly followed by "moldy buns". "Hot Cross Buns" embodied the major key, while "moldy buns" embodied the minor key. Who knew right? Moldy is minor, scary, sad, dark, flat. Hot is major, proud, resilient, bright, levened. In general terms it's quite evident to the listener, but why does the sound feel this way? I won't delve into music theory here, but it's an interesting topic none the less.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Make it Happen

Here's a track that I put together with a mumble vocal. This song really isn't my style, but I couldn't leave the main guitar riff alone and decided that I had to record it.

Make it Happen

I think the term art is misinterpreted a lot. Casually it's often in reference to visual art. Music is often referred to as music and food as food rather than aural art or culinary arts. Many other genres are viewed as objects and actions rather than manifestations of artistic expression. I have to admit I haven't readily accepted dance as an important part of the art of music. I have reviled it really. To put it more effectively I'll quote someone from when I worked in the music store. A patron was telling of an experience where he was in a Florida night club and was asked to dance. To which he replied, "I don't dance. I'm a musician." I believe this is common among rock musicians.

I used to know some people in college that studied dance. They'd speak of choreography and forms. This was all too classic and/or conformed to be of any artistic relevance to me at the time. Recently though I've thought about it and believe that even the music I play uses rules or boundaries and that it's different in many ways from classic forms, but shares many attributes. I think dance is the same way in rock, punk, and alternative music.

Many local bands that I have watched don't do any sort of dance. They stand still and stare at their hands, but even this is a form of physical expression. The "classic" form of metal dance expression is called "head-banging" where an individual does a basic back and forth shaking of the head or a circular motion in order to cause the hair to appear as a mass of frenzy. If you've ever seen "school of rock" than you've seen some additional rock moves that musicians do... "rock face", "goblet of rock", etc. These are truly physical expressions of the music. There have been famous rock-moves that have been created over the years. The "Ian-stomp" made famous by Anthrax guitarist Scotty Ian where he makes emphatic foot stomps to the syncopation of the guitar riff that he's playing. The "Angus-duck-walk" made famous by Angus Young of AC/DC where he does a single footed kick walk comparable to a duck. There is the "Stevie-Ray-Behind-The-Back", the "Hendrix-crash-and-burn", the "Vai-guitar-spin", or even the notorious “Axle Rose” which really just embodied the character of the performer. There are countless others, but are not typically considered dance.

I'm reminded by the recently famous "dancing with the stars" show that judging goes into many dance exhibitions. This is comparable to the "stage presence" criteria used to judge a band during a battle of the bands competition. One fact is that having a guitar in one's hands limits the movements of a performer. I think it would be an interesting genre of dance to see a style that uses a fixed prop (not like a pole). It's important to note that the most viewed youTube video is that of a wacky dance clip. I see dance and music as universal languages. M.C. Hammer stated this as well when presenting his business case to Silicon Valley to begin the startup of his online video "dance jamz" site. I believe it may be part of what makes a music performance consumable and will only become a more important part of online music content.

Friday, November 30, 2007

seven days...

Here's a song that I've been working on for a while that I had originally thought could use some vocals, but the more I heard it I thought it sounded good without...

seven days

It's getting close to that time again where I usually start to make a list of song ideas for my holiday recordings. Many people often complain when they hear holiday music at this time when entering a shopping center. I can't disagree, but it reminds me of what it must be like for the composer/arranger of such pieces. These songs usually don't get written, arranged, performed, recorded, produced, and distributed over night. This process takes time. I often think about that when I see advertisement for a holiday seasonal movie premier. Did they actually film that in the winter? The answer is undoubtedly no. So I must endure this a little more than most in order to reward those to whom I give this gift of the season.

I hope that this year I can actually write at least one piece rather than only arrange traditional songs. I tend to use secular songs when I arrange. I have done this because I originally found vanity in purely religious songs of the season. I would often hear "Merry Christmas" from pure strangers who had no knowledge of my religious background. This made me think that such naivity is rather imposing at times. What if I were athiest, jewish, or muslim? I have since softened my ideas about this, but I still believe that even for those who do not share religious beliefs it is important to know that each has something worth celebrating and worth studying. I also found it funny how many of the popular 'Christmas' songs over the years have been written by jewish composers.

"White Christmas" by Irving Berlin
"Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" by Johnny Marks
"Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne
"Silver Bells" by Livingston and Evans
"The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) by Mel Torme\

I've been doing this for 7 going on 8 years now. I hope this year I can have it done before Christmas Eve!