Category Archives: Music

Tips 5 Ways to Become a Guitar God

Over the years, the musical instrument that has ruled over the masses is Guitar. From swinging and swaying along a soft rhythm, to the fast paced swag, it has caught many of us spell-bounded. We try to follow in the footsteps of our heroes like Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Slash or Kurt Cobain, dedicating hours of practice and hundreds of dollars to learn the art of playing guitar but more often than not we fail miserably.

It is true that there is no alternative to hard work, but one should also follow a fixed plan to make it work, so that the hard work we put in does not get wasted.
The most important thing is to get started and improve on it. These five basic tips should prove fruitful to you if you put your heart and soul in playing Guitar.

1. All that glitters is not gold holds true for most of the guitars you lay your hands on. A costly guitar doesn’t mean that it will have the most melodious of tune and best of the parts. While buying a guitar always select something with good built material, else you sound could die down or become shaky. Also check for the string stoutness and if you instrument gets out of tune too often you should look for an alternative.

2. The next important thing is that you should learn the basics well, either from a guide book or a teacher. You must know the different chords and your finger position. Practice the basics with proper finger position till it becomes just a muscle memory. You should also learn to pick up speed while you play and execute them without any gap between each note.

3. One great technique to improve your speed as well as you rhythm is by playing along with drum or some accompanying instruments. It will help you to check your tempo, rhythm and give you confidence to strum along in actual or live events. Always start from beginning of the tune if you make a mistake so that you can maintain the continuity. Try never to skip beats as it may result in incomplete or abrupt end to your music piece by catching your partner unaware.

4. The more you learn, the more you would try to innovate. Getting a guide book or a tutorial at this stage would be very helpful as it will help you to cross check what you learnt and what more is left. It is a great way to go back to the roots and reinvent what you missed out at the first go.

5. Always check for music DVDs and YouTube videos to learn the tricks and style of various musicians. You can learn different techniques and find the actual reason that makes some better than the others.

Though it takes years of perseverance to reach the height of musical excellence you can start any time you. Just make sure you put in the hard work and master the basics, and there would be no reason why you can’t reach the top.

Info Origin and Early History of the Banjo

The banjo originated in West Africa in various forms, and was brought to America by African slaves. The earliest references to the banjo in America describe an instrument with a gourd body covered in hide or skin, a fretless neck, and strings. It was referred to by many names, including banjar, banjil, banza, bangoe, bangie, and banshaw. The word “banjo” either descends from the West African word “mbanza”, the Portuguese word “bandore,” or the Spanish word “bandurria.” There are more than 60 plucked string instruments resembling the banjo in West Africa, many of which probably influenced its development. The kora, ngoni, xalam, akonting, ubaw-akwala, and gimbri, are the West African instruments that most resemble the banjo. Below is a video of Ekona Diatta playing the akonting.

Early sources describe the banjo as being played mainly by slaves, but also the “lower classes,” which means it was probably picked up by white indentured servants who worked in close quarters with slaves in the 18th century.

The banjo rose to popularity in the 1830’s, largely because of its connection to minstrel shows. Blackface actors began appearing on stage in the late 18th century. Minstrel shows acted as a form of comedy, playing out common and new stories that depicted highly racist stereotypes of slaves. Minstrel characters were often joyful, carefree slaves, who loved servitude and lacked adult mental capabilities, a far cry from the brutal life that slaves actually experienced and the perseverance required to survive it.

Joel Sweeney, a minstrel musician who had learned to play banjo from African Americans in his hometown of Appomattox, Virginia, began incorporating the banjo in his minstrel shows around 1839. He is the earliest documented white banjo player and the earliest known person to have played banjo on the stage. As a member of the highly successful band “The Virginia Minstrels,” Sweeney popularized the banjo, making it into an instrument of the middle class and a key piece of the minstrel show. He also popularized replacing the banjo’s gourd body with the drum-like body commonly used in country music.

The early banjo-playing style had been a clawhammer stroke style created by African slaves. After the civil war, banjoists Frank Converse and James Buckley each released their own finger-picking banjo instruction books, which spread European finger-picking styles like those used on the guitar. The fretboard was also added in around this time. The isolated Appalachian mountains and far West maintained the older clawhammer styles, which resulted in two distinct banjo traditions in the U.S, one of which was much more influenced by classical finger-picking.

Though black banjo players continued to play throughout the 19th century, they would not be recognized until the 20th century. The 20th century banjo styles were also transformed by ragtime and blues. I will revisit 20th century banjo styles in a later post. Below are two videos. The first is one of the earliest recordings of banjo in 1902, depicting the finger-picking style taught in the Converse and Buckley manuals. The second is an example of Appalachian style clawhammer banjo, from Clarence Ashley in 1928.

Enjoy and feel free to chime in with your own thoughts and knowledge!

This 3 Common Myths About Achieving Musical Greatness

Achieving musical greatness becomes impossible when you follow the (false) conventional wisdom that many musicians believe in. Avoid these 3 common myths to get on the right path towards becoming a great musician:

Myth #1. You Must Be Talented To Become A Great Musician

False: musical greatness is simply a byproduct of mastering musical skills and integrating them together. People who have natural talent were not born talented. They figured out on their own how to master the right skills to become good musicians.

Not having “natural talent” doesn’t mean it’s impossible to become great. Fact is, many of the greatest musicians began with no talent whatsoever. Everyone has the potential to learn the correct musical skills for achieving greatness by working with an excellent teacher.

Myth #2. Musical Greatness Is The Same As Originality

Greatness is simply the ability to express what you want to express accurately and effortlessly. Your expression does not have to be original. For example, a virtuoso pianist who only plays Classical music composed by other musicians. You can also be original without really expressing yourself (if you lack the skills needed to do so).

What matters most is that you have a strong desire to express something and are willing to learn how to clearly express it through music. Once both of these things are in place, you have everything you need to become great.

Myth #3. To Be Musically Great You Must Play Many Styles Well

You can express yourself very well in one style (that you love). Most of the greatest musicians in the world were specialists in a single style (or closely related styles). For example, two great musicians Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen never strayed too far from their respective genres. Musical greatness is about acquiring skills needed to express the sounds you hear in your head and mastering them. Don’t believe the false claim that you can only become great if you already have a lot of natural talent. This myth is destructive because it keeps you from even attempting to become better

Instead of making it a goal to become great in several musical styles, work together with an experienced teacher to learn things that help you become a better musician in ANY style. For example: music theory, aural skills, songwriting or live performance.

By avoiding these three myths you remove obstacles in the way of becoming a great musician.

Here Popular Songs Featuring The Voices Of Children

Spring is a popular season for many events, including festivals at local school districts throughout the United States. Perhaps the least appreciated, save for doting parents and grandparents, are the annual performances of various children’s choirs.

Generally, people enjoy the spontaneous singing of children more than an organized performance weakened under the supervision of adults. The presence of grown ups tends to drain the carefree joyousness of children singing while they play, a big reason few children’s songs have ever become enduring hits.

Nevertheless, some children’s voices are heard on some popular records, including one from a number album that also won several Grammy awards. In that particular case, the child can be heard crying rather than singing.

No one would expect that hit to come from Alice Cooper and, indeed, it was not from that ghoulish hard rocker who made Welcome To My Nightmare. Yet Alice Cooper does own the distinction of including more children’s voices in his discography than any other artist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

His first instance of including the voices of children came, quite appropriately, on his the hit title track from his School’s Out album. The kids can be heard cheering near the end, when Alice declares that “School’s out completely… “

An individual child can be heard asking a question on a song from the minor hit “The Ballad of Dwight Frye” from the album, Love It To Death. “Mommy, where’s Daddy?” the boy says. “He’s been away for so long.”

Welcome To My Nightmare contains the hit Department of Youth,” which features singing children in the chorus. The voices belong to Dave Ezrin and the Summerhill Children’s Choir, who stump Cooper as the song fades outs.

After the line in the chorus that declares, “We’ve got the power,” Alice yells, “and who gave it to you?” In unison they answer, “Donny Osmond!” prompting Cooper to jokingly shout them down.

Here are five other popular songs that feature the voices of children.

Playground In My Mind by Clint Homes

This hit reached the Top Ten, partly because of the children refraining “My name is Michael, I got a nickel, I got a nickel shiny and new.”

Dear God by XTC

A boy representing a young Andy Partridge sings the first verse of this anti-religious hit whose success was aided by a disturbing video, highlighted by Partridge himself taking a hammer to a tree filled with a stereotypical family.

The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking by Roger Waters

Actor Brandon De Wilde, who played the young son in the Western classic Shane, should actually get the credit for the child’s voice in this title track. After the Pink Floyd leader mentions Dick Tracy and the title film character, De Wilde can be heard saying to Alan Ladd, “Mother wants you.”

Big Dipper by Elton John

Rocket Man employs the talents of the Watford Football Team and the Audley Street Girl’s Choir for backing vocals on this track from A Single Man, his first release after the departure of songwriting partner Bernie Taupin.

Clair by Gilbert O’ Sullivan

The girl after which the song was written can be heard giggling toward the end of this Top Ten hit, not long after “Alone Again, Naturally” reached number one.

Isn’t She Lovely? by Stevie Wonder

Songs In The Key of Life spawned numerous hits on its way to number one, including this ode to Wonder’s new born daughter who can be heard crying in the song.

How To Find Top Show Bands For Your Event

The best show bands have agents, and you’ll have to work with an agent to get the best, and the right entertainment option for your event. It isn’t difficult to work with an agent, most are nice people, and ready to do what you need done, in fact… most will go the extra distance to be certain your have the best possible band at the best price.

But, there are three simple ways to find the top show band for your event that you need to know. So, let’s reveal those right now:

1 – Google Search Keyword Phrases

In these days of high technology, Google really is one of the best methods of locating what you want. And, as they say… If it ain’t online, don’t buy it! Google has figured out what people want and how to put it in front of you on their search engine, but you’ll need to know what to look for. Keyword phrases that help guide the search engine to your preferences are often primed by agents who speak better BAND than they speak customer. So, think like the band instead of the customer. Look for names and locations that might label the band.

For instance:

  • “music for afternoon garden wedding” didn’t bring up any bands, or agents to choose from, but rather a long selection of tunes.
  • “best dance bands for hire” brought up a whole list of dance bands and agents who support and market bands for events.

2 – Word of Mouth Referrals and References

Ask others who have hired bands for events, for weddings, or corporate training events, or community entertainment who they call to find the right band. Don’t be shy, if you find a band you like, look them up on YouTube.com or ask for referrals, and references for the best dance bands. Your friends won’t lead you wrong, and you can always test their references on YouTube. Look them up.

3 – Find Event Planners Who Work with Bands

Some of the best event planners will have bands and agents they work with all the time. Don’t count on the lowest price or the cheapest option fulfilling your dreams. Sometimes you have to pay for what you want. But… it’s worth it!

The key is to find the right agent who understands what you want and will work with you to present the very best!

Not only does our on staff agent offer the absolute best dance bands available for a wide variety of events, but you get the option of hearing our bands on YouTube, to help make your selection. David Levin Entertainment brings the best show bands available to your event, click at http://davidlevinent.com and request a quote to find the BEST band option for your event.

Choose A Between Individual Pedals or a Multi-Effects Unit

Imagine you are a young guitar player sitting in your bedroom at home and playing your favorite songs. As you play more, you begin to hear how the music you play is crafted, and you seek to find out how certain sounds are created. Sometimes it’s a percussive element that involves attacking the strings in a unique way with either a pick or your fingertips (or fingernails, but that’s another discussion).

Other times, though, you find there are sounds that add to the music in such a way that the addition is clearly manmade, but their impact is astounding. Unable to rest, you hop online & see your favorite guitarist jamming away, but there is obviously something going on at their feet. Suddenly, realize that they are stepping on various buttons that help in the creation of the sounds you found so awe-inspiring. You now know that whatever it is he/she is stepping on, you need to own the same equipment.

Such is one possible foray into the world of effects for guitarists. Not satisfied with the basic function of connecting their instrument to an amplifier, guitarists have sought to manipulate their guitar signal to create other-worldly noise. There was a time about midway through the 20th century that these types of effects were rudimentary & time-consuming to create in the studio. Savvy manufacturers quickly understood that there would be a way to monetize the effects industry if they could provide these effects to musicians in a more direct way and quite literally put them at their feet.

Herein lies the genius of the multi-effect (ME) unit. This “all-in-one” solution to having all of your effects in one box meant making one expense as opposed to buying individual pedals for certain sounds. Say an ME unit provides twelve effects for $100.00. If you bought each effect in a stand-alone pedal for $50.00/pedal, you’d be looking at $600.00.

However, it needs to be understood that quality of the product is paramount to the success of the effects market for guitarists. In fact, recent high-dollar effect offerings under the ’boutique’ moniker have shown that guitarists will hand over four figures for an individual effect pedal if they feel that this effect is of the highest quality & doesn’t degrade their tone.

What also separates users of individual pedals & multi-effect units is the environment in which they’ll be used. For example, a church band may opt to use ME units because they can more easily connect them directly to the house PA system & do away with the stage volume issue associated with an amplifier. This option also allows for effects “patches” to be saved for certain songs. While convenient, an individual pedal user may feel a bit too constrained & unable to activate sounds as the moment takes them.

All in all, every guitarist’s experience will be an individual one. Whether you choose individual effects pedals or go the way of the multi-effect unit, you are taking an important step to establishing your signature sound, and you need to rely on what inspires you the most to keep making music.

Tips for Guitar Practice And Become A Better Guitarist Fast

Believe that you can’t achieve your guitar playing goals due to a lack of available practice time or limited knowledge for how to move your playing forward? I’ve got some good news for you. You can very quickly achieve your guitar playing goals – you just need to understand exactly how to make your practice time extremely effective.

After helping thousands of guitar students over the years get results in their playing, I found that guitarists often use their practice time very ineffectively. By wasting so much practice time, you drastically prolong the time it takes to reach your musical goals. Once you are able to get results from every single second of guitar practice, your progress will skyrocket.

Here are the four guitar practicing habits you need to correct in order to make faster progress:

1. Practicing Some Items Too Much And Others Too Little

This mistake is commonly made because of the following:

1. Improperly managed Guitar Practicing Time. A lot of guitar players figure that all they must do is practice everything for an equal amount of time. This is incorrect. Truth is: not all musical skills need to be practiced with the same frequency as others. Some musical skills (such as writing songs) should be worked on less often, but in more time per practice session. On the other hand, technical guitar licks may require a higher frequency of practice with moderate time used each session. When you randomly divide up the time spent on each task into equal segments in your schedule, you end up scheduling a lot more time than what is needed for some items and not enough for others. As a result, you make extremely slow progress in all areas.

2. Instant Gratification Practice. it’s common for guitar players to waste tons of time practicing things they are already highly proficient in. As a result, they never actually advance in the areas they are weak in, bringing their overall guitar playing down as a whole.

How you divide up your guitar practice time also depends on some other variables. These include: how much time you have to practice, how good you are at each item, your personal guitar playing goals, and how certain items are best practiced and mastered. When any of this is altered, you need to change your practicing routine. If you don’t, you’ll end up with unbalanced skills and ineffective practice.

2. Working On Elements Of Guitar Playing In The Incorrect Order

The particular order of items you practice is instrumental for how much/little improvement each practice session offers you. This applies on both a small level and a zoomed-out, macro level. Macro level meaning: the various types of musical skills (such guitar playing technique, theory, ear training, etc.). The smaller level means the specific exercises within each area. To make your practice more effective, you need to identify the best order for both the types of musical skills and the specific exercises within each category.

3. You Don’t Warm Up Effectively

Everyone understands the importance of warming up before practicing. However, very few people truly do this and far less do this properly. A lot of guitarists believe that “warming up” means literally warming up their fingers by running through a special set of movements or chromatic exercises. This actually wastes your time, and here’s why:

1. You spend too much of your practice time practicing things that have NOTHING to do with the materials you wanted to practice that day.

2. Even worse, you’re often disconnected from these exercises mentally because you see them as “just warm-up”. As a result, you mentally prepare yourself to do the same as you practice the items you really want to improve. Your brain is just as important as you fingers while practicing guitar.

Stop wasting countless amounts of time trying to find good warm-up exercises. The exercises that are best used to warm up with are the ones you intend to practice – only played at a slower tempo. Also, your brain should be warming up as well as your fingers. Stay focused and pay close attention while warming up in order to prepare yourself for your practice session.

4. Practicing At Speeds That Your Brain Can’t Handle

“Practicing guitar” is much more than simply “repeating the same movements over and over again”. You need to focus both your mind and your ears on particular elements of your guitar playing and refine them. For instance, rather than randomly playing a scale pattern over and over, you can observe your picking hand to ensure that you aren’t using excessive motion. You could also practice while making sure that the notes do not ring together as you transfer from one string to the next.

Your brain analyzes every note you play and has to make specific adjustments to move your hands where they need to go. If you frequently practice faster than your mind can “analyze”, you are merely reinforcing whatever habits (whether good ones or bad ones) you already have.

Now that you have a better understanding of the main reasons why so many guitar players fail to get great results from their practicing sessions, find out exactly what you should do to make your guitar practice more effective.

The Beethoven’s Classical Music Analysis

If contrast were his intent, then Beethoven is at his most successful-the three movements of the “Moonlight” sonata could hardly differ more. But while they hold little in common character-wise, they maintain a poetic coherence though the drama their contrast creates. A dialogue emerges between them that examines something deeper than just the forms of a sonata or the tonal varieties of C# minor. What is expressed evokes the sense of something human, a sense of suffering, or toil, perhaps, against some nebulous darkness.

The slow first movement establishes this intense feeling of pathos. The grim persistence of the bass, three notes repeated again and again, gives an impression of emptiness and of stasis. It seems inescapable, heavy, almost mournful. It weighs down, and in its constancy it calls attention to the silence in the melody. Arising from it though, a single, tentative voice asserts its presence, as if asking a question-the silence that follows though only reinforces the sense of emptiness. The voice seems to speak of loneliness and confinement, of bleakness and sorrow, but at times a soft, hopeful glimmer surfaces, as if longing for something more, or better, or different. As the movement closes, however, that hope seems to surrender, overwhelmed and replaced with a sense of finality.

The second movement, by contrast, is far more contented. It feels more open and free, almost flighty, and possesses a kind of sing-song quality. Also, unlike the first, the second movement retains a sense of mobility-with something that could be described as an ambling gait-and seems to have a clear idea of purpose or direction (though not necessarily a destination). Yet next to the first movement, its levity seems somehow false or out of place. A clear response to the confusion of the second phrase, the theme from the first phrase re-turns in the third, back on the tonic, determined and unrelenting. Yet now it manages to climb even higher than in the first phrase, as if through familiarity, the motion has become less difficult. Twice it reaches an invisible ceiling and resets, but on its third ascent, it fails to reach its peak-instead of the expected “plunks” the melody falters, tumbling unexpectedly downward, by skip and step, back to where it began its climb. This acts as a kind of set back-perhaps a loss of confidence or onset of doubt or weakness after seven failed attempts to break through some invisible barrier.

Queen Board Game Could Inspire Other Bands For Create A Similar Products

The most famous board game in the world has been in the news recently, though for two completely different reasons. The first occasion regarded the announcement that the company had decided to change some of the game pieces.

In the new edition the set will be sold without the boot, wheelbarrow, and thimble, three of the traditional game pieces. In their place will be a penguin, a rubber ducky, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

A few days later, the game made news in the music world. The band who once was deemed as more popular than The Beatles, Queen, has created a similar board game base on their career.

The design traces the different stages of Queen’s history, starting from their formation in the late sixties through the death of front man Freddie Mercury in 1996. The game pieces also reflect the band’s career, starting with a hammer that represents the single “Hammer To Fall” from the album called The Works. Other pieces include Brian May’s unique guitar, the robot from the cover of the News of the World album, a vacuum cleaner that recalls the classic video for “I Want To Break Free” and a bicycle that signifies the smash hit “Bicycle Race” from the Jazz album.

Following the lead set by the group that gave us “Bohemian Rhapsody” along with numerous enduring hits, other bands might decide to create a similar board game reflecting their careers. These items would very likely become prized possessions for millions of nostalgic fans.

Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, the surviving members of The Who, could oversee a board game based on their history. The squares could include a “Detour” to mark the original name of the group, as well as take participants through highlights such as the rock opera Tommy, the epic Quadrophenia, the classic Who’s Next album, and finally their induction into the Rock Hall of Fame.

Like the Queen set, the Who game might have pieces associated with their notable hits. A squeeze box could represent that Top Ten single from Who By Numbers, and a miniature bus might replicate their sixties anthem “Magic Bus.” Other pieces ought to include a pinball machine for “Pinball Wizard” from Tommy, a “Bell Boy” for the fan favorite from Quadrophenia, and a spider for bassist John Entwistle’s song about the arachnid named Boris.

Most bands with a storied history as long as that of the Who could create a game similar to the one Queen will make available in May. It would not only be an interesting project, but very likely lead to a revived appreciation for their music.

Finding Your Own Voice As A Musician

It can be argued that the most frustrating experience that an up and coming musician can have is being able to define their signature sound/voice. After all, you are just one piece, a cog, in the machine that is the world of music through the ages. No matter how much knowledge you acquire or how much time to invest in fine-tuning your craft, you sometimes you feel as though it’s all for nothing at all. A parallel, in terms of artistic frustration, would be that of writer’s block.

If there is one thing a musician must do in their journey to find his/her voice is that they need to separate the idea of stardom from doing it for the love of music. Musicians are always striving to achieve some level of success while being artistic, and this is dicey territory. One might say that being artistic and expressing one’s self through their music is ‘enough’, but that doesn’t pay the bills. Even if a musician is able to readily share their art with the world, they find that the reception of said art isn’t what they thought it might be. Validation as a musician can be all-encompassing. Just look at the various guitar-based video games that use crowd noise (positive and negative) to push the working musician to new levels of stardom. You need to understand the road to the top is a tough one.

Technology is all around us, and with that technology comes the inherent need to invest our time & energy into the techno-wizardry that promises to make you stand out from the crowd. There was a time when the technology available to musicians was the introduction of electricity to musical instruments, and these advances led to some of the most celebrated music of all time. Think further into the realm of classical music and opera. Nothing but the pure expression of sound coupled with masterfully composed works were needed. Sure, creativity & ingenuity are also important ways to gain inspiration, but it may be time to take a lesson from this simplicity with your own music at times.

Finally, one thing a musician can do to find his/her voice is to stop listening to everything for a bit here and there. This is hard to do as musicians use their ear as their most vital tools when expanding their sonic appreciation. This habit, however, can have consequences because musicians get into their own heads. They begin to doubt their own abilities, and worst yet, they begin to compare their abilities to others & wonder why they aren’t as good. At times of great artistic frustration, you need to depend on yourself the most, and being mired in self-doubt will do you no good.

Remember that finding your voice as a musician is, at its most elemental, finding a way to express who you are as a person. Drown out the noise, and trust in yourself.