Sunday, May 29, 2016

Why do Musicians use effect pedals?

Complex guitar tones became a staple of modern music, particularly after the digital synth became popular. To compete with the synth’s shimmering harmonic structure, guitarists had to add a generous helping of studio-quality effects. Even the lowly stompboxes had to evolve to produce high-quality tones.

In the 1980s, digital rackmount units began replacing stompboxes as the effects format of choice. Often musicians would record "dry", unaltered tracks in the studio and effects would be added in post-production. The success of Nirvana's 1991 album Nevermind helped to re-ignite interest in stompboxes. Some grunge guitarists would chain several fuzz pedals together and plug them into a tube amplifier. 

Throughout the 1990s, musicians committed to a "lo-fi" aesthic such as J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., Stephen Malkmus of Pavement and Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices continued to use analog effects pedals. 

Modulation effects duplicate the waveform of the fundamental signal and alter it, then blend the altered signal and the original signal to create the effected sound. This may sound complicated, but whether you realize it or not, many of your favorite guitar sounds probably use a modulation effect in some way.

There are an awful lot of boutique guitar effects manufacturers out there who make pedals designed to create all kinds of twisted and bizarre sounds. Sadly, their products are often very expensive, often prohibitively so — so what about the more budget-conscious would-be sonic terrorist?
Well, one option is to 'circuit bend' more conventional (read 'cheaper') guitar effects. The basic idea behind circuit bending is that you experiment with short-circuiting the pedal until it makes a noise that you like, and then solder in a connection, with a switch or potentiometer in place if you think you may want to turn the noise off again at some point.

In 1961 a legendary Nashville session cat Grady Martin was recording a guitar track for a Marty Robins tune, “Don’t Worry”, when his guitar amp starting acting crazy. For the first time, this beautiful but ugly Fuzz sound was recorded to tape. When the track was released, a band called The Ventures heard it and immediately asked their friend Red Rhodes if he could replicate the sound.Well guess what? He did. and that is how the Fuzz effect took flight. 

A few months later The Ventures released their album “2000 Pound Bee,” which is believed to contain the first recordings of the new Fuzz circuit. I never imagined that, as my dad made me listen to Marty Robins in his car, I was possibly hearing the invention of the effect that changed Rock & Roll. Popularity in the sound grew when The Kinks’ guitarist Dave Davies used an amp that’s speaker had been slashed with a razor-blade to record their 1964 hit “You Really Got Me”. This was the first time that a song driven by distorted power chords was ever made popular.


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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Drummers Tips - How to choose a drumstick.

When a passionate drummer is without their sticks, they feel naked. It's no wonder why younger players all around the country can be found in classrooms tapping away on their desk with a set of pencils. It's as if over time, a percussionist's sticks or mallets become an extension of their body; and once they find a pair that offer a perfect mix of comfort, balance and response, a drummer tends to "stick" with that stick forever. 

In other words, drummers are sticklers when it comes to sticks, because they know what they want. Like people, drum sticks and mallets come in all kinds of different sizes and shapes, depending on the style of music you play. For example, jazz drummers often go with a thin, light stick, which are great for shuffles, agility and cymbal work.

Heavier rock groups on the other hand tend to use larger, thicker sticks to ensure a powerful, hard-hitting performance and minimal stick breakage. Regardless of your preference, you'll notice quickly that there's a wide variety of drum sticks and mallets to choose from, for all tastes and styles. When it comes drum sticks, you won't find a name more recognizable than Vic Firth, and their American Classic line combines the durability and sound Vic Firth is known for in a stick that comes highly praised. Turned from select hickory, Vic Firth American Classic drum sticks are bold in design, and the price can't be beat. 

Of course, equally as impressive are Vater Hickory Drumsticks. Available in a 4-pack, these sticks are heavier and more rigid then maple sticks and can absorb a huge amount of shock to reduce hand fatigue. On the mallet side of things, any aspiring percussionist will be more than satisfied with a pair of Tam Tam Rollers courtesy of Black Swamp. These 1.5'' solid maple mallets are thick and strong, yet light enough to handle with ease. Give them a shot and see for yourself. 

There are all kinds of drum stick brands that are endorsed by the world's best known drummers, from Tre Cool and Lars Ulrich to jazz favorites like Ron Haynes. It goes without saying, but an easy solution to choosing the right stick for you is to simply look at what your favorite drummers use. Not to say a fan of classical music wouldn't play in a punk rock band, but by learning what your biggest influences use, you'll get a much better idea of what to look for.


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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What is the difference between a Fiddle and a Violin?

So I go to Google and type in 'what is the difference between violin and fiddle'. In return I get a sore head and work out nobody really knows, some folk think they do, but other folks always know better.

 It's all in good fun picking on each other's styles. Some funny stuff about fiddlers, got me to smile. On the serious side, though, I'm a fiddler , but I like good classical music as well. You'll find quite the mix of CDs in my collection. From the old scratchy recording of old time fiddlers to Hilary Hahn playing the Bach solo's.

I don’t know why the idea of cross tuning your violin (any tuning other than GDAE) to open tunings is so uncommon in the classical world today. In fiddle traditions, open tunings have been used to create a different sound, including drone notes, like you would hear from a bagpipe. Open tunings are also embraced on other instruments, including guitar.

The terms "violin" and "fiddle" are used interchangeably, but there are actually a few differences to accommodate the music. A fiddle typically has a flatter bridge so that double stops and chords can be played more easily and it becomes more difficult to play 3 notes at once. Fiddles also are usually strung with steel strings for sound and durability. I also find that fiddlers use more resin than traditional violinists. Realistically, you can say either one and it'll mean the same thing, but this is from a technical point of view.

On the surface, this kind of fiddle music is technically less complex than classical violin (though sometimes very fast!). Many fiddle players never leave the first position. But fiddling calls for great skill in producing the rhythmic and melodic lift originally intended to get people dancing and keep them that way. Even when we’re just listening to a well-played fiddle tune, chances are we’re moving our bodies somehow – tapping our feet or fingers, or nodding our heads. The emphasis tends to be on the rhythmic drive and a steady flow of melody through basic forms, often AABB.

I've noticed a few things about the different setups for fiddle and violin, as mentioned earlier. I'm of the opinion that you can just as easily play "fiddle" tunes as classical pieces when a fiddle (er..violin) has a classical setup - reasonably high bridge, a minimum of synthetic core strings (not steel core). On the bluegrass style setup, they are normally strung with steel core and have a flattened bridge for easier shuffle bowing (ie rapid alternation between string pairs 32-21-32 etc). However, with a classical setup, I find this just as easy to do. Why? Synthetics (or even gut) have far more "give", and playing away from the bridge eases the action of the shuffle. Admittedly, the tone will be a bit different, but from a playing point of view, it's still very possible.

By the way, there's a fantastic Norwegian fiddle called the hardingfele or Hardanger Fiddle, with a flatter bridge and four or five extra strings under the bridge with a number of its own tunings. Sounds awesome, but you'd never get away with playing Bach on it - you might get away with playing Paganini on it because he was the rock star of his times, and his music's got that attitude.


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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How Hard is it to Start Playing the Cello as an Adult

It is very easy to learn to play an instrument at any age. Yes, it is best to practice regularly (every day), and take breaks if you get uncomfortable. During the first week, you may want to only practice for 15 minutes at a time. Remember that it is always better to spread out your practicing rather than

I have attempted all 3 instruments in my life, so I'll share my experience here. I self-taught classical guitar when I was young it was pretty hard at the beginning as I didn't have conventional music training like reading notes on a staff, without a proper teacher I didn't achieve anything.

Around 10 years ago I tried piano, again self-taught, it was easier as I could read music and had no trouble with key signatures etc. However, much practice was required to simultaneously read the bass clef and coordinate finger movements at the same time. For piano, it's easier to get initial enjoyment by playing easy pieces, again if you are serious your better off looking for a proper teacher.

3 years ago I tried cello, an instrument that can't be self-taught, I was serious and I joined a group. It was fun learning cello in a group as I didn't quite hear the ugly sound I made initially. Like all string instruments it'll be a lot better if you can read music your ears can tell pitch, or "perfect pitch" preferably have experience on fingerboard or fretboard know music theory, and keyboard experience an added advantage. Since I have now found my "right instrument" for life after 2 failed attempts. To answer the question about how hard, I can only suggest how long, i.e. expect to spend 2 years in a group than private class with a teacher from year 3 the real enjoyment (and hard work) will come.

I began playing the cello at the age of 43, and at the time considered myself fortunate to undertake this admittedly large project as an adult. As an adult, I didn't have to contend with the trauma of outgrowing an instrument. I'd also played other instruments (electric guitar, Fender bass, some piano), and already understood how music "works." Perhaps most important, I had a determination to succeed that few children possess.

Wade Williams, Very amateur adult cellist. Wade is a Most Viewed Writer in Cellos .It depends on how much music background you have. If you have experience with music, certain facets of it will come easily. You'll know how to read music (exception: though many guitarists can't), you'll know how to count, how to read rhythms, etc.

However, no matter how long you've played, if it wasn't a bowed string instrument, it will take some time to develop your intonation, bowing technique, learn the various left-hand positions, etc. As with all instruments, how long that takes is largely a function of how often you practice. There's a person on YouTube who was playing the Prelude to the first Bach Cello Suite (the most famous piece) at 13 months. However, she was an accomplished classical pianist and "dabbled" on violin (and I think she did more than dabble) practicing a lot two or three days a week.

As an adult with two kids and a busy job who took up the cello 5 years ago, it's been a struggle, but fun. I still consider myself a beginner in ability, but I might be better than a beginner in tone. I don't have nearly the time to practice that school-age children have, and my complete lack of musical background means I still struggle with basic concepts that experienced musicians do without a second thought.

One of the things that convinced me to start despite my advanced age was a story I read of a man making a similar decision. He heard a story of a 68-year-old man who decided to become a doctor. His kids told him he was crazy, as he'd be 75 before he even finished his training. He said, "Well, I can be 75, or I can be 75 and be a doctor." That man drove 2 hours and rented a cello the same day he read that story, and so did I.


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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Top 2 Female Drummers - Valentina Magaletti and Sheila E

The Best Female Drummers

Valentina Magaletti is a very versatile drummer. Having played with Bat for Lashes in 2010 and currently drumming for London-based indie band Fanfarlo, she is great at the pop thing, but also interested in more experimental stuff. In her band Tomaga she plays drums, theremin, prepared percussion and ‘mystery objects’. She performs regularly at the popular Krautrock Karaoke nights at Cafe Oto in Dalston.

Famous Female Drummers | List of Best Female DrummersBetter known as “Sheila E,” she is best known for her work with Prince and The Revolution. Her talent and influence span multiple genres including pop, funk, latin jazz, jazz fusion, and rock.
Upon further reflection, perhaps I’m writing to accelerate the change I would like to see. It would be great to think that women players have come far enough that their inclusion would just be an every-issue occurrence at Modern Drummer; they tend to continue to feature innovators and accomplished players in many styles and genres. Then again, it might be up to me to pitch stories to that magazine and do the features I want to read. DRUM! Magazine is likely to keep on striving for some gender balance, and supports giving space to women; they’re currently running a four-part series dedicated to the historical role of women in drumming. And, as always, I continue to cheerlead for and learn from Tom Tom Magazine. No surprises there.

Budofsky went on to mention female drummers who have been included over the years -- Moe Tucker (Velvet Underground,) jazzer Terri Lyne Carrington (pictured above), and Sheila E. The magazine aims to look at the “more interesting players." In the last two years, Budofsky says, “there are a lot more players setting themselves apart.” He said that it’s more of a “badass drummer factor," pointing to Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa. "She’s an accomplished player," he explained. "The fact that she's a woman -- it doesn't matter.”

Ever since I was a little boy I've had a fascination with drummers. I even took lessons for a little while, but watching truly talented players has become a passion - an obsession. Female drummers in particular, have piqued my interest over the past few years. Something about a girl, wailing behind a kit, is really sexy. Like other rhythm instruments, drums are dominated by men. Whatever your preference, this list is sure to change your mind if you have any preconceived notions about the fairer sex's ability to lay down a fat groove.

It’s me. Haha. I’m the best. What a rough life this has been. I’ll come across as the biggest ass for this, I know. I have played so much, all styles, all conditions, carrying my gear, living the life. Contests, schooling, recording, teaching, weddings, trade shows, musicals, clubs, concerts. I had a 7 year deal with a major label by the time I was 23. But the money sucks and the life is hard. We don’t get the opportunities, because we’re female. The only way for that to change is to refuse to buy (or download) music from bands that aren’t at least 50/50 co-ed. Do this, and we won’t need contests to promote the idea that female drummers are great. Of course we’re great drummers. Rhythm is natural to females. We are life’s intuitive timekeepers. ****** Sandy “Sledge” Kaye LA, CA

The best female drummers are those musically inclined ladies who saw a great deal of success manning the drums within a band or as a solo musician. You might not find them on the "Rolling Stone" list of 100 greatest drummers of all time but each has solidified their place as one of the best female drummers ever. As if women didn't have a hard enough time being recognized among male band members in the music industry already, girl drummers face additional struggles. Chauvinistic critics will allege that women lack the physical strength, passion or even drive to be a successful drummer. 

Clearly these top female drummers prove that stigma wrong.Karen Carpenter stands out as a favorite among many music lovers having played drums and sang for the 1970s duo The Carpenters. Janet Weiss played for several bands during her long career of rocking out. Maureen "Moe" Tucker might not be a household name but she was an integral part of the legendary rock band The Velvet Underground. Even Sheila E, who has worked with the likes of Prince and Ringo Starr plus released several successful solo albums, dominated the drums during her illustrious career. 

The list goes on and on.So while names like Gina Schock and Terri Lyne Carrington may never be considered as elites overall in the drumming world, they still should get a great deal of credit for their talent. If these women are not Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees already, all are surely deserving of the honor. 


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Saturday, April 16, 2016

This is Your Brain on Music - Why Musical Education is so Important!

With brain scans collected by the National Institute of Health, the team of researchers looked at the Cortex (outside layer of the brain) thickness in each scan. “We found a couple of different things,” said Eileen Crehan a Clinical Research Assistant for the study. “Several of the cortices were actually thinner in those who had played music, which seems counter-intuitive, but the thought is that there is all these neurons in your brain and the more mature you get the more of these connections between these neurons get specialized. The process of making those connections more specific happens faster in kids that had music training.” The researchers expected to find maturation in certain areas such as the motor cortex, which is in charge of motor skills such as hand-eye coordination. “When someone plays an instrument they’re moving their fingers so you would expect some development in that area. We also expected development in some other areas of the brain like the lateral prefrontal cortex, which is in charge of executive functioning, so things like organization, planning, and working memory,” said Crehan. What the team did not expect was finding maturation in areas of the brain that deal with emotions. “We found a lot of development in the orbital frontal and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which are in charge of things like emotional processing,” said Crehan.

A bowl of pudding only has taste when I put it in my mouth - when it is in contact. with my tongue. It doesn't have taste or flavor sitting in my fridge, only the potential.” ― Daniel J. Levitin, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

However, Sonos and other multiroom audio systems make it extremely convenient to fire up music in the home wherever you are right from your phone. The company is hoping its new data will prove that convenience doesn’t just make it easier to jam out to your favorite tunes, it makes for a better overall living environment.


Amir Pinkney-Jengkens, 8, is learning trombone through Harmony Project, a nonprofit that provides musical instruments and instruction to children in low-income communities. Recent research suggests that such musical education may help improve kids' ability to process speech. Annie Tritt for NPR

Today, music is indispensable; we are surrounded by stereo sounds in nearly every aspect of our lives. Even before we are born, our little hearts will fall in love with the most beautiful angel singing “I Love You Already”. We leave the secure warmness of the womb into a cold and strange new world, but no worries, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on mommy’s chest will sooth us. Perhaps we will clap for the first time with the cheerful melody of the “Happy Birthday” song. Who knows how many times we will be leading actors of a “Love Story” during our youth and “Singing in the Rain” with the drunkenness of our happiness. How many times will the loss of loved ones leave us with “Tears in Heaven”?

“If a song is a living, breathing entity, you might think of the tempo as its gait—the rate at which it walks by—or its pulse—the rate at which the heart of the song is beating.” ― Daniel J. Levitin, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession 


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