Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Song Structure with 2 Guitarists

I recently had an offer for a collaboration from a friend of mine for two of his songs.  He wanted me to write lead guitar behind his rhythm.  The cool part is he had all the lyrics written for it and knew how he wanted the structure to go.  Structure to me is defined how well the song flows overall: lyrically and musically.

Instead of cool riff number 1 and cool riff #2, I like to get an idea, or an arrangement built then fillers and extras can come later.  Get a "bass line", or a foundation started.  Simple harmonies behind pieces of a song is only a portion of a whole.

Every musician has their process of writing and composing.  One might write from start to finish, while another creates a chorus and builds around it.  There are no set ways to effectively compose.  No rules.  Creativity for most, isn't summoned on a whim either.  My creative process starts with riffs, then build into a rough arrangement, and finally fine tune/put it all together.  

A lot of bands use two electric guitarists in their ensemble.  Not always does one guitarist play rhythm and the other does solos: some bands contain two lead guitarists.  That's where the opinion of defining what a lead guitarist does with shades of gray.  It's a pretty safe bet to call the guitarist who is composing and playing the solos a lead guitarist, but what about someone who "riffs" with single notes?  The role of either rhythm or lead guitarist isn't black or white.

A lot of guitarists harmonize with each other.  Great bands known for this are, but not limited to:  Boston, Iron Maiden, In Flames and more.  Whether they're using a pentatonic, thirds, fifths, etc there's a way to harmonize.  The point of thinking abstract with two electric guitarists is two rhythmical leads can work together outside of playing perfect harmonies.  Even the time signatures can be different.

Another element to add to music is dubbing on a track.  Within the YouTube playlist I've created for this article a song by ERRA "Lights City"  contains dubbing which you'll see at the end of the song.  Lots of accents like this are really awesome to add depth to a song.  One great metal guitarist, Marc Okubo (Veil of Maya) is the only electric guitarist in the band, but you'll hear harmonized parts added to the recordings of his tracks.  This process is called dubbing.

YouTube Playlist here

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Monday, June 13, 2016

That buzz on stage

Wouldn't it be the dream to be on stage with thousands of screaming fans?  Funny in a venue such as the one in the picture above, most of the lighting is to illuminate the band and the stage.  The band members can't see past the first 10 rows or so of people because it's not important to light up the crowd as it is the band itself.  So what drives that buzz to be on stage?

Most importantly, playing live is for the fans.  The revenue in smaller venues doesn't generate as much as album sales; however, with the accessibility of music today a band's income could be the opposite and that band makes more live than their digital downloads.  Also a great way to get exposure and sell merchandise.

How about the people that compose in the backgrounds, like me.  I don't have a drive to play live.  I've mentioned before the differences between studio recordings and live performances.  Sometimes there's a look that sells or even worst, the idea of being big and playing at large venues is for the unholy trinity, "Sex, Drugs and Rock N' Roll".

"Now there's the look of a Rock star  -- rock on!"

I've had the pleasure of knowing musicians that thrive on getting inebriated before going on stage.  Some have been rather irresponsible and missed the whole point of writing music.  I suppose anyone can write something, get on stage and rock out with excellent stage presence - just have fun.   There are special ones out there:  pissing on stage (accidentally), getting so drunk after the show they can't remember the show, sleeping with the other band mates on tour and the list continues...

Point is, I don't understand the reasons for latching on to what seems to be a standard.  I seriously doubt majority of bands do this, but some do.  Let's even advertise that lifestyle as an image or a painting with our next music video.  

"Aren't you supposed to have long hair and tattoos everywhere?"


Want a visual?  Check out a few vids here for pure image fun

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Funny Band Names

Presenting the Brutal and Endearing, "Ringworm"!

No, you can't get ringworm from a banana.  It's about as silly as this picture.

Have you ever wondered what these people were thinking when they named their band?  I'll try to keep it clean as I can without missing the highlights of titles.  Some of these band names are offensive.  

Pig Destroyer - Ha!  I had to check out this out.

A band named Bob - Yeah, mainly they do Blink 182 covers.  Tisk Tisk

Aha - "I've got it!  We'll call ourselves, 'Aha'!"

Armpit - Truly terrible.  Check it out

Angry Salad - I'm sold!

Big Ass Truck - Nah

Butthole Surfers - For real: a whopping 3 million+ views on YouTube for the song, "Pepper"
-What is this world coming to?

Diary Queen Empire - Seriously guys.  Don't quit your day job

Evil Wiener - No!  Not the evil wiener!

Grim Skunk - ??

Kinky Slinky - naughty slinky deserves punishment

Ok guys!  I could keep going on and on because the list of horrible names is amazingly huge.  Google it yourselves.  I've compiled a few videos in case the curiosity becomes unbearable, here


Some of the most offensive band names are affiliated with Metal bands: Cat Butt, Anal Blasphemy, Big Poo Generator.  That's going on the light, but rear-end of band names.  I dare not post some of the others that are listed on this page,                 

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Speed vs Slow: Deceptions of BPM

Behold the power of speed!

When I talk about speed and high BPM, (not rpm) I'm talking about tempo.  Tempo is the term for heartbeat:  what you "bob" your head to or tap your foot to while listening to a song.  There are many tempo web apps and mobile apps that you can calculate the BPM, (beats per minute) or tempo.

The note's duration in a bar or measure determine the note speed, which directly affects how fast the song is actually heard.  This is different from the heartbeat.  There's a lot of misconception on how to determine the tempo.  When I refer to it as the, "heartbeat" I mean how you naturally tap your foot or bob your head.  Note:  the downbeat of a snare and bass drum will bring you an entirely different bpm count.

Eminem - Rap God

If you use only the downbeat method for determining Eminem's song, Rap God, you'll notice that the tempo/bpm is only 74.  If you use the sort of heartbeat method, it's double that @ 174bpm.  Which one is correct?  In my opinion, they're both correct.  If you've ever recorded music to a metronome, (a midi click or sound that plays each beat within relative time signature and tempo) you can use either tempo/bpm setting to suit your needs.  

But wouldn't the tempo directly effect note-duration?  Yes.  Scoring the music or tabbing would have an all together different note-duration.  Unless you're a serious musician that tabs, scores or records music, most of the time you're not going to worry about the dynamics of tempo.  

"Just give me that beat"

Google the song bpm you're looking for and notice different websites will give you different bpm ratings.  Next example, is hilarious because Wikipedia states 200bpm, while another site right below it states 400bpm.  Hmm.

DragonForce - Through the Fire and Flames

Let's get this obvious statement out of the way:  DragonForce is fast!  I've had the pleasure of seeing them live and they're dead on accurate and sound just like they do on the album, at least in my experience.  This track is labeled 200bpm and 400bpm.  That's a phenomenal difference.  In terms of note duration:  that's either 16th or 32nd notes.  Not much "head bobbing" involved with this song nor "head banging".  That would look pretty amusing.

So, if I had a measure that was 200bpm with 1/4 note duration and a measure with 100bpm with 1/8 note duration, would they theoretically be the same?  The duration or sustain of notes would obviously be different.  Feel free to leave a comments, opinions, and criticism.  This topic is widely argued by many, including myself.  

Check out the two songs here on YouTube

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