March 31st, 2013
Any guitarist who plays with a pickâ€”commonly called flatpickingâ€”has at one time or another had the annoying experience of losing his or her pick. When that happens, it can be useful to know how to craft your own pick from common materials.
Flat Plastic Works Best
In a pinch, a fairly decent guitar pick can be made from cutting off a piece of a credit card, gift card, library card or store discount card. Of course, you don't want to cut up a card you need and use regularly, but if you have a card in your wallet that you don't use, it can be an ideal starting material for creating an impromptu guitar pick.Is this new to you? Catch up here
Getting the Size Right
Some guitarists can use small key chain cards just as they are without cutting them because of their already small size. If you don't have one of these on hand, cut off a pick-sized piece of a larger card. As you cut, do your best to create a shape similar to the type of pick you prefer to use. Ideally, you'll also want to choose a card with a thickness similar to the thickness of pick you prefer; however, when making your own pick on the fly, this isn't always possible, and sometimes you simply have to do the best with what you have on hand.
December 6th, 2012
Bob Dylan is one of history's most talented and prolific songwriters. Many consider his 1965 song, "Like a Rolling Stone", to be one of the best examples of his songwriting prowess. His cynical imagery and repeated croons of "How does it feel?" have been analyzed for decades by both fans and music scholars alike. But while Dylan rarely offers any explanations as to the meaning of his lyrics, he has spoken repeatedly on the themes of "Like a Rolling Stone".
In 1966, Dylan described the process of writing the song as producing "just a rhythm thing on paper all about my steady hatred directed at some point that was honest." He said he wasn't thinking of it as a song, but rather as a "revenge" piece, "telling someone something they didn't know, telling them they were lucky." The original draft was ten to twenty pages long, "this long piece of vomit" that he eventually picked four verses and a chorus out of to craft "Like a Rolling Stone". Dylan credits the song with bringing about a change in his creative direction: "After writing that I wasn't interested in writing a novel, or a play. I just had too much, I want to write songs."
The song, in contrast to most other hit songs of the time, was sarcastic and resentful, rather than adoring and love-struck. Though many biographers and journalists have speculated on whom the song is about, with Edie Sedgwick and Dylan's ex Joan Baez being popular guesses, Dylan has never commented on the identity of the subject. Some believe that the song is not about any particular person, but rather the state of the entire culture at the time - filled with insincerity and "phony" characters. Regardless of the exact meaning of the song, it is certain that it has proven itself to be a true classic of folk and rock music, inspiring generations of musicians and artists and cementing Dylan in his place as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.
December 4th, 2012
New Orleans is well known for its flavorful cuisine and Southern hospitality. Itâ€™s also the birthplace of jazz. Jazzâ€™ origins trace to the native musical heritage of the many freed slaves in the area. The New Orleans area used to house a large slave population on surrounding plantations. The French were the first to bring slaves to the area in the early 1700s.
Voudoun or â€œvoodooâ€ was and still is a popular religion in the New Orleans area, which blended native African beliefs with Catholicism. Voudoun was not tolerated by the ruling whites except in the New Orleans area. Voudoun rituals and celebrations emphasized spirited music with heavy drumbeats.
Music from Voudoun spiritual traditions seeped over into everyday life. Rhythms picked up in rituals were soon heard coming from Western instruments like the piano and the trumpet. Bars and night clubs encouraged the freewheeling, celebratory sounds.
Musicologists disagree as to which musician actually stared the jazz sound, but they do agree that New Orleans was the home to all of the leading candidates. It was not as if one day a musician said, â€œIâ€™m going to create a new musical style and call it jazz.â€ The first could be Buddy Bolden forming his first band in 1895 or from Nick LaRocca in 1917.
November 30th, 2012
Learning a musical instrument is something many of us always wanted to try. Although many people are drawn to a particular instrument, some people have a difficult time deciding which one to play.
Cost can be a determining factor. Simple acoustic guitars can be purchased relatively inexpensively, however, wind instruments, such as the flute and the clarinet, inherently cost more. Large wind instruments like tubas and baritone saxophones can be very high priced. One way to circumvent high prices is to purchase a used instrument.
Think about what learning the instrument will entail. Choosing to play a stringed instrument requires a bit more physicality than a wind instrument. Drums require a bit of coordination and a lot of physical energy. Wind instruments require nimble fingers and good posture. These things shuld be considered before purchasing an instrument.
Finally, what type of music do you wish to play? Do you want to headline a garage band or sit in with the symphony? Future rock stars may want to play electric guitars, while someone who wants to make it to the symphony may choose the piccolo or the oboe. Choosing the right instrument for yourself will ensure you continued enjoyment from playing.
November 26th, 2012
Hip hop was born in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, in the 1970s. This musical style emerged from young, mostly African American teenagers who often held block parties in the South Bronx where hip hop first became popular. The South Bronx was a hub of hip hop music largely because it was an area with many low-income youth who made the musical style their own. Rapping on top of the hip hop beats became a phenomenon once hip hop music itself took off.
Various elements considered essential to hip hop music, like sampling other artists' work, were developed in the 1970s in the Bronx as well. In 1973, a DJ called Kool Herc held a block party with a sound system, using amps and turntables, and this is considered a critical moment in the early history of hip hop. The use of other techniques like breakbeats and scratching also find their roots in the very beginning of hip hop in the Bronx.
That hip hop was born in the Bronx was a significant fact as hip hop became immensely popular across the U.S. and later the world. The home of many young males, largely poor and black, suddenly had a national platform. Their voices were heard through the style of music they had developed. This was an important moment not only musically, but socially as a result.
Keep looking, thereâ€™s more: What images come to mind when you hear the word 'hip hop'?