HIRE A SIDEMAN FOR A QUALITY SOUND
Sept. 25, 2014
A couple years back I was complaining to my old friend, Bruce, about how weak my guitar solos and lead work sounded on my recordings (compared to most professional recordings.) It was my weakest link, so to speak. Since Bruce has been an audio recording engineer most of his adult life, he didn't hesitate with his suggested solution: "HIRE A SIDEMAN!" What's a sideman? A sideman is a professional musician for hire. My friend said his clients in his recording studio often hired sidemen for projects. He told me the going rate (up in the Chicago area) at that time was around $50 per hour.I told my friend I simply didn't know any sidemen in my small city, and really didn't think I could afford one if I ever found one, since I had an entire album's worth of material to improve. We dropped the subject, and over the years I've just had to live with my inferior lead and solo work on guitar.
Then I met Smokey. He had just repaired an Ampeg guitar amplifier of mine, an amp I had had three other repairmen attempt to fix, but all had failed. Two charged me for the repairs, including one so-called "Ampeg expert." But none had played that amp hard, checking for a successful repair before calling me to come pick it up and pay my bill. I'd drive the hour or two to pick up the amp, and I'd be assured it was fixed. Then I'd get home, plug in my guitar and play for 20 minuites only to have the amp drop 95% of its power, barely becoming audible. It was frustrating. So that amp sat unused for 10-12 years. I saw a Craigslist ad for amp repairs in a town an hour away and sent him a message. I told him that none of the other shops had followed my directions to actually play that amp for at least 20 minutes before calling me. He said he's do better: He'd play it at an upcoming gig he had, and play it hard before calling me. If he couldn't repair it, there'd be no charge. THAT sounded pretty good to me. A guitar student of mine took it to him.
Then Smokey dropped off the amp after his gig. He plugged into it and played. Man, did he play! I was blown away. I was grateful to get a repaired amp, but more grateful to meet such a talented guitarist. I asked if he'd record lead guitar on a song, "Old Rocker," I had struggled on and never felt was right. He listened to it and eagerly agreed to record the lead for me. He even used the amp he had just repaired. That song has never been the same since that day! Smokey simply tore it up. I had Mark Knopfler blended with Duane Allman right in my studio.Smokey had to leave, but we remained in contact after he said how much he enjoyed recording studio work.
It turned out that Smokey is a professional guitarist, plays often in a "corporate band," sits in for guitarists that must miss a gig, does many recording sessions each year, and is generally in demand by bands looking to improve their guitar sounds on a recording. Plus he repairs amplifiers and guitars! I soon had him agreeing to return and stay with us for a few days to record leads and solos for my ENTIRE new album. Sure, I had already spent dozens of hours doing those solos, but I was more than willing to mute my recorded tracks and let Smokey have at them.
Those three days spent with Smokey in my studio were amazing. He arrived with SEVEN of his guitars, and he would have brought more, but I'd volunteered my Martin for his use. (He used six of his, plus my Martin D-35, my 1967 Harmony with nylon strings, and my 1981 Gibson Les Paul Heritage.) He brought in TWO pedal boards, one large, one small, plus numerous other effects. He brought in a small Marshall amp he'd just repaired, (plus used my Ampeg and my 1965 Fender Super Reverb amp.) He even brought his own high-end microphones. This guy came prepared and loaded for bear!
Watching Smokey listen and try different sounds/effects, different guitars, and different riffs until he was satisfied was an education. He insisted on usually playing into two tracks at a time, one with a mic on an amp, one into a Countryman direct box and straight into the preamplifier without effects in case I wanted to change the sound later on. Most songs inspired him to record a lead track or a rhythm track in addition to his soloing work, filling the song in nicely. He'd listen hard to other instruments, trying hard to not "step on" anyone else's work, looking for spaces in the mix to fill.I had the easy job, setting up tracks, connecting each track to the preamplifier, then setting levels to record. I also kept a track sheet of every instrument and every effect he used. Smokey did the heavy lifting.
I was amazed by his mastery of sheer tone, getting just the right sound for each song. He'd kick off his flip flops and play with his bare feet, tweeking stomp box pedals with his big toe. When recording on an acoustic guitar, he'd usually go in the other room and place my AKG C-3000 at the 12th fret area and put his "pencil" AKG 451 over his shoulder aimed at the sound hole. All the electric guitar tracks were recorded with Smokey by my side in the control room, big pedal board at his feet.
Smokey was a breeze to work with, never a problem. Yet he'd not take me for granted and often asked my opinion of something. It was funny when he'd nail a solo. We'd just look at each other and grin. We both knew when something was just right.This went on for three days and nights, thirteen songs total, trying to finish up with the electric guitar work by 9 PM so the neioghbors' kids could sleep. Smokey likes to play with those amps turned way up to get the right tone out of them. My playing room is not sound proof, just sound treated with foam, mass loaded vinal, 3/4" sheetrock, and six 2' X 4' X 4" sound absorbing panels. So, when it got late, we'd often record an acoustic track or two. Then we'd go celebrate with beers on the deck and plan for the next day.
I've just started remixing those songs and can report now that it is a treat mixing real quality playing. Often times, like today, I don't even have to "comp" his solos at all, put them together from bits and pieces of other tracks. He just plays that well. I look forward to the improved sound on all thirteen songs and know I'll hold my head just a little bit higher when I hand someone my new CD.
Smokey reports that he really enjoyed our sessions and wants to be on my next album too. I plan on that, and I plan on having him retrack some of my leads and solos from my previous album, REFLECTIONS, to go into the possible making of a "Best Of..." album somewhere down the road before I hang up my guitar forever. Hiring a sideman turned out to be my best music decision in years. I'm just doubly glad that sideman was Smokey.
THIS PAGE IS PRIMARILY FOR MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THE WRITING AND RECORDING PROCESS, PLUS MY GENERAL RANTINGS ABOUT LIFE
CORRECT YOUR STUDIO MONITORS!
July 5, 2014
If you have read many of my earlier blogs you're aware that I have struggled with editing bass, especially the 125 HZ area. "Struggled" really isn't a strong enough word. It has been exasperating trying to get a good mix. Up until recently.
My mastering audio engineer, Bruce Bartlett, upon receiving my mixes for the first album, REFLECTIONS, told me he heard problems in the 125 HZ region. He "fixed it" by reducing the energy in this region (utilizing an audio mastering piece of software called HarBal), but it took its toll on audibility and fidelity of all instruments in that region of the audio spectrum, bass guitar, drum toms, kick, even some lead vocal was hurt. Then Bruce brought everything up around 3 dB and shipped it all back to me. I sent it off for duplication at CD Baby.I wish I had that to do over.
Later on, Bruce suggested I correct my monitors. Hugh? I had paid around $400 for my Alesis M1 Active monitors (on sale, list for $600 a pair.) I thought they were pretty good for a budget studio. Man, was I wrong, it turned out. Bruce suggested I get a decent equalizer, an inexpensive labratory-calibrated microphone, and some free real-time-analyzer software, and fix those monitors.
To be brief, a studio listening environment has to be "treated" to avoid a broad range of sounds being over-emphasized or reflecting off surfaces, causing the engineer (me!) to make bad judgements in editing. Well, I have wall to wall carpet in my studio, two stuffed recliners, and loads of different sized/shaped items hanging from the back wall, towards which my monitors face. I placed red (early reflection) sound absorbing foam on the ceiling and two pieces of foam on the bottom of the shelf over my monitors. (See photo on top right) In addition, when I first built the room it had two large (2' x 6') recessed areas in the same back wall where previously had been windows with mesh screens and overhanging shutters to allow a breeze inside back in the 1940s when it was a small hair salon, before the advent of air conditioning. (See second photo, before furniture was added to the room.) I sealed both long windows with plywood and rigid foam, then made thick foam sound absorbers, put them over those windows and covered it all with red fabric. Works pretty well! (One such window is also behind my monitors, but I put sliding acrylic panes in there to provide a long window between the control and playing rooms.)
I know I have what they call "standing bass waves" in the corners of this room because I can clearly hear a boost in the bass when I stand near a corner there, ten feet away from my studio monitors. However, at my usual playback levels, I don't think I need bass traps to fix that, as I don't actually hear that boost where I normally sit and work. I've done just about everything I can afford now to do to make that room fairly good at reproducing accurate sound.
Yet, I still fought with bass every time I mixed. I did not want my next album to suffer from my inability to mix the 125 Hz area. It turned out my monitors were deficient in this area.I found a used Behringer Ultragraph Pro dual 31 band equlizer (FBQ3102- "previously used by Styx!") on eBay for around $125, a Dayton Audio Measurement Microphone (18Hz-20kHz) from their web site for around $50, and the SynRTA realtime analyzer software was free on the internet.
I went to work. I set up the new mic right next to my ear as I sat in my usual working position. I put it on a stand with a boom so it pointed at just one speaker. After starting the software which generates a wide spectrum tone and getting a moving visual frequency line, I carefully made adjustments with my equalizer to correct any dips and rises in the line. It wasn't easy. When I was done with one speaker, I mover the mic to my other ear zone and repeated the process with the other monitor. It took me two sessions to get what resembled a "flat" frequency line in the SynRTA software image on my computer screen, about two hours tinkering with those dual 31 band eq sliders.
Personally, I couldn't hear much difference....until I started mixing with my now corrected monitors. I actually had to push bass sounds UP for the first time, instead of constantly dragging them down, as they muddied the overall mix. Getting a good sounding bass guitar and kick drum sound is so much easier! When I adjusted overall levels things sounded MUCH better than before. By boosting the 125 Hz area in the monitors, (plus other smaller dips and raises,) I now hear more mid-bass, and therefore don't push that region up into muddiness, like before. Once mixed, those tracks play back better on every stereo I can find.
I hope Bruce won't have to make many or any corrections to my next album now that I've done this. I also hope anyone who hasn't bought $5,000 to $10,000 monitor speakers tries correcting them like I did. I wish I had done so LONG ago. Life is so much easier now. Thanks, Bruce!!
MP3 CONVERSION FROM LP RECORDS OR CASSETTES
IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO THE EXTRA (TIME CONSUMING) WORK OF LABELING EACH SONG ON AN ALBUM – BUT YOU WANT TO CONVERT LP ALBUMS OR TAPES TO MP3 VERSIONS, THESE ARE THE STEPS. ALSO, I COULD NOT FIND A WAY TO CONVERT TO AN MP3 FORMAT HIGHER THAN 128 kbps. IF YOU WANT 192 kbps OR HIGHER, YOU MIGHT WANT TO FIND ANOTHER METHOD. FRANKLY, I DIDN’T CARE MUCH IF MY RECORDS WERE OF A HIGHER FIDELITY BECAUSE OF THEIR AGE, THEIR POP, SCRATCHES, RUMBLE AND HISS. ALL THIS IS DONE WITH THE INEXPENSIVE ($30 AT SWEETWATER.COM) BEHRINGER U-PHONO UF0202 MODULE (see pictures above.) THE FIRST THING IS TO GET ONE OF THOSE. THEN I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU DECIDE WHICH RECORDS/ CASSETTES ARE WORTH YOUR TIME CONVERTING. SOME OF MINE SIMPLY WERE NOT. I SKIPPED THOSE I KNEW I WOULDN’T EVER LISTEN TO, AROUND 100 LPs, LIKE THE MONKEYS, THE JACKSON 5, ETC. YES, I'M THAT OLD.
Get newest version of “Audacity” (free) 21.0 (on 3-28-16) and put it on your desktop.
AND also get “lame_v3.99.5” (also free) open it and put “lame_enc.dll” on your desktop to enable transfer of your files to MP3 format.
My record player or turntable (like most) has no way to increase its volume output. Fortunately the recorded volume level on Audacity was fine. Still, for your equipment I recommend you do a test recording and see if the volume level is fine with you.
Open Audacity. Note the “Pause, Play, Stop, Fast Rewind, Fast Forward” and Record” buttons (on upper left). Put your curser on “Record”. Be sure to switch the Behringer input to “phono” for records / LPs OR to “line” for cassettes!
Clean your record albums as best you can. (I used Diskwasher System cleaning brush with Radio Shack’s Realistic Professional Anti-Static Record Cleaner liquid.) Clean your CASSETTE tape machine heads (especially the playback head) using denatured alcohol and Q-tips.
Align the record player’s arm/cartridge with the beginning of the album, put on earbuds or headphones (plugged into the Behringer UF0202) and gently drop the needle to start play. You have about 6 seconds to:
Quickly press “record” in Audacity or “shift” and “R” on your keyboard. Make sure it is playing/recording well, and go do something for around 20 minutes, perhaps setting a timer for that long. Don’t worry that you’re not present when the side of the album finishes.
140 albums = appx. 5GB used at 128kbps MP3 conversion.
If the side has finished recording, click Stop in Audacity. If not, put on headphones and enjoy the music until it ends and then hit Pause in Audacity.
If in Pause, and you don’t have much silence to need deletion, flip record (or cassette), drop needle (or press play on cassette) and then quickly hit Record in Audacity.
If you hit Stop and have silence to delete (make sure to hit Stop: this next step WILL NOT WORK IF YOU ARE IN PAUSE.)
Go to VIEW in Audacity, top left, click Fit In Window from drop-down menu, and observe amount of silence at the end.
Click at the END of the silence with your mouse curser AND hold down and DRAG until right after the very end of the side (usually a “blip” appears as the record player’s needle is lifted off the record.) NOTE: You can enlarge your view of the end of an album’s side by going to VIEW, then Zoom In a couple times. This does make the click and drag to delete silence a bit easier.
3.With the silence now highlighted, go to EDIT (top left of Audacity) and click Delete from the drop-down menu. Get good at this. You will do it a lot!
Place your curser on Record, flip the record (or cassette) over, clean the record, put headphones on, drop the needle, quickly click Record in Audacity, and listen briefly to make sure it’s recording. Go do a chore, read something, etc. NOTE: It is important that side 2’s music wave form is added AFTER side 1. If it is directly under side 1, you will hear them at the same time! Make sure your curser time bar/marker is at the END of side 1 when you start side 2.
After hitting Stop upon finishing side 2, repeat the process of deleting unwanted silence.
Go to FILE (at top left of Audacity) and EXPORT AUDIO.
Type the artist’s name (I omit the word “The” as in “The Beatles”, etc.) then the name of the album and the year it was done, if I can find it.
You will get a message “Your tracks will be mixed down to two stereo channels in the exported files.” Click “Don’t show this warning again.” Then click “OK”.
You will next get a box to “Edit Meta data” – but I always skipped it and clicked “OK”.
Up pops a box showing you are exporting your audio file to and MP3, takes about 1 ½ minutes.
You CAN go to where you told Audacity to store your MP3s and check them just to make sure they are there. The newest one is found at the bottom of the list of albums done.
Close-out Audacity. (I just click the X in the upper right corner. You’ll get the “Save changes before closing?” message, but click “No” unless you want to work with those space-hogging Audacity files that can be a pain to delete later on, I’ve read. Just do it now to save yourself the trouble.
Click Audacity to open on your desktop and start again.
I recorded 177 LP albums in 2 weeks time. It used 6.17 GB of computer memory at 128 kbps conversion rate. (BTW, it will cost me about $250 to mail all my 204 lbs. of my LP’s from New Bern to Atlanta, GA. I had promised them to a fella there, but he sadly passed away just before I ever got this job done! I say this only because some may want to send the albums in the mail.)
Must switch the “Line-Phono” input on back of the Behringer U-Phono UFO202 to “Line” when NOT transferring from a record player. Clean cassette players heads with a Q-tip and some denatured alcohol. You can also clean the rubber wheel that drives the tape, but you’re supposed to use a special fluid for that, one that doesn’t harden the rubber much.
Hook up RCA patch cables from cassette player’s outputs to the UFO202’s inputs.
Plug in headphones or earbuds to the UFO202.
Play a test cassette: Open Audacity and click Record. Notice the record level in green at the top. If it is in the red - at far right, you’ll get distortion. You’ll want it around the -12 to-6 area. A bit lower is fine (you’ll just turn up the volume later), but if your recorded volume hits “0” you’ll get distortion. A cassette player with a volume “Output” knob allows you to adjust the volume recorded in Audacity. If distortion is a problem, borrow a cassette player with adjustable volume output. I turned off any Dolby noise reduction on my player, as I preferred the higher frequencies with the slight tape hiss cassettes are famous for – to the duller Dolby sound. Watch out for many home made recordings to need volume adjustments.
If your test recording was fine, it’s time to start the recording process the same as with LPs: Rewind the side you want to record, put headphones on, press Play on the cassette player, go to the keyboard and press “Shift” and “R” with Audacity on the screen.
Check your recording levels. Change them if needed, if you can.
Label the recording when done as above for records.
I had a real problem with my home cassette decks simply wearing out, both of them. They were old machines and the rubber belts that drive the play or record wheels were slipping from stretching. I bought a “tested and fine” deck from eBay. It lasted one hour. I got another deck from a local repair shop for $100 that had just had new belts installed. It lasted two hours. I ended up finishing my cassette conversions to MP3 by using one of my old decks to rewind and another of my old decks to play the tape. This slowed down my work a lot. Seriously. I just wanted you to know to expect problems with these older machines. I now have four cassette decks to get rid of!
When I was done with my LP albums and cassettes, I converted all my CDs to mp3, using my computer with no Behringer interface needed. I estimate I converted around 350 CDs, this time using Windows Media Player which allowed me to select 240 kbps instead of the lowest 128 kbps. I listened to higher conversion rates with earbuds and could NOT tell any difference from 240 kbps. But the process is MUCH easier with CDs, plus the computer labels each (store bought) album with the title, artist, and each song’s title. And, it does it much faster. You'll have to hand label many home made copies of CDs, I learned.
Was it worth all the hours work? Yes, it gave me thousands of hours of music I can put on a tiny USB thumb drive or a Micro SD card and play. I can get rid of my old albums, cassettes and CDs and have lots more room. I’m using an old cell phone with a micro SD card with thousands of MP3s on it for selecting songs to play through my new (($50 at Amazon) POLARIS V8 Bluetooth speaker right now. Later I can play my thumb drive through a home stereo or even an auto stereo system. ALL my LP albums, cassettes, and CD’s will fit on a tiny USB thumb drive!
BACK-UP EVERY MP3 YOU MADE. IN FACT, I RECOMMEND TWO BACK-UPS, JUST IN CASE!
ENJOY YOUR MUSIC!
MY EXPECTATIONS of MY GUITAR STUDENTS
May 4, 2014
I just had to tell my second parent that they were wasting their money on guitar lessons for their son. That wasn't fun. I have high expectationa for my students learning to play, and when they aren't met, I get depressed. I'm used to success, and failure is a bitter pill.
I poured myself into this 8 year old boy for 8 lessons. But when he couldn't change chords fast enough to arrive on the first beat of a three chord song after 8 lessons, it was time to "pull the plug."
I wanted badly for him to succeed. During that last lesson I put more effort into getting him to focus on the simple and VERY slowly strummed chords than ANY lesson I have taught in four years! But he would look out the window and strum awkwardly at the strings, seeming to not care if he succeeded or not. It quickly became apparent that he was lacking the motivation to learn. IT BECAME APPARENT HE WAS INTERESTED IN THE OUTDOORS- ANYTHING OUT THAT LONG WINDOW. He'd rather go fishing. This is normal for many youngsters. I RELUCTANTLY called his mom over to the side for a quick conference to discuss this, and he knew we were talking about his lack of effort, but he still didn't try very hard. It was time to tell her to bring him back in a couple years after he has had a chance to mature more so he wouldn't waste his parents' money and my time.
I'm not used to such a serious lack of motivation. I "feed off" students succeeding; it's one of my main reasons for teaching my whole life! He was like so many guitar students: He fell in love with the IDEA of playing guitar, but was unwilling to put the needed EFFORT into learning it. It's not easy for most.
It takes motivation to practice every day, even for the required 30 minutes a day for very young ones. Then that same student has to show "growth" or progress to the teacher so they can move on to the next lesson and not stay stuck in one lesson for four weeks. He's only 8, and is still slowly discovering just what kind of person he is. That's normal. I hope he learns persistence usually leads to success, not quitting.
Moral: If you're not willing to practice, don't take lessons! Period.
I no longer teach younger ones under the age of 12 because of students like the one above. I don't need the money that badly any more. I DO realize there may be exceptions to this and am sorry if so.
USING A WINDOWS TABLET OR LAPTOP AS A MUSIC READER
LINE 6 POD FARM 2.55- Guitar, Bass Tones -PLUS MORE!
OCT. 17, 2013
There are two basic ways to get guitar tones into a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) like I use. It USED to be you plugged an electric guitar into an amp, adjusted tone on the amp, maybe threw a thick blanket over the mic and amp to cut room reverbarations, and hit record. What you got was usually set in concrete, as not a lot of changes could be affected, other than EQ, etc.
The other way for recording guitar or bass is to plug directly into a preamplifier, record a fairly clean signal, and then modify that sound with VSTs or specially made computer programs that might or might not sound like real guitar effects. I find this second method of recording much better, as I can easily change the tone of recorded instruments. My Sonar Producer recording software came with some built-in guitar effects, but they were very limited, to say the least. It also came with a second-party company's guitar effects called Guitar Rig that was pretty good for a trial version inclued for free. I used it for a couple years.
But much research online on guitar and recording forums revealed a strong preference among true lovers of guitar tone to be for using Line 6's software called Pod Farm. I couldn't believe how many raved over it's tones and versitility. I was perusing Craigslist and saw a fella nearby selling his Pod Farm 2.55 for half price, pretty much unused. He had major issues installing it. (I doubt he EVER got it installed correctly on his computer!) I later found myself struggling to install it.
It took me two days to get it up and running, and I almost gave up a few times, but the result has been well worth my time. My problems installing it came from 2 situations: #1- I insist on NEVER hooking my studio computer up to the internet. I have NO antivirus or antimalware software on my DAW, so it is vulnerable to major trouble on the web. I actually had to break my rule with this new Pod Farm software. Their customer service personnel convinced me to unplug everything in my DAW, bring it to the house, hook it to the internet, and complete the installation. Never had to do that before. But it did install. Unfortunately it wouldn't work.
#2 : More phone calls to Line 6 customer support. more efforts at getting it to work, and I finally asked the nice fella if he would "walk me through" my installation/set-up. His response is telling: "No. sir! We don't have time to do that with you." I said both Cakewalk and PreSonus companies had "walked me through" set-ups on my DAW and I was surprised they refused to do it. I couldn't believe they would leave their customers with non-functioning software! But now I was on my own.
Fortunately, by sticking with it, trying different things, I eventually got it working after a couple hours. (I HAD to call Line 6 back just to let them know they had forgotten to tell me to push ONE button that made ALL the difference in my software functioning.) So, if your DAW is offline and not internet connected, like mine, get ready for a hassle setting it up with Pod Farm. However, the struggle is possibly worth it.These guitar and bass sounds are remarkably real. This company hired smart folks to get these tones right. And me buying version 2.55 meant I got to bypass most of the bugs that comes with new software.So I spent weeks going through my material, applying Pod Farm tones to guitar and bass.
The only real problem I had was the sheer volume of tones from which to choose! Have you ever had TOO MANY choices of something? So I taught myself how to set-up files in Pod Farm, and went through every preset, deciding if I like it, if it was easily modified, and if I wanted to put it into one of my seven "Greatest Hits" folders. The one pictured above, for instance, went into my Electric Guitar- Low Distortion folder. (Now I want a Fender Bassman amplifier!!)
Then something really cool happened: I found VOCAL and KEYBOARD presets! What's more is those were better sounding than what I had been using from within Sonar. The De-Esser in Pod Farm alone was worth the price of the entire software! It comes in MALE or FEMALE De-Esser versions, set to different frequencies usually sung by different sex singers. And it functions so well I will probably use it on over half of my songs. I can't say enough about the "Classic Vocal" preset in Pod Farm. So I won't.
If you have a DAW and can't afford the "Big Boy" thousand dollar VSTs out there, get Pod Farm. The only thing that beats it for the money is a REAL guitar plugged into a REAL amp. But you have to like what you hear with that set-up, because all you can do to change that tone is EQ it and add some reverb. 'Nuf said.
i HAVE GONE BACK AND REMOVED MOST BASS POD FARM PRESETS, PREFERRING MY OLD JAZZ BASS' NATURAL SOUNDS. MOST OF SMOKEY'S SOLOS AND LEADS ARE ALL NATURAL, NO PRESETS, WITH A MIC ON AN AMP, CRANKED QUITE LOUDLY. IN OTHER WORDS, I USE POD FARM ON ANY GUITAR PLUGGED DIRECTLY INTO MY PREAMP, BUT PREFER THE NATURAL SOUND OF A GUITAR INTO A REAL AMPLIFIER.
My Studio Recording Equipment
Dec. 12. 2012
Because some have asked, here is a list of most of my recording gear:
Cakewalk Sonar Producer 8.3 DAW software (I would probably go with Reaper software if I had it to do over. I simply don't use half the features found in Sonar since I've given up using MIDI)
PreSonus FireStudio Project interface/preamplifier (Best bang-for the buck larger interface. Gets me 8 drum mics at once, clean and uncolored.)
Alesis M1 Active studio monitors (See "Correct Your Monitors" above.)
Behringer BCF2000 B-Control surface (I like the motorized faders, but don't really use them anymore and find they make too much noise.)
Line 6 Pod Farm software (See review above of Pod Farm.) I do not use the preamp that came with it.
Yamaha YST-SW60 subwoofer (Can't beat it for under $100 used. But not really necessary.)
AKG K271-MkII headphones, Koss Pro 4 AAA headphones/ Pro 4 AA headphones/ JVC HA-W300RF cordless headphones, Sony EX10LP earbuds. (The cordless phones are fine for remote recording but not mixing, and the Sony earbuds for checking mixes.)
Reyniers Audio custom built DAW computer with 4 hard drives, dual core, WIN XP (Never but once been connected to the net- I use a thumb drive.) Never had a big problem. Go with an experienced DAW dealer like Reiniers Audio. Reyniers is out of business now. You won't regret getting a computer tweaked for DAW/recording only applications. Look into what Sweetwater.com is selling now, if your budget will allow. And KEEP YOUR DAW COMPUTER OFF THE INTERNET IF YOU EXPECT IT TO FUNCTION CORRECTLY!
Frontier Tranzport remote control (A fantastic remote recording control, but no longer manufactured, sad to say.)
Kel Audio HM2D microphone, AKG-C3000 mic and windguard, Karma K-10 overhead drum mics, Shure Beta 52 kick/bass mic, plus various Shure SM 57s, 58s, and AKG D1000E mics. (I need more mics, I know. BUT WHAT STUDIO DOESN'T?)
May 19. 2013
First, the facts: It is a myth that mailing a song or CD of material to yourself and not opening the sealed envelope upon receiving it will stand up in court as copyrighting your material. Anyone can open and reseal an envelope. I admit I still have unopened envelopes of my music lyrics from years ago stored in my file cabinet. Also: Although the act of writing and/or recording an original song DOES constitute copyrighting, it does NOT allow you to collect any damages from someone who claims your music and makes any money off it. You may be able to stop someone from selling your music, but you won't collect damages from them. They get to keep any profit they made from YOUR music!So, therefore, you have to get your music officially copyrighted.
The single most frustrating web experience I have ever endured happened at the Library of Congress's U.S. Copyright Office web site. The process of copyrighting a song or album is so confusing the first time you use it you will scream and curse the idiots that put together such a maze of web pages. This process is only compounded if you intend to register an entire ALBUM of songs. One song is registered for the price of $35 if done electronically, $50 if done via the post office and the paper pages you can download.
However, as I have previously done, you can register an entire album of material for the price of one song IF you know how to do it. THE COPYRIGHT OFFICE APPARENTLY DOES NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW HOW TO SAVE MONEY BY REGISTERING AN ENTIRE ALBUM OF SONGS AS A PERFORMANCE. For example- registering 15 songs cost $525 if done seperately, but only $35 if done as an album, a "performance" so to speak. But nowhere on the U.S. Copyright Office's website can I find how to do this. I had to go elsewhere for an answer.
Solution: Go to this page, BOOKMARK it, and print out a copy of it to have in hand as you fill in page after page of registering information:
(Copy and Paste this address into your address bar to go there.)
If registering an entire album, this paragraph from the above site is the MOST helpful:
Under "Title of Work" add the name of your CD first and set the "Type" as "Title of work being registered."
Then list your song titles and set the "Type" for those as "Contents Title." So the album name is the "Title," the individual songs are the "Contents."
Follow those directions to save money and get an entire album of songs legally registered and copyrighted. I will also point out that some people can evidently send their songs to the Copyright Office electronically as Wave or MP3 files. I attrempted to do so, but got the message that, since my computer file names contained "-" marks in song dates, their computers wouldn't accept any uploads from me. Since I was unwilling to copy and paste, and RENAME my song files in my computer just to please these idiots, I had to send physical copies of my CDs containing the albums' songs to them. Why are their computers so picky about uploaded titles/files? I upload those same files to other sources all the time, such as this site you are reading, with no problems.
Unbelievable that our tax dollars only bought us such a poorly conceived jumble of confusing pages for copyrighting our material. They probably know this, as evinced by their accompanying PDF file of "How To" fill in their forms. Plus they also put together a Power Point slide show doing the same thing, which I viewed, but found it didn't actually help me. The Copyright Office then apparently knows they have this mess on the web and that even intelligent people are frustrated and confused by it, yet they refuse to make it better.
Ok, rant done. Make SURE you have access to the above Musicbizacademy page before registering any music. And good luck!! You'll need it.
Six years ago I decided I might try teaching guitar, and so I began a lengthy search for materials and ideas about doing so. I ran across Teach Guitar.com and liked how long he had been teaching guitar and his detailed lesson plans that basically left nothing out (OR SO I THOUGHT!) I bought and duplicated his materials, put them into a huge binder, each page in its plastic protector sheet. Then I used them, being careful to not omit any of his good ideas.
However, I soon found I could teach much better if I wasn't reading so often from his plans. MAYBE ALL I REALLY NEEDED BY NOW WAS AN OUTLINE OF THE LESSON WITHOUT ALL THE DETAILS. Plus, I had spotted manyareas those lessons omitted, and so I wrote additional chapters to teach each area. Root note playing, percussive playing, arpeggio playing, finger picking, and palm muting, and more all got their own chapters. Revising the order of some chapters was also done, moving single string playing from lesson 2 far back to lesson 15, a more realistic location for beginning lead guitar playing. This reorganizing and summarizing of the earlier lessons took me 15 hours, plus another 5 hours to type it all up. I have to say it is working much better now!
Of course, nobody will notice these changes but me, but I thought I would at least let you know I didn't blindly accept even the very good lesson plans I purchased as "gospel"- that I tried, and continue to try, to perfect them, to be a better guitar teacher.
In addition to this, I just posted 40 songs my students can play along with after they have been taught the song. These songs are NOT designed so much to teach the song but are used to refresh the student's memory of the tempo and other elements of the song they are learning. The idea here is for the student to get out their chord chart of that particular song they have already been taught, review and play the (new) chords in it, then listen and play along with my recording of it.
These simply recorded versions consist of my acoustic guitar and a vocal, sometimes augmented with a little of my beginner harmonica playing. (sorry- I couldn't resist the temptation to practice my harp playing on such a wide variety of songs.)
Speaking of variety, I tried to group these 40 songs into THREE area: EASY BEGINNER SONGS. MEDIUM ABILITY BEGINNER SONGS, and HARDER BEGINNER SONGS. I fully admit that deciding what category some songs fell into was a hard decision.
These songs are posted on a hidden page here, and the new student is given the page address so he can find it. Practicing along with these songs certainly can not hurt the student, and I highly recommend they utilize this feature that took me many long hours to produce. No, I did NOT try for a nice "studio quality" recording of each of these songs. That would have taken me much too long. And there are a couple I should have changed the song's key before recording my weak vocal. But those younger students can sing nicely in those upper keys, I bet!
TITLES / TOPICS : in order on this page
1. Hire a Sideman for a Quality Sound
2. Correct Your Studio Monitors
3. My Expectations of My Guitar Students
4. Music Publishing
5. Line 6 Pod Farm (guitar, bass, vocal effects)
6. Copyrighting Music
7. My Studio Recording Equipment
8. Polarization and My Song "A House Divided"
9. Using a Windows Tablet or Laptop as a Music Reader
10. Lesson and Website Improvements: Newly Revised Lessons Now Used AND Play-Along Songs Posted For Students
11. MP3 Conversion from LP Records or Cassettes
12. Music Notation and Learning Guitar
MUSIC NOTATION AND LEARNING GUITAR
I teach BEGINNING guitar, as I say three or four times on this website. I make that VERY clear to any prospective student. I don't teach much Intermediate or any Advanced guitar. My goal seems to match my student's goal to learn to play as quickly as their skill level will allow. I want to see them having FUN playing guitar. And, because I stress quickly learning to play, I do not use music notation AT ALL in my teaching methods. I don't read it, don't need it, and in 56 years of playing guitar only know ONE guitarist who even uses notation! He told me he uses notation one half hour per year, usually in a studio when he is handed a part to play for a recording. He said he takes it to a room in back, carefully learns the part note for note, records it, and collects his check. But this is a consummate professional guitarist, NOT a beginner! So I tell students that, after learning beginning guitar, IF they show curiosity or promise of turning into a professional, to go ahead with music theory classes and sight reading classes on music notation.
I use Tablature - or Tab for short. Tablature can be defined as "A form of musical notation indicating fingering rather than the pitch of notes, written on lines corresponding to, for example, the strings of a guitar or the holes on a flute." Tab was invented so string players of the 17th century could communicate with each other across the English Channel, if memory serves. With notation you are generally looking at separate NOTES that represent the MELODY of a song. With Tab you are generally looking at the notes AND the chords for a song, depending on how it is written. Both methods are notorious for lacking realistic rhythm markings. Yes, you could play all the right notes at HALF speed with either method. (I once auditioned for a singing part in a play where the pianist, a classically trained lady and piano teacher played my selection "Light My Fire" by the Doors, at HALF TEMPO from the music notation I handed her! It was hilarious listening to me sing it her way!)
I am not trying to say no beginning guitarist should learn notation. I could see a child prodigy who is dedicated to learning guitar learn that way. More often I could see an already playing guitarist who wants to pursue a higher level of skill through learning music notation. The fact is that studying notation means playing mostly single notes read from the notation page, memorizing all the notes found on the guitar's neck, and playing scales for hours. Playing the actual song and singing along is quite difficult if not impossible with music notation, as you are usually only playing the melody. Quick, name three songs where the melody is echoed by the guitar, besides "Norweigen Wood" and "Here Comes the Sun." Not many songs like that, are there?
By the way, NONE of The Beatles could read or write music notation. Look it up. You don't need it to be a great musician. Fact.
When was the last time you saw ANY guitarist on stage with notation before them on their music stand? I've only seen it once. It was at a wedding, a hired classical guitarist on a nylon-stringed guitar. He would glance at the page before him, look up at the pretty gals there and play soft, classical music no one paid attention to. He obviously had the piece memorized and did NOT need to look at the notation. I sincerely doubt you will ever see him on stage, playing and singing a song. Budding classical guitarists might want to find another teacher besides me. I know of only one teacher who teaches beginners using music notation. She has a Master's Degree in music, and she teaches it the way she learned it. I have seen boring repetition of scales kill all interest in learning music too often. (My daughter took 4 years of piano and doesn't even want to keep a keyboard in her home.)
I had a proud parent post a video of her 10 year old son and me playing and singing "Seven Bridges Road" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young on my Facebook page. This kid was probably the only music prodigy I've ever taught, a super fast learner. One of the many admiring remarks caught my attention:
"How long has he been playing? My daughter took lessons for 10 mos. which consisted of learning all the notes and doing the little boring songs to do so. So she decided it wasn't for her. I told her once she learned all the notes then she could play more interesting songs but she didn't believe me :( "
Mom's answer: "About a year and a half I think now."
I can get the average person up and playing guitar in around a year, and having FUN as they do it.
And all I need is an hour a day from you.
For some time now I have wanted to find a way to replace my huge 3 ring binder/ notebook full of song chord charts and lyrics. That notebook sits on its own music stand with an attached light on the page(s) needed, and all the songs are alphabetically organized. But the binder is BIG, the stand is far from inconspicuous, and the light isn't that effective. So I researched a contemporary alternative to that rig that utilizes a tablet computer. Make no mistake, if you already own an Apple iPad, or any Apple product, quit reading this now. My initial research quickly showed me that 99% of the information on how to set-up a computer music reader is iFruit oriented, NOT Windows oriented! In fact, I will now say that you are better off, IF YOU DON'T ALREADY OWN A WINDOWS TABLET, ETC., in getting an iPad to do this function, as most of the software needed, and the Bluetooth foot controllers that can turn pages for you, are Apple oriented. That being said, I already owned a new Asus Transformer Pad, a 10" tablet with its detachable keyboard, and I wanted software that was Windows compatible.
I finally found ONE web site, a blog similar to what you're now reading, in which the writer told me what software to use to accomplish part of the task of displaying music pages on a tablet. I contacted him recently to ask how to do something with the software and he nicely resp0nded that he'd given up using his Windows tablet for this purpose and had bought an iPad! That speaks volumes. Because my hunt for good advice regarding using a WINDOWS tablet for a music reader was so hard, I have written this blog entry to help someone else out. I am certainly not an expert on this topic, but if my advice helps someone, good.
Anyway, I was stuck with this new Windows tablet. Though almost everything I read regarding using a tablet as a music reader pertained to iPads, I didn't want to spend 2 to 3 hundred bucks on a used iPad from eBay just for a music reader. I recently updated my Asus Transporter Pad to the new Win 10 operating system. (I'm still learning how to use Win 10.) Then I set out how to do it. It was a long journey. Three weeks too long. It should not have taken someone that long to find a way to make a Windows tablet into a music reader.
Here's how I use my tablet to display songs:
1. Type up your songs. (Or, of course, instead you can purchase sheet music and put it all in a file on your computer.) I tend to like nice, big, dark fonts I can more easily read, and I spread the page's margins way out to get more on the page. I typed all my songs on an older version of Microsoft Word, which most of you know is part of a suite of programs in MS Office. Office is getting too expensive, especially for someone like me who just uses Word and none of the rest of the suite, so when Office came "free" on my new tablet I did a little investigation. The new Office 365 is a subscription-based service where you'll pay big bucks just to keep it functioning on your computer. If you stop paying that yearly ransom, one by one features within Office 365 will begin to cease working for you. I've bought Office before and refuse to rent it like this new model they are trying.
So I asked around and my buddy, Smokey, told me about LibreOffice. It is compatible with MS Office and functions fine, but without some of the bells and whistles of MS Office. Get LibreOffice for free!
2. Once all your songs are typed up, check each one carefully for mistakes. Things like incorrect chords, wrong lyrics, etc. can be time consuming to fix later on. Play each song, looking for mistakes.
3. Go to each song when opened and do a "SAVE AS" of each, making sure to save each song as a PDf file. Every music reader I found over a three week search uses PDf files ("pictures") to do their job! Set up a seperate folder for this and label it "PDf SONG COPIES." Put all your saved PDf copies in that folder.
4. Make a back-up copy of all your work and store it on another device. Do not skip this step! I used to have my computer automatically make backups onto another hard drive in the same computer. Big mistake. I also had auto backups on an outboard drive. It failed and never notified me. My backup computer drive also crashed and my computer didn't tell me a thing. Later on the main drive crashed. That's THREE drives that died. I thought I'd lost 25 years of digital and 35mm photos, all my documents, etc. But thanks to a great computer service here in New Bern (21st Century Computers) and Facebook postings over the years I managed to recover 95% of what I'd lost. I was lucky. Get either a big USB thumb drive (they're cheap now) or an outboard laptop hard drive (what I did) and back up your photos, you documents, and anything you value!
5. Get a copy of Nitro Reader and put it on your desktop or somewhere where you'll remember where it is. Nitro Reader comes in either 32 BIT or 64 Bit versions. Find out which is for you. I needed the 64 BIT version for Windows 10. Nitro Reader is for reading PDf files. Once set up and running you'll not likely see it again. I have heard it demands you use only it to read ALL PDf files once it's on your computer, and some have complained they want different PDf readers. So far it's not been a problem for me on my tablet that rarely is used for internet work, etc. Do a Google search for Nitro Reader. It too is free.
6. Install PDf Binder on your computer. This software does the job of JOINING those separate song files together into one long PDf file that can now be scrolled! Warning: some sites that offer you PDf Binder ALSO download things like a "device driver update" tool along with the PDf Binder. Google and find a site where you can get JUST the PDf Binder program! Sorry, I've forgotten where I found mine. Yep, it's free too!
7. Now it's time to click PDf Binder to open it. It looks pretty sparse. At the top it has "ADD PDf's"- click that and put one PDF "SAVED AS" song at a time into the file. You can try and add multiple songs at once like I did, but it scrambled a few out of alphabetical order. It won't take that long to do one song at a time. You can highlight a song and shift it up or down. You can delete a song. Put the songs in the right order because once they are "bound" together you'll have to delete the entire folder and make a brand new folder if you spot an error later on. The folder with your "bound" songs can be found along with all your PDf ready songs, the ones you earlier converted. They will all be in alphabetical order, unless you numbered them instead. Remember, you can view those "bound" songs, but you can't edit them at all! So go slowly and try and get them right. Otherwise, find the folder, delete it, and start over. Once your songs are all there and in the right order, click the "Bind" command at the top of the page. Bingo! Instantly your songs will open with the first one ready to view. Scroll down and all the rest are there too.
Now is a good time to tell you my experience: I put 150 songs into PDf Binder and soon found out it took too long for me to scroll from a song title beginning with the letter "B" down to a song beginning with a "T." (By the way, iPad scrolling that I've seen goes in a horizontal fashion. My Win 10 tablet scrolls vertically, which might be a tad slower because pages are a little longer than they are wide.) To solve my long scrolls I decided to keep my 150 song file but to do THREE MORE PDf Binder files, each with only 12 songs in them, approximately what I might play live in a set of songs for a show. I decided to do 3 uptempo songs followed by a slower tune, times three for a set, making sure to not have two songs in the same key next to each other. FYI- you'll find the PDf Binder software in your Windows computer where all the other programs are kept, under ALL PROGRAMS. Each time you need it, click it and a NEW PDf Binder file opens. I have yet to find a way to edit a PDf Binder file once this last step is done. If you find a way to edit a list of songs already "bound" together, please email me and let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org.) Because I can't change a "bound" song list, I just open another PDf Binder and re-do the list, a fairly easy task.
You might want to "Pin" your nice song files to your Start Page where you can easily find them. Do it BEFORE you close the PDf Binder program by going to the upper right corner and clicking the drop-down context menu and finding "Pin to Start." I now have four such song files on my Start Page, one with 150 songs, and three with around 12 songs in each. Yesterday I played the last set, and LOVE the ease of changing songs; I take a finger and scroll the "used" song up 4 to 6 inches, exposing the next, unplayed song, ready to go. Takes about 2 seconds! Later, I might get a wireless Bluetooth foot controller so I can just step on a pedal and the next song will pop up, or I can easily scroll forwards or back to find a song.
I found a slightly used iPad Pro 12.9" tablet here in town with keypad and case and got it. (I paid $600, about half price!) This is FAR superior to the Windows tablet. I use UNREALBOOK for the song display and a STOMP foot controller to turn pages. I feel guilty only using this iPad Pro for music lyrics when it will do almost everything my new 27" Dell All-in-One desktop will do. Seriously. Get an iPad Pro 12.9' and don't look back.
MUSIC PUBLISHING for those deciding whether to self-publish or pay for a publisher
Warning :BORING WRITING!
January 23, 2014
Since no publisher was knocking down my door to offer to be my music publisher, and I'm too lazy to go in search of one, I had to research and see what other options are available. (I DID have one publisher offer to take me on, but their letter arrived right after I submitted my songs for copyright. In other words, that publisher had never even heard my music and was just drumming up business, I guess getting information from the U.S. Office of Copyright that I had some copyrighted material on file there.) My research into music publishing shows that it takes certain steps to “self-publish” my music.
First, you have to submit 3 names of your publishing business to your PRO –professional rights organization (BMI, ASCAP, etc.) and wait for them to approve one of them. Then pay BMI $150 to be registered as your own publisher. Next you have to go to city hall (or in my case my county office of taxation) and get a DBA (“Doing Business As…”) license, (“$50 minimum” I read) which logic says is paid yearly, but I haven’t asked, as I can’t get my county office to return my call. Then it is advised to open a bank account under that name so you can get paid. Not a particularly difficult process, but it would cost me approximately ($150 + $50 + $50 +50, etc.) $300 for 3 years of self publishing.
My other choice appears to be to let CD Baby be my publishers.The following is from CD Baby, my music distributor, who has passed my album on to other internet distributors (iTunes, Amazon MP3, etc.) in addition to offering it on their site (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mikeupchurch)
This is the publishing part of their contract with me:
c) CD Baby shall retain an Administration Fee of fifteen percent (15%) of the “Gross Receipts.” As used herein, Gross Receipts shall mean the total amounts actually collected on your behalf by CD Baby which are attributable to the exploitation of Writer’s Interest in the Compositions.5. PAYMENT OF NET INCOME; ACCOUNTINGa) CD Baby shall remit to you, in accordance with Section 6(c) below, all Net Income (as defined below) collected on your behalf in connection with the to the exploitation of Writer’s Interest in the Compositions. “Net Income” shall mean the Gross Receipts actually received by CD Baby on your behalf in connection with the exploitation of your Writer’s Interest in the Compositions, less the Administration Fee applicable to such Gross Receipts, and less all actual and reasonable non-overhead costs or expenses paid or incurred by or on behalf of CD Baby in connection with the administration and exploitation of the Compositions, the performance of this Agreement and the collection of income, including, without limitation audit fees, collection expenses, and any taxes required to be deducted. With respect to licensees outside the United States, if applicable, monies received by or credited to CD Baby directly attributable to exploitation of the Compositions in the United States shall be calculated “at source”.c) The Net Income payable by CD Baby to you hereunder shall be posted to your Account on or before the 10th day of April for the period ending the preceding December 31st, and on or before the 10th day of July for the period ending March 31st, and on or before the 10th day of October for the period ending the preceding June 30th and on or before the 10th day of January for the period ending the preceding September 30th, together with an account of the amounts earned by you during such quarterly period. CD Baby will issue payments from your Account when the amount in your Account reaches the level you designate in your Account Registration. CD Baby may also issue payments from your Account at additional times in its sole discretion.6. TERM; TERMINATIONa) The term of this Publishing Addendum (the “Term”) will commence when you register for the Publishing Services (either by specifically signing up for the Publishing Services or for a package that includes the Publishing Services) and will continue until terminated by either party as set forth below. However, notwithstanding any termination of this Publishing Addendum, the rights granted and the Publishing Services provided under this Addendum will continue with respect to any particular Composition until the end of the Exploitation Period (as defined below) for such Composition. In addition, after the Term and Exploitation Period, CD Baby shall continue to have the right to collect all income payable in respect of exploitations of the Compositions that was earned during or before the Term and/or Exploitation Period. CD Baby will continue to account to you for all such income. “Exploitation Period” for a Composition shall commence upon the date on which you submit such Composition and will continue until the later of (a) the end of the Term or (b) twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months after you submit the Composition to us, unless earlier terminated by CD Baby as set forth below. For example, if you submit a Composition on January 1st and the Term ends on February 1st of that year, then the Exploitation Period for that Composition shall continue until December 31st of that year.b) You may terminate this Publishing Addendum at any time by sending an email to email@example.com with a request to cancel along with your email address and account number]Such termination will be effective thirty (30) days from the date on which we receive such cancellation notice, subject to the rules and regulations of the relevant performance, licensing and other collection rights organizations. Registration Fees are non-refundable once paid, and will not be prorated upon termination.c) CD Baby may terminate this Publishing Addendum and/or may also terminate the Exhibition Period for any of all of the Compositions at any time upon written notice, for any reason or for no reason. Termination of your Account or of the CD Baby service as a whole will also constitute termination of this Publishing Addendum.d) The following Sections will survive any termination of this Addendum: Sections 1 and 2 (for the duration of any applicable Exploitation Periods) and Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. After the Term and Exploitation Period, we shall continue to have the right, but not the obligation, to collect all income payable in respect of exploitations of the Compositions that was earned during or before the Term and/or Exploitation Period. We will continue to account to you for all such income.
Since I do not expect my music to sell much at all (as I do not promote my music one bit), it just makes sense to let CD Baby get 15% to be my publisher. After all, 15% of almost nothing is almost nothing. I was just told (1-23-14) via their phone help line that CD Baby splits that 15% in half with another company that does the bookkeeping for them.As usual, your mileage may vary. Good luck in choosing your publisher.
I got a $55 Charger City tablet clamp, ($48 on Amazon now) the best I could find, judging from online reviews. Its only flaw is you have to turn the large lever pretty hard to keep the arm from drooping down when the tablet is mounted. Here's the link: (copy and paste it in your address bar)
I keep my tablet in its protective case, even when I clamp it to my mic stand. It's a pain to remove it first.
LESSON AND WEBSITE IMPROVEMENTS: NEWLY REVISED LESSONS NOW USED and FORTY PLAY-ALONG SONGS POSTED FOR STUDENTS
Nov 15, 2015
Besides the Charger City Heavy Duty Tablet arm and clamp, I also have a Harp Arm clamp for my harmonicas on my microphone stand. I hate those "around the neck" harp holders that take so much time and effort to change harps quickly. The Harp Arm has a strong magnet to hold the harmonica in place. Easy to change harps.
POLARIZATION and MY SONG "A HOUSE DIVIDED"
Dec. 8, 2011
Fact: The Republican Party leaders met before President Obama's first day in office and agreed to block EVERY proposal from him, to not give them any thought at all, and to not give him a chance to succeed. If you doubt this, look it up like I did. It happened. And the Republicans/ Tea Party have polarized politics in Washington and across this nation ever since.
Check this out: (copy and paste in your address bar.)
Yep, it's hard to believe such a thing happened in the 21st Century.
There is a song I wrote, recorded and posted on this site titled "A House Divided." I thought a little information about it was merited.
I was messing with the B7 guitar chord, moving it up and down the neck, and I found I could actually construct a song with only ONE chord shape.
Interesting. Those finger squeaks in this song are a result of this continuous movement utilizing the same chord shape and moving it up and down the guitar neck.But I didn't have any lyrics written for such a song. Hmmm.
What topic would fit a finger-picked song that sounded like this? I am currently upset with our politics in America, the fact that nothing much is accomplished in Congress. This is due to the parties putting themselves first and the public's welfare last. The Republicans filibustered over 300 of President Obama's bills in just ONE session of Congress!
It's gotten so bad that I try and avoid all talk about politics simply because so many people are polarized in their views, mirroring what we see in Washington. Around Oct. 1, 2011, the Associated Press ran a piece titled "Congress' Dysfunction Long In the Making." In it are five reasons why our political system is in a state of inertia right now.I will copy parts of this until I'm told to remove it, not wanting my paraphrasing to misrepresent anyone's logic:
1. The 1994 Republican revolution- Newt Ginrich of Georgia increased the party-verses-party polarization when his GOP ended four decades of House minority status. They simply wouldn't let the Democrats offer any alternative bills, as was done before. They refused all compromises!
2. Cultural shifts- lawmakers rarely reside in Washington anymore, but commute long distances back home often. Democrats and Republicans do not socialize, eat, drink, have parties together like they used to. This further discourages any compromises. They used to be friends, but most have forgotten that detail.
3. The US media has changed- from straight news outlets to opinioniated blogs, "news" pieces, tv shows, and talk radio. Republicans live in mortal fear of Rush Limbaugh outing anyone for being insufficiently conservative. Social media has popularized NONfact based reality. (This scares me!)
4. Unrestrained use of partisian tools- Until the mid-1990s the House Majority often let the other party offer legislation, debates, and votes. Compromise sometimes happened. This rarely happens now. The filibuster tool was rarely used throughout most of the 20th century. But both parties NOW routinely employ it, enabling the Minority to block almost any bill if its members stick together.
5. Money's role in polarization- New laws and tactics have steered millions of campaign dollars to interest groups on the far left and right and they spend it to defeat candidates they oppose. Most of the money is now not with the parties. The money has moved to the extremes.
Let's face it: Politically we are in bad shape because of polarization- the refusal to even hear another side's point of view. That's the theme I chose for my song. Let's just hope we don't end up like the two brothers in the song who couldn't compromise and, thus, perished.