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  1. Steve Mueske
    Latest Entry

    I just posted the first render of a new experimental electronic piece called The Spiral. I actually started it awhile ago and let it sit. I have a lot of ideas for it but want to give it a breather for a few days first.

     

     

  2. Rudi
    Latest Entry

    Pensive melancholy thoughtful contemplative

    brooding pondering preoccupied absorbed engrossed. Yep I’m fragile alright.

    The intensive shift pattern I'm working is partly to blame. So the last day of the rest period may be a Thursday, but it will feel like a Sunday because I'll begin work in the morning. If working on Sunday, I'll drive in and wonder where all the traffic went. I'll probably never see other engineers who work opposite me ever again. They are working the inverse of my shift pattern.

    Oddly, it may be conducive to making music though. I am making progress again despite suffering ongoing jet lag like disorientation. Having 4 or 5 days off in a row is certainly helping me record.

     

    Yesterday I completed the recording of my instrumental 'Flamingo'. This is a major landmark for me. It was begun when I was in my 20s. I'm in my 60s now. Its only 5 minutes long, but it has undergone steady changes throughout a period of about 30+ years. Parts of it came and went (were lost through neglect or purging). It was in constant a state of flux. Always changing with only a couple of core themes to anchor it to. After buying my Camps spanish guitar, I worked on Flamingo in earnest. This was the voice it needed. Within a couple more years I finally completed the tune. That is, I formed it into a fixed (well, 98%) and repeatable piece of music.

     

    Since then I tried to record it a couple of times, but its my most technically demanding instrumental, and the Camps is my most difficult to play guitar. Being a classical guitar, the Camps has a much longer scale, and I had to adjust parts of the left hand technique to suit. I even invented a new technique to straddle frets, because my fingers could no longer stretch far enough. I gave up the task of recording twice. I couldn't get a good enough take.

     

    I had another try this week and could not get the mics working successfully (a Shure SM58 and a Shure Unisphere). Before abandoning the attempt I thought I would try using the Yamaha Silent. This is a nylon strung practice instrument that uses a piezo pickup. Its still a classical guitar with the long scale & wide flat fretboard, but it isn't acoustic. I got a performance I was satisfied with (still with flaws though) in a mornings work.

    It was certainly easier than using the Camps, but I was unsure how the sound quality would hold up on the Yamaha. Well it doesn't sound as rich, and you can hear the piezo sound too. Being a simple single instrument, I was bolder at tweaking the EQ and choosing a mastering toolset. Reverb also helped a lot too. But I'm enjoying the way it sounds.

    So its done at last. True, it was always a complete mess as a composition, but then it isn't a composition. It was never written. It was never arranged. It just evolved.

     

    Maybe I should just stick to acoustic guitar instrumentals. I've been steadily turning down the gain on my electric for years now. I'm never happy with my vocals. I cant play bass, keys nor drum. It makes good sense.

     

  3. Joe Hoe

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    Recent Entries

    Conceptual Writing workshop 101.

     

     

     

     

     

    DEFINING CONCEPTUAL WRITING

    Conceptual writing is a form of “song writing” that involves a specific goal or message. Songs that are “conceptually based” are often built around subjects that are very important to the lyricist. These songs are normally intended to be very serious in nature and are meant to send a powerful message to the listener. Conceptual writing is not just for musicians looking to push an agenda. It is also popular for musicians looking to create a more “fantastical” or “whimsical" world. This is because “conceptual” songs often need to have a world “created” around them in order to be successful. The trick is using descriptive words and phrases that will trigger a visual concept clearly into your audience’s head.      

     

    In order to begin writing with C.W. you must first have a “concept.” A concept is simply the driving idea of your story. It can be a person, situation, opinion, belief or anything you can think of that you passionately want to speak about. Great concepts can come from anywhere, a life event, movie, dream, video game or a personal experience.

     

    For my example, the song I’m going to create is about “someone having a hard time fitting in.”

    Once you have decided on your concept, the next step is to begin fleshing out the most significant parts of the story. Begin by answering the questions below in writing, in as few words as possible AND as precisely as possible. 

    ·           Who is your protagonist?

     

    ·           What is the plight or situation your protagonist is facing?

     

     Now that you have you protagonist, it’s time to create a basic back story and a brief summary of the history for your character. Focus on the use of descriptions using metaphors, analogies and similes to flush out the elements in the story. If you find yourself having trouble defining your protagonist, start by asking yourself questions someone else might ask you about your character.

     

    What do they look like?

    What kind of personality do they have?

     

    Answering simple sample questions like these will give you building blocks that will help you flesh out, develop and most importantly help the listener connect to your song.

     

    Finally, gleam out the most descriptive and exciting words to begin the creation of the song. Look for words that are empathic and vividly describe the protagonist’s world as colorfully as possible.

     

     

    MY BACK STORY EXMAPLE:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A young male is constantly being forced to move from town to town because his parents job keeps causing them to move.

     

    PROBLEMS THAT ARISE:

    He has problems making and keeping friends. He becomes socially awkward as well as guarded. He becomes distant and reclusive. Is often lonely and depressed. Has strong feelings of being different and misunderstood.

     

     

     THE LYRICAL & CREATION POCESS

     

    So far in this section I have been going over how to develop and flesh out the most important elements of your song. The reason this is done is so we can highlight the most significant and interesting aspects of your story. Remember, you are attempting to write more than just a song, you are trying to convey emotions to a total stranger. Your job as a writer is to create a world for the listener that takes that person out of their world and into a world you created with your voice, mind and music.

     

    It is now time to begin writing lyrics using your notes and work from above.

    Keep your writing short and precise. Focus on writing one line at a time as if each sentence is it’s own individual story about your protagonist or a significant event in their life.

     

    SONG STRUCTURE & THEORY

     

    I am a strong believer that you do not have to construct your song with the traditional beginning, middle, end approach that most institutions teach. Songs themselves do not have to be in exact chronological order and they don’t even have to make perfect sense from a literal perspective.

    The goal of your music should always be to connect to the listener by “conveying the emotions” that will stimulate the mood and feelings you are trying to convey.

     

    With that being said, for this method you are going to start dividing your work into three categories

     

    1.         Refrain

     Hook

     Chorus

     

    It is advised that you do not try to commit too much effort into writing just a chorus or just the refrain at this time. You will learn that the songwriting process is a fluid process with constantly moving and interchangeable parts. Meaning, a piece you originally wrote to be the intro, might actually work as the refrain, chorus, hook, etc.

     

    Now as a rule, most people say the best way to tell a good story is to start from the beginning. That is because people get confused easily when having a lot of details thrown at them at one time. Keep in mind “starting from the beginning” is a relative term and different people involved in a “situation” will have differentiating opinion as to when everything started. To keep your listener from getting confused, it is my advice to start with either introducing your character or the “plight” first.

     

     

    THE CREATION OF VOCAL LINES & MELODIES

     

    To continue on at this point of the songwriting process, you must have a backing track, riff, beat

    or at least a prepared vocal melody to sing over.  This is the point in the songwriting process where we take a long look at all of the ideas we fleshed out and begin to build verses, refrains, hooks etc. We have the subject; we know the plight, now its time to put his journey into words.

     

    If you can not seem to find the right words and you are stuck with the lyrical portion of the writing process, play the backing track, riff or melody on a loop a few times. Begin to hum or sing notes over the backing track or melody without using real words. This is a great way to begin building the vocal lines and defining the “sound” for the song you are going for. (The challenge here is, you will have to replace the sounds you sang with real words that contain the same syllable count. Some people find this method to be effective and easy while others find it near impossible.)

     

    *Try this fun exercise to get a better understanding of the method I am trying to teach.

     

    Think of one your favorite songs, make sure it’s one you know well. Now, hum the melody to yourself. Next, try I want you to make the song funny by changing the words. (Basically, think of any song from Weird Al Yankovic and boom! There you go, you just wrote lyrics for a song!

     

    Not your traditional form of teaching, right? Did it work? And, there you go.

     Unfortunately, I have gone about as far I we can without personally knowing your project and getting into complicated and boring music theory. Hopefully, this workshop helped give you some tools and new ideas to help you in your songwriting journey.

     

    Thanks for reading.  

  4. Hey y’all!

     

    •  

    Just wanted to share some thoughts…

    When I first started my career as a musician I was totally in to the electric bass. I did nothing but practice scales, playing techniques, walking lines, slap bass, motown lines, disco grooves – just about everything there was to learn. I studied for about 6 years to be as good as I could get and I remember me and my class mates being up all night jamming around on all kinds of music styles – jazz, fusion, experimental. It was absolutely wonderful:)
    Of course, all along this journey I always came back to my roots: alternative rock, hard rock, post grunge, indie rock/pop – the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, the Smashing Pumpkins, the Killers and so on… music that just makes me feel alive!!

    But… what I would like to say here is that I had absolutely no interest in lyrics! I was always much more listening for the energy in songs, what the band together as a whole (lead singer included) could communicate as a soundscape, and that said I didn’t have the need to focus on the lyrics but much more on the melody that was sung. I don’t know if any of you have had that same experience?

    Over the years I’ve been focusing more on my voice, taking lessons, getting interested in different techniques, and above all I’ve found out how fantastic it is for me to express myself with words!! It’s just the best, I love it when I’m in front of an audience (doesn’t matter if it’s 60 people or a thousand people, the feeling is the same. And since I’ve discovered this to be the most important thing for me I’ve also grown a huge interest in lyrics. I write all my lyrics by myself and have found it to be really satisfying to tell stories about this and that. Sometimes it’s about things that I’ve experienced and sometimes it’s just a thought that comes to my mind or something someone tells me that I can elaborate on.

    Since I’ve grown this interest in lyrics I just wanted to share some lines from songs that I think is just amazing and has inspired me a lot. It would be awesome if you’d like to share your thoughts on what the lyrics in songs means to you and maybe if you got any particular song writers that you find to stand out… or anything else you want to share:)

     

    Lake of Fire
    This one I actually thought for a long time to be an original song by Nirvana. I even heard stories about how Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic had written the lyrics together… how wrong was I!! It’s written by Meat Puppets as early as in 1984 as a promo single but ended up at Too High to Die released in 1994. What about these lines:

     

    Now the people cry and the people moan
    And they look for a dry place to call their home
    And try to find some place to rest their bones
    While the angels and the devils try to make them their own

     

    I appear missing
    Simply the best entrance to a song that I’ve ever heard. Queens of the Stoneage at it’s best!! The words, I’m pretty sure, are written by Dean Fertita but please correct me if I’m wrong;)

    Calling all comas,
    Prisoner on the loose.
    Description:
    A spitting image of me
    Except for the heart-shaped hole where the hope runs out

     

    Read my mind
    I see the Killers as one of the most intricate indie pop/rock (whatever genre you choose) bands there is when it comes to arranging their tunes and taking unexpected turns. Listen to ‘When you were young’ and you’ll see what I mean! Brandon Flowers has called ‘Read my mind’ ”the best song he has ever written”. Since it’s been a decade ago (Sam’s Town, 2007) maybe he thinks he has written something even better now:) These are a few lines from Read my mind:

    The good old days, the honest man
    The restless heart, the Promised Land
    A subtle kiss that no one sees
    A broken wrist and a big trapeze

     

    Any particular lyrics you like? Any song writers that stands out? Anything else you wanna share?

    …oh, by the way, if you’re interested in some free music you can visit my website drkeybag.com

    Take care everybody!!

  5. Songstuff
    Latest Entry

    By Songstuff,

    Featured Artist - Simon Darveau

    Simon DarveauMontreal based French Canadian artist  Simon is a singer songwriter, self-taught guitar and piano player and wannabe sound engineer in his free time.

     

    Simon is currently building his home studio where he hopes he will spend most of his time writing and producing his own music as well as collaborating with other artists in a near future.

     

    A proud member of "The Travelling Songstuffers", a virtual international group, Simon hopes to produce an EP featuring some of their work.

     

    Read About More Simon Darveau and other excellent Featured Artists 

  6. Working with a licensing publisher by shear chance has opened my eyes to the uses of all lyrics.

     

    My current grief has all these poems, thoughts, and full fledge lyrics pouring out of me. I kept thinking there is no way they can be of any use. They are dark and personal. Can anyone really identify with this? (enough to make it worthwhile?)

     

    When I write, I try to make it a timeless scene. One that young and old, present and future can all identify with. Grief can be so specific and then it changes as time goes on. It never dawned on me that my lyrics about grief could be taken out of context and actually be used! Take for example this verse from "This Road":

    V1

    This road

    No telling where or when it will end

    All I know is nothing                         

    Looking round for the next bend

    It was written about my grief, my path, my road. But my licensing publisher thinks it might make a great jingle for a car commercial. Hmmmm my grief a car commercial? or perhaps in one of those "destination vacation" advertisements? movie trailer?...

    It's all relative at this point...

    I don't think I will ever hold any lyrics back again. The possibilities are endless and if I'm willing to release them to the Lady Luck of Music.

    :ilovemusic:

  7. Musings

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    Recent Entries

    I was recently asked about what success means to me as a songwriter and musician. Explaining what this broad term means took me good thought. But recently, something that happened made things much easier for me to answer this question.

    Every individual is on the journey of finding some purpose in life. There are good times and bad that each of us wade through. Though we cannot possibly quantify all of it in a sentence (or a hundred), there are certain experiences that embrace the essence of it.

    I’ve been a singer-songwriter for years now and fortunately, being among the right people and the right situation, I’ve been able to make a living out of this. Not long ago, while unwinding among friends, I was asked to sing a couple of songs of mine that they were familiar with. I was happy to oblige as I‘ve been in the past among the same friends. It was a day with amazing food, new friends & family and the energy, so pure and serene. I savoured every bit of singing my heart out. What happened once I finished is what, I think, reasserted my purpose for making music. There were tears, hugs and kisses that came by me. Then it went among each other, where people expressed love and gratitude with heavy emotions. It was a surreal night.

    I did NOT just say that to praise myself and what I will say next should hopefully clear that.

    As a musician, a lot of people tell you — “You’ve got to work on your skills to give the listener your best” which is absolutely true. But as the words repeat in your head and outside of it, some tend to lose direction and ego takes over. The pressure to impress rises. But you know, to people with struggles, life goals and the need to find purpose, the only thing that matters is how something makes them feel.

    One can look over the mountains and be lost in recording the moment with their phones to show the world of their conquest. Another can be lost in the mountains themselves. The sheer beauty of it. Neither of it is necessarily wrong. Believe me, I’ve done both of ‘em. It doesn’t even have to be a mountain. It can supposedly be the ugliest thing in the world, but many see through it and find beauty and peace, in the darkest of moments.

    These mountains aren’t the way they are because they want to impress somebody. They are what they are, and remain to be, allowing for memories to be made, love to be shared and worries to be forgotten.

    That evening, I felt like the mountains. Ego had no room because love & gratitude was strong among everyone in the room. Stories and struggles that I don’t know of became the guests that were served; with words and melody. You see, songs don’t have to be good or bad to make people feel that way. They are just catalysts to heal unspoken words and tangled emotions.

    Success, to me, was seeing this unravel before my eyes and then staying with it, in silence.

  8. Subject Matter

     

    Written, recorded & copyrighted in 2003, "Borrowed Time" was inspired by an actual event…the death of my boss Fred Marshall.

     

    Several years prior, Fred had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

    Once traditional treatment had failed, Fred received the bad news.

    There was little more medical science could do for him.

    For all practical purposes, he was living on borrowed time.

    He knew the "what", but not the "when".

     

    Grant it, Fred wasn't the first to receive a terminal prognosis & he wouldn't be the last.

    But, I couldn't help wondering....how does someone come to grips with that?

    What's it like to live with that knowledge?

    Questions worthy of a song, don't you think?

    I did :thumbsup2:

    In the end, Fred lost his battle with cancer.

    The day of the funeral, our company closed so that everyone could attend.

     

    He was laid to rest in his hometown, several hours North of St. Louis.

    As you might expect, it was a very quiet drive back.

    Since I was a passenger...with the back seat to myself, I made good use of the time.

    I wrote the majority of this lyric. Given the circumstances, it seemed a fitting activity.

     

    Lyric

    Livin’ on borrowed time

    Not sure how he’s gonna use it

    Livin’ on borrowed time

    Knows he can’t afford to lose it

     

    When life gives you a surprise

    It can open up your eyes

    Should already be…part of history

    Dead & gone before his time,

    but he’s…

     

    Livin’ on borrowed time

    Not sure how he’s gonna use it

    Livin’ on borrowed time

    Knows he can’t afford to lose it

     

    Livin’ every day

    In a different way

    Cause he’s never sure

    How much longer he’ll survive

     

    Told him he’d be dead last year

    Doctors say the end’s still near

    Still he’s tryin’ to…use the time to do

    All the things he holds so dear,

    cause he’s…

     

    Livin’ on borrowed time

    Not sure how he’s gonna use it

    Livin’ on borrowed time

    Knows he can’t afford to lose it

    Livin’ on borrowed time

    Livin’ on borrowed time 

    Copyright 2003 – Tom Hoffman

     

    Personal Insights

     

     Back-in-the-day, I participated in a number of songwriting competitions.

    The Billboard World, Song of the Year, American Songwriter, USA, UK & Great American to name a few.

     Out of all the songs I entered, “Borrowed Time” scored the highest ...one of 5 finalists.

     

    002.jpg

     

    The most traditional, mainstream song I’ve ever created…and they liked it best?

    Go figure! :eusa_think:

    Take from that, what you will.

     

    Musical Fundamentals

     

    Genre was an easy decision.

    Given the subject matter, traditional country was a perfect fit.

     

    It’s set in the key of G…a commonly used country key.

    BPM = 104 …a comfortable, easy-going pace for this type of song.

     

    Structurally, it is different. Following a brief introduction, it flows immediately into a chorus section.

    That’s not unheard of, but it’s certainly not the norm. For this particular song, I thought it was an excellent choice.

    It allowed one of the primary “hooks” (the song title) to be heard almost immediately.

     

    Instrumentation Choices

                    Fender Strat                                       Acoustic                            Bass

    DSC02341.JPG  Best, Clearest Shot.JPG Peavey Fury - full front.jpg

     

    + Harmonica (Hohner) & Keyboard Strings (Yamaha P-80 digital piano)

     

         Production: Tascam 788

    sim.jpg

     

    Performance Credits:

    • Guitars, Bass, Drums, Harmonica, Keyboards – Tom Hoffman

    • Vocals – Tom Hoffman

     

    YouTube Video Version (*includes full song) - https://youtu.be/EbeVOh7m5FE

     

    Tom Hoffman

    Songstuff member profile
    http://www.tune-smith.com
    http://www.youtube.com/user/DrumStuffTH

  9. Tip #1 - The music industry is a business.

     

    • That's important to understand because....if you deal with it as anything other than a business, you will almost certainly fail. If you've had very little business experience or lack a basic understanding of how they operate, you need to learn. Why? As I said above, you cannot succeed in something without first possessing a basic understanding of what it is.
    • Talent, musical proficiency dedication to your goals & self-confidence are prerequisites, not your ticket to stardom. Think of them in as you would a college degree. The degree itself guarantees you nothing....other than the opportunity to compete for what you want.
    • Intangibles such as "creative integrity" may have value to you & your peers, but NOT to a business. As a general rule, businesses care about 2 things - making money & saving money. When you present yourself to industry representatives, keep that in mind. If you can convince them of your ability to accomplish one or both of those goals, that should get their attention.
    • If you're unclear about how someone might "save" a record label money, I'll leave you with 2 examples:
    1. Think about the huge growth of the pop, rap & hip-hop genres in recent years. The bulk of the music & arrangements for those genres is created via software & sampling. That means fewer session musicians, less studio time and lower overall cost of production. They're able to sell those CDs & downloads at a competitive price, but the profit margin is higher because of the lower production cost. Do you really believe that change in public buying habits was a lucky accident?
    2. If you happen to be an artist with a huge online fanbase/following (Justin Bieber), that's tangible selling point. A huge ready-made fanbase means lower promotional cost for the label....again, saving them money.

    Tip #2 - Beware of the "Scamortunity"

    As you might guess, the term is meant to describe a scam disguised as an opportunity

    • What does a scamortunity look like? Not an easy question to answer, since they come in many forms. As a general rule, the more unbelievable the opportunity looks.....
    • the more skeptical you should be
    • the more extensively it should be researched
    • the more reluctant you should be to participate

    In other words, if it seems too good to be true, it almost always is! 

    Most cons (scams) are designed to take advantage of existing vulnerabilities. In the case of songwriter/musicians, those vulnerabilities are well known & numerous. Don't allow belief in yourself, belief in the uniqueness of your creations & desire for recognition to become liabilities in your quest for success. 

    • Remember....the music industry is a business & should be dealt with as such.
    • In business, opportunities rarely come looking for you. Don't expect them to seek you out in this industry either. With very few exceptions, they won't!

    Tip #3 - Nothing is owed to you.

    Many in this business develop the attitude that the world/industry owes them something. Simply put, that is not a productive mindset & will do nothing to further your career.

    • Countless hours of dedication to your craft, skills, talent & creative ability are prerequisites....not entitlements! Virtually every one of your competitors (fellow musician/songwriters) has worked as hard as you have....sometimes harder. Those prerequisites earn you the right to compete, nothing more. View them as you would a high school diploma. That diploma doesn't earn you money, it does get you a job & it won't guarantee admission to the college of your choice. But without it, you don't even qualify to compete for those things, because the majority of your competitors have one.
    • Forget about concepts like fairness. The world of business is based on many rules, but fairness is not one of them. Tangible results rule the day.

    Tip #4 - For God sake, spend a couple dollars & get your finished material properly copyrighted.

    We're only too happy to spend hundreds of dollars on a smartphone that'll be obsolete next year. ATM fees, wireless streaming fees, credit card interest, bank overdraft fees, apps....all things that we've come to accept as unavoidable expenses. BUT....when it comes to spending $35 to legally protect our own artistic creations, we'd rather not. Seriously....$35???

    That's the current U.S. Library of Congress online filing rate for multiple works by a single author. To the best of my knowledge, a Library of Congress registration is the only universally recognized method for proving legal ownership of a work. There are viable legal reasons for choosing this method & I encourage you to verify that for yourselves.

    Here are a number of direct links you may find useful:

    United States Copyright Office http://copyright.gov/

    Why Should I Register My Work? FAQ page http://copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#automatic

    Copyright FAQ - http://copyright.gov/help/faq/index.html

    Electronic Copyright Office tutorial - http://copyright.gov/eco/eco-tutorial.pdf

    Online Copyright Registration - http://copyright.gov/eco/

    Tip #5 - Remember...it's all about the vocals !

    It’s common for recording songwriters/bands to underestimate the importance of the primary vocal track. Bottom line….it’s "Priority #1" and should be treated as such.

    Why you ask? Simple!

    To the ordinary listener, it’s the single most important thing. Non-musician listeners focus the majority of their attention on the vocal (singer).

    Sure…everything else matters! Just not as much.

    Common Reasons for Substandard Vocals: 

    ·     Internal Band Dynamics - every member of a band wants to feel like their part is essential to the success or failure of a project. Unfortunately, nothing outranks the melody & the singer's presentation of it. Yes…a strong vocal can benefit from a great musical arrangement. But, if the vocal’s substandard, the best arrangement/performance in the world won’t save it.

    ·     When recording demos or finished material, vocals are one of the last things to be dealt with. If you’re working in a pro studio, you’re probably paying an hourly rate. If that is the case, you should budget your session time carefully. You can’t afford to blow the majority of the budget on preliminary musical tracks. When that occurs, the natural tendency is to rush the vocal recordings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen friends make this mistake! Remember, if that vocal isn’t done reasonably well, everyone loses. 

    Take whatever precautions are appropriate. When it’s all said & done, that vocal track will represent your song. Shoot for the highest quality you can reasonably achieve.

    Tom Hoffman

    Songstuff member profile
    http://www.tune-smith.com
    http://www.youtube.com/user/DrumStuffTH

    *This article is the result of a question posed on the Songstuff boards. John Moxey asked the question, these were my responses.

  10. Before I delve into the Yamaha Variax Standard,....

     

    Sweetwater 

    I've used Sweetwater for well over a decade now.  Though I did not purchase the Variax from Sweetwater.  It was Sweetwater to the rescue.  My purchased Yamaha Variax Standard did not come with a Battery Charger.  Rather then send the Variax back and wait for a replacement I looked around locally and online for a charger.  Sweetwater to the rescue . http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/L6VBatCharge  Not only did they carry the charger separate.  They did so at a very reasonable price compared to competitors.  The story would have ended there.  I had already waited a week for the variax to arrive and had my hopes up to play it before the weekend as I work two jobs.  I'd made the purchase Wednesday Evening and thought to myself there would be no way for the free shipping of the item would land my charger until Monday.   James Masterson a sales engineer at Sweetwater, followed up after the sale letting me know when the product was shipped and provided tracking information.  It arrived at the post office on Friday (because my mail box is too small) and I was able to pick it up on Saturday.  Very fast.  Very thoughtful 

     

    So on Saturday I was able to charge up the battery for my variax and get some play time in before heading off to work.  What's more is that added thing every Sweetwater customer knows.... SWEETS From SWEETWATER.   Me, I'm a happy camper I didn't need any sweets. but I had them so I gave them to a sweet gal at work.  She happily gobbled them up and had a smiled the rest of the night..   It's one of those little extra things that Sweetwater does which separates them from the crowd of online retailers.  Sales and Support have always been great with sweetwater, sweets always sweeten the deal.

     

    The Yamaha Variax Standard

    line6-yamaha-variax-standard-4.jpg?auto=

    There is so much to write about this instrument it's really hard to cover all the bases. So I'll cover the Body first followed by the variax modeling technology and then other personal observations regarding it all

     

    The Physical

     This is the one in white which I own.  I've never owned a white guitar before. It is based on a Yamaha Pacifica Model.  Classic strat shape with few appointments. There is a forearm relief cut into the top, however no belly cut  Standard 4 bold properly joins the alder body to the maple neck. It is very much a "student" instrument.  Nonetheless it's a well fitted guitar.  The three ply pickguard fits securely to the top, joins perfectly around the neck and wraps well around the bridge plate. I have to say when I was making minor adjustments I was very impressed with the tremolo assembly. The screws for the saddles are fully recessed so as not to scrape the players palm.They turn easily and uniformly Yamaha was even considerate enough to supply the proper  Allen wrenches for the saddles and neck.  The volume and tone knobs as well as the model and tuning knobs have that traditional telecaster flat dome chrome feel.  It will never slip when you are sweating.  The maple neck sports a 25.5 scale length on a 22 fret standard C profile neck . The nut width is 1.614" with a flat radius rosewood fretboard 

     

    Nitpicking:

    Yes, The variax faithfully recreates all the instruments it's designed to with the sonic espressiveness that the instrument has.  However at the root of that is the articulation which comes from the performer / performance.  One of my peeves has to do with the location of the volume knob which makes strumming near the bridge a clumsy affair.  My second and biggest pet peeve has to do with the neck setup.. Take this with a grain of salt. You may not get the same setup I did.  While the frets were properly dressed and the intonation is correct the action was simply too high.  It also had excessive bow.  I straightened the neck a little and brought down the action only to find uneven frets.  Which meant I had to raise the action and apply some bow to the neck in order to escape fret buzz.  This may be an isolated incident with my guitar that may not represent Yamaha Variax standards as a whole (I'll get into this more at the conclusion)  The guitar was sold as an "open box" by a retailer known for B-stock.  Which is why I received it for 525 rather then the 800 one would expect to pay for from a reputable seller.

     

     

    The Sound - Magnetics

    If the battery ever fails you'll always be able to play the equipped with three passive Alnico V pickups.  I've seen the videos as well.  Surprisingly they don't sound near as dark and aggressive on my guitar then those demonstrated.  However it may be something as simple as I'm not that aggressive a player and amp settings.  That being said they are darker and more aggressive then your average strat pickups.  They are single coil pickups.  They hum, not excessively.  To my ears they sound like Dimarzio.  Yes they are more expensive then those in a Yamaha Pacifica.  Call me a cork sniffer,  Every time I look over at my Stratocaster Plus with Gold Lace Sensors I say to myself I wonder how much it would cost to swap pickups.  I do the same thing as I compare my strat neck with the Yamaha...or for that matter every guitar in my stable.  

     

    The Sound - Modeled.

    Every variax be they JTV or Yamaha have exactly the same modeled sounds in them.  They all have the same workbench software.  What you get with different models of JTV's be they American or off shore goes down to aesthetics.   More Guitar sounds are to be found in the Variax Workbench hardware.  It is possible as stated over and over again in Workbench videos.  You can modify / create any electric guitar using the workbench by selecting the body design then swapping pickups, adjusting the pickup placement and selecting the electronics / wiring.

     

     

     

     

    Amazing recreations of the instruments they were modeled after. All the nuance is there if you can coax it out To be honest I haven't played with every model sufficiently.  Not enough time in a day and...I get sucked into one tone and lose myself.  The tone control for the acoustic instruments affects the mic position. In that regard it is both more subtle then your average electric guitar tone control 

     

    Here are my responses to common questions and concerns regarding the variax.

    Which one is the best?

    The JTV 89 (fixed bridge)  Honestly it all comes down to weight and playability.  It's the fastest most playable model of the lot. These oddly appear to have been discontinued.  Even the 89F USA is getting rare. Plays like butter as it should.  It has the same neck profile as my Yamaha Variax standard but the attention to detail regarding the overall neck work. Is vastly superior.  If you've ever played a top of the line Ibanez RG you'll feel right at home.

     

    One of the common excuses Line 6 touted about the JTV69's higher action was that in order to properly recreate the sound much goes to action of the original modeled guitars setup;  The "feel" helps with the expressive control.  Well, I've played Ric's with thier high action short scale length and they feel much more playable then the Variax standard.  I've also played some higher action jazz boxes.  It's just an excuse for poor neck work and possibly a belief held by James Tyler as he may like his action higher.  Prior to the JTV versions of the Variax it was not uncommon for many players to have transplants performed.  Taking the guts (electronics) of a Variax and placing them into a more playable instrument.  Yamaha (the current owner of line 6) would probably be able to have greater profitability  if they simply sold the electronics out to other companies then build their own.  It would be a win win  win. Yamaha cuts down production costs, Other makers get into the game with still the best modeling technology out there.  And consumers can have variax technology in a favored brand model.

     

    Why do all the modeled sounds have a sameness to them?

    Turn up your master volume.  If you like me live in an apartment with thin walls you are prolly playing at low output levels so as not to disturb the neighbors.  As a result your ears are getting a blend of the acoustic tone (yes even from a solid body) and the amp tone.  Also,  play around with your amp / effects settings. What we hear when we listen to recorded music is filtered guitar tone.  Effects. the amp, it's settings, the speaker cab and speakers, the placement of the mics and types of mic's the mixing board eq and post processing even the type of analog tape used to record and the delivery process (vinyl, cassette, radio, digital compression) all effect the final tone.  Line 6 can only capture the guitar's character, it can't capture the performers character of performance nor all the other things which make up the tone.

     

    The Spank Model Doesn't sound like "my strat"

    Eric Clapton's strat doesn't sound like Eric Claptons strat,,, what's your point?  EC has played many stratocaster guitars over the years. [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownie_(guitar)] "Brownie"[/url] doesn't sound exactly like Blackie

    Which doesn't sound like his 80's fender signature sporting lace sensors, which also doesn't sound like his current signature guitar that features fender N4 noiseless pickups. One important note about early pickup windings.  They usually didn't have counters to to count how many winds the copper had around the bobbin. If someone operating the machine lost count they'd guess.  This resulted in some single coils having more winds which produced a "hotter/darker" sound and some were under wound producing a "quieter/brighter" tonality.  This wasn't limited to single coil production.  The famous "Peter Green" Les Paul sound that was slightly out of phase was a result of improperly placing the magnet in.  It was a factory oversight.  To be honest if you want a noiseless single coil sounding pickup that properly reflects the tone without the noise... It's in there.  If you long for single coil noise you can always switch to the magnetic pickups or blend the magnetic sound with the modeled sound (via Workbench HD software)

     

    Why does the guitar jump volumes when switching instruments?

    If you want to faithfully recreate a specific guitars sound then you also have to faithfully recreate it's output.  That's "Keeping things real"

     

    Why don't they have more guitars and pickups?

    Well they do but those are in the workbench HD software. No it's not every brand of ever model imaginable.  Sure I'd love it if they modeled a Parker Fly or a Ibanez Satriani or various other guitars and pickups

     

    I only get 10 custom slots?

    Actually no. All 60 slots can have custom modified guitar sounds  Which you can load from Workbench HD.  You can swap either an entire 60 at a time or as few as one fairly easily.  It took me about 3 minutes to load the entire collection. YMMV depending on your computer setup.

     

    I get clipping

    More then not it may relate to sending the guitar signal out to an input where the trim is set to high.  (Just like what would occur with any other guitar. Other reasons include playing too thick strings too aggressively.  The obvious answer is to use the gauge strings Line 6 advises and not play like a thrash metal idiot.  If you are still getting clipping consider using Workbench HD and lowering the individual string volumes or simply reducing the volume on the volume control.

     

    Warbling

     

     

    Yes I to get the warbling effect while playing harmonics on the acoustic 12 string. It's the only one I can reproduce the warble effect and the only way.

    I've got the latest in Variax technology Workbench HD 2.0 and while it's improved the overall virtual instrument quality this quirk though minor is still present.

     

    Final Thoughts

    Before the advent of JTV there was a great deal of interest in Variax guitars yet minimal sales.  Line 6 sold less then 1000 variax guitars.  Many of which where transplanted due to mostly visual appeal and secondarily to play-ability.  JTV's did what the old 00 variax models didn't.  Capture the imagination and present the instrument in a visually pleasing form.  Mostly by just adding magnetic pickups.  There was always something holding me back from purchasing the original Variax series of guitars and later ones including the JTV line.  Yes played them all in stores and still walked away from the deal.  The yamaha variax standard offered a new hope.  Mostly in regards to the body style and play-ability of the Pacifica neck of which I've owned a Pacifica in the past. After a few days of constant tweaking I've finally got the neck into playable shape. Making minor adjustments to the truss rod and the bridge saddles.  One thing I've noticed about the JTV 69 (strat) is that many guitarists are swapping necks.  Yamaha has spent most of it's time focusing on Line 6 amplifier and effects lineup.  It's also borrowed back and is evident in the THR series amps which... I love.  The dedication and re invigoration to developing technologies especially yamaha's point to point  modeling has brought line 6 back on top of the Amplifier modeling market with Helix.  While I find the Variax a complete solution with little need to advance.  (it's near perfect) I hope Yamaha's enthusiasm isn't lost on helix / thr and some of it can come back to advancing Variax technologies.  One need not look to far into the past to see Yamaha dropping the ball on many an acquired project.  Such as when they acquired the Charvel/Jackson line and due to poor oversight dropped the quality and sales.  It wasn't until Fender acquired Charvel / Jackson from Yamaha that the guitar was revitalized to it's full potential.   Over the last few days I've been making adjustments to my Variax setup with hopes that it would play better.  Yes it plays much better then when I first received the guitar but it's still a far cry from...every guitar I currently own and many I've had in the past.. including Pacifica's.  Granted I'm a stickler for action, the average joe/jane guitarist would be rather satisfied with it.  Enough Whining....

     

    It's taken me much longer to write this review simply because... I pick it up and play something then I can't stop finding songs to play.  I love the tone and I love the expressive responsiveness.  Magical.  I'd prolly not even bothered writing the review had I not struggled with the neck so much.... I'd be too busy playing.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  11. Well a while ago I shelved plans for an album due to life getting in the road... but here I am back again, in the early stages of planning an EP and an album with accompanying singles.

     

    For now I have a provisional timescale, with the plan to release the single in October, followed by an EP in November. Hopefully then I will release singles and an album to follow in April / May. The tracks are mostly written for both EP and album and recording has begun. Tracks are being selected for EP and album as we speak, though at this point the track allocation is quite fluid.

     

    The good thing is that there are loads of tracks to choose from. I have enough written for several albums, and with new tracks being written all the time. I've also re-worked a few older tracks recently, so I may include some of those.

     

    I'm looking forward to this!

  12. "Hey, can you come play my party for free beer?!"

    "If you come play guitar for me for $50 this time there will be more gigs to follow!"

    "Do you have some unlicensed or royalty free music I can use for my video?"

    "I can pay you in (insert social media platform) more followers if you do this for me."

     

    Knowing one's value or worth is the best advice I could ever give anybody wanting to jump in this crazy music industry...OK, the end!! Whew, thank goodness you don't have to read anymore!  Seems so simple, right?  Monetarily speaking, knowing your worth can be an incredible advantage to your career, or not knowing what your "product's" value is can be a horrible disservice to you and your fellow colleagues.  This is what I mean.

     

    What we do in the music industry whether it be a song writer, jingle composer, player, artist, manager, booking agent, etc. is entirely different than any corporate structure set in any other genre of business.  

    Quote

    "If you use logic to understand this (music) business, your logic will soon be illogical."-Brent Lane *Oil Industrialist/Entrepreneur and Artist Patron

    There is no infrastructure to evaluate how much you should be making on a global scale.  There isn't a chart on the internet to tell you how much you should be making.  That certainly would make it a lot easier.  From what I've learned, culture and the city you live in seem to set a standard.  Granted I can only speak as an American understanding the evaluation process in music.  Los Angles, New York, and Nashville are what I call the big 3.  From there I would say the next tier cities could be an Austin, Texas or a New Orleans, Louisiana for example.  But the big three usually set the trends in the largest commercialized music markets (Pop, Rock, and Country).  They also have more opportunities in all areas of music as well.

     

    How much should I charge for my services?  It all depends on your culture, city, and what will you gain out of it.  In Nashville, a guitar player hired to play some songs have a pretty standard base rate of a local show getting paid $150 and if there is travel involved no less than $200.  But I've excepted gigs for a lot less.  Even $50!  In corporate business suit and tie world they would ridicule you for taking a 75% cut.  I don't blame them.  Let that percentage sink in.  I didn't know what I was doing was undermining a system that would devalue and under appreciate a player that would be well deserved of a base pay of $150.  Integrity in the market place is a concept that , in monetary terms,  people will know what to expect.  Consistency if you will and it even sets a bar predicated to a system that can establish tiers.  For example, do those local shows for $150 and when you have the street credit eventually you can make the jump up to $200, then $225, and then so on, and so on!!!  Your culture may have something set in place.  Maybe? Maybe not?

     

    Isn't it funny?  Do you ever wonder if somebody slapped a sign on your back that says "will work for free" instead of "kick me!"  Know your worth.  Set a standard.  Educate yourself from other musicians/writers/engineers/blah/blah/ bah.  Let those that have walked that path mentor you.  Help your community by establishing that your vocation as a creative is important to be worth given money.

     

    I had a coffee with a friend when I first started traveling to Nashville.  I expressed that I didn't know my value or even when should I take a gig.  I still use this rule to this day and I absolutely love it, and I think it applies here.  After he mentioned base rates in Nashville he ended the subject by saying, "Two out of three ain't bad."  

    1. Is the money good?

    2. Do you like the music?

    3. Are they good people or are they fun to hang out with?

    "If you can say yes to at least two of those...two out of three ain't bad."

     

  13. I've taken a few days off from practice to deal with various other matters.  It's a very strange process indeed when you are your own teacher on an instrument with no set rules.

     

    Trying to balance possibilities of techniques with limited time to devote to developing muscle memory along the way is quite the challenge. Scales for both hands combined (in variation of fingering) Scales for left and right hand with great variance.  Having thumbs to target notes is an odd development for a guitarist.  Everyday I set aside time for scales. Time for the left and time for the right. playing out the various positions in one, two and three (even four) octave runs.  There is little joy for me executing a simple scale nut it's a matter of building foundations for future playing.  I've spent no time playing the guitar or other instruments since acquiring the Linn.  It's that addictive.

     

    I had purchased the upgrade to Guitar Pro 6 as it has settings that allow for eight strings. I thought that having gp6 might be useful writing my own exercise regiments and other things.  I was wrong.  Firstly Even though I can set up the linn for channel per row (as midi guitars are set up) GP6 refuses to accept 8string channel input. So It's back to number pad and cursor buttons in order to input tab scores.  Secondly GP6 refuses to convert piano scores into tablature.  GP6 has turned out to be a huge waste of time and effort and money in regards to developing exercise material.  BIAB has limited fretboard arrangement.  I'm left with.... Standard Notation for practice material.  Yes I can read notation but I'm slow as molasses in winter at it.  I haven't had to read notation in a good 15 years or more.

     

    Oddly I've disabled some of the Instrument feature for now.  I'm more about developing a organ/piano type of approach to the instrument. Without bend / slide and pressure sensitivity (yes velocity works without afterpressure pressure sensitivity) It becomes a more stable more uniformed control It also is much more the feel and expression one might attain on an actual piano (sort of).  

     

    In regards to finding material other then scales.  I've dabbled slightly in jazz standards but admit I've got a long way to go. It's all about developing the muscle memory first.  I've got a certain disdain for classical music that can't be wiped from my soul.  Nonetheless the Bach preludes are proving themselves to be quite handy.

     

    When I first saw an image of starr labs z-board (same concept although it came out in 1990) my heart was aflutter.  I'd dream of playing it night and day knowing I could never afford the $6000 price tag. Oddly the z-board still has more features then the linnstrument. .And I believe it to be easier to play due to the smaller "keys".  I'm finding that new frontiers (at least for me) take a lot of time to get there.

  14. Vagdavercustis
    Latest Entry

    It's been 2 years since I last was here... time flies!
    Happy to see that there are still people here who remember me :) 
    I've never give up on writing or forgot this place. 
    I was just in a really bad place and really thought about just giving up. I began to isolate myself from everyone.
    Positive thing about it is that I wrote a lote of stuff. Not soo much lyrics but just thoughts and feelings put on paper without any structure.
    So myabe in time I'll rewrite them into lyrics. Allthough I think that some of them are a bit too depressing.

    Anyway too keep it short. I've found myself a new love a new job and moved too the other side of my country (I'm glad it's not such a big country :P ) 
    And now I'm counting down to 30/03 cause if everything is going good I'll be a mom than from a baby girl.
    Not sure if I have it in me to be a perfect mother but I will love her with all my heart and do everything I can to keep her happy and safe and I hope that will be enough.
    For the first time in my life I'm just happy. It feels that I am where I need to be and I found myself some peace.

    So a welcome back to myself on here and I hope I will stay now!
     

  15. We recently introduced the "Member Hub", a place to pull together a whole host of useful stuff for our members. The main hub page itself includes:
     
    • The latest Songstuff Stuff site blog entries.
    • Access to the latest Member Articles (new feature!)
    • The latest topics from our Showcase board
    • The latest images
    • The latest Lyrics critique posts
    • The latest song critique posts
    • Who's online and a selection of community info
    • Latest community blog entries
    • Member Birthdays
     
    and that's just on one page!
     
    The hub itself gives you access to:
     
    • Member Articles
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    • Rhyming dictionary
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    • More...
     
    We are evolving and improving the member hub to better support your needs.
     
    Your feedback is not only welcome, it is an important factor in how we develop the Member Hub and the features it provides access to.
     
  16. Just1L
    Latest Entry

    As I was sitting here today thinking, a thought crossed my mind. If you look at what's popular today, most of it has made a subtle, yet dramatic change. TV went to Reality TV. Motocross/Skateboarding, "extreme sports" took things to a whole new level in the past decade or so after X-Games started. News has gone 24/7. What did music do? It went to TV to create reality TV shows. It didn't change music (well it did, but I don't think it took it forwards really), just exploited a hole that needed to be filled in the Reality TV business. So, what has music done? I've heard bands pushing the envelope a little bit but nothing extreme. What bands do you think are pushing the extremes? And how? Does music need some sort of "take it to the next level" awakening? Hell, I don't know. What could music do to take it to the next level?

     

    Randy

  17. TPistilli
    Latest Entry

     


    (the chord arrangement got messed up with the copy/paste thing)

     

    WE SING PRAISE

     

    Verse:
    Am G Am
    The Father showed His love for us when He sent His only son
    G Am F G
    And Jesus showed His love for us when He shed His precious blood
    Am G Am
    The Spirit shows His love for us when He leads us into truth
    G Am F G
    And how we show our love for Him, (is) with a heart of gratitude…

     

    Chorus:
    C G
    We sing Praise, sing praise
    F C F C
    To our Heavenly Father, to Jesus His Son
    F Am G F
    And the Holy Spirit, all three in one
    C G
    For perfect salvation, our love overflows
    Am F G
    From the deepest part of our soul
    C G C
    We sing praise, sing praise, sing praise
    C G C
    Sing praise, sing praise, sing praise

     

    We sing praise

     

    Bridge:

     

    To Abba Father, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, to Elohim (x2)

     

    Chorus

  18. It's just another day they say,

    Commercial in every way,

    Cling! Clang! hear the ring of the till

    and the sleigh bells ring.

    It's just another day they say,

    Let's keep it simple.. no frills,

    no thrills.

    The sick, the scared, those in despair,

    Poor and them living in poverty some

    damaged in war,

    Is it just another day?

    Is this what they say?

    It's just another day they say,

    Let's keep it simple no frills,

    no thrills.

    Songs are sung at this wonderful day,

    Houses decorated; cards sent filled

    with greetings,

    Parties given in celebration.

    It's just another day they say,

    Let's keep it simple no frills,

    mo thrills.

  19. So, I got a DAW setup - yeh, party time.

    I got all my plugins to link (well 99% of them) correctly - yeh, party time.

    I got a Novation Launchpad hooked-up and making noise- yeh, party time.

    But there hasn't been any time for a party :no:

    You see 'between' each potential party-time of the first three lines, are a lot of things each respective company doesn't tell you. How could it with all the permutations of OS, DAW's, Plugins, Soundbank file types, Sound Card setups, Keyboards, Controllers etc. Well it could go a long way if truth be told !!!!!

    Take this Presonus example; they offer you a list of compatible and tested 'external devices'. But if your 'things' aren't in the list, then you set them up manually. To do this you choose which category your 'thing' fits under:

    1. New Keyboard
    2. New Instrument
    3. New Control Surface.

    But that creates a problem, since if your 'surface controller' acts as a Midi interface and you add it as a surface controller, it will not act as the Midi interface it is supposed to. So you have to add it as a keyboard. They don't tell you that, but they could (and if they do, I haven't been able to find it 'from them').

    Then take the Novation Launchpad problem. They made it to work with Ableton Live, so that DJ's could perform amazing live sets. DJ's seems to have united to the Launchpad and have been busy creating various maps etc that will allow them to use it with FL Studio, VDJ and a host of other DJ type programs.

    But it has the ability to be used like a Midi keyboard, just pads to hit instead of keys, and to organise the pads in the way you want (called mapping). So if you have EZDrummer, you can create a Midi drum track quite easily.

    But there's little help in this area, probably in one respect due to all the permutations of OS, DAW's, Plugins, Soundbank file types, Sound Card setups, Keyboards, Controllers etc.

    But it doesn't stop the frustration of knowing it 'will' do the job you want it to do, but taking a lot longer to work out how to. Couple that with the hours spent going through say Youtube and people's so called tutorials that are just them showing off what they can make the Launchpad do without saying how, and finding out way, way down the line about how you setup the wrong permutations of connecting and routing a Midi external device .............. you end up not feeling very much in the party mood.

    People create these amazing 'map' files, but they seem to omit where you put them to work. All these little types of things just mount up in frustration and time spent tracking down answers that offer solutions aswell as joining multiple forums to ask basic questions that leave you in 'limbo land', as you wait for days for a kind person to answer your question.

    It's no wonder really that musicians walk away from mixing and production - they'd have no time left to make music :lol:

    So, if you're the kind of person who gets a new toy and opens the box and plays with it without reading the instruction manual first (requiring some doctorate in language interpretation), or you have zero PC / technical skills, or you have no patience .......... I advise you to think carefully before going down this path :lol:

    I mean, install Ableton and be left wondering why the 64 bit version will not utilise your 32 bit plugins, I dare you :lol:

    I bet you're glad this is 'my' mountain to climb now :yes:

    Onwards and upwards ......... as they say!

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    Recent Entries

    kxylxxgh123
    Latest Entry

    You need to let me go

    You need to set me free

    The world has everything I need

    I need to fly

    Like a paper plane

    They're not always in control

    But with someone stronger by their side

    They build up power

    They can glide

    Some days get too much I want to shut down

    But when I go in to overload it's no use

    Sometimes it can be the littlest things that make me frown

    But that's complicated, I run on a short fuse

    You need to let me go

    You need to set me free

    The world has everything I need

    I need to fly

    Like a paper plane

    They're not always in control

    But with someone stronger by their side

    They build up power

    They can glide

    You're the one who feeds me my strength

    When all my energy runs out

    You won't let me flat line

    You know me better than that

    Sometimes I wish I could sleep all day

    When I know I won't be resting at night

    Too many worries about letting go

    I will when the time is right

    You need to let me go

    You need to set me free

    The world has everything I need

    I need to fly

    Like a paper plane

    They're not always in control

    But with someone stronger by their side

    They build up power

    They can glide

    But if it starts raining

    Bring that aeroplane inside

    Cause even the most carefree things

    Need the love and attention to thrive.

  20. Why bother getting stress right?

    The purpose of a lyric is to communicate something. An emotion a feeling or perhaps a story. For that to be put over the best way it can be, it needs to sound natural. For a lyric to sound natural and conversational, it needs to use language that we use everyday, in the way we use that language when speaking to each other.

    Now every multi syllable word in the English language has an agreed stress pattern. These can be seen in a dictionary. Not only that but each multi syllable word has a melody. Some syllables are pronounced with a higher or lower pitch than others.

    The reason for this is when we hear a multi syllable word for example "evenhanded"

    You will notice that the stressed syllable "hand" is a higher tone than the others.

    Why is this so? It is because we do not hear a multi syllable word as four separate syllables, we hear it as one entity. It is like driving a car when you turn a corner you do several things automatically without thinking about them separately. You are just thinking I am going to turn the corner. The things you need to do that happen automatically it is a learned response.

    So if you hear someone speaking a foreign language it always sounds as if they are speaking really fast. The reason being you do not know the agreed stress patterns and tunes of that language, so you are hearing it as separate syllables. They are not speaking fast at all.

    Now what does this mean to song writing? Several things. It means if you do not place your stressed syllables in the corresponding positions within matching meter lines, within a section of a song. You will end up with unnatural stresses, and forced rhymes. If you do not match the stresses in the same lines verse to verse, you are going to end up with a lot of melody variation between the verses, or a stumbling meter when it's read out aloud.

    What about single syllable words? Normally verbs nouns and adjectives are stressed other parts of speech are not. The exception to this is some times you may want to stress a pronoun to get a particular point across. For example "it ain't ME babe" the idea being that it is not me your looking for. Because I am not going to meet your expectations.

    Ok enough of the boring English lessons what to do?

    Well you can sit there in silence and say each of your lines as you would say them in normal speech, then go through and underline each stressed syllable.

    Then check that you have the right number of stressed syllable per line, in approximately the right places.

    Note and this is important.

    line length is determined by the number of stressed syllables per line.

    Line length is not, I repeat not determined by the actual number of syllables in a line.

    Now I don't know about you but this seems to be a boring and laborious way to go about things. So what else can you do?

    You can write new lyrics to existing songs making sure the stresses all work and you can do that in your head.

    Or you can get, or make yourself a series of loops. Either straight drum loops, or drums and pad, or drums and base. Then say your lyric out loud to the loop. Test the stresses, just hear them. If English is your mother tongue you will instinctively hear what is correct and what is not. So no need to go through the stress analysis on paper. Just feel the meter of it naturally.

    Now this can also be done by tapping a pencil in time on the desk. It is however easier to begin with to use loops. Especially if you are writing to a groove. Less to think about.

    Songs are meant to be heard and felt, not read. So it doesn't make any sense to be writing in silence. It is like writing in a vacuum. Say the words out loud, hear how they feel.

    Now and here is a bonus for writing or polishing a lyric to a loop. Prosody.

    Make your line FEEL the same as what you are saying.

    This is achieved by how the lyric is phrased, where it is positioned in the beat.

    To test this put on a drum loop in 4/4 time and recite this line to the beat.

    " I feel good today"

    Now the first time you recite it just say it naturally with out the drum loop.

    You will hear that the natural stress of this line is.

    "I feel GOOD to DAY"

    So the first way we are going to try it is as a positive statement, simply it's a great day and I feel good and all is right with the world.

    To FEEL this from the lyric the first stressed syllable "Good" will fall on the first beat of the bar. "I feel" are pick up notes from the previous bar. So count one two three "I feel good today" with the "I feel" as half notes on the fourth beat of the pick up bar, "good" on the first beat of the bar, "to"on the second and "day" on the third, rest on the fourth. Say it several times like that and note how it feels.

    If you then try this, you can get a slightly different feel. This time count one two on the pick up bar and say "I" on the third beat and "feel" on the fourth beat, then the rest of the line the same as in example one. Now it could be saying "I" feel good today, you may not , but "I" do.

    Now if in the context of your song this line is conveying I feel good today, but maybe I won't feel so good tomorrow, because today I'm drowning my sorrows, and tomorrow the hurt will come back.

    Then try it like this.

    Count one "I feel" as half notes on beat two, "good" on beat three, "to" on beat four, and "day" on beat one of the following bar. Now it should feel as if your actually saying "I feel good today, but". You should feel a certain doubt or anxiety to the sound of the line.

    Now having said all this, if you write your own melodies you should be having an aha moment right now. Because the lyric is dictating the grove, meter and feel of the melody. You will also notice the pitch. " good" will be a higher pitch and "today" will be descending, because that is how we say it in natural speech.

    This has to tell you, that if this statement is in a verse, Then in the corresponding line in the next verse, if the natural shape of the language doesn't move pitch wise in the same direction,you are going to have a melody variation. That is ok, easier if you don't, but no big deal it is done all the time. Just note that it is there, so that when you set the melody, in one verse you may be going up in a spot, and in another verse going down.

    Even if you are not writing the melodies it is your right and responsibility to get the feel to the lyric that you want. So make Margin notes. For example if you need the "I feel good today" line to be simply I feel good today. Note that you want "good" on the down beat. IE, beat one of the bar.

    The technical term for these phrasing techniques is "back heavy" and "front heavy" phrasing.

    Front heavy being the first stressed syllable on the first best of the bar.

    Back heavy being the first stressed syllable on the third beat of the bar.

    When I am preparing a lyric for melody writing. I make notations on the lyric sheet, for the phrasing notation I will write ( BH) at the end of any lines I need to have that feel, the assumption is that if it's unmarked it's front heavy. This is not a convention it's just my own short hand.

    So if I ask the question again: Why bother getting stress right?

    The answer might well be because if you don't, you have some nice words on a page. But what you don't have is a song.

    In summary

    Write to drum loops it's so much easier.

    Play with the phrasing to get the feel of how the lyric sounds, to match what it is saying.

    Happy writing.

    Cheers

    Gary

  21. blog-0944200001399321460.jpgI've always considered myself a musical scientist. I would be so bold as to say you should as well. While I don't know much about the craft of audio mixing and engineering, I've always had a natural ability to compose and I believe it is this mentality that I am a scientist of music that helps me to do this. Let me explain what I mean.

    The average musician from my experiences tends to be highly emotionally involved in their creations. They become attached to the work, attached to sounds they want to work in their songs, attached to the cool riff they came up with on guitar, attached to that synth sound that worked before it was mixed in with all the other instruments. Music is a form of expression and because of this musicians tend to be very subjective when it is being created. This is a piece of our soul we're trying to get out, so dedication to objectivity is a struggle.

    But what does a scientist do? They perform experiments in a lab. They mix chemicals together and see what happens. Objectivity is key in science, and if a scientist has an agenda and tampers with his results to give off the appearance of this theory being confirmed, he will be found out one way or another and labeled a pseudo-scientist. Musicians would do well to look at this process of experimentation and objectivity and apply it to their musical endeavors, as hard as that can be, and as strange as it may sound.

    This is where inspiration needs to meet with reality, not to be replaced by reality, but to be blended with it in a harmonious way. I know from my own personal experience that when I feel inspired, when that wave of emotion hits, what I'm writing seems magical to me. The ideas flow yes, but they are seen through rose colored shades, because I'm feeling a strong emotion. For the rest of my life when I hear what I wrote at that time, I may be brought back into that emotional place, the same way that smells and scenery do when I had a great experience with friends.

    This only lasts however when I'm alone. As soon as I am in the company of someone else and I show them the idea? That feeling is gone, and as I'm playing the song I had such a fondness for, I suddenly realize there are many things wrong with it! Why did this happen? Because I held too tightly to that wave of inspiration, that feeling I had, and I became convinced it was in the song, when in reality I just associated it with the song. And that's where a scientific approach becomes helpful.

    Your studio, your room you write in, the place you create, that's your lab. Your inspiration is your work material, it's what you've got in your test tubes if you will. Your goal now should be to experiment with that material and TEST YOUR RESULTS. Holding onto the hope that you are getting the result you want is not going to make it happen. Staying grounded and realistic, while not in itself going to obtain the result, will at least allow you to know what you have actually created, rather than what you wish you had.

    So how do you apply this practically, metaphors aside? I know of two concrete ways. First you need to make the conscious decision to keep your emotions about your work and your examination of the work separate, it is a choice. Practice thinking like a critic. After you get what you feel is a good rough draft or even a finished song, put yourself in the shoes of a critic (maybe not the harshest critic though, you don't want to fall into the other trap of not giving yourself credit where it is due). Imagine you are someone who is in a grumpy mood, someone who doesn't expect this song to be entertaining, and see if you see any problems with the song. Secondly you need to compare your work to similar projects that you know are getting the results you want, compare your lyric, your composition, or mix to an established artist who does a similar style. Does it stand up? Could you follow that act? If not, you may need to re-examine your work.

    In the realm of composition I find this the most true, and also time saving. Rather than assuming the musical pieces you expect to work will indeed work and then spending lots of time trying to make them work, be a scientist. Experiment, throw an idea in and see how it reacts to the other parts of the song. If it's not working? Come up with a different idea. In the writing process if things aren't flowing? Go for a walk, don't try to make them flow, get away, come back with a fresh perspective. Objectivity is going to take you from a personal songwriter writing for yourself, into a communicator who actually gets your emotions across to others.

    So the next time you sit down to create, think like a scientist. Experiment, stay objective, and test your results. It's difficult, and I myself forget this sometimes, but it's a good thing to keep in mind. At least, this Symph thinks so ;)

  22. Hey everyone, I just wanted to share some of my account names so you guys could follow me :flowers: I'll follow back too, if you let me know you're all from this site.

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/XXsummerdawnXX

    tumblr: upwardover-themountain.tumblr.com

    Instagram: smerr

    YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/KCandSM

    Also, roughly a year ago, I posted an original song by me on my YouTube and recently around Christmas, I posted a cover. I wouldn't mind some feedback on them if anybody does check out my stuff. I will advise that my cover video wasn't the best I've done, but I hadn't posted in a long while so I thought I'd do something for Christmas. Thank you for your time!

    xo-SummerDawn

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    blog-0867098001434211448.png

    Although this post mainly deals with lyricists, I think musicians can glean some truth.

     

    *NOTE*... Most of what I say here is subjective....This is the way I see it.

     

    I remember as a young boy, finding a well worn note binder on my mother's dresser, and being curious, I opened it and looked inside. It was filled from front to back with poems she had written; with the time written, day, and year at the bottom of each one. I sat down on her bed and started reading them. I had read about four or so, when my mom came in and caught me; mad as a hen that I invaded her privacy. After getting a lecture about how those were her private thoughts, I asked her why she never read me any poems (she read me books all the time). She said she didn't write them for other people, she wrote them to make her feel better. At the time, I didn't grasp what that really meant. Now I do.

     

    Why do we write? What is your core reason to write? There could be many answers to that, from many different people. But the core reason should always be, because you enjoy it. Other reasons might be; "because I want to get famous" or "I want to make money at it" but the core reason is enjoyment. If you don't enjoy it, you're not going to get famous and it's doubtful you will make any money. Yet there's another reason linked to the enjoyment factor (at least for me) and that is; it's therapy. It makes me feel better. I can vent anything through writing. I can let it all out, and in the process, deal with what I'm feeling in a constructive way. So I encourage new writers, don't write in hopes of impressing someone, or for getting a lot of positive reviews. Because the more you write for that reason, the less positive reviews you will probably get. If you really love writing, you WILL get better. Yet, part of getting better, is getting in touch with yourself. Write what pleases YOU and advance in your craft from there. Listen and learn from the seasoned writers, and use their input to express who you are better, in a better way than you did before. When you're feeling depressed and can hardly move; write. When you are feeling frisky; write. When you're content; write. You get the picture. Throw off your apprehension and lack of confidence, and write to feel better, not worrying about other people. And then when you decide to post, and you find you get negative reviews; don't sweat it. The core of you is in the lyric, now just reword it into a polished form that fits a lyric criteria. The more you write and take advice, the easier it gets, not only in writing a good lyric, but also in being able to reach down inside yourself to pull one out. To sum it all up; write what feels good to you, so you can feel better, and be better. Let it be your cheap form of therapy.

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    blog-0694205001393685620.jpgLast year,I entered a Christmas song writing contest,an international one,with no expectations of winning,and I took third place with my song lyrics,'Our Dogs gave us Fleas for Christmas',a lighthearted look at including our pets in on the Christmas celebration.All of us that view our pets as members of our families can identify with this song,it involves our pets from their point of view.I sent it in to a music promotion company with just two verses,they sent me a letter saying how good it was,so I added another verse and entered it in the contest mentioned above.I found out just last night I took third place,which includes a pro demo,and distribution on Star Tune,itunes and Amazon......I am completely new to this,and have not a clue as to what happens next.I need answers,and do not want to wait until they are opened on Monday.Some directions,please???thanks,Steve.