Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Proper Way To Care For Your DRUMS

Your drums are not just instruments that you set on a stage and play, and then take home again for practice without ever touching them for maintenance or cleaning. The truth is, if you don't want to take the time to clean them and keep them properly tuned, you are not true to your trade. Depending on the type of drums that you have, there way be variations on the maintenance that the manufacturer recommends. How you care for your set depends also on the material from which it is made.

Dave Weckl's drum kit @ Jazz Alley, Seattle, W...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So, if there isn't a rule regarding drum care, what do you do? As with your clothing, you follow the recommendations of the manufacturer. When you buy a new outfit, you check the label for laundering instructions – or you should – and the same is true of your drum set. Cymbals for the most part can be cleaned with a window cleaner, but how you clean your drums needs to be depends upon a variety of factors including material of the skins and of the outside. Steel is not recommended, though sometimes used, and there will be a different method than other material, which is usually simply soap and water or even glass cleaner for a shine.

As a drummer, you should be proud of your skins and want to keep them clean in between performances. It doesn't take more than perhaps a half hour a day to keep your set looking in top condition, but you want to make sure that you know exactly what you need to do before you even take the set home. If you order your drum set online, be sure you read all of the instructions regarding care and maintenance before you ever set up the kit, because some kits require oiling before you ever use the drums for the first time. Failing to do that when required can result in your drums sounding out of tune or not blending in with the rest of the musical instruments in the band.

Bear in mind that your drums are a major investment, and if you want them to last you for years to come, you have to take the time to take care of them from the day you first own them. You do not simply leave them to collect dust when you are not using them nor do you only take them in for maintenance when they don't sound as good as they did when they were new. Regular cleaning and routine maintenance will be your drum kit looking and sounding new for many years to come. It is unnecessary to buy a new set every few years if you take care of what you have from the start.



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A.K.A. DUOS In POP MUSIC

Pop music in the 1960's produced several top recording duos dotting the music charts and influencing future song writers and groups to this day.  Let’s explore a  few successful duos from the 60's that also recorded as lesser known names before they hit it big as the names they are known as today.

An early release by duo that called themselves Tom & Jerry in 1957 did not fair well, although the duo did manage to crack the top 100 on the music charts.   But subsequent releases proved to be very substantial, not only for pop rock, but for folk rock as well.  After minimal success as Tom & Jerry and reuniting together in the mid 60's as Simon and Garfunkel, the duo forged a path through pop and folk music that is iconic.

20 Greatest Hits (Simon & Garfunkel album)With a barrage of finely crafted pop and folk arrangements, Simon and Garfunkel amassed many pop hits such as “Homeward Bound, ““Sound’s Of Silence,” “I Am A Rock,” “Mrs. Robinson” (from the movie “The Graduate”), “The Boxer” and the Garfunkel-led ballad “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” among others.  After they split up, Garfunkel went on to record several well-received albums, but Paul Simon became known as one of the most prolific and vital song writers of the pop music era.

After the split from Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon scored top ten pop hits with “Mother And Child Reunion,” “Kodachrome,” “Loves Me Like A Rock” as well as “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.”  But Simon broke new ground musically and personally in 1986 with the album “Graceland,” which he adeptly mixed a collage of musical genres and political statements into one of the most remarkable solo albums of all time.  Somewhat controversial, it remains the benchmark for all solo artists who want to experiment with their musical background and add a mix of different cultures to the album to capture not only their already existing fan base, but create a new one as well. 

Although popular for their 1959 hit “Baby Talk,” Jan Berry and Dean Torrence rode the waves of the Beach Boys-led surf music sound in the early 1960's.  Previously known as Jan and Arnie, their infectious hit “Surf City,” (the duo’s only number one hit) was co-written by Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, who also provided back-up vocals.  Jan Berry returned the favor in1966 by singing lead on the Beach Boy’s hit “Barbara Ann.”  Jan and Dean had other chart hits such as “Drag City,” the prophetic “Dead Man’s Curve” and the whimsical “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena.”  The duo’s success was cut short in April of 1966 when Jan was critically injured in an automobile accident.

The Two of Us (Sonny & Cher album)The husband and wife team of Caesar and Cleo did not secure fame until they changed their name to Sonny and Cher and went on to pop mega-stardom, not only in music, but in television as well.  Their breakthrough hit “I Got You Babe” reached number one status and held that position for three weeks in 1965.  While still together as Sonny and Cher, each scored hits recording separately, Sonny with “Laugh At Me” and Cher with “All I Really Want To Do” and “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).”  Their magical musical combination and wisecracking repartee spawned a highly successful CBS-TV variety series that ran from1971 through 1974.  As a duo, Sonny and Cher secured top ten hits such as “Baby Don’t Go,” “ The Beat Goes On,” “All I Ever Need Is You” and “A Cowboy’s Work Is Never Done.”  Unfortunately, the marriage ended in divorce in 1973, but the story of Sonny and Cher does not.

They were briefly reunited in 1975 and Cher continued on to a brilliant solo career and Sonny entered politics.  Sonny Bono was elected mayor of Palm Springs, California and then elected to Congress in 1994 until his tragic death from a skiing accident in 1998.  Cher continued in music and also added a first rate acting career to her repertoire.  

As a solo artist in the 1970's, Cher scored hits with songs like “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves,” “The Way Of Love,” “Half-Breed” and “Dark Lady” among others.  Cher was also an accomplished actress, with starring roles in the acclaimed motion pictures “Silkwood” and “The Witches Of Eastwick.”  In 1987, Cher won an Oscar for her role in the movie “Moonstruck.”  She revived her musical career in 1989 scoring a top ten hit called “After All,” a duet with Peter Cetera from the motion picture “Chances Are” and the intense reflective “If I Could Turn Back Time.”  Remarkably, ten years later Cher was again in the Top 40 with her number one hit “Believe,” which spent four weeks as the top pop song and remained on the charts for twenty-five weeks.  To this day Cher remains peerless and is one of the most celebrated female singers and her trademark voice will be heard for decades to come.



Monday, August 22, 2016

The Influence Of BLUES GUITAR On Modern Music

Anybody interested in modern music sooner or later asks the question, "Where did it begin?" Well, if you leave blues guitar music out, you will not have much of an answer. So let us look at where the blues came from, where it went and who it met on the way. We will also take a look at the "blues guitar sound" and how it has its unique effect on our feelings.

El considerado rey del Blues con su inseparabl...
El considerado rey del Blues con su inseparable Lucille.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The blues as a musical phenomenon began around 1911 when W.C. Handy published popular songs, notably "Memphis Blues" and "St Louis Blues", which affected the hearts and souls of the black people. By the nineteen twenties the general population were beginning to hear this new music through its influence on jazz. Early blues singers like Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday sang with jazz bands while others played with "jug bands" accompanied by fiddle, kazoo and washboard.

Of course to people like W. C. Handy who were brought up singing in church, the piano was the natural instrumental accompaniment to their songs. But the guitar is portable and always was popular so it had to have a place in blues and jazz. Blues guitar players like twelve string guitarist Leadbelly and future electric guitar player B.B. King were making sure the guitar would be an integral part of the blues. Other blues guitarists made their living in smoky saloons playing slide guitar using a bottle neck or the blade of a knife to fret the notes.

After the Second World War young artists like Elvis Presley and Bill Haley were wrapping the blues in a new package called "rock'n'roll" and the players of the electric blues guitar like B.B. King were heralding the arrival of the lead guitar, soon to be a great attraction for both musicians and audiences. Throughout the evolution of the blues the guitar had always taken its turn for solos in jazz bands but now it competed with the singer for the attention of the audience.

Blues guitar can be played in any key that takes your fancy and comes in three basic forms: eight bars, for example "Heartbreak Hotel", sixteen bars like "Saint James Infirmary" and  twelve bars like  "St. Louis Blues". For some reason the twelve bar blues form is way more singer-friendly and popular with audiences than the other two, and it is the basis of many great songs outside the blues idiom.

If you go poking around the internet you will find that the blues scales are just your garden variety major and minor scales except that the third, fifth and seventh notes are played flat. However, you may be astonished to learn that blues players managed for centuries without knowing about European musical theory. They learnt to sing and play from their families and friends just as many of the young white blues players of the nineteen sixties learnt from imitating the artists they heard on records.

And this is where the blues takes another direction. After years of imitating their idols something odd happened to the white blues guitar players in Britain and the USA. They developed their own authentic, original styles. The older blues players even began using the new arrangements of classic songs and adopting some of the unbluesy musical innovations introduced by young white guitarists like Eric Clapton. So the beat goes on. A foreign culture influences American popular music and in turn gets fresh input from a new generation of guitar players from all over the world.



Sunday, August 21, 2016

SAXOPHONE Giants: CHARLIE PARKER

Portrait of Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter, Mile...
Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter, Miles Davis, and Max Roach,
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
Going To Kansas City
Charlie Parker was arguably the most influential saxophone player in jazz history. He was born on August 29, 1920 and was fortunate enough to be raised in Kansas City at a time when the music scene was in full stride. He took up alto saxophone at age 11 and was soon sneaking out of his house at night and into the nightclubs and theaters to watch and learn from the jazz greats of the time. Parker claimed to have learn a lot about playing saxophone by watching the fingers of the great Lester Young move up and down on his saxophone keys.

Yardbird
The older jazz musicians would hang out in the alleys during breaks and soon took a liking to this young kid. They helped sneak him into the clubs. Because of his fondness for eating chicken they gave him the nickname Yardbird. This was later shortened to the name he was known the world over for, Bird. As a teenager Parker became a serious musician who practiced 12 to 15 hours per day. He was soon playing in local bands and joined Jay McShann's territory band 1938. This band embodied the Kansas City jump blues style and toured the southwest as well as Chicago and New York.

52 nd Street
Bird moved to New York City in 1939 to further pursue his music career. He soon joined the big band of Earl 'Fatha" Hines and met Dizzy Gillespie. Bird, Gillespie, and other musicians such as Theolonius Monk, Kenny Clarke, Bud Powell and Charlie Christian were bored and fed up with the big bands who employed them and began hanging out at after hours jam sessions on 52nd Street in Harlem. These musicians soon developed a new style of jazz called Bebop. This new music was marked by fast tempos, sometimes intricate harmonic structure and the instrumental virtuosity of its players.

Now's The Time
By the mid 1940's Bird was leading his own groups and headlining recording sessions. During this period he recorded such Now's The Time, Yardbird Suite, Anthropology and Confirmation. Parker continued to record and perform through the early 50's even pursuing his interest in combining jazz and classical music by recording an album with strings, Bird With Strings, in 1949.

The Baroness
Haunted by a lifelong addiction to heroin and alcohol Charlie Parker died at The Stanhope Hotel in New York City on March 12, 1955. At the time he was staying in the suite of his friend and patron Nica de Koenigswarter who was known as the 'Baroness of Bebop" for hosting jazz jam sessions in her hotel suite.

Bird Lives
Charlie Parkers impact on modern jazz cannot be overestimated. Countless prominent jazz musicians followed in his footsteps and pointed to bird as one of their main influences. In jazz studies programs at colleges and universities across the globe his music is the standard to which all else is measured.
Bird Lives!

    By Joel Krett
    Joel Krett is currently playing tenor saxophone and harmonica with The Subway Show Band out of Morgantown, WV. and is an avid jazz fan.
    Article Source: EzineArticles


Saturday, August 20, 2016

How To SING Higher Notes

The ability to sing high notes and increasing the vocal range is an aspiration of most singers. However, most singers find it very difficult to increase their vocal range so that they can hit and sustain those high notes effortlessly and effectively.

So how can you own a powerful singing voice and hit those high notes without straining your vocal cords or even damaging them?

glottal cycle, falsett register
Glottal cycle, falsett register (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Although expanding your vocal range is an illusive issue, the good news is that it is not all that difficult. Once you understand it, you will be surprised that it can be so simple after all.

Now, for the bad news, it is somewhat like learning how to swim. You cannot possibly learn to swim by reading an article or even a zillion articles without getting into the pool and start practicing your swimming strokes. The problem is that many singers are doing just that when learning how to sing.

It is the same when you want to increase your vocal range to hit those high notes. You can possibly learn the theory from an article such as this one, but would be most unlikely that you can master the skill because it involves the coordination of muscles moving and correct breathing techniques when you are singing.

The precise coordination of these singing muscles and breathing techniques can only be learnt by listening and repeating vocal exercises and then in actual singing.

People will think that you are crazy crazy if you go around asking, "Can you provide me with some helpful tips on becoming a proficient surgeon in time for a open heart operation next week?", but no one will give you a second look when you ask "Give me some singing tips on how to sing high notes."

Having said that the correct vocal exercises are crucial for you to expand your vocal range, here are some singing tips for you to sing the high notes.

In order to increase your singing vocal range, you must learn to get the wrong muscles out of the way, so try this experiment.

Begin by gently placing your hand over your throat so that your chin is cradled between your thumb and your forefinger. Pretend that you are trying to hide your throat from view but just barely touching it so that you can feel its movement.

Once your hands are in place, just swallow. Can you feel things moving inside your throat? Of course you do. What just happened is that more than 30 muscle groups working just to ensure that you swallow properly!


These muscle movements are to make sure food goes down your gullet and not into your windpipe. They are also designed to work for about as long as a swallow lasts, then they go back to their original position.

Unfortunately, these muscles are also activated when you are singing and especially so when you are singing the higher notes.

I said "unfortunately" because the muscles actually do nothing to help you to sing higher notes but are using up energy and increasing the tension around the muscles that are needed for you to sing higher.

Do remember that the swallowing muscles are designed to work for just a second or two when you swallow and they then go back to their original position, but when you begin to sing, you are more likely to feel them engaged and stay engaged until they wear the singer out. Therefore the singer must educate the actual singing muscles not to over-exert themselves when singing higher and higher notes.

Your most natural sounding voice is the voice you use when you are speaking. When you sing in a "normal" tone, you will start in this voice. It very likely is your "chest" voice. It is called "chest voice" because most of the resonating or vibrating to create sound is happening in your chest.

In your most natural sounding voice, you have learnt to make a nice, strong sound by letting the tone vibrate mostly in your chest. You didn't even need think about it and that is why it is natural. It is a very open, rich and full sound. It sounds "firm" and not "mushy" at all.

Your little tiny noise-making muscles which are your vocal cords are generally vibrating along their entire length when you are singing in your chest voice. Your vocal cords are amazing muscles. They perform tricks and some of those tricks are used to easily take your voice over three or even more octaves.

Your vocal cords change the notes along the bottom of your range by contracting. The tighter they contract, the higher the rate of vibration as air passes between them from your lungs.

Just like any muscles, they will reach a limit as to how tight they can contract without injuring themselves. At that critical point, they will do one of these two things:-

a) They protect themselves while maintaining their ability to sing higher than that critical point by suddenly dumping tension by swinging apart slightly, and producing an airy false voice usually referred to as the falsetto voice. I called the falsetto "false" because it sounds so unlike that rich chest tone you were producing just a few notes lower. Get the picture?

When your singing voice goes into a falsetto, you will experience a physical relief since you went from a high tension state to almost no tension at all. Your singing will go from struggling for the next note to easily reaching the next higher note.

However, you will probably not be comfortable with the fact that your voice tone changed so drastically and losing the power in your singing. It is really an emotional a let-down. It makes you feel like writing emails to people asking "How can I sing higher notes?".

If you are properly trained, your vocal cords will do the next two tricks and can easily shift into the next gear rather than flip into a falsetto voice when singing higher notes.



Your vocal cords will begin to thin out as you go higher and changing their mass so that they vibrate at a higher rate of vibration and therefore they do not to tighten more. It is just like changing to a thinner guitar string but keeping the tension exactly the same.

So your voice is unlike going into a falsetto as they don't pull apart so that the tone produced will still have that firm sound rather than that airy false sound.

You will eventually enter into what is called the "head voice" because the resonance moves from your chest cavity to the cavities in your head and face.

If you are practicing with the correct vocal exercises, your body will learn to fade more resonance into the head cavities and out of the chest cavity producing what is called a "mixed voice". When you listen to a singer who has a wide, powerful voice range, this is exactly what that singer is doing.

Once your vocal cords have taken you as high as they can go by thinning out, they will actually close off a portion of their length which is not unlike fretting a guitar string. This will result in even higher notes like the whistle tones of Mariah Carey because the length of the vibrating surface has been shortened.

So do you want to be able to sing high notes effectively ? Don't let anyone tell that you can't.