Sunday, February 18, 2018

How to Play Slide Guitar.

Slide Guitar - Photo: Wikimedia
Don’t you just love the distinctive sound of a slide guitar, whether it’s on a country tune or the down and dirty blues?  There has been a renewed interest in slide and bottleneck guitar playing in the last few years, and the new country music has adopted the sound big-time.

I was intimidated when I first put a slide on my little finger, it was awkward, and the sound I made was horrible. I did not have anybody to show me how to dampen the strings, what scales sounded good in standard tuning, and not a clue as to all of the “open-tunings” that are available to both fingerstyle and slide playing.

Actually playing with a slide can be very easy, and beginners can get some really cool sounds with a bit of practice.  I would recommend tuning to an open D or open G at first.   The open tuning approach gives nice major chord sounds up and down the neck, and allows for some easy fingering and ability to play songs right away.  That’s the reason for playing right?  Exercises and scales have their place but most people I know that started to play guitar, want to learn some songs.

First, start with a slide or “bottleneck” as many refer to when describing the tube that you wear on your finger.  The choices are many, the material is endless, and the type of tone they produce is just as varied. You will be the ultimate judge of the tone and sound you create. 

The two basic materials are either glass or metal, with ceramic coming in a distant third. Can’t really say I have a favorite type of slide. I have just about one of every kind you can think of, I prefer glass on electric guitar and steel or brass on acoustic guitar.

One tip that is guaranteed to help give you better TONE is going for very dense material.  Get a thick or heavy glass slide, as this will increase sustain and fatten up your sound.  My preference is hand blown leaded glass, but very hard to find in the US, as it is illegal to use leaded glass for manufacturing. I got mine from a vendor in the UK. 

The preferred finger is the pinkie on your fretting hand, but lots of players use their ring or even the middle finger. The advantage of using your little finger is that it gives you the most fretting possibilities, but some claim you give up some control.  The main thing is just try on a bunch of slides and go for what feels good to you!

Once you have found a slide just have some fun running it up and down the strings.  More than likely you can make some awful noise, the task is how you can quiet down all of that excessive noise and get some soulful sound coming from your guitar.

Let's start with an open tuning; my preference is open G tuning. 
Drop your fat or lower E string down to a D pitch.  You can use the 4th string or D to tune to. Then tune the A string down G and you can use the 3rd or G to tune to as well. The last string you have to detune is the bottom E or 1st string.  Tune it to D as well, then when you strum your guitar it plays a G major chord and sounds really sweet.

Your guitar sound now is tuned D-G-D-G-B-D as opposed to the regular tuning of E-A-D-G-B-E.
Open G tuning. It's a favorite among slide guitarists, because it gives you a wide-open major chord on any fret, and it allows an easy alternating bass because the root (the main note of the chord, G if it's a G chord, for example) is on the fifth string while the fifth (D if it's a G chord, for example) is on the sixth and the fourth.  Both slide and non-slide players also appreciate the fact that open G also enables you to play a standard blues line with relative ease!

One of the most crucial aspects of getting good clean sound is the use of damping behind the slide.  Master this technique and you will be amazed how good the sound of you slide on steel strings will be.

I suggest that you lay your fretting fingers flat on the neck just behind the slide, and use slight pressure on the strings with the slide.  Not too heavy, as you do not want to hit the fret but not so light that you get no sound either. Just experiment a little and you will find the right pressure to use.

You also want to play just over the fret and not behind as this will give you the best intonation.  This also takes some practice but with some careful listening, you will know when you are on the pitch.  Mater this technique and you will be beyond most occasional players.

I have a website devoted to slide guitar and links to many resource and reviews of video lessons on slide playing.  I think the sound of slide guitar is the most human-like of any instrument and allows the guitarist to express an amazing range of emotion and feeling on the guitar.

Author: Dennis Tryon

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Humor Under The KEYBOARD

Bruce Hornsby performing on a Steinway concert...
Bruce Hornsby performing on a Steinway concert grand piano.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For me, the piano is the symbol of what is stiff, proper and elegant. It doesn't have faults, it is perfect. Pianists are the most perfectionist people in the world. They should not and can not make mistakes especially when performing. That is how I viewed the piano and the pianists. But then, I just found out I was wrong. A few types of research and I have once again proven that appearances can be deceiving.

The pianists we see play appear to be the most formal and respectable stars on the stage. They hold the power and the breadth of the audiences. They could look intimidating in their formal suits not to mention the authority and the air of arrogance they exude while on stage. They can be captivating.

But before we forget, these pianists are also human. And humans do make mistakes. Most of these mistakes can be frustrating and depressing. But then, there are also mistakes that are amusing and could also be totally hilarious. It shows how fun could be inserted even in the most seemingly stuffy and proper event.

Here are some examples:

When asked for their definition of a piano, some famous musicians and musical enthusiasts have some famous replies:

· For David W. Barber (The Musician's Dictionary), a piano is a cumbersome piece of furniture found in many homes, where playing it ensures the early departure of unwanted guests.

· Piano (n.) is a parlor utensil for subduing the impertinent visitor. It is operated by depressing the keys of the machine and the spirits of the audience, according to Ambrose Bierce, an American journalist (The Devil's Dictionary).

· A piano tuner is a person employed to come into the home, rearrange the furniture, and annoy the cat. The tuner's chief purpose is to ascertain the breaking point of the piano's strings.

Though these definitions may sound humorous, you can never miss the ironies in it. Coming from people who live and breathe the piano, these definitions seem odd.

Here's more - when asked about their secrets in playing, you would certainly be surprised at how simple their secrets can be, and definitely applicable.

· Australian pianist Artur Schnabel said, "I always make sure that the lid over the keyboard is open before I start to play".

· "Nothing soothes me more after a long and maddening course of pianoforte recitals than to sit and have my teeth drilled", said George Bernard Shaw, a writer, and a music critic.

I definitely agree with Artur Schnabel's top secret! I wonder why George found it relaxing to have his teeth drilled after hearing the pianoforte recitals. Check out more of the piano's funny side:

· Bob Hope, an American comedian commented on fellow comedian Phyllis Diller on her playing the piano: "When she started to play, Steinway himself came down personally and rubbed his name off the piano."

· A band teacher recalled the title of the song "Claire de Lune" played by a student as "Claire de Loonie".

· The audiences at a piano recital were appalled when a telephone rang just off stage. Without missing a note, the soloist glanced toward the wings and called, "If that's my agent, tell him I'm working!"

Now, let's check out some famous questions and answers in the funny world of the piano:

· What do you get when you drop a piano down a mine shaft? A flat minor

· What do you get when you drop a piano on an army base? A flat major

· Why is an 11-foot concert grand better than a studio upright? Because it makes a much bigger kaboom when dropped over a cliff.

· Why was the piano invented? So that the musician would have a place to put his beer.

· Why did they say that the pianist had fingers like lightning? They never struck the same place twice.

· What did they find when they dug up Beethoven's grave? He was decomposing.

· Why did Mozart kill his chicken? Because they always ran around going, "Bach! Bach! Bach!"

· Imagine a singer, a piano player, a bass player and a drummer sitting around the table. Now if you drop a hundred-dollar bill right in the middle and tell them they're free to take it, who's getting it? The piano player. Because the bass player is too slow, for the winger it's too little money and the drummer didn't get the assignment.

Now that we've seen the humor under they keyboards, the piano and the pianists are not as elusive as they seem to be. It is just like discovering a new type of music. The piano and the pianist can take not just the breath out of the audiences but also the laughter as they present not only fine music but terrific humor as well. Having fun is what life is all about.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Development of BLUES MUSIC

John Lee Hooker at the Long Beach Blues Festival
John Lee Hooker at the Long Beach Blues Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jazz, rock music and country and western are just some of the styles that owe a lot of their progression from the original blues. The contribution of Blues music to the development of many other genres of music is very significant. Blues was originally grown out of the hardships endured by many generations of African Americans and first arose from the rural Mississippi region, around about the time of the dawn of the 20th century. The style developed from work shouts (known as Arhoolie) and became the vocal narrative style that we associate with blues music today.

The industry was progressing, and by the 1920's Blues music was also developing - affecting the everyday lives of people involved. There was by this time a very particular style, based around a three-line stanza. The stanza contained just one line of verse, repeated, and then finished with a final line of rhyming verse.

The style also included a repeating blues chord progression, which was the basis of the harmony. The usual rule of thumb was a 12-bar pattern utilizing the 3 major chords of a scale. The text was set to a 12-bar chorus, and typically was between four and eight stanzas in length.

In typical cases, the melody is formed by flattened third, fifth and seventh notes of the major scale. The outcome is the 'bent' notes that lend Blues music that distinctive sound - the bittersweet emotional impact that lacks in other genres. For the majority of blues music, the focus is on the vocals - contradicting the fact that performers will often improvise instrumental solos over the Blues chord progressions.

Many itinerant musicians (the majority of which were men), traveled from one community to the next, singing songs that focused on love, freedom, sex and the general sorrows of life. Often referred to as 'Delta Blues' (in tribute to the Mississippi Delta were they first originated), country blues arose from the Southern rural experience, particularly influenced by the impact of emancipation.

Classic Blues
African Americans began to migrate, mainly looking for work. Areas such as Memphis and New Orleans began to become more populated, and these people brought their own brand of music with them. As they settled in these areas, it led to Blues music becoming much more urban-orientated. The music evolved as their way of life evolved. Male or female vocalists began to appear more regularly, and there was now the addition of a single piano.

The audience also grew, and Blues became more mainstream. Throughout the country as a whole, Blues music could now be heard in dancehalls and barrooms. The music industry as a whole started to take note, and more and more compositions and marketing arrangements emerged, as people began to take notice. The popularity of this kind of music grew exponentially. What would become known as Classic Blues became so popular that many songs were released with the word 'blues' in the title to capitalize on this, even though they bared little or no relation to the style of music.

Its center, previously clustered around Memphis and New Orleans, began to migrate, and soon cities such as Chicago became the central point of much of the music. The appetite for the style of music known as the Blues was quite voracious.

The end of the Second World War brought a new revival into the genre, and artists began to develop the music, primarily through adding a bit of extra emphasis on the bass drums and cranking up the guitar sounds. Artists like Elvis and Bill Haley began to incorporate the Blues methods into their own unique brand of rock n roll. By the 1950's this style was no longer centered around the African American community and was universally practiced across all races.

The influence that Blues music has had on the music industry as a whole is undisputed, and yet Blues music is still evolving, still developing, and still evoking the stirrings of the soul to anyone who cares to listen! The incorporation of the Blues style into different genres still exists today, and Blues music in its own right continues to go from strength to strength - many top-selling artists maintain the original styles.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Health Benefits from DANCING

Young couple dancing cha-cha-cha at a junior L...
Young couple dancing the cha-cha-cha at a junior Latin dance competition
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Want to stay fit?? Love dancing?? 

Dancing is the most enjoyable and exciting form of exercise. It keeps our mood happy and gives us fun. Dancing has many health benefits. According to some research in the USA, dancing helps in keeping us healthy as we grow old. It strengthens our muscles and keeps us fit. 

The researchers recommend opting for dance classes. The dance lovers can opt for any kind of dance style depending on their interest and dedication. There is a wide range of dance forms today like- ballet, salsa, tap dance, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, street dance and the list is endless. It is said that the dances which involve steps help in increasing our brain power and makes our memory sharp. Also, dance helps in avoiding serious health problems like dementia, Alzheimer, osteoporosis etc. People these days replace exercise and aerobics with dance. It helps in increasing our stamina and makes our body more flexible. Not only this but dancing helps in boosting our self-esteem and confidence. 

Basically, dance appeals more to women but nowadays, even men are performing various dance forms and that too with elegance and style. The ballroom dancing has become a popular dance style among both men and women. Different types of dancing are significant in different ways like-
  • Belly dancing helps in solving back problems and exercises our abdominal muscles.
  • Ballroom dancing helps in proper regulation of the heart.
  • Salsa, a Latin dance form helps in maintaining low blood pressure and control cholesterol.
  • Jazz dance helps in isolating the various parts of our body.

Different dance forms will give you different health benefits. They help in keeping your body toned from head to toe. Today people of all age groups are opting for dance to keep themselves fit and healthy.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS Of The Renaissance, The Ancestor Of Modern Musical Instruments

Wind instruments in the Musical Instrument Mus...
Wind instruments in the Musical Instrument Museum, Brussels, Belgium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Renaissance is an important time period of history; the word means in French “rebirth” and is very appropriate to define the most spectacular historical age in Italy. Western Europe was also influenced by its main features, the revival of learning based on classical sources (Greek and Latin), and the rise of papal patronage, the development of perspective and great advancements of science. 

Albrecht Durer was the first to describe Italian art as “renaissance”. Giorgio Vasari, Giotto, Masaccio, Brunelleschi and Donatello are developing the painting art to the perfection. Leonardo da Vinci, a great scientist, painter and sculptor, Michelangelo developed their awesome art on the desire to study the nature.

The Renaissance was a great period for musical instruments. Renaissance music is represented by liturgical forms. Composers of sacred music began to adopt new forms, such as “Madrigal” and use improved musical instruments of the Renaissance. Sacred new genres appeared; the madrigal spirituale, the laude, the mass and the motet. Instrumental music was composed for viol or recorder. Most popular genres were the toccata, the ricercar, the prelude, and the canzona. The great idea of polyphonies, the basis of today’s music, is coming from those great times.

The most important is that most of the musical modern instruments have evolved from the musical instruments of the Renaissance. Many popular musical instruments, such as flute, oboe, trumpet, trombone, and guitar can be traced back to the Renaissance. Wind instruments are really related to this period. Many musical instruments of the Renaissance were made out of wood, such as shawm, flute, recorder or sackbut. The shawm is the first oboe; it is also the ancestor of English horn and bassoon. All these musical instruments of the Renaissance were played with a double reed. The shawm produces really loud sounds, the kortholt, and the dulcian too. All those musical instruments of the Renaissance are using a reed-cap and have a two and one half octave range.

The cornetts were also very popular during the Renaissance; all of them were made out of wood. Today the trumpets are made out of brass. Musical instruments of the Renaissance such as cornetts coma in three types: the curved cornett, the mute cornett, and the straight cornett. The recorder, the flute, and the transverse wee also very popular during the Renaissance, because they were easy to play.

The transverse flute was the first musical instrument of the Renaissance where the vibrato can be used. Today vibrato is used on a large scale of musical instruments.