Friday, February 23, 2018

Learning to Play SAXOPHONE - About the Instrument

Bell Of A Selmer Mark Vi Alto Saxophone Within...
Bell Of A Selmer Mark Vi Alto Saxophone  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Saxophone, one of the best instruments to learn (in my opinion)! You will soon come to find that playing the saxophone is not only fun, but it also teaches discipline and the sense of achievement are priceless.

Note about Equipment
Some sax players spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about equipment...
Tiger Woods would still beat you at golf if he used crappy clubs.
But maybe not if he used a baseball bat and a volleyball.

So have to make sure your saxophone, mouthpiece, reeds, etc are functioning. But DO NOT spend more time worrying about your equipment than actually playing & practicing.

The saxophone itself has a body and a neck. The mouthpiece goes around the neck and has a reed held on by a ligature. The mouthpiece, reeds, and ligature matter sometimes more than the horn itself.

Saxophone Reeds
The reed makes the sound in your saxophone through its vibration.
Saxophone reeds are made of a special cane that grows in only a few parts of the world. It is expensive and wears out in a few weeks. There are synthetic alternatives, but they don't sound as good.
Start with a softer reed (lower number). And you'll also want a softer reed if you have a mouthpiece that is more open. Beginners can start with number 2 and experiment from there.

Saxophone Mouthpiece
The basic idea of mouthpiece position on a sax is that pushing the mouthpiece farther down on the cork will make your intonation higher while pulling it out will make your intonation lower.
To quote Jimmy Haag, "You are basically playing a long tube when you play a saxophone. A saxophone is all about the speed of the air like any wind instrument. The length of the tube determines its harmonics. Since EVERYONE has a different throat, mouth, teeth, and tongue, it is a truly individual journey to find out what works for you. I meet a lot of people who are looking for a standard but in fact, there is only one way that will work for you."

So it's not as simple as pushing the mouthpiece on farther or pulling it out more.
The temperature and the environment affect intonation too- if it's hot outside the air will move faster and the sax will be sharper if its cold- it will tend to be flat.

And a saxophone in tune on one note will not necessarily be in tune on another note, if not adjustments are made by the player. With practice, you'll develop control and these things will happen subconsciously.

Ligature
The ligature holds the reed on the saxophone mouthpiece. It makes some differences. But you probably don't need to spend ridiculous amounts of money on a diamond-encrusted ligature.


Saxophone
There are four 'big' brands of saxophone:
Selmer, Keilwerth, Yamaha, and Yanagisawa.
They all make professional horns.
The Selmer Mark VI is the most famous type of saxophone, they stopped making them so the Mark VI's can be very pricey these days. But many professionals swear by them. Not every Mark VI is still in great condition though.

There are some other brands that make decent horns. Be careful if they are imported and have soft metal. And try them out before you buy them.

Saxophones have features such as rolled tone holes and a high F# key. In general, many of the advancements in instrument making have been adopted by most saxophone companies.

Types of Saxophone
When you're starting off, play an alto or tenor. Alto's a bit smaller and easier for a child to carry.
Soprano is smaller than alto, but its tone is harder to control.
And baritone is larger than tenor.
The tenor saxophone is what most famous saxophone players favor although some preferred alto and there are a handful of saxophone players who mostly play soprano or bari.

Musicality!
Remember that you need to play music on your saxophone, not just have nice equipment.
A bad driver in a Ferrari is not impressive.
Sometimes problems you have with playing are actually because of the instrument, reed, etc. But more times they are not.




Thursday, February 22, 2018

ELECTRONIC DRUM KITS Signify Modernization Of Music-Making

Electronic Drum Set
Electronic Drum Set (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Drum kits have evolved significantly in recent decades from the classic bass-snare-cymbal combination into electronic devices that have essentially changed the way music is made. Electronic drum kits were first introduced in the early 1970’s as an innovative piece of equipment used to produce drum sounds electronically rather than acoustically. This occurs by hitting a trigger pad on the drum kit. The sounds are translated into digital waveforms from the electronic drum module and this, in turn, produces the desired percussion sound.

Beginning in the 1980’s, electronic drum kits began to see a wider fan base and it was becoming common to see bands incorporate them with acoustic drum sets. At the point of their first introduction in the 1970’s, and even into the early 1980’s, it was uncommon to see electronic drum kits used by themselves because they had not been perfected yet.

Bill Bruford of the band King Crimson was one of the first to introduce the electronic drum kit into his set. In fact, his usage of the drum kit almost completely abolished his need for acoustic drums because of the quality of his sound.

In the late 1980’s, electronic drum kits finally arrived at a near perfect image with a near perfect sound. Popular electronic drummer Akiro Kimbo uses the electronic drum kit in interesting and innovative ways, delighting and entertaining music fans all across the world. Music equipment companies such as Yamaha began manufacturing electronic drum pads that were mounted on acoustic drum kits to produce a synthesized sound. This new sound was able to maintain the original acoustic sound with an electronic twist that many considered to be an innovative addition to the world of music.

Rick Allen, Def Leppard’s premier drummer, is proof of the quality and success of electronic drum kits. After Allen lost his arm in a car accident, he had a special electronic drum kit made so that he was still able to play. Later on, he had a second kit made that would play back pre-recorded components of his acoustic drum kit whenever he struck a pad. Thus, while being new and original, the sound produced by Allen’s kit still maintained its classic acoustic sound.

Electronic drum kits have not witnessed universal success and usage. However, they were created to produce a ground-breaking sound above and beyond the capabilities of the classic drum kit. Although the preference of the majority of rock bands today is still the classic kit, the electronic drum kit has broken down the old-school barriers and have appealed to those wanting to add some creativity and vision to the world of music.



Wednesday, February 21, 2018

BACH - Guide to the Man in the White Wig

Johann Sebastian Bach would never be as appealing for his adventures in life and good looks like, say, Mozart or Beethoven. His famous portrait showing him as an old man in a white wig holding a piece of sheet music scared away many generations of young music lovers. I think that this picture doesn't do justice to this composer capable of great emotional deepness.

Mozart had an exciting death, writing his Requiem in his deathbed, adding popularity points to his character. Beethoven was kind of a romantic hero and became deaf making him even more appealing. Bach? He never left Germany and his life passed without many interesting facts standing out. Another example of a great classical composer suffering from low popularity because of his not-so-interesting lifestyle is old Haydn, the father of the symphony, who is always overshadowed by the naughty Mozart.

But I think that this injustice also gives greater merit to Bach, in that all his popularity is due to his music, and not any extramusical fact. It is better this way, you can know him much better through his music than through words.

You are fortunate in reading this article, you are going to experience the most wonderful and deep music ever composed, you'll start a journey that will last a lifetime. You'll never get tired of Bach's music, if you start here you will love it and explore it for the rest of your life.

The best way to get in touch with Bach's music, or with music by any other composer is starting with the most well-known pieces, the ones you heard in commercials, movies, video games, etc.
I'm almost sure you've heard these pieces somewhere but never knew anything about them:

  • Air on the G string: One of the most famous pieces of classical music. It is featured in innumerable movies, anime series, video games, etc. Rock band Procol Harum wrote a song inspired by this piece that became a worldwide hit and it is still heard today: "A whiter shade of Pale".
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor: the most famous piece written for organ. It is always associated with Halloween and horror movies. An orchestral version was featured in Disney's Fantasia.
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: the staple music of weddings.
  • Badinerie: a popular ringtone in cellphones. It is a flutists' showpiece.
  • Prelude in C major: This piece became famous by the musical setting by Charles Gounod of the "Ave Maria". He based this piece in the prelude.



Monday, February 19, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About the Violin From A-Z - ANTONIO STRADIVARI

English: Photo Stradivari Português: foto stra...
Stradivari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hello this is the beginning of my series of articles that will cover everything you need to know about violin from A-Z. I will start this series with Antonio Stradivari.

Antonio Stradivari is known without any competition to be the greatest violin maker in the history of mankind. To this day the quality and sound of his violins remain unsurpassed and they are now worth millions of dollars.

His genius remains a mystery that has never been solved. Over the years many have tried to copy his violins and none have succeeded in creating anything close to matching their sound. The violins themselves have been analyzed extensively in laboratories and everything has been examined from the wood to the varnishes and glues that he used.

The front view image of the Antonio Stradivari...
The front view image of the Antonio Stradivari violin of 1703. The picture was taken at the Musikinstrumenten Museum, Berlin.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Antonio Stradivari was born in Cremona a small town in Italy in 1644, the exact birth date is unknown. It was there where he would live his entire life and establish his fame the greatest instrument maker ever seen. He was mentored by Nicolo Amati who was also from a family of famous violin makers. While still under Amati he began showing signs of the genius that would characterize his career.

In July 1667 he would marry the first of his two wives Francesca Feraboschim a young widower. After her death in 1698, he would remarry to a woman named Antonia Maria Zambelli. Altogether he had eleven children with the two women.

During his career, he made over a thousand instruments of which only 650 remain today. As well as making violins he also made violas, cellos, and guitars. The years between 1698 and 1720 are known as his golden age it is during this time that he made his finest violins these are the pieces that today sell for millions of dollars.

Antonio Stradivari died at the age of 93 in Cremona leaving behind a legacy of music and artistry that still remains unsurpassed.

    By Eric B Hill
    Eric B. Hill is a professional violin player and teacher with over 20 years experience.
    Article Source: EzineArticles



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.

Peace   
Author: Dennis Tryon