Sometimes sitting down to compose a piece of music is an act of extreme frustration. Other times it just flows like water. Typically, you enter into the process with pre-conceived ideas of how you want the project to turn out. Other times you let it happen.
This was one of those times. I pulled up a project that I had started earlier, which was a looped piano riff with a very cool, chill vibe to it. I looked for a beat that would go along with it but nothing clicked. Instead, I decided to go with a very basic stand up bass part that fit perfectly. I then added a guitar melody over top of it and boom it worked. Surprisingly, I used my white PGM 30 electric guitar tuned down 1/2 step and it sounded great. As for the sound, I used the Royal Rock (Queen) setting on Logic Pro X, which has a touch of delay on it along with that Brian May bite.
By the way, this was composed for my mom as a gift for mother’s day. Luckily, this was one of those moments where everything fit. It would be great if it were always this easy:)
Talk about quirky angular guitar riffs, this one’s at the top of the list. Justin Bieber’s new song, “That’s What Love Is” from his new album, Changes is a nevertheless a good technical workout.Justin Bieber Talk about quirky angular guitar riffs, this one’s at the top of the list. Justin Bieber’s new song, “That’s What Love Is” from his new album, Changes is a nevertheless a good technical workout.
Pink Floyd‘s tech-heavy composition, “Welcome to the Machine” was always way ahead of its time. It brooding and searching and minor-based sonic pallet always took some getting used to, at least for me. But, after covering the song, I discovered the incredible melodic motifs contained within.
For the writing of this work I used a Fender American Stratocaster, running into Logic Pro X. The effect on the guitar is Vahalla’s Smimmer, which is my all time favorite guitar effects. Not to mention that it is an incredible tonal experience.
You would be hard-pressed to find a musician as dedicated to his craft than Carlos Santana. You would be even more challenged to find a musician who believes more in the power of music. For him, music is about meaning, healing energy, and the ability of it to bring out our supreme spirit of self reflection and internal power.
We live our lives at breakneck speeds. We run to and fro, surrounded by the din of technology and its voices calling us to enter its vapid world of commercial overindulgence. It’s up to the individual to look in the mirror and say, “Stop!” Realize, or finally admit that it’s impossible to take in all the information that comes at us. My plea to you is to take a few moments and slow down. Slow down and focus on the voices that are there to offer you true peace and calm. Take Carlos Santana, I wonder if we even realize the treasure we have in this man, his music, and his mission? Santana and his music has always been there, not intruding, but waiting to be discovered.
Consider this: He has been involved in the music scene years before his stunning performance at the Woodstock music festival in 1969. That performance introduced the world to this future icon who blended, intentionally or not a complex amalgamation of Latin Rock, Blues, Jazz, and World Music. He single-handedly brought to the mainstream the first multi-genre based musical collaboration, one that is curiously becoming the norm in pop music today some fifty years later! From his childhood in Mexico, where he began playing the violin, to his early jam days in San Francisco, with his Santana Blues Band, he had his sights on creating something new.
To show how delicate the edge of fate can be let’s look at the day that Santana and his bands music almost died. The Woodstock festival was run by a four-member committee who were all in their 20’s. They were not prepared for the onslaught of humanity that were marching towards the tiny upstate town of Bethel, New York, about 70 miles from Woodstock. Due to suffocating traffic, critical food shortages, and schedule delays, the almost destroyed what was to come for the band. Santana, and his band were scheduled to go on stage late in the first day. But, they were told to go on long before they were ready. They were rushed onto the stage and to their protests were given a “now or never” ultimatum.
There was a minor problem though. Santana and the band were given LSD backstage and were assured that they had plenty of time to “come down” from the high before performing. But, as luck would have it, they were “peaking” at the very time they received the order to go on. With no alternative, they went on. Santana himself admits that during the performance he was hanging on for dear life. According to him, his guitar neck begin to look like “an electric snake” moving back and forth. He pleaded to God that he could keep it together until the end of the set. It seems that God was forgiving to the man who was destined to contribute to music’s ever-evolving greatness. Certainly, Santana’s philosophy of the ‘divine energy’ of music was birthed on the stage that day.
Santana’s call to the masses to become illuminated with the majesty of music is one that is inspiring and uplifting. Coming from a man who seems to have witnessed the grace of God in real time, gives validity to his words. His crossroads moment was one that would continue onward as he has never wavered. However you look at it, he, and the band, made it through this almost catastrophic episode of colossal misjudgement.
Looking back, the Woodstock incident may have been Carlos Santana’s moment of clarity. His deal with God, to save him from himself and the LSD, certainly put him on the path to greatness. If anything, Carlos Santana is more emboldened to continue his mission and does so with passion. He has certainly done more for music than any other musician in memory. Humble, giving, and self-effacing, the man is what all musicians should aspire to be but aren’t. A man whose nature is to use music as his way to communicate the good in us is part of his DNA.
My cover of Carlos Santana’s beautiful “El Farol” from the 1999 album, “Supernatural”.
One of Queen’s most unique compositions, “Love of my Life” encompasses all aspects of Freddie Mercury’s writing style. Mixed with Brian May’s angular guitar lines, which are perfectly weaved into Mercury’s complex musical twists of phrase, the magic of Queen becomes clear.
Thier music is not, and never has been, typical of the rock genre. It’s one thing to be progressive, but the music of Queen was a step ahead of that. It’s as though the two men, along with bassist, John Deacon and drummer/vocalist, Roger Taylor, challenged each other to reach for a higher musical consciousness. This divergent and inventive quartet ruled over the musical landscape of their time leading to the ultimate in musical creativity and longevity.
I chose to feature this excerpt as it contains my favorite Queen-isms. Multi-layered harmonies, excruciatingly beautiful vocal and guitar tones, and an emotional depth of feeling still unmatched by anyone since. May’s ability to place his guitar lines in just the right place without overdoing them is quite remarkable. If that was all he was a master of, he would still go down of one of the greats of all time. But, lest we forget his most enduring legacy, his tone. Yes, that soaring and irresistible tone. I didn’t dare attempt to replicate it exactly as that would have been blasphemous, not to mention time consuming. I did the best I could to capture the aura of the man’s genius.
The phrasing, the tonal colors, and the execution, are breathtaking. No shredding needed when you can create such melodic gems. Why waste excessive note wrangling when you can paint the world with sounds such as these?
Without question, the team of Freddie Mercury and Brian May rank right up there with the best of all time.
There is little doubt that Covid has placed our children at risk in more ways than one. With many schools opting for distance-learning since the March outbreak here in the United States, it was inevitable that the achievment gap would grow. With lower income areas dealing with children at home day after day, the strain has begun to show. The ability for these students to learn at home is proving to be difficult if not impossible.
With parents unable to find childcare they can afford, many students are left to their own devices during the day. Therefore, schoolwork is not getting done and worse the children are losing interest in learning. To expect children to stay on their computers with no distrations for hours at a time is not working. It is now a major crisis and one that will not be solved for a while.
Older secondary students are not immune from the virus in that they feel hopeless and demoralized. This has caused a rift between teachers and parents that gets downright ugly. With tensions at an all time high in this pandemic the only saving grace is that the vaccine is on the way.
This is my description of the heartbreaking reality of where we are as a nation. Hopefully, things will improve very soon, but in the meantime…
I’ve always been fascinated with the guitar playing of Dan Kanter. His playing, mainly when he was with Justin Bieber, always stands out as innovated and hip. His ability to create multi-faceted rhythmic effects that more than mimic the original electronic based versions of songs is second to none.
As an example, Bieber’s live cover of “Hotline Bling” is one of Dan’s best work. In the following tutorial you will see the approach that he can deliver with seeming ease. There are only two chords in the song itself. They are jazzy vesions that are not hard to grab if you put a couple hours into the process.
Adding percussive sounds to your guitar playing is a great way to spice up your playing! It gives the illusion that you are playing two parts at once. Maybe it’s not an illusion then!
As you will see, this technique is applied on beats two and four of a typical 4/4 phrased musical structure. Imagine if you will a basic rock or pop drum pattern where the kick drum plays on beat one and three while the snare drum is struck on beats two and four.
In September 2017, Jorja Smith released “On My Mind”, an irresistible and jazzy track. She worked alongside producer, Preditah. The track first premiered on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 show. It was her first release that made it into the Official UK Charts reaching #54. It has been streamed well over 13 million times on Spotify alone.
If you haven’t played them yet, this track will introduce you to a few jazz chord forms. These moveable shapes are not hard to maneuver if you take your time and work out the fingerings. Do not rush through this arrangement. Patience and slow movement will more than pay off.
I did make a correction thanks to a YouTube subscriber. The second chord is an Fm7b5, and not an Fm7 as I say in the video tutorial.
Here is the tab, which I am in the process of completing. Thank you for your patience!