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:)
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…
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.
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.
Less definitely is more when you are trying to get a message into a song. The less clutter instrumentally, the less business in the harmonies and sections the better. It enables the vocal part to stand out and brings every nuance to the forefront. On “Depression and Obsession” by the late Alternative, Hard Rock, Nu-Metal, Rap, and Hip-Hop-influenced artist, XXXTENTACION (Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy), this is certainly the case.
Take a somewhat rough acoustic guitar part, mix it with a tight beat and let the vocals do the rest. I’ve gone to great lengths to make this tutorial as close as possible to the original. This is not an “Easy Guitar” version, which serves collect views and deceives many to believe that anyone can strum along captured the vibe of a song that is far deeper than they could ever imagine. No, this version shows the rough edges and the way to play it with expression.
You will use only three chords throughout this song. But, in these three chords be prepared to dig deep if you want to bring life into this magnificent, minimalistic expression of darkness and pain.
PERFORMANCE NOTES: I’ve decided to use Drop-D tuning for this version. The reason is that I hear the lowered sixth string ringing out in two specific places. It makes the chords slightly more difficult to play but, I feel that to be authentic in replicating other’s songs, you should attempt to get as close as possible. The only chord that may take more work is the GMaj7. For that chord try to land your pinky first. It will take slow practice but, that chord shape comes up a lot in an Am/G context in many songs.
When I set out to put together my weekly radio show with three female musicians I had no idea how it would fly. Well, it flew just fine thank you. The final segment was planned to be an interview/review of a double-release by the band, Silver and Moonlight. However, and as a great surprise to me, the interview segment blossomed into an exhaustive analysis of music making, improvisation, the inner workings of band live and composition, and a look into the mind of a gifted and artistic young lady…I would dare say a modern, artistic renaissance woman.
A little background:
Kiaya Abernathy is a vocalist, lyricist, multi-instrumentalist, spectacular visual artist, and a very creative photographer. If that isn’t enough, she’s strong-willed, perceptive, and enlightened. That would all be understandable if she were in her forties, but if you take off a decade and a have you are closer to the truth.
Kiaya is dedicated to bringing to the masses art in all of its expression. In this interview, she speaks for all of us who struggle to bring forth creative and meaningful music into a world where sameness and commercial gain eclipse meaning and foresight.
As you listen to Kiaya speak about her band, her father, her ideas, and her hopes for the future, think of the way things could be. The way music would change if her worldview were a reality. If music were set free from the chains of what has to be.
Okay, I admit it. I have been annoyed by Adele’s music. Why? Well, it turns out that I’m as susceptible to radio/media overkill as much as anyone. However, On July 25th 2016 at approximately 2:30 pm I was sitting at a red light about a half mile from the studio.
Lo and behold I hear this music…this guitar and bass drum. Then, I hear the voice. Instantly, I knew it was her. I’m thinking no not again! But, this was different. This song cut through my musical being like a knife. The songs ends and the light turns green. I rush into the parking lot, into the
I dial in the song on YouTube and the studio and drop everything.That day, and my opinion of Adele changed. This two-chord guitar gem has taught me another valuable life lesson. Judging based on how you think things are is a tragic mistake. The wonder woman of music has done it again…lest you think you can be this creative with just two chords an acoustic guitar and a drum:) Okay, enough of that.
Here is what I have so far of the guitar and percussion part for the song. I will have it finished tomorrow and will turn this into the finished product. This should suffice for the next 12 hours.
This “classical guitar” work in the new acoustic style is by far my favorite of the ones I’ve written so far. Both its sound and construction are exactly what I look for in instrumental guitar works. Like anything else that comes as a pleasant surprise, this was one of those sessions where everything came together. I must say however, that I never go into a session with a preconceived idea, well at least not one that is carved in stone. My brain doesn’t work that way even though I can be very conservative and by the book in other areas of performance and study.
I go in to such sessions randomly trying not to get caught up in the guitarists mindset that can plague your endlessly. The thoughts and schemes such as what key? What scales or chords? Should I go into an altered tuning or not? Should I play fast or slow? That does nothing more than push your spirit into a one-dimensional force bent on being traditional. Traditional for the sake of tradition. Not to pay homage to it, but to be bound by it.
I don’t remember consciously doing this but it has a logical rhythmic flow to it. The piece starts out by stating the melody in between a very dense foundation
of dark arpeggiated chords. I overdubbed some, but not all of the harmonics onto the work as a decorative effect. I, like many non-guitarists, tend to find them aurally attractive and very desirable especially on acoustic guitar.
The slurred sections were not easy but flowed surprisingly well considering that I had no plan for incorporating them. I’m very happy with how they turned out. It’s my climbing Mount Everest moment as that are fairly athletic. It will take quite a few minutes to pull them back under my fingers in that exact configuration. However, I must take the time to score out the work so as to codify it. In that way, it becomes “official”, solid, unbending. Unless, of course, I go back and change the score.
As musicians, we all have areas that are endemic to our playing. I love the angular in music, but to produce it well is not easy. This was one time that it happened without the usual struggle and gnashing of teeth. The fleeting moments of non-compliance with the voices in our heads that would doubt us.The total control one has sought from the beginning of the journey. However, I’m sure I’ll go back to the struggle until I can take control of angular and the unexpected in my playing.
This is an instrumental song about soaring to heights you’ve only dreamt of. But after listening, you must prepare yourself to live like there are no limits to your potential. Maybe then you will find that there really aren’t any if you are of a mind to overcome your circumstances. -Mark
The track was written and produced by, Martin Carlberg.
The electric guitar melodic content was performed and produced by Mark Jeffery Campayno. Mark played his Paul Gilbert Model Guitar (PGM150) for this session.
Published on Mar 20, 2016
“The Sky Is No Limit” – Original Song/Collaboration
Track Composer: Martin Carlberg