“Town Theme” written by the prodigious Anime composer Nobuo Uematsu, is a short but alluring piece of music. Consisting of a light texture with a hypnotic rhythmic movement, the melodicism embedded in the sections gives it the staying power it needs for its role in the game, Final Fantasy.
I chose to cover “Town Theme”theme using a acoustic guitar duo format. My obsession with random improvised harmonies was perfectly suited to the music’s construction. Not that the work needed my help mind you, it was just my way of interpreting the “hidden harmonies” one hears when the obsession with music runs deep in your brain.
Like all great composers Uematsu gets to the techniques that color otherwise plain tonal music. This is where the theme becomes legend. An ordinary composer would struggle to rise to such heights with such a project. Writing of this type can be an exercise in frustration as the limitless creative powers one has are kept at bay due to the reality of keeping the music close to home in terms of listenability and ultimately, commercialism.
The first few seconds of “Town Theme” are telling. A very clever two-measure introduction opens with an artful C major arpeggio. In the following measure the composer wastes no time and goes for the gold medal with a beautiful second-inversion iv6 chord. The Fm/C substitutes for the dominant (as it’s prone to do) giving measure 3 the push it needs to move forward like a bright, sunny, and brisk Sunday afternoon drive.
In measures 9-10, an absolutely perfect cadence is set up to put and end to the first melodic statement. The progression, V I vi V2 bVI I5 V I is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Is it genius writing? Maybe not being that the role o the theme is to bring one back to the center. But, I would challenge you who are composers to attempt such writing using the obvious restrictions during your process.
You will come out a better writer as you reach deeper into multi-part writing. Keeping track of all voices and rhythms at your disposal your creative power will grow.
One thing is sure, people still love live music. If there was any worry that is was slowing down that’s surely gone. Fans want the real deal. Audio improvements, ease of downloading music, and the saturation of music in the media have not dimmed that internal desire for live performance. Our GM put it best when he said that “the business is healthy, and business is good”. The pubic’s desire to become, as it where, part of the experience continues to bring them to venues in droves.
All of us deal with concert goers that come up to us pleading that they know someone in the band. I knew rock stars were “prolific” but I didn’t know it spread so far. My reaction is always “You don’t say?!” “How do you know him?” Crickets…:)
Rob Zombie’s set smoked. He sounded great and to be honest, for a few moments I forgot who the headliner really was. I kept thinking, “How can the show get any bigger than this?”John 5 played a blistering four minute long guitar solo during Rob Zombie’s covert walkathon through the crowd. Ya, maybe a little cliche at times but still great. It’s about time he was allowed to cut loose. It wasn’t going to happen with Marilyn Manson as the music wasn’t about long guitar solos. But with Rob’s vibe, it fits perfectly.
Zac Brown’s horn section ripped out some of the most thrilling lines I’ve ever heard during their spotlight. For sure horns in a country band are unusual. Credit has to be given to Zac’s vision of the band as the variety of instruments in Zac’s music is what creates the magic.
Korn has to have the largest female following in Metal. Easily. I’m not saying I have the reason for it, it’s just a fact. What does it mean? I dunno, maybe there’s something to be learned here for other bands who carry a heavy “guy” fan base.
Breaking up fights during shows is dangersome and delicate. But, there is an art to it. One things for sure, a girl fight is the dread of us all.
Zac Brown’s cover of The Who’s, “Baba O’ Reilly” was explosive. The keyboard part at the beginning could have been tweaked a bit better but nevertheless, it was refreshing to see fans of all ages singing along. It was a genius move to cover that gem.
I still don’t understand mosh pits. How more young people are not injured is beyond me. Flailing arms, karate kicks, muscular hulks with fire in their eyes, females fearlessly running around impervious to the danger. It’s interesting to watch but that doesn’t make it any more understandable to me. But…hey, it’s there and it’s part of what makes this music burn.
Korn’s music has a unique element in it that produces an aggressive and hyper-ecstatic reaction in its fans. What that element is centers around their unique harm and very tight and compressed sound. There were moments when it felt as though the venue was about to go nuclear.
Zac Brown’s music is at times fun, sad, reflective, lively, and safe. But, when he hit the stage it all changed. The high-octane crowd took it to another level. Zac rocked hard. I must say I was pleasantly surprised! Be assured that Zac Brown is the real deal. He runs a very well oiled music machine and they are tight.
The key to being good at working on the floor during high energy shows is a very keen sense of people. If you can’t read a situation instantly you won’t make it. You have to look, evaluate, judge, and keep your eyes moving. Other than that it’s a piece of cake.
Experience. There is no substitution for it. Every show, every situation, and every moment is an opportunity for growth and movement forward. This is the greatest job I ever loved.
Mark Jeffery Campayno runs a music performance studio, Musicians-inc/StudioRock of Northern Virginia. Mark also directs the guitar department at Broad Run High School in Ashburn,Virginia. He also works on the pit crew at Live Nation’s Jiffy Lube Live Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia, and hosts his own internet radio show, The Studio Rocks at http://www.jazzbites.com.
Yesterday, beginning at 1:00 pm I set out on a mission of sorts. I left early to assist a current student on her first day at Jiffy Lube Live (Live Nation). I won’t go into the details of the early part of the day but let’s just say the she saw the “other side” of the music industry up close and personal.
After our three or so hours in purgatory we took 5 minutes to recover and then moved into the house area. She and the majority of the 16,000 (more or less) fans understand well what was to come. But I remain perplexed. As I got closer the music got louder…much louder. As I descended the steps into the pit area the energy was as high as I can ever remember in my two plus years working on the floor.
I can still feel those first few moments. But alas, I am left this morning with a puzzling problem that won’t go away. Why do I remain in a state of confusion over an element of music that I was sure I had mastered. An element that is present even when it’s not obvious, that is, the beat.
The show, G-Easy and Logic was basically, and for lack of a better term
, was (mostly) White Rap. The crowd was energized and looking at the faces of the mostly 17-24 year old audience I realize once again just how powerful this music is.
There’s no use, nor is it my intention, in analyzing or getting into the lyrical content, the delivery, or the sometimes conflicting messages and meanings behind this musical phenomenon. I have a bigger issue with the music, and if you are honest with yourself, you can find socio-lyrical dilemmas in all styles and genres of popular music.
It’s been bugging me for a while that I cannot get what makes a good hip hop/ rap beat. I know, and can construct, rock beats, Latin beats, jazz beats, funk beats, metal beats, and electronic beats. But when it comes to rap I don’t have it “locked in” yet. I just want to understand it in theoretical terms
I’ll say one thing for rap, they have the bass sound locked and loaded. There was a point last night where I thought my body was going to split in two. I was positioned directly in front of and slightly below the wall of bass cabinets that were stacked on top of the stage. The bass was not just loud but was vibrating every cell in my being.Wait, I think I’ve hit on something here! Is it possible that the bass supersedes the beat and is subservient to it? If this is so then hell, I’m letting it go. I mean, I’m not going to become a rap dj or a producer of rap beats for that matter. But wait, I’m a nerd. I have to know. I can’t drop it.
Someone help! I need the beat! Just tell me what is different a
bout the role of the beat? What should it have? What shouldn’t it have? Do I need a cowbell?
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.
“We Don’t Talk Anymore” the new single by Charlie Puth, featuring Selena Gomez, contains a very exciting guitar part that will keep your concentration on high alert. Even though consists of only two separate but similar chord progressions, one little slip can cause a bit of a mess due to its fast tempo.
Progression 1 (4 measures)
A Major – B Major – C#minor – G#minor.
Progression 2 (4 measures)
A Major – B Major – C#minor – C#minor.
*For clarity’s sake let’s call these sections A and B, which is clearly marked on the score.
The entire song is played arpeggio style with a fast 1/16th-note texture and it never strays from these two sections.
The difficulty with playing “We Don’t Talk Anymore” will lie in the speed at which the parts are played. The tempo is a “brisk”
It will be easier to play this song using finger style technique on an acoustic guitar. Using a pick will require extreme accuracy for the entirety of the song (3:37). If you are up for it, God bless you!
Just when you thought that technological innovations in music had eliminated the need, or even the will to look back at the past, a band from Seinäjoki, Finland, Free Spiritreleases it’s sophomore effort, “All the Shades of Darkened Light”. This 11 song collection opens up with blazing guitar riffs that evoke everything that serious rock fans have been missing for decades.
Can it be that eighties melodic hard rock is still relevant? I must admit, even I had doubts. With clarity, precision, and eighties bravado, “All the Shades of Darkened Light”serves notice that high energy and good old hair metal swag can still rock hard.
Melodic Hard Rock is a tough taskmaster. With so many musical elements to produce not to mention the risk involved, it’s refreshing to see a band pull it off with such ease. The first track, “Through the Night” will have you fully engaged as the band has set the course. There’s no turning back now. With blazing anthems and refurbished vocal hooks filling each track from beginning to end there’s hardly a place to catch your breath. But, if you yearn for the days of big hair, perfectly processed guitars, and fist in the air rock bravado, prepare yourself to be transformed. Yes, the decade of decadence and excess lives on!
Guitar solos? Yes, and they are imaginative and impeccably played. Marko Haapamäki andVesa Yli-Mäenpää churn out riffs that cut through the already-dense musical landscape with arpeggiated melodies and harmonized flights-of-fancy that strike to the soul of what guitar used to be. Used to be that is, before the Seattle revolution all but muted such perceived excess. Here excess is not on display. The solo sections are measured, balanced, and exquisite.
Vocalist, Sami Alho possesses all the nuance and flair of a hard rock leading man. Passionate, controlled, and soulful, he easily soars over the layered harmonies, guitar accents, and big drums. But of course that is part and partial of what the eighties were all about. The foundational blueprint of what Free Spirit is as a unit gives a bigness to this recording that is often missed when attempting to recreate the past. The band’s rhythm section is tough and ready with Sami Hämäläinen on bass, Pasi Koivumäki on drums, and Timo Alho on keyboards. They are on point with a groove that infuses the music with a harmonic pallet that is unique and tight.
Want proof? Try “Silence”, a heartbreaking tune reminiscent of the great hard rock ballads of the past. Using all their powers, the boys come through big on this one with a moving performance full of arpeggiated passages, gorgeous guitar breaks, and pleading vocals.
“Storyline” wraps up the release as the 11th track. This summation in hard rock gets to the heart of what Free Spirit is all about. A hint of Def Leppard appears in the main riff, the vocals harmonize perfectly, and everything is just perfect.
Thankfully, Free Spirit is no one trick pony. There’s plenty of variation in their material and one can easily make the necessary connection between the past and the present. Hmmm…guys? Why not an even twelve next time?
When I set out to do a guitar tutorial on the Justin Bieber (acoustic version) hit, “What Do You Mean?”Dan Kanter Acoustic Version I had no idea how important that innocuous, deceptive, but irresistible guitar accompaniment would become to me and many others. It truly woke up a whole nation of guitar players to the “coolness” of the acoustic guitar in a pop/hip hop setting. The song would be to so many a “slap back to reality” of sorts to the guitar community of the expressive and colorful possibilities of an acoustic guitar and a voice.
Before you accuse me of leaving out countless other guitar vocal duos, Tuck and Patti Tuck & Patti surely come to mind first, none of them were at their peak during a communication revolution. With information moving faster than we can keep up with, Dan’s guitar playing on the acoustic “What Do You Mean?” has single-handedly sparked a very big interest in taking the guitar more seriously.
Maybe, just maybe, this has demonstrated that it can be cool to play three, four, maybe a rare five chords and make them groove. Not only that, but when played by a bassist, pianist, guitarist, composer, arranger, music director, producer, current holder of a New York University music degree, and a future York University YorkU Master’s Degree in Musicology YorkU Musicology Program graduate, you see that the word guitarist can now carry much more weight that it has in the past.
One thing is sure, in a world of incessant musical delivery it’s refreshing to see someone come along and stir up some of us who had become rather comfortable. Keep it up Dan and thanks for the infusion of relevance into the world of the guitar.