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Environmental Issues For Musicians
By Dr. Timothy Jameson
Copyright © 1998-2004 Timothy Jameson. All Rights Reserved.
The amateur or professional musician must become aware of their
environment before they begin playing. "Environment" means such
things as temperature where you will be playing, sun exposure,
dry ice exposure, lighting, and noise exposure. A musician who
investigates these aspects of his/her environment beforehand
will be more apt at maintaining optimum health, while at the
same time be prepared to perform at the highest level possible.
Let us take a look at each of these different factors.
Ambient room or outdoor air
temperature: Where you will be performing your gig?
Is it in a concert hall with regulated air temperature? Or will
it be in a cold damp church on a winter morning? Make an attempt
to visit the site where you will be performing ahead of time.
Determine how you will need to dress. Are you going to be
subject to direct sun exposure on a hot summer day? If you are,
don't plan on wearing that flashy hot red polyester suit. You'll
suffer from heat exhaustion if you do.
Here's some suggestions: If
playing in cold environments, wear clothing that will keep your
core body temperature maintained. If your band or orchestra has
standardized clothing, then consider long underwear to keep you
warm. Also, consider how the cold will affect your finger
dexterity. Temperatures below 62º will lead to decreased
dexterity and clumsiness. For cold weather performances purchase
a pair of gloves with the fingertips cut off (If playing your
particular instrument allows this). Maintaining hand warmth is
critical to preventing repetitive strain injuries to the tendons
and muscles. Besides that, your speed and dexterity are much
better when your hand and fingers are warm. If you are playing
in warm environments, such as outdoors in the summer, remember
to take with you at least two water bottles filled with spring
or filtered water. Take sips between every song or at least
every 10 to 15 minutes to maintain hydration. Wear clothing that
will "breath" - will allow air flow to the skin, while allowing
heat from the skin to escape. Avoid costumes and suits if at all
possible. Have two towels handy - one to wipe off perspiration,
and one that is dampened with cold water to wipe your head and
face with. This will help keep your body cool. Maintaining
proper hydration days before the performance is just as
important. Drink six to eight glasses of water daily in
preparation for the hot climate.
Sun Exposure: Everyone
knows, or should know, that sun exposure increases the risk of
skin cancers. Musicians who are continually performing outdoor
gigs throughout the summer must take preventative measures to
reduce the risk of overexposure to the sun. Use sun screens with
SPF 30 or greater. One application should keep you protected
through a typical two hour performance. Wear sunglasses that
block UV rays. It has been proven that sunglasses without a
ultraviolet ray block can actually cause retinal damage in your
eyes. Just because everything seems darker doesn't mean your
eyes are being protected. Most sunglasses made today offer
protection against UV rays, but if you are using your favorite
sunglasses from 1975 then take a good look at purchasing some
Dry Ice: Dry Ice is gaseous
Carbon Dioxide. Blocks of frozen carbon dioxide are put into
water and the solid form goes immediately to the gaseous form to
create those clouds that reflect lighting so well and create
that misty appearance on stage. Many performers state that this
dry ice irritates their throat and affects singing. Breathing in
large amounts of carbon dioxide over a long period of time can
affect your overall health and throw off your blood gas levels.
(Such as the carbon dioxide/oxygen ratio) If you are involved in
stage performances that include dry ice use, consider the
location where the ice will be blown from and attempt to
position your equipment away from that location. Talk with the
production manager about pointing the dry ice machine away from
the performers. In most cases, working together with the stage
crew can provide the desired affects of the dry ice, while at
the same time preserving the health of the musicians.
Noise Exposure: Noise
exposure is not only a consideration for rock musicians. Every
musician must plan carefully how they will handle the sounds
on-stage or in the orchestra pit. Are you sitting directly
behind a brass section that can reach over 100 decibels? Are you
an electric bass player standing right next to a drummer?
Consider the health of your ears. Prolonged exposure to loud
noise WILL cause damage to the sensitive structures of the ears.
Many types of earplugs exist for musicians that maintain
adequate range of tones, while dampening the total decibels
entering the ear. For comprehensive information on hearing
issues, visit our links page and go the HEARNET. This site
offers many great articles about hearing loss and prevention
Lighting: If you are reading
music on-stage, will you be able to see the music with the
lighting that's available? Or will you be straining every muscle
in your face trying to see the music? Some music stands come
with small lighting for this issue, but many do not. Again,
planning ahead will prevent a great deal of discomfort, and will
keep your eyes healthy.
A musician who is serious about maintaining health will take a
serious look at these factors as well as many others when
preparing to perform. Don't go into a performance with no
knowledge of your playing environment. Knowing your environment
is as important as the amount of practicing you have done over
the past few years. Poor preparation can ruin your performance
and even lead to health complaints down the line.
About The Author: Dr.
Timothy Jameson has been in private chiropractic practice for 15
years and has spent the last six years focusing on the care of
the musician population. He is the author of “The Musicians
Guide to Health and Wellness, which is available for download at
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luncheon visit by an English friend prompted the playing of some
60s and 70s music such as "The Best Of The Pirates" and The Who
- "A Quick One", and even Frank Zappa's - "The Best Band You
Never Heard In Your Life". All very nice. On cd of course.
A request for
The Green Manalishi by Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, (Yes there
was a Nicksless FM), led to the dormant vinyl collection. No,
not that sort of vinyl - LP records and singles!! Unfortunately,
turntable set-up has been a work-in-progress for some time and
we could not play the track. But no more! The Thorens is
up running again and sounding great with the new moving coil
cartridge, Vibrapods and cones, and a few other performance
here for more on this.
Author: Ray Hogan is an avid music collector and audio hi-fi buff, who
believes there are only two types of music - rock
and roll! He is co-owner of the popular
guitar resource site, GuitaroJam.com
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Giltrap is a British virtuoso acoustic and electric guitarist
and composer, whose musical styles span multiple genres - folk,
blues, folk-rock, pop, classical and rock.
Gordon Giltrap was born in 1948 and started to learn the guitar
at age 12. Never receiving any formal tuition on the instrument,
he gradually developed his own style and technique, considered
unique by many other guitarists. His musical career started to
take off in the 1960s, playing live in London in the burgeoning
folk scene, alongside contemporaries such as Bert Jansch (who
greatly influenced the young guitarist), John Renbourn and Mike
age 18 he signed to Transatlantic Records and released a couple
of albums. While popular on the folk and university circuit, the
1970s marked a turning point and much greater recognition. At
this time Gordon started to concentrate on more purely
instrumental pieces, and in 1976 released the album Visionary,
based on the art and poetry of William Blake. The success of
this album prompted Gordon to give up the singer/songwriter
approach and form the Gordon Giltrap Band, which toured
extensively in the UK at that time. A follow-up album, Perilous
Journey, consolidated his success, being named at one of the
best albums of 1977 by The Sunday Times. A single taken from the
album, Heartsong, received extensive airplay and became a top
twenty hit. The track was later used as the signature tune of
the BBC TV series Holiday. The album Fear of the Dark was
released in 1978.
By the end of the 70s, Gordon was recognised as one of the most
accomplished composers and performers, and was commissioned to
write a number of notable pieces, such as the classically
inspired The Brotherhood, based on the art of the
Pre-Raphaelites. In the 1990s, Gordon played a key role in Cliff
Richard's Heathcliffe musical, playing the musical narrator. He
also composed a number of pieces for the show.
2001, he met renowned classical guitarist Raymond Burley
when they were both lecturing at the London college of music for
the Registry of Guitar Teachers. Ray expressed an interest in
Gordon's music with a view to possibly adapting some of the
pieces for classical guitar.
Within a short time Ray became completely 'captivated' by the
music and suggested they take things several stages further,
this has led on to them forming the duo DOUBLE VISION, and their
debut CD was recorded in 2004.
The CD features many of
Gordon's compositions which Ray has skilfully and passionately
arranged for two guitars
Here's what some fellow musicians have said about Giltrap:
Jimmy Page in Guitarist Magazine
“ People would tell me about (American guitarist) Sandy Bull and
I'd say, I don't know about Sandy Bull; you want to start
listening to some of these people over here; Bert Jansch, Davey
Graham and Gordon Giltrap for heaven's sake.”
“ Gordon Giltrap is one of an elite few who truly have become
legendary in their field in their own lifetime. I am proud to
call him my friend.”
“ A wonderful guitarist, I just wish he would slow down so that
I could copy (play) with him”
"Thank you for continuing inspiration" -
"Gordon has created his own niche, combining single notes,
chords, counterpoint, harmonic and harmony, into his own style."
out Gordon Giltrap's wonderful website to find out more - you
can find it at
From Wikipedia, the
Thanks to Brian Broadhurst for bringing Gordon
to our attention!
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Tips For The Solo Musician: The Power of Sound
Copyright 2006 Curse Buster Sound
Let's talk about sound. Not just any sound though. Let's talk
about YOUR SOUND!
power of sound,...The things that are possible to do with
sound,...All of the people, and places that sound can reach.
Yes, sound is a very powerful force. Sound can heal, or, sound
can destroy. Sound can pass right through most things, or, sound
can be totally abrasive, and bounce off of just about
everything. Sound can tell you many things, it can reveal
things, and it can tell blind people were they are. Sound is a
very complex thing, yet, it is also one of the simplest things.
personally, love the texture of sound. I love its richness. I
love to experiment with it. I love to surround myself with it
when at all possible. As a blind person, sound is a very
important aspect of my day to day life. As a musician, it is
Now,...As a solo musician, solo artist, solo instrumentalist,
or, vocalist,...probably the one most important thing, aside
from your health, is your personal sound. Yes,...Your personal
sound! This is what will set you apart from others. This is what
brands you as desirable, or undesirable. This is what will make,
or break you. This is what will get you into the many doors, and
venues that you are seeking. Yes,...We have those people who
inspire us,...we have the mentors who guide and teach us. We all
have the ones who we admire and would like to mold ourselves
after. But,...when it comes down to it! When it comes to the
moment of truth! When it comes to the moment of the
solo,...there is only you. You are the one in that final moment
that the sound you have molded and shaped, comes from.
What comes out of your heart,...your instrument,...your mouth,
is the end result of your efforts, or, lack of efforts. Your
personal sound will tell the whole, and true story of your inner
most being. Your personal sound will draw people to you, or,
repel them away from you. That is the important reason for
practice! You can never get enough practice,...there is always
room for improvement, and there is always room for perfection.
So,...we have the musicians, artists, and vocalists that inspire
us. That is a great, and important aspect of the learning and
growing process. The accomplished musicians, artists, and
vocalists are on top of their particular niches because they
spent the time, and put forth the ultimate effort to get there.
There are no shortcuts here my friend! I can guarantee you that
There is nothing wrong with admiring the talent of the artists
who inspire us. In most cases, that is what we need. Sometimes
we need to listen, study, and learn just how it should be done.
But,...be aware that there is a big difference between
admiration, and envy! The former is constructive, and the ladder
is destructive. You definitely want to stay away from
Remember,...the artists, instrumentalists, and vocalists who are
on top of the industry, and most successful are who they are,
and you are who you are! They have their own personal sound, and
you have your own personal sound. You can desire to sound like
them, but, you are not them! They are where they are because
they know this fact.
need to find your personal sound. You need to find that
something that says "Yeah! This is who I am!" That is, as you
already know, or will find out shortly, an ongoing process. Once
you find the direction you want to pursue,...once you find your
personal sound,...you will be nurturing it for the rest of your
life. That is, if you want to be successful like those you
thing though, is the positive, and proper attitude. I personally
think the best attitude to adopt, is one of humbleness. We must
remember that we do not hold the monopoly on talent! There
is,...and will always be someone who can do it better, play it
louder, faster, higher, or lower. When you can realize that we
are all different, but we all live on the same planet,...we will
be better off. I personally don't like competition. I realized
some time ago that everyone has something to offer. I love to
hear someone who has paid the price, and put forth the
sacrifice, and made the extreme effort to show themselves worthy
of the praise, and admiration of others.
They have in fact, found their personal sound! They have bridged
the gap between their soul, and their instrument, or vocal
chords! That is what it is all about. The world needs these
ultimate artists, instrumentalists, and vocalists!...The
ultimate soloists. This is just as important as a great teacher,
a doctor, an engineer. The Ultimate Soloists, Instrumentalists,
and Vocalists are in fact,...the embodiment of all that makes us
human. What sets some apart from others,...What makes some
worthy of that high calling, and responsibility is their total
commitment, passion, determination, and sheer desire! They
realize the Power of Sound,... and they take their
Kevin is a blind,
jazz saxophonist, his intense, improvive style of playing is
both soothing, and captivating to the listener. Kevin owns, and
operates a Texas based recording studio: Curse Buster Sound. You
can hear, and contact Kevin at:
Peaceful Solution Character Education Program:
CurseBuster Market Place:
You Need Stronger Fingers For
Guitar playing is one of the most
popular ways to personally play and enjoy music. The appeal of
the guitar is mostly due to its presence in practically all
popular and rock music recordings. Furthermore, it is an
instrument that is very portable and versatile enough for many
kinds of songs and occasions, and is practical as an
accompaniment to vocalists or other instruments.
Playing the guitar requires more than the requisite musical
ability, dedication and practice. A guitar player's fingers must
be dexterous and agile to allow quick single string or chord
changes in rhythm or solo musical performances. Those fingers
also need to be tough and strong to be able to press the strings
enough during quick changes to produce clean tones.
All beginners will remember the first time they played the
guitar for an extended period. Our fingertips are originally
soft at the very end, with thin skin protecting them. First we
feel pain after pressing down on the strings too hard when
playing the fretboard, especially all of the fingers except for
the thumb. If the aspiring musician hasn't given up by then and
continues to practice playing the blisters will eventually dry
up and leave calluses on the fingertips. These calluses will
protect the fingertips from the pain of playing for a little
while but eventually the pain builds up again as the calluses
keep building you end up with thick rough fingertips on a
guitarist's left (or fret) hand. Graduating to full chords, the
entire 1st and 2nd fingers, which form bar chords across the
strings, will also go through the process of pain, blisters and
calluses. This process toughens up the fingertips, and makes it
easy to press on the strings to produce the needed musical tone
on the guitar.
The most effective way to strengthen the fingers and improve
dexterity is to practice scales and chords on the guitar itself.
Chords and scales will help the beginner become familiar with
the different chord progressions and musical configuration of
the fretboard - it will help the student master the instrument.
Knowing and playing chords and scales will embed the musical
secrets of the guitar to the player and make it easier to read,
learn and perform music, and to create or write your own music
for the guitar. As an added bonus, all that practice will
greatly improve the strength and agility of the fingers. With
the dual advantage of musical training and strength and
endurance improvement, a guitarist can develop the ability to
perform several full pieces or songs necessary for a long
However, there is a danger of over-training. Tendonitis is a
common affliction of over-exercising and is prevalent in
professional athletes and musicians alike. Tendonitis is caused
by a repetitive action of a limited set of muscles, causing
inflammation and possible damage to tendons and joints. Because
certain athletes and musicians tend to use a focused set of
muscles in their activities, they share a certain propensity to
this injury. But this can be easily avoided. Many persons
over-train when they choose to ignore pain during practice and
instead continue to perform the activity which directly leads to
For guitarists, once you feel
pain in your wrist or the tender part of your hands, stop. You
should incorporate 5-15 minutes of rest between sets of scales
or chord practices. Put the guitar down and shake your hand for
a few seconds. If you are not tired but still feel pain, change
the practice method: if you are doing scales, switch to slow
strumming with full chords.. Changing the set of muscles you
exert can help avoid injury and increase the strength of your
Finally, like an athlete, a guitarist should take care of his
body with exercise.
Following are two stretching
exercises that will improve the flexibility and strength of your
1. Stand straight with your arms at your sides and hands facing
forward. Stretch your fingers down and outward as far as you can
and count to ten. Relax and rest for a few seconds and do three
2. With the same posture, hold the four fingers of your left
hand (except the thumb) with your right and push them towards
the back of the hand. Hold the stretch for ten seconds then
relax and continue by doing three repetitions.
Remember, strength and agility is achieved by practice, proper
rest, and stretching exercises. Now play on!
About The Author: For
More Information on
by Ian Williamson please visit
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How to Fake Being a Better Guitarist in Five Simple Steps
(Part 1 of 2)
You spend five hours a day
playing your guitar. You run your scales, master your legato,
your two hand tapping would make EVH blush. So why is it that
every time you see a band playing at a bar with a guitarist with
only a smidgen of your technical ability he is the centre of
attention, garnering the praise of all the punters in the crowd?
Wait a minute. Isn't that the band that you tried out for the
other week? The same band that said "don't call us, we'll call
you"? The same band that was witness to your smoking 32nd note
Lydian masterpiece solo?
Yeah it is, and you got smoked because the guitarist on stage
knows how to fake being better than they actually are.
It's not a hard thing to do. I should know, I've done it for
years. I'm the first to admit to being an "average" guitarist
(actually, I've been practicing a lot lately and now would call
myself an "above average" player, but that is another column in
the works). Despite being average, I would get a lot of people,
drunken punters, other musicians, women, all approach me after
shows proclaiming how good I am. Like most of my ex-girlfriends,
I've been faking it all along. And now I am going to teach you
how to do the same.
Over the next two weeks, I will share with you my five secret
tips to help you Fake Being A Better Guitarist. We'll start
today with tip #1 an #2.
1. Decent equipment is a must and look
Sorry boys and girls, it's time to spend some money. A picture
is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to music your image
is worth a thousand notes. There is nothing quite as satisfying
showing up to a guitarist cattle call with your Marshall half
stack on a trolley as you pass all the little Peavey Bandit
combos and the like. Straight away you give the impression that
you know what you are doing.
But this is not just about your amp. Guitars, effects, leads,
the whole lot. This means guitar cases, if you have multiple
effects a decent pedal board system set up and ready to just
plug in. You need to look somewhat professional without looking
like a complete tosser.
It's even more important on stage. Standing on stage with a nice
looking guitar and a cool backline is confidence building to say
the least. Plus it makes you look damn sexy to boot.
This doesn't mean spending a fortune though. I have an amazing
sounding Fender Twin, but it stays at home while my Marshall
AVT150 half stack hits the road with me. The half stack with my
Epiphone Les Paul with classic tri-tone sunburst finish and some
decent threads make me look the business.
2. Learn to sing
I can't stress this enough. An average guitarist who is an
average singer will get more gigs than an awesome guitarist who
sounds like a dying dolphin. It makes you are more versatile,
worthwhile musician for any band if you can step up to the mic
and sing as well. It makes you look like a musician, rather than
just a guitarist. It's also a hell of a lot of fun.
Of course, some people just cannot sing, and this is you then
don't try to. Be honest with yourself on this one. If you can't
sing and you try to then you just look like a fool. And looking
like a fool will not make you look like a good guitarist.
A good way to improve your singing is start singing along with
your favourite artists. It's a cliché, but start in the shower /
bathroom with a small stereo cranking out some of you favourite
songs. The natural reverb will make your voice sound better and
give you some confidence (it's an old studio trick to feed a wet
mix back to the singer as they are recording). Then progress to
the car while you're driving. It's private and you can just belt
it out while you are in between your normal routine. Then the
hard part comes. Listen to some music with harmonies and try to
sing the different parts. I found Alice In Chains is especially
good for doing this. And finally add harmonies to songs that
don't have them.
When you are confident you can do that, then, and only then, try
to sing when you are playing. When you can do that (and that
will take a while) you can start to think about doing it with
So there are the first two tips, looking the part and learning
to sing. These two things alone will make you look more like a
real musician and come across as a real guitarist. Remember that
being a guitarist is more than just playing well, it is a
persona, a way of being. By rounding out these other facets of
your guitarist personality, the way others will perceive you
skills will rise dramatically. Next week I'll look at the next
three tips and by then you'll be able to fake it just like that
guitarist on the stage.
About The Author:
Chris Watson is a professional musician hailing from Newcastle,
Australia. He also runs
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Downloading MP3s Legally and Not-so Legally
Today there are countless ways in
which to download music off the Internet, as well as countless
options of where to download MP3s. One may download their MP3s
from a service such as the iTunes Music Store, Yahoo Music or
eMusic that charges per song or album. Or one may take advantage
of "cereal box" specials that offer free music downloads with
the purchase of a certain product.
Or one may download MP3s for free through BitTorrent, Internet
Relay Chat (IRC), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), or Peer-to-peer
(P2P) services, such as Kazaa. These are the gray areas, if you
will, when it comes to the legality of downloading MP3s.
From photocopying a page from a library book to recording a
television show to TIVO and transferring to a DVD, therein lays
a gray area of what is acceptable and what is down-right
illegal. Napster became hugely popular not because it offered a
great way to share files but because one could download
countless MP3s without paying for them.
Either way one sees it, downloading MP3s is incredibly popular
with music lovers. Apple Computer Inc. recently sold their
one-billionth song through its iTunes service. This proves
consumers are willing to pay for their music, but what if they
already purchased the music on cassette tape or compact disc? Is
there a need to pay for it again to have it in MP3 format?
Therein lays another issue within the gray area. Is downloading
an MP3 from a bittorrent illegal if you already own the song?
The arguments for this issue go on and on. The music recording
industry states it is stealing because consumers paid for the
song in one particular format (e.g. cassette tape) and are not
entitled to another format without paying for it. Music fans
argue they paid for the private use of the song, not the format
it resided in.
Condoning illegal activity, I am not; however, as long as you're
not distributing this content either online or selling it on the
streets, it's extremely unlikely you'll actually be caught and
prosecuted for simply backing up your media files or downloading
occasional songs from the Internet.
Music artists are even encouraging this by offering some of
their songs on their Web sites available to download for free.
It's a great way to build up a fan base and attract new
In conclusion, have fun with your MP3 collection and don't let
all the lawsuits and negative press keep you from purchasing an
MP3 digital music player or from downloading music off the
Internet. Play by the basic rules and you'll be surprised at how
much fun you can have.
For more information on MP3s, visit
Blake Daniels is the creator and author of
Lyric Writing 101
Lyric writing is much like any other style of writing, the more
time you spend working on it, the more you will grow as a
writer. So what exactly are lyrics? Song lyrics can basically be
thought of as singable poetry. The Oxford dictionary defines the
word 'lyric' as 1) (of poetry) expressing the poet's thoughts
and feelings, usually briefly and in stanzas, songlike (a lyric
poem) 2) (lyrics) the words of a song. By using this definition,
we can assume that the process of writing lyrics draws from some
of the same techniques used in poetry.
write lyrics? This may seem like an odd question, there are
literary hundreds of answers to this, but it is something you
will need to ask yourself before you start. Is it because you
have a story to tell, because you want to express a particular
emotion to your audience? Some write purely for themselves, like
a kind of personal therapy. Or perhaps it's simply because the
human voice is an important part of the style of music they are
What do you want to say? Most lyrics are written with a message
or some kind of effect in mind. You will need to have a clear
idea of what you want out of the lyrics or you will run the risk
of creating weak lyrics. Weak lyrics tend to resort to clichéd,
generic and boring phrases when they are written solely to 'fit'
the tune. On the other hand, don't be carried away with the
message, make it a point for the lyrics to be somewhat cryptic.
Do not 'spoon feed' your audience, plant the seed of your idea
and let the audience come to their own conclusions.
with all forms of creativity, lyrics are an expression of
personal ideas, beliefs and themes. Lyric writing is just a
matter of expressing these beliefs and feelings. As with most
forms of writing, it is best to write about what you know.
Because everybody has their own experiences, emotions and
beliefs, it becomes hard to give an exact instruction on how to
write, everyone has their own opinions on how it should be done.
The most I can do in this series is give a guide about how to go
about finding your own style by learning from the music that you
listen to. This is a great way to learn, as many of the bands
you listen to have learned, and draw influences, from other
There are several ways you can write lyrics:
Create a melody & write lyrics to accompany it; or
* Write a set of lyrics & add the melody to it; or
* A combination of the above two examples, i.e. do both at the
where do you actually start with the writing process? Well,
there are countless possible ways (too many to mention here). It
really is a matter of preference; every lyricist has his or her
own style, much like any artist. A couple of simple ways that
are an excellent way to begin are as follows:
1) Start with a possible hook
line or chorus and work around it
example of this can be taken from Coldplay's hit "Yellow". The
song was derived from a first line that came about from where
the band was on the night, as explained in October's SOS:
"'Yellow' was written at Rockfield when we where there. The
studio we were in is called the Quadrangle Studio - the studio
is along one side of an open courtyard, and we went out one
night, and because there were so few lights, the stars were just
amazing. Guy just came up with the line 'Look at the stars.'"
2) Start with a title and work
example, using "Written in Sand" as your title, you can
brain-storm around this idea: The phrase suggests that which can
be washed away; it also brings the phrase 'written in stone' to
mind; the word "sand" brings to mind the words like flowing &
changing, which brings the words time & water. The word
"written" suggests fate or destiny. So a possibility that the
song will be about how you can change your destiny. Now there is
a basic theme that you can work around.
Tools Of The Trade
What are the tools of a lyricist? One would obviously think a
pen and paper (or a computer & word processor) plus the creative
mind of the lyricist and the possible use of a musical
instrument. There are other tools available for the lyricist to
take advantage of, these may seem painfully obvious, but they
are quite often overlooked by many people.
- A dictionary is an essential tool for any writer,
not only for spelling but word meanings. English is a dynamic
language, words are constantly being added so it is important to
keep an updated dictionary on hand, a 20-year-old dictionary
may' no longer contain the latest words and meanings. It is
important not to be too abstruse for your audience but neither
is there the need to overuse the same monosyllabic words. It may
be of use to keep a couple of different dictionaries (i.e.
Oxford & Macquarie) this is because some word meanings may
differ slightly, and can be used to colour your lyrics.
- A good dictionary can be supplemented with a thesaurus. The
use of a thesaurus is a great way to avoid over-using words and
can even inspire your ideas leading them to new directions. This
can be very usefully whilst brainstorming.
-- * This is just a simple word-association game; that you can
easily apply to any word. Look up the word 'remains' in your
thesaurus, you are shown: debris, fragments, leavings,
leftovers, remnants, and scraps. Now look up 'debris' and you
will find it also has: flotsam, litter, pieces, refuse, rubbish,
rubble, ruins, wreckage and waste to add to your word list. You
can do this with as many of the words you like. Some of these
extra words will have no use for what you are working on but
there may be those one or two words that will fit perfectly.
- These particular dictionaries are specifically generated for
poets and lyricists. They do not define words as most
dictionaries do; they merely list words that rhyme. Some scorn
the use of this particular tool, sighting that it is all too
easy to rely solely on the list of rhymes than to put a little
thought into your rhyming structure. It is also true that many
people waste a considerable amount of time listing the words
they know to rhyme only to lose the train of thought they were
on thus, killing the creative process. If used sensibly, like a
thesaurus, a rhyming dictionary can be a very useful tool.
- There are other dictionaries available that may be of use to a
lyricist. One that comes to mind is the 'slang' dictionary. I've
only seen an "Australian Dictionary of Slang". Most countries
use their own form of slang so I would assume that there are
others available. It really depends on what you are working on
and who your target audience is, but they may help to put that
finishing touch, or stamp of authenticity on a piece. Check your
local bookshop for the range of other dictionaries available.
- What other tools are available? There are many
other ways to help with the creative process. Listening to a
wide range of music can be helpful, don't just listen to your
normal 'style' of music, there are thousands of different music
styles around, explore these possibilities. Music has been
inspiring people for thousands of years, so it seems logical to
turn to it when it comes to your own musical venture.
may not like some particular styles of music, but you can get an
idea from them that you can convert or merge to your chosen
genre. If done correctly, it has the potential of being a
powerful piece of music that is unique. This is why it is
important to be open to all styles and ideas. Some of the most
'controversial' bands have reached the popularity they have,
simply because they have a unique sound and the 'message' they
want to convey is something that their fans can relate to.
Bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, Staind, Linkin Park and Disturbed
are given the music 'title' of nu-metal (or nu-music) simply
because they utilize a wide range of musical sub-genres within
the 'rock' genre. This can be seen in other more established
merges such as 'country-rock', 'pop-rock' and the recent
surfacing of 'Latin-pop/rock'. If you look throughout music
history (particularly that of 'rock & roll') you can see this
trend more clearly. What do I mean by mixing the different
genres? Below are some examples of what I mean.
'Bohemian Rhapsody' by Queen is a perfect example of genre
mixing. The song has three distinct phase changes within it. It
starts off similar to many ballads, then phase changes to a
'light opera-ish' stage, and phase changes to 'rock' before
changing back to the 'ballad'.
Another trend that is starting up is adapting a song from one
style of music and transforming it to another. An example of
this can be taken from many of Staind's songs. The album version
of their song 'Can't Believe' has a distinguished 'rock' sound.
But if you listen to the MTV: Unplugged version, you will notice
that (although the music has the same tune) it is acoustic and
is sung in a more ballad-like tune.
-- * In Australia, the radio station Triple M's Breakfast Show
has a 'Musical Challenge' in place where they put musicians
(both local & international) "to the test". The Challenge: give
a song to a band which is the total opposite to their normal
style and get them to 'remake' it. Triple M has released some of
these songs on CD (proceeds going to charity) if your interested
in listening. Some of the songs used: Radiohead's "Creep"
performed by country singer Gina Jeffreys (one of the stations
most requested songs); Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" performed
by rock musician Richard Clapton, Men At Work's "Down Under"
performed by The Russian Red Army Choir (now one of their most
popular songs); Silverchair's "Freak" performed by country
singer Troy Cassar-Daley; the list goes on. It's well worth the
listening to these different forms, you could simply go to a
and just read the lyric form of different musical styles. You
can easily use the above example and apply it to just the lyric
process of some of these artists and merge it to your own music.
There is a wealth of knowledge to be discovered from established
artists, only if you are willing to look. It may not be
'conventional' but then, throughout history, music has been
about breaking down pre-existing barriers
you can see, there is a lot more available to the lyricist
besides the simple pen and paper. If used wisely these various
tools can help to hone your skills as a lyricist, bringing the
best out of your work. Naturally, there may be other tools
available that haven't been mentioned here that the lyricist can
use. By all means, use whatever comes to mind. You are only
limited by your imagination.
Look out for Part 2 of this series,
where you will learn how to accompany words with music by
writing Alternate Lyrics.
About the author:
Chyna Dolores is an author on
which is a site for
can view her personal work at
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How DO Spammers
Get Your Email Address?
As much as I
try to stem the seemingly endless flow of spam, the crap just
keeps arriving my Inbox.
For example, this week I received "New affiliate programs from
2004-02-10 to 2004-02-14 :: Subscription from http://WeAreBlahBlahBlah.net".
I'd never heard of WeAreBlahBlahBlah.net, let alone subscribed
to the newsletter. But the address used explained exactly how
the spammer reached me.
I've set up numerous 'special' addresses for customers,
affiliates, subscribers, merchant partners and others.
For example, if I join XYZ's affiliate program, I might set up
XYZ@nptinfo.com and give that address to them to contact me. If
I suddenly start to receive spam at that address, then I know
EXACTLY who the 'leaky' culprit is.
Here are other ways spammers get your address.
Spammers use scavenger bots, programs that 'harvest' email
addresses contained in "mailto:" HTML tags. Those are clickable
email links that open your email program with the address
already placed in the "To" field.
Some sites request various details via forms, e.g. guest books &
registration forms. Spammers get email addresses from these
because the form is publicly available on the web, or because
the webmaster sells the list.
Paper (Offline) Forms
Some companies sell lists of addresses obtained from convention
participants or contest entrants.
Unless the domain registrant has paid an additional fee to make
their registration private, a simple Whois lookup reveals the
Although most registrars have enhanced the security of their
WHOIS databases, by requiring a special code be entered before
information is displayed, many spammers take the time and
trouble to grab addresses this way.
From Web Browsers
Some sites use various tricks to extract a surfer's email
address from the web browser, sometimes without the surfer
This is another major source of email addresses for spammers,
especially as this is one of the first public activities newbies
join, making it easy for spammers to harvest 'fresh' addresses.
Sending Test Messages
Have you ever sent a message to an invalid address? You get an
'undeliverable' or 'failure' notice back.
Some spammers use this to guess email addresses by sending test
messages to a list of made-up or guessed addresses. They know
they've got good addresses for those that did not result in
Online Yellow Pages
What could be more alluring to a spammer than a directory of
names and email addresses filed by category?
These are ingenious. I tell five friends, and my friends each
tell five of their friends, and so on and so forth. The email
addresses all build up in the cc field and are a spammers
Spammers buy lists of email addresses usually passed off as
those belonging to people who opted-in to to obtain information
in a specific category.
Let's put spammers out of business.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Use
'throw-away' addresses whenever you're not sure of the source,
and don't sign up unless there are clear 'Privacy' statements on
If worse comes to worse, and you're fighting your way through a
mountain of spam, install anti-spam software on your computer.
© Copyright Rosalind Gardner, All Rights Reserved.
Article by Rosalind Gardner, author of the best-selling
Affiliate Handbook: How I Made $436,797 in One Year Selling Other
People's Stuff Online". To learn how you too can suceed in
Internet and affiliate marketing, go to:
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