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Download Free Metronome!
and learn with a full-featured metronome from d'Accord Music
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The d'Accord Metronome for
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Plays Metronome sound, shows the
Enables you to set the tempo in
beats per minute
TAP feature to detect the tempo
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You can also select the measure
(2/4, 3/4, 4/4 ...)
This software is free. You simply download to use directly
from your computer desktop or share with friends!
If you'd like to download now,
click here to
display the d'Accord Personal Guitarist software page.
Select the "Products" tab, then click "Metronome" where you will
see the Download button.
As this particular metronome is for
Windows users only, we are keeping an eye out for a Mac version,
and will keep you posted. If anyone has a good
recommendation for a Mac metronome, we'd love to hear from you!
Changes In Response To Tendonitis
Copyright 1998 Paul Marxhausen
When I developed deep pains in my forearms in March of 1994
following three intense weeks of unaccustomed 8-hour days at the
computer, I knew it was serious trouble. I even knew it was called
Repetitive Strain Injury. But I was pretty sure some good
computing equipment would fix it, that and the splints and
my physician's assistant prescribed for me.
What I didn't know yet was that my approach to playing guitar and
other instruments may have been a significant contributing cause
my bilateral flexor tendinitis.
Despite splints, drugs and ergonomic computer equipment , real
recovery was elusive, not the least because I hardly slowed down
frenetic pace on computer OR on my instruments. But after I
rehearsed and performed a Christmas oratorio on violin, I found
myself in frightening pain and having increasing trouble with
dexterity. I asked for and got a referral to a physical therapist,
after a time of evaluation laid it out for me: I was in for a
difficult recovery, and I needed to reduce or modify all
that aggravated my tendinitis.
No phrase is more common to musicians experiencing physical
problems than "I can't stop practicing . . . " because we have a
recital, or we need to keep a paying gig, or "our music is in our
blood" and we can't bear to leave it be. But reality is reality:
guitar and violin went in their cases and stayed there untouched
months while the damage slowly repaired.
There were a great many things that contributed to the return to
functionality and relative freedom from pain I enjoy today:
reeducation for my body, ice water baths for my arms, gentle
stretching, microcurrent therapy, meditation to reduce stress, and
more. But I'd like to address some specific points about the steel
string acoustic guitar, which is my main instrument and which I
believe caused me the most trouble.
Maybe one of the most important things to learn is you don't have
fret so darn hard. Some instructors suggest fretting notes with
ever-decreasing pressure, until finally the string actually buzzes
because it's not fretted enough. Just a little bit more than that
all it takes to play cleanly, even during vigorous pieces.
in" may feel like you are wrenching more tone from the string, but
just ain't so. (When you strike the strings harder you may have to
increase your fretting pressure a bit.) The same rationale applies
the picking hand as well: excess tension in finger- or
does not add to your tone, and besides causing injurious strain it
impedes your speed and dexterity. If you are fond of using a flat
pick, you may find using a thumb pick may reduce the amount of
force needed to hold the pick. Using more of your whole arm to
instead of doing it all with your wrist is frequently recommended
And the moment pressure or movement is no longer required from
any finger, relax it. Give those muscles and tendons a momentary
chance to recharge and flush waste products away.
Electric guitarists are notorious for preferring postures and
positions that look cool over those which are least stressful and
most musically effective, but even a classic guitarist sitting in
refined one-foot-elevated position may be creating physical
problems through hunched shoulders, cocked wrists, and the tilted
hips that come with the use of the footstool. I can't begin to
address all the aspects of correct posture, but I will pass along
Aaron Shearer's1 sound advice that to the greatest extent
all joints - shoulders, elbows, knuckles, fingers, wrists - should
operate in the middle of their range of movement. Shearer explains
correct positioning in depth in his excellent book LEARNING THE
CLASSIC GUITAR, Part I which while intended for the classic
guitarist provides principals that can be applied to steel string
solid-body guitars. My own practice has changed in that I try to
standing up with a strap whenever possible, which permits me to
move and avoid any fixed, tense position. Instead of the neck
extending out parallel to the floor, I minimize my left-hand
contortions by angling the neck up at about 45 degrees from the
horizontal. One injurious habit I'm finding hard to break is
my left shoulder up when I play. Shoulders should be allowed to
drop, and raising the arm done through the rotation of the
joint, without any "help" from a raised shoulder.
A controversial point of positioning is placing the left-hand
behind the neck to optimize reach and fretting strength: this is
generally accepted as "correct" classic technique. But it can be
very hard on the thumb, and letting the neck fall into the web
between the thumb and fingers instead should at least be
as an optional change of pace to rest the thumb. Too, overuse of
barre chords maximizes the amount of left hand strain; my playing
and writing style has changed to emphasize partial chords and
alternatives to full 6-string barres.
Changes to the instrument may help avoid injury. Lighter strings
an obvious method to reduce strain on the hands. This will likely
alter your tone and may require a change in your playing style or
adjustment in your instrument setup. Along the same lines, tuning
down a half or whole step not only reduces string tension further
opens up new tonal possibilities.
Using a capo restores the concert pitch of a guitar detuned in
way, but in addition it shortens the effective scale of the guitar
minimize left hand stretches. My "standard" setup has my guitar
detuned one whole step and then capoed two frets up.
One option to ease playing problems is to get an instrument that
shorter, narrower, and/or shallower than the popular dreadnaught-
style acoustics. Options include small bodied "parlor" guitars,
shallow-bodied acoustics/electrics, the round-backed Ovations, and
at least one "ergonomic" acoustic model where the body is
shallower on one side than the other, so the right arm and hand do
not have to reach around so much body. Though it may sound
unthinkable to the acoustic purist, solid-body electric guitars
advantages in shape and easy playing action, and with
electronic processing can provide usable RacousticS tone. Chet
Atkins and Joni Mitchell are two acoustic guitar masters who are
using solid-body guitars in concert venues.
While these and other changes, and the healing of time, have given
me back the ability to practice guitar and write new material,
endurance remains a problem for me. After a half-hour trying out
guitars in a music store recently, I found my fingers slipping,
missing notes, and simply refusing to obey the commands of my
brain. I'm hoping that gentle exercise over the coming months
More resources on this subject can be found on-line on my Web site
"Musicians & Injuries" ,
LEARNING THE CLASSIC GUITAR, Part I Aaron Shearer Mel Bay
Publications, Inc. #4 Industrial Drive, Pacific, MO 63069-0066
Free 1-800-325-9518 FAX (314)257-5062
Back to Top
Defining the True Artist
- Do You Have What it Takes?
"The real communicating artists seek unique expression. They
are not interested anymore in sounding like their heroes, they are
searching constantly, developing and refining their own unique
There are musicians who are more than comfortable remaining
anonymous. You know, happy to hide behind their guitars or
keyboards and be sidemen to the stars of today or tomorrow. Then
there are those that have grandiose aspirations of stardom,
adoration and limelight. And then there are those who have a
driving desire and need to say something original artistically, to
express themselves and to communicate that expression to an
audience, be it a small niche market or wider demographic.
Those falling into the first category can make a living, albeit
fairly modest as a general rule. Those falling into the second
category often live in a little bit of a dream world and,
depending on their tenacity and 'smart' skills, usually end up
disappointed because the focus is set on the destination rather
than the journey. The third category usually reap the rewards of
the second category gaining all the success and limelight, but as
a result of focusing on their art rather than the shallow and
flighty end of the musician's world. These are usually the most
fascinating people too, because they generally have a little
mystery about them and because they actually possess what most
entertainers really want; sincere and dedicated talent!
But there are also those that are in the early stages of artistic
development who are still learning their craft, and open to
influences. Possibly they will become great artists in the future,
possibly not. It will be a question of choices and consequences,
and doors opened and opportunities taken advantage of - or not.
Life certainly will take you places.
But for those that do have aspirations of artistry and expression,
then I firmly believe you must have qualities that others do not
have. As an artist I believe one must stand out from the heard in
order to be heard. It is so easy to make a record these days. One
no longer needs to have the luxury of a recording contract in
order to stand on a pedestal and say "I am an artist - buy my
record!" With home studios costing one 16th of the price they did
ten years ago and with software programs that do it all, you can
churn out albums by the dozen if you put your mind to it. And many
However, just because you can, why would you? - is my question.
Just for fun? OK, valid I suppose. But Isn't it better to spend
that time and energy searching relentlessly for something unique
and different? God knows record companies are releasing enough
crap by the hour, even signed artists are now under the impression
they have got something to offer. Maybe they have, but for the
most part I don't think so (as public reaction and their
soundscans will attest!)
Perhaps I am being extremely unfair, but I think too many artists
do not realize that they have a responsibility to say something
profoundly unique, certainly if they expect any kind of career
longevity. We live in a world where musicians spend their lives
emulating their heroes; singers spend their lives emulating Aretha
Franklin, Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra and so on.
Rock guitarists spend their lives emulating Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy
Page, Jeff Beck and Eddie Van Halen. Jazz guitarists are proud
emulators of Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Wes Montgomery.
Saxophone players worship Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and
Michael Brecker. And so on...
Before I go on I have to say that emulating heroes is absolutely
imperative in your formative years as musicians. You simply MUST
listen to the greats, past and present. One has to have a strong
grounding and musical knowledge and one simply cannot get there
without listening. However, way too many 'artists' cannot get
passed this stage. They need to have peer approval, have to know
that other respected musicians around them recognize them and
applaud their abilities. Often all this takes place
This 'peer approval' is a stage of development that is also
important. Every musician goes through it at some point. It is
absolutely natural, but I firmly believe that to become a great
artist, you have to move beyond that stage and look inward. I
always liken it those wedding band singers, who despite having an
honorable and justifiable (and in some cases envious) career, they
are all too often the 'performing monkeys'. They are often fine
vocalists but at the end of the day they are seeking approval and
applause and not communicating or expressing anything artistic.
They certainly know how to entertain but do they know how to
intrigue? It's a huge gap. Nothing remotely subtle about it as far
as I am concerned.
The real communicating artists seek unique expression. They are
not interested anymore in sounding like their heroes. They have
moved past that, now searching constantly, developing and refining
their own unique voice. Look at any of the true giants of
yesterday and today. Yes you can hear their references, but they
also have their own strong identity. At some point during their
development something bigger than them took over. The chances are
they knew it at the time and took advantage of it and made an
extra effort to really hone that uniqueness.
Finding that unique inner voice might not be as easy for some. I
think it starts by recognizing your technical weaknesses. It is
often those weaknesses that ultimately end up becoming your
artistic strengths. Let's face it, if you were able to play the
guitar technically perfect, at all speeds, meticulously so every
note that came out was totally clean and audible, would this be
ultimately interesting to an audience? Yes it might be very clever
and impressive, but for how long could you listen to an album
where every phrase felt like you were having your teeth drilled!!?
Wes Montgomery played with his thumb (after his family complained
he played too loud late at night), ultimately enabling him to
become the greatest and most influential jazz guitarist of all
time. BB King has about three licks in his entire blues
repertoire. Does anyone NOT know BB King when they hear him?
Thelonius Monk refused to conform to traditional piano techniques
and musical ideas. He simply HAD to play music the way he heard it
in his head. He made such a bold musical statement during his time
that he is emulated the world over and revered by the greatest
musicians living today.
Technical shortcomings can be the very essence of your unique
artistry. Now, should those shortcomings get in the way of what
you need to say musically then those weaknesses might need to be
turned around so they don't restrict what you hear in your head.
Remember, the true artist simply communicates from within. All
other extraneous thoughts, influences and distractions need to
fall by the wayside. The minute a lick or a phrase that your hero
played or sung (and made famous) ends up on your record - watch
out! You might be in trouble. Absolutely steal from your heroes,
but just remember that real artistry is about what YOU have to
say, not what your heroes have already said before, and have
possibly said better.
Push yourself to the max and search for that truly unique quality
within. After all, that next great talent we are all so
desperately waiting for might just be you!
Back to Top
Building a Relationship With Your Guitar
"With a wonderful command of the guitar you can say a great
deal with just a little, because it means that two or three notes
sound amazing when they are stated with passion and conviction.
This is truly great playing."
I am convinced one can become a great player with a limited
knowledge of harmony, theory and technique. Now, before you jump
down my throat and say "Why on earth would you recommend that?!"
Well - I'm not recommending that you stop learning these
invaluable aspects of music. I am saying that there is a great
deal one can do with just a little. Of course, the more you know
about music theory, the easier it will be to continue to learn and
absorb information. The more you know about harmony, the easier it
will be to understand new music and give you access to harmonic
reinvention. The more you know about technique, the easier it will
be to execute things you hear in your head. There is never a
reason to stop learning these things. But there is so much that
can be said with just a little. I will try to explain...
Once you have a basic knowledge of guitar playing it is important
to live with your guitar, you know, develop a relationship with
it. What I mean by this is that all the things you practice have a
need to be absorbed into your playing. You need to have patience
and know that things aren't necessarily going to happen overnight.
Some things kick in after a while and when you least expect them
I can remember a time at my classical music college in London. I
was studying solo classical guitar and in my own spare time having
a fascination with jazz. But I had some problems with right hand
technique, and frankly I had a ton of jazz vocabulary to learn,
not to mention sight-reading and everything else that was on my
musical plate at the time. So I studied and studied and my friends
at college rarely saw me as I stayed at home all week shedding. I
was pretty obsessed. Eight hour days of focused practice ensued
and I watched the results, which of course fueled me to practice
But then I left music college and I was presented with the
daunting task of making a living in my chosen profession, and so
my practice hours gradually lessened. I even remember stopping
scheduled practice completely for several months and I just
played. And you know what?... this is when things really kicked
in. My playing took on a huge leap. Why? because I stopped forcing
things and let things naturally absorb.....or not. Some things
didn't get into my playing that I practiced (Some quite difficult
Wynton Kelly licks I seem to remember!) but a great deal of what I
practiced did get absorbed. The point is I let things breathe a
while and things took on a natural course of their own. It was an
incredible epiphany for me. That whole process of practicing and
then just living. It seemed right.
And then I realized something equally interesting, to me at least.
That whatever I played on the guitar had to really come from my
fingers and not the guitar. Every note on the guitar, across the
entire fretboard, had a completely different feel, sound and
requirement. Not only did I have to learn how to play a musical
piece but I had to learn that each individual note had its own set
of technical and musical problems.
Let me try to explain this a little simpler. Play the note F on
the top E string, first fret, and just sit on it and wait for the
note to die away. Now play an F on the 2nd string at the 6th fret.
Listen again for the note to die away. Do the same thing on the G
string, then the D string and finally the A string, probably about
as high as you can go. You will find that the top string F note
sustains less than the B string and maybe more or less than the G
string but probably more than the D string and for sure more than
the A string. Now, take in to account that every guitar feels and
sounds different and the results may be slightly different again.
Now, each note also requires that we sustain it for as long as our
musical piece requires us to, or for as long as our ear tells us
we want to at that split second, if we are improvising. Bare in
mind that there are other technical issues like the top string and
bottom string being close to the edge of the fretboard, each
string is a different thickness and we have other things to
And with all these things, what results is that every single note
on the fretboard is unique and we need to build a subconscious
relationship with every note over time. I say 'subconsciously'
because it is not practical to theorize or be vocally academic
while we are playing. It has to be inherent. And the only way to
do that is to live and build a relationship with your guitar. In
other words, get the music inside us.
Another way to explain this is is to talk about bending notes and
position playing. Every player will feel and bend notes on the
guitar in their favorite places. Over time we know that a note can
be bent upwards on the G string and will sustain differently
according to which key we are playing in. Some notes, according to
Nigel Tufnell of Spinal Tap, will "ring on forever!" But some
notes won't. Other notes you might need to dig in a little harder
to say what you need to say, others may respond more easily. But
they are all subtly different. Some not so subtly.
This observation is immediately apparent when you hear a lesser
experienced player who is starting to get some vocabulary and
beginning to get around the fretboard. But there is something
lacking. Usually it is that the player isn't fully aware of each
individual's physical note requirements. It's not just a technical
thing - it's a "feel" thing.
And I think this is what people really mean when they talk about
having a great "feel". A great player understands their instrument
and has a grasp on how each note needs to be treated. And it's all
in the fingers. And I fully believe that one important thing you
must do to improve this aspect of your playing is to just live
with your instrument, get to know it - all the notes - everywhere
on the fretboard. Have a relationship with your guitar. Play it.
And of course listen to other great players that have already
With a wonderful command of the guitar you can say a great deal
with just a little, because it means that two or three notes sound
amazing when they are stated with passion and conviction. This is
truly great playing.
Practice and live. Command over your instrument takes time. But
it's the one thing I believe separates the good players from the
truly great players.
Back to Top
How To Play Slide Guitar
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
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 finger style 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 stared to play
guitar, want to learn some songs.
start with a slide or “bottle neck” 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.
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.
that is guaranteed to help give you better TONE is go 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.
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
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.
start with an open tuning; my preference is open G tuning.
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 you guitar it plays a G major chord, and sounds
guitar sound now be tuned D-G-D-G-B-D as opposed to regular tuning
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
the most crucial aspects to 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.
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 ether. Just experiment a little and
you will find the right pressure to use.
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 pitch.
Mater this technique and you will be beyond most occasional
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.
Author: Denny Tryon
is an author and guitarist. More information and resources are
Back to Top
Behind Press Kits, Bios, and Controlling Your Image
A lot of what you have been told about creating your image is
false. This article is meant to be a simple list of things that
might surprise you as a musician.
you have had “managers” misguide you. You know the drill. Your
guitar player’s girlfriend has a connection at some local club so
now she thinks she is fit to orchestrate your entire career. Maybe
you have a know-it-all singer who spent 5 minutes glossing over
some music industry website and now he is writing your bio chalk
full of transparent lies and over-exaggerated descriptions of your
matter what the case may be, I can guarantee you that you have at
least a few misconceptions about how to properly present your
image. This article will briefly outline some of the major issues
on writing better bios, press kits, and press releases.
You have more control than you think
The most important thing I can tell you is you have more control
than you think. If you really get the hang of image presentation
and playing this game we call the music biz you can virtually
create any image you want of yourself or your band.
foremost I want to talk about the press. Ever surf the net doing
some research of some new band your friend told you about? Ever
notice how multiple music sites will have the exact same
description of the band?
Of course, you aren’t an idiot, you
realize these sites simply rip what the band wrote in their bio on
the band homepage. But do you realize the POWER of this?
Basically, you have the power to syndicate your image in a way.
These websites simply don’t have the time, nor intimate knowledge
of your band, to create some pseudo-bio for you. They rely on you,
and what you have to say about yourself. This is power. Use it
But you already knew that. What I’m about to tell you is something
you may not know, but could drastically affect your bands
promotional campaign. PRINT MAGAZINES DO THIS TOO. Yep, a lot of
those long write-ups you see in your favorite magazines about your
favorite band, have content ripped straight from the bands’ bio.
The trick is that this only applies to well written bios. If you
do in fact have such a bio, this can be the most powerful weapon
in your promotional arsenal.
The secret bio sauce recipe
Ok. So let’s recap real quickly. You know that your bio can help
control your image on the net. And now you know you can even
control how the print media presents you. But how do you write
such a bio? First, let’s go over what NOT to do.
Inflate: Do not inflate your image beyond the reality of your
band. Don’t be all flash and no smash. In other words, don’t talk
about what you can’t back up. This is the most common mistake in
bio writing. I call it “inflation”. This is pretty much adjective
Avoid phrases like “intense live show” or “super sonic
blast from the future”. This is stock. This is not creative. If
you aren’t the biggest drawing band in your own market, don’t say
“this band is taking the nation by storm”. The press and online
community have been reading bios with such inflations since the
beginning, they see past this very well.
Quote fans: If you can’t get someone credible to say something
nice about your band DO NOT resort to using a fan comment.
Ever…for any reason.
List song descriptions: If you are already an “inflator” then
talking about your own songs will only cause pain and tragedy.
Spending too much time on previous bands: If your last band didn’t
have a record deal or tour, don’t bother. If you have some
leverage with your “former member of…” status use it tastefully
and only in brief.
Now that we have got those cardinal sins out of the way you are
probably thinking “jeeze, what else is there to write about”. This
is where we start digging. Time to put on your thinking cap. You
have to think like a reporter looking for a refreshing angle. You
have to find the one thing that can create an image that will
stick. You have to find THE STORY.
By this time I have lost some of you. You either don’t know what I
mean by “the story” or you have a bio that breaks every rule I
just outlined and you can’t admit it. The best bios read like a
good music rag write-up. If your bio is written correctly it
should make a staff writer’s job easy. It should be easy for him
to “rip” or “cop”. It’s no co-incidence that many pro bands use
these kinds of writers to pen their own bios!
Perhaps you have an interesting story about how you came together.
Perhaps you have some gimmick, like Siamese twins or 3 bearded
lady bassists. But hopefully you have something that connects your
band to something going on in the world of music. You need
something that will get people’s attention. Maybe your band is the
only Death Metal band for 100 miles in the Bible belt. You get the
I am going to list some things that can make great stories (and
double as press releases).
- Being produced by someone reputable
- Being managed by someone reputable
- Breaking some mark in online CD sales or downloads
- Getting a supporting slot on a festival or tour
- Having a reputable person as a quoted fan
A photo speaks 1000
I want to get one thing out of the way: I’m not going to tell you
how to dress. But I am going to tell you that it may be your
biggest problem. I am not a stylist. I can not solve this problem.
I can tell you this though: The camera will expose every flaw you
have in your style.
With that said, let’s get on with at least
getting a quality photo.
I am not a professional photographer. I am not going to tell you
how to take a photo of yourself. I am going to tell you where to
Your best bet is to find a local photographer that you
see at local shows. More often than not, they are either
legitimate press, legitimate artist, or a legitimate student.
Browse their catalog of band photography and if you think it
stands up, there ya go.
This may all seem like common sense, but I
want to stress that this is abandoned and somehow your guitar
player’s girlfriend is your “photographer” because her mom has a
camera. Do not let this happen to you. Find people with pro gear.
Get a professional or at least a digital arts student. These are
always your best bets.
If you are going for sheer impact with your 8 x 10, one good tip is
to at least look like you are in the same band. I’m not saying get
a gimmick or wear make-up. I’m saying that even if you think your
personal look is “plain”, your band as a whole can benefit from at
least being on the same page.
The miracle of Adobe Photoshop has given birth to some of the most
breathtaking digital art we have seen. It has also, to the
misfortune of bands mostly, created total rubbish. If your logo
sucks it says many things about you.
It shows you have high tolerance for bad art.
It shows you yourself might be a bad artist and were not smart
enough to hire a professional.
It shows you have a very distorted view about the genre of your
It shows some of you are totally unprofessional and don’t care
about your image.
You might be surprised how many ways there are to find good
digital artists to create your logo. In my personal opinion, even
paying up to $100 is worth it for a good logo. Bottom line, the
sites below are the best place to find killer artists.
Press Kit Secrets
One very strong tip I can offer is to try to think of your image
as “dynamic”. It has to be all things to all people. You might
have to add something extra to that envelope before you send it
If you are sending your kit out to an artist rep at a prospective
endorsee you ALWAYS want it to contain tour dates. This is the
most important thing in your attempt to get gear for cheap and say
those lovely words to all your loser musician friends playing
crappy guitars… “I got an endorsement deal”.
A great add-in is a DVD. There are a lot of affordable ways to
make a DVD these days. Again, this is one of those things that
will expose your flaws. You don’t want to put your life story on
there. Live footage is great if its done right. Fake smoke and
that cheesy “page turn effect” are not. Don’t make a wedding
video. This will be valuable in your arsenal when try to book
Ask First. Send. Follow Up. This is your best way to make some
impact and get a solid contact in the biz. Your press kit will
always have more impact if the person is expecting it (send it
Make sure you are to the point when calling someone you’d like to
send a press kit to. You are Jon Doe from The Doetones. You are
going to be in town around this time. You want to send a press kit
for a possible gig. If you are sending an email and have an EPK
(Electronic Press Kit) NEVER send the press kit in first. Always
try to get a response before sending the press kit. If you are
sending to a possible endorsee put your upcoming dates in the
Following up is crucial. Many of the people you will be dealing
with in this business are either busy or forgetful…mostly both.
You must initiate contact. Be tactful and patient. Do not hound
people, but make sure you give yourself a chance to make some
opportunities and pick up the phone yourself.
Remember, you are in essence, trying to self yourself to a company
or consumer. You have to be a salesman. Try to connect to people
and have them want to talk to you. If you can do this they will
always want to help you or get you involved in something that
will. Or best of all, spend money on you and your product.
Prokopets, aka Bishop Dolarhyde, is co-founder and editor of music
http://www.scenejumper.com Bruce had his first live gig at 15
and has had various jobs in the industry since. He spent years as
a guitar tech, tour manager, endorsement liaison, bassist in a
national act, and promoter in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
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Origins and Magic of Slide Guitar
by Dennis Tryon
It's a hot sultry night on the Mississippi delta. The full
moon casts it's translucent light on the fields and swamp oak
trees. The lingering smell of barbecue and wisteria mix with
honeysuckle and tobacco smoke. Folks are sitting on the front
porch trying to beat the heat. Someone picks up an old guitar and
begins to play a familiar tune.
The sound is unmistakable, cutting right to your heart, and
emotions. It’s distinctive voice, almost human-like, hangs in the
night air like a soulful cry. That is the signature sound of the
Where did this style get its start? The prevailing wisdom
attributes its birth to the old single string instrument called
the jitterbug, used by black musicians around the turn of the 20th
century. This instrument was simply a length of thin wire
stretched between two nails on a post and played using an old bone
or heavy nail. Some used a bottle or other smooth objects as well.
One could play a lead line or improvise an accompaniment to folk,
blues, and spiritual songs. The jitterbug was essentially one of
the first blues instruments.
There are ancient African instruments much like the jitterbug but
using a gourd resonator with the single string. It, also, was
played with a bone sliding up and down a neck to change pitches.
As guitars became more available, a lot of the early blues and
folk players adopted them. These guitars had terrible action and
strings were scarce. Using a slide allowed playing on some really
horrible guitars yet produced a very appealing sound. Using a
glass or metal slide would also save the fingers!
Guitars were very popular in the early part of the 20th century.
Frequently, rural musicians got inexpensive guitars from a mail
order catalogs. Banjos were very expensive at the time, but there
is little evidence that players ever used a slide on a banjo.
Some musicologists suggest that Hawaiian music was the greatest
influence in popularizing slide guitar. This was about the time
(early thirties) when steel bodied guitars were becoming
available. This music was played in "slack-key" or an open tuning
as it is called today. The guitar is tuned to an "open" or major
chord, such as a Gmajor or Dmajor. There are many variations in
these tunings, but most tunes are played in one of the three main
Hawaiian music was very influential in spreading the slide guitar
craze throughout the country. This gave rise to a great demand for
slide style guitars from manufacturers. The Hawaiian lap steel
guitars were more popular than standard guitars all through the
1930's. All of the major manufacturers had offerings: Gibson;
National; Dopera Brothers; (Dobro) Regal, just to mention a few.
Hawaiian slide guitar was incorporated into every style of music
from Jazz to Mountain Music. This has continued on to the present.
The list of today’s accomplished slide players is large and ever
The adaptation of slide guitar techniques by early blues musicians
is, perhaps, the ultimate marriage and is instantly recognizable.
Some of the great masters of the past include: Son House; Tampa
Red; Robert Johnson; and Muddy Waters, to name a few. These
magical and soul filled sounds have captivated musicians and
The voice like quality of a glass bottleneck or brass pipe sliding
up and down a guitar string has a created musical tradition worthy
of it longevity. It resonates with our emotions and has found a
permanent home in our hearts. God bless those who aspire to the
sound of the slide guitar.
Denny Tryon author and slide guitarist. More slide and guitar
resources can be found at my website;
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How Does A Compressor Make An
Audio Track Louder?
By Brandon Drury
A compressor is probably the most
misunderstood of all tools in the recording studio. Ironically,
its also one of the most powerful tools when recording or mixing.
While there are many aspects of a compressor that could be written
about, I'm going to explain how a compressor can make an audio
So you want to learn how to use a compressor? Well good luck. It
takes years to get even a decent feel for a compressor. I'm just
now getting where I feel that a compressor will tolerate me
playing with its settings. In the past, it was just laughing and
mocking me because I just didn't understand how to use it to
improve my recordings.
So lets talk about how a compressor can make an audio tracker
louder. Ironically, a compressor actually knocks the volume down
on a track, but then has a makeup gain knob that boosts it back
up. To understand how a compressor can make something louder, you
need to understand the difference between peak loudness and
average loudness (also called RMS). A peak is just what it says it
is. Its a spike. The signal starts very low and goes very high. A
good example of peak loudness is a snare drum hit. Average
loudness is sound that occurs over time. Imagine hitting a low E
on a bass guitar and letting it sustain. This is an almost
One other concept is the volume ceiling. In other words, in
digital audio we have a volume limit. Its called zero. For
whatever reason they measure volume in negative numbers with 0dB
being the absolute loudest. If a track has a peak that jumps up to
zero, we can not push the volume up on that track even if the
other portions of the track are very low in volume (without volume
Now lets take an audio track that can be both peaky and constant.
A vocal track is a great example. A vocal can jump up very quickly
but it can also sustain. Lets say it hits 0db at one point, but
most of the track is sitting well below that. You'll find that
when the vocal is set at maximum gain before clipping, the many of
the words are unintelligible. This is because they are simply too
quite. Assuming there are no extreme problems, the first thing Ill
usually do is grab a compressor. I'm go ahead and smash those
peaks down and then I'll push the volume back up with the make up
gain on the compressor. Now the vocal is evened up quite a bit.
The vocal will sit in the track much better and will sound fuller.
When mastering a record, compression is almost always used to make
the volume of the cd louder. Most of the time, the cd is already
hitting zero, so its peak volume will not increase. However, its
RMS or average volume can increase substantially. When we put a
compressor on stereo mix, we can smash the song down into a
smaller dynamic range. It uses up less volume. While this can be a
bad thing as the dynamics are decreased, these days overall volume
seams to be more important (I'm not sure who decided this). After
the compressor does its thing, the makeup gain is used to boost
the level of the track up the desired amount.
When you are learning the audio mixing process, I recommend using
more compression than you think you need. Hit everything very
hard. If it sounds distorted, back off. I think that compression
is the opposite of reverb. While many beginning home recording
enthusiasts will use too much reverb, they often times, do not use
as much compression as the big boys. Experiment. This is different
In summary, a compressor is used to to knock off the top (loudest
parts) of an audio signal and then uses its makeup gain to push
the volume back up. It takes lots of time to master using a
compressor. Keep in mind that you can do much more with a
compressor than make things louder. As always, don't be afraid to
About the Author: Brandon
Drury has written numerous articles for his
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