Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ideas for bands

I wanted to jot down some more musical ideas I have for music but this time related to band personnel and styles (again, lol).

Solo Guitar, Jazz-One thing I usually do every day is play guitar by myself. I live in a secluded neighborhood and there's no other musicians around. Playing jazz guitar in a solo environment would be very beneficial to my guitar playing and would improve my chops as a musician. I would do it a lot differently from other soloists in that I wouldn't be a traditional Joe Pass type (or better yet Ted Greene, I wish I could play like him but I don't think I'll ever be able to), I don't think I'm good enough to do that. Rather, I would do it my own way and with a looping pedal to loop the changes when I'm improvising. I've thought about doing this for a long time. Looping pedals don't cost that much money and they are definitely worth it if you play guitar solo most of the time.

Jazz duos-I've had my share of duo playing bands. For a little while I was playing with a clarinet player and we did a lot of old Dixieland jazz stuff. In the end it ended up not working out but I learned a lot from the experience. You can get a good sound out of two musicians and playing jazz in a duo environment is pretty damn fun.

I would be more interested in a guitar bass combo, guitar piano combo, or guitar drums combo. Honestly the guitar drums combo would be the best but where in the freakin' Valley am I gonna find a jazz drummer? So my best bet is to work with a bass player, those are easy enough to find. Bass players usually can play jazz, its pretty much a requirement in high school. Heck, I'd even be down to work with another guitarist. That would mean I'd always have somebody comping when I'm soloing. Plus guitarists are easy to find. Another thing I could do is work with a singer, something I haven't done for a really long time.

I'm more interested in doing jazz work because I feel like jazz is the future of guitar playing for me. I still like heavy rock and roll (even death metal and black metal lol) and I've even been going to open jams at bars to play classic rock like Hendrix. But my end goal is to move into a more sophisticated environment where I can really stretch out and display my chops as well as play standards my own ways. I still have a lot of training to do but I've come a long way from when I was jamming with that clarinetist playing Dixieland tunes. Until I find committed musicians I'm left to own devices.

Tomorrow I'm going to the music store to buy some recording gear. I'm planning on recording for myself but also for producers that have reached out to me. These are more pop, edm, electronica type stuff that has nothing to do with jazz but I'm interested to put my name out on something that has a professional sound quality.

If finding other musicians really becomes too difficult I could always go solo like Joni Mitchell lol.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ideas for music projects

So I'm planning on buying recording equipment soon and I figured I'd write some ideas down. That's what a blog is for right? Ideas and stuff. Here I'd like to outline some ideas I have for recording and/or music styles that I want to aim at working on. First and foremost I'll mostly be recording guitar and bass and be using a drum machine for drums so the music will be limited to just those three instruments at first. Oh yeah I'll probably also be singing. I'll have to sing because just instrumental music won't work if I want to get more attention. Now onto ideas for style.

Jazz Fusion-This would be the easiest thing for me to work on because I know jazz (but am no means a master) but I know enough to write some heads, changes, and I can improvise pretty well. I actually used to write jazz fusion tunes on music manuscript paper back when I was a kid in high school. This seems like the best bet. I could have it written down on sheet music and it would be easy to show other musicians. Plus I love fusion, its what got me into jazz originally.

Black Metal-I played in a metal band back when I lived in Wisconsin but it was more of a nu-metal kind of sound. More hardcore too. Think breakdowns meet Alice in Chains. I want to play metal but metal that is less based on technique and more based on soul but still gives off that evil sinister vibe that you get from bands like Mayhem. The term black metal to me is much more inclusive because of newer metal bands. I'm particularly speaking about my favorite metal bands from Sweden (sorry Opeth) Tribulation and Ghost. Ghost has an almost pop vibe to their brand of metal and Tribulation has a psychedelic sound but retains that characteristic metal vocals. I will probably start singing and writing vocals to achieve this.

Indie Rock- So this is another style I used to dabble in a bit as a songwriter back in high school. I used to write these songs based on vocals. The vocals always came first and then I'd write the changes to the words. Pretty good way of songwriting actually. Anyways, the songs were always of a popular nature, usually critique on society in some way. Too bad I lost all those songs. I'm a huge indie rock fan so working on this kind of material would be a good fit.

EDM/Electronic-This is a style I'm interested in because it sounds good. I like all the fake synthesizer instruments and computer generated sounds. Some purist musicians think it sounds like shit (can't blame 'em) but I think it sounds hip. This would be an easy style to get into because I already have a computer and laptop but at the same time I don't know how to use the programs. Who's to say I can't find someone who does though?

Rap/Hip Hop-Another style I'm interested in dabbling in. Mostly because of the Nujabes influence. I would never rap a day in my life but who's to say I wouldn't be down to play with a rapper? Also, I like the idea of rap beat instrumentals.

I guess the important thing to consider about all of this is the fact that I have to write songs and keep doing it until I become good and then keep getting better. Long road ahead of me. I'm already a pretty good guitar player and musician but I haven't written an original song since I was in high school. I've been playing popular tunes for a long time. Its back to the drawing board-literally.

Wish me luck

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bill Frisell, Guitar in the Space Age!

I wanted to do a short review for this album because I thought it was pretty great for an eclectic jazz guitar record. Bill Frisell is well known in the jazz and guitar world and has played with many of the elder statesmen of jazz. Heck, he is an elder statesmen of jazz. This album is all covers of tunes he learned and/or knew about in his formative years learning guitar. Because the tunes go way back its almost an exercise in American popular guitar music. And that's why I think its so great.

In some ways you have to be a baby boomer to consider this one of Frisell's best recordings. I wouldn't go that far and say that is one of his best I've ever heard but I do think its a masterful recording, particularly the arrangements of the tunes. He does them all as instrumentals and does service to the songs rather than improvising in jazz vocabulary.

His guitar tone throughout the album is magnificent. There's even a tune where he sounds just like B.B King. Surfer Girl sounds like the Beach Boys as I know them. Rumble is as rock and roll as ever. He pulls off the tunes well and the musicians playing with him are equal part to the guitar.

Playing pop, rock, blues, folk, and country Americana tunes isn't exactly jazz but if done in a certain way it gives off cool vibes. Now I might want to learn some of these old tunes for myself. Bill Frisell's a great guitarist and his jazz work is incredible. This album here is a much different kind of album that doesn't showcase his chops but instead tells a story about the songs that were popular in his time. I find the title of the album to be a great fit because these songs were all popular around the time the Americans landed on the moon. It goes way back man.

Great stuff!

Rock and Roll Legend Chuck Berry Dies at 90

So today when I went to work an old timer that I know told me that Chuck Berry died. The importance didn't really hit me until I got to relax and think about it. I actually just got into old school 50s rock and roll and found its importance in terms of guitar playing and its place in the history of music. It's important stuff and Chuck Berry was one of the most important musicians to come out of that era. Heck, he might as well have invented rock and roll.

His songs had that snare back-beat, that rock guitar rhythm, and country/blues twanging guitar licks that makes rock and roll rock and roll. One thing to take note of is the fact that there are certain guitar licks on the guitar that people still do to this day that are pretty much stock Chuck Berryisms-things he did back in the 50s that guitar players still do to this day. Mostly the double stops (which is popular in blues) and the bluesy power chord rhythms played with 8th notes in 4/4 time.

More important than his guitar playing (as great as it was) was his songwriting craft. He brought the rock and roll narrative to the forefront where previously blues and country dominated and had a different story to tell. Fast cars, girls, wild parties, etc. This is what rock and roll was originally about. Later the Beatles and The Stones expanded on this and added their own stories to fit the lyrics of the music.

Personally, he's a pretty big inspiration. He's a black guy that can really play the guitar, he's a great songwriter, and he sings pretty well too. He's a great musician. Probably the perfect rock musician. Not every rock musician is good at songwriting, playing their instrument, and singing. He was one of the best.

He lived a long life and probably had a lot of fun. He was about to release an album of all new material but he didn't finish it in time. Oh, well as one of his songs go c'est la vie. 

Play the guitar just like a-ringin' a bell!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Open Jam Nights

The last two nights I went out to open jam nights at these bars. Tuesday I went to this place called the Canby. Its a dive bar not too far from my house. The atmosphere there is a little more street than the other place I went to but the musicians let me jam with them a bit. They were mostly doing covers. I played my friend's acoustic dobro guitar and plugged it into the amp.

The tone I got was a pretty distorted rock and roll tone for an acoustic steel guitar. It was pretty awesome. I started improvising and we went off for a while. It was pretty good but they weren't really improvising type of musicians, they're better at playing songs by the book more so than originals or jamming. So I asked them if they knew Hey Joe and I showed them the riffs and changes in the song. Then we played a rocking version of it. It was pretty awesome.

We even had two singers and they did a good job. My guitar solos sounded pretty great even though I was playing on acoustic and my fingers bloody hurt like hell. Because I couldn't do the bends (too hard on acoustic) I resorted to doing a ton of double stop Hendrix/Chuck Berry style. It sounded pretty good. What sounded even better was my rhythm, the sound of the chords was sparkly clean yet slightly distorted. Heavenly guitar tone for a tone I just dialed in automatically without any setup.

The other bar was this place called Petie's Place and its even closer to my house. I would still classify this place as a dive bar but its a lot nicer than the Canby and it has a much cooler vibe. The people here were much nicer to me than at the Canby. It seemed like at the Canby I had to prove myself to the musicians playing there. They were a bit stand offish towards me at first before they saw me play. At Petie's it was the opposite, they were super nice right off the bat.

There was a house drummer and bass player and everybody else came through to either jam with them or with their own drummer/bass player. I signed up and got onstage and we did a fantastic Hendrix inspired version of Sunshine of Your Love. We did all the songs I played with them as instrumentals. After that I asked them if they could do Stratus and I even began teaching them the main riffs and whatnot but the bass player wasn't having it. So instead we did Hey Joe. It ended up working out great. I sounded great on my Hagstrom Les Paul and I was getting a really good distorted guitar tone. Great for Hendrix tunes. I got a sense that the drummer could play any type of rock and roll and jazz too even maybe if I could've gotten to play Stratus with him but the bass player was definitely a rock and roll only type of guy it seemed. 

Later that night I played again. I was originally planning on playing War Pigs and Black Sabbath but this old guy came up to me and asked me what I wanted to play. I told him those two Sabbath tunes and he was like oh well maybe I should get the other drummer for that stuff, he plays great on that stuff. But I noticed he had drum sticks in his hand and I didn't wanna leave him hanging so I asked him what songs he knew? He said a ton. I asked if he knew Foxy Lady and Spanish Castle Magic and he said he did. So I said lets do Foxy and from that break into Spanish Castle.

It ended up working out great. He played pretty well. We straight rocked that place hard. The bass player was a little off on Spanish Castle Magic but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he doesn't know too much Hendrix? So yeah it turned out to be a real Hendrix night of jamming for me.

I had so much fun at Petie's that I'm planning to go to their open jam next week as I'm off that day. I might even work on memorizing lyrics to songs I already know how to play so I can do the songs as its meant to be with a vocalist (not just as an instrumental). People there liked me so much. It was great getting respect from fellow musicians and love from the audience, even hot girls and women. If I keep doing this maybe I can find musicians to play in a band with. At the very least I'm keeping my chops up and playing real music in front of a live audience and enjoying it.

Open jams are awesome!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Should I start busking?

So today I went to work an hour early and just jammed outside as people walked by. I made progress towards another one of my new years resolutions which was to start busking. This was a very good experience. I ended up making 8 bucks and I received a lot of compliments. One lady said thank you when I finished playing. Another guy said I could be famous. A third lady said here's a little something for you till you get big. Talk about a great experience!

I was playing my classical nylon string Granada guitar and using my Fender medium picks. I can still pick super fast as though I'm shredding on electric guitar with this setup. I was mostly playing jazz standards as I brought the mini real book that I own and worked through a couple standards. People recognized tunes because I got comments about it inside the store from that guy who said I could be famous. He mentioned that he didn't know the tunes by name but he knew I was playing tunes. Cool right? I played on all my breaks as well but those were more just improvised jams rather than songs.

The compliments and tips made me feel so good! I was thinking I could find good places to do this and make it a somewhat regular thing. If I can make money and make people happy then this is something I should continue to do. At the same time I'm getting myself out there and known in the community musically.

I'm already thinking about modding my Granada to make it better for busking. The main thing I want is those things that make it possible to wear a strap. I need a strap if I'm going to stand up and play. That would be amazing. Eventually down the road I could get a pickup for it so I could hook it up to my portable Roland Micro Cube amp. Then I'll have a good busking setup. 

Tomorrow I'll leave the house early before work and find a good place to sit down and just play. I'll have somewhat of an idea for a set list sometime soon. I was thinking I should memorize the jazz tunes I play because I don't want to look down at sheet music forever. I remember all the classic rock tunes pretty well. Who knows, maybe I can make more money?

Money and happiness, what a great combination! 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

New hero Orisa is live on the ptr

So Overwatch's 24th hero is now live on the ptr and you can try her out right now. She's a female omnic hero named Orisa that has a lot of utility. Here I'll explain her abilities.

Her basic weapon is the fusion driver. It's an automatic projectile cannon that delivers sustained damage. She is slowed while she fires it (like D.Va). There are 200 rounds in the magazine and it takes 17 bodyshots to take out a 200 health hero and 9 head shots to take them out. The farther away she is the more she will miss when firing. If enemies are close to you the gun will kill them pretty quickly. It is a projectile after all.

Her first skill is hault, which is her alternate fire ability. She launches out a graviton charge that can be detonated and then it will slow enemies and grab targets within line of sight (that are 7 meters away from location). It pulls targets towards the epicenter of the explosion. It's a crazy good ability from what I've seen in matches so far. That fact that it pulls people towards it is like Zarya's gravaton surge ultimate. Very nice.

Her second skill is protective barrier. Its a stationary barrier than can block enemy fire. It has about 900 health and its got a 12 second cooldown. It lasts for 20 seconds unless its destroyed. This is such an amazing ability. Its basically like a smaller weaker mini Reinhardt shield. So good!

Her third skill is fortify. She reduces damage she takes and she can't be affected by action impairing effects. It looks like it might reduce damage up to 50%. It makes her immune to things like Pharah's knockback and Mei's slow.

Her ultimate is supercharger. It releases a device that increases damage for allies by up to 50%. The enemies can destroy it and it only has 200 health points. You must protect it at all costs to get that full 15 seconds of damage boost.

I really like this new tank hero. I'm not a fan of tanks in Overwatch and I only play Reinhardt and Zarya when my team needs a tank. Now I'll be adding Orisa to that list as well. She has so much utility and she can do so many things. She reminds me of a mix between Zarya and Reinhardt but with a D.Va-esque weapon. They didn't really reinvent the wheel when it came to the creation of this character but I can see how they came up with something unique.

I am a little surprised at the actual look and style of Orisa. She has four legs and looks well....African. She looks African because she was created by Efi, an African child prodigy from Nimbani. But I think they could've done a much cooler stylistic and artistic design than what they came up with. I'm not a great artist or anything but Orisa looks a bit strange. I don't know, maybe its just me?

But her look doesn't matter. What does matter is that she has a cool kit and playing her feels fun and different from the other characters. In this aspect Blizzard has delivered once again another great hero.

You are advised to cease your resistance.