Lessons the Music Industry Can Learn from TV

The-Daily-BeastEver heard that as a musician you have to give your stuff away or play for free in order to make it? Aside from that being a terrible business model, it’s following the opposite path of television. There have been some huge advances in television in the past decade from which the music industry can learn.

TV, which was once broadcast for free, has been using a highly-effective subscription model which has brought about a revolution of new content with top-notch production quality. The music industry, however, says to give away your music and make up for it in T-shirt sales. And with data-compression, the formats available for download or streaming are of lesser quality than CDs.

Read more about this topic at The Daily Beast.

You’re Never Too Old to Learn to Play Guitar

The Old GuitaristThe guitar is a wonderful instrument. So wonderful, in fact, that it doesn’t matter if you’re a child or an elder trying to learn how to play. Depending on the method of approach, the guitar can be an instrument where a novice can learn to strum a few chords and play along with a multitude of songs, or it can include the type of in-depth study that leads to virtuosity.

In a blog for Seymour Duncan, Dave Eichenberger writes:

Throughout my performing and teaching life, I’ve had lots of older people coming up to me and telling me that they’ve always wanted to play guitar. This is followed by the usual excuse of wishing they’d started when they were young, or even the very morbid “I don’t have much time left, and it takes years to become a pro.” Well, yeah it does, but learning something like guitar does not always have to be something you start very young. In fact, there is nothing about guitar that specifically states you have to be young to do it. It is true, then, that you are never too old to learn…

The advantage of starting later is that you’re probably not seeking to become a virtuoso, land a record deal, and go on tour. You want to play the music that you grew up with and the guitar is perfect for that. So if you didn’t learn when you were a child, then the time to start is now! The preconceived notion that playing the guitar is hard is completely incorrect. Like any new technique, learning correctly can make it very easy to play.

Eric Clapton to Release New Doc and Stop Touring

On November 4th, Eric Clapton will release a new DVD chronicling his 2014 Asian tour. The film is entitled Planes, Trains, and Eric and features thirteen full song performances. Rolling Stone goes on to mention the bigger news: Eric Clapton will stop touring. The travel demands have finally caught up with Slowhand.

“The road has become unbearable,” he said. “It’s become unapproachable, because it takes so long to get anywhere. It’s hostile – everywhere: getting in and out of airports, traveling on planes and in cars.”

Fortunately, Eric still plans to play one-off shows and festivals from time to time. For those waiting for the DVD, check out this full show from Budokan Hall in Tokyo from the spring of 2014.


Are Theme Songs All Just Generic Guitar Riffs Now?

American-Idol

For years, every television show had a theme song featuring a hummable melody that at best could get stuck in your head for days at a time. In a Premier Guitar piece entitled The Art of Dumb Guitar, John Bohlinger argues that the art form has been reduced to just “Big Dumb Guitar Riffs”.

I love music. I’ve made my life’s work in music. Music can move the soul. It can enrage the mind, and it can bring people to tears. It is the sound of emotion. While I know this is rampant in the pop music world, I always hate to hear about the intentional dumbing down of music so that it’s more accessible. There is of course nothing wrong with music being simple…if the music calls for simplicity.

According to Bohlinger, “Modern television music doesn’t use songs, but riffs. Maybe our brains have atrophied to the point that we can’t process anything complicated, or maybe the shift in music stems from the hypnotic effect of big dumb riffs. The listeners don’t have to think to process the information.”

Music for film should support what’s on screen, and it should be able to do so without being dumbed down. Can you imagine if Star Wars didn’t have those great melodies, but just generic riffs? Bruce Dickinson, when interviewed for the documentary Metal Evolution, stated, “Call this old fashioned, but unless there’s a tune, I think I’m probably going home.”

Understanding Modes

Playing-GuitarWhen it comes to playing guitar, the word, “mode” can become a four-letter-word. For those of us who have had musical training outside of the guitar, such as general music theory, learning how to apply modes isn’t so daunting. But for the guitarist where scales and key relationships are something of a foreign language, modes can seem like something from which to shy away.

Dave Eichenberger has posted a blog over at Seymour Duncan where he dives into just a little bit of theory, but for the novice, he’s posted SoundCloud files of seven different modes with backing tracks so that you can hear how these all interact with one another.