Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Owning an instrument is useless without cultivating a relationship with it. This blog really appealed to me because it encourages players to literally engage in deep play with their gear…to explore and think about the equipment they already have in new ways. Kind of the antitheses to “The one with the most guitars wins!” philosophy.

Play With Your Instruments and Toys – Learn Them Inside and Out
courtesy of Loren Weisman http://www.braingrenademusic.com

Many artists strive to get the best gear, the top equipment and the most stuff that they can possibly cram onto stage or into the studio. Whether it’s that drum or this toy or that additional instrument, many musicians today have too much stuff, and most of them don’t even know how to use half of what they have. So play with your toys. Mess around with buttons, sounds, tunings, setups, etc. You may know the basic sounds, but what else can you do to find out even more about your gear?

In some ways, when you purchase a certain effect or instrument, it’s like you have purchased a kitchen’s worth of supplies and food. When you only use a certain configuration or a certain set up, it’s the same as only using one kind of food from that kitchen. I have a favorite food, but I also like variety and I like to know what all my options are before I prepare or order what I want to eat. Why not apply the same ideas to your gear?

Play with your gear, change the settings, do the unusual to get out of the usual mode. You never know what you may discover. Take a little time to experiment each day with your gear and/or instrument to find out what might inspire something new and different.

Missing a string or not missing it at all.

This goes for tuning, setting up, and practicing. Guitarists? Have you ever worked on your songs with one string missing? How would you rephrase the chord or substitute for that chord if you are missing a string? How does it make you approach your soloing in a different way? Do you find yourself creating or finding new licks from having that string missing?

Why not try it over the period of six weeks where each week you remove a different string? Run through your tunes, your practicing and improvisation to see what happens. You may find you’re more prepared and able to continue playing during performances even if you break a string.

Write it down

Don’t spend time worrying about losing your settings and the ones you like the most. Write them down. List where you have knobs turned to or settings placed at. You can take pictures if that helps as well. Then write down the different settings you discover while playing with your toys. Keep a little diary of different settings and their effects, what you like, what you don’t like. Jot down both the good and the bad. Alyssa, a good friend of mine has a quote I like on the topic too. “Sometimes what doesn’t work is more helpful than what does. It’s so easy to skip over the discord, but, even though it’s not pleasing, it can turn into something beneficial and, ultimately, beautiful.” It will help you learn how to find and remember the sounds you like as well as help you learn what you don’t like and how not to avoid it.


It really is simple. Play with your food. Don’t just settle for the sounds you know. Take chances, take time and add some effort to learn the full array of the gear you have. Understand how you can change sounds and how those sounds can change your playing. From turning knobs, to taking away a string, to removing a drum to anything and everything in between, research, listen and think of different ways you can express yourself. You already invested the money in the gear. Invest the time to know it inside and out.

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Love’s in need of Love today…

Some of you may recognize these lyrics – they were written by one of the great artists of our time, Stevie Wonder. Though written back in 1976, given all that’s going on I’d say they are as (or even more relevant) today in 2010.

Whether you rock, rap, fiddle, or hopefully, play gutiar :), I’m suggesting that now more than ever, the world’s in need of love.

Of course the world’s always going to have conflict and disagreements, but if you’re like me it almost seems as though there’s a heightened level of anger. And its going beyond mean words; increasingly there seems to be a growing agreement that the climate of vitriol in today’s society is fueling some to go beyond words to commit acts of violence, Yet in spite of the conflict I see around me, I hold out hope…because of you.

Love is in need of love today, and I think its artists like you who will provide it. We already know how much people are affected by music, so what I’m suggesting is that now more than ever, the world needs the balance that music can provide. Be an instrument of change to inspire a different energy in the world; one that might inspire a conversation, dialogue or dare I say, love.

Take a listen to what Mr. Wonder said, and be inspired.

Good morn or evening friends
Here’s your friendly announcer
I have serious news to pass on to every-body
What I’m about to say
Could mean the world’s disaster
Could change your joy and laughter to tears and pain

It’s that
Love’s in need of love today
Don’t delay
Send yours in right away
Hate’s goin’ round
Breaking many hearts
Stop it please
Before it’s gone too far

The force of evil plans
To make you its possession
And it will if we let it
Destroy ev-er-y-body
We all must take
Precautionary measures
If love and please you treasure
Then you’ll hear me when I say

Oh that
Love’s in need of love today
love’s in need of love today
Don’t delay
don’t delay
Send yours in right away
right a-way
Hate’s goin’ round
hate’s goin’ round
Breaking many hearts
break-ing hearts
Stop it please
stop it please
Before it’s gone too far
gone too far

People you know that
Love’s in need of love today
love’s in need of love today
Don’t delay
don’t de-lay

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This is an amazingly stunning and informative film on the current state of this planet we call HOME.
I urge you to take 90 minutes out of your life to watch it and to pass it on. Though it must have cost a grip to produce, it was made to be shared for free. If you can hook your computer up to your television or a projector, so much the better! Here is the description that accompanied the film:
“We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live to avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth’s climate.
The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being. For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film. .”

HOME has been made for you : share it! And act for the planet.

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Musicians can run this state better than politicians. We won’t get a lot done in the mornings, but we’ll work late and be honest.” ~ Kinky Friedman

Given the recent tragic events unfolding in the Gulf, it is more important than ever that musicians come together as the “loud voice for so many quiet hearts” as Billy Joel so aptly describes what musicians are to the world. A song that comes to mind for me right now is Marvin Gaye’s 1971 classic anthem, “Mercy Mercy Me”. Marvin sang “things ain’t what they used to be”, and here in Florida we are wondering if they will ever be the same in our lifetime. If you or any musician’s you know are out there playing events for Gulf restoration, we would love to hear about it.

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