Earning a Living Playing Metal Is Near Impossible

Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffmann has been speaking with Powerline (via Classic Rock Magazine) about the current state of play in the music industry. Hoffmann, who is also a keep photographer, admits that he doesn't expect to make much money out of Accept, and plays in the band for the love of it:

"I've been a photographer and quite successful at it, and very comfortable with what I was doing. If I was only trying to survive or make a living or earn money, I'd be doing photography all day long. It's much easier. And less stressful."

"But the big question for me is: is it as rewarding? I'd probably have to give the honest answer, 'no.' Music is much more rewarding in the end."

"I think it is still frickin' hard to make a living in this kind of thing. And you'd be crazy to do music to earn a living. I've said it again and again, and this is not the only motivation for us by far: we really want this because we love doing it."

"But if it was a way for us to make a living only, it would be tough, man. Fortunately, we now built up our business to where it's really becoming a business again. But if you're in the music business trying to make money with metal nowadays, good luck. It's not easy."

Accept are currently touring in support of their 14th album, "Blind Rage."

Check out Accept's metal classic 1984 hit, "Balls to the Wall."

‘The Problem With Music’ has been solved by the internet...

Coutsey of By John McDuling - Quartz.com 

It’s now 20 years since Steve Albini, the legendary rock music producer best known for Nirvana’s last studio album In Utero, penned a seminal essay for the literary magazine, The Baffler.

It was titled “The Problem with Music,” and detailed how the entire food chain of the music business was set up to profit from the end product, except for the artists who actually conceived and made it.

He offered the example of a band, “pretty ordinary, but they’re also pretty good” that signed to a moderately sized independent label. They sold 250,000 copies of an album—considerable success by most standards—making the music industry more than $3 million, yet still ending up $14,000 in debt. “The band members have each earned about 1/3 as much as they would working at a 7-11, but they got to ride in a tour bus for a month,” he famously wrote.

Many aspiring musicians (and music journalists) of a certain vintage would have come across this inspirational piece of writing, thanks largely to the internet. So it’s quite fitting that since then, the same irrepressible force—the internet—has largely dismantled the profit centers the music industry has relied on for most of its existence.

Not everyone is cool with that. “The internet will suck the creative content out of the whole world until nothing is left,” wrote David Byrne, the former Talking Heads frontman, a sentiment that is shared by many in the music business who think the economics for artists have gotten even worse. Yet Albini, who we tracked down to discuss the state of the industry, is relatively upbeat, ebullient even.

“The single best thing that has happened in my lifetime in music, after punk rock, is being able to share music, globally for free,” he tells Quartz. “That’s such an incredible development.”

Over the past two decades the way recorded music is consumed has changed irrevocably. Napster and the various copycat file sharing services it spawned taught an entire generation of would-be CD buyers to expect to be able to listen to their favorite music for free. Not long after, Apple’s iTunes made it more attractive for those who are prepared to pay for music to buy individual songs rather than full albums.

The adjustment to this new reality has been painful, and not everyone has embraced it. (Remember when Jon Bon Jovi, hilariously, blamed Steve Jobs for the death of the music business?) But in Albini’s view, what exists now is far better than what existed before.

“Record labels, which used to have complete control, are essentially irrelevant ,” he says. “The process of a band exposing itself to the world is extremely democratic and there are no barriers. Music is no longer a commodity, it’s an environment, or atmospheric element. Consumers have much more choice and you see people indulging in the specificity of their tastes dramatically more. They only bother with music they like.”

In the physical music era, company executives and the music press were the arbiters of taste— a band needed to convince a label to sign it, fund it, and often get critics to like it, to have a realistic shot at success. These days, it’s a much more meritocratic process: people can make music in their garage and reach their audiences through YouTube, BandCamp and any number of internet avenues. “You can literally have a worldwide audience for your music….with no corporate participation, which is tremendous,” Albini says.

Swimming upstream:
Another seismic internet-driven shift in music consumption is currently underway, with streaming services like Pandora (a publicly listed company with a market value of around $5 billion) and Spotify (valued at $4 billion in the private markets ahead of a possible IPO) becoming increasingly popular, and arguably responsible for further declines in recorded music sales.

Albini these days runs his own recording studio in Chicago and is lukewarm on the value of such services for true music enthusiasts. He’s skeptical about the chances of them becoming a viable earnings stream for artists, but refreshingly comfortable with their business models.

“I think they are extremely convenient for people who aren’t genuine music fans, who don’t want to do any legwork in finding bands,” Albini says. “[But] I think there is incorrect calculus being done by the people who are upset about them.” When a song is played one million times on Spotify, it can still have an audience of one person who plays it a lot. When it is played one million times on terrestrial radio, the audience is orders of magnitude bigger, he explains. “I actually think the compensation is not as preposterous as anyone else,” he says. “It’s like complaining that cars are going faster than horses.”

Spotify, which is reportedly part-owned by record labels, has been subject to fierce and colorful criticism from artists about remuneration. But Pandora, a much bigger service, has had its biggest problems with music publishing companies who control licensing rights and collect royalties for songs used commercially (for example by radio stations, digital music services, film studios and advertisers.)

Albini describes the music publishing business as “extortionate.” “Publishing was a racket. It was not a legitimate part of the music business,” he says. We recently took a deep dive into a court case between Pandora and the century-old American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) that uncovered some questionable behavior by the music establishment against the internet company. The Future of Music Coalition also has an explainer on how the incredibly complex world of music royalties works here. “It never operated for the benefit of songwriters,” says Albini. “Of all of the things that have collapsed in the music paradigm, the one I am most pleased to see collapse is the publishing racket.”

The future of music: 
It’s not just record company profits and shady A&R executives that have lost out from the internet-driven disruption of the music industry. The entire ecosystem that once supported musicians—neighborhood record stores, small recording studios like Albini’s Electrical Audio complex in Chicago, and indie record labels—is struggling. Albini likens these players, himself included, to blacksmiths that are surviving on a “thrifty entrepreneurial spirit” and settling into a niche role for really high-quality work.

Yet, amid the collapse of the old music business model, the underlying economics for artists have quietly undergone a significant transformation. Ticket prices for live music have increased significantly. Arguably, this reflects the fact in that our internet-connected, device obsessed society, people are increasingly seeking out tangible experiences. It ultimately means that live performances are likely to be the main way successful artists starting out today will earn their living. “I think that’s a totally much more direct and genuine way for an audience to pay for a band, and a much more efficient means of compensation” Albini says.

“On balance, the things that have happened because of the internet have been tremendously good for bands and audiences, but really bad for businesses that are not part of that network, the people who are siphoning money out. I don’t give a fuck about those people.”

VIDEO: Peavey ValveKing II 20 Review...

Courtesy of Adam Perlmutter - Premier Guitar.com
Like many guitarists, my first amplifier was a solid-state Peavey—an Audition Plus I saved up for in 1988. It was a reliable little amp. But when I caught the tube amp bug, I became more interested in the used and vintage tube amps I was scoring at garage sales. And while Peavey was building tube-powered combo amps like the Classic 30 at the time, I was too fixated on that old stuff to pay any mind. The Mississippi company’s new ValveKing II 20, however, is a brilliant amp that conjures a lot of the vibe and sounds that drew me to old tube amps in the first place, and it has enough mojo to attract tube purists who haven’t played a Peavey in a while.

Mississippi Solid
The Chinese-built ValveKing series was launched in 2005 to deliver a mix of old-school tones and modern flexibility at an affordable price. This generation, the ValveKing II series, adds features that make the amp even more effective as an all-in-one stage, studio, and demoing tool.

The twin EL84-powered ValveKing II Combo 20 is, at its essence, a straightforward 20-watt 2-channel amp. The clean channel features volume, bass, mid, and treble controls, and a bright switch. The lead channel has the same controls plus a gain button and gain-level knob, along with a button for boost. A master reverb control, plus damping and “Vari-Class” controls can be used with both channels. The latter two controls are helpful for extending the amp’s sonic palette—the damping control affects presence and resonance, while the Vari-Class lets you switch between digital simulations of class A- and class AB-style dynamics. Peavey has also included a LED-equipped tube-monitoring indicator to keep you clued into the health of your tubes.

On the back panel, you’ll find several studio-centric features. The MSDI (Microphone Simulated Direct Interface) consists of an XLR output paired with a speaker-defeat switch that allows the amp’s signal to be fed directly into a mixing console. Similarly, a USB out—complete with mic simulations—lets you connect the amp to a computer for recording. The back panel is also home to a buffered effects loop, a pair of speaker outputs, and 1/4" jacks for switching channels. Especially cool is a switch for attenuating the power to either five watts or one watt.

At 37.6 pounds and measuring 20 1/2" by 22" by 10 1/4", the 1x12 combo feels substantial and well built. Like many of the boutique amps that inspired it, the Peavey splits the difference between a modern and vintage look: Its matte black hardware contrasts nicely with a silver grille cover and chicken-head control knobs.

Inspired Clean, Dynamic Dirt
I plugged a Gibson ES-335 into the ValveKing, and before playing a note noticed that the amp is whisper-quiet. At higher but moderate volume levels, the basic sound on the clean channel is rich and warm, and the amp feels dynamic and responsive. Like any good clean tube amp, the Combo 20 lets you get a lot of different sounds via pickup selection and guitar tone controls, and that great blank-slate performance helped the 335 work for everything from chord-melody jazz to pedal-steel-inspired country lines. When the amp’s bright switch is engaged, you can coax more than enough extra twang for surf and piercing Nashville lead lines.

Edging up the volume on the clean channel generates a touch of warm grit and imparts a full, singing quality to single-note runs that’s made for blues-rock soloing. And you can clean up the output quite readily by rolling back the volume on your guitar.

The dirty channel provides a surprisingly wide range of higher-gain sounds—from slight crunchiness to the sort of thick, saturated distortion that a classic metal fiend could work with. A boost control extends the versatility of the second channel by generating a heap of extra presence and sustain for solos.

Like an old tube combo, Peavey kept the Combo 20’s effects simple, and the reverb adds a nice shimmer to both clean and distorted sounds. But at higher levels it starts to sound a little artificial, and hardcore ’verb fans may opt for a good stompbox reverb instead. And while the Vari-Class control isn’t an effect in the traditional sense, it can profoundly alter the amp’s sound and feel. At the A end of the spectrum, the amp sounds a bit sweeter and has a more touch-responsive feel, while the AB voice is a bit punchier with greater headroom.

The built-in attenuator is effective for bring the amp’s output down to bedroom levels without significantly diminishing dynamics or tone. The USB output is very easy to use and doesn’t require software or additional drivers to interface with GarageBand on a MacBook. And while the simulated speaker tones probably won’t fool nitpicking listeners, the mic simulations work well for layering basic guitar tracks.

The Verdict 
Peavey’s new ValveKing 20 is a smart, effective modern tube combo that will reward the budget-minded gigging or recording guitarist—and especially players that are looking to do both with a single amp. At around $550, it’s a bargain that will give any other amps in its price range a serious run for its money. But with it’s quiet performance, lovely clean tones, and dynamic response, it often has a way of sounding and feeling much more expensive than it is.

Watch the Review Demo:

Zoom release the G1on & G1Xon Stompboxes...

The G1on offers 100 guitar effects, including a variety of distortion, compression, modulation, delay, reverb and amp models at a retail price point of only $49.00 US. And, the G1Xon offers an additional 5 pedal-controlled effects for only $25 more (retail only: $74.00 US). 

Up to 5 effects can be used simultaneously, chained together any way you like. In addition, there are 68 built-in rhythm accompaniment patterns, and you can connect headphones to the output jack (as well as portable music players to the auxiliary input jack) for silent practice sessions. There’s an onboard chromatic tuner that supports all standard guitar tunings, including open and drop tunings, and a Looper feature that enables you to record up to 30 seconds of CD-quality audio. Loop length can be set either manually or to a preset number of quarter notes (up to 64 beats), and you can loop to any rhythm pattern, with automatic quantization that ensures seamless start and end times. Programming is simple and straightforward, thanks to a streamlined user interface and the large backlit LCD screen.

  • 100 effects, including distortion, compression, modulation, delay and reverb (G1Xon adds 5 pedal-controlled effects)
  • Up to 5 effects can be used simultaneously, chained together in any order
  • 100 memory locations (10 banks of 10) for the storage of user-created patches
  • Copy and Swap functions make patch organization a breeze
  • Auto Save function for automatic saving of all patch parameters
  • Pre Select function allows you to scroll through patches silently while keeping the current patch operational
  • Onboard chromatic tuner supports all standard guitar tunings, including open and drop tunings
  • Looper feature for the recording of up to 30 seconds / 64 beats of CD-quality audio with seamless start and end times
  • 68 built-in rhythm patterns which can be used in conjunction with the Looper
  • Input jack accepts standard mono guitar cable (both active and passive instruments supported)
  • Auxiliary input jack for connection of personal music players
  • Output jack for connection to amp or headphones
  • Backlit LCD with contrast control for easy viewing in low-light environments
  • Lightweight and small enough to fit in your gig bag
  • Easily integrated into any existing pedal board
  • Runs on 4 AA batteries, with alkaline battery life of 20 hours
  • USB port for firmware updates
  • Optional AC adapter
  • G1Xon model adds a built-in expression pedal for control over input level, output level, or any selected effect parameter

YouTube DEMO:

Women find complex music sexy!

If music be the food of love… then you’d better ditch Daft Punk and dig out the jazz.

The more complex the music, the sexier women find it, according to a new study from the University of Sussex.

When asked to choose between composers of different types of music for a, "night of love," they plumped for the writer of a difficult piece over the one who produced a simple tune.

The research, published this week by the Royal Society journal, could account for why creative individuals are considered so desirable for sexual relationships!

Benjamin Charlton, the paper’s author, said:

Women may acquire genetic benefits for offspring by selecting musicians able to create more complex music as sexual partners.’

Dr Charlton’s study involved nearly 1,500 women, with an average age of 27.9 years, in the most fertile stage of their menstrual cycle.

They were asked to decide which of a selection of melodies was the most complex and the composer they’d prefer as a short-term sexual partner.

It turned out syncopated off-beat rhythms – typical of jazz – proved more of a turn-on than simple chords and melodies.

The findings back Charles Darwin’s theory that music’s primary function is sexual courtship, researchers added.

Are You Psychologically Suited For Success In The Music Industry?

Courtesy of Hyperbot.com

A recurring theme of business writers is the topic of personal psychology and success. Often this comes in the form of looking at an aggregate sample of successful entrepreneurs, figuring out top psychological traits and saying you need to be this or that personality type to succeed. Yet research into entrepreneurship has repeatedly shown that successful business people have all sorts of personality types. A recent post at Diy Music Biz looks instead at what musicians must do to succeed leaving the door open for a wide range of personality types.

Sure, there are personality types that are unlikely to succeed without family money, for example:
  • the type that always complains when someone charges a fair, sustainable price for an online service because they cannot evaluate actual value;
  • the type that always quits when things get tough whether or not that means they're making progress;
  • the type that's just too nervous or insecure to get on stage or push themselves into the limelight.
But when one flips perspective and looks at success, it's hard to find a common denominator beyond not quitting though quitting is sometimes the best thing to do. In such cases one quits "the right stuff at the right time" so that one can keep moving forward.

Greg Savage's post "5 Traits Of Successful Music Professionals" approaches the topic based more on the things one needs to be able to do which could be accomplished in a variety of ways that take into account one's individual psychological type.
Here's what Savage discusses with my take on each point:

"What Sets Those Who Are Able To Make A Living In Music Apart From Those Who Aren’t"

1. "Willingness To Please The Client"
If you want to be a business success in music, i.e. get other people's money, then you're going to have to please the people whose money you're trying to get.
For some musicians this means studying pop hits and attempting to move in that direction. For others it means finding the audience who cares about what you want to do and connecting with them, even if it's a tiny niche that seems unlikely to lead to a major label signing.

2. "Successful Musicians Are Self Educated"
Savage looks at this topic more from the producer's side, focusing on an example of new equipment with a steep learning curve, but this goes for everybody.
To succeed in the music biz you not only have to keep improving your basic musical and performance skills but you also have to learn how to do your part in the studio, promote yourself online, deal with new business opportunities and so much more.
To some degree this may be the biggest challenge beyond simply becoming a solid musician.

3. "They Position Themselves In Front Of Opportunities"
Successful musicians put themselves in places where they can succeed or can build a base for future success.
Sometimes this means moving to the big city. Other times it means moving to someplace a bit less noisy so that you can be heard. This holds true on the web as well.

4. "Successful Musicians Are Persistent"
Savage discusses the concept of "no meaning not right now" and finding ways to turn people's resistance around.
This point also covers continuing to search for opportunities after the obvious ones have shut you out. If you can't find a fresh way to approach those who say no, doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for different results is a likely path to failure.

5. "Successful Musicians Take Action"
It's important not to jump into things without taking a solid look at what you're jumping into but, at the end of the day, if you're not predisposed to take action you can always find ways to stall long enough to avoid success.

Don't Let Your Personality Type Hold You Back

It's not your personality type that's going to hold you back, except in extreme examples, it's how you choose to face challenges that matters.

Steven Tyler and Joe Perry Perform 'Dream On' with Southern California Children's Chorus...

Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry pay tribute to last year's Boston Marathon bombing victims in this performance of 'Dream On' with the Southern California Children's Chorus.

Layering Rhythm Guitar Parts...

In response to a question left within the comments of my latest GuitarBlog "Improvising in Major Keys." 

I did a video /lesson covering Layering Parts back in July of 2011.

When it comes to layering, using different guitars can be a nice touch at times, but it may not work for every song /session. Plus, dialing in the levels will be time consuming when switching guitars, (especially electric to acoustic). Try keeping things simple by just switching to different pick-up configurations when layering tracks. Whatever you do, don't record the exact same guitar set-up as another multi-track /layer because it will unfortunately act to cancel out the overall signal, instead of enhance it.

Loops obviously play a huge role in the home recording set-up. But, whatever drum loop packages you use, be sure to watch the impact of their volume levels at all times. It's not uncommon to turn down the volume levels of your drum loops by as much as -10db to allow the other tracks room to breathe. Always check into the levels of your drum loops so they don't over-ride the levels of all of the other instruments within your session.

Effects are great, but too many can make for slushy recordings. Most engineers keep effects to a minimum. Record your guitar as dry as possible, and try working with two primary reverbs. One thick, and one very subtle. On thinner guitar takes, (such as a guitar recorded using the single-coil pick-up), try the thicker reverb. On a meaty track, (like a humbucker pick-up), try out the thinner reverb. When layered, I think you'll enjoy the results.

Delay's, Chorus and Compression all have their places. Most times I'll personally use them very sparingly. I treat them as "special effects" and apply them to specific sections of a song only. Compression in particular is a special effect in where I use it to control the peaks and boost very exact frequencies within individual tracks, as well as, later during mastering. Compression, (and EQ), also play a big role when recording overdriven guitar tones.

The main thing to keep in mind in our modern world of hundreds of guitars, amps, effects and recording possibilities is that - in the long term, recording will become a very personalized thing that you'll establish for your own sound. And, you'll also reach a very personal comfort zone over time with your equipment and with your software.

They'll also be stages over the years where software and equipment will breakdown, or become obsolete. Those periods will often be tough times. Even upgrading to a new computer can drive you crazy sometimes. Through any up-grade, you'll need to begin the process by making an often frustrating study of entirely new learning stages with your gear. And, for those of you who've been there /done that... as you well know, it can really suck!

Anyway, I hope this short blog helps you! Recording is (of course) time consuming, but it's also tons of fun and really satisfying when you nail a track during a session!

- Andrew

Music Therapist's Melodic Approach to Healing...

by Cindy Atoji Keene | Boston Globe.com
Music has healing properties — whether it’s quiet jazz or cacophonous rock anthems, a song can help long-repressed feelings to emerge, said Lisa Summer, one of more than 5,000 board-certified music therapists in the United States, and director of the music therapy program at Anna Maria College in Paxton.

Music can address issues that people can’t express using words alone,” said Summer, 60. “Whether listening to music, singing, playing an instrument, or even writing lyrics, music can make positive changes in mood and emotions.”

After music therapy reportedly helped Congresswoman Gabby Gifford recover from a brain injury, all sorts of music healers have emerged. Are they the same as a music therapist?
They make all sorts of claims: Mozart can make you smarter; playing crystal bowls or drums are healing; or even that music can cure cancer. These assertions are reductionist simplifications; there is no quick fix. A legitimate music therapist has a degree and board certification to practice.

How do you use music therapy in your sessions?
One way is to use short pieces of evocative music, such as Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite,” and pair it with drawing or writing. For example, I was working with a college student who was anxious. I asked her to listen to the “Air” movement, which features very churning tension, then release. She drew a flower encased in two glass boxes, and said, “This is my inner self, disconnected from the world.” Several sessions later, she drew a flower planted in the earth, receiving nutrients and sunshine.

How do you choose songs for patients?
The music I find most helpful doesn’t call attention to itself. I have a pool of about 300 classical pieces, such as the slow movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony or Brahms’s Third Symphony. I also use a lot of ethnic music, including Brazilian, African, and Asian.

You’ve been a music therapist for several decades. How has the field changed?
The field started with focus on psychiatry, but new applications are constantly emerging, the latest being hospice care. In the ’70s, we used mostly composed songs; now improvisation models are also applied. Finally, music therapy is no longer as dependent on importing psychological therapies; we have our own theories and philosophies.

How did you come upon this career?
When I was a teenager, I played piano and French horn. I remember my mother would come home from work in a snarky, angry mood. She’d start banging pots and pans and slamming cabinets. I would sit in the other room, playing the songs I loved. I’d gradually hear the sounds from the kitchen getting calmer and calmer.

Woman Gets to Hear for First Time... Becomes Megadeth Fan!

From Mega-Deaf to Megadeth...

You might remember born-deaf Sarah Churman from a viral video dating back about two-and-a-half years. In an emotional clip, she was recorded at the doctor's office as she got to hear for the very first time.

In the craziest possible twist, Sarah is now a Megadeth fan. Not only that, but Dave Mustaine and co. have personally offered to fly her to Vegas for her very first metal show.

"I consider myself pretty rugged, but I got a little teary-eyed when I watched her being able to experience what we all take for granted," Dave said during KTNV appearance along Churman herself.

"And then someone said, 'You know, she actually likes your music.' And I was like, 'Nuh-uh.' It's just great, you never know what you're gonna hear nowadays," the frontman added.

Sarah then went on to describe how she got into Megadeth, sharing a cool story about turning on the radio to hear music for the first time and worrying about how bad it sounded.

"The day [hearing aid] was activated and we got in the car I was excited to go ahead and turn the radio on and just start scanning through the channels and stuff," she said. "And honestly, music didn't sound well right away on the radio and I kinda panicked and got upset, because it sounded awful at first, anything on the radio."

Sarah was since flown to Vegas to attend the co-headlining Megadeth and Motorhead gig on April 17. The experience must've really been something. Check out the clips below for more details.

Probably the Best Home Recording Blog on the Internet!

If you are a home-based recording engineer, producer, or just an 'at home jammer'... then the Bedroom Producer's Blog is the place to hit whenever you're searching for great recording tips, VST's, and home-studio information. Especially, what the latest goings on are in the world of free plug-ins and drum loops... this place is top of the heap!

For those of us that record at home, there can never be enough drum-loops, or quality VST's for important effects like; reverb, delay's and compressors. The Bedroom Producer's Blog keeps us up-to-date on everything "recording" related with plenty of posts to help us with all of our studio and project needs.

I discovered them a while back while randomly searching on-line for some new free VST Multi-band Compressor plug-ins for Adobe Audition CS6. And, wow was I ever blown-away... there were plenty posted on their blog to read reviews on and to try out.

Everything is easily found due to some their highly organized and categorized blog postings.

I highly recommend this blog for anyone who's working at home, (as well as, small studios too). there's just tons of great stuff on their pages.And, be sure to like them on their FaceBook fan page too.

Is Music Ever Worthy of Your Full Attention?

Is having music "on" the same thing as actually listening to it?

A couple of weeks ago Geoffrey Morrison wrote about listening to music from totally opposite perspectives. He started with "Music multitasking: How 'background' listening enhances life," and ended with "To listen to music or not: That is the question." Apparently, we're not done; on Wednesday Morrison posted "Music multitasking, part 2: Why music anywhere, anytime, is awesome."

So, is really savoring music, soaking it in, a more intense, soul-satisfying experience than merely having it on. Glancing at a great painting as you stroll by isn't the same as standing there for a few minutes, taking it in. Many will concede that Morrison's view wins the popular vote; few people listen without multitasking, so they don't know what they're missing.

Background listening is obviously enjoyable; that's why almost everybody does it. It doesn't demand much from the listener; the sound is just a space filler, and that can be a good thing. Quiet restaurants without background music are deadly dull; gentle jazz stirrings can provide a pleasant atmosphere.

 ...background music sometimes serves an important function.

Of course, if you listen you'll be much more likely to appreciate sound quality, so you might see the value in buying better-sounding gear. The opposite is also true: the biggest advantage to multitasking is that even the lamest speakers or headphones will be good enough. If your "hi-fi" is an iffy Bluetooth speaker, anyone can definitely understand why you can't listen to it! Nobody is suggesting you need a $5,000 system to enjoy music; you might start with a pair Monoprice 8250 speakers ($32) and a Lepai LP2020A+ stereo integrated amplifier ($25) to provide an ear-opening experience. Invest in those products and you'll have better sound than what most $200 to $300 Bluetooth speakers can offer.

...listen with your eyes closed. Once.

Take a shot and play one of your favorite tunes in a quiet room, and see if you notice anything new in the music, stuff you never heard before. Maybe you will, and if you do, you might want to do it again. If not, you'll be robbed of 5 minutes of valuable multitasking time you'll never get back.

It's simply a matter of "being there," not distracted with other stimuli vying for your attention second by second. Stop and smell the roses, and you'll be more likely to better appreciate what's in front of you. It's not just music; you might try giving your undivided attention to movies, TV, art, eating great food, or drinking wonderful wine. Slow down and savor the experience. When you do, see if it makes a difference.

Getting back to one of Morrison's original points:

...we can't or shouldn't attempt to quantify how others appreciate music, or worse yet, tell them they're doing it wrong. this makes sense...

A lot of people have tried to enjoy watching ballet, but it can't hold their attention. The same goes for opera or sports; many people could care less.

What is being suggested is that attentive listening may enhance live or recorded music, and multitasking will probably devalue it. That's the opinion; from an article in The New York Times, "The Science and Art of Listening," ...it provides a more objective perspective on the value of active listening.

Share your thoughts about listening, however you do it, in the comments.

VIDEO: Rig Rundown - Robben Ford...

Courtesy - Premiere Guitar.com
In celebration of his new album A Day in Nashville, guitar virtuoso Robben Ford returned to the scene for two shows at Music City’s 3rd and Lindsley club. On March 5, ace luthier Joe Glaser filled in as the Premier Guitar Rig Rundown host, meeting Ford and his tech/co-producer Rick Wheeler before the second show to talk about the beauty of vintage guitars and what it’s like to tour with what may be the most valuable guitar amp out there.

GUITARS: Over the course of his incredible 40-year career, Ford has toured and recorded with some very drool-worthy guitars. Currently, he travels with just two vintage beauties: a 1966 Epiphone Riviera (Glaser removed the original Bigsby trem and replaced it with a stop tailpiece) and a 1960 Fender Telecaster with a rosewood fretboard.

AMPS: Since 1983, Ford’s main amp has been a Dumble Overdrive Special, serial number 002, which Alexander Dumble made for him that year. (Serial 001 is Dumble’s personal amp.) Ford keeps this sweet baby safe by plugging it into a variable voltage regulator. He runs this Overdrive Special through a Dumble 2x12 cabinet that was actually made for his second Dumble head. The cabinet houses a pair of Celestion G12-65 8-ohm speakers.

EFFECTS: Given that Ford plays top-shelf guitars and amps, his tone does not need much help in the pedal department. Ford uses a Vertex pedalboard designed by Mason Marangella in 2013. Although the board has gone through some changes, today it includes—in signal-flow order—a Vertex I/O interface, a TC Electronic PolyTune Mini, a Vertex-modded Boss FV-500 volume pedal with expression control running out to a Vertex Boost, a Hermida Audio Zendrive, a Strymon TimeLine that’s controlled by a Roland EV-5 Expression Pedal, a TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb, and (configured independently of all the effects) a Dumble footswitch with pre-EQ boost and overdrive switches. Voodoo Lab’s Pedal Power Digital provides the juice.

Robert Trujillo Discusses His New Jaco Pastorius Doc.

Courtesy of Ben Smith VH-1 Music

Metallica’s Robert Trujillo Talks About His New Jaco Pastorius Documentary And The Bassist’s Influence On His Music 

People tend to think that if you play in one of the hardest and heaviest heavy metal bands of all time you must only listen to music that sounds similar to your own. However, most great musicians will tell you they draw inspiration from a wide variety of influences across the musical spectrum, regardless of genre.

Such is the case with Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo. He first came to prominence playing with skate punks Suicidal Tendencies, then played funk metal in the spinoff group Infectious Grooves before landing a gig with Ozzy Osbourne and eventually taking over the 4-string in the biggest heavy metal band in the world. And his greatest influence is a jazz fusion bassist who is best known for his guest appearances on other artists’ albums and only released two proper solo albums before his tragic death at the age of 35. During his all-too brief life, Jaco Pastorius raised the musical bar for bass players with his innovative and unrivaled technique and helped redefine its very sound, popularizing the fretless electric bass. Trujillo was first exposed to his music in his youth and after befriending the Pastorius family is producing the new documentary Jaco about the bassist’s life and music.

Though it will not be released until the fall, the documentary was named the Official Film Of Record Store Day, which is a tie-in with the new Jaco demos collection Modern America Music…Period! which will be released tomorrow as part of the annual event. Robert was kind enough to talk to us about the movie, how he came to be involved and how Jaco’s music has left an a permanent mark on his bass playing and writing.

What was your first exposure to the music of Jaco Pastorius?

Robert Truillo: You know, back in the day, being a young, inspired bass player, I started to gravitate toward jazz fusion. I almost would have called myself an elitist. I got to the point where for a little bit there I was more interested in instrumental music. Not for long, but I was more appreciative of bass solos and ripping Al Di Meola guitar solos, and John McLaughlin. So I got into that, and I started hearing about this bass player called Jaco—one name, right to the point, you know—and it was intriguing; everyone started talking about this guy. It was like, “Whoa.” I was intrigued by the mystique of the name alone. Before that, it was all about (bassist) Stanley Clarke and there were a couple other players. I was really into Anthony Jackson. And then Jaco just kind of came out of nowhere and started tearing it up.

And then I actually went to see him when he came through the Santa Monica Civic Center, in ’78 or ’79. My parents would actually take me to shows. My Dad lived in Venice, not too far from the Santa Monica Civic and was able to drop me off and pick me up and I was able to witness Jaco for the first time live. And that was when he was really full-steam ahead. I mean, there was baby powder on the stage, I remember him sliding into his bass guitar like it was home plate. You know what I mean? And the backdrop was the New York City skyline or something. And it was really an entertaining experience. I’d been to a lot of rock shows already by then, and this was just as exciting. Of course the first solo album was mind-boggling. It was kind of like hearing Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption” for the first time and here’s this dude ripping on the electric guitar and I can’t tell if it’s a keyboard, a synthesizer, I didn’t know what to make of it. It was the same thing with Jaco. Here’s this guy playing this composition, all harmonics and cordal movements and then he’s ripping on a, it would have been “Donna Lee,” like “What is this? A saxophone?” A fretless bass wasn’t as common to the ear, so the growl and everything just kind of swept you away. And then when you saw this guy, what he looked like and how he played, it was just its own, you know, beautiful monster so to speak.

Are there any Metallica or Suicidal Tendencies or Infectious Grooves songs that you can think of where fans could hear his influence on you?

It’s funny because we did a show here at the Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood for their fiftieth anniversary and Infectious Grooves had the main closing ceremonial show. In reuniting with that batch of music I realized that all that music—I wrote all that music actually—and that music was completely inspired by Jaco with, of course, elements of Slayer and Suicidal. So all of that music was inspired by it and if people go on there and they give it a good listen, they’re going to hear it. They’re going to hear the moments of harmonics. They’re going to hear the real staccato technique in the bass lines. And 8th notes and the pulse, all that stuff. At the time, I didn’t want to necessarily copy Jaco’s solos or his work directly, so I made a point to not do that. I made a point to try and use his technique and his style in the context of writing.

With Suicidal, actually, that’s very interesting because the opening track on Lights… Camera… Revolution! is “You Can’t Bring Me Down.” There’s a whole little thing at the beginning where I’m playing the fretless bass and it’s a slight little tip of the hat to Jaco. So little bits and pieces. With Metallica, a little less, you know. I’d say more maybe in the pump and drive of sticking on one note and “duh-duh-duh-duh-duh” you know? I’d say the closest thing to that, though it’s not fretless, is “Day That Never Comes.” There’s some stuff in there where it’s driving kind of like a Deep Purple and then, I’m thinking, sort of Jaco in there even though I’m not playing the fretless though the other thing is Jaco didn’t always play fretless. That’s another kind of misunderstanding. We recognize him and his sound on his fretless but he crushed on a fretted bass as well.

How did the Jaco documentary come about?

About 18 years ago when I was finishing up with Suicidal and heading into Ozzy Osbourne’s band I was able to meet Johnny Pastorius, Jaco’s oldest son. A friend of mine who lived near him in Florida put us in touch and when I happened to be in town with Ozzy, Johnny came to the show and we became great friends. We hung out the whole night. I was making calls back to California, putting Johnny on the phone, you know, with my old guitar player, Rocky George (of Suicidal Tendencies) “Hey look! I got Jaco’s son here”—all drunk, you know. It was kind of a special, cool moment. He gave me a really great, beautiful big black and white photo of his dad. And I had told him, “You really have to share your father’s story with the world and the universe because there’s a lot of people that would love to hear it and learn about your father and his compositions.” And he totally got it. He was also of the age to where he appreciated the Infectious Grooves and stuff that I had been doing. So it made sense at the time. And I don’t know how many years later, we reconnect and he said “I’m working on this film” and I’d always say “If you need anything from me, let me know.”

Then, I’d say about 5 years ago, I was playing in Fort Lauderdale with Metallica and he brought a guy who had grown up with Jaco. His name was Bob and he had done an audio documentary called “Portrait of Jaco: The Early Years.” Bob knew nothing about Metallica and was amazed at the show, like, “Wow, a sold-out show in this massive arena and here’s this Mexican guy on bass who loves Jaco.” So he and Johnny actually sort of pursued me to help them with the project and to join the team, and all of us sort of became partners on the project. When my wife and I and the family moved back down from San Francisco to Los Angeles the door kind of blew open, meaning the opportunities for this film to develop and really kind of take shape suddenly made real sense. I ended up having a meeting with Passion Pictures with John Battsek who you may or may not know had this Searching For Sugar Man film a year ago win the Academy Award for Best Documentary and they’ve had successes with other films as well. It’s probably one of the best documentary film production companies in the world. So at that point I was like, “Okay, now we’re getting serious. Now we’re really going to make a film here and we’re going to do it the right way.” And it’s been a long journey. I can’t say that it’s been easy, but it’s really coming together well. There’s editing going on right now as I speak to you. It’s almost there. We need to have a November release. That’s where it’s at. It is a beautiful film and I know that it’s going to definitely register incredibly well with not just Jaco fans but people that love a good, beautiful story.

What’s the Record Store Day tie-in?

What ended up happening was (Record Store Day manager) Michael Kurtz had footage of Jaco that he shot, I think it would have been 1978, in North Carolina. He was just this kid that would bring his little Super 8 handheld to concerts and film them. And he filmed Weather Report with Jaco, his first tour, and since he knew Metallica and Marc Reiter, our middle manager from Q Prime, he said, “I’d like to get ahold of Robert because I have this footage of Jaco that I shot when I was 17 or 18-years-old.” So that’s how it all started. He had this footage he wanted to donate to the project and then in actually meeting him and sharing with him this trailer we had put together—more of a seven minute short—he really, really got into the potential story here and the film. He invited Johnny Pastorius, myself, and our director/editor Paul Marchaund to attend this International Record Store Day dinner in Los Angeles and we went in there with our little trailer, and there’s about 100 retailers from all over the U.S., and we played this trailer for them, and everybody in the room was speechless. I mean, some of them were almost crying because it was such a beautiful thing to them. At that point we were asked to release the film under the Record Store Day banner. And that’s where we are now. That ended up turning into an Omnivore Records release, which is Jaco’s original demos from 1974. Those are coming out on April 19th, Record Store Day.

With Record Store Day coming I was wondering, what was the first record you ever bought for yourself?

The first album I ever bought was Santana’s Abraxas. Obviously, I was a huge fan of Carlos because he had the unique guitar sound and he had incorporated a lot of the percussion and really, really fun rhythmic bass lines in there, too. But the other thing was the album covers, man. The album covers were sexy. They were so bad-ass. I think it might have been Santana III or something where he had this kind of cobra flying in the air and like a volcano and you’re like, “What’s that?” And you open up the jacket and you see the band and they all look really cool. You see Neal Schon and he’s like 17-years-old. That was one of the cool things also and that’s one of the cool things about Record Store Day is that they’re celebrating the packaging, bringing it back to the old school. In fact, the Jaco release, which is titled Modern America Music…Period!, that album, even the record jacket and the artwork, everything was done in the same style as the original and how they used to sort of design, the materials used, everything about the original releases. And I thought that was very cool, too, like really, really focusing on the fine details of a vinyl package.

And finally, of course, I have to ask, what can we looking forward to in Metallica-Land over the next year?

We’re writing man. We’ve prepared one song, which may or may not be on the album, but it’s a lot of fun. We’re playing it live. It’s called “Lords of Summer”. We had some fun putting that together. And there’s a lot of really, really great riffs and possibilities for some great new songs. I’m really excited. I think we’re all very excited. We actually started writing about a year ago and then we kind of had to step aside from it because of the Through the Never film but now we’re back into the swing of things and that’s our goal this next year: to prepare a whole bunch of cool music. It feels like Death Magnetic was the launch pad for what we’re about to do in a lot of ways. That album took a lot of time to make but the good thing about it was it was a way to establish how we work together, at least this version of the band. And now we feel like we’re a better band. We’ve had a lot of challenges in recent years as a unit and now we can take that to the studio and make something great with it. Hopefully everyone will love it.

Video: Eventide H9 Core Harmonizer Stompbox!

In this new video, Alan Chaput from Eventide demos the company's new Eventide H9 Core.

The H9 Core delivers the sounds of Eventide’s H910 and H949 harmonizers, (the prized studio processors used on stage by Frank Zappa, Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen). All of Eventide’s stompbox effects, including new H9 exclusives, UltraTap Delay and Resonator, can be added to H9 Core.

H9 Core features a simple, one-knob user interface and is fully featured as a standalone stompbox.

Using H9 Core with the H9 Control app for Windows, OSX (via USB) or iOS (wirelessly via Bluetooth) makes creating and managing presets, live control and in-app algorithm purchases easy. H9 owners can sync up to five H9s to a single Eventide.com account so their H9 algorithms can be used by five H9s simultaneously.

For more about the Eventide H9 Core, visit eventide.com.

New "High-Tech" Gloves can Make Music!

Wearable tech gloves that will change the way we make music...

Wearable technology meets the music industry in the form of these gloves. They include motion technology that helps you to get closer to the music that you want to make.

You often see musicians moving between different controllers or instruments when playing. But clicking a mouse or moving a fader doesn't always get them really close to the sounds they're trying to create.

Imogen Heap intends to change this. She has created a glove that turns movement into sound. Heap is a British eclectic, eccentric, and innovative recording artist whose last album, Ellipse, earned her a Grammy and Ivor Novello award.

She got the idea for bringing the Mi.Mu glove to life after visiting the MIT Media Lab in 2010, where she saw a prototype of a device that allowed the user to "capture" sound using hand motions.

Heap realized the impact this could have on music and art.

Although turning movement into sound allows an electronic music show to be more visually engaging, the glove is not only intended for performing musicians.

A child can learn an instrument in a unique and exciting way. A deaf person can use gestures to emit audible words and converse with others who don't know sign language.

This glove helps you control the equipment more naturally and it seems intuitive. The idea is to use the computer as expressively as playing the piano so that the movements that are made reflect the sound that you hear.

The glove accesses music software and can be mapped to sounds, and sensors monitor movement and bend of the hands. See how Heap uses the gloves in this video.

The software and hardware will be open source to see how people can find other potential uses for them.

Since that visit to MIT, Heap has done four years of research, development, and iteration. She now has joined the “nerd underworld,” bringing together a team of eight, engineers, designers, and artists.

Over time, the gloves have become more mobile. The original versions required a user to be plugged into multiple computers at the same time.

The cost has become more affordable too. Now the latest wireless glove sells for 1,200 UK pounds ($2,000).

The gloves record each movement of every finger and can be programmed to make sounds accordingly, allowing you to compose music with computers in a "new and intuitive way."

According to the team, the Mi.Mu gloves can "feel" every digit on your hand, such as a peace sign or a thumbs-up. There is an almost limitless variety of gestures that a user can make to emit unique sounds.

No two people will ever "play" the gloves the same — the software is open source and wholly customizable. The gloves also come equipped with a sensor, called the X-OSC module, that is fully aware of your hand’s rotation, speed of movement, and spatial position.

It's similar to how a smartphone has an internal compass and accelerometer — but on every finger, and with greater precision. The gloves are fitted with lights and vibration motors to provide the wearer with feedback.

Software is being developed to connect the gloves to your own system so that you can design gestures that are unique to your particular creative application. They listen out for midi and open sound control.

"Sometimes touching a fader, pressing a button or hunching over a laptop just feels flat. It’s always frustrated me that the bits involving computers and technology never correlated to the sounds and effects being created" ~ Imogen Heap

The team is looking to fund the next level of development for dozens of gloves through their Kickstarter campaign. They're spreading the word, finding early backers, to satisfy a demand to turn motion into sound. The campaign has so far raised £67k+ from over 400 backers.

While the glove today is being applied to music and arts, there are many potential applications.

Hearing-impaired people, using sign language, can produce audible hand motions. Doctors' hands can be assisted by audio cues based on movements.

Virtual reality experiences can be fully immersive with tactile capabilities.

Kickstarter collaborators will get a pair of prototype gloves and can work with the team. Feedback from this phase will go into the final design when the gloves go into production.

A larger group of "glovers" will be the first to get their hands into the production gloves.

Heap reckons that these gloves will "revolutionise the way in which music can be composed and performed." With this kind of wearable tech, the future in gesture-based wearables is only just beginning.

VIDEO LESSON: John Petrucci - Producing Unique Runs

by John Petrucci - courtesy of Guitar World.com

Over the years, people have noticed that when I play certain runs, my fingers move in the opposite direction of the notes that they hear.

For example, as my fret hand moves up the fretboard, the sequence of notes that is heard descends (and vice versa). For this month’s Guitar World column, I’ve put together a few runs that demonstrate this unusual approach as applied to both ascending and descending patterns.

This kind of “positional wizardry” can be used to generate interesting melodic patterns that can be used in a variety of ways.

In FIGURE 1, I begin on the low E string in a high fretboard position and end on a high string in a lower position. The run is based on the A Aeolian mode (A B C D E F G), which is also known as the A natural minor scale and is intervallically spelled 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7.

The overall concept behind this line is a consistent progression of six-note groups, or “cells,” that move to different areas of the fretboard while remaining diatonic to (within the scale structure of) A Aeolian. The run is played in a rhythm of even 16th notes, which, due to its inherent four-note grouping, results in a more unusual melodic “shape” than if I had played the pattern in a triplet or sextuplet rhythm.

I begin by ascending through the first six notes—E F G A B C—then “backpedal” slightly and descend to the previous two notes, B and A, in alternating fashion. The next six-note phrase begins on G, two scale degrees higher than the previous starting note, and consists of the notes G A B C D E, played in ascending form.

Once again, I alternate between the last two notes in the same way, which sets up the beginning of the next six-note phrase, starting on B on the fourth string’s ninth fret, which is two scale degrees higher than the previous starting point. This “up-six, back-two” pattern then repeats three more times, culminating on a high A root note. Be sure to use consistent alternate (down-up-down-up) picking throughout this figure, and, as always, strive for crystal-clear articulation.

In FIGURE 2, I begin on the high E string and work my way up the fretboard while descending gradually on each lower string, pitch-wise. Like FIGURE 1, this run is also based on A Aeolian/natural minor and six-note “cells” played in a 16th-note rhythm.

After descending through the first six notes—F E D C B A—I quickly shift up the fretboard to a note that is three scale degrees higher in the scale, D, and then repeat the descending six-note pattern. This second sequence ends on F (third string, 10th fret), so I begin the next six-note sequence three scale degrees higher, on B (third string, 16th fret).

This process repeats three more times, culminating in a low A root note (sixth string, 17th fret). Again, alternate picking is utilized throughout, so strive for even and precise execution.

FIGURE 3 provides a clearer picture of the shapes used in FIGURE 2 by illustrating them as eighth-note triplets. Here, one can more easily see how the six-note pattern descends through the notes of A natural minor across two beats at a time. When playing the run in a straight 16th-note rhythm (rather than in an eighth- or 16th-note-triplet rhythm), be cognizant of the difference in feel and where the downbeats fall.