Saturday, March 31, 2012

Recording Update #5

In a nutshell - the album is almost finished! The biggest element that needs to be finished is the vocals. I've recorded vocals on one track already, but I'm not sure if I'm satisfied with how they came out. I'm recording them in a pretty unconventional method, so I'm trying to see if I need to re-do them in a different manner or not. But at any rate, the last element needed is the vocals. Right at this very moment, however, I can't do them, since I'm recovering from oral surgery. In the next few days, I'll be back in the game.

After that, there will be some final finishing touches, effects and anything else that I see fit. As of today, I'm still waiting on contributions from guest musicians. Once those are added in, it will be awesome.

I went ahead and released an instrumental track from the album, titled "Travelling Song". The title says it all - the song depicts a mental image of travelling down a long, barren road through the wastelands. It portrays a very vast, open atmosphere. The song is actually the album's closer. It's a bit more melodic and straightforward than the rest of the album. When you hear it, just don't forget that the rest of the album will still be quite death metal. I've provided a link below to listen to the new track, via Soundcloud.

Just check the pages often for more updates!

Click to listen to "Travelling Song", from the upcoming debut album.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Food for Musical Thought

A friend and I were having a conversation the other night about reading sheet music, then the conversation evolved into a discussion about being a music professor. It got me thinking on several aspects of playing music, as well as obviously teaching music and concepts. So, I'm going to convey these thought processes through a several-part series of posts in my blog. I hope you readers don't mind me being a bit semi-philosophical. As a musician, I believe it's healthy and natural to dig into your own mind every once in a while, and thoroughly dissect why you play what you play, why you listen to what you listen to, and other related factors. Everyone who has been playing and listening to music extensively has gone through these phases; maybe more than once. It's natural. Music opinions and preferences evolve and change through the course of time. A musician's approach to their respective instrument(s), their skill sets, and opinions evolve as well. It's completely natural, and a part of human nature. In fact, anyone who is resistant or in denial about the evolution of their mindsets on music are fooling themselves, and are only hurting themselves in the long run. Such behavior is detrimental, and severely hinders improvement in their skills.

As mentioned before, the conversation we had made me really ponder what I would focus on, if I were to become a music professor. Before I continue, I'll throw out a quick disclaimer: I consider myself a pretty good musician, proficient on both drums and guitar. But I am not claiming to be an expert or virtuoso, by any means. In the 14 years and 11 years I've spent on drums and guitar (respectively), of course I've formulated many opinions and directions of approach to music and the instruments. It's all part of the learning process. That process continues to this day, and it will for as long as I'm playing. I'm simply going to share my thought processes on the vast spectrum of music. Every musician has their own style; their own theories and methods of practice; their own approach to arrangements and compositions. I'm just going to explain how I do it. I will never tell anyone what's right and what's wrong. No two players are alike - one of the many wonderful observations in music.

So to continue - if I were a music professor, what would I cover? Here would be my first lesson.

Lesson 1: Turn off the radio.

This lesson actually serves several purposes. One of them is to urge students to go out, research and discover unknown talents. The student may observe as many instruments as they wish. Seek out music that is not popular. I believe a vast majority of the music played on the radio is very bland, formulaic and brings very little to the table as far as creative musical arrangements. Of course, that is my opinion. My intent has never been to force my opinion and my belief on anyone else. This lesson would simply encourage the students to branch out of the 'radio comfort zone', and explore new musical directions. Listen to genres that they aren't familiar with. If the student wishes to compare today's radio hits against songs of an unknown talent, I would greatly encourage that as well. Of course, not EVERYTHING on the radio is meaningless. The mainstream radio is simply a result of years of overbearing management and executives, telling and/or paying the artists what to play, shadowing their true musical capabilities. Discovering unknown talents can show the student pure musical freedom and expression; the musicians play what they want, and what they can. They have no hindrances; nothing holding them back. I would strongly emphasize musical freedom and expression, and I believe that the mainstream radio is the last place to look for such values.

A huge emphasis on musical freedom and compositional freedom plays a strong part in the following lessons that I've been brainstorming. The desire to simply practice and write what you want is one of the biggest, most important values you can have as a practicing musician. I will cover this extensively in a future lesson. Listening to these small-time talented musicians playing what they play best, in the most natural uninhibited form they can. This can range from solo jazz artists in small time clubs, undiscovered/unsigned Youtube artists, or local rock or metal bands of varying influence, and anything in between. There are many sources at the fingertips of anyone who has internet access.

My point is that there is an incalculable amount of unsigned, undiscovered, and under-appreciated talent that should be heard by musicians far and wide. A lot of them have plenty to offer in musical value; much more than a large majority of the mainstream radio. Turn off the radio, and stop giving it so much attention. You will find artists that you feel deserve more of YOUR attention, for whatever reason. You fill find artists that will influence your approach to your instruments in substantial ways, and your playing and skill base will greatly benefit from it. Just pick a genre, and start researching through all the sources you have at your disposal. After that, pick another genre and do it all again. After that, pick a genre that you know virtually nothing about, and explore it. You will wade through artists that you won't like, but you will also come across artists that will speak to you in ways you didn't imagine.

I feel that the experience gained through such a lesson will effectively get the creative juices flowing. When you go pick up your instrument, you'll feel it.

The next post I make in this series will reflect on approaches to practicing. It won't be covering exercises or anything like that - it will be discussing theories and methods of practice.

- Vhyle