Thursday, September 30, 2010

Acoustic Guitars - The Best Tuners

Tuning your acoustic guitar is the first step in your guitar playing career. Whether by skill, talent or technology, you must be able to get your guitar into tune.

One common obstacle to learning to tune a guitar is a certain natural resistance to aquiring new knowledge. This reluctance is present in everybody to some degree. The prospect of learning to tune a guitar by ear can fill some people with a sense of dread.

Before we start to tackle the job of tuning, we need to get straight which string is which. The first string is the narrow string nearest your knee as you sit with the guitar in playing position. The sixth string is the widest string, and it is closest to your chin.

And the tuning goes like this:
1st string is "E"
2nd string is "B"
3rd string is "G"
4th string is "D"
5th string is "A"
6th string is "E"

The guitar pitch pipe plays the notes when you blow into it so you can compare the sounds with your guitar.

A tuning fork, when you bang it on your knee and hold it on the body of your guitar, sounds the note you get when you play the harmonic at the fifth fret of the fifth string. Once you get this note right, you tune the rest of the strings to the fifth string.

If you have tried the methods of tuning guitars using a pitch pipe or tuning fork, and still feel less than confident in your guitar tuning abilities, then you could think about acquiring a guitar tuner that has a visual aid to tuning. You can always test your skill from time to time by tuning your guitar without the tuner, and seeing how accurate you have become.

You can also use a keyboard instrument to tune your guitar to. Start by finding on the keyboard the E note below Middle C. Then GO DOWN ANOTHER OCTAVE to tune the sixth string on the guitar. This is because the guitar's music is written an octave higher than it actually sounds compared to a piano!

The electronic guitar tuner is the simplest way of tuning your acoustic guitar. You pluck your guitar string and watch the indicator on the tuner to see how close you are to the correct note. There are also guitar tuners you can get for free on the internet that work the same way.
Online Guitar Tuners often play the notes to you, and you use your ear to see if your guitar is in tune.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Acoustic Guitar Tablature - Is It Real Sheet Music?

As a beginner acoustic guitarist you're probably wondering whether learning your songs from guitar tablature is as good as getting them from "real" sheet music. Learning to play acoustic guitar is a great adventure which is sometimes spoilt a bit by the prospect of having to learn to read music. But for most acoustic guitar players, learning all the symbols and theory connected with musical notation is not really necessary.

Tablature for acoustic guitar has certain points giving it an edge over standard music notation. Actually historians tell us that tablature was used to record musical compositions long before conventional notation. They don't seem to have much idea how musicians attributed note values to compositions they has never heard played. Maybe it wasn't an issue in the sixteenth century.

So what do you learn from tabs? Tablature shows diagrammatically where finger positions are indicated using numbers representing the guitar's frets along horizontal lines representing the strings. The note G played on the first (thinnest) string is shown by the number 3 written on the top line of the tablature. Sometimes the person writing the tablature will group the notes together to show that they are all the same value but this is not a hard and fast rule.

Hammer-ons, string bends, pull-offs and other techniques are shown by symbols. Each tablature writer has his own idea of the best way to show how to play the music, and he usually includes a legend showing his symbols on each tab. With the aid of guitar tabs, you can learn new music quickly without going to the additional trouble of learning conventional music notation.

Despite the fact that tempo and time signatures are not included, sometimes it's easier for the guitarist to pick up music from tablature. The ease with which you can learn to read tablature means that your progress on the guitar is not slowed by the need to cope with such things as the use of alternate tunings.

Another bonus is in the ease in sharing acoustic guitar music on the internet. Guitar tab is easily written on a computer by way of ASCII code, which makes it easier to email or post on the web. Maybe when you get some guitar playing experience under your belt you could try writing some music down for yourself. A great chance to see the difficulties facing composers for the guitar. Unfortunately debate over copyright issues has made posting guitar tab a little bit contentious, but you can still share tab privately by email.

A lot of guitar teachers proclaim the virtues of learning to read sheet music. Some even think you are not a "real" musician unless you can read "real" music. If you have a burning desire to follow a career in music then the versatility given you by the ability to read music will be a definite advantage. But if you look at playing music as a way of each individual expressing themselves in their own unique way, then how you write your music down is not one of the biggest issues in your life!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Acoustic Guitar Tab

If you enjoy the idea of learning the guitar and you visualize yourself sitting down and playing your favorite songs for your own enjoyment, acoustic guitar tabs give you the possibility of realizing your dream. You can pick up an acoustic guitar any time of the day or night and play without disturbing your family or neighbors. Some people even play the acoustic guitar while the family is watching TV in the same room!

Tablature, or tab, is the ideal way for any beginner guitar player to learn or for a more seasoned guitarist to learn new material quickly. A basic definition of guitar tab is a diagram showing the guitar strings with the frets where the guitarist is to play the notes indicated by numbers. Quite often a guitarist approaching a new piece of music will struggle with conventional music notation whereas tab is a quick and easy way of getting the feel of a new piece. Also a pianist or other musician can look at a piece of guitar sheet music and play it right away but would have no hope of playing from guitar tab because it is only written for one instrument. Another limitation of guitar tab is that you won't be able to learn the rhythm from it. You will need a strumming pattern diagram or, having heard the song before, have some idea of how to approach the playing of the rhythm. If you are prepared to live with these limitations tablature will be a great tool for you to learn your favorite songs quickly.

When you search the internet for acoustic guitar tab what kind of music can you expect to find? Well, the variety is astonishing. Basically acoustic guitar tab is written with the idea of the guitar supplying the basic accompaniment for the song. So if you are a singer wanting to interpret the lyrics, your interest in the guitar arrangement may be slight. The second thing acoustic guitar tab usually gives you is the notes for any distinctive melody or riff in the song - music that people recognize before they hear the words being sung. A simple example of this is the few notes repeated throughout the record of "Something" by The Beatles. Of course you are quite free to leave out or change any music to make the arrangement your own.

Acoustic guitar tabs are often fingerstyle arrangements of songs. These arrangements will not be readily available in music stores or the usual sources of sheet music on the internet. Fingerstyle arrangements can give you some added depth to your guitar playing even if you don't utilize all the techniques shown in the tab. Finally there is one advantage to using acoustic tab for electric guitar players. You can learn the muisc for the song without having to set up your guitar and amp. You can work on arranging your song for electric guitar once you know the chords and the basic structure.

I hope I have given you something to think about if you have not given tabs for acoustic guitar much of a look so far. If you look around you will be quite amazed at the range of popular - and obscure - music available.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

These mini guitar lessons have been put together for the beginner acoustic guitar student who feels a need to play music but is a bit short on direction.

Lesson One - What kind of guitar are you going to buy?
If you have a rough idea of what kind of music you want to play, the next step is to find yourself a guitar.
Let's start with the basics - nylon string or steel string. A nylon string guitar was made to play classical and folk music. Acoustic guitars make their music by sending the vibration of the strings to the soundboard. The vibrations are then amplified in the body of the guitar. Nylon string guitars make a mellow tone; steel string guitars make a brighter, more metallic sound. One of the main things that will influence you in deciding what kind of sound you want is the guitar your favorite performer plays.

If you are just starting out you will not need a top of the range guitar but it is best to get the nicest one in your price range. A cheap, poorly made guitar will be an uphill battle to play. A good instrument will make your practice sessions something to look forward to.

Try different guitars. See how the neck feels. Check out if one neck feels more comfortable to play than others. Another consideration is the distance of the strings from the fret board which is called the "action". Low action is easier to play but if you are planning on strumming enthusiastically or picking loudly the guitar may have a tendency to buzz.

Lesson Two - Go ahead and learn.
The very first step toward learning to play acoustic guitar is to develop confidence and to overcome your natural reluctance to try new things. Lack of money, lack of time, or lack of a good teacher are three big obstacles to your guitar learning progress. The other three big obstacles are all you. You may be your own worst enemy. How do you react to a challenge? Challenges are your friends. If you find yourself getting frustrated, and not wanting to continue your practice, it might be time to downsize your goal, at least for a while. If you have two chords that you have trouble with, work on the first one alone for a while. Once you have improved a little, go to the next one.

Lesson Three - Daily Practice
As far as your daily practice goes look at starting with half an hour a day. If you can do more, great, you'll become a guitarist faster. The way you carry out your practice is crucial. Putting in the time isn't the only requirement. If you rush or try to fit too much in, then you're working against yourself. Err on the side of too little material at first. If you really are accomplishing what you set out to do in less than thirty minutes, then add a little more.

Lesson Four - Tuning Your Guitar
You can find online guitar tuners to help you get your acoustic guitar in tune. Take a day or two of your practice time to get the knack of tuning. When you start to develop an ear for tuning, try tuning the guitar without the tuner.

Lesson Five - Holding Your Acoustic Guitar
Long hours of practice can take their toll. Learning how to sit and play your acoustic guitar is an art in itself. There are places on the internet that have illustrations showing you how to sit when you're playing, but it would be good to find somebody with a little experience to show you. But don't just go with the way one person plays. If he's self-taught, then you don't want to pick up his bad habits!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Accordions Are Enjoying a Resurgence in Popularity

Although the mainstream music world has often relegated accordions to second-class status, squeezeboxes are once again coming into their own. Making appearances in productions ranging from those of Cirque du Soleil to albums from top name rock stars, the accordion's unique sound is getting some well-deserved attention.

Although most people can conjure up a mental picture of an accordian, many do not realize that there are several different kinds of accordions, developed over the years for specific musical genres. As free reed instruments, the opening and closing of an accordion's bellows (or squeezebox) causes the air to flow over the reeds, which makes the sound. An accordion also has buttons, or both buttons and a keyboard. These serve to direct the airflow to certain reeds and not others, thereby controlling the tones played.

Some accordions have one row of buttons; some have two rows of buttons; and still others have three rows. Accordions with one row of buttons include the Hohner Concertina and the Hohner Ariette. The latter is often used for playing Cajun, Quebecois, Zydeco, and Irish folk music. These buttons typically play the diatonic scale, with each button able to play two notes: one when the bellows is squeezed in and another when it is spread apart. An accordian with one row of buttons is often tuned for the type of music being played. For example, certain reeds may be filled in order to produce the sounds typically associated with Cajun music. The Hohner Ariette, for instance, has ten treble buttons, two bass buttons, four sets of treble reeds, and three sets of bass reeds.

A two-row button accordion typically has 21 treble buttons, eight bass/chord buttons, and two sets of treble reeds. Such an accordian is available in key combinations like GC, AD, CF, and DG. A three-row button accordion, such as the Hohner Corona, has 31 treble buttons and two sets of treble reeds. The third row of keys means that the key combinations differ from those of a two-button accordion, and might be, for example, GCF, FBbEb, EAD, and ADG.

A piano accordion is fully chromatic instrument with a varying number of piano keys, depending on the size of the instrument. From the gold standard Gola piano accordion to the Hohnica piano accordion for the budget minded, there truly is a piano accordion for everyone.

One of the most beautiful aspects of accordions is that they can't be completely mass-produced and assembled. Like other fine musical instruments, the handmade components (in the case of accordions, most notably the reeds) are what give the instrument its unique sound.

There's no doubt that the accordian has traveled far from its stereotypical uses as an instrument for polkas. From Cajun and Zydeco to Klezmer and Classical music, from Lawrence Welk to Sheryl Crow, accordions are here to stay.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

About portable mp3 players

As the music technology has developed many folds, the outcome of CD players, recorders and mp3 players has become a part of the day to day life of a person. Today, there are many popular mp3 players in the market including pocket sized player that enables you to take your PC audio wherever you go.

Facts about portable mp3 players

1. Mp3 format has helped in increasing the craze of PC music and this is the reason why most of the Mp3 players handle various file formats such as WAV, AAC or WMA.

2. There are three types of memory used by Mp3 players namely, flash memory, removable or embedded flash memory and the hard drive.

3. Flash memory is rugged and very compact because it has solid state memory and the player cannot skip and therefore these are the best to for active use.

4. Embedded flash memory is built right into the player and is great fro one who is not interested to buy and carry extra memory cards.

5. The last type of mp3 players store music on mini hard disk drive ( a smaller version of your hard disk in your computer) and these can store music much more than the one using flash memory. But these are bulky with large LCD screens and incorporate memory buffers that eliminate skipping.

6. The most expensive Mp3 player won’t work if it could not be connected to your PC. So before you buy one, make sure that it is compatible to your computer connections and capabilities.

7. You need to have a new version of operating system in your PC, a USB port, supply flash card reader and music management software for example jukebox.

8. There are many accessories and features with current Mp3 players and you should know exactly what your player does and what all comes in the box. There are mp3 player that act as recorders and are capable to capture audio and other voice snippets and other radio broadcasts with the help of an inbuilt tuner. There is an LCD display and these come in stylish models in different color, shape and size. Other accessories include ear headphones, rechargeable adapters etc.

9. You can easily download free mp3 song from different websites offering these services.

To know more visit our recommended website

Friday, September 24, 2010

ABC's of the Music Industry

Music is an art, however, when it comes to the music industry Music is about money!

If anyone or any company feels that your music will not make them money, there will be absolutely no interest in your music. That’s it in the nut shell. Remember, to always remember this. The Music Industry is about Money!

There are a few sources of money to be made in the music industry. They include but are not limited to:

· Record sales

· Songs played on the radio

· In movies and television

· Concerts

· Song writing

· Producing

· Merchandising

· Advertising


If you are an artist and want to get into the music business, you need 3 very important very good people in your corner batting for you on a daily basis. They include:

· Personal Manager – The most of important of the three. They should have contacts in the music industry, keep on eye on all your affairs, advise you on things to do, help promote your music, producers to hire, who to sign with when to go on tour, etc. The personal manager will receive 15% and 20% of an artists gross earnings and have good contacts with record companies A&R, Marketing / Sales, and Promotion departments.

· Music Attorney – A good attorney specializing in the music will know how to properly negotiate and structure the deals an artist makes. They should have good contacts and be trust worthy. Expect to pay between 100 and 200 per hour for a good music attorney. If an attorney thinks you will get signed, they forego a set fee and charge a percentage of artist’s earnings. In bigger cities, you’ll pay more than in smaller cities.

· Music Agent – Book concerts and special appearances. A Personal Manager will help the artist with selecting a good agent.

If you blow up and start generating the big money, then a good Manager / Accountant will be needed to handle your tax situation, review royalty statements, financing tours, offer invest advice and how to manage your money.

Getting recognized by mailing your demo to record labels isn’t impossible, however, 99.9% of the time your material will not get listened to. Even if you have the best song on the planet, it will not be listened to. Record labels want to limit their liability, so they do not listen to unsolicited music. Record labels don’t want to listen to numerous songs and then be held liable if someone claims their material was copied.

If you do decide to mail your CD to record label, send the “solicited” material. First get a contact, preferably an individual in the Artists & Repertoire (A&R) department. Call and first speak to someone. After sending your CD follow up to determine if the targeted individual received your material and another follow up call to determine if it was listened to. Submit 3 to 6 songs and send a bio and picture of yourself. Again this isn’t the preferred way to submit your material to major record labels.

Until you have music business advisors in your corner trying to promote you and there is a “buzz” going around about you, your demo will not reach the decision makers at the record labels. Record companies on a daily basis receive thousands of unsolicited CDs. Most likely your CD will be tossed into a bin located in a remote room filled with overflowing bins of CDs.

Record labels like to deal with artists who have a history of record sales. These are artist that may have produced and sold their own CDs locally or regionally. Record labels like to deal with artists who have performed their material and there is this “buzz” going on about them. MC Hammer, before he became famous, performed his own materials and sold his own records until a major record label signed him. MC Hammer had a lot of leverage in negotiating a good contract because he already proved on a local basis he could sell records.

Record companies want to limit their liability. If you are signed, you are considered an investment that will require some money and they want to see a premium return on their money invested in you. The more you can prove that you can sell record, the better chance you can get signed.

If you get signed to a record company, you the artist will go into the studio and record songs for the record company. The record company makes copies of the master recording and ships it to a distributor. The distributor is a wholesaler who then sells the CDs to retail outlets like Best Buy, Sam Goody and Tower Records. The record company then pumps money into marketing by advertising and promoting your music with hopes of selling records, thus making you a superstar and becoming rich!

It is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of hard work by a talented group of people. Everyone has to work together to make this happen. There are usually many people behind the scenes working to make an artist a superstar.

Record companies often categorized into 4 groups: · Major label record companies - have the recording and operating resources to complete all function to sell records. Major label record companies are integrated in that they can handle the promotion, sales, marketing, and distribution to sell music. Major label record companies are Arista, Atlantic, Capital, and Sony.

· Major label affiliate labels – have special agreements with the major label record companies, where the major label may fund the smaller labels recording and operating expenses in exchange for a portion of the smaller label profits.

· Independent labels - distributes records through major labels. Independent labels have few employees. They tend to find talent, sign the talent, sees to it the music is recorded and contracts with major record labels to perform the promotion, marketing, and other functions.

· True independent labels – Has no association with a major label and distribute their music through independent distributors.

The A&R (Artists & Repertoire) Department

The A&R department is the talent scout. They are in charge of finding new talents. They are the eyes and ears of the record company. However, not because you get signed to a record label because an A&R representative likes you it doesn’t mean your CD will ever get produced and released. Executives higher in the company could cancel your deal if they feel your CD will not sell. A record company will have to invest several hundred thousands of dollars to release your CD, so they will be extremely cautious on whom they release.

The Marketing and Sales Department

This department is responsible for getting the public excited about your music and first selling to retail stores the idea of carrying your CD. They are responsible for promotional merchandise, advertising your CD, in store displays, publicity, your CD cover, etc.

The Promotions Department

This department is responsible for getting your music played on the radio. The individuals in this department will visit the various radio stations to convince them to play your material. If your material doesn’t get played, no one will now how you are. People will look at your CD in the retail store and wonder who you are. There is also a direct correlation with CD sales vs. how many times a song for that CD gets played on the radio. More air time on the radio equals more CD sales for the record companies.

Remember music is art, but to the record companies, it’s about money. Keep in mind that it’s a business. Keep in mind everyone is out to make money. The minute people believe that you will not make money for them, you will be dropped and these same people will turn to seek other new artists that they believe will make them money. Unfortunately, the record business doesn’t believe in grooming people. If your first CD isn’t a success, you are out. There are rarely second chances. There are always other talented people behind you who what their shot at fame.


Most major retailers such as Tower records will not carry a CD unless the record has a distributor. A strong distributor ensures that your CD will be available in enough places so your CD will sell to ultimately make money. Major labels use large distributors who are better able to get record stores stocked. After years of consolidation, there are only 5 major national wholesale distributors in the US who are owned by conglomerates who also own major record labels. They are:

· BMG (distributes Arista, BMG and RCA)

· EMI (distributes Capital and Virg.)

· Sony Music (distributes Columbia, Epic and Sony)

· Universal Music Group (distributes Interscope, Island/Def Jam, and MCA)

· WEA (distributes Atlantic, Elektra and Warner Bros.)

Distribution via the Internet Record labels and artists are increasingly using the web to distribute their music. Unknown artists can also use sites like this,, to generate buzz about their music. However, unknown artists will still have to work hard to get the buzz going about their music. Ultimately, signing a contract with a major record label is the way to go. The major record labels have the financial muscle and people to give you a good shot at becoming famous.

Let’s face it. It’s all about money! Yes, the entertainment industry seems fun and exciting, but people are in it to make money. As an artist the most important contract in the music industry is the record contract. The royalty is a portion of money from record sales paid to the artist for his/her music. The record contract which is a negotiated legal agreement between the record label and artist will state how much royalty an artist is entitled to among other things.

An artist should have a good understanding of how royalties are calculated. A good music attorney will help with this process by making sure the artist is paid what he/she deserves. A 13% royalty for one artist may be a lot of money, however a 13% royalty for another maybe “chump change”.

So this is how the numbers work. An artist successfully signs a record contract. The artist goes to the studio and work diligently to create a CD that the record company fully supports. The record company via its distributor sells the CD with a suggested retail list price (SRLP) of $17.99 to a retailer for about $10.99. The distributor will take 10% - 14% of the $10.99. Therefore the record company will get about ½ the SRLP of $17.99. Independent record companies may receive less than ½ the SRLP. Major record companies will pay artist royalty as a percentage of SRLP.

Rates will vary of each artist depending on how successful their record sells. For a new artist who never had a record deal or has sold less than 100,000 albums will get a typical royalty rate of 12% to 14% of the SRLP. For an independent record label it maybe 10% to 14% of the SRLP. For established artists who have a track record of selling 200,000 to 500,000 albums the royalty rate maybe 14% to 16%. For artists who have sold over 750,000 albums the royalty rates maybe 16% to 18%. As you can see, the more successful the artist is, the higher the royalty. Additionally, royalty maybe based on how well the record sells. For instance, the record contract may state that an artist will get 12% for the first 100,000 units sold, 14% for 100,001 to 300,000 units sold, and 16% for over 300,000 units sold.

But hold your horses. If you sell 500,000 albums and have a royalty rate of 12% doesn’t mean you will get 12% of 500,000 at a SRLP of $17.98 which would equal $1,078,800. This is because as specified in the record contract, there are deductions (expenses) that have to be deducted.

To start off the bat, the record company will deduct a “packaging charge” from the SRLP which is typically 20% for cassettes and 25% for CDs.

Second, more often the artist is responsible for paying the record producer a portion of his/her royalties. Typically a producer will receive 3% to 4% of the SRLP.

Third, in the record business, the contract may state that the artist’s only generates royalties on 85% of the unit sales. For every 100 albums sold, 15 albums sold, the artist gets no royalty.

Forth, the record company will hold a portion of the royalty money because the distributor typically has an agreement with the retail outlets to take back and credit the retail stores money from unsold units. This is very important, because a good portion of your album could be returned to the record company if the album doesn’t sell! The money that’s held back is called a reserve. Reserves maybe held for 2 years before it’s paid to the artist. Typically a major record label will hold a reserve of 25% to 40% of the royalties.

Fifth, advances paid from the record company to the artist are deducted from the artist’s royalty. Advances include but are not limited to the:

· Recording studio expenses (new artists to an independent my get an advancement of $0 to $80,000, new artist to a major record label $150,000 to $400,000

· Hiring independent promoters to help sell the albums

· Cost of making a music video (promotions and an inexpensive music video can cost $150,000 to $200,000.

When money is made for the record sales, these costs are deducted from the artist’s royalties. This is called re-coupment. Therefore, if the artist’s record isn’t successful, the artist may never see a dime. If the royalties are less than the deductions, they artists may well owe the record company money by being in the red! This negative cost maybe carried over to the next album release. A good record contract will not allow a negative cost from one album to be carried over to another album (cross collateralization). If there isn’t another album the record company generally eats the loss.

There are many other costs that the record company will not charge the artists. This includes marketing and in-house promotions (free CD give away, etc.).

So how much does an artist make for a gold album (500,000 albums sold).

Check out the math:

CD (suggested retail list price SRLP) = $ 17.99 Less CD Packaging of 20% = $ -4.50 NET = $ 13.49 Times: Net artist royalty rate (12% - 3% to producer) = X 9% Gross royalty per CD (9% of $13.48) = $ 1.21 Times 500,000 albums = $ 500,000 SUB TOTAL = $ 605,00 Times: Royalty bearing % (15% o = no royalty) = X 85% Gross Royalty = $ 514,250 Less advances: Recording, promo, music video, tour = $ -350,000 TOTAL ROYALTY TO ARTIST = $ 164,250 - Reserves (35%) returned by retailer) = $ -57,487.50 (1) ACTUAL ROYALTY PAID TO ARTIST = $ 106,762.50

(1)Reserves will be paid to artist in 2 years if no CDs returned by retailer

Remember the artist still has to pay TAXES! Don’t forget Uncle Sam has to get his cut! Also, don’t forget the Personal Manger, the Attorney, the Accountant, the Agent and other numerous expenses.

However, there are many other royalties that an artist can acquire. They include, Record Clubs, Compilation CDs, Samplers (low-priced albums in which a few artists are featured), Premiums (albums sold with other products, such as cereal), Film Soundtrack Album, Music Video Sales, Greatest Hit’s Album, Foreign Royalties (song played in some foreign country radio stations pay royalties, unlike the US), Master Use License (music used in a movie, television, commercial, the Internet, CD-ROM and DVD), etc.

Of course because of the Internet, the rules royalties are changing. Many people now buy their music via the Internet. Just think, no packaging required and no distribution to traditional retail stores needed. Some websites allow customers to buy individual songs as oppose to an album. Changes are currently taking place on how royalties are calculated because of the Internet. Many attorneys are pushing to have royalties be based on each song sold as oppose to each album sold. So stay tuned!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Study In Banjo Lessons

Ah, I remember the good old days when I had my first banjo lesson. Actually, it wasn’t exactly my first lesson. I had been using the internet to improve my “skill” for a while, and I was slightly conceited since I thought I had some idea about what I was doing. I watched videos of a real expert playing the banjo while the tabs were available as well. I learned a few songs and techniques that sounded interesting, but that was about the extent of my knowledge.

When I had my first real lesson, it broke down all those illusions I had of being a decent player. I tried to show off, but as soon as his deep eyes met mine I missed a chord. It was my first time to ever play any instrument in front of anyone, and I didn’t think I would get nervous. After all, I’ve always been a gifted public speaker. The only one in the room was my teacher, and I was having a terrible time.

I’m having a hard time seeing my future in banjo playing, especially since I can’t even whack up the ginger to play something in front of my own teacher. He’s a nice guy, and he can play the banjo like no other. He’s already taught me several exercise I can use for my next lesson. It’s also a great experience just to watch him play, since his skill far outweighs mine. I just hope I will sound at least slightly more decent the next time I have a lesson.

But if I always freeze up when I try to play at my lessons, I’m worried that my instructor will never be able to give me the help I truly need. It’s impossible to get feedback and constructive criticism if everything I play is absolute garbage. I think I will start recording my lone practice and playing it back for him. Hopefully I won’t freeze up just knowing that he will be listening to it soon…

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Perfect Houston Wedding includes a Houston DJ

If you're planning a Houston wedding, you'll confront the million-and-one decisions that all brides face. Who should you ask to be in your bridal party? Where will you find the perfect wedding dress? What do you need to pack for your honeymoon? In the process, it's important to remember that the enjoyment of your guests is also your responsibility. To ensure that they have a wonderful time at your reception, you should select a professional wedding DJ in Houston who can take some of that responsibility off your shoulders. These simple guidelines will help you find the Houston disc jockey that is a perfect fit for your wedding.

Find the Right Houston Wedding DJ

Initially, the thought of having to find the right wedding DJ in Houston can be overwhelming. Take some time to cruise the Internet and locate DJs in Houston who specialize in weddings. Make a list and run the names by your caterer, photographer, and the manager of your reception venue. They should be familiar with Houston DJs and can help you narrow down your list.

Is it the Right Music for You?

Once you have narrowed the field, it's time to start making calls. If you have a particular type of music you'd like played at your reception, check to see if he has that music available. Keep in mind, though, that your reception is likely to include guests ranging in age and musical preferences. A professional Houston DJ will have an eclectic mix of music that will get everyone to his or her feet. By all means, ensure that the songs you want are on his play list, but also realize that part of his job is to set the cadence for your reception. By starting your reception off with light music, your DJ will help to put everyone at ease. Through music, he'll help to move the event along, from your first dance with your new husband, to the cutting of the wedding cake, the tossing of your bouquet, and the departure of you and the groom.

A Houston Wedding DJ Provides More than Music

When choosing from among DJs in Houston, remember that you not only want him to provide terrific musical entertainment, but also to act as an emcee. For that reason, you need to check out the DJ's attitude, personality, promptness, and ability to please the wedding guests. The best way to ensure your wedding reception will be handled in a professional manner is to stop by another wedding reception and watch him in action. By seeing him perform, you will get to know his personality, the quality of his performance, and reaction he receives from the guests.

Important Things to Consider when Hiring a Wedding DJ

Before you sign a contract with a Houston wedding DJ, make sure that he has (or will get) the songs you would like played at your reception. Make sure that he accepts requests, as your guests will enjoy being able to dance to their favorite tunes.

Even if you don't know much about sound equipment ask about it. A professional DJ in Houston should have top quality equipment and high-end professional lighting, both of which will make your reception more enjoyable for your guests.

If you don't have the opportunity to watch him perform, be sure to ask the DJ what he will be wearing at your reception. Most Houston DJs wear tuxedos to weddings, but there are some who don't. By discussing this with the DJ in advance, you'll eliminate any problems or embarrassing moments on your big day.

Having the right Houston DJ will not only guarantee that your special day is well-organized, but will add to wonderful, lifelong memories.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Music Lesson At Your Own Pace, What A Concept!

A good music lesson is simply the best way to learn how to play the piano. This is because most people need the discipline they get from learning how to play music in a certain sequence of time. Once you master one lesson, you will be able to move on to the next with a great deal of confidence as your skills start to improve. It’s this confidence that is going to keep you wanting to play the piano and increase your musical knowledge and ability.

The piano is one of the most popular musical instruments today. Most people who are starting out choose to play the piano because of its diversity and simplicity. Once you learn to play the piano, you’ll be able to pick up almost any other instrument and be able to produce some type of quality sound.

When looking for the right style of piano to play, you should consider how serious you are about learning. You will find some pianos are extremely expensive, and this type of piano may not be necessary for someone who is just starting out. Pianos do tend to hold their value, and if you take good care of it you can probably sell it many years later for a decent price when you are ready to replace it with something newer.

The music of the piano can be heard almost anywhere including clubs, schools, churches, symphonies, and at home. Once you get into a routine for each music lesson you take, you’ll find that making time to practice is something you look forward to.

Learning online through an online piano course is a great way to play in your own home without having to fuss with scheduling or finding a teacher. You decide when you want to learn your next lesson, as well as when you have the confidence to move on to the next music lesson. Many people are already finding out how easy it so to learn how to play the piano on their own.

Each music lesson is designed to teach you what you need in order to advance to the next level. All of the notes and chords for the next set of songs are presented at the beginning of the lesson. You don’t move forward until you feel you are ready. This means you can spend more time on one lesson over another if you’d like. And it also means you can go back to a lesson at any time to review what you’ve already learned.

At Hear and Play, we know that finding the right music lesson to get you started at learning to play the piano is the key to creating a successful new hobby or passion. We offer online learning guides and reference tools to effectively help you learn to play music by ear. Contact us today at to learn more.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Guide To Piano For Beginners

Classes that involve piano for beginners would include an introduction to reading and understanding the keys, chords and how to read musical notes. The piano is unlike any other instrument and sounds wonderful as stand alone music or as part of a group. The intense sound of a piano is one that captivates audiences with power or soothes them with serenity.

Budding musicians always find it exciting to explore the world of piano for beginners. Whether this is their first venture playing the piano or being used as a reminder of forgotten skills, piano for beginners is a terrific way to develop or improve skills.

The most popular place to find a piano for beginners class would be a local high school or college university music department. Occasionally, instructors will offer piano tutoring to non-students. Students, on the other hand, will have a variety of choices within the music curriculum. Otherwise, a quick visit to a local specialty music store may provide leads on potential instructors.

When learning piano for beginners, it’s important for hopefuls to select the best instructor by evaluating his/her experience, educational background and accomplishments. The most commonly sought instructors will possess some type of music degree or an equivalent amount of musical experience. A potential instructor should be interviewed regarding their history in music, fee requirements, length of classes, policy on missed sessions, etc. If the learner’s schedule is particularly hectic, he/she may wish to enlist the help of a private tutor as opposed to a group instructor. Music lessons offered in a group will be scheduled by the instructor and will be less flexible toward each individual learner’s schedule. This is not to say that group lessons are not an excellent way to learn piano for beginners because they are. Simply put, private tutors are better for anyone with a hectic or unpredictable schedule. For example, a private tutor will have a more flexible schedule and may be willing to work around that of the learner’s daily routine. Whereas group classes are often held at the same time on a certain night, or nights, each week, a private tutor can be scheduled at any time during the day or evening without having to abide by a preset schedule. Internet courses, on the other hand, offer learners with the option of learning piano for beginners in the comfort of their own home at any time during the day or night. After all, where else could you learn piano in your pajamas?

Perhaps that most fun way to learn the piano for beginners is to just start playing. Some of the world’s most famous musicians are self-taught, so don’t be afraid to go solo until you get comfortable with the keys and each of their unique sounds. Professional instruction is certainly the most desirable, but there is nothing wrong with a little practice before signing up for class. In fact, the more familiar you are with the piano, the sooner you will be on your way to the Grammy awards. Hey, you never know!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Music Lesson At Your Own Pace, What A Concept!

A good music lesson is simply the best way to learn how to play the piano. This is because most people need the discipline they get from learning how to play music in a certain sequence of time. Once you master one lesson, you will be able to move on to the next with a great deal of confidence as your skills start to improve. It’s this confidence that is going to keep you wanting to play the piano and increase your musical knowledge and ability.

The piano is one of the most popular musical instruments today. Most people who are starting out choose to play the piano because of its diversity and simplicity. Once you learn to play the piano, you’ll be able to pick up almost any other instrument and be able to produce some type of quality sound.

When looking for the right style of piano to play, you should consider how serious you are about learning. You will find some pianos are extremely expensive, and this type of piano may not be necessary for someone who is just starting out. Pianos do tend to hold their value, and if you take good care of it you can probably sell it many years later for a decent price when you are ready to replace it with something newer.

The music of the piano can be heard almost anywhere including clubs, schools, churches, symphonies, and at home. Once you get into a routine for each music lesson you take, you’ll find that making time to practice is something you look forward to.

Learning online through an online piano course is a great way to play in your own home without having to fuss with scheduling or finding a teacher. You decide when you want to learn your next lesson, as well as when you have the confidence to move on to the next music lesson. Many people are already finding out how easy it so to learn how to play the piano on their own.

Each music lesson is designed to teach you what you need in order to advance to the next level. All of the notes and chords for the next set of songs are presented at the beginning of the lesson. You don’t move forward until you feel you are ready. This means you can spend more time on one lesson over another if you’d like. And it also means you can go back to a lesson at any time to review what you’ve already learned.

At Hear and Play, we know that finding the right music lesson to get you started at learning to play the piano is the key to creating a successful new hobby or passion. We offer online learning guides and reference tools to effectively help you learn to play music by ear. Contact us today at to learn more.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A History Of Country Music

Musicians have long been playing fiddle music in the Appalachians for years, but it wasn’t until 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee that the first recording country music recording deal was signed. In this year, Victor Records signed Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.

Jimmie Rodgers was born in Meridian Mississippi, in 1897. Originally he worked on the railroads until his ill health got the better of him and it was only during this time that he followed his earlier love of entertaining. In 1927 he followed word that Victor Records were setting up a portable recording studio and made his way there. He was immediately signed and continued recording and playing music until he died in 1933.

In 1965 he was one of the very first musicians to be added to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 along with Hank Williams and Fred Rose. On the same day as Jimmie Rodgers signed with Victor Records, so did the Carter Family, who would become one of the most famous country music bands of all time. They remained with Victor Records until 1936. Not even divorce could separate the band though and they continued to record with Decca until 1939. Things started to hit a rough patch at this stage and despite signing for Universal and eventually Victor Records again, the band split in 1941.

It is widely acknowledged that that big day in 1927 was the introduction of country music to the rest of the country. Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family were met with huge critical acclaim and became incredibly popular helping to sell a great many records. Country music singers and bands of today will often talk about the Carter Family or Jimmie Rodgers as being their major influence and with very good reason.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Gyude Tio Audiobook Formats

Audiobooks generally come in two formats: MP3 and WMA. Both of these formats will play on PCs and Macs and most portable players, like the iPod.

The book publisher chooses which format they want the title to be distributed in. When you purchase a downloadable title from an online store, you are usually taken to a special area of the site where you can choose from a variety of file format based on the quality of the recording.

Naturally, the higher the quality, the bigger the file and thus the longer it will take to download. If you have a high speed broadband Internet connection you will probably prefer to download the highest quality file available. If you have a slow Internet connection you can choose to download a file that is smaller in size, but will not be of quite the same quality, but it will still be very listenable.

With 70% of the digital player market dominated by Apple and the iPod, a natural question is whether the audiobooks can be transferred to the iPod. The answer is a resounding "yes."

All you have to do is burn the files to CD first (this is a step we'd always recommend as it is wise to make a physical backup copy of anything you buy just in case your computer ever fails or is stolen) and then rip that CD straight into iTunes, when it's transferred to your iPod on synchronization.

And don't worry, Copying the files to an audio CD on your computer is quick and easy, particularly if you are using Windows.

It is very easy to download an audiobook. Once you have made your purchase from a reputable online store, you will be taken through to a special part of the site where you can download the files you have purchased. Easy to follow instructions are always provided on the download page.

Audiobooks will work on a standard PC and Mac and there is no risk of breaking the law as with many music sites and piracy.

ALL of the content of audiobooks has been approved by the publishers and copyright holders. As a paying customer you are
entitled to download and listen to these files as often as you wish and on whatever equipment you wish. However, like any other media, it is illegal to make copies of the files and give them to other people.

The length of time it will take for an audiobook download will vary greatly depending on what kind of Internet connection you have. If you have a broadband connection it will take just a few minutes per part. If you have a 56k dial-up connection it will be considerably slower.

If a recording is several hours long we will have split it into several parts to make it easier to download so even if
you are on a slow connection you can start listening to the first part whilst the others are downloading.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A guitarist guide to surviving the gig from Hell


Joe is a lead guitarist in a covers / remake band. He is a good guitarist and cool under pressure. He plays for a band called the Psycho Nymphos. They are a five piece band with two guitarist, keys, bass and drums. The other guitarist also doubles as the singer. Yet this is Joe’s nightmare. As a guitarist, this scenario should induce uncontrollable trembling of all body parts and have you soiling your underwear. This, is the gig from hell.

Thinking that he starts at 10:00, Joe shows up at the venue with two hours to spare. Well, it would be two hours to spare, but Joe got given the wrong information. The Band is due to start at 8:30 and Joe hasn’t even unpacked his gear yet, let alone set up. They had been trying to call Joe on his phone, but it was switched off. Joe, keeping cool, unpacks his car in a hurry and somehow manages to get everything set up only 10 minutes late. The crowd is getting restless and the bar manager is furious. Joe is keeping his cool.

No sooner than finishing his finally tune up, the Nymphos start. After another minute of working out what song to play, the Nymphos kick off their first song. It sounds terrible, with Joe’s guitar to quiet and bass guitar too loud. The band plays the song half heartedly while they adjust levels and try to get things right. The crowd is wondering what the hell is going on, and the bar manager is wondering who the hell he hired and why. Joe is a little frustrated.

After standing around working out what to play next, the band begins the second song as suggested by the drummer. This one sounds better until the first chorus. Half way through the first chorus… TWANG…. Joe busts a string. Joe makes do for the time being until the solo, when he realizes that the guitar solo is going to be somewhat difficult with only 5 strings. Joe fumbles his way through until the end of the song. Joe is very embarrassed.

The band stands around for a minute or two while Joe replaces the broken string. Once that is done they kick off into the next song. This one goes OK, and the crowd seems to be getting into it a little bit more. The bar manager is starting to relax, and Joe is starting to enjoy himself.

In fact, everyone is enjoying themselves. And their beers. A little too much. The Nymphos are starting to get a little sloppy and starting to miss cues. Especially the singer. He is starting to miss when he is supposed to be coming in, and slurring words. While the boys in the band are finding it hilarious, the crowd are not. Joe is starting to get tipsy.

The next song Joe’s guitar starts making funny noises, and the sound starts cutting out. Eventually Joe’s guitar disappears. He randomly stomps on some pedals and realizes that there is no power. He was sure those 9 volt batteries were still good. Joe unplugs his guitar lead from the pedal board and plugs it straight into his amp. Joe is getting angry, just like the crowd and the bar manager.

Two songs from the end, the stage goes black. All the amps turn off and all that can be heard is the drummer pounding away. After a few seconds all of the Nymphos are standing around, looking stupid wondering what is going on. About 30 seconds later, the power returns. The band chats quickly and decides to start the song again. This time they get through it all. They play there last song the few remaining patrons, pack up, pick up their cheque and leave the bar, never to return.

Could it get any worse for Joe and his band, the Psycho Nymphos? I doubt it. But they could have survived all of these problems by being prepared. It may seem insurmountable, but I have played a gig where nearly all of this happened in one night, and we survived. It’s all preparation. This is what you need to do to survive this nightmare.


There is no excuse to be late to a gig. With today’s modern communications technology, everyone has the potential to be contactable all of the time. Even if Joe got the time wrong, a simple phone call would have solved all the problems. However, it is always a great idea for a band to meet at a central location at some point before a show, and travel together “convoy” style if possible. This is a sure fire way to make sure everyone arrives on time, doesn’t get lost, or can get assistance if something does go wrong.

The spill over effect of this is that when you arrive on time, you can take your time and set up properly, sound check, as well as check your equipment for problems and in general, relax before the show starts.


Unless you are some freeform jam rock improv jazz type thing, you need to know what you are going to play. Every member of the band should know what song is coming next so they can prepare for it without having to debate first what song to play in the first place. Have a set list in sight for every member of the band. Know in advance what songs may require guitar changes or change of tuning so that you don’t kick off the tune until everyone is ready. Moments like that are easily filled with some banter, usually between the singer and the audience.


It’s not always possible, but you should aim to have a backup guitar ready to go at all times. This is especially true for a band with two guitarists like the Nymphos. With the second guitarist still playing, and your backup guitar primed for playing, it is more than feasible to switch guitars mid song. It takes about 10 seconds and looks very professional. Even if you are the only guitarist, depending on the song you can sometimes get away with it as well. However sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and get through it. Once the song is over you can grab you backup guitar and play the rest of the set without keeping everyone hanging around while you change a string. Change it between sets or if you only have one set then don’t bother.

If you can’t keep a spare guitar handy and need to change strings, have some backup material. This applies to all band members. You should have a song that can be played when any member of the band is incapacitated. Then any running repairs can be made while the rest of the band covers.


It doesn’t matter what you think, you do not sound better when you are smashed. Sure, maybe to your ears, but not to mine or anyone else’s. A few years ago, I remember playing a huge New Years Eve show where there were two bands. There was us playing inside, and the main band playing on the outside stage. The other band I had seen many times before and they were great. In fact they were one of the most popular bands to play this particular venue. In between sets, they were heading up to their rooms, getting stoned and drunk, then coming back down to play their set is a semi comatose state. We were inside, enjoying a few drinks between sets and keeping it together. Our sets overlapped slightly and by the end of the night, whenever both bands were playing, inside was packed and outside the other band was ignored. The following year, we were asked back to play New Years again as the only band. In fact after that New Years gig we were booked regularly to play both nights of the weekend every month (think about that for a second, we were booked for 25% of that venues available shows). It may be fun to get tanked and play, but it won’t get you anywhere.


To this day I still cannot believe people run their effects off batteries. It is just a disaster waiting to happen. Sure, I have batteries in my pedals that I swap out every few months. But they are the BACKUP for when some drunken idiot in the crowd falls onto the stage and pulls out a power lead or something similar. Or perhaps you accidentally leave a cable plugged in between sets and the battery drains on you. If you do need to run off battery, work out how long they last and change the battery in half that time. This should help avoid unwanted failures at critical times, and make sure you have extra batteries.

By the way, have you ever heard the sound a Tube Screamer makes when it’s failing? It’s awful.


There is not a lot you can do about this but ride it out. Although it’s not as bad as it sounds. When a venue looses power, you can be sure it will be up in less than minute unless something MAJOR has gone wrong, in which case the venue will normally shut if it is a building wide blackout. So for the next 60 seconds, what do you do? It’s easy. Nobody stops. The entire band keeps playing. The singer goes to the front of the stage and starts yelling the lyrics at the crowd. I am yet to see this not work. The crowd will start singing back. When the power kicks back in the band hasn’t missed a beat and the crowd will go crazy. It is slick and professional and will fire up the crowd for the rest of the night.

If it goes over the 60 seconds just finish the song and wait. Not much more you can do, but at least you tried.


If you are prepared and use common sense, you can cope with any disaster. I personally have had all these issues, besides the drunken stupidity, happen in one night, and we survived by having an escape plan and sticking to it. It’s not that hard to come up with your own emergency escape route, and I hope these examples can inspire you to be even more gig ready.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Guide to Buying an Acoustic Guitar

Knowing how to choose the right guitar and how to identify a bad one, will save you from countless headaches, not to mention finger aches.

Acoustic guitar bodies come in basically the same hourglass shape, with some variations, but they do vary in size, color, wood-type, style, and extra features. You can even buy an acoustic guitar so small that fits into a hiking backpack.

Guitars come in a very wide range of prices, but when it comes to instruments, in general, you get what you pay for, especially when you buy new. There’s a real difference between getting a bargain and buying cheap.

But whether you buy new or used may be determined by many personal factors including your budget, and each has their own pros and cons.

Buying new, gives you a warranty and, hopefully, a return period, if for some reason you’re not totally satisfied with your purchase, or something goes wrong.

Under ‘usual' circumstances, a used guitar can usually be purchased cheaper and has already gone through its “break-in” period.

Commercially built guitars are usually mass manufactured. “Custom-made” guitars are exactly that. They are custom built and tailored to your specifications by a highly skilled guitar maker.

Prices for a custom-built guitar vary considerably, depending on the skill level of the craftsperson you contract the job to, but, as a rule, they are generally quite higher than a commercially built guitar of “similar” quality. Each custom built guitar is unique and therefore hard to compare in price to a commercially built guitar.


Understanding some of the parts of a guitar will definitely help you when it comes to the Pre-Purchase Checklist.

BODY: This is the part with the sound hole in the front. It is where the strumming is done, and it can vary in size. The actual size, shape, type of wood, coating, and general build of the body also affects how the guitar will “sound”, whether it’s a rich and warm sound, or a thin and ‘twangy’ sound. The body tends to be the part that also gets scratched, damaged, and generally banged-up the most.

NECK: This is the long piece extending from the body and ends at the ‘head’ of the guitar where the ‘Tuning Heads’ are, also known as ‘machine heads’. The strings travel from the ‘Bridge’ on the body, across the sound hole, along the ‘Fret Board’, which is attached to the front-side of the neck, and finally arriving at the tuning heads where they are wrapped around tuning posts. The tuning heads are then turned by hand, which then turns the posts, making the strings tighter or looser, thus affecting their ‘tuning’. Necks tend to warp and twist if not looked after, or if the guitar is left propped against a heat source.

BRIDGE: The Bridge is normally located on the front of the body, by the sound hole, and on the side of the hole opposite to the neck. The strings are usually fed through the bridge first before they cross the hole and travel up the neck to the tuning heads. The bridge is like an anchor-point for the strings. Metal bridges are best, but on most acoustics they are either hard plastic or wood. Bridges have a tendency to crack and split over a long period of time.

FRET BOARD: The fret board is glued to the front of the neck. This is the part you press the strings onto to make chords or play individual notes. Because it’s glued on separately, a fret board can be made of a wood that’s different from the neck.

The strings travel over the fret board and the distance they are above the fret board makes a difference to the playability of the guitar. If the strings are too far above the fret board, then they will be hard to press down, making the guitar hard to play.

When a beginner plays a guitar, initially his or her fingertips are very soft and need to be hardened. A guitar with the strings too far above the fret board, also known as having a ‘high action’, will cause the player’s fingers to hurt so much that they are likely to put the guitar away in discouragement and possibly stop playing altogether.

STRINGS: Acoustic guitar strings, come in a wide variety of ‘flavors’. They can be made out of nylon, brass, steel, or a combination. Nylon strings are usually only found on Classical guitars and Student guitars, because they’re easier on the fingertips. They have a rich, warm sound to them.

Strings sets come in different ‘weights’, or sizes. Strings that come from a package marked ‘Heavy’ are usually quite thick in size and sound “beefy”. Strings that are light, or extra light, are very thin and usually have a brighter sound to them, but are also quieter sounding than heavy strings.

String choices are purely personal taste. Light strings are easier to press than heavy strings but also sound quite different. The more often strings are played, the dirtier they get. If a cloth isn’t run over and under them, from time to time, the sound becomes very dull


- Before you buy a used guitar, cost-compare against the price of a new one, unless the guitar is quite old. You could also compare its used price to other used prices by going to an online auction and either searching for the same or a similar guitar.
- Check the overall condition of the wood for cracks, scratches, splits, dents, chips, etc.
- Also check the lacquer finish for cracks and splits.
- Check the neck/fret board for warping and twisting. You can do this by holding the guitar flat on its back, with the sound hole facing upward. Bring the guitar up to eye-level, with the neck running away from you and the edge of the body almost touching your face. Let your eyesight skim across the front of the body and down the fret board. You should be able to see if the neck is twisted or bowing.
- Tune the guitar, or have the seller tune it for you.
- If you know how to play about five or six chords then play them. If you don’t know how to play, ask the seller to play them for you. This check ensures that the neck of the guitar is not warped, even though you couldn’t physically see it. If the neck is warped, and the guitar is properly tuned, then some of the chords will sound good, but others will sound as though the guitar is not tuned. If this happens, check the tuning again. If it persists, then don’t buy the guitar.
- Check the bridge of the guitar. If it’s made out of wood or plastic, make sure it’s not cracked or splitting. The bridge needs to be rock-solid, as a lot of pressure is exerted on the bridge by the strings.
- Check the tuning heads. Do they turn easily, or are they very stiff and hard to turn. Even with the high tension of the strings, a quality guitar will have tuning heads that are fairly easy to turn.
- Check the ‘action’ of the guitar. Are the strings a fair distance from the fret board? Are they easy or hard to press down at various points on the fret board?
- If you are buying the guitar for yourself, and you know how to play, even if you’re a beginner, then play the guitar.
- How does it feel?
- Is it easy or hard to play?
- Can you fit your hand around the neck/fret board comfortably to play chords?
- Is the guitar a comfortable size and shape for your body? Is it easy to hold?
- If you plan to play standing up, ask for a guitar strap.
- Do you like the sound, the color, etc?
- If you don’t play, have someone else play it for you so that you can judge what it sounds like.


Buying a guitar from a physical retail music store allows you to ‘test drive’ the guitar and ask more questions up front. Buying online or from a catalog may bring you more cash savings.

No matter where you buy your guitar, if you know what to look for, and spend a little extra effort in your search for that ‘perfect’ guitar, not only will your fingers thank you, but also your ears, and all those who will come to join you around the campfire, or even go to see you in concert. Who knows?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Good Music Tutor Will Never Go Hungy!

If you are a musician, and interested in teaching, then you will never go hungry! There is always a want for tutors - people will always want to learn music and need the guidance of someone else... you!

Ask one hundred random people, and chances are that the large majority will have an interest in singing, or playing some sort of musical instrument. Whether they enjoy singing, or playing, once you ask a little deeper you'll find that a large percentage of this number have at some stage sought the guidance of a tutor.

While the music industry booms, so will the need for tutors. Some people will always aspire to recreate the sounds that they love to hear, others enjoy the relaxation that playing can bring, and some even aim to write their own number one hit. Tutors will always be needed to help get wannabe musicians rocking.

There's another reason why savvy tutors will always find employment and a comfortable income. They know that the process of learning a musical instrument helps a growing child realise a few of life's lessons - practice really does make perfect, and like the date of a recital, a deadline always needs to be planed towards and constant action taken to completing the assignment well, and on time.

Mindful parents are also aware of this, and if they're not, they probably soon will be as the wise tutor advises about the positive benefits of learning the discipline to work at something. The instrument may be slightly irrelevant in the long run, but the lessons learned are completely transferable.

It is possible to earn a good living from doing something as enjoyable as teaching. And you'll find various articles and tips on achieving the best of this career at my website Visit now, and you can receive a free eBook giving advise to those thinking about starting out in this rewarding profession.

Monday, September 13, 2010

7 Tips for Effective Musical Practice

The quality of your practice is much more important than the quantity. The old saying "practice makes perfect" is only true if the practice itself is perfect. Here are 7 tips to help make your practice more effective and efficient.

Practice motions slowly

The muscular memory of our bodies allows us to physically carry out patterns of motion with little or no conscious involvement. Examples of muscular memory include walking, riding a bicycle, typing, and of course playing a musical instrument.

In order to develop this memory, the muscles require training in the form of repeated conscious guidance from the mind. First the mind must learn the pattern. Then the mind must "teach" the pattern to the muscles.

The mind initially must control all the motions of the muscles. The more controlled and precise the motions, the more quickly the muscles will develop muscle memory.

Slow practice also allows the mind to teach "antagonistic muscles" to relax. Antagonistic muscles are those that move in opposite directions. By relaxing antagonistic muscles you can reduce tension and facilitate faster and easier performance and avoid potential injury.

Practice in small cells

A "practice cell" is simply a finite series of motions. Musical cells can correspond to anything from a few notes to an entire work. When practicing, it is important to practice small cells of just a few notes. Practicing small cells limits the amount of information the muscles have to learn at one time. It also facilitates the mind's focus and concentration.

Link the end of one cell to the beginning of the next

To help the muscles develop a sense of continuum throughout the piece of music, the last motion in a cell should be the first motion of the following cell.

Practice each cell in bursts

Once the muscles have learned a pattern, they will be capable of executing it without conscious control. Initiate the pattern through a conscious command and allow the muscles to execute it in a burst.

Don't practice mistakes

For every repetition required to learn a pattern of motion, it takes 7 times the number of repetitions to change the pattern. If in the course of your practice you make an error, stop. Review in your mind the pattern. And further reduce the speed of your motions.

Pause between repetitions

When dealing with repetitive activities, the mind is better able to focus when the repetitions are broken up by short pauses. After two or three repetitions, pause for about 30 seconds to regain focus.

Take frequent breaks and don't "over-practice"

B.F. Skinner and other experts have found that the mind's ability to learn drops significantly after prolonged intense concentration. Research shows that studying too long (i.e. more than four hours) can deplete chemicals in the brain necessary for learning. Therefore, it is best to take frequent breaks (a 5 minute break about every 20-25 minutes) and practice no more than 4 hours consecutively.

By applying these techniques, you can dramatically improve the quality of your practice. You'll be able to use your time more efficiently and increase the effectiveness of your practice.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

6 Tips For Buying The Right Mp3 Player

Next to cell phones, MP3 players are the must have, hot product everyone wants to own. There are lots of great players available, but how do you know which one is right for you? Here are some tips that will help you make the right decision before purchasing an MP3 player.

Tip #1 - Type of MP3 Player - There are basically four types, flash, hard drive, micro hard drive and CD based players.

Flash players are small, have a memory chip built-in, and are more durable with no moving parts, which mean they will not skip a beat during sports activity or running. Because of their compact size, space is limited to 4gigs or less depending on the model you choose. iRiver, SanDisk and Creative MuVo are three popular brands of flash memory players.

Hard drive players are great for anyone who wants to take their entire library worth of music with them. Featuring high capacity storage ranging anywhere from 4gigs to 60gigs of hard drive space. With so much disk space available, you can also store data files, pictures and video, allowing for true portability.
Unlike flash players, hard drive players are larger in size, cost more and have more movable parts, which may not make it idea for physical activity. Popular among the brands are Apple Ipod, Creative Zen Vision, and Wolverine MVP models.

Additionally you can opt for an micro hard drive player. Micro MP3 players are a cross between a flash and a regular hard drive player. Max storage capacity is usually 8gigs, have a miniature hard drive, and are light weight and compact. These players still have movable parts and some models include non-removable re-chargeable batteries.

CD MP3 players are similar to CD players, except they can read data CD's. Capacity is the same size as a CD which is 650mbs, and the music needs to be burned. They can also play standard CD's.

Tip #2 - Digital Format - Not all players support every music format but should play the standard mp3, wma, wav formats. For additional audio format, look for players that support aac, asf and ogg. Not stopping at audio format, you may also have a need to view video formats such as mp4, mov, wav, avi, and flash. To get the most out your purchase and enjoy your favorite digital pictures, look for models that support picture formats such as jpeg, gif, tiff and png. Flash Players such as Creative Zen, iRiver Clix, and Cowan iAudio can display text documents.

Tip #3 - Battery Life - Next to storage capacity, battery life is probably the most critical consideration with MP3 players. Options include standard batteries (AAA or AA type batteries) or rechargeable batteries. With standard batteries, you can easily replace them when needed, while some rechargeable models are non-removable lithium-ion batteries, and typically last two to four years. Since flash players need to be synced more often, recharging occurs as you sync. For larger players, battery life is usually longer but may not always be the case. Make sure you inquiry about battery life for those models.

Tip #4 - Features - With the capability to view video and photos, bright color screens with image display are usually a favorite among buyers. Voice recording with built-in or optional voice recorders, let you record seminars or meetings. Want to listen to other music, some models include an FM tuner for listening and recording (mp3) radio stations. Players such as Apple iPOD and Creative Zen line allow for personal information management options such as phone books and calendars that can synchronize data between desktop applications and the player.

Other features to consider: advanced playback features such as shuffle, repeat, resume, and playlist functions. Newer models now offer the ability to create on the fly playlists, smart playlist for grouping songs in shuffle mode and automatic volume control that makes songs play at the same volume. Don't forget about music search and sort options to find songs.

Tip #5 - Connectivity Options. Most if not all MP3 players support USB 2.0. Other connectivity options you may want to consider is Firewire, audio and line inputs. Some next-generation models include Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth capabilities.

Tip #6 - Functionality - Don't just consider bells and whistles when looking for the right MP3 to purchase. Functionality is usually what makes MP3 players stand apart from each other. Test drive each player and notice how easy or hard it is to navigate the menus. Do the buttons feel cheap or easy to press? Is the screen display sufficient in bright light? Is it compact enough for daily or sport activity? What accessories are available for the player?

No matter what model you choose, an MP3 player will be a great addition to your entertainment hardware!

5 Important Tips on Piano Lessons

5 Important Tips for Piano Lessons
Must-Have information before deciding on Piano Lessons!

Music is a very important part of our lives. It does a lot more than just please our ears – it is an integral part of human development.
Several years ago, there was an experiment done by scientists at the University of California at Irvine in 1993. (published in the journal Nature) They had college students listen to Mozart Sonata for two Pianos in D Major, a relaxation tape or silence. Immediately after these sessions, the students took a spatial reasoning test (the ability to put together puzzles) and the students’ scores improved drastically after listening to the Music. The reason is because music and spatial abilities share the same pathways in the brain.

Another experiment was done later on by researchers at Appalachian State University and the researchers were successful as well in connecting music to boosting “brain power”.
They gave preschool children (ages 3-4 yrs. old) training for 8 months. Children were divided into 4 groups: Keyboard lessons, Singing lessons, Computer lessons and No lessons. After 8 months of this treatment, the children were tested on their ability to put together puzzles (spatial-temporal reasoning) and to recognize shapes (spatial-recognition reasoning) and the results were astounding! They found that only those children who had taken the keyboard lessons had improvement in the spatial-temporal test. (The children did not, however show any change with the spatial-recognition.)

Another interesting observation I’ve made is the connection between the Medical profession and the Music profession – a large majority of M.D.’s are Classically trained musicians! I’ve encountered many and have asked them all the same question – how do you make the connection between the medical and the musical – and the response I’ve had is that they are both very intricate and require a rare focus and mathematical mindset in many different directions at once. It’s achieved by many years of training in either and/or both fields, which by the same token - enhance each other. So to them – the similarity in brain function and focus is evident and invaluable to both the medical and the musical. It will be interesting to see the results of further study in that matter. Currently, there is no conclusive proof scientifically of the connection between Medical and Musical.

Now – for the 5 Tips for Piano Lessons!

1) Interest:
Assess the interest of your child. Is this something they really like – or is it your dream? The child should show genuine interest in music and a keyboard in order for their learning experience to be a pleasant and successful one. If they are not interested – ask yourself why you even pursued it? Is it because you have an inner desire for it? It’s NEVER too late to begin! Sign yourself up for Piano lessons if that’s the case. I’ve have students of every age – some played when they were kids then quit. As they got older, regretted quitting and vowed to one day pick it up again. Then there are others who always had the desire but not the opportunity and now find themselves retired with plenty of time on their hands. They’ve actually become Piano virtuosos! I give you these lovely examples to give you hope and a nudge – psssst! It’s never too late! The student must be genuinely interested.
2) Instrument:
It’s fine to begin Piano lessons on an electronic keyboard. As time goes on, the student will know in which direction they’d like to take the Piano lessons. If it’s just for personal enjoyment, it’s fine to stay with a keyboard.
If it’s for classical Piano training – then the student should be switched over to an acoustic Piano. In my experience as a Piano teacher, I’ve realized that a Spinet Piano (the ones that have a low back) unless it is given as a gift, should not be purchased. It would be preferable to purchase an “Upright” which is a Baby Grand Piano, but instead of the strings being vertical they’re horizontal. The reason being, that the action on the keys is much better technically for the student’s hand, and it sound substantially better to the ear.
3) Teacher:
Ask around and get feedback from others about their teachers. Find out the teacher’s background. Where did they get the education from, how long have they been teaching, where do they teach from, what are the surroundings like? Ask current students how patient the teacher is and how do they feel during the lesson. You should get a pretty good idea about the teacher by how current students are progressing. Does the teacher’s personality blend with your child’s. Remember, this is a choice! In school the children have to adapt to the teacher that has been assigned to them, and that’s a good thing. They learn to get along with different types of personalities, but Piano is an extra-curricular activity and should be a pleasant one that they look forward to.
4) Schedule:
Children can be easily overwhelmed by too much in their schedule. As adults – we’ve experienced overload for ourselves and it’s SO counterproductive! It’s highly advisable to limit activities in order for the kids not to be pulled in too many directions.
Once activities have been chosen, I’ve found with my own kids and students that by writing down a daily schedule, everything gets done and there are no excuses for forgetting to practice.
5) Dedication:
Once a schedule is in place, practicing piano will become part of daily routine. After a while, the student won’t be so “worried” about time, but will want to achieve goals set by the teacher. The student will need dedication in order for the craft to go from mechanical to musical. Encourage them to listen to a wide range of styles and genre’s in order for them to develop their own taste for music. At an early stage, dedication can be ingrained in a student by participating in Recitals, Talent Shows and Worship Services. It takes diligence and dedication – also sacrifices to make piano a beautiful craft.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

5 Reasons to Learn Music Theory

If you thought music theory was a waste of time and not necessary to further your musical goals, then read these following 5 reasons why this is not true.

1.Read sheet music: Being able to play from any piece of sheet music. Well it may be hard to play BUT you can read it!

2.Be able to transpose: Say you are playing a piece from the sheet music you can now read but you think it sounds too high or too low, or just not right. Well now you can move it into a new key and play at a better singing.

3.Be able to modulate: You will be able to, with a few quick moves of the fingers, move your music into a new key with a succession of notes so pleasing to the ear it will bring a smile to your listeners faces.

4.It will increase your skill in improvising: Enough said.

5.Knowing music theory will help you recreate the sounds you enjoy in your favorite songs. Those fabulous chord progressions. The parts that give a song that certain sound. Gospel, Contemporary etc.

To learn music theory you don’t have to become a scholar on the subject. Just at least learn the basics. Getting a good music theory book and spending a few minutes a day reading from it and doing any included exercises can jump start your music playing.

Friday, September 10, 2010

4 Tips For Choosing An Mp3 Player, Part 2

Part III - So what am I looking for?

Probably the last question you need to ask yourself. Weigh up between image (size, shape, style, colour), performance (play time, memory, compatibility, gizmos, other functions) and quality (useability, interface, design, battery life). Work out what's important, and Google or eBay will do the rest for you (or if not, then your younger brother or sister will also suffice). There is always a cheaper price for something, but there is always more hassle to get something that you want exactly. If you've ever bid for an eBay item, then found something way cheaper than what you've just bought, then you'll know what I mean. Look, if you're going to spend money (any amount of money), then it's important to at least pick something that works long enough for you to at least look the part, and one that you won't throw out the window because that's all it's good for. Therefore, battery life, memory, interface and compatibility should not be taken lightly.

Part IV - So what do I do with it?

You've got yourself an MP3 player, so what's next. Well, you can use it as a fashion accessory, play some MP3 music, or just leave it sitting in the closet until a better model comes out. It's hard to say unless you've got one, and once you've got one, you'll work out what to do with it. Sometimes it's an expensive lesson to learn, but most times when you spend money for something, you invariably find a use for it, even if it's just another item on the eBay used section.

Useful advice? Well, don't just take my word for it, because even bad advice needs to be taken to be believed. Take these suggestions into account when you are choosing your mp3 player, and you'll be well equipped.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

4 Tips For Choosing An Mp3 Player, Part 1

Choosing an MP3 player used to be a much easier shopping decision than it is today. Just a couple of years ago, only MP3 players played MP3 music. Nowadays, every man and his dog that has a mobile phone, laptop or memory storage device can play MP3 music. Now that there are a few more things to take into consideration, it is wise to think about a few issues before splashing out some serious money (or trying to save some serious money).

Part I - Do you need an MP3 player?

Probably the most important question you need to ask yourself. Why do you want one? Does your mobile phone already come with an MP3 player? What about your laptop? Why would you need one if you've already got one? The only reason MP3 players exist in their own right is because a mobile phone is a much better device for making phone calls on the go, and an MP3 player, well, it is a much better device for playing MP3 music. When there is a comprise in function, there is a comprise in function (i.e. quality and performance).

Part II - Do you need a good MP3 player?

Probably the second most important question you need to ask yourself. It does sound like a rhetorical question. Of course you want a good MP3 player, but please provide a definition for "good". Do you want something that looks good, plays good (well is probably a better word) or sounds good (or all three perhaps). Remember that these days people will buy things for the image (looks/sounds good), performance (plays good) and quality (lasts good). All three come at a cost (though not necessarily equal in weighting), and usually you'll find that two out of three ain't bad. Sometimes big name brands not only looks good (the Japanese designers are experts at this), sounds good (for example, hey look, I've got a Sony -insert model here- !), but they might actually have good performance or quality as well (Some say the iPod belongs in that category, but I don't want to start another online forum about it). But most of the time, practical people start with performance or quality, and just hope that it's something they can hide in their designer label clothing's MP3 pocket.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

3 Steps to Playing Comfortably for a Crowd

Most people are not comfortable performing in front people. When I say of performing, such as an instrument, or singing, or acting, I mean more than just knowing how to do well at your chosen craft, I mean doing it well and in front of people. It’s the “in front of people” part that gets us every time. How many of us sing like a bird in the shower but then when people are watching we can’t carry a note. Here are three steps to start you on the road to comfort (never complete) when called on to shine.

1. Don’t neglect to practice. Whether you sing or play an instrument practice is the key to being relaxed. The more familiar you are with what you are performing, the less anxiety you will have about messing up.

2. Don’t back up. Piano teaches pass this on all the time. If you mess up in the middle, or any place in your piece, don’t back up and repeat the offending passage. Keep going. Chances are your audience didn’t even notice.

3. Try not to be critical of your technical skill. Focus more on your overall performance. How does it sound as a whole? If you’re a pianist and you worry during your piece about your fingering then you’re ignoring the song and how it sounds. Worry about technicalities when you practice. Which should be often.

With time playing in front of and for other people will come much easier. You'll be a natural. So use every opportunity to show your stuff!

Monday, September 6, 2010

3 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Music Lessons

Whether you are using a book, video, a real live human, or online lessons, keep these pointers in mind in order to get the most out our your studies.

1. Complete and master each section before moving on to the next: As you work through your studies make sure you have each new technique or idea conquered before moving on to the next. Lessons are planned to build upon each other and trying to rush through without fully understanding one will just lead to frustration and wasted efforts.

2. Study as if you were in school. Do some homework every night. If all you have is 15 minutes then use those 15 minutes. If you don’t have time to read/watch and apply then do the application of your last lesson or drills such as scales and chords. Reading/watching and not having the opportunity to apply immediately will usually mean you have to relearn your lesson. Take notes. Especially if you’re watching a video or working with a human. Also don’t be afraid to write all over your workbooks and sheet music.

3. Apply what you’ve learned: Play for others. Your church, your family, that spare piano sitting in your favorite department store (ask first). Nothing drives a music lesson home better than a recital. It will also magnify what you need to work on.

These tips work whether your a child or an adult. Learning to play an instrument is a wonderful activity.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

3 Critical Truths About P2P File Sharing Networks.

If you're confused about file sharing networks, and the hazards involved, you're not alone.

Many people looking for for free downloading networks online have unanswered questions about p2p sites and RIAA lawsuit risks. So here are crucial facts and important information you need to know about p2p file sharing sites - before using them!

- File Sharing Download Truth #1: File sharing networks are extremely controversial.

Although file sharing applications have been ruled legal in a court of law, controversy lies in the fact that file sharing software can be used illegally. How? Anytime a user of a p2p software program downloads or shares copy-righted material they are breaking the law.

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is on an active campaign to track down and sue file sharers who are breaking copy right infringement laws. And in more recent developments, the RIAA has sent letters to p2p networks demanding them to "immediately cease-and-desist from enabling and inducing the infringement of RIAA member sound recordings."

The RIAA is very serious about finding and suing people who are breaking copy-right infringement laws. It's strongly advised to take the lawsuit risks very seriously yourself BEFORE using a free file sharing download site.

- File Sharing Download Truth #2: The only way to get 100% legal music is with the "legitimately licensed" music sites.

It's true. Legitimately licensed sites are Internet-based services that provide downloads of music legally licensed from established record labels and the artists themselves.

This combined partnership between the music industry and the legal music sites, (like Napster, iTunes & Emusic) guarantees you 100% legal music downloads. In comparison, when using p2p file sharing software it's almost (if not completely) impossible to stay legal while using the file sharing program. Why?

Legal file sharing is only possible by following and complying with ALL relevant copyright laws. This means that when using a file sharing application, in order to stay legal, you must never publicly share, reproduce or distribute copy-righted material - ever!

Therefore, the only way to stay safe and avoid being targeted by the RIAA is by researching the copyright laws for each and every song BEFORE you download and/or publicly share the song online. Besides the fact that this research would be extremely time-consuming, it's also virtually impossible to do successfully.

- File Sharing Download Truth #3: File sharing networks can threaten your online privacy and security.

Although many file sharing applications are free, they make money by adding "adware" into the p2p software program.

Adware is software that works by large media companies offering shareware developers banner ads to put in their products. In return, the media companies provide the software developers a portion of the revenue generated from the banner sales.

And when done properly, adware is considered win-win. You'll get the file sharing software download for free, and the software developer will still get income for their product.

However, many file sharing networks also include potentially dangerous spying programs into their software programs as a way to make more money. "Spyware" is a generic term describing any software that secretly sneaks around in the back-round of your computer (usually without your permission or knowledge) gathering information and performing activities hidden to you.

Spyware is a big risk to your online security and privacy, and can cause serious damage to your computer by exposing you to dangerous viruses, worms, malware and online hackers. Don't get me wrong, making money online is not a bad thing. However, many file sharing download programs fail to disclose critical information and lawsuit risks about the use of their sharing software programs.

To Sum Up:

It's extremely important that you get all the facts about file sharing networks, including the risks involved, before using a any p2p program.

By learning all you can about how p2p file sharing download networks work, you'll be able to make an informed decision about which music download solution is right for you. And remember, there are many quality legal music sites available for you to choose from that offer cheap music downloads.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

‘Things Just Ain’t the Same’: Hip-Hop’s Reconstruction of the Gangster Rap Identity

Gangster rap, or hardcore rap, is generally considered a sub genre of the larger category of rap music, which itself is a subcategory of hip-hop. Gangster rap is differentiable from other rap music in that it makes use of images of urban life associated with crime (Haugen, 2). According to the Encyclopedia Britannica definition of gangster rap, the top four images associated with the genre are violence, drugs, materialism and sexual promiscuity.

Gangster Rappers as Defining the Hip-Hop Social Group
As the hip-hop movement has gained recognition throughout the United States, it has established itself as one of the fastest growing social groups anywhere. In the late 1990s immediately following the murders of both Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, two nationally known gangster rappers, a propaganda campaign escalated against rap music and the hip-hop culture (Slaughter). Although gangster rap only represented a small percentage of the hip-hop culture at the time, all hip-hop and rap music was instantly stereotyped negatively as being “gangter-like”. Why? Well, this gangster version of hip-hop was the highest selling and most recognized form of hip-hop music among the majority class. And many critics have determined that this is because America is in love with sex, drugs and violence (Whaley).

Hip-Hop’s Rejection of Inferior Social Group Status
Henri Tajfel, a social psychologist who developed a theory of inter-group relations and social change, argues that members of a social group deemed inferior by a majority class can either accept or reject their inferior position in society. If a group refuses to accept its inferior position in society as just, it will attempt as a group to change things (Coates, 8-9). A large number of hip-hop artists have used their musical lyrics to reject the inferior social status placed upon them by the majority class.

The Reconstruction of the Gangster Identity
I have found that hip-hop artists use lyrics, both musical and poetic, to redefine the negatives characteristics given to their culture by the majority class, and in the process, reconstruct the gangster identity. By examining these hip-hop and gangster rap lyrics as text, I will show ways in which the lyrics attempt to reconstruct the stereotyped gangster rap identity by examining different views of violence, drugs, materialism and sexual promiscuity. In the end, one tends to wonder: Who exactly are the real gangsters?

That the hip-hop culture represents gangster-like violence is perhaps the biggest disputed claim amongst hip-hop artists. In order to disprove this claim, many hip-hop artists have pointed to the violence that exists within the majority social group, and how it leads to violence all over the world.
In “Violence”, 2 Pac demonstrates his belief that violence was prevalent long before gangster rap existed:

I told em fight back, attack on society
If this is violence, then violent's what I gotta be
If you investigate you'll find out where it's comin’ from
Look through our history, America's the violent one

Here, the poet points to American society as “the violent one” and that he has to be violent in order to “fight back.”

In “Who Knew”, Eminem showed a similar viewpoint by expressing his belief that violence is a common occurrence in American society, yet not challenged in genres outside of the urban environment:

So who's bringin’ the guns in this country?
I couldn't sneak a plastic pellet gun through customs over in London
And last week, I seen a Schwarzaneggar movie
Where he's shootin’ all sorts of these bad guys with an Uzi

Here, the poet questions the existence of violence in a country that allows firearms and violent movies.

In “Casualties of War”, Rakim blames the United States government, specifically its Head of State, as the group causing the violence in society with their war-like ways:

I'ma get back to New York in one piece
But I'm bent in the sand that is hot as the city streets
Sky lights up like fireworks blind me
Bullets, whistlin’ over my head remind me...
President Bush said attack
Flashback to Nam, I might not make it back

In this text, the poet refers to our country’s decision to go to war as an example of the violence that exists amongst the majority social class.

In “The Watcher”, Dr. Dre redefines the negative characteristic of violence by pointing to the police force as the source of violence, and therefore, referring to them as “gangster-like”:
Things just ain't the same for gangstas
Cops is anxious to put people in handcuffs
They wanna hang us, see us dead or enslave us
Keep us trapped in the same place we raised in
Then they wonder why we act so outrageous
Run around stressed out and pull out gauges
Cause everytime you let the animal out cages
It's dangerous, to people who look like strangers

Here, the poet accuses the majority class of keeping them “trapped in the same place we raised in” and that the perceived violence is only due to the introduction of “people who look like strangers.”

These are examples of how hip-hop artists redefine the image of violence by showing how it exists or was created within the majority social group.

Another common disputed stereotype of hip-hop artists is their use and distribution of illegal drugs. In attempts to redefine this negative characteristic, many hip-hop artists have pointed at the majority social group as the facilitator of drug abuse.

In “Justify My Thug”, Jay-Z speaks directly to members of government, raising questions about who has made the availability and use of these drugs possible:

Mr. President, there's drugs in our residence
Tell me what you want me to do, come break bread with us
Mr. Governor, I swear there's a cover up
Every other corner there's a liquor store - what is up?

In this example, the poet inquires as to why there is a liquor store in “every other corner” of his community.

In “I Want to Talk to You”, Nas uses the same approach to challenge the notion of drug distribution by asking his representatives what they would do in his situation:

Why y'all made it so hard, damn
People gotta go create their own job
Mr. Mayo,r imagine if this was your backyard
Mr. Governo,r imagine if it was your kids that starved
Imagine your kids gotta sling crack to survive

Here, the poet claims that the distribution of drugs is not only an effect of the poverty that exists in his environment, but also a means of survival.

In “Manifesto”, Talib Kweli actually accuses the government of being the body which allows drugs into the country:

Like the C.I.A. be bringin’ in crack cocaine bailin’ out of planes
With the George Bush connections, I push Reflection
Like I'm sellin’ izm, like a dealer buildin’ the system
Supply and the demand it's all capitalism
People don't sell crack cause they like to see blacks smoke
People sell crack cause they broke

In this example, the poet accuses the C.I.A. of flying drugs into the country, and again reiterates the point that it is a means of survival due to the “supply and demand” of a capitalist society.

In “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangster”, the Geto Boys fully redefine the negative characteristic of drug distribution by accusing the President of being a drug dealer, and therefore, a gangster:

And now, a word from the President!
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
Getting’ voted into the White House
Everything lookin’ good to the people of the world
But the Mafia family is my boss
So every now and then I owe a favor gettin' down
Like lettin' a big drug shipment through
And send 'em to the poor community
So we can bust you know who

These examples show how hip-hop artists redefine the image of being drug dealers and users by again pointing to the majority class as the creator of the drug problem in this country.

Hip-hop music is also seen by the majority class as a genre dominated by materialism. Again, artists point back to the majority class in an attempt to redefine this negative characteristic.

In “Respiration”, Black Star points to all the wealth surrounding urban areas, and how it absorbs the lower class in materialism, making them want parts of that wealth:

Where mercenaries is paid to trade hot stock tips
For profits, thirsty criminals take pockets
Hard knuckles on the second hands of workin’ class watches
Skyscrapers is colossus, the cost of living
Is preposterous, stay alive, you play or die, no options

Here, the poet talks about various materialistic aspects of the majority class, and how the lower class must “play or die” to “stay alive.”

In “All Falls Down”, Kanye West actually blames this materialism on American society:

It seems we living the American dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem
The prettiest people do the ugliest things
For the road to riches and diamond rings

In this example, the poet blames the “American dream” for materialism, saying it causes people to “do the ugliest things” for “riches and diamond rings.”

In “Los Angeles Times”, Xzibit also blames this materialism on the majority class, claiming that is what the youth are taught coming up in urban environments:

Welcome to L.A.
Where you can see the whole city burning
Cause the cops got Uzis and the dealers keep serving
And your kids ain't learning it, except this
Sex power and wealth, forget everything else

Here, the poet expresses his belief that certain aspects of materialism, including “power and wealth” are taught to children through occurrences in society.

These are examples how hip-hop artists redefine the negative characteristic of being materialistic by showing examples of how this materialism is prevalent in the majority class, and often created within that class.

And the final debated stereotype of the hip-hop social class is that they are sexually promiscuous, often leading to disrespectful treatment towards women. The poets also attempt to redefine this stereotype by blaming the core of the problem on society.

In “Pussy Galore”, the Roots claim that the country’s obsession with sex is pushed by sexually-driven marketing campaigns:

Lookin' out the limo window up at the billboards
200 miles, she was the only thing I saw
Promotin' everything, from the liquor to the nicotine
Cell phones, anti-histamines, chicken wings
You gotta show a little skin to get them listening
For real yo, the world is a sex machine

In this example, the poet retells a personal experience in which he saw sex advertisements as “promotin’ everything.” And in order to “get them listening”, he claims, “you gotta show a little skin.”

In “Get By”, Talib Kweli blames this sexual obsession on what we view on television:

The TV got us reachin’ for stars
Not the ones between Venus and Mars,
The ones that be readin’ for parts
Some people get breast enhancements and penis enlargers

Here, the poet expresses his belief that television creates a misconception of what people should be sexually, and that contributes to the promiscuity that is being blamed on the hip-hop movement.

Hip-hop artists have used their lyrics and poetry to influence the rejection and reconstruction of the gangster identity that plagues their social class. This is accomplished through the redefining of negative characteristics assigned by the majority class. In most cases, these redefinitions include pointing to the majority class as the real holders of these negative characteristics. The redefining of these “gangster-like” images through hip-hop lyrics helps to reconstruct the gangster identity by questioning “gangster-like” behaviors and which social class actually has these behaviors. So the question presented is: Who exactly are the gangsters?

Works Cited / Discography
2 Pac. 2Pacalypse Now. Jive Records, 1991.
Black Star. Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star. Rawkus Records, 1998.
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