An étude in music is a study or musical composition exploring a particular technical problem. Because the études/songs are grouped together, their song titles usually contain numbers. Example: Etude in C minor op.10 no.12.
This song is not an étude, but to me it is a study. The song explores the mood and emotion of solitude. I may want to write a series of songs to study mood and feelings. In case I decide to revisit solitude as a subject another time, the song is titled No. 1.
If you’ve ever been through some trying times with someone you immediately know what’s behind this song. The beauty is, you know that without it being literally spelled out.
There is incredible emotion in the song, especially in the opening.
Yet, so delicately delivered. No yelling or crying even though you know that’s what was likely going on.
For me, the lesson in this song is to keep it simple. When I am trying to write songs, it’s hard to get away from compiling an essay relating the message. Remember Jodi, no need to outline bullet points for the listener. ha.
On another note, there are a several key changes in this song and it works brilliantly in a couple ways: 1) it is representative of the ups and downs of a relationship; 2) it keeps the song fresh musically for the duration; and 3) it serves a functional purpose to combine female and male vocals, which normally have very different ranges and keys. (There, I was able to fit bullet points in after all.)
This song is very powerful and so well done I could listen to it over and over.
Houston native Billy Gibbons played a concert recently promoting his new Cuban-influenced record. Of course, I had to go. Without having seen ZZ Top, I figured this concert was the next best thing. If you are unfamiliar with the music of ZZ Top, here’s what Rolling Stone says. Evidently, Billy Gibbons is no stranger to performing a concert. According to Rolling Stone, “The Worldwide Texas Tour” was one of the largest-grossing road trips in rock at the time.
I promised you I’d talk about the concert, but others have done a great job of concert and album reviews (see links at the bottom) – so I’ll talk about the music and influences.
First, Billy Gibbons mentions learning rhythm from Tito Puente, in person, at a young age. That figures! I’ve always thought Gibbons has great rhythm. Of course, as a bass player I’m biased towards the rhythm section. But, any musician whose music makes me want to dance is a winner. And, there aren’t an over abundance today that can do that via a live concert. Here’s Tito Puente – Five Beat Mambo. And, what’s the first thing you notice? A whole stage lined with percussion! What?!
So, at the BFG concert there were two stacks, two organs, two females on two drum kits, one percussionist, one low rider bicycle, and Billy Gibbons – a whole stage of rhythm and percussion. (well, except for the bicycle)
I admire the way Gibbons combines both the past and present and takes that into the future. As you heard, he’s not afraid to experiment. Also, I think one of his greatest assets is his showmanship. He is truly an entertainer and puts on a great concert!
Here is my newest song to write and record. I think it’s the most fun of the three. It’s the most rock and roll. The song is about first impressions that give off red flags. Sometimes your first impression is right. This song is about, in hindsight, realizing you should have gone with your instinct instead of rationalizations.
Each song, while more fun than the last, has also been harder to make than the last. Perhaps that’s because as I gain more experience in the process of songwriting, recording, mixing, and mastering, I become more critical. What’s the quote? The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know. I’m not afraid though, I’m looking forward to becoming even better yet at creating more original music.
Tonight I heard the October version of “Serious Boredom with Patrick Carney” on Sirius XM. It was my first introduction to the show. But, according to Nashville Scene it has been airing for about three years. Maybe tonight the mood was right, but I loved the whole show! Some great music was played including a finale of the Latin Playboys.
It’s been a long time since I heard the Latin Playboys and it brought back some wonderful memories. In Austin at La Zona Rosa, I once saw the Latin Playboys live and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Their songs have such texture and variety. Each is incredibly unique. I wish they would have played all night long. Here is one of my favorites Manifold di Amour. However, each of their albums is an adventure. I highly recommend having a listen or two, or more.
This reminds me of another great show at La Zona Rosa, Mike Watt. He opened up for another band (I forget which one now). No one was there to see Mike Watt. The place was packed and the entire crowd was waiting on the headliner and talking loudly and paying no attention to this opening band that came on stage.
What was great about that show you ask? Amazingly, in about three songs the entire crowd was silent and spellbound. Mike Watt was performing with such energy it seemed he’d spontaneously combust at any second – every second – of each song until the end. It was incredible. I’ll never forget it. Not many bands can demand that kind of attention.
Immediately I went home to find out more about this bass player. The album I found: fIREHOSE Live Totem Pole EP. But, there’s lots you can find.
– More Info –
Musicians / Band: Latin Playboys – David Hidalgo, Louie Pérez, Mitchell Froom, Tchad Blake
Genre: According to Wikipedia, critic Richie Unterberger described their music as “a twisted and avant-garde take on roots music. Latin Playboys draw from blues, border music, experimental studio trickery, and cinematic sound textures.”
From: Los Angeles
Musician: Mike Watt, bass and vocals
Bands: The Minutemen, Firehose and solo career
I was thinking about this song the other day because of the dream sequence in The Big Lebowski. That movie didn’t really do much for me. However, the song is great! This video came up while looking for an original version. I love everything about it!
Probably, by now everyone knows Kenny Rogers recorded it. If you didn’t know that, you are likely incredibly surprised as he is famous as a country singer and for being paired with Dolly Parton. What else you might not have known – Kenny Rogers (a bass player) was born in Houston as was the songwriter, Mickey Newbury (the youngest songwriter ever inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame). Evidently, Kenny Rogers sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
You are gonna love this! (and, I’m being serious)
– More Info –
Artist / Musician / Band: Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
Song: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Genre: country, pop
Instrument: bass, vocals
From: Houston, Texas
Jean François Millet “Two Men Turning over the Soil” (1866) and “Two Peasants Digging” Vincent van Gogh (1889)
A recent conversation with a friend revisited the topic of imitation in art and music. In my previous post, “Imitation: Bobby Osborne and Ernest Tubb“, I discussed how first imitating an idol (looking to the idol as a mentor) can lead an artist or musician to develop his or her own unique style.
However, occasionally mimicking an idol fails to transform the musician and instead develops an impersonator void of individual characteristics. As you know, many copyright debates argue the question of “is the impersonator using another body of work to capitalize their own career”? Of course, a famous example is Queen – Under Pressure (1981) versus Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby (1989).
But, let’s back out of such a heavy topic and have some listening fun. Below are some of my favorite comparisons of musicians and those that came before them. Sometimes the influence is obvious and sometimes more subtle.
One of my favorite musicians Slim Harpo – I’m a King Bee (1957) versus one of my favorite bands The Rolling Stones – I’m a King Bee (1964). It’s well documented that American blues influenced English musicians. Another example: Freddie King as a mentor to Eric Clapton (both singing and guitar). There are too many examples to list here, such as Led Zeppelin, and you already know them anyway.
Fantastic Sam by Gap Dream came on SiriusXM radio while I was driving the other day. A new-to-me song, I liked it immediately. Why? It’s hard to say. Not overly complex or necessarily brilliant musically, it is catchy and easily identifiable.
I think music is generally better in the car on the road. There’s something about motion and sound, which is why dancing probably goes so well with lively beats. However, I still liked the song when played again at home. It survived the “sitting still” test. Ha!
Another good quality – it resembles probably about 10 different songs from different eras. Good songs, it seems, are familiar to you in some way even if the music is completely 100% original. We all like what’s comfortable to us. A real challenge with artists of any type is to create material that is both unique and familiar. In this sense, Fantastic Sam is a success.
– More Info –
Artist / Musician / Band: Gap Dream, Gabe Fulvimar
Song: Fantastic Sam
Genre: American psychedelic synthpop
Bill O’Brien writes “The arts and sciences, technological progress, economic prosperity—nearly every significant advance achieved by entire societies—are driven by human creativity…,” in the report “How Creativity Works in the Brain“. However, the report concludes that despite decades of research on creative thinking the neurology behind an aha moment remains elusive.
Some argue that necessity is the mother of invention while others claim the best ideas are happy accidents, such as the discovery of penicillin. We’ve all heard the quote “genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration”. Yet, also notorious is the Greek and Roman mythical goddesses of inspiration and source of knowledge, the muse.
John Kounios believes insights are generated by unconscious processes that eventually deposit their results into awareness. His research, supported by the National Science Foundation’s Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate, the Creativity Research Lab at Drexel University has been looking at what goes on in the brain when a person is problem solving. His report finds that conscious thought strategies are not effective means for enhancing insight. The best problem solving happens by your brain when you are not aware, in the subconscious through a state of positive mood and defocused attention. (What happens when ‘Aha!’ strikes)
Perhaps scientific methods are a little overwhelming and reading about them is not boosting your creativity. Here’s something a little more digestible “10 Daily Routines for Honing Your Creativity“, published by Fast Company. A combination of these tips may bring about inspiration useful in meeting a big deadline or even assist in making important daily decisions.
Once on a seven-hour drive back home I realized towards the end of the trip that I had been thinking about the same things the whole way. In my mind, I’d been reworking scenarios and repeating the same thoughts over and over. I was dwelling on it and in the last 30 minutes of the ride this song was born from that realization. (Click the photo or click here to listen)
It’s been fun working on this song and focusing on music instead of dwelling on other things. My goal is to record a new song once a month because I want to and because creating music keeps me happy. Hope you enjoy the song, too.