Category Archives: Music

All about music

Guitar Discount – £50 off Gibson Les Paul

Gibson Les Paul guitars have been on the market since taking the world by storm in 1952 and continue to be an iconic brand.  Even now, decades later, the design is pretty much unchanged – if it ain’t broke and all that – and the sound quality and craftsmanship loved by musicians from all genres.

My first ever electric guitar was a Gibson Les Paul copy (well I was 12 and my parents weren’t sure I’d keep it up!) in traditional style not too dissimilar to this one…

…which I loved. I loved it so much that it took me till only a couple of years ago to let go and hand it down to my now 16 year old son.  Despite having bought him Ibanez and B.C. Rich guitars over the years (it’s worth it he’s incredibly talented) he too loves the Gibson even though it is a copy and couldn’t wait to get his hands on it.

However…I miss it. So I’ve been looking around to replace it and this particular guitar has caught my eye. Its a Gibson Les Paul in Satin Ebony and it’s beautiful!

This guitar is a mahogany body which is jet black all over (the clue’s in the name!) with a 22 fret rosewood neck. Ebony is used for the pick guard, knobs, jack plate and toggle switch. The pickups are the 490R and 498T, much loved Gibson favourites. The tone is a well-balanced one of full lows and ‘velvety’ highs.

It’s worth having a look just to admire if nothing else but, if you decide you must have one it’s currently going for £699.

However by entering this code GBLP50 you can expect a £50 reduction on this at the checkout!


 

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“…it’s like some guy banging on some wok!”

Come Dine With Me is always an education! Take yesterday’s episode for example. I learned how to make a courgette roulade look like a vomit filled swiss roll, that it costs £300 a month to look after your dogs ‘properly’ (y’know…clothes, perfume, ribbons and bows…the usual doggy necessities) AND what a hang drum is….

Hang on (no pun intended honest!) that last one actually WAS educational! Just in case you didn’t get the sense of irony about the other ‘lessons learned’!

One of the highly cultured contestants, desperate to win the grand prize of £1000, invited in a friend to entertain his guests with the beautiful sounds of the Hang (pronouced ‘hung’) drum. Only to have it described as “…some guy banging on some wok” by one of the other slightly less cultured diners!

It sounded AWESOME! I’m no drummer but I know my music and this instrument is ‘special’. After seeing it, or more importantly hearing it, I spent the next few hours trawling the net to see where I could get hold of one. Bad news….you have to go on a waiting list! After which there’s more bad news…the one I like most, Halo, is about £2k!! Although I did spot one on ebay for £901. Still – looks like I’ll have to wait a while!

Anyway, totally impressed with the sound this guy was getting out of said ‘wok’ I joined all waiting lists, mailing lists and blogs having anything to do with hang drums!

Here’s some videos of what I found and why I must have one!

Hang Drum Solo

Reminiscence

halo

Gorgeous sound right? My birthday is at the end of the month….if anyone’s stuck for gift ideas….! ;)

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Illegal downloads – if you can’t beat ‘em…join ‘em!

Have you done it? Illegally? For free?

I’m talking about downloading music.

Anyone who is even the slightest bit clued up about using the internet knows how easy it is to find one of the many websites allowing music to be downloaded for free…instead of going out and buying the cd.

When I was (a lot) younger, I remember friends buying cassette tapes – ask your parents kids! – putting them in a tape-to-tape deck, pressing play/record and making a copy for other friends. Or even listening to the Top 40 on the radio of a Sunday afternoon and skillfully missing out as much as possible of the DJ’s chatter to catch as much we could of our favourite tracks.  None of us thought of the consequences or money lost by the bands producing the music. We certainly didn’t consider the morality of it. Producing copies of albums stained with talented musicians blood, sweat and tears and denying them their due.

In fact I don’t even remember it being mentioned as a negative thing until the internet became the way to do it. Mp3’s online were (and are) so accessible. Meaning you can just sit on your arse in front of the screen, download everything and anything, and all for free. Limewire, Bearshare, Frostwire…..to name a few, are well known sites with P2P (peer to peer) sharing of music, often infringing copyright and certainly meaning the record companies sales take a dive.

So what to do about it?

Well, as has already been done with Limewire for one, take out an injunction to prevent the access to coprighted material. Temporary though right? I mean, as quick as you limit one site or close it down even…..3 more have popped up!

Kaiser Chiefs are one band (and I’m sure many will follow) who have changed tactics to get around the whole illegal downloading business. Lead singer Ricky Wilson came up with an idea after a few bevvies whilst in Cornwall – theeee nicest place to be inspired by the way!

As with most bands, putting together the track list for an album involves a process of selecting 10-15 songs from a pot of quite a few more. Which means discarding some in favour of others – all worked on, written and recorded with equal passion and love. Then after much time, deliberating and inevitable arguing, they select the best tracks (or what the band/manager perceives as the ones the fans would consider so) promote it, put it in shops to buy….only to find that people aren’t buying it because they’re able to acces the ones they want for free!

So Wilson decided to let the fans and the people ‘sharing’ tracks illegally via the internet, actually get on board and be involved with the process. Their latest album ‘The Future is Medieval’ is one that can be put together by anyone that buys 10 tracks from a selection of 20. Thereby creating their own album which they can then provide a link to for others to buy. To create your own album will cost £7.50. Anyone clicking on your link who wants the same version you have created will also pay £7.50 but…you get £1 commission on every one of your version sold. You can even design your own cover!

The idea is to actually encourage fans to share the music online. It’s acceptance I suppose, that we are living in a different era. A digital one. It’s only a matter of time until you won’t have anything to actually play your shop-bought cd on anyway! Just like I can no longer play my cassette tapes!

Personally, I want to have that album in my hand. I need to open it up, appreciate the cover artwork, read inside, find out who engineered/mixed/produced the album, where they recorded etc. etc. I know – what a geek! I guess I’m just old-fashioned.

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Garage band – it’s for girls too!

I recently started using Garage Band as a quick and easy way to record some music using an acoustic guitar and microphone for vocals.  Although reluctant at first, as I don’t consider myself technically minded at all, I was pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to use.

Garage Band is a software application developed by Apple for Mac OS X and iOS.  It facilitates music and podcast recording and is compatible with both versions of the iPad….

…..and thats as technical as I’m getting!

Oh come on! You’re not interested in all that are you?  You want to be able to switch on, press record and play it back….for now anyway!

So its already installed (I am NOT telling you had to do that!) on your Apple product of choice….Mac, iPhone, whatever. Then you just select it from the menu, choose the instrument you’re using, plug in into your computer, press record and play/sing/make farm animal noises – whatever you want! When you’re done,  press stop and play it back. Not happy? Delete it  then….and go again til it’s right, then select another instrument or vocals.  Easy innit?

My experience only involves vocals and my acoustic guitar. I was shown the basics very very briefly.  However, whilst recording I started playing around with it and was very excited (I’m easily excitable :D) about how easy it was to work out more features for myself. I added backing vocals, a drum beat, keyboards….really quickly.

Other useful features include a tuner for your guitar and a metronome so you can add drums in later if you record to a ‘click track’.  I’m still playing around with it just for fun if nothing else.

I think its a great application to start with and a great bridge to using something more complex such as Pro Tools.

 

Just so you can see the potential once you get going….this guy really knows what he’s doing!

 

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Hull Talent Trail 2011 – the semi’s!

Okay…so I have to be careful how I write this lest you get the impression I am bitter or upset about the outcome.  I’m not I can assure you. However, I do think that the topic needs to be discussed as there actually were a few unhappy and confused people in attendance the night of the second semi-final of the Hull Talent Trail 2011, of which I was a participant.

So, first things first and straight to the point, I didn’t actually get through.  I was well aware that I wouldn’t though, having seen the line-up for my night.  As soon as the names were announced for my heat I trawled back through the Hull Daily Mail articles of the qualifying heats to check out the competition…as you would.  For most of  the acts there were videos available to watch.  It became apparent after watching the first the girls that it was a) a girls night and b) a cabaret/club-singer/musical theatre kind of affair.  So immediately I was concerned that I had been put in this category being the only musician playing an instrument and singing my own arrangements of fairly well known songs that were d e f i n i t e l y  n o t anything like what the other girls were doing!

The previous heat I had been in had consisted of other guitarists, a couple of people singing to backing tracks and a seven-piece band.  When I was told I had got through that round, the organiser approached me afterwards and told me I had ‘walked it’.  I should also mention that one of the three judges was a musician also who has been in bands, organised lots of live music events and could actually play an instrument so understood what’s involved in playing and singing at the same time!

So the whole time I was preparing for the semi-final heat I was constantly being reassured by my family and my boyfriend that it didn’t matter that I was an entirely different performer to the other 8 girls and that I should trust the judges.  Under normal circumstances this would be good advice right? Well that’s what we all thought.

So I turned up on the night at Inglemire Social Club prepared and not worrying too much.  Then the judges came in and were introduced.  They were, in no particular order, Kim, Mally King, Pete T, Glen and Lisa Kelsey, a cabaret singer.

 

Comments were as follows:

 

Glen:  ‘Great to see live music’, ‘Loved your voice – and the arrangements’, ‘You have real talent Claire I could listen to you all day! A very commercial sound’.

 

Pete:  ‘Lovely control’, ‘Loved the arrangement of the last two songs’.

 

Mally:  ‘Guitar played with skill’, ‘Linked songs and told us 1st song as well, not all have done that’, ‘Great vocal quality’, ‘This area seems to produce really good guitar/vocalists, Emma, Edwina, Andy, Leanne that have made it, let’s hope you follow them all the way. You have a nice touch of humour’.

 

Kim:  ‘Three easy listening songs, loved them all’, ‘Hi Claire, thanks for bringing something different to the stage tonight, loved listening to your music, lovely chill-out songs’, ‘Relaxed and confident performance’, ‘My kind of music, thanks and well done x ‘.

 

Lisa:  ‘Nice look, confident start’ (Poison Prince), ‘Very nice voice, very chilled feel to the songs’, ‘Nice contrast to all the clubland acts’, ‘Like to see you fronting a band’, ‘Very talented but lacking that bit of sparkle for me’, then she said…..of In For The Kill ‘nice version – bit long’ and of Glory Box ‘Not familiar with the song’.

 

So basically, all positive comments bar a couple of negatives from Lisa. So, as this is MY blog, I have a right to dispute these comments and will!

In For The Kill is actually my shortest song so I’m not even going to bother saying anything more on (moron) that!

As for not being ‘familiar with the song’ regarding Glory Box, well, this is also an irrelevant comment. It really doesn’t matter if that particular judge knows that particular song or not. Everyone else loved it and I’m pretty sure they weren’t ALL ‘familiar’ with it! That’s not what a talent show is about judging. All other comments about my song choices were good, including her own which seem contradictory when you read them !

The questions are did I sing it well? Did I play guitar well with it? Did you enjoy it? Do I have talent???  As for sparkle…well, don’t get me started! Hahaha. Thats was my first reaction to that comment. Sparkle?? I’m a folk/rock/pop/acoustic artist! It would have been ridiculous to add some ‘sparkle’ in a completely inappropriate way to the style of what I do!

So basically, I wasn’t what they were looking for. Fine. Having seen the other performances of the night I don’t WANT to be what they were looking for.  As I was told by a few people on the night, I could have got up there, in a sequined dress, danced about like a lunatic singing to an imaginary moon and belted out some show-tunes (this is an accurate description of what I saw that night – ask anyone that was there!)….but that’s not me. I love what I do, I love playing guitar and I love singing songs that I feel and am sincere about. Thats my style and until I want to change it that’s how it will always be.

I haven’t taken it personally, I’m more than happy with the outcome and it’s been an experience.

I think the most fitting words to finish on are those said by my boyfriend before I even went to the semis which were ‘do what you enjoy doing and don’t try to be someone else’s idea of perfect’.

P e r f i c k  

p.s.  I will be posting the songs I performed for both heats of Hull Talent Trail 2011 for your anticipated opinions for me to completely ignore! ;)

 

 

 

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Recording!

So back to much more interesting (and FUN) stuff.  M u s i c.

I’m really hoping to get some newer stuff posted up in the next couple of weeks  – maximum!  It’s easier for me if I give myself a deadline.  It will be rough recordings, nothing fancy, of just acoustic guitar and vocals.  They will be covers that I’ve been playing to an approving audience (at least that’s what they told me!) in the last couple of months, including the three tracks that got me through to the semi-finals of the Hull Talent Trail.  I’m not expecting to get past the semi’s as the competition is quite strong and I’m not even sure that my style is quite what the judges are after in this particular competition.  I’ve heard some of the others that have gotten through and there are quite a lot of very impressive vocalists!  However, it’s an experience and quite good fun really to be performing alongside people I would never normally get a chance to.

In the meantime and amidst the hassle of moving, I’ve dug out some of my ‘in progress’ work to continue writing and hopefully complete, some original tracks!  Whilst delving through that lot and trying to attain some level of semi-organisation, I came across some old diaries.  G r r r e a t  material!  Oh the drama!  It’s amazing how reading a few words written 4 or 5 years ago can invoke so many strong emotions that, even though I don’t actually feel them anymore, I certainly remember and was immediately transported back in time.  Back to times when I thought my future was written in stone.  Back to times I thought my world had ended.  Times when I used to tire of hearing ‘time heals all’ and times when I uttered to others the very same words.  A whole load of observational prose and even more personal accounts.  The overall result basically being that I’m so glad I wrote.  As therapeutic as it was and is…the main things are the valuable lessons learned.  Priceless.

 

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