Things look different from the stage, #11.

As many of you know, I’m pretty physically messed up. However, I still have obligations to myself, the band, and to our clients. As such, last Saturday I took to the stage in a wheelchair.

Rather than appeal to their sympathy, a simple thing to do, we chose a different angle and we went with, “That cripple can sure play the fuck out of that guitar.” This was actually quite successful. That shows that we’re really, really getting good at playing together as a cohesive unit – a band.

Our client was a corporate client and our performance was actually in a warehouse they’d decorated and filled with everything from a bar to a stage. We have another show scheduled with them – at the same place and for a higher fee. Why is it a higher fee? Because we’ll be lugging the stage down and setting that up.

That’s right, it’s going to be the first time we’ve officially used the stage for a show that we’re getting paid for. (We have played on the stage before. We had it setup for the 4th of July festivities, though it didn’t quite belong to me at that point.

The show as a fairly simple one. We played just two sets. Their configuration/schedule was weird and we were due to stop playing and they’d continue their party for their employees. It was not a very big show, only about 250 people were there, according to my eyeballs. They weren’t actually counted.

There was no real encore, but I played solo between sets. Getting on and off the stage was simply too long a process, so I just sat out there in my wheelchair and played for them. We ran that into a jam session, as people came back on the stage, and then we ran that into Mary Jane’s Last Dance.

That song would normally be somewhere in the middle of our setlist. Why? It is familiar but doesn’t have any strong emotional attachment. People just like it. So, that’s one that we’ll use before pushing into something that is more emotionally evocative.

We also chose to do the song then to ensure that the Eldest Hoodlum could get her stage time. Her onstage antics are amusing and the audiences eat it up. I introduce her as my guitar student and one of our sound people (though she does most of the sound work) and people are continually surprised at her ability.

One of the things we showcase is our actual talents. We take advantage of our musicianship to actually demonstrate the skills we have, not just to replicate music but to create ambiance. She fits into that quite well, because people expect her to not actually be that good.

Little do they know… She’s got the guitar in her hands for at least six hours a day, pretty much every single day. If there’s one thing to be taken away, it’s that dedication to effort does, in fact, pay off with ability. She impresses not just them, she impresses the remainder of the band and myself.

When we drew the show to a close, and our emcee work was done, I ran away and headed back to the hotel (technically camps) and settled in for the night. However, the clients had provided free food and some free drinks to the band. (I gave my drink tickets away.)

Up above, you saw me say there was no real encore. There wasn’t. After I was long gone, some of the band continued to play on – after having some food and drinks. We were supposed to pipe music for the remainder of the night, but they took to the stage and even had some of the (now intoxicated) audience members sing with them.

I’m told that was a rousing success and we’d discussed that potential going in. I wasn’t there, so I really can’t opine. They didn’t record it, so I’m not even sure how well it went – but I’m told it went very well.

That’s a good thing because, as I said, we have one more scheduled show with that same client. What we’re hoping to do is to become their regular band. We’d like to be their band. They pay our fees without complaint and in a timely manner. They’re easy shows. They’re not very demanding and say things like, “I’m sure you know what best to perform.”

What’s not to like?

There was a previous band that did most of their work. They broke up and that’s how we ended up with the show. The world of performing musicians is pretty small, so being recommended to fill the roll is not really surprising. That and we’re pretty niche and exactly the type of band they want performing.

EH wants to learn enough to be able to sit an entire setlist. That’s a daunting task and would mean we’d have to create a setlist that suited her ability. We’ve not yet discussed that in great detail, but it may be something we do. I’m pretty sure she can do the work. She’s reached the stage where many techniques are available to her, but she’s at the stage where learning to use them and make faithful replications takes a significant amount of time and effort.

We shall see!

In a related note, the missus has complained less about going to do the sound. My guess is that she’s worried about my physical health and that she wants to keep an eye on me. I’m happy to have her there and I’m glad she’s concerned about my well-being. It’s nice to have someone who cares and I’m blessed with quite a few folks who care.

And, I’d also like to take a minute to thank all the people who have expressed interest and wished me a speedy recovery and good health. Thank you. The vast majority seemed sincere and that’s not something I think most people expect at the sites I tend to frequent. You online people are very valuable to me. I appreciate your readership, attention, and emotions.

That said, I’m going to bring this to a close. I will not be submitting this. I will not be posting it as a shared link. However… You’re certainly free to do so. In fact, I encourage you to do so. I don’t do so because I can’t commit to being there to answer responses today. But, if you’d like to share it – please do. I’m guessing other people would like to read it. Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

(Also, I didn’t even remotely proofread this. It’s probably riddled with errors, but it is what it is. I’m slowly starting to get into a mindset where I’m willing to write. Please be patient with me and my activity will resume and become more frequent – hopefully.)

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Ol’ Buddha Goes on a Quest…

So…

I have found a pipe organ in a secular facility. Today, my quest begins. Without further introduction:

Title:

They tell me that I’m sane. You’ll see why that’s important.

Message Body:

This is going to be long. This is going to be very long. I’m also serious. I’m very serious. This is a serious matter!

You have been warned.

It should also be known that I’m not even a little sorry for what I’m about to do.

For reasons that are too long to get into, I sent a hoard of people on a quest to find me a pipe organ, preferably in a secular facility. Your name came back on the list.

I should probably start at the beginning.

Because I will be publishing this, I will simply say that my name is David G. I’m an accomplished guitarist, old and retired, and have a dream. (I also have money, if that helps.)

Seriously, I’m pretty good. I’m not very famous for playing guitar, but I have performed for many, many people – mostly drunk people. Pretty sweet, huh?

Except, I play guitar like this:
https://instaud.io/2ew4

Told ya, I ain’t even a little kidding. I can play a guitar.

Alas, most of my career has been me playing music such as this:
https://instaud.io/26oi

See? Wasn’t kidding. I can play the snot out of a guitar. I’ve been at it for almost 5 decades.

Let’s see…

Sadly, musicians make very little money – as a general rule. So, my actual real career was that of a mathematician but I’ve given up my heathen ways and mostly concentrate on music, now that I’m retired.

I think those all go in the plus column!

I have played a piano. I have taken formal piano lessons. I have even played *at* an organ in a church, multiple times. (I can’t believe they let me do such things! I’ve even been asked to ring the bell. Pretty awesome, huh?)

I’m the kinda guy who can’t walk past a music store without window shopping. I can’t see an instrument and not want to touch it. Some fuzzy memories tell me that I’m probably kicked out of at least two museums for just such a thing!

So, now that you know a little about me… Let’s move on!

I have zero idea how to play a pipe organ. None.

Let’s just get that little detail right out of the way.

Frankly, I hardly think that should matter!

See, I’m 99.9% confident (trust me, I’m a mathematician) that being allowed to play a pipe organ is pretty much the best day ever.

That’s right. I’m on to your little secret. I know darned well that playing a pipe organ has to be pretty much the most awesome thing on the planet. You’re not fooling me any.

I want in.

Not for long, but I’d like a four hour block of time and probably should have someone there to tell me what not to do.

I will give you money. I will even pay someone to stand there and not yell at me too much while I struggle to play the merry tune of my people.

Frankly, the sheer volume of air that you folks move is inspiring. I have actually met people who don’t understand when I say, “Man, I want to play a pipe organ.” They’re just not good people. No, they are not good people.

I will not break your pipe organ and I will follow instructions. I will even wear my pants!

Umm… I might also have a small camera crew and I’ll ask them nicely to wear their pants.

Moving on…

No, I don’t have anything specific to play. Like I said, I don’t even know how to play a pipe organ. Not a clue, but it has stops, pedals, and a keyboard. I know enough music theory and I’ve played a whole variety of instruments.

Heck, I’ve played a grand harp before! That’s right, it was even a pedal harp. (It lets you cheat and once you know where middle C is, you can play anything!)

I know some music theory… Yeah… I ain’t scared of your pipe organ – but I will respect it.

I’d absolutely love to come play your pipe organ. I’m telling you, it’ll be a good time. I’d love it if you even had an audience there. That’d sweeten the deal! (We may need to chain them in, but once again I remind you that I’m not scared.)

I guess my ultimate question is, can I play your pipe organ? I promise to behave.

If the answer is no, my next question is can I bribe you and play your pipe organ? I have a few bucks.

If it’s still no, my next question is if it will help if I pretend I have cancer and that I’m from the Make-A-Wish Foundation? (Trust me, I can come up with these all day long.)

I have the entire month of January off and I’m not actually sure what I’m going to do with it. I’m pretty sure playing a pipe organ should be on the list of things to do! Anyone who doesn’t have “play a pipe organ” on their list of things to do is just broken inside.

Thank you in advance! If you need more examples of my playing merry tunes, you go ahead and ask! I’ll send ’em along! Somewhere around here, I have me playing every instrument for Rush’s XYZ, but I didn’t think you’d necessarily appreciate that.

I’m on a mission. You’ll be jealous. You’ll see.  I shall update you with any news!

Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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Throat Singing – The Mongolian way

Throat-singing, also called overtone-singing, is a range of singing styles in which a single vocalist sounds more than one pitch simultaneously by reinforcing certain harmonics (overtones and undertones) of the fundamental pitch. In some styles, harmonic melodies are sounded above a fundamental vocal drone.

Originally called overtone-singing in Western scholarly literature, the identification by acoustical researchers of the presence of harmonics below the vocal drone in the deep, guttural styles, as well as overtones in the more melodic styles led to adoption of the term throat-singing (a translation of the Mongolian term höömei).

Throat-singing necessitates activating different combinations of muscles to manipulate the resonating chambers of the vocal tract under sustained pressurized airflow from the stomach and chest. As with operatic singing, the technique requires years of training to master.

Throat-singers usually accompany themselves on the distinctive Inner Asian fiddle, with its pegboard often carved in the shape of a horse’s head. For an epic-narrative performance, however, the fiddle is replaced with a two-stringed plucked lute or a long board-zither. In the past, throat-singing was performed by men in ritual contexts.


Picture from: NIU Mongolian Throat Singer Brings Sounds Of Nature To Retirement Center

Female performance of throat-singing was thought to cause infertility or to bring misfortune on the performers’ menfolk for seven generations. Since the late 20th century, however, a number of female musicians have begun to challenge those taboos.

Here is an example of Mongolian Throat Singing.

Tuvan Throat Singing

To start the throat singing journey they would encourage you to start with Khöömii, basic – begin by producing a long, steady note with an open, relaxed mouth and throat. By altering lip and tongue positions to say vowels, “oooo… ohhh…. ayyy…. ahhh….. eeee….”, you will hear different overtones in ascending pitch. Cupping a hand to your ear may help you to identify these initially. Maintain one tone as you tighten your throat and stomach muscles slightly. If you choke, try a lower fundamental.

If you begin coughing, go into this tightening over a period of time to avoid damage to your voice. Hard coughing is punishing to the vocal cords…

You should now be making “electronic” sounding vowels. If any of these are extended with subtle changes to the tongue, lips, or jaw (changing one element at a time as in any controlled experiment), separate overtones will gain definition. The sounds you create are feedback leading to finer mouth control.

It may be difficult to sort out the overtones created by each position. Discover them as you work out a scale above one steady fundamental. Eventually simple melodies will emerge within a limited range. As you consciously create melody, avoid the temptation to alter the fundamental. This is basic Khöömii.

By now you should have picked up that Khöömii is steeped in Mongolian culture with origins in Shamanism (Mongolia’s national religion) and many songs are dedicated to Genghis Khan himself.

Interestingly enough the kids and I are currently learning about Mongolia and Genghis Khan and one of the stories I stumbled upon is definitely worth sharing.

In The Book of Virtues (Great book btw!) I found this story about Genghis Khan, his merry party of hunters and his favorite hawk.

This hawk was a trained hunter and at a word would fly high up into the air, and look around for prey, and if found, would swoop down upon it swiftly as any arrow.

So after a very long day filled with no success, his party took the nearest way home and Genghis went searching by a longer road for a drink.
His pet hawk left his wrist and flew away, knowing how to get home on his own.
The king searched but the hot days of summer had dried up all the mountain brooks.

At last, he found some water trickling down over the edge of a rock. He knew that there was a spring farther up. In the wet season, a swift stream of water always poured down here; but now it came only one drop at a time.
The king leaped from his horse and took a little silver cup from his hunting bag. He held it so as to catch the slowly falling drops.

It took a long time to fill the cup; and the king was so thirsty that he could hardly wait. At last it was nearly full. He put the cup to his lips, and was about to drink.

All at once there was a whirring sound in the air, and the cup was knocked from his hands. The water was all spilled upon the ground.

The king looked up to see who had done this thing. It was his pet hawk. The hawk flew back and forth a few times, and then alighted among the rocks by the spring.

The king picked up the cup, and again held it to catch the trickling drops and this time he did not wait so long.
When the cup was half full, he lifted it toward his mouth but before it had touched his lips, the hawk swooped down again, and knocked it from his hands.

And now the king began to grow angry and tried again, and for the third time the hawk kept him from drinking.The king was now very angry indeed!

“How do you dare to act so?” he cried. “If I had you in my hands, I would wring your neck!”

Then he filled his cup again. But before he tried to drink, he drew his sword.
“Now, Sir Hawk,” he said, “that is the last time.”

He had hardly spoken before the hawk swooped down and knocked the cup from his hand but the king was looking for this.
With a quick sweep of the sword he struck the bird as it passed.
The next moment the poor hawk lay bleeding and dying at its master’s feet.

“That is what you get for your pains,” said Genghis Khan.
When he started looking for his cup, he couldn’t find it.

“At any rate, I will have a drink from that spring,” he said to himself.
With determination he began climbing the steep bank to the place from which the water trickled. It was hard work, and the higher he climbed, the thirstier he became.

 At last he reached the place. There indeed was a pool of water; but what was that lying in the pool, and almost filling it?
It was a huge, dead snake of the most poisonous kind!

The king stopped as he forgot his thirst. He thought only of the poor dead bird lying on the ground below him.
“The hawk saved my life!” he cried, “and how did I repay him? He was my best friend, and I have killed him.” 

He clambered down the bank. He took the bird up gently, and laid it in his hunting bag. Then he mounted his horse and rode swiftly home.
He said to himself, “I have learned a sad lesson today, and that is, never to do anything in anger.”

Rewritten: By Nadeshda
Source: The Book of Virtues

So what does this story have to do with Mongolian Throat singing? Well not much really but it’s a good story none the less and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Obviously getting angry and cutting up your friends is never a good idea and we already know that you shouldn’t shout as this will stretch and damage your vocal chords.
If you are still curious and want to learn Mongolian Throat singing, here is a fun video on how to practice throat singing in a super easy way.

I think you will enjoy watching this guy!

How to do Mongolian Throat. (Tuvan / Tibetan / Didgeridoo)

Until next time, keep the song alive and make a joyful sound!

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Another unofficial view from the stage…

David the Tree Trimmer has received no new emails. I think they finally realized that I am not, in fact, the person they should be calling if they want to have their trees trimmed safely.

Well, not if they’re sane…

If they’re not sane, I’m pretty much exactly the person they want to have chopping down their trees! With that many skee ball tickets, I can buy the missus soooooooo many spider rings! So many! I can probably even get her some temporary tattoos and they have a much coveted switchblade comb!

I’m not sure if it’s my lack of skee ball skills or if it’s that I give most of my tickets away to any kids that happen to be in there – but I never seem to have enough for the switchblade comb. It’s one of many holes in my life and, one of these days, it’s going to be mine! And probably some snap bracelets with skulls on ’em! Gonna earn ’em with my new tree trimming business! You’ll be so jealous of my snap bracelets.

Moving on, lest we get too deep into absurdity…

I am pretty sure my spleen didn’t rupture in my sleep. I actually don’t feel too shitty today. I suspect that’s the double dose of opiates, but we’re gonna pretend that’s from keeping a healthy diet and getting lots of rest.

Man, those two or three people who wished for my untimely demise are gonna be so disappointed! That’s okay, they’ll still be sad when I’m dead!

Moving on again, lest I take that one too far into absurdity…

Today, I am in a band. Ain’t nobody even going to remember the name of the band, who I am, or even what we played. Strangely, there will be lots of people – but they’ll be there early and enjoying the day, waiting for the more popular acts to come on later. But… That’s actually a good thing. In fact, it has a great deal of potential!

It’s a very, very short show – but they agreed to our rates, no questions asked. A lot of times, they’ll say that they’re only paying x-amount. That’s not an option with us. My band makes x-amount, no exceptions – and it only goes up from there.

I don’t do shit for exposure and the band is no longer in a position where getting gigs is difficult. I’m pretty sure I can get a twice-a-month, maybe more frequent, show at a venue that I like.They absolutely love us in Greenville.

They’ve asked, multiple times, if we’d be interested in being much the same as what one might call a ‘house band.’ Except, we’d come in for one weekend night and cause permanent hearing loss. They really, really like us there.

Twice a month means the band can actually eat. Every weekend means they’d live very well for musicians in Maine. Twice a month and other gigs, and then doing four to six yearly shows at rented halls? That means they’d live very nicely in Maine. (Assuming we can put asses in those seats. I won’t know until next year. With the project now pushed out even longer, I get to be even more selective and careful with our image.)

So, today’s gig is just a very short one. We’re not even allowed to play an encore. As we wind down, the second stage turns on. There’s a very small chance that the band that follows us has some mishap and we’ll be asked to extend our set. The best part? If we get to play an encore, it will mean they’ve asked us to play more than what we agreed to – and the contract says they’ll give us extra money.

Damned right, I’m in it for the money. If you go way back to the very start, you’ll see this and understand why. My involvement with this project has not a damned thing to do with “art.”

Nope… My involvement with this project is so that I can mentor a younger generation and give them the tools to make their living exclusively from their musicianship. It has never been about anything else. It will never be about anything else. The rest of it is just gravy. At the end of the day, my goal is to teach them how to get paid.

The missus is not going to this one. She hates doing this work. Dunno why? It’s pretty awesome! Her reasons boil down to, “I don’t do anything but push the buttons you folks told me to push and push them on time. EH does most of the work anyhow.” She mostly drinks coffee and glares menacingly at drunks.

We really do need someone better on sound and that’s actually maybe going to happen – but, for now, it’s good for the eldest hoodlum to learn and know what’s going on out there. Sound can make or break you. A performing musician should have a good understanding of what they do and why they do it.

I’ll elaborate on that ‘maybe going to happen‘ when I know more. I’ve had one meeting with a sound engineer and he has a project he’s working on. It’s supposed to wrap up just prior to the holiday season. He’s young and works for a radio station – but he’s actually a qualified sound engineer and finished college. It’s also an old-school radio station, so he’s got his hands on the board with great frequency.

The funny thing is, he’s probably less expensive than the missus and today can actually help teach the eldest hoodlum what the hell (and the why of what) she’s doing. She does just fine – but she’s doing fine because she’s following rote directions. “Bring up mics three, four, and six at this cue.” Or, “Cue song 12 and press this button on the laptop. Move sliders two and eight …” etc…

But… See… The good news is that the missus isn’t coming. She’ll be out of the way!

I should probably elaborate! She doesn’t read the site, but she might start! It’s really actually a good thing that she’s not coming.

See, even though there are two stages, there’s only one booth for sound. Inside that tent will be a dozen people, maybe more. They’ll be doing the sound for the other bands. They will have lots of downtime and they’re probably (don’t really know) pretty good at their job.

I know some of them will be very adept and will be using similar kit. Not only that, some of them will be using much better gear and some of them will be using much older gear – which means a vast array of different understandings.

See, here’s the thing… I can’t teach her to do sound on my own. I don’t have those skills. Most of what she knows thus far comes from the band members – who are more familiar with the more modern equipment than I am. I’m 100% positive that our gear does things we don’t even know how to use. There are buttons that I don’t actually understand.

I don’t actually know how to do the sound. ‘Snot my job and I was retired for a decade. Much of our setup is digital and there are ports to hook up everything from laptops to mass storage devices. I know what most of the knobs and sliders should do but I have not so much as done more than poke at it until someone shooed me away before I broke something. (I do love me some button pushing.)

I know what they do out there in sound. I have no idea how exactly they do it. None. I can go out and listen during soundcheck, and tell them that something is off – but I don’t know how to actually fix it. ‘Snot my job to know. That’s distinctly not on the List Of Shit TheBuddha Is Obligated To Do©.

All of these things combined means she’s going to get some very, very good exposure to some very talented people. I’ve even cheated. She’s written a list of questions and she’s going to try to get answers to them from the other people doing sound. She’s not just tasked with our sound, she’s also tasked with observing and asking questions.

Ha! I didn’t even ask permission for this! She’s an attractive young lady and has already grown tits! We all know damned well they’ll be stumbling over themselves to help her. Shit, she could stand there and play dumb – and they’ll do it for her. She’s got tits. That’s how that works!

Ah, life lessons with TheBuddha… (Ed. Note: It’s not like I was actually gonna get syndicated by Rolling Stone magazine anyhow!)

However, she’s not allowed to rely on her tits and looks. She has to do the work herself and she has to learn from them. I’ll speak with them and let them know my plan and I’m 100% positive that I’ll get buy-in, ’cause we’re all in the same industry.

I’ve explored a lot of different industries, and I have to say that the subset of the entertainment industry that is performing musicians is probably one of the most helpful. You may think it unusual for me to be so confident that she’ll get help – but the truth is that she’d get help, even if she were an aging fat guy with bad teeth and body odor.

I’ve not only been the guy who had some guitarist ‘show me something, real quick’ backstage, but I’ve been the guy who did the showing. I’ve helped other bands do their setup. I’ve opened for acts and had their guitar tech come help me out in a rush. I’ve had their sound fill in for our sound. The list goes on…

I have handed someone one of my guitars and said, “Use this.” Their guitar had been in a bit of an accident and I don’t recollect the details but the result was that the neck was broken. I’ve even just let people borrow one, because they wanted to try it on stage.

It’s sometimes easier/faster to just let the next band use some of your gear – but that’s not really why we do it. We do it because we understand. We do it because we know what it’s like to have malfunctioning gear, sound that didn’t even consider showing up, or troubles due to inexperience. We do it because, at the end of the day, we’re all a part of a very small group of people with similar interests and goals.

Other than a few large acts, and those are probably for publicity, we actually are pretty helpful to each other. The number of people who make their living from their musicianship is vanishingly small. We know this. We end up having some sense of kinship. I won’t say we’re like a giant (dysfunctional) family, but we certainly have some bonds.

Anywhere I go, anywhere on the planet, I can find musicians. Everywhere I go, this is almost universally true. I’ve played guitars handed to me by people with whom I didn’t even share a spoken language. I’ve done the same in reverse. I have jammed on borrowed equipment and with people that spoke a language I don’t understand – sometimes playing music I’ve never heard before, and returning the experience by playing/showing them music that they’d never heard before. The only language we shared was music.

Which is to say, she’ll get a good education today. If I’m feeling well enough, I’ll extend our time there. I’m pretty much only obligated to be there for about two hours. I may extend our time at the venue, just so she can learn more. It depends on my physical condition and it depends on how much she appears to be learning.

If I can get her some time on other boards (unlikely, but possible) that’d be worth any physical discomfort I may have. Worst case scenario means I get a chair or leave her with one of the band members to supervise her and get her home safely.

I’m pretty excited about that. She’s pretty excited about that. She’s got a whole list of questions and a notebook. I had her write the questions out over the week and they look like good questions to me. Don’t really know if they’re good questions – because that’s not my domain. Ol’ Buddha isn’t actually an expert in everything. I have limitations and I try to know those limits.

Because the other sound folk’s (not all are actually qualified to be called sound engineers) time is valuable, I had her try to answer two questions for each question on the list. For every question she wants to ask, she must ask herself two things:

  • Have you tried to answer these questions yourself?
  • Do these questions have likely answers that will help further your understanding?

So, they’re probably good questions and worth trying to get answers to – if she’s able to answer affirmative to both. There’s no reason to not take advantage of the situation and it’s potentially a very, very educational setting. The experience has a wealth of potential.

Anyhow… That’s another view from the stage. I’d write more but I have shit to do. I think I’ll actually submit this today, as I have another few hours before I have to leave. Still, those are some of the things we think about, some of our concerns, some of our goals, and some of the experiences we have.

It’s quite different than I find most people expect and trying to share those experiences is the point of this series. This series is predicated on trying to show you what it’s really like from our eyes, what we experience, and maybe explain why we do some of the things that we do. Y’all seem to enjoy ’em and I’m happy to put them down in text. My giant ego says they’ll someday be important!

Finally, this is the last outdoor show of the year. Winter is rapidly approaching and there’s not many outdoor shows in the winter. There is one that I know of but I haven’t gotten us into it yet. I’m working on it – ’cause I can bribe them with a stage. That’s not until 2019, however.

They do it every year (it’s a winter festival) and bring in a giant rented stage and a bunch of heaters. I just so happen to have a stage, a few heaters, and know the members of the board that make such decisions! ‘Snot nepotism if we’re not related! (Ed Note: Yes, yes it is. I looked up the definition, just to be sure. Guilty as charged. Don’t care.)

I’ve been trying to get into that show, but it looks like this year’s lineup is already selected and all the contracts signed. It’s nice to be in a position where we’re selective about gigs! It’s also nice to know people who can help us get into the kinds of venues/events that we are aiming for.

I do know that said show pays exceptionally well. They have a set payment, even for the headline act, and pay absolutely no more than that – but it’s a very, very nice amount. (I know, ’cause I know the organizers! I told you, I’ve got friends in low places!)

Every music act makes exactly the same amount and only the same amount. It’s paid for by local businesses, donations, and proceeds from the year before. They have snowmobile races, snow sculpture contests, delicious food, and even have snowmobiles doing flips in the air and stuff! (No monster trucks, however.) So, I’d like to play that festival! What kinda weirdo wouldn’t want to play that festival?!?

I’ve made this article long enough. I guess I’ll submit it – ’cause I’m pretty much ready to go. I need only carry a duffel bag and garment bag to the car. The hoodlum will take care of the rest. She’s even packed her guitar saying, “Just in case I need it!”

Gotta admit, an emergency guitar is probably sound logic – though she’s not getting any stage time today. I’ll giggle if she cons her way onto another band’s stage. I could see her trying that. She really seems to love her stage time.

I doubt she’ll be able to, but I could see her trying it. In fact, I’d say that’s a very low probability event. Sure, you might scoff – but you what you should be doing is taking a lesson. See… What she’d be doing is keeping the dream alive and working towards her goals, even though the odds are against her. 😉 (I’m a horrible influence.) Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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My symptoms have been narrowed down to the plague…

I tried rest. I tried well-wishes, ’cause I got a lot of those. I tried wine, which was a remarkably good choice for a while. I have tried juice, tea, so many showers, and maybe even a few drugs not actually prescribed by a doctor.

Because there are questions about my bowels (not kidding), I shall inform you that they have returned to normal. I appear to have just a head cold and a cough, complicated with ague and general malaise.

After reading between the lines at Wikipedia and WebMD, I’ve diagnosed myself with the plague.

The good news is that, assuming I survive, I’ll become immune to this particular plague strain. If not, I hope it leaves gnarly bone scars and archeologists dig up my bones and vindicate my theory 1000 years from now!

So, you’re not getting anything special today. Nope… Ain’t happening.

I’ll ramble for a little while. I won’t actually be submitting this one, either. You can submit ’em anywhere you want, or not at all. I give no shits. I will not be obligating myself to respond today. Ain’t happening. I’ve got the plague!

I haven’t touched a guitar, not even to bring them in the house, since Friday. Strangely, my fingers don’t itch and I’m not pissy about it. I’ve played guitar while I was sick or injured. So, it’s a wee bit odd to not feel those itchy fingers yet.

I think I’m just going to offer you a dire warning – but it’s not a warning about the plague. It’s topical…

I’ve had a few comments and questions lately that have led to me trying to explain to them that I have, in fact, lost some of the joy that I used to get when I listen to music.

Much of my music listening consists of critical evaluation of the piece. Much of my listening is with a purpose, such as to gain increased familiarity with the piece. Some of it is evaluation as a piece for replication. It’s not really fun. It’s the cost of entering the field.

It’s also kinda amazing to how many people link me to videos I already know. Yesterday, or the day before, someone linked me to a popular 50s song, as though it was a song I was unfamiliar with. It was one of the rare times I followed someone’s link! I berated them. The name would have been adequate.

So, I don’t always get the joy I used to get. I find that listening to music, most frequently if it’s new, is a chore. I often get people who ask what I think of a certain piece – which turns it into work.

I don’t mind, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not the joy that it used to be. It hasn’t been, for years.

Once upon a time, one of my favorite things to do was to get a brand new album and listen to it, end to end – and over and over. That’s pretty much torture today.

It gets worse, too! The people who live in my house ALL seem to get constant ear-worms. The missus will play a song – 100 times! She’s not doing it to learn it, she’s doing it to satisfy her ear-worm. I assume it can’t be helped and the worm must be sated, ’cause it just sorta happens to some people.

Let’s see… This is pretty short and I’ve finally gotten a call back and will be able to see a physician today. If you remember my Lessons for Performing Musicians, you’ll remember that it’s important to keep yourself healthy. The public is disease ridden – and they want to get close to you. You will get sick.

So, as this is far too short…

I bet not one person even offers to drive me to the doctor’s office. Instead, I bet they all want to come with me – and have me make a half-dozen stops along the way. They’re probably plague carriers.

Meh… I’m gonna stop at the chainsaw store. That’s right… Where I live, we have stores dedicated to stuff like chainsaws! That’s pretty much the best day ever, right there.

I can’t believe you’re still reading… Sheesh… You have no taste. None! You should actually be ashamed of yourself!

Anyhow, the next bit I was thinking about putting into words was a bit that comes from a conversation with a wonderful contributor.

No… You’re not normal…

Normal people don’t think that life would be fucking awesome if it were just like a musical.

Normal people do not, in  fact, randomly break out into song – as the moment strikes them, and often at inappropriate times.

Normal people don’t dedicate large portions of their lives to actually understanding music. They’re passive listeners – not active listeners.

Normal people only see music as a small part of their lives – even if they listen to music all the time.

Normal people don’t spend countless hours looking into the specifications of music-related gear.

Normal people don’t dedicate giant chunks of their time to learning to play an instrument with any degree of proficiency – if they do, they stop by the time they’re 20, as usually about the second year of college or life kills that for them.

Normal people don’t give up fun activities to get tones they’re not satisfied with from a musical instrument. They don’t put that work in – they’re sane!

You’re not fucking normal! None of you are.

No, there is no ‘everybody else’ that thinks like you do. You’re a tiny subset of a very large population. The numbers dwindle even faster when you decide to try to make a living from your musicianship. That’s probably ’cause it’s insane to do so.

You’re not normal. Get that nonsense right out of your head.

“I have lots of musical friends!” You might exclaim.

“I have a little something called data and your first major flaw is called selection bias!” I’d almost certainly retort, possibly with a punctuation about the sexual prowess of your mother.

You’re not even remotely normal. You’re not much more than a statistical term known as a ‘margin of error.’ There are probably more people with herpes than there are serious musicians. There are probably more full-limb amputees than there are serious musicians.

You are free to decide if that makes you special or if it makes you insane – or possibly both. Either way, it’s not normal. No. Beside, I know some of you. I’ve known lots of musicians. You’re not fucking normal. You should also probably see a damned therapist, the whole lot of you!

Alright…

I’m pretty sure that’s all your getting today. I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for stepping up and offering to write an article so that TheBuddha could die in peace. Oh, wait… That’s none of you! Ungrateful heathens. You’re gonna miss me when I’m dead, you’ll see.

Listen carefully – it’s got an organ in it! (It’s probably a Hammond! Until next time…

Don’t even think about playing me a song. No, not even quietly.

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Quirky things Singers do?

So this weekend I had a show and noticed that most of the drinks had ice in them as I sipped away at it, I felt my throat tighten up. Silly me, I had just warmed up my voice and then cooled it down within a few minutes sipping a nice refreshing cool drink. Blegh, but thankfully I spotted some hot tea and a nice cup of tea saved the day!

I do enjoy teas of many kinds but please note that Green Tea isn’t that good for singing. Don’t get me wrong, I love Green Tea but it has a drying effect that reduces the lubrication around your vocal folds. It can make you more susceptible to developing things like a sore throat or even a vocal node. 

Drinking Green Tea is just fine on the day when you are NOT singing though.

As I was driving home earlier today I started thinking about this and generally about singers and what they do or don’t do before singing. I often achieve some of it but rarely all. Just knowing about them helps me to understand why my voice is sounding a certain way and what can I do better next time.

I haven’t had much time this week but I thought you may enjoy looking at some of these quirky habits with me even though I cannot cover all of it in one article the obvious point being;

Certain things you do, or don’t do, will hinder OR help the tone of your voice.

I digress but one of my quirky habits, highlighted in a conversation with the thebuddha the other day was that I collect scarves. Not a silly amount of them, I don’t think I ever have more then 10, but I wear them to protect my voice from cold drafts and they keep my vocal chords warm and ready.

Obviously, it’s best for colder weather but a silky-soft scarf that can you can tuck into your bag is ideal in a high AC environment, before a gig and after your warm-up. Now please, if it doesn’t suit your disposition or “aesthetics” don’t go buying a silk scarf just because I said so, okay?

YOU need to find your own groove and not follow everything you read on the internet, just know your voice, know what effects it and follow the best route for you.

On that note, here are some points to consider and get you thinking about what could help you get a better result.

  1. STEAM IT UP ! Yes, get a steamer to pass warm steam over the vocal chords before and even after a gig as it produces a healing effect. If your throat feels scratchy and sounds groggy, get it warm.
  2. SHUT UP ! When you are performing a lot, you need to make time to be quiet before and after the show and NEVER yell or scream outside your performance, if you can help it.

  3. AVOID CERTAIN DRINKS: Mucous producing foods such as dairy, stimulants such as caffeine and spicy foods, soft drinks, refined sugars, chocolate and iced drinks all effect the sound of your voice. LOVE THE TONE, skip the food and drinks that irritate your vocal folds.

HOLD ON! Sometimes these things just cannot be helped especially if you are like me and end up running around super busy and thirsty or hungry and you grab what you can, when you can.

This brings me nicely to point number four…

  1. DON’T WORRY: Just relax breath in deeply through your nose to your toes. Slowly exhale for as long as possible through your mouth. It’s going to be okay! Relaxing and knowing your voice will help you to naturally figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Now DON’T SKIP the warm up and go sing your heart out !

My next point will offer a counter complimentary melody to theBuddha who has graciously provided me with a space here to blabber away about something I love.

Obviously he is going to  tell you to “Shut up and play him a song”! so when you are done with that…

  1. SHUT UP AND SING ME A SONG !

Sorry I missed my early segment of writing today but I really enjoyed writing it now and I hope you enjoyed reading it too.

If in doubt just read Point Number Five again and have a holler of a day!

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Lessons about Performing #blahblahblah: Set lists!

‘Snot that I’ve really stopped my lessons for performing musicians so much as I’ve just kinda mashed ’em into a pile of gibberish and stopped numbering them or even organizing them into a remotely usable fashion!

You’re welcome!

Today’s article really belongs under that heading and I’ve been meaning to write this for quite a while.

Yup… I’ve mulled this over countless times.

Unfortunately, one word for you. Weed.

Well, two words. Weed and time management. I told someone that I’d been planning on writing this one and that I’d try to get to it. So, today’s that day. ‘Snot gonna be good, coherent, or even useful – but it might be fun!

Yup. I’m pretty sure that’s all the intro this needs!
Continue reading “Lessons about Performing #blahblahblah: Set lists!”

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Resonating Sound and the Voice – Part Deux

(Ed. Note: This is submitted by Nadeshda. Be sure to give her a rousing round of applause and express your gratitude! It’s much better than the article you were gonna get today!)

SO here we are again, singing and chilling like we mean it , well you better be. Get your favorite beverage, take a couple of sips and let us start talking about this singing business again.

You may wonder how I got involved in all of this, it was through a regular Friday night meet-up discussion about instruments and all things musical. One day I bravely shared some of my vocals and people enjoyed it. This started my involvement with sharing, teaching and learning about ‘How to Sing’ on playguitar. Also, theBuddha asked me too and he is very inspiring and good at getting people busy with all sorts of fun stuff while being excellent at what he does ! (Ed. Note: Damned right!)

Let me get another cup of coffee and while I do that listen to a song I wrote and shared with some of my friends. Shhh, I didn’t warm-up properly for the song but still managed some good tone, I wonder why?

Another Day by Nadeshda

So this phone recording came out okay and I think that years of proper training and proper breathing allowed me to do the sneaky recordings. I shouldn’t but some of these things we will be working through will become second nature to you and sometimes when you are caught in a last minute affair you will sound okay but let’s learn the basics first before cutting any corners, m’kay.

I have sung  in choirs since being a wee lass and swimming since I have been three years old, so breathing properly has always been drilled into me somehow and singing lessons to wazoo has filled my brain with endless information that honestly, sometimes I forget.

I am hoping this series helps me to remember and blesses you in the process.
We really shouldn’t sing without warming up our voices correctly so let’s get on with the lesson.
So without further waffling let us look at:

Resonance

What is it and how can I get it to sound good? This is the question today.

We know it when we hear it and sometimes we feel it on the inside but what is it really ?
I can safely say that it is volume of sound, easy listening and it lingers. We find it in ALL instruments.

What part of our body does the resonating? 

The Vocal Tract which is a container of air and has an opening called the mouth. We know the power source of singing is the ribs, diaphragm and the lungs which in turn push the air through the vocal fold into the Vocal Tract to form sweet, sweet sounds when all things are working together beautifully.

SILLY FACT: The average length of a vocal tract for males is about 17 cm and 14 cm for females.

The shape of the tract helps to solidly the sound and tone and the following video illustrates it perfectly while synthesizing vowels on a 3D MRI. The stereolithography (Rapid Prototyping) produces glottal waves using a Rosenberg-Klatt waveform with 1/f fluctuation of its cycle. Male and female models were used to produce the vowels.

Vocal Tract Model Synthesis Video

So how do I get better Resonance?

I am so glad you ask these wonderful questions as I am going to give you some homework and you will enjoy the results.

Let’s wake up that sweet, sweet sound!

Try the following exercise and repeat until you notice a difference. When you are done, sing a song you are comfortable with.

  • Open your mouth and take a breath through your nose and with a basic speaking volume, sustain a comfortable mid-range pitch, through an “NG” tongue position.

To help you find this tongue position, say the word “Sing” and maintain the tongue position of the “NG”. The back of your tongue will lightly close with your soft palate. Keep the tip of your tongue resting against the back of your bottom teeth. Feel the sound vibration vibrate along the roof of your mouth and under your nose.

2) Do this a couple of times using medium volume and try producing different sounds after your beautiful “NG” sound. Here we go…!

  1. NG-EE (Mean)
  2. NG-EH (Hen)
  3. NG-UH (The)
  4. NG-I (Him)
  5. NG-A (Same)
  6. NG-AA (Apple)During the last two vowels (below), DO NOT shape your lips for the sound. Your mouth should only move a wee bit, just let it flow and let the sound naturally resonate in your mouth. Try these too…
  • NG-OH (Moan)
  • NG-Ooo (Moon)

You are doing great! Congratulations you have completed your second singing lesson; now shut up and go sing me a song!

Comment if you notice a difference in resonance, tone and sound.

Happy Singing!

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Things look different from the stage #10: You’ll spend an inordinate amount of time primping and preening.

I guess it’s a matter of perspective. I’ll let you decide!

From one point of view, I’ve been doing a horrible, horrible job at time management.

From another point of view, I’m clinically retarded and keep obligating myself to more and more things.

As such, I’m pretty damned busy.

In my defense, I’m busy doing things that I enjoy.

It’s a whole lot of work to make every day the best day ever. Like, seriously… It’s a ton of work. This is the dumbest retirement on the planet.

This morning, the missus said to me, “You’ve spent just over two and a half hours getting ready, and you’re not done!” Then she laughed at me.

I said, “No, I did’t.”

She said, “I timed you.”

I said, “Damn it!” Frustrated with the wealth of truth and damnation (but mostly the evidence) in that revelation, I followed that up with something like, “Should you be in bed?”

Which is when she laughed and said she was up ’cause it’s funny to watch me get ready for a show.

What I’m about to say next is pretty gender specific. You’ll get over it.

If you get your knickers in a wad easily, fuck off. I don’t really care and you’re not in a position of authority over me. You can suck my dick.

Well now… I’m so leaving that in there.

You menfolk may not really understand what I’m about to say.

You ladies will probably understand.

Still here? Good.

Bear with me and unwad your bloomers.

Allow me to explain.

(It’s not gonna help. Not even one bit. I’m so gonna run with this.)

I’ve stuck my dick in a lot of women. Like, unbelievable numbers of women.

I’ve lived with countless men.

In other words, I’ve observed a whole lot of people!

On average, and in my observation, women preen more than men.

The only men who preen more often that than the majority of women are United States Marines, performers, and people getting ready for a Pride Parade.

(If you’re in a hole, keep digging!)

So, ladies, this one’s for you! (Ed. Note: TheBuddha has been sacked.)
Continue reading “Things look different from the stage #10: You’ll spend an inordinate amount of time primping and preening.”

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Son of a bitch! They fixed it.

For those that didn’t notice, the site was down. Some disk filled up, at least the partition did.

This made me pretty fucking happy!

I was pretty pleased with this. I was like, “Hells yeah. I’m not telling anyone to fix the site. I’m taking today off! Labor Day weekend? Count me in!”

Some jackass, probably another hosting customer as it’s shared hosting, went and notified the fucking admins and they fucking fixed it.

That’s not okay. I was kinda hoping it’d be broken until Tuesday, and then I’d have an excuse to just laze around and maybe make something on the grill.

Bastards! Now, nearly 5 hours later, the damned thing is up and running again. I’m going to submit a support ticket asking them to kick the complaining client off the servers! This is horrible.

It’s no longer the best day ever!

So, I’m going to go find something to do that fixes that. I am still pretty much taking the day off.

The worst part about the server coming back online is that it came back after I’d decided that the site being down was a pretty sweet thing! It came back while I was typing out my text submission.

Like I said, “Bastards!”

Son of a bitch. No, it’s like 15:00 Eastern – and I don’t see me writing a damned thing.

Hmm… Fuck it… I’ll bang out a “Things Look Different From The Stage” article. Son of a bitch… I just can’t give up on my consecutive articles streak. Damn it all to hell.
Continue reading “Son of a bitch! They fixed it.”

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