Wednesday, September 25, 2013

African Masks - An Inspiration For a Song

I'm doing some research on ancient masks and came across some info about the history of masks in African life over the centuries. It already has me thinking of ways to approach composing a piece of music that might compliment the art of this cultural phenomena. Here's a picture of one such mask that I find to be more than a little scary.
I don't know if I can capture the mood of this but I'll have fun trying, and if it works out it might be part of the next album, "More Halloween, I'm Afraid", slated for a summer 2014 release.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Guitars of Dulcet Jones

Here's the current line up, all of these were used on "Halloween, I'm Afraid" except the lapsteel, maybe next album.....

Thursday, September 5, 2013

More On Musical Influences

In my last post about musical influences I zeroed in on the more creative, progressive artists that were working to change the musical landscape of the day, at least the ones that had the most impact on me. Another style of music that also helped me form some strong ideas about rock music in general is the hard rock/heavy metal genre. Early hints at what was to come were songs like "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf and Blue Cheers bombastic cover of Eddie Cochranes "Summertime Blues". As the sixties neared it's end the airwaves were broadcasting the sounds of Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and other acts that were using distorted guitars and a heavy beat to drive the music into new territory. Around this time, and into the early 70's the heavy metal genre began to emerge with Black Sabbath arguably showing the way for many bands to come. Led Zeppelin was considered to be in this genre at first, due the some of the songs on their first two albums, songs like "Heartbreaker" and "Bring it on Home", but as the decade wore on they proved to their fans that they had an acoustic side and were more experimental. Having said that though, Black Sabbath employed a fairly progressive song writing ethic, that gave their music a different feel, even though they rarely strayed form the heavy rock sound of high volume bass, guitar and drums. To give this some context(music theory alert!), throughout the early days of rock and roll, the 50's, 60's and even a lot of the 70's, quite a few rock musicians in general were using a songwriting formula based on the blues 12 bar chord progression which usually relied on the same 3 chords, the "one"-"four"-"five" chords of a given scale. This has been widely used in many genres of music, country, some light jazz, blues, as mentioned and a lot of pop hits from back then. Once Black Sabbath broke the mold, even though they were not the first band to create music without this formula, more heavy metal artists took this direction and rode it to new heights as the 70's played out. Over the course of the decade we saw the emergence of more and more heavy metal acts, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Rush and many more, and even though many of them did resort to the 12 bar/3 chord formula for some songs, most of this music was breaking new ground in the hard rock world. Other bands worthy of mention here are Nazareth, The Scorpions and Deep Purple. As the 1980's unfolded heavy metal took some unexpected turns that saw the rise and fall of "glam rock" and the emergence of "nu metal", a faster, harder, more aggressive approach to heavy metal ushered in by bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden. Terms like "speed metal" and "death metal" began to fracture the genre into several different genres again. It was around this time that I began to lose interest in the hard rock/heavy metal world, not because I didn't think it was good music, just because I was growing a little older and my tastes were changing. Tune in for more musical insights in the future.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Musical Influences

A lot of my favorite music came from the 1970's progressive
rock scene, early Genesis(Peter Gabriel era), Jethro Tull, Yes
and Kansas rank among the top ten. The level of creativity these
artists brought to their music has been a source of fascination
to me for years. There was also a lot of music from the 1960's that
has stayed with me over the years, The Beatles, especially "Sargent
Peppers" and the "White Album". The experimental approach these
people used has always inspired me to seek out more new artists that
are doing something different and ultimately to bring something
different to my own music. Toward the end of the 1970's and into the 1980's
we saw the emergence of "New Wave", a sort of catch all for anything that wasn't
punk or hard rock. One of these bands that caught my attention early on was Devo,
I had heard some of there music on college radio and went to see them live
in Vancouver where I witnessed a show unlike anything I had ever seen. As the
80's wore on I got into the Simple Minds, Echo and the Bunnymen and various other
acts that were going in a different direction for the times but the one band from this era that had probably the most influence me(and a lot of other people, bands, artists etc..)was Joy Division. The first time I heard them was when I caught the last half
of a song on a college radio station that I was enthralled with immediately. I learned
later that the song was "Decades" from what was to be their last album "Closer".
Coming into their own just as punk was starting to waver they were paired up with a
brilliant producer in Martin Hannett, who captured their punk level of energy and
made it into something dark and mysterious. Two albums and a handful of singles makes up the entire catalogue, but the lasting influence on other artists is still felt
today. The most recent act that has caught my attention is Sigur Ros, a curious
group from Iceland that make music that has been called "otherworldly" by critics.
Very understated melodies and moods with the lead singers high voice floating
over top, in what I thought was Icelandic but learned later that he makes up most of the words using a vocalizing approach that some have said was a made-up language.
I'll have to revisit this topic in another post, there's so many other artists
that are worthy of mention.