Women’s Comedic Monologues – Introducing Jenny Yang

And here it is, folks. The last in our monologue series for Women’s Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny! Watch Jenny Yang perform her original monologue, “Asian Goggles.”

Be sure to check out more from Jenny at her website  and don’t forget to follow her @jennyyangtv

Happy Birthday, Leonard Cohen!

Leonard Cohen turns 80 years old today! In celebration, we chose a special excerpt from the new publication, Leonard Cohen: Everybody KnowsHere, American poet, teacher and DJ James Cushing shares his views on the conception of Cohen’s style.

“I have to insist that the first Cohen LP is one of the absolute best, most effective boy-girl make-out records of the very late sixties, totally equivalent to Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On from a few years later. As a radio DJ for over a third of a century, I still get lovers requesting cuts from those two albums.” – James Cushing, 2013

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By the summer of 1967, some of Cohen’s poetry collections had made their way to book and underground head shops in America, and hipper university professors assigned Beautiful Losers in modern literature classes. By early 1968, with Songs of Leonard Cohen, we could hear him sing some of his poems, like “Suzanne,” or lyrics that were crafted for songs.

Remember, he did not make this LP until he was thirty-three years old. Like Howlin’ Wolf, who first recorded at age forty-one, Leonard Cohen was not an adult offering supervision, but an adult giving us permission.

Willie Ruff’s bass provides a chamber-jazz aspect to the production of the album. Ruff, as one half of the Mitchell Ruff Duo [with Dwike Mitchell,] was used to the idea of crafting a whole presentation with very sparse instrumentation – bass and piano. The players must listen to each other’s every gesture and play together to serve the music. The first Cohen album exemplifies non-egocentric collaboration. The whole group creates a single organic sound, not a hierarchy with the singer being “backed up” by other musicians.

At the same time, this quiet and revealing record lands in the middle of the psychedelic world, in post – “Summer of Love” culture. Members of the Kaleidoscope perform on several tracks. So we have psychedelic roots-based folk-rockers joining with a jazz master to enhance the intimate vision Cohen was seeking. Or the vision that found him.

The Art and Science of Sound Recording – The Book

More than simply the book of the award-winning DVD set,  Art & Science of Sound Recording, the Book takes legendary engineer, producer, and artist Alan Parsons’ approaches to sound recording to the next level. In book form, Parsons has the space to include more technical background information, more detailed diagrams, plus a complete set of course notes on each of the 24 topics, from “The Brief History of Recording” to the now-classic “Dealing with Disasters.” Get a taste for what Parsons is all about in the excerpt below!

Hello there!
 Is this hello for the very first time, or have you got the video series as well? If the former, we also produced a video series entitled Alan Parsons’ Art & Science of Sound Recording, and this book is both based upon and an extension of territory we covered in the videos. We hope you will find one to be a good companion to the other. Alan Parsons’ Art & 00333735Science of Sound Recording—The Book is a complete rewrite and reappraisal of the original video version. Because it is a book and not an audio-visual experience, we’ve been able to examine all of the topics in greater detail. With the videos we strove to keep you visually and aurally entertained. Now, you can be reading this at home, or in a busy Starbucks, or on a plane . . . you can read one page at a sitting, or one chapter, or just dive in here and there using the index or the glossary. Ingest the words, look at the pictures and diagrams, and if something is not clear first time around, well, read it again. It’ll make sense eventually; promise.
 The great thing about a book is that you can go at your own pace. Plus it’s the ultimate in nonlinear formatting. You can flip from here to page 145 in less than a heartbeat. Eat your heart out, modern media! (Readers of the ebook version possibly have the best of all worlds, of course.)

For the book, we have kept the same basic tone as the video. We hope it is both intriguing for the new- comer to recording and interesting to the seasoned professional. We’ve dug a little deeper into all aspects of recording technology. Chapter 1, “A Brief History of Recording,” may still be a relatively brief version, but it’s now not quite so “on a pinhead.”

A question that often cropped up on the video series was, “How do I use the videos? What order should I view them in?” Sensing potential for the same line of enquiry here, here’s what we recommend you do.

This book does have a logical flow of chapters. First we look at how sound is created and how it behaves, before moving onto the different sources, components, and equipment involved in making and reproducing sound recordings. With these pieces of the puzzle in play, we then look at all the processes involved in manipulating sound recordings, such as EQ, reverbs, delays, compression, and so on. Then we look at how the various types of sound sources respond to the various processes and how they are best applied for particular sonic needs.

The rubber truly hits the road when human beings are tossed into the mix and we actually have to record real live musicians sitting there right in front of us. We look at drummers, guitarists, bass players, singers, choirs, keyboard players . . . all of whom can have very different mindsets, roles, temperaments, and functionalities.

Finally, even though the word “mix” is now more of a formality than the “performance” process it used to be in the days of analog technology, the mix is still the point where decisions and choices have to be made. And that, in itself, is an art and a science.

So if you can, read this book from here . . . right through to the end—at least once.

Learning anything—especially something as nuanced as sound recording—is a journey, and that journey is half the fun. You can fly from Paris to Istanbul, or you could take in the delights of Lausanne, Milan, Venice, Belgrade, and Sofia along the way by traveling on the Orient Express—same destination, but a very different experience.

As with the Orient Express, a top-to-toe read of this book will introduce you to topics you may not fully appreciate the first time around. But you can always come back to Venice and look at its sights and virtues. Although we will try not to dazzle you with clever-sounding words and concepts, important messages can be missed if you speed by too quickly.

Finally, a great debt of gratitude is owed to the many engineers, producers, and artists we interviewed for the video series, whose words of wisdom are included here. Music is so often best when it’s a team sport, and although there are actually some incontrovertibly bad ideas (e.g., don’t try recording a kick drum with a ribbon mic), sound recording is definitely NOT a place for closed minds.

Experimentation—within some context of tried and tested sound practices—should always be on the menu.

You’re in good company. So enjoy your journey.

Riff Notes: A New Series

This Fall, Hal Leonard Books will release three new publications as part of the new Riff Notes series. Acoustic Guitar Basics, Electric Guitar Basics and Guitar Strings Basics are designed to teach readers all they need to know about choosing a guitar or guitar strings strings and how to perform proper maintenance on their equipment. Authors Phill Dixon and Chris Jones tell us more!

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Many shoppers can be overwhelmed by the size, selection, and noise level of a guitar shop. New players and even experienced players can sometimes be unsure about which questions to ask, or are hesitant to ask too many.   Just curious about guitar strings? Interested in the acoustic guitar, but maybe just the electric? Riff Notes offers a simple but thorough introduction to each topic, giving the reader enough information to help him or her feel more confident but not over-loaded.

Authors Phill Dixon and Christopher Jones have years of experience at Guitar Center helping thousands of new and continuing musicians explore, play and take home their first, second, and ultimate dream instruments. Riff Notes puts that knowledge into writing giving readers easy, quick-to-read expert advice in a series of short and fun, topical reference guides all about guitar-related musical equipment.

Designed to easily fit in guitar cases or gig bags, these booklets introduce the guitar world with simplified terminology and explanations, practical applications and tips, and are written in an easy and conversational tone to engage the reader. Perfect for both novice and experienced players alike, the series includes shopping advice, fun facts, and trivia to engage readers of any playing level. Coming this November: Riff Notes, published by Hal Leonard.

Bill Wyman’s Vox Amplifier

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Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. Now you have a chance to win this top-notch Vox amp! Read this excerpt from the book about how the band used to worship these amps!

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Bill Wyman officially joined the group on January 5. Apparently, Mick, Keith, and Brian had finally decided that Bill was in after what could best be described as a trial period. Bill explained: “They didn’t like me, but I had a good amplifier, and they were badly in need of amplifiers at that time! So, they kept me on. Later, when they were going to get rid of me, I think I clicked or something and I stayed. I must have just fitted in.” Ian Stewart later commented, “There is a certain amount of truth that Bill was taken on for his equipment, but Bill was very good.”

VoxAmpThe group immediately incorporated Bill’s amplifiers into the backline. While the Watkins Westminster, a 10-watt amp
that came with an 8-inch speaker,
two inputs, a volume control, and a
tone control that also acted as an on-
off switch, was a nice addition, the 
real prize was Bill’s Vox AC-30.

Keith, more impressed by this 
particular amp than he was with 
Bill, later commented: “Bill had
 amplifiers! Bill came fully equipped.
 A Vox AC-30 amplifier, which was 
beyond our means to possess. Built by Jennings in Dartford. We used to worship it. We used to look at it and get on our knees. To have an amplifier was crucial. First off, I just wanted to separate Bill from his amplifier. But that was before he started playing with Charlie.” Watkins, later WEM (Watkins Electric Music), was a London-based company started by Charlie Watkins that specialized in amplification.

The Vox AC-30 was considered the best and loudest guitar amplifier on the market in England at the time. Bill’s AC-30 was tan or beige, commonly referred to as “fawn-colored.” The official model name for the amp was the Vox AC-30/6 Twin Normal; “6” meaning six inputs, “Twin” meaning two speakers, and “Normal” meaning the guitar rather than bass version. The AC-30 was equipped with four EL84 power tubes, five pre-amp tubes, and a single GZ34 rectifier tube. Jim Elyea’s definitive book Vox Amplifiers The JMI Years states that: “Bill’s original ‘fawn’ AC-30 was built in approximately February 1962 and was purchased from the Art Nash Music Shop. Bill’s is a Normal model with a brownish copper panel with no Top Boost circuit. The two original leather handles have been replaced with newer Vox SBU handles. The amp is equipped with a pair of Celestion Blue T.530 12-inch speakers and has a sticker inside the amp indicating that the amp was serviced by Alan Pyne.”

The Vox factory was located in Dartford, where Mick and Keith
grew up, and the primary Vox amplifier showroom was the Jennings
 music shop on Charing Cross Road in central London. Jennings Musical
 Industries was established by Tom Jennings in 1958. In 1962, the
 operation further expanded its horizons with the introduction of Vox 
guitars The company’s Vox amplifiers were devised by JMI’s chief design
engineer, Dick Denney.. Denney, who was also the creator of the AC-30,
started the Vox amplifier line with a 15-watt unit. He then reasoned that
what musicians really needed was a twin-speaker amp with six inputs.
Denney remembered Tom Jennings’s reaction to the concept: “He said to
me, ‘Well, you do what you like Dick, but if it doesn’t work, your head’s
on the chopping block.’ As it turned out, the AC-30 became the jewel in
 Vox’s crown; it’s what put Vox on the map. I made the amp so that it
sounded good to me. It was old technology, and I think old technology
still prevails.” One of the design oddities of the AC-30 was the situation of its control panel at the back of the top of the cabinet. Denney explained that his fellow guitarists at the time often sat behind their amplifiers, which projected a reverb-type effect into the hall from the front and a “dry” sound from the open back. Wyman’s Vox AC-30 amplifier cost £105, about $300 then, the equivalent of about £1,340 ($1,870) today.

On January 14, 1963, Tony Chapman was fired at the end of a gig at the Flamingo Jazz Club in Soho, London. The January 14, 1963, entry in Keith’s diary reads simply, “Tony Sacked!” Bill Wyman remembered: “Tony was told that his services were no longer required. He was furious and said, ‘Come on, Bill, let’s go and start a new band.’ I told him I was staying with the Stones, and Tony just upped and left.”

C. Eric Banister on Cash

On this date in 2003, the legend that was Johnny Cash sadly passed away. Johnny Cash FAQ author C. Eric Banister reflects on the legacy of the Man in Black and how, even after his death, his artistry continues to have a powerful impact upon his fans.

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It seems odd to say someone died in their prime at age seventy-one, but it’s true of Johnny Cash. It might be more accurate to say it was one of his primes, since Cash had a habit of fading away and then making a comeback of sorts. When he passed away on September 12, 2003 his newest album, the fourth in the American Recordings series, was not a year old yet and was on its way to a #2 peak on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart (and #22 on the Billboard 200). Just after his passing the boxed set Unearthed was released, and along with the two remaining American Recordings albums released in 2006 and 2010, showed that he was still in a creative upswing even though his health was in a down period.

The sales numbers of these final projects showed that Cash still had legions of fans and the world would miss him immensely. Even now, eleven years after his death, Cash still claims large numbers of fans. In March of this year a “new” Cash project was released in the form of Out Among the Stars. Based on recordings made in 1981 (and 1984) with legendary producer Billy Sherrill and later shelved, the album wasn’t what fans of American Recordings had grown used to, but the fans took it to #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and #3 on the Billboard 200.

Cash’s legacy remains a driving creative force, as evidenced by the recent release of Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited. Fifty years ago, Cash released the masterpiece Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. It was a bold move for a country musician and one that saw him shift a bit in the eyes of many to a more folk-centered singer. It didn’t matter how others saw him, Cash was doing it because he cared about the cause and he liked the songs, many of them from the pen of Peter LaFarge. At a time when many were picking up the banner for civil rights, Cash did so as well. Except where many picked up on the struggles of the African-American in the South (and rightfully so), Cash was drawn to the “Red Power” movement.

Even with the shift in tone for Cash, the album still topped the Country Albums chart and broke the Top 50 of the Pop chart. Its lone single, “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” peaked at #3 on the Country Singles chart, but it was a battle with disc jockey’s to accomplish that. (Cash famously put an ad in Billboard calling them and other industry folks out for cowardice).

Throughout his life Cash was often compared to Hank Williams, both in terms of artistry and in self-destructive behavior. Like Williams, Cash’s creative art will continue to inspire musicians even another fifty years from now. Eleven years gone, and never forgotten.

Q & A with Bobby Borg

Bobby Borg recently met with Tom Lohrmann of Tom Lohrmann Music, a  musician, writer and marketing consultant from Washington DC. Here, Bobby answers some key questions about his brand new book from Hal Leonard, Music Marketing for the DIY Musician. Click here for the rest of the interview!

00124611Tell us about Music Marketing For the DIY Musician. Where is the book available?

“Thanks for asking, I’m really proud of the new book. It took years to write it. Essentially, the book is a step-by-step guide to producing a fully integrated, customized, low-budget plan of attack for artists marketing their own music. The goal is to help artists take control of their own destinies, save money and time, and eventually draw the full attention of top music industry professionals. It’s ultimately about making music that matters and gets heard! Right now Music Marketing For The DIY Musician is available at Hal Leonard’s website under “Trade Books”. Eventually it will be on Amazon in both physical and digital form and on my website. ”

How is Music Marketing For The DIY Musician different from other industry books?

“The biggest difference is that it is written specifically for DIY musicians by a musician with DIY, indie, and major label success, making it a more credible, focused, practical, and relatable resource for artists. It also covers the complete marketing process—from vision through execution—with handy templates and samples in each chapter to help artists create fully-customized marketing plans. Finally, it introduces sophisticated business and research tools (SWOT, SMART, AIDA, and PFB Charts) not found in most music marketing books, enabling artists to choose confidently and even scientifically the right strategies for their own career path.”

Could you provide one crucial tip from the book?

“Do not create music in a vacuum with the intention of just throwing it out there and hoping for success. Hope is not a strategy! Instead, have a clear sense of what you stand for, while also trying to uncover where the world is going. Look for ways where you can be unique and do something that has never been done before. As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said, “The key to success is to skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.””