Non-REM adventures in hi-fi

Guest Blogger: Rikky Rooksby is a prolific author and musician, writing musical how-to books such as  How to Write Songs on Guitar and Arranging SongsBelow is an excerpt from his blog.

It seems our most memorable encounters with recorded music happen without much consideration for the quality of the medium on which the music is transmitted. A whole generation of young people have apparently discovered their favourite artists, songs and albums through the pallid, eviscerated medium of mp3. Likewise, decades ago, I can recall falling in love with music heard on a tinny transistor radio or a mono tape cassette, or poor quality but exciting bootleg live recordings. It seems that if the emotional connection to the music is powerful enough, we listen through the medium’s imperfections that is bringing it to us. On the other hand, making acquaintance with new music through good hi-fi certainly doesn’t detract.

These thoughts followed a memorable hour listening to music courtesy of Oxford Audio Consultants, the city’s prime shop for audio equipment. I went to listen to a top-of-the-range CD/SACD player called La Source made by French company Aeroaudio…

To continue reading, go to Rikky Rooksby’s blog

At last my album of guitar instrumentals Atlantic Canticles is now available to purchase online, either as a download or as a physical CD. I’ll post some links here later, but a google search on the title brings up a number of options, and it is on amazon.com (though not yet it seems on amazon.co.uk). For more details on the album click on the side-link. I hope you enjoy this music and I apologize for the long delay since I announced it back in January.

Rikky Rooksby

Rikky Rooksby is a guitar teacher, songwriter/composer, and writer on popular music. Considered the premiere author of songwriting guides, Rooksby has also written numerous music history and guitar instruction books and has published over 200 interviews, reviews, articles, and transcriptions in music magazines. He has also transcribed and arranged more than 40 chord songbooks, including music by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and many other artists.

A member of the Guild of International Songwriters and Composers, Rooksby is also a sought-after teacher who leads courses on music at The Oxford Experience and other international continuing education summer schools.

Houses of the Holy

Guest Blogger: Rikky Rooksby is the author of many musical how-to books such as How to Write Songs on Guitar or Arranging Songs. Below is an excerpt from his blog. Please visit his site to read the whole article.

Houses of the Holy

As Dave Lewis (see the http://www.tbl.com website and Record Collector magazine feature) reminds us, March saw the 40th anniversary of the release of Led Zeppelin’s fifth album. Having numbered their first three LPs and titled the fourth with four symbols, they more conventionally gave the fifth a title: Houses of the Holy (a reference to their audiences and concert halls). The Zeppelin mystique was assuaged by the fact that the title was not printed on the sleeve but came as a paper wrap-around. The sleeve itself was a strikingly tinted photo montage of the Giant’s Causeway. Nor did the album contain the song ‘Houses of the Holy’, which was eventually released in 1975 on Physical Graffiti.

Houses of the Holy was a hugely-anticipated album, following the band’s elevation to international fame during the preceding two years, and the fourth album which contained ‘Stairway To Heaven’. Many were hoping for another ‘Stairway’ on the new album, and Robert Plant revealed in one interview that the band did indeed have a song metaphorically fired from the same cannon. This was ‘The Rain Song’, a very attractive altered-tuning ballad with rising and falling dynamics. The remaining seven songs included the uptempo rollercoaster ‘The Song Remains The Same’, the delightful acoustic / electric mix of ‘Over The Hills and Far Away’, the heavy rock winter nocturne of ‘No Quarter’, the unbuttoned and joyful rifferama of ‘The Ocean’ (its opening riff combing a bar of 4/4 with one of 7/8), and the two controversial tracks ‘D’Yer Mak’er’ and ‘The Crunge’.

These were received by the more prog-rock ‘hairy’ part of Zep’s audience as ideological crimes: the first for being reggae and the other for being James Brown funk, and both for being apparently Not Serious. How dare Zep waste several inches of vinyl bandwidth on musical jokes! was the cry. What happened to the Viking-horde-clamouring-for-Valhalla head-banging which was what the World’s Official Heaviest Band were supposed to deliver?

Keep reading on Rikky Rooksby’s blog!

Rikky Rooksby is a guitar teacher, songwriter/composer, and writer on popular music. Considered the premiere author of songwriting guides, Rooksby has also written numerous music history and guitar instruction books and has published over 200 interviews, reviews, articles, and transcriptions in music magazines. He has also transcribed and arranged more than 40 chord songbooks, including music by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and many other artists.

A member of the Guild of International Songwriters and Composers, Rooksby is also a sought-after teacher who leads courses on music at The Oxford Experience and other international continuing education summer schools.

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring

Guest Blogger: Rikky Rooksby is the author of numerous volumes on music and songwriting.  Enjoy his musings on The Rite of Spring, and visit his website for the full article.

A piece of music which is on my mind very much at present is Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, or to give it its English title The Rite Of Spring. 2013 marks the centenary of its first performance on 29 May 1913 in Paris. This centenary is being celebrated all over the world, with live performances, books and CD releases. I’ve a small part in all this, as I’m teaching a course on the Rite for Oxford University Dept. of Continuing Education in the summer.

The first performance of the Rite is legendary because of the so-called ‘riot’ that broke out among the audience. A certain percentage of the audience reacted angrily to the Rite‘s flouting of their expectations of what ballet and music should be. The ballet was created by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company, with choreography by Nijinsky and scenery by Nicholas Roerich. The dancers wore costumes, used postures and movements that were contrary to traditional ballet.

The ballet is set in an imaginary ancient Russia and centres on a ritual to bring the spring in which a girl is selected from the tribe and who dances herself to death. As such, it is a work which could be seen to synchronously anticipate the sacrifice of youth during the First World War.

Keep reading this post on Rikky Rooksby’s site!

Rikky Rooksby is a guitar teacher, songwriter/composer, and writer on popular music. Considered the premiere author of songwriting guides, Rooksby has also written numerous music history and guitar instruction books and has published over 200 interviews, reviews, articles, and transcriptions in music magazines. He has also transcribed and arranged more than 40 chord songbooks, including music by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and many other artists.

A member of the Guild of International Songwriters and Composers, Rooksby is also a sought-after teacher who leads courses on music at The Oxford Experience and other international continuing education summer schools.

Music From Rikky Rooksby

Guest Blogger: Rikky Rooksby is an author and musician. To enjoy all of his works please visit his author page.

The writing of my best-selling series of books on guitar-based songwriting was grounded in my practical experience of writing and recording my own songs as well as listening carefully to those of others. I’ve now put a selection of songs in various styles on SoundCloud.com for listening. One song comes from an album of Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys type songs. There’s another from an EP of songs marking the 25th anniversary of Led Zeppelin’s five nights at Earl’s Court in London in 1975. There are two free downloads,  out-takes from my forthcoming guitar instrumental album Atlantic Canticles. I’ve also included some extracts from my classical composing, including the first movements of a string quartet and a piano quartet, a string orchestra setting of the traditional folk tune ‘The Gaelic Waltz’, two extracts from commissioned music, and a short elegiac organ piece ‘For The Few’ written for the RAF pilots of the 1940 Battle of Britain. After the release of Atlantic Canticles I will release an album of songs.

Rikky Rooksby

Rikky Rooksby is a guitar teacher, songwriter/composer, and writer on popular music. Considered the premiere author of songwriting guides, Rooksby has also written numerous music history and guitar instruction books and has published over 200 interviews, reviews, articles, and transcriptions in music magazines. He has also transcribed and arranged more than 40 chord songbooks, including music by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and many other artists.

A member of the Guild of International Songwriters and Composers, Rooksby is also a sought-after teacher who leads courses on music at The Oxford Experience and other international continuing education summer schools.

Lost Bowie Clip Screened

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From the Blog of Rikky Rooksby. For Rooksby’s songwriting books, visit our website.

I was excited in December by the news that a copy of David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars performing ‘Jean Genie’ live on British chart music TV show Top of the Pops had been found. ‘Jean Genie’ had been released as a single and featured on Bowie’s 1973 album Aladdin Sane. It was thought that this clip – first broadcast on January 4 1973 – had been erased by the BBC many years ago. Many classic TV programmes met the same fate. It turned out that cameraman John Henshall had asked for a copy and kept it.

What was special about this performance was that it was genuinely live. Almost all Top of the Pops performances during its long history were either completely mimed to the original backing track, or part-mimed (i.e. lead vocal was live) to a backing track re-recorded by BBC TV musicians and the band. It has always irritated me the way the BBC have constantly devalued the meaning of the word ‘performance’ when describing old TOTP clips by applying it to entirely mimed or mostly mimed appearances – which of course were cheaper and safer for both the TV people and the singers / bands – but are not music-making.

Continue reading this post on Rikky Rooksby’s blog…

Rikky Rooksby is a guitar teacher, songwriter/composer, and writer on popular music. Considered the premiere author of songwriting guides, Rooksby has also written numerous music history and guitar instruction books and has published over 200 interviews, reviews, articles, and transcriptions in music magazines. He has also transcribed and arranged more than 40 chord songbooks, including music by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and many other artists.

A member of the Guild of International Songwriters and Composers, Rooksby is also a sought-after teacher who leads courses on music at The Oxford Experience and other international continuing education summer schools.