How to make music without music theory

martes, 30 de agosto de 2011

Understand music: Rhythm

Rhythm is the way that musical notes are distributed in time ... bleeh ...

Rhythm is much more than that! The pace is neither more nor less, the first musical event in the history of mankind.

From the beginning, man tried to imitate the sounds of nature like drops of water, thunder, birds. Then he began to strike on objects with their hands or other things (sticks, stones). Then he realized that if he did this at regular intervals of time things were getting interesting. And surely he suddenly saw how the girls moved them hips to the beat of his drum and that was the climax ...

We are above all rhythmic beings, because the pace is our basic and ancient musical fiber. If you love jazz and complex melodies, surely you noticed that the vast majority of people do not understand that, but they can easily move a foot or head to the beat of drums in a jazz song.

  Well, let's go on: How I can develop my sense of rhythm?

All we humans know how to keep pace. But it´s a fact that some people are more rhythmic than another. If you are someone who prefers to sit at the party watching how your partner dances with someone else, you probably have like me, a lower sense of rhythm. Let me ask you a few recommendations.

1. Move! One foot, the other, your head ... move any part of your being to the beat of your favorite music, trying to live the rhythm as a physical experience enjoyable.

2. Dance! You can take classes, watch dance lesson videos on youtube or get the fool one who dances with your partner and tell him he can take a seat, it's your turn. Besides experiencing the pace and develop it in that sense, I assure you it is a sign that your partner will appreciate. I played with many fellow musicians throughout my life and I can assure you that those who dare to dance and enjoy it, play with a better feelin than those who not.

3. Forget the metronome! At least for a moment. If you know of music theory, you could believe also that to master the metronome is to master the rhythm. But some people do not even know what a metronome is, but they enjoy music, and play it with a mathematically perfect beat.

I once got into our studio for a musician named Popo Arriola Garifuna (the Garifuna are a community of African roots, living on the coast of Honduras, Central America, creators of the rhythm called punta) Anyway, we asked our friend Popo who recorded drums on the metronome of our computer. Popo rang click and we started playing while listening to incredible babeábamos interpretation. It was impossible to hear the click of the metronome, as accurate percutían Popo hands with mathematical perfection, yet incredibly moving.

But the surprising thing was that after a failure of our speakers at the click sound stopped for about 15 or 20 seconds. When I tried to shut down the computer Popo grunted something like, "No Tato, Tato leave it ..." (I said instead of Chato Tato) After a moment the click sounded again ... And Popo coincided exactly with it! I think I backed the recording about 50 times that day. I could not believe that someone with no apparent musical preparation of a master time so perfect and yet so human ... The key? Popo lives his music is his music and is happy as long as the interpretation. There is no better metronome that.

I invite you to live beyond the pace of the metronome, the beat and note values. As I've said it before and I will not tire of doing so, enjoy!We'll talk about choosing the best rates for your compositions or interpretations.

That theory does not limit you!

jueves, 25 de agosto de 2011

7 simple steps to get started.

To composing or playing music, you should probably need many things. Maybe you will have to pay for some of them (an instrument, some classes, recording software, etc.) But you could find them all and still be unable to make music.

Let me remind you that in music as in life there are essential and ancillary things. Besides, I'm gonna tell you a secret: what is essential in making music is already in your mind and heart. Everything else, even a recording studio for $ 20.000 are ancillary things. One more thing: when you find the song you've been looking for, the song everybody will want to hear, surely you'll get all you need to materialize it for free!

Let me share to you 7 actions that have helped me to understand the essence, the intangible, the really valuable when it comes to making music. Let's see:

1. TO DECIDE. It seems trite, but if you have not decided to make music like a way to live, raise happiness and satisfaction, it will be hard for you to make music.

2. TO LISTEN. Start listening to all the music, it doesn't matter if it's either the music you love or hate. Notice how your body and feelings react with each song you hear at: do you get sad? euphoric? do you feel dizzy? Do you feel dancing? are you moving your head? Back and forth or side to side? I'd confess that when I'm listening to some particular parts of Natalia Lafourcade's songs I get a lump in the throat. When I hear Andrés Calamaro I feel like moving my head side to side, but when I listen to Kinky I move my head back and forth. Every sound you hear is a wonderful and unique experience, so try to define in words what it makes you feel. Why should you have to do this for? We'll get into that later, but for sure you'll find out the answer by yourself.

3. ENJOY IT! Developing your music sense is always an adventure. Enjoy it! It's hard to believe that for many people, being a musician is a source of stress. If you get stress from music, surely you wont long so far into it. For example, I like both latin and alternative music, but once I had to play norteno music (It's a kind of music from the north side of Mexico) for a long period of time. I must admit this is not my favorite music, but it's a fact that in every show I played, there were always many reasons to smile and I learned a lot because of that. Try to enjoy all your musical experiences, even dough they're not what you are expecting for.

4. TO RESPECT. For sure, there will always be music we don't like. Sometimes we hate songs that are worldwide hits and we find them wherever we go. It happens to all musicians including myself and it can be a source of frustration and anger toward the world. We ask ourselves what happen to people's minds? Why do people like this? And you know, there are thousands of musicians who have gotten into frustration. I'm gonna tell you an unquestionable truth: both frustration and suffering are optional. Right now you can decide and say time out! this song seems ugly, but have successfully connected with millions of people around the world, and that fact demands respect from me. I respect it and know I can learn something from it. I assure you that with this simple change in your attitude, suffering will go away and you will be able to live the music in a better way.

5. TO SHARE. As stated in the previous post, music is a human language, therefore it makes no sense if you live inside a made up bubble. You could be a heavy metal guitarist, and could rub elbows with maybe a bachata guitarist at some social event. Then you have two possible choices: to get away quickly before someone realize it, or reach out and share some musical experiences. What amp do you use? How do you distribute your music? Is it your CD? A gift to me? Thanks! If we share music to the world, it will return us even more.

6. COPYING. Say you've already decided, you listen, enjoy, respect and share music. It's time to copy. Sing the song of your favorite artist at some karaoke. Play the guitar lick that you like so much. Review that drum fill. Every song made in the world is a step that you can use to your musical growth. In that sense it is very important that we "do not copy the notes." You get the feeling, feelin the groove of that song, the full emotional weight, its essence. I'll give you a key that has to do with action 3: Enjoy your interpretation. If you get stressed because of you can´t get to sound like Van Halen, you're losing the way and probably you will never get it. Be patient and have fun. When you can extract that from other people's songs (don´t worry, you have not to sound exactly alike) you are ready for the next step.

7. CREATE. All the inputs you've accomplished in this course are sufficient to begin to create. People can enjoy to hear you sing like Shakira (It doesn´t really matters if you are male or female, at this times you can see everything) but I assure you people will also enjoy hearing what you have to say. You can start making variations of the songs that imitated: Shakira makes these notes, but I would have done it this way. Eric Clapton plays the lick on the fourth fret, but I think it sounds better over here... make changes and experiment with what has been done and suddenly you´ll find yourself doing new things. Finally try you to create something new at all. That's your creative peak, the point I wanted you to get.

I tell you something else: the music is very extensive occupation and not every musician needs to write songs to be creative on it. Remember that there are composers but also performers and one thing don´t demerits to another. If you decide to become an interpreter, your task is to create a style, and it is equally important. You´ll sing a song made by someone else, but with a style and an emotional weight that you alone are capable of giving. You can be that voice, that guitar or that trumpet the composer has been looking for your song. In music we all complement each other.

Later I will give you new tips, examples and more information on how to live beyond music theory. Make music from the heart.

miércoles, 24 de agosto de 2011

Is it possible to make music without theory?

Hi everyone! Welcome to Music without theory.

First of all, I want to clarify that I believe music theory is quite important. But this is not a blog about  music theory.

The main purpose of this blog is sharing with you everything about making music that you rarely learn in the academy. You should know that the fact unknowing either almost nothing or nothing about music theory should not to be a limitation for you to get started.

Have you ever heard about a country called El Salvador? Well, you surely know there are many countries classified by "third world" because of its poverty and poor development. El Salvador is one of them. I'm a salvadorean musician. At El Salvador, we can't study music as a college career. There are a couple of informal music academies, but it's like a crazy deal to think about being a musician for a living in this country. Therefore, we make music from the heart, trying to use it for expressing our emotional or spiritual needs.

I would like you to get this: above all music theory, music is a human language as speech is. In my country as in some another, there are humble peasants who can not write, but they can make up metaphors, beautiful song lyrics and poetry, which might not exist under the rigors of grammar rules. In music is exactly the same.

In closing, I suggest you to start making music even dough you don't know what a music score is and which are the musical notes. In future posts I will share with you some ways to do it. All those beautiful melodies that you've always wanted to write are here and now, diluted in your experiences, mind and soul.

Start to make music from your heart!