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Issue 156

Topics     News     User Reviews    Forums     Articles     Videos     Classifieds

Dear Musician,

DM\_156b.jpgDownsizing the Grammys. Traditions have a way of providing stability, even when you don’t always agree with them. Whether you support a particular institution, despise it, or are indifferent to it, at least you can learn to work with it if it’s a fixed entity. But when long established routines start to unravel, everyone takes notice and becomes concerned.

Take the whole notion of the Grammy Awards. Some people champion the idea of recognizing the year’s achievements in music with a primetime awards show. Some think it’s a big phony display of self-congratulatory pomp. Both camps still tune in to watch the proceedings anyway. And a survey of Grammy Award winners for any given year is a good check for gauging the musical tastes of the times.

But whether you’re happy with them as is or unhappy with them as is, this year the Grammy Awards introduced sweeping changes—and not the kind that will address any of the complaints of Grammy detractors. In 2012 NARAS (the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, a.k.a. the Recording Academy) has decided to reduce bloat by cutting significantly the number of Grammy Awards it gives out to artists and the projects that represent their collective work. In all, NARAS eliminated 31 categories, down to 78 from 109 in 2011. That’s more than a 28 percent reduction. Take a look at a side-by-side comparison of last year’s categories vs. this year’s here.

Okay, perhaps you can understand merging Best Regional Mexican and Best Tejano Album into a single category. But the complete erasure of Latin Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Hawaiian, Zydeco/Cajun, and Native American? These are important and distinct forms, whose specialization was warranted by a divergent artist and listener base. At least two involve an indigenous people’s music that America absorbed on its way to establishing its musical identity and success. We sure have a funny way of remembering our roots and showing our gratitude. And consider that one of our country’s best-known forms, blues, saw a category reduction by the combining of Traditional Blues with Contemporary Blues, forcing Joe Bonamassa to compete with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. I’d like to think that as diverse as those artists are—and their interpretations of the blues—that an American music awards show would have room for both. Just like they do for rock.

And since when is the number of Grammys a zero-sum game? In other words, how does eliminating or combining some categories serve to strengthen others, as if this were a closed system where the attentions of Native American Music will now directly transfer and benefit Americana? Americana carries a completely different connotation, one that includes the likes of Rosanne Cash, Ry Cooder, and Levon Helm. It makes absolutely no sense that voting NARAS members now have to choose between Native American music and Wilco when it comes time to hand out one award.

In a final irony, the Recording Academy announced that their 2012 Inductees into the Grammy Hall of Fame would include recordings by Big Bill Broonzy and Sergio Mendes. These two artists—a traditional country-ragtime blues guitar player and a progressive Latin jazz bandleader, respectively—would have been ineligible this year because their categories had just been cut.

Don’t we have enough problems with a wounded economy and our arts education programs under siege without having organizations—allegedly on our own side—piling on to squeeze out the available award berths for artists? Let’s hope the Recording Academy will reconsider its decision. Billboard magazine reports that 23,00 signatures have been delivered to NARAS headquarters in protest of their action. If you too can make your voice heard, you’ll be in good company. Along with tens of thousands of petition signers, the list of supporters includes Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Eddie Palmieri, Bobby Sanabria, and Carlos Santana. Please join them in showing solidarity for the diverse categories that provide avenues of recognition for artists who otherwise wouldn’t “make the cut.”

—Jon Chappell

This Week on HC

GrooveZoo's Mix Phase Now in Progress. Check it out!

GrooveZoo's Write-Track-Mix contest started with a composition contest for songwriters followed by a tracking contest for musicians. Two songs were chosen and over 50 tracks were submitted over the past four weeks.

Mix1.jpgThe Mixing phase of the contest is now open!

Mixing engineers can sign up, log in and join either one or both of the Contest sessions that are prominently listed in GroveZoo's Open Session listing. Once in the session, mixing engineers can download and mix any of the tracks that were submitted during the Tracking phase and upload their mix in order to qualify to win one of two Universal Audio UAD-2 systems ($900 value each). One winning mix will be chosen for each song.

The five most prominent tracks in each of the two winning mixes (10 total) will win a Groove Package consisting of FXPansion BD2 Eco and DCAM Synth Squad + Secret of the Pros Recording Tutorials ($450 value each). The best over all track will win a Mojave MA201FET microphone ($700 value).

The original contest deadline of February 15th has been extended to Monday, February 20th, at 12:00 p.m. (PST).

Join and enter today!


Complete contest details at …



Featured Articles




The GigRig HumDinger

By Phil O'Keefe

Transformer-isolated device with buffered output prevents hum when running two amps



The Basics of Onboard Auto-Tune for Guitars

By Jon Chappell

DSP tuning not only lets you play in tune and with perfect intonation up and down the neck, it provides you with alternate tunings

Hot Tip!

Gather Ye Clip-Clamps While Ye May

HT\_156.jpgYou can never have too many clips in your music-making environment, whether that’s a studio, rehearsal space, or bedroom practice nook. Always keep a look-out for any type of clip, be it a clothespin, binder clip, alligator clip or one of those spring-loaded jobs meant to keep potato chip bags closed. Pin them onto edges of things that are visible and will give you easy access when you need them (music stands are good candidates).

Pick them up as you find them around the house, and when you go to the home improvement center, watch for them at the ends of the aisles or in the checkout line where stores tend to place those impulse-buy items. (This is where they display all sorts of groovy gadgets.)

You can use clips for lots of music-oriented purposes: temporarily holding a loose electrical connection in place (use an alligator clip for that), keeping sheet music securely fastened to the stand (best suited for potato chip clips, and essential for outdoor work), and looming cables together for a neater look.

Even a capo can double as a clip, as shown by the gold-colored Kyser in the photo, which is holding the page of the book open and secured against the back of the music stand.

—Jon Chappell

Featured Industry News

This week's pick hits from our News section

Guitar Center Professional Helps Outfit the Islamic Center of Hernando County, Florida, with New Sound System and Acoustical Treatment

iConnectivity Releases iConnectMIDI: a MIDI Interface for All iOS Devices

Equinox Sounds Releases 'Electro & Tech Sylenth1 Soundbank'

Therapeutic Guitar Method Helps Teachers and Therapists Teach Students with Special Needs

Roland Announces Digital Pianos: RP301, RP301R, F-120 & LX-15

Hosa Technology Mogan Elite Omni Elite Earset Microphone Now Shipping

Hal Leonard Releases First Two Music Apps Based on Best-Selling MusicPro Guides Series

Roland Releases New Dynamic MIDI Pedal

Revolabs Enhances HD Control Panel to Support Entire HD Line of Wireless Microphone Systems

analogfactory Releases "Frequency Transformations" for Native Instuments FM8 Synthesizer

Forum Watch
A few of this week's top discussions from our Forums

Changing String Gauges

Lighter strings are easier to play and facilitate bending, while heavier strings yield superior tone and tuning stability. Both are good, so what would you have to do to your guitar, from a setup perspective, to swap gauges? This thread tells you.

What Side of the Stage Are You on, and Why?

Left, right, or center . . . those terms don’t just apply to politics, but to where you stand on stage. The Backstage with the Band community shares their insights on what works and what doesn’t.

Gary Moore Appreciation Thread

Irish guitar virtuoso Gary Moore passed away a year ago this month. If you don’t know how significant he was, or what the depth of his contributions were to both hard rock and electric blues, the guys in the Electric Guitar forum provide guidance, including links to choice video performances.

What Is the Analog Chorus to End Them All?

While no single pedal is always going to be right in every situation or for every player, a member of the Effects Forum community is seeking the ideal chorus pedal for his needs—and the community responds with tons of excellent options.

Can a 15-Watt Head Run a Single 15" Speaker?

The answer is yes . . . and no . . . and this is the place to find out why.

Casio—the Beginning of a New Era

Interesting thread: It started before NAMM, with a healthy dose of cynicism. Then the keyboards were introduced at NAMM, to pretty much universal acclaim—and the thread really started to take off.

What’s Your Biggest Problem with Guitar Players?

The Drum Forum zeroes in on guitarists. Drummers, here’s your chance to share your favorite pet peeves . . . and guitar players, here’s an easy way to make sure you avoid doing the things that drive drummers up the wall!

I Want a Bass for No More than $350

Is it possible to get a good bass at a good price, without having to compromise? The Bass Forum says yes, and they have some recommended options.

Lighting: Buy, Rent, or Hire?

Well, those are certainly the three main options, aren’t they? But to find the right answer, you need to navigate a maze of options . . . with the help of the lighting community, of course.

Can You Read Music? Important or Not, What Say You?

This epic thread started in 2007 . . . and like a fire that dies out only to start up again, the debate continues.

This newsletter was sent by Harmony Central. Harmony Central respects your privacy and will never ask for personal information in a newsletter; for more information, read your privacy rights.

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EditoriaCraig Anderton, Editor in Chief • Jon Chappell, Senior Editor • Phil O’Keefe, Associate Editor • Chris Loeffler, Reviews Editor

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