You asked, we listened! Please note that User Reviews are back! The Home page has returned to an editorial focus, with an emphasis on Articles and Industry News. The drop down menus are gone and simpler navigation has been implemented, and the forum landing page structure is going back to a more familiar layout. This transition is being performed "live", so some things may be moving around temporarily as we complete the process. Thanks for your patience as we implement these changes that our Community Members have asked for.
Ever been in an earthquake? Recently, a lot of East Coasters who’d never experienced that phenomenon had the dubious distinction of experiencing the earth move—and not for the fun reasons we normally associate with that term.
Of course, any earthquake is a high-anxiety moment for several reasons. You don’t know how long it’s going to last, or how bad it’s going to get. But an earthquake also changes the way you look at permanence: “terra firma” will never be “firma” again. And after the shaking stops you can never be quite sure when an aftershock is going to hit.
So what does this have to do with us as musicians? Plenty, because even if we don’t experience a physical earthquake, our lives are being shaken up like never before.
The aftershocks of the digital upheaval are still being played out, and the ground has shifted from physical to downloadable, from fidelity to convenience, from speakers to earbuds, and from paid to—in many cases—stolen. The concert scene is crazy too. While some acts are charging hundreds of dollars for even a so-so seat, other acts are demanding—and getting—ceilings on ticket prices so mere mortals can attend. “Music Television” isn’t really about music, while DirecTV runs the Guitar Center Sessions with a variety of musicians—but on their own proprietary channel. Some cars don’t even have CD players any more, because they have iPod/iPhone docks or a connector for a USB thumb drive.
These virtual earthquakes are as equally disorienting as physical ones. And just as a physical earthquake leaves you wondering what you’re going to do next, so do virtual ones. Even the task of releasing music has become a shifting, fluid landscape: Do you release on CD, which is a fading format? Or try vinyl—whose market share, against all odds, is rising? Put music online and hope people will buy it? Put music on your website free in the hopes you’ll get gigs, where maybe you can sell some CDs—or maybe not, because selling a USB drive with extras (like artwork, videos, interviews with band members, etc.) might be a better idea? Or what about doing a video too, so you can put something on YouTube and possibly be “discovered”? But then what? Or do any of these options even make sense, because with today’s “celestial jukebox” where anyone can hear anything at any time, you’re competing with the entire history of recorded music—not just the band down the street?
There’s a strong, powerful, and unpredictable virtual earthquake running through almost every aspect of our musical lives. But the aftermath of an earthquake, while shocking in its destruction, is also instructive. Some buildings remain standing because builders had the foresight to design them to withstand shocks, while others remain standing through sheer dumb luck, or being in the right place at the right time. Some have damage which can be repaired, sometimes even making the buildings stronger than they were before; while others are so damaged that they have to be torn down.
As you plan your musical career, reflect on those buildings that withstood the earthquake. Maybe thinking in terms of consistent, local live performances will keep you standing while others fall trying to grab some mythical brass ring of a “major label deal.” Maybe the trick is to be as flexible as possible, to increase the odds of being in the right place at the right time. And just maybe, the virtual earthquake will reveal a structural flaw in how you think about your music—and therefore give you the time to repair it before the next quake rolls around.
When a physical earthquake hits, a good sense of balance will serve you well as the earth moves beneath you—and a sense of balance will help you through the virtual ones too.
— Craig Anderton
Photo courtesy FEMA
|Good-Bye, Jim. Thanks for Everything . . .|
James Gault — September 7, 1943 to September 13, 2011
Jim Gault, Musician’s Friend Senior Copywriter who also pitched in with the Harmony Central Confidential newsletter, passed away at his home September 13, 2011. Jim joined Musician's Friend 14 years ago this month.
Jimmy's easy-going, friendly style belied his exceptionally high productivity and effectiveness in writing product copy and reviews. For extended "Review" pieces it wasn't uncommon for Business Development or merchandizing staff to request Jim as author, given the genuineness of his narrative voice with its convincing tone of a fellow musician.
As a local professional musician Jim played bass for many years with the Fabulous Savoys, and played with Musician's Friend Senior Copywriter Mike Fitch in Continental Drift. He was friends with well-known music entertainers, and will be deeply missed by all of us at Musician's Friend, Harmony Central, and throughout the local community. R.I.P. (Rock In Paradise) Jim. — Bob Weibel
|This Week on HC|
New quick links from the forums to other site areas
Notice anything different about the forum navigation bar? Look to the left of the search box, and you’ll see links that mirror four of the most popular links on our home page: User Reviews, Articles, Videos, and Pro Reviews. The Articles link is particularly helpful, as more and more musicians who come here for the forums have discovered that the Articles Library is a gold mine of up-to-date tips, in-depth reviews, featured articles, tutorials, lessons, and more—from tech to technique, it’s loaded with ways to help you make better music. And now, the Library is only one click away from the forums.
Ear-splitting the tolerable and desirable way
Probably you and every other person you know carries a portable music playing device. Whether it’s a smartphone, dedicated MP3 player, or, if you’re a dinosaur and/or a real audiophile, a DiscMan, you’ve got your tunes on the go. And so does everyone else. But what if you want to share a listening experience? You’ve each got a set of headphones, but no device on the planet features two headphone outputs. To listen to the same device, using headphones, you need a simple and inexpensive headphone splitter. And if you’re the person wanting to share the music, the burden is on you to have the item on your person.
A headphone splitter allows two people with their own headphones to plug into one device. This can be vitally important if you need to play your tunes for someone at a moment’s notice, such as a busy and important producer who just happens to be standing in line behind you at the bank. In a more practical sense, it's good to have a splitter to get the opinions of friends and colleagues for tunes you're working on, or just to get other people to hear songs you want to share. Having the splitter means you can hear what they do, and cue them when important parts come up ("Now listen how I stereo-flanged the keyboard pads in the bridge right . . . here!").
The only thing better than listening to great music is listening to great music with someone else. So carry the wee thing that makes this shared expericence possible. If you carry two splitters, you can get even more people in on the fun!
— Jon Chappell
|Featured Industry News|
This week's pick hits from our News section
A few of this week's top discussions from our Forums
Recently, pre-bought “distressed” guitars have become fashionable. But some consider that the height of decadence. If you’re a rugged individualist who prefers that your own belt buckle, lit cigarette, and 000 steel wool do the job, this forum shows you how to do it artistically.
This is a fascinating video collection of acoustic versions of songs known primarily for their electric treatments. Acoustic offerings from Pete Townshend, J. J. Cale, and The Sweet Season among others. A new perspective!
Is the problem that single-coil pickup . . . or a compact fluorescent light? Seems the Sound, Studio, and Stage community isn’t too happy with compact fluorescents—but there are alternatives other than incandescent bulbs.
Where/how far in do you hold drumsticks and why? It’s an innocent enough question, but there can be serious consequences to your hands if you don’t get it right.
So is it as good as people say it is? The High-Tech guitar forum not only has opinions, but lots of tips on how to get the most out of this versatile guitar preamp.
This isn’t just about 8-string basses—but whether you’d buy one to help a new band create a particular sound, even if you didn’t have gigs lined up to cover the bucks. Hmmm . . .
So which is better for composing anyway? Based on the reactions from the Keys, Synths, and Samplers, those aren’t the only options if you’re looking for the ultimate keyboard for composition.
While many guitarists like the sound of tube amps, solid state designs have come a long way. The Effects forum shows pix of their solid state amps, carry on a side discussion about how to easily modify the VOX Pathfinder for smoother distortion and louder output, and give plenty of suggestions about which solid state amp models are good—and which ones to avoid.
What gear do duo acts use? What works and what doesn’t? You’ll find the expected lists o’ gear here, but you’ll also find some useful tips on how to get the most out of the gear you have.
The Studio Trenches community discusses some classic singles where the flip side—normally the depository of musical oddities, experiments, and “filler”—is every bit as good as, if not better than, the featured song. A parallel discussion covers the song selection process, and while many of the songs are from the days of the vinyl 45 RPM single, the song you select for your single is just as important in the iTunes era.
To ensure delivery, please add HarmonyCentral@email.harmonycentral.com to your address book.
Editorial Craig Anderton, Editor in Chief • Jon Chappell, Senior Editor • Phil O’Keefe, Associate Editor • Chris Loeffler, Reviews Editor
Production Editor • Carrie Brown
HarmonyCentral.com is the leading Internet resource for musicians, supplying valuable information from news and product reviews, to classified ads and chat rooms.