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Summer 2016: The Forum, Los Angeles, CA (photo by David Tosti)
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Friday, August 31, 2007

Mute Math in the UK: 8/2007



The song used in this video is called "Maquinismo." It is an old track I made for a friend's short film called "There is No Heroin in Heaven." I don't think the film has ever been finished.


Digg!





Wednesday, August 22, 2007

First Rehearsals for New Tour



We started rehearsals for the new tour yesterday, and I'm very excited. I think we are stepping it up even more on this tour, with new production, new venues, and a few new songs. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are confident that we can accomplish what needs to be taken care of before we leave for England.



Yesterday, tackled a new song together. It was the same usual emotional roller coaster that we each go through while writing new material. It just so close and personal that certain things can get touchy; however, we know better than to let it get to us. Well, hopefully, we do.





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Friday, August 17, 2007

Boss RC-20XL Improv

This piece was created using a Boss Loop Station RC-20XL pedal.

http://blip.tv/mitchellcardenas/improv-piece-using-the-boss-rc-20-1065911




Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mixolydian Mode

The Mixolydian Mode is an important mode for a bass player. That is because it's the fifth mode of the major scale. The Five is a big number in bass playing. If a bassist doesn't know anywhere else to go after the root note, the five is usually a safe bet. That is, if you are playing C and you want to change it up or move the bassline around but you're not sure where, the fifth is a great place to go.

Every Mixolydian Mode will have the same construction of Whole and Half steps, which is

W W H W W H W.


We will focus only on G Mixolydian, which scale construction is stated below:

G
to A is a Whole step,
A
to B is a Whole step,
B
to C is a Half Step,
C
to D is a Whole step,
D to E is a Whole step,
E to F is a Half step,
F to G is a Whole step.

Note, that Mixolydian is a lot like the major scale, but the only difference is that the 7th tone of the scale is a half step down, or flatted - b7.

Hence, Mixolydian has a major sound, but it is also a dominant sound (or a flatted 7th sound - G7). There are progression built around the dominant sound, e.g., a blues progression - G7 C7 G7 D7 C7 G7 D7, etc.

Have fun with this one below:


To put it all in perspective, review the modes below:
i. Major scale and its modes (Example C Major)

C. Ionian (aka Major Scale)-- W W H W W W H (C D E F G A B C)
D. Dorian ----------------- W H W W W H W (D E F G A B C D)
E. Phrygian ---------------H W W W H W W (E F G A B C D E)
F. Lydian ----------------- W W W H W W H (F G A B C D E F)
G. Mixolydian ----------- W W H W W H W (G A B C D E F G)
A. Aeolian (Natural Minor)-W H W W H W W (A B C D E F G A)
B. Locrian ---------------- H W W H W W W (B C D E F G A B)


Digg!





Monday, August 13, 2007

Lydian Mode

Continuing with the lessons on modes, we'll take a look at the Lydian Mode, the 4th mode of the major scale.

Again, every Lydian Mode will have the same construction of Whole and Half steps, which is

W W W H W W H.


Today, we will focus only on F Lydian, which scale construction is stated below:

F
to G is a Whole step,
G
to A is a Whole step,
A
to B is a Whole step,
B
to C is a Half Step,
C
to D is a Whole step,
D to E is a Whole step,
E to F is a Half step

Further, the Lydian Mode is a major sounding mode because it contains a major third interval between the first note of the scale (or tonic) and the third note of the scale (or mediant).

If the space between the first note of the scale and the third note of the scale is 4 half steps, then it is major third interval, e.g., between C to E there is:
C to C# (Half step),
C# to D (Half),
D to D# (Half),
D# to E (Half),

Also, between F and A, there are 4 half steps.

Watch and play along with the video below, and try to get an overall vibe of the Lydian sound:


A side note to the video: during the improv, I use a "hold" function on my delay pedal in order to repeat the F root note. This function allows me to play that low F note, repeat it, and play on top of it.

To put it all in perspective, review the modes below:
i. Major scale and its modes (Example C Major)

C. Ionian (aka Major Scale)-- W W H W W W H (C D E F G A B C)
D. Dorian ----------------- W H W W W H W (D E F G A B C D)
E. Phrygian ---------------H W W W H W W (E F G A B C D E)
F. Lydian ----------------- W W W H W W H (F G A B C D E F)
G. Mixolydian ----------- W W H W W H W (G A B C D E F G)
A. Aeolian (Natural Minor)-W H W W H W W (A B C D E F G A)
B. Locrian ---------------- H W W H W W W (B C D E F G A B)


Digg!





A Little Side Note to the Beatles Article Below

Absolutely. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. However, this piece below on the Beatles was an exercise research project that dealt with picking a side and supporting it. I wrote it long ago, and thought I'd share because there were some interesting things I found while researching it.

Nevertheless, without Ringo, without Paul, without John, and of course, without George, there is no Beatles.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Who's the Best Beatle?

Research Project: Part I - The Proposal

The Beatles were a famous rock group comprised of four musicians, each of whom contributed a different degree of importance to the group’s success and longevity. In determining who was the best member of the Beatles, I must define the gravest of these contributing factors and who of the four members most obtained those characteristics. The distinguishing features a member must have to be considered the best Beatle are: one, exceptional skills on his respective instrument(s) (whether playing live or in the studio); two, strong talents in musical composition and lyric writing; three, responsibility in expanding the sonic textures of the band via new instruments and equipment; four, sincere and humble interest to drive the band’s influence in social, cultural, and political causes.

In spite of his lesser popularity, I think George Harrison qualifies as the best Beatle. To evaluate if George Harrison fulfills these four criteria, I must take into consideration not only the historic material of the band’s recordings, pictures, concerts, films, etc., but also the impact these materials have had on me (the researcher) as musician and member of band. For example, in actually playing live and recording Beatles’ songs I have developed a sense of how difficult certain songs are to perform and the skills required to create such songs from scratch.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Research Project: Part II - Beatles

Throughout the Beatles’ recordings, live performances, films, transcriptions, and scores, the best member of the band must demonstrate an “above-average” talent for playing his principal instrument. One’s sheer virtuosity (or technical facility) is an important factor in defining an “above average” talent; however, one’s creative musicianship (that is dynamic communication skills within the musical environment) is more significant because genuine talent is not just playing a lot of notes fast and furiously, but rather, an artful, intelligent expression of an idea.

Thus, determining who has the greater talent based purely on technical facility is an oversimplification. In addition, one’s proficiency for playing a variety of other instruments demonstrates one’s elevated degree of musical talent because often if one plays a wide array of musical instruments, one has a greater understanding of the mechanics of music. Similarly, a bilingual person often can learn many other languages more efficiently than a mono linguist because of his better understanding of the mechanics of language.

The second criterion requires the best band member to display strengths in song writing, which may be determined via the quality and quantity of songs. In other words, if the band member is a prolific writer, contributing original and quality material for the band’s recordings, then he qualifies. In addition, quality should be rated by a high level of:, one, artistry, i.e. creativity and originality; and two, listener satisfaction and enjoyment, namely emotional stimulation via the music. Quality and quantity will not be determined by popularity or record sales because fame and commerce are irrelevant to the art of composing music and lyrics. Plus, if the songs are a product of a writing team, then the songs do not qualify. Thus, the best member should be the sole writer of his compositions found in Beatles’ recordings.

Within the Beatles’ compositions, an expression of expanding the sonic textures via new instruments and equipment must be provided by the best member, who like an inventor, is responsible for spearheading the group’s sound into unexplored territories. For example, Les Paul’s idea to amplify his acoustic guitar led him to inventing the electric guitar (Voices 1).

Similarly, Cuban percussionist Frank Malabe developed a method of playing the various latin percussion instruments and their rhythms used in Afro-Cuban music, such as the clave, palito, timbales, et cetera, on a single drum set; thus, instead of five guys playing, one person could provide all the rhythmic foundation for the music (Malabe & Weiner 11).

The last criterion ensures that the best member obtained a sincere and humble interest in social, cultural, and political causes. By using his fame and influence as a Beatle, the best member must have initiated and endorsed causes which aim to improve society, such as the Farm Aid, Live Aid and Band Aid concerts; furthermore, the best member will have participated in such events strictly by one, his sincere interest, i.e. he should not have received any sum of money for participating, and two, by not having brought any special attention upon himself, e.g. the promotion of a newly released album. Unfortunately, there are many artists who promote charitable causes for purely selfish reasons. For example, during the preparation for the Free Tibet Concert in San Francisco, many artists when asked to perform at the event first responded by inquiring who would be on the bill, i.e. they had a “bandwagon mentality” (Palm Pictures). The best member of the Beatles cannot have this “bandwagon” approach to sponsor such social and political causes, but rather, he must play an active, involved role.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
George Harrison: “The Quiet Raga” - Part III

I’m stumped. I stare at my guitar. Then, I glance back at the spinning vinyl on my parents’ old Panasonic record player. I’m entranced by the mystical sounds pouring forth from the stereo’s two eight inch speakers. I pick at my guitar again, attempting to figure out all the amazing notes racing by. As a nine-year-old, I can’t help but wonder how this music was created. After all, my dad taught me to play other Beatles’ tunes without virtually any problem; however, this song is different. Sitars intertwined with Western voices, singing: “Try to realize it’s all within yourself / No one else can make you change . . . Life flows on within you and without you”; what? Who created this? And why is this on a Beatles’ album?

Having grown up in a musical family, I heard the Beatles’ music so much it almost seems innate to me. I cannot remember a time when I did not know about the “Fab Four” lads from Liverpool, England. I’ve spent countless hours listening, studying, practicing, and jamming to my father’s Beatles records and music books. As a professional musician, I find myself performing and recording Beatles’ material frequently. Recently, I was working a jazz gig when someone came up from the bar. He said, “Hey, can you guys play ‘Something’ by the Beatles?” I thought, wow! out of the 220 plus songs recorded by the Beatles, this stranger picks one written by George Harrison, the “Quiet Beatle.”

Not too many people know about this “Quiet Beatle,” and in spite of his lesser popularity, I think George Harrison’s important contributions to the Beatles must not be overlooked. A “consummate musician,” an extraordinarily prolific writer, and a “consciousness-raiser,” Harrison impacted the world in a profound way (Randall 35). Demonstrating an “above-average” talent for playing a variety of musical instruments, composing numerous quality songs, expanding the sonic textures of the Beatles via new instruments and equipment, and humbly, initiating causes that aimed to improve society, Harrison clearly fulfills the criteria for who the best member of Beatles must be.

I. THE CONSUMMATE MUSICIAN
“Over the past four decades, George Harrison’s playing, both on acoustic and electric guitar, has led an inestimable number of people (including this writer) [both Randall and Mitchell] to pick up the instrument [guitar],” writes Mac Randall (35). With an “above average” talent, Harrison has challenged me musically, from back when I was a young kid just learning to strum the guitar to even now as a professional musician. Harrison’s virtuosity caused me to replay my father’s Beatles’ recordings over and over in order to properly learn what notes came singing out of his guitar.

Not only did Harrison demonstrate an amazing technical facility on his principal instrument of guitar, but also, on an array of other instruments, such as the sitar (that is, a classical Indian instrument with nineteen strings - see figures 1 & 2), tamboura (another classical Indian instrument), bass, piano, electronic keyboards/synthesizers and vocals (Miles 398). As a multi-instrumentalist, George would frequently overdub various guitar, sitar, keyboard, and vocal parts in the recording of just one song (e.g. “Here Comes The Sun”).

Harrison’s creative musicianship and artful, intelligent expressions of musical concepts reaffirmed his greater understanding of the mechanics of music over the rest of his band mates. According to Randall, “The two principal reasons John Lennon and Paul McCartney allowed Harrison to join their band were that he could play solos off records note-for-note, and that he knew more chords than they did” (36). Overall, George Harrison’s “above average” talent for playing a variety of musical instruments demonstrates one of his important contributions to the Beatles.

II. “SOMETHING” ABOUT THE SONGS
An infamous myth about the Beatles is that John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote all the songs. Even though his material was often overlooked, George Harrison was a prolific writer and contributed many quality songs to the Beatles’ records. In total, Harrison composed and recorded twenty-two songs for the Beatles. Some earlier examples are found on the sixth Beatles album Rubber Soul: “Think for Yourself” and “If I Needed Someone.” Because Harrison did not develop as a songwriter until later than John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Harrison’s material is seen more often in the Beatles’ later career. In a 1977 interview, Harrison stated that Lennon and McCartney “did write great songs, which made it more difficult to break in or get some action on the song writing thing” (Harrison 1). However, by having three of his compositions on the seventh record Revolver, “George was becoming a third significant songwriter in the group” (Miles 290).

Because Lennon and McCartney were a song writing team, the two composers had to divide their royalty earnings equally, which caused them to push a lot harder for their songs to be selected for the recordings. George Harrison wrote his heartfelt music free from this pressure. An example of this heartfelt music is the famous ballad “Something,” which was Harrison’s first Beatles’ single and one of “the most covered Beatles songs” (Miles 553). “[D]escribed by Frank Sinatra as ‘the greatest love song of the past fifty years,’ it was the only Beatles song that Sinatra ever sang live, albeit introduced as a ‘Lennon and McCartney composition’” (Miles 553). Lyrically, “Something” yields an immense amount of listener satisfaction and enjoyment: “Something in the way she moves / Attracts me like no other lover . . . Somewhere in her smile she knows/That I don't need no other lover/I don't want to leave her now/You know I believe and how” (Fujita 905).

I am amazed that such a gifted songwriter can be overlooked so frequently. I can only conclude that Harrison’s compositions were unfortunately overshadowed by the notoriety of Lennon and McCartney. Nonetheless, George Harrison’s genius of song writing underscores his weightiness as a Beatle. (For additional examples of Harrison’s lyrics, see below.)

III. HERE COMES THE SOUND
Because of George Harrison’s musical experimentation, the recorded expressions of the Beatles’ compositions, especially Harrison’s works, exhibit a productional vanguard of sonic textures. A lover of new sounds and musical equipment, George Harrison was a pioneer of “experimentation and musical risk taking” (“The Quiet Beatle” 56). The first clear example of this musical innovation can be heard on the recording of “Norwegian Wood” on the Rubber Soul album, in which Harrison incorporates the sitar as the prime melodic instrument (Fujita 712).

Interestingly, Ravi Shankar (the famous Indian sitar player) began teaching George sitar in 1966, at which point the two musicians established a life-long friendship. When asked in an interview with Rolling Stone about what the master sitar player thought of the sitar playing in “Norwegian Wood,” Ravi Shankar responded, “To tell you the truth, I had to keep my mouth shut. It was introduced to me by my nieces and nephews, who were just gaga over it. I couldn’t believe it, because to me, it sounded so terrible” (Shankar 31). Nevertheless, Harrison’s exploration of the sonic textures via new instruments and musical equipment, such guitar effects and amplifiers, pushed the envelope of the Beatles’ soundscapes.

“His [George Harrison] trademark was texture, atmospherics and dynamic counterpoint” (“The Quiet Beatle” 56). Harrison’s creative innovation for using ordinary instruments in extraordinary ways set a trend not only with the Beatles’ sound, but with the entire scope of pop music as well. Many modern rock groups (e.g. Radiohead, KulaShaker, Oasis, etc.) employ the same types of sounds (e.g. sitars, distortion, echo, delay, wah-wah, etc.) in their music. Hence, Harrison’s spearheading of the Beatles’ sound into unexplored territories is a highly significant contribution to the Beatles.

IV. THE SILENT RAGA
“For all his influence on the musical landscape, however, Harrison’s greatest and most lasting impact is rooted in his use of his platform as a Beatle to draw our attention to a larger world” (“The Quiet Beatle” 56). Long before it was trendy for rock stars to endorse and perform at benefit concerts, George Harrison set the standard. Unlike his band mates, Harrison’s approach to initiating and endorsing social and political causes was subtle and silent. John Lennon preached to people “about the world’s failings,” but “Harrison got involved” (“The Quiet Beatle” 56). By humbly and quietly organizing social and political events, Harrison raised public consciousness. For example, Harrison, with the help of Ravi Shankar, organized a concert for Bangla Desh on August 1, 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. “In March, 1971, a deliberate reign of terror was unleashed on Bangla Desh”; a genocide of the large population of East Bengalis was attempted by the West Pakistani leadership. “An estimated one million East Bengalis were murdered,” and another approximate ten million faced “starvation, lack of sanitation and housing, and most notably - cholera” (Lipski 1).

Brought to his attention by Ravi Shankar, George Harrison began to study about the crisis in Bangla Desh and was deeply moved with compassion. (Lipski 2) Harrison sought to help organize and participate in a concert to raise money and awareness for the crisis; as a result, he compiled the right musicians for the job, such as Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton, and released an album to generate funds and even wrote a song called “Bangla Desh.” According to Ravi Shankar, “In a period of only four to five weeks all of this was done” (Lipski 1). By raising awareness on issues that concerned him, Harrison humbly utilized his influence as a Beatle to improve society. In summary, George Harrison’s quiet approach to endorsing social and political causes reflects his true motives as a sincere humanitarian.

V. “YOU LIKE ME TOO MUCH”
In examining George Harrison’s many roles as a Beatle, I must conclude that his “above average” talents, musical innovations, and humanitarian efforts have been unjustly overlooked and, at times, poorly credited. Harrison’s contributions to the Beatles have been extremely important in defining exactly who the Beatles are. But I wonder if it is possible to determine who the best member of the Beatles really is?

Given the four criteria I proposed, Harrison’s contributions to the Beatles leaves no choice but to conclude that George Harrison is the best member of the Beatles. I argue Harrison’s sublime musical and superb song writing talents, sonic innovations, and humanitarian efforts all point to him as the one and only candidate of best Beatle. However, I also think that in the spirit of George Harrison the terms “best” and “worst” cannot apply. Harrison simply lived according to his talents, innovations, ambitions and concerns.

The definition of the “best Beatle” would probably have insulted George Harrison, especially if it was applied to him. But is that what makes Harrison so great? His disregard for wanting to be the best? I think so.

To this day, I frequently pick up my guitar and play along with the Beatles’ recordings. Even sometimes I still find myself stumped, staring at my guitar, listening to the genius of the music. Especially when I hear a Harrison tune, I always feel challenged. I have to sit still and be silent in order to truly listen to what is happening. Harrison’s spirit is exactly that stillness: a quiet raga, hardly noticed but silently powerful. As a Beatle, George Harrison shared his spirit with the world, gently reminding us,“Here comes the sun / And I say it’s alright.”

Works Cited

Bernard, E., and Jonze, S. Free Tibet-The Tibetan Freedom Concert San Francisco. Palm Pictures., 1998 (2000).

Fujita, Tetsuya, Yuji Hagino, & Goro Sato, transcribers. The Beatles - Complete Scores. Shinko Music Publishing Co. Ltd., 1989.

Harrison, George & Mitchell Glazer, interviewer. “George Harrison Interview.” Crawdaddy
Magazine. February 1997. The Beatles Ultimate Experience Website. Accessed 10/16/02. .
“Les Paul: Musician and Inventor.” Voices from the Smithsonian Associates. Accessed 10/7/02.

Lipski, Dr. Alexander and Suzenna Martin. “The Concert for Bangla Desh.” Double CD. 20 December, 1971.

Malabe, Frank, and Bob Weiner. Afro-Cuban Rhythms for the Drumset. New York: Manhattan
Music / Warner Brothers Publications, 1997.

Miles, Barry. Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt and Co.,
1997.
“The Quiet Beatle.” Maclean’s. 10 December 2001, Vol. 114 Issue 50: 55-58.

Randall, Mac. “In A Silent Way.” Guitar World: Acoustic. Special Collector’s Issue, No. 49, 2002: 34 - 38, 84 - 85.

Shankar, Ravi. “Ravi Shankar.” Rolling Stone. 15 May 1997, Issue 760: 30-31.

Turner, Steve. A Hard Day's Write,"The Stories behind every Beatles' Song." New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994.



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Thursday, August 09, 2007

In the studio and not . . .

While in the studio with Paul and Darren the other day, I took some video of Darren playing drums. It's super low quality, but whatever, it has its own charm.

Later on, when watching it back, I decided to experiment with some editing, of which I'm still very much a novice. Plus, it's more difficult when you don't have the right tools. Nevertheless, here's my first attempt at trying to chop up a video like a vinyl record with a sampler.



By the way to answer some questions, namely "When does the new record come out?" Honestly, I don't know, but I wish I did. Just keep up-to-date with this blog and I'll keep you posted of the latest developments. Thanks.


Digg!

Phrygian Minor Mode

Back to the bass lessons now: today focusing on the Phrygian mode. Remember, a mode is "an arrangement of the eight diatonic notes or tones of an octave according to one of several fixed schemes of their intervals." What does that mean again?

Simply, within a scale (such as the major scale), there exist other scales by simply starting on a different note. For example, C Major is a scale that has the notes C D E F G A B C, right? But, if you start on the third note of the major scale and play up or down to that same note for an octave, you have a mode, namely the Phrygian mode. At a closer look, we see the third note of C major is E played up an octave is E F G A B C D E. This succession of notes is called Phrygian Minor Mode.

Further, every Phrygian Minor will have the same construction of Whole and Half steps. For example:
E to F is a Half step,
F
to G is a Whole step,
G
to A is a Whole step,
A
to B is a Whole step,
B
to C is a Half Step,
C
to D is a Whole step,
D to E is a Whole step

So, you end up with a construction pattern of H W W W H W.

It's easier to envision the whole and half steps on a keyboard. Take a look:


To put it all in perspective, think about C Major having eight notes (C D E F G A B C) and every one of those notes has its own scale, referred to as a mode. So, look at the list below:

i. Major scale and its modes (Example C Major)
C. Ionian (aka Major Scale)-- W W H W W W H (C D E F G A B C)
D. Dorian ----------------- W H W W W H W (D E F G A B C D)
E. Phrygian ---------------H W W W H W W (E F G A B C D E)
F. Lydian ----------------- W W W H W W H (F G A B C D E F)
G. Mixolydian ----------- W W H W W H W (G A B C D E F G)
A. Aeolian (Natural Minor)-W H W W H W W (A B C D E F G A)
B. Locrian ---------------- H W W H W W W (B C D E F G A B)

Looking ahead, we'll cover all the modes of the Major Scale. It's important to begin to distinguish the over all sound of the scales/modes that you study, namely whether it is major or minor sounding. The key difference is the interval or space between the first note of the scale and the third note.

If the space is 4 half steps, then it is major, e.g., between C to E there is:
C to C# (Half step),
C# to D (Half),
D to D# (Half),
D# to E (Half),

a total of 4 half steps; this interval is called a major third.

If the space is 3 half steps, then it is minor, e.g., between C to Eb there is:
C to C# (Half step),
C# to D (Half),
D to Eb (Half),

a total of 3 half steps; this interval is called a minor third.

Most scales and modes will be have either a major or minor third; thus, giving them a sound of either major or minor. Begin to listen for these qualities while studying and playing these modes.

The Phrygian Mode is a minor sounding mode. Take a listen in the video:

***New Video Coming Shortly***

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

In the studio with Mute Math



Today, we got together to work on some new material. I'm really stoked about the new song ideas, and I can't wait to release the new record. I know it's been a long time coming for many Mute Math fans, but believe that we are just as anxious to have another album. We've been playing a lot of these same songs for years now. Thanks for all your patience in waiting for this new material, which by the way will be heard on this new fall tour.



Check it out: no computers here, just a monitor for the Roland! At the core, ASR-10 and a 4-track, vato!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Focusing In More

In thinking about the future and the direction of things, I decided that now is the time to focus in on particular topics, and to begin compartmentalize things. So, in order to do so, I created several new blogs with pinpoint content.

The first of the blogs is a blog or bloga dedicated to Latino Fiction, in which submissions from writers will be posted and shared. I hope that a community can develop to further this niche of literature. Below is the link to the new bloga.

Latino Fiction: Short Stories, Poems, Flash Fiction, Novellas

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Second, I have started a blog on dogs. It's more about "dog-spotting." Since I travel so much, I get to see a lot of beautiful canines, and I want to feature them in this site. I've started with a little story about the one who got me hooked on such creatures. Check it out:

I Look For Dogs All Day

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Third, I will create another focusing on Mute Math Tours, specifically dedicated to only one tour per blog. I hope to incorporate more content from others (such as fan reviews and comments, independent journalism, fan videos, MM video blogs, etc.) A link is soon to come.

This blog, my main blog, will continue to focus on bass and bass lessons, and in particular, anything technically associated with playing in Mute Math.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to ask questions and leave suggestions.

I'll leave you with another performance piece. Lessons will be soon to follow:







Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bossa-Like Improv

It's hard to remember when I first heard Brazilian music. It seems to always have been a part of me or around me, and it probably was; I just didn't know what it was or what to call it. For instance, my dad also use to play "Girl from Ipanema" all the time, and eventually, he taught it to me at a young age. I was probably ten years old when I first was finally able to get my little hands to play the chords to that beautiful song. I loved that song. My dad and I would play it together, trading solos and melody. It opened my mind to a new type of sound.



Later on (in high school), I got really heavy into the Brazilian sound. I truly fell in love with it. My first amor Brasileiro was Antonio Carlos Jobim. As I might have mentioned before, while in my senior year of high school, I'd buy a CD once a week, and I specifically remember going into Best Buy in McAllen, Texas to grab that Jobim album (Verve Jazz Masters series, you know)
Antonio Carlos Jobim
.


I still listen to this album frequently. There are so many classic songs on that disc: "Corcovado (Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars)," "Desafinado (Off Key)," "Insensatez," and "Triste" are my favorites. Everything about this record is so wonderful, from the recording quality to the
smooth vocal style.



Eventually, my exploration of Brazil led me to many other great artists and art forms, such as Edu Lobo, Sergio Mendes, Joao Gilberto, Gilberto Gil, Bebel Gilberto, Caetano Veloso, Moreno Veloso, Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho (and the Brazilian martial arts of Capoeira is truly fascinating), Celso Fonseca, Seu Jorge, Suba, etc., and I must mention that City of God is probably my number one favorite film of all time.



Now, in the following video, I'm only improvising a progression that has bossa-like qualities. I repeat it has bossa-like qualities; this is not necessarily bossa nova. That is a genre that has specific characteristics that we can take a look at much closer in videos to come. I've experienced playing bass with many musicians who taught me what is and is not acceptable when playing bossa nova and samba, for that matter, too. Bossa Nova and Samba are only two types of Brazilian styles that deserve lots of respect. Let's not confuse the issue.

Below, I'm playing outside the parameters of bossa nova and just having fun with the chords, which by the way are:

Db maj 7 (also written Db ∆7, which is made up of the notes - Db F Ab C)
C minor 7 (also written C-7)
F -7
Bb 7

Db maj 7 (also written Db ∆7, which is made up of the notes - Db F Ab C)
C minor 7 (also written C-7)
F -7 (F Ab C Eb) | Eb -7 (Eb Gb Bb Db)
Ab 7 (Ab C Eb Gb) | F-7 Eb-7

F -7
F#7 (F# A# C# E)
G -7 (G Bb D F)
Ab7





Soon, we will take a look at chords, their construction, and related scales. Slowly, it will all begin to intertwine and make perfect sense. For beginners who are patient with themselves will go farther and exceed in their playing and understanding of their instrument.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you like this improv.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Two Hand Tapping Improv (using the Locrian #6 mode)

Earlier, we were discussing modes and how they create a certain vibe; again, a mode is "an arrangement of the eight diatonic notes or tones of an octave according to one of several fixed schemes of their intervals" (Webster), and these modes can be found within other scales by starting on different notes.

In this video, I'm using mainly the second mode of the Harmonic Minor Scale, where the Harmonic Minor Scale uses the construction of W H W W H -3 H. In order to play the second mode (which has the name of Locrian #6), I start at the second note of the Harmonic Minor Scale, which gives me a construction of H W W H -3 H W. The "-3" means minor third interval, i.e., the distance of a whole plus a half step. For example, C to Eb or B to D.

I'm playing in B; so the mode tones I'm using are B C D E F G# A.

I'm also using a "two-hand tapping technique" that serves well for solo stuff. Victor Wooten is probably the best bassist who does this. To play this way, use both hands to tap onto the fretboard as if it were piano. Literally, I'm hammering the notes with both hand simultaneously. We'll take a closer look at this technique in videos to come, and we'll also explore the Harmonic Minor Scale and its modes.

This improvisation is inspired by Victor's playing.

Cheers!





Wednesday, August 01, 2007

My Basses

I chatted with a friend of mine today about how life has been for me while not being on the road. It seems strange, but I've adjusted to a lifestyle of always moving and touring. Naturally, it takes quite a bit of time to readjust to a "normal" way of living. In order to keep myself from going insane, I think I must create projects for myself while at home.

Well, to say "create projects" is a bit of a stretch because I feel that they always have existed. I simply haven't had the time to get around to them. For example, it's inevitable that all my three dogs are going to need baths when I get home. I don't make that up. Furthermore, it's inevitable that I will have to catch up on mail. This is by far the worst thing to come home to: a two-foot pile of mail, mostly junk. Other projects on this break have been remodeling my kitchen, writing new music, reading new books, and of course, making bass lesson videos.

I mentioned to my friend that I've been making bass lesson videos, and to my surprise, she asked why. I'm not sure why that would surprise her; she asked if it was "for fun?" This made me think of all the reasons why not only I but people in general think I'm making these videos.

First and foremost, I think it's to answer the questions I get from people on tour. From now on, if I get asked those questions (mainly bass stuff) again, I can refer him or her to my blog. I hope this doesn't sound annoyed. It's not. It's just simpler to say it once. Also, I think I can say it better and clearer this way. Well, at least, I'll try.

Second, I want to share any knowledge that I have about bass. I've been playing bass for 15 years, and, music in general, I've been playing my whole life. I used to give private lessons, and I think part of me misses that aspect of life.

Third, making these videos makes me become a better musician because I have to think about this stuff again. It's easy to forget if you are not applying it. I do apply a large portion of it with Mute Math, but not all of it. I doubt that I'll ever play slap bass with Mute Math for example.

Last, I'm working to a larger goal of writing a book, and blogs serve as a step by step process. I can get feedback from people viewing this, which I highly encourage and enjoy. Please do not be shy. This feedback helps me in my process, and makes for better use of this blog.

I plan to continue this process just as diligently once our fall tour starts, and I hope to bring you lessons and stories from all over the world.

Stay tuned . . .







Vintage Cab I used on MM debut (this is my dad's); it has two 15" Jensen speakers.