Category : Music

Can you learn ‘pocket’? You have to define it first…

Rob Brown recently made a video asking an interesting drumming-related question: can you learn ‘pocket’? You might find it interesting to watch the video yourself before reading the rest of this article. The general message from Rob appears to be that he thinks it’s 50-50. In other words, it’s partly natural, partly practice. My short answer to the question is ‘yes, you can learn pocket but some people might find it easier than others’, which is somewhat similar of a […]

Left-hand lead or right-hand lead? Matched grip or traditional grip? Why not all of them…

  A common topic of discussion among drummers is how ‘best’ to grip the sticks and the ‘best’ technique to use. Of course, the only correct response to all of these is that the ‘best’ technique is whichever allows you to play the music you want to play, as comfortably as it is possible for you to do so. For many people, this means picking an approach and learning how to do everything with that consistent approach. For right-handed players, […]

Why do niche bands become more mainstream?

Bands like Genesis, Muse, Metallica, and Dave Matthews Band have something important in common. They started out with music that was somewhat ‘against the grain’, attracting a specialist audience of listeners. Once they became more established, however, their music shifted towards more mass-market appeal, attracting the wider majority. I’m sure you can think of examples of bands which you liked, but felt subsequently ‘sold out’ in their later years. Conversely, you may also be able to think of bands that […]

Discovering musical identity

A little while ago, I came across the interesting website ‘Every Noise at Once‘. It is an attempt to visually map every defined genre of music, so that one can see the proximity of one genre to another. This is not only useful as a discovery tool for finding new music styles that you might enjoy, it also has the potential to tell us something quite insightful about the history and evolution of music. There are some very cool analyses […]

Musical Winterlude: Hourglass

Here is an early Christmas present. This is my solo guitar adaptation of Hourglass, by John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess.

3 Mental Tips to Help You Improve Your Guitar Playing

If you’re a guitar player of any level, you’ll appreciate that there is a lot of information around the internet on how to improve your skills. It seems to me that most of this is centred around learning a specific lick/phrase and improving general technique. This is great, and is very useful indeed. Being self-taught, I spent a lot of time sucking in as much of this knowledge as I could (and still do). But ask any world-class or well […]

The Psychology of Playing Fast

Being able to pull off a really fast piece of proficient playing on a musical instrument is something almost everyone would like to be able to do. How we go about doing this is surprisingly simple and quite well known. You practice something you want to be able to play fast at a slow tempo. Then, gradually, you crank up the tempo using a metronome (or something similar) and after some time, you should be able to reach the tempo […]

Musical Interlude – Always With Me, Always With You

Here’s a video of me playing Joe Satriani’s classic – Always With Me, Always With You. Enjoy.

Cycle your way to musical theory

Modes. They seem to be difficult for many musicians to get the hang of. Fortunately, I’ve found that the easiest way to understand them and to explain them lies in a nice bit of maths. A quick note on Cycles Cycles are a neat piece of mathematics, lying as a part of permutations within the realms of combinatorics and algebra. Despite its simple nature, it has very powerful applications. Let me give you a short introduction. A permutation of a […]

Mathematical Music

Maths and music. Probably my two favourite subjects, and yet, two things that are often considered as mutually exclusive. But this is very, very far from the truth. Much research has been done to show that logicians and mathematicians are often very talented musicians. History also supports this fact (I have linked to a couple of interesting articles at the end of this one that go into more detail about this). There are more direct mathematical links to be found […]

Ten of the best (lesser known) guitar tracks

I was originally asked to write a themed list of 10 songs last year for my university newspaper – The Beaver – but unfortunately the feature was scrapped. So I unearthed my article, and have modified it a bit to include less popular tunes, but potentially better examples of what mastery of this wonderful instrument can mean. I’ve tried to keep it to one track per artist so as to provide a wide a range of listening as possible. I […]