Tag Archives: singing

Let the frog sing for you! That will make it easy.

Let the frog sing for you! That will make it easy.

I accidentally posted the above comment as a status update on Facebook. It was intended as a follow-up to a status update my sister wrote about having a frog in her throat during a try-out for a musical. But taken out of context, it is even better.

“Let the frog sing for you! That will make it easy.”

I like the sound of that. It really encompasses my whole songwriting methodology. That is, I will often write all sorts of bad notes, songs, and lyrics before I write any good ones. The way I see it, there are all sorts of frogs covering up my good ideas. I need to let them loose before I can get at the good stuff that’s underneath.

For my band’s new record, Faraway Farm, I had 100 songs that I was working with at the get-go. Many of them suck. About 30 are of the “might be good enough for the album” quality. And only 14 are of a “good enough for the album AND fit the style of the album” quality. So, at the end of the day, only 14% of my songs are ready for prime-time. That seems like the right amount.

But that means that 86% of my stuff isn’t good. That is okay.

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For every creative endeavor, there is a load of garbage to sift through.

My friend Dan says that in order to be an expert at something, you have to spend at least 10,000 hours doing it. He is right. I would add that most of the first 10,000 hours is spent toiling over garbage (though it doesn’t seem like garbage at the time).

I bet I wrote 100 songs before I wrote my first one that was worth a damn (called “Scent of a King” and on The Corrupt Senators’ sophomore release – I’ll try to dig that up for y’all in January). And I bet I spent 5,000 hours building websites before I built one that was any good.

There is only one way to do this thing. You’ve got to let your frogs sing!

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Changing the Way I Sing

I have been taking voice lessons for the last month or so and have learned a lot about how some singers use their stomachs (i.e. diaphrams) to push air through their mouth rather than using their throats as I normally do. The advantages of using my diaphram are potentially huge, with the biggest advantage being the ability to perform for longer periods of time without tiring.

Currently, my voice gets pretty tired after about a half hour of singing and it gets REALLY tired at the 45-minute mark. I don’t like that.

Some of my favorite songs (“Kids”, “Quittin’ my job”, “Tonight was a wonderful night.”) require me to really belt out the high notes, which is what makes my throat super tired.

So, I am learning about singing with my diaphram. Like most things that are good to learn, practice is paramount. So, this week, I will be starting to re-learn some of my songs. That is, I will re-learn how to breath them and how to push air out of my mouth.

It’s weird, but after all these years of singing, I never really learned how to sing. In fact, I probably picked up all sorts of techniques that make it harder for me to hit and hold notes.

Part of my sound is my voice, so anytime I go and mess with something like that, it worries me. But I have gone through this before – like when I switched from alternative rock to swing-rock. Or when I switched from singing mostly low notes to mostly high notes (this was WAYYY before y’all knew me). It’s a big change, and hopefully for the better.

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Rock-and Roll in the Digital Age: How the Garage Band and the Internet has Democratized Music

Yesterday I led a session at Unsummit about the democratization of music entitled, “Rock-and-Roll in the Digital Age”.  The personal computer and the Internet have significantly altered the path of music history.  With virtually no technical roadblocks to recording music, everyone with access to a computer can do things that would have cost thousands of dollars just a decade ago.  Put simply, artists can now focus on their art.

Back in the day (pre-2004), getting a “pro” sound recorded meant spending thousands of dollars in a recording studio. We had to pay for the space and also for the audio engineer.  Then we had to pay for master tapes and, God forbid we wanted a CD to play at home, we had to pay for that.

Today, we have an opportunity to record music using stuff we mostly already own.  There is no need for an audio engineer.  “Space” can be anywhere that is quiet.  And your computer is your recording studio.

The impact of this shift in ease-of-recording is that more and more artists are able to create music.  This is great.  Couple that with free or pay-as-you-go national and international distribution (i.e. websites, iTunes, Rhapsody, and Napster) as well as an organizational and categorizing tool (i.e. Google), and we’ve got everything we need to get rolling!  (Securing fans is a different story…)

As you have probably read, this democratization of music has REALLY pissed the record labels off.  They have sued everybody they can think of to sue.  They have squandered so many opportunities to become relevant that they are now a laughing stock.  Today, the record labels’ main assett is their connections/network.  They can still open doors for musicians but only because they have a solid stable of established bands that signed up before the digital age changed everything.  They can offer opening slots and give bands credibility.  And they can loan you money.  They can also provide you with a business organization.

BUT most of that is irrelevant for most musicians.

Most musicians make music for the joy of it.  And even the ones who are trying to make it big don’t really need the labels.  It takes a lot of hard work and persistence to make a career out of music, but it would take a similar amount of hard work and persistence to get noticed by a record label.  In fact, record labels are now looking for polished acts with a proven track record of success, basically serving as loan sharks to established bands.

Some perspective on my session.

In any case, here is me rapping at yesterday’s Unsummit (from multiple angles!!!).  :)

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And here’s another video clip from the session.

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