I was watching a 3-part video in which Adam Neely and Ben Levin converse about a range of topics. One thing that came up was a band featured on NPR Music‘s Tiny Desk Concerts. They’re called Songhoy Blues. Wikipedia describes them as a desert punk/blues group from Timbuktu, Mali. They were formed after fleeing strife and Sharia Law in their country. Their name comes from their being Songhoy people, which is an ethnic West African group. Nick Zinner, guitarist from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs produced a track of theirs called Soubour, which means “patience”. Following this, Zinner helped produce their first album, Music in Exile, in 2015.
I like their sound quite a bit. There’s something intriguing to hearing blues with Songhoy lyrics sung on top of them. Because I don’t understand the words, they become something of a 2nd melody to follow, instead. Guitarist Garba Toure is apparently the son of the percussionist for Ali Farka Toure (1939-2006), whose music also blended traditional Malian music and blues. The band covered their music at their inception.
I’ve been a fan of Adam Neely since this blog started in 2011. Some of my first posts are about his early videos – particularly his videos about proper right and left hand technique. I just discovered Ben Levin a few months ago and have been watching his theory vids (as his alter-ego, Fake Dr. Levin) a bit. Well, apparently, they’re friends and went to Berklee together – and I just discovered some collaborative videos from the two of them in which they demonstrate creative songwriting exercises for guitar and bass.
I liked the counterpoint one, in particular, because I’m a fan of counterpoint (listen to the bass on Opeth’s 2nd album!). They also got into an exercise from Mick Goodrich‘s “The Advancing Guitarist“. I read some of that after discovering it through Tom Kenrick‘s blog a while ago. They demonstrated an exercise from the 1st chapter, which was about playing on a single string. All 3 videos have interesting creative applications, so grab a snack and enjoy!
I haven’t shared actual music that I enjoy in more than a year. Since posting that video from Adam Neely about mashups, I have to share this: Diary of a Lovesong from A Perfect Circle. Its mashes up Ozzy Osbourne and The Cure. My brother first showed this to me, like 15 years ago and then my wife and I fell in love with the song. It apparently never had a studio release – its only done live.
The Lovesong music parts have Diary of a Madman lyrics, and vice versa. I always thought it worked really well. Enjoy.
Here’s a fun video from Adam Neely about mashups, or as 13th century composers called them, quodlibets. He goes into some music theory about them, initially, highlighting that its their tempos that really allow them to work together. He also speaks about the I-V-VI-IV chord progression, which is used in a lot of pop music, as illustrated by that old Axis of Awesome video that mashed up about 500 songs to demonstrate it. 😉
Some compositional attributes that allow a lot of this music to be melded together include their overall use of notes from the major scale, which – if I understand this correctly – allows them to be more readily transposed to the same key; 4-bar phrase lengths, which allows them to fit passages of the same length together; and cyclic chord progressions that repeat without a strong sense of resolution, so they can keep going without end. Enjoy!
Here’s another amazing video from Adam Neely. This one’s about audiation, which is essentially imagining sound sequences with your mind’s ear. Just like we think using words in our mind, we can also conceptualize sounds and music there as well… or at least some of us can.
Here’s a new video from the always impressive Adam Neely. This one is basically about counterpoint and not playing root notes when soloing. I happen to love counterpoint (its why the bass playing on Opeth‘s first two albums, Orchid and Morningrise, are some of my favorite pieces… I’m not particularly in love with their more recent offerings). I think I understand the basics of everything he’s talking about, but I’m absolutely not ready for 9ths, 11ths and 13ths and the like. It also dovetails nicely into the stuff I read last week in Target and Approach Tone s- Shaping Bebop Lines.
Anyway, watch the video. Adam is gold.
Here’s a new video from Adam Neely about transcribing music. Its a fascinating watch, not only because Adam is so coherent and fluid in his explanations, but because he actually transcribes a song using Sibelius right in front of us, so we can actually observe the process from someone who’s demonstrably good at it. It also helps that he picks “Just Like Heaven” from The Cure, which I dig. 😉
At first blush, it might seem that his method only applies to people who know how to read standard notation, but I think the principles apply more broadly – he speaks about transcribing in detail, leaving notes or cues to yourself that help you keep track of where you are in a song, when to indicate that a part repeats, and so on. Even if you write solely in tab, I’m sure that the ideas that he shares remain the same.
One important thing to note here is that Adam also has a good ear. He’s practiced and honed his ability, whether through relative pitch or actively recognizing notes as they’re played, so this process is going to be much smoother for him than say, someone like myself.
Here’s the Talkbass thread that he shared the video to: