Monthly Archives: November 2013

Musicians from Raleigh

Raleigh has produced many musicians, from boy wonders to hardcore metal bands. Here I compile a list of local musicians grouped by genre or instrument. I’ve tried to be as inclusive as possible, but note that rock is really what I’m into, and this blogpost is a work in progress.

Bands from Raleigh

Musicians

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How guitars work

Have you ever looked at an electric guitar and wondered how it produced those mysterious sounds? When people first take up guitar the anatomy of the instrument can be confusing. It is important to understand the parts of a guitar and how they produce the sounds we hear to learn, play or build a guitar.

The strings of a guitar stretch up from their lower fixing on the bridge and bend up over a raised piece called a saddle. From here the strings are suspended along the neck, which is divided into frets designated by glued metal lines perpendicular to the strings. At the top of the neck the strings are wound by pegs on the guitar head. Strings vibrate once they are plucked or strummed. The note that is produced depends on the length, tension, weight, and springiness of the string.

On an acoustic guitar these vibrations cause changes in surrounding air pressure (soundwaves). The front section is called the soundboard and has a distinctive hole in (the soundhole). The shape of the guitar’s body affects its tone (the frequency of the soundwaves). Soundwaves are amplified at the back of the guitar’s body (the soundboard), and emerge from the sound hole and through the air as audible sound.

For electric guitars there is no hole and the body of the guitar is solid. String vibrations are detected by an electromagnetic pickups (bar magnets over a wire coil), sending a signal down a wire that is made audible by an electronic amplifier. (The same principle is applied by electric pickups used to amplify sound from acoustic guitars.)

There are also completely electric midi guitars like the You Rock Guitar. I’ve watched various Youtube videos of these, and I was not impressed. Acoustic and electric guitars are handcrafted wooden instruments. No synthesised alternative has come close. Perhaps I’ll continue this rant in a future post…for now enjoy the sounds made by your acoustic and electric guitars y’all!

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How to make a guitar

Do you like figuring out how things function and working with your hands? Fancy a project making or modifying a musical instrument? Here are some links that get into the nitty gritty of how to build your own instrument and how guitar components work:

Basic guitars (good to make with a child?)
How to make a shoebox guitar
Tin Can Guitar

Electric guitars
Instructables
WikiHow

Acoustic guitars (warning: advanced skills required!)
Acoustic Guitar Build Blog
Build Your Guitar

Customise your guitar
Mojo Shout

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I’ve just updated my list of weekly jams in Raleigh. The open mic nights at Ruckus and The Brickhouse are organised by Thomas Faucette (TJ) and Brian Jones. To get a feel for their musical tastes and abilities you can follow their Youtube channels here and here. The open mic night downtown at Zydeco is organised by Koury Thompson.

If you know of online media from people who arrange these events I would be really interested in hearing from you – get in touch!

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What’s so special about you?

So last week’s blog on standing out for cycling with a guitar was a a bit tongue in cheek, though it is a practical problem I face. Here I want to consider your USP – this is your Unique Selling Point, what distinguishes you from everyone else in the marketplace. You’re operating in a dynamic market where your services, your competition, and the perceptions of your customers are all changing. So thinking about your USP is a reflexive process that you should not stop doing, whether you’re running a part time freelance business, whether you’re working on a team, or whether you’re a big boss.

I’ve had to think about this twice: when setting myself up as a guitar tutor in Sheffield, and when moving to Raleigh and considering a similar line of work.

There are two stages to figuring out your USP:

  1. Scout out the competition (in person, in marketing material, on the web) – what are they up to? What does your business offer? Is there anything you offer that the competition does not? – make sure your marketing reflects your niche.
  2. Listen to customer feedback (in person, emails, phone calls, emails, online reviews) – what do they value in your business? Do they have other needs that you could meet? – make sure your marketing reflects the ways you satisfy your customers.

These might seem like simple questions, but often people neglect to gather the data or spend the time answering them properly. If you take the time to listen to other businesses and your customers, you will be well prepared to communicate what you can most usefully sell or provide. Feed the results of your research into your marketing material.

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From now I’ll just publish two blog posts a week, down from five a week since this blog started. I’ll also update existing posts as I discover new and useful links for you.

Thanks for reading my blog,

Composing your own music

It’s fun to learn to cover other musicians, but many students want to write their own stuff. Writing great songs is the key to getting noticed and building your own fan base. Songwriting can be a challenge both lyrically and musically, and requires a lot of stamina, but is well worth the effort as it helps you develop your own personal style.

If you’re a minimalist like me all you really need to get started is your instrument, a pencil, and a piece of paper. Once you start reworking things you wrote before you will want words, notes, and instructions for each version of each song saved on your computer. There are some great tools on the web to help you too, from composing apps to lyric suggestions to entire songwriting courses. And if you’ve found anything helpful do share them with the rest of us!

Web apps

Noteflight
UJAM

Help with lyrics

Lyric Ideas

Courses

Free songwriting course on Coursera

For kids

The Music Lab
The Fimbles Music Maker

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