Sunday, 4 October 2015

Ten Song September

Social media is full of people doing challenges. Sometimes these are for charity or to promote some cause, but some are just a form of motivation to achieve a personal goal. Some of my friends on Tsu were doing some for September and I decided to do a musical one to get me playing more guitar. I've done a few music videos before, but I have been wanting to do them more often.

My target was to do at least ten of these during the month. I wasn't going to worry too much about production quality as I'm concentrating more on just playing these days.

About a Girl is a song I've played a lot at pub sessions, so it was an easy one to kick things off. Recorded in the bedroom on my phone as my kids take over the study these days.

Another personal goal has been to write my own songs. I've had a few ideas, but never seem to get around to developing them. I wrote a post on Tsu a while back that ended with the line "I came for the money, but stayed for the people". That seemed to resonate with people and I was inspired to try writing a song around it. It quickly evolved into The Tsu Song. I used a fairly standard set of chords to keep it simple and got it recorded. That took longer than planned as I kept messing up. Even this take went wrong, hence the cussing at the end.

Skullcrusher Mountain is a song by the great Jonathan Coulton that I enjoy playing. This was a spur of the moment recording as I wanted to get another one done that day after having issues doing another. Another bedroom phone recording.

There are lots of on-line guitar tutorials around these days. They are a great way to get you playing something new. I like this series on Premier Guitar. They have a neat web player than show the music as it plays the backing track. I'd just been to see Foo Fighters, so this seemed appropriate. I had tried it before.

Sometimes I'll be listening to music and think 'I could play that!' Holiday by Green Day was one such song. It is fairly easy, but I looked up some tab anyway to speed things up. My daughter plays bass and had played this, so we decided to do it together.

I was sharing my posts about this challenge with some fellow Tsuvians. I put out a call for requests and someone asked for some Billy Joel. Still Rock and Roll to me is an old favourite of mine. It didn't take long to learn.

A lot of my early guitar experience was having classical lessons. I don't play it much these days, but I still try it now and again. I find it a completely different challenge to playing rock. This is a piece called Alman from my old Grade 5 book.

On a trip into London I decided to treat myself to some new effects pedal. I don't have very many and want to learn how to use them properly. I got an overdrive and a wah. I decided to jam a little demo to show them off.

Many years ago, before we had a web full of cool free guitar lessons I used to buy guitar magazines. Some of these came with a CD of backing tracks. One of those was for the Paul Weller song Sunflower. I'd tried it a few times, but never recorded it before. I used my new overdrive on this.

The final song of the month was Porcupine Tree's Lazarus. This was done the day I saw the band's Steven Wilson play an amazing show at the Royal Albert Hall. He did this song, but much better of course. He also played another, Open Car, that I've also covered.

I consider this challenge to be a success. I had hoped to do more new songs, but limited time prevented that. However, I did write my first song! I'm thinking I should do another challenge that will involve writing more songs.

For October I'm challenging myself to just learn some more classic riffs to expand my musical vocabulary. There are certain tunes that every guitarist ought to be able to play, but that I just have never learned. I don't know if I will record these. We shall see.

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