Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Christmas Listening

Posted by Brian on 20th December 2011 in General Music, Music Review, Review

If you’re like me you find it challenging to find good Christmas music to listen to. It seems that most modern Christmas recordings are trying so hard to sound “fresh” that they overlook trying to sound good.

This year a friend introduced me to a very nice Christmas album by The Lower Lights titled “Come Let Us Adore Him”. The Lower Lights appear to be something of a musical collective who focus on performing bluegrass gospel tunes and this Christmas collection is a tastefully done recording of traditional Christmas tunes with a definite bluegrass flavour.

Have a listen:

You can order the album from their BandCamp site for US$ 11.99 or for an extra dollar plus shipping you can get an actual CD which includes a free download while you wait to receive it.

(As always, I have no financial or other interest in this band or recording.)


					

This is Cool: Rhythm and the Brain

Posted by Brian on 8th June 2011 in Book Review, General Music, Music Theory

As the result of a recommendation from an internet acquaintance, I’ve been reading and enjoying “Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy – How Music Captures Our Imaginations” by Robert Jourdain. It has been a wonderful read so far. (It’s out of print, but I was able to get it through AbeBooks.com)

I’ve just finished reading the chapter on rhythm and it discusses how our sense of rhythm is predominantly seated in the left half of our brains and provides a neat experiment that you can try: With your left hand, tap out a continuous 1-2-3-4 beat. Now with your right hand tap out a more complex beat. It doesn’t have to be wildly more complex, a relatively simple 1-2&3-4 will do just fine. Most people can do this with very little difficulty. Now, switch hands. Tap out the steady beat with the right hand and the complex rhythm with the left. Much harder, isn’t it? Now, I knew from experience that this would be the case, but I had always assumed that this was because I am right-handed (i.e. left-brain dominant), but apparently, this is the case whether your are left- or right-handed. (Assuming that you have typical brain lateralization – left-brain dominance resulting in right-handedness and vice-versa – which, apparently, not everyone does.) This would explain why so many left-handed people play guitar right handed, the right hand (picking hand) being naturally better at producing complex rhythms.

Try it out and let me know the results – especially you southpaws out there! (And if you’re a left-handed guitarist, let me know if you play right- or left-handed, too!)

Book Review: Six String Nation

Posted by Brian on 29th March 2011 in Book Review, Guitar, Review, The Instrument

Back in December, I wrote a post on the Six String Nation Guitar. A guitar that was built using Canadian historical and cultural artifacts.

Shortly after I wrote that post, I was given the Six String Nation book written by Jowi Taylor, who first conceived the idea of the Six String Nation Guitar.

The book is basically a history of the guitar, which has been nicknamed “Voyageur”.

Taylor starts with the initial concept and takes us through the collection of materials and construction of the instrument, to its performance debut, and beyond to its appearances at various music festivals and other events. There are also a number of short pieces throughout the book featuring various people who were involved in the creation of the instrument and stories of how various artifacts from different regions came to beĀ  part of the instrument.

The book is well written and interesting, but what really struck me was the photography. One of the features of the Six String Nation project is that when the guitar is at a public event, a photographer is available to take pictures of different people holding the guitar. The photos are all taken with the same white backdrop, but the artistry of the photos is quite striking. There are also lots of photos of the guitar being played both on stage and off, by a number of Canadian performers.

So if you’re looking for a gift for that special guitar-playing someone, this just may be the ticket.

Ordering information can be found on the Six String Nation Website.
(Note: I have no affiliation with the book, its author, or its publisher.)