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Conclusion: Melody Good, Structure Good
Sometimes strong melodies are hidden under a scathing wall of noise, like with Jesus and Mary Chain or some Velvet Underground, but there's still melody. Sometimes the melody is very, very simple, but there's still melody. Sometimes the musical accompaniment is unusual, deconstructed, barely musical, but there's some structure.
Even seemingly unmusical compositions like the Beatles "Revolution Number 9" follow a structure, with repeating motifs and variations on a theme. Even noise bands like The Locust have structure. Our ears want to hear something set up, then a change, then a return to something we've already heard , usually with a variation.
If people like a band and want to tell other people about it and it makes them excited, there's probably melody in each part of each song. And these parts are probably in some form of three-part structure. Anyone who has any inkling of a desire to not only make great music, but especially to make a living at it, had better learn to write strong tunes. If I don't walk away from the first time I see you play with at least one chorus stuck in my head, I guarantee you'll never quit your day job with those songs.
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Chapter 3. Guitars, Basses, and Amps
You need gear. What you don't need is to spend way too much time and money collecting high-end equipment and too little time learning to use it. In the next five chapters you will learn how to pick out quality guitars, basses, keyboards, drums, amps, effects, P.A. systems, DJ equipment, music computers, and microphones without going broke. Also, you'll learn how to protect them and how to fix them.
I highly recommend that everyone in the band read this whole chapter. The guitarist can learn a lot about music in general from the drum section and vice versa. Even if you think you're beyond it and know it all, I'm pretty sure you'll find something useful here. In my filmmaking book, I advised aspiring directors to do some work as actors to make them better directors. The $30 Way is to learn as much about everything as you can, to make you better at your little corner of expertise in the world of rock and roll. [1.]
[1.] Keep in mind that when I say "rock and roll" or "rock 'n' roll," I am using the term generically, as in all rock music, not in the sense of the 1950s use of the term, like Elvis Presley and his contemporaries, although I would certainly include them, along with Black Sabbath, Minor Threat, Marilyn Manson, and everything in between.
Figure 3.1. Manny's Music in Hollywood.
Most of the equipment photos in this chapter were taken at Manny's Music in Hollywood (7360 Sunset Blvd.). Thanks to Judd for hooking us up. They rock and have big-store low prices with small-store good customer care.
They also have a store in New York City.
Guitar As Girl
A lot of guys name their guitars. They personify their guitar and treat it like it's their woman . I don't. To me a guitar is a tool. nothing more. I don't sleep with my guitar, talk to it, or even usually pick it up unless I have a definite purpose: rehearsing with a band, writing a song, recording a song, or playing for a friend. I just almost never pick it up and "noodle."
I did when I was younger . A lot of how I learned to play was messing around on guitar in my room, but more often than not, when I picked it up, I played a song on it.
I actually learned to play guitar in public, playing when I was 14 and 15 in a park in Chautauqua, New York. It enabled me to easily talk to girls . I actually had groupies way before I could even really play.
This attitude is more process oriented than a lot of people's methodology for learning and playing an instrument. I find that a process-oriented , rather than goal-oriented, outlook works best for me. I play, I play a song, eventually I play the song with other people and make a record; then I go on tour. I don't set out saying "I'll buy an instrument and then try to be a rock star." I think a lot of people do this, but they are fooling themselves . Most bands I see are just putting on the clothing and playing the role.
Ian MacKaye says similar things in my flick D.I.Y. or Die . We have a similar mentality on some things. That's one reason I've always dug his deal.
Play to play music; play to create; hell, play to meet girls and guys, but don't put the cart before the horse. Get the basics down first.
Don't worry; that won't take long. It ain't rocket surgery. It's rock and roll. And I like it.
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