Play Blues Now: New Steve Stine Course @ GuitarZoom

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A few days prior to Christmas 2013, I was working long hours to complete transcribing the sheet music for this course while juggling other important tasks such as our church’s Christmas concert rehearsals, finishing my composition for the said concert, working on other projects, being a parent and homeschool teacher, graduate school stuff, and others. It was a tough time, and though I’m able to relax for now I do have other things that I have to complete. Anyway, going back to the course, this is a beginner blues course for guitar by none other than in-demand modern guitar pedagogue, Steve Stine.

To cut things short, this is an excellent course (in my biased opinion) for anyone who wants to know the nitty-gritty on the Blues. It covers the essentials of the Blues from the rhythm up to improvisation and soloing, making it a very complete course that will enable you to do what it says: Play Blues Now!

If you want to purchase the DVD and book, please click on the image above. Sheet music transcription by none other but yours truly.

Firestorm Guitar: New GuitarZoom Course by Steve Stine

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Because of the great interest in learning how to play lead in an effort to be the next Yngwie Malmsteen or the next darling of Shrapnel Records or what have you, education regarding rhythm guitar playing is usually underrated or neglected. In many occasions, we often fail to realize that rhythm is the bedrock in which all genres and styles of music settle in. Well, this is no longer the case. Steve Stine addresses this concern with his new course called “Firestorm Guitar”, a very comprehensive rhythm guitar course. As usual, sheet music transcription and engraving was done by none other than yours truly.

Some of the interesting things that Steve teaches in this course include how closely related rhythm guitar playing is to playing hand percussion like maracas, the “ocean effect” or “organic strumming”, and figuring out appropriate rhythm patterns for any song. And so, if you’ve always wondered how you could become a better rhythm guitar player and you want to push your skills up to the next level, I highly recommend going to the GuitarZoom website and clicking on the graphic above to check out Firestorm Guitar.

Steve Stine’s 42 Days to Blazing Guitar Solos

About a month ago, I started working on what was once called Steve Stine’s “Essential Techniques for Guitar”. This is a compendium of pure guitar technique, teaching you the “how” of lead guitar soloing. After weeks of grueling transcription and completing the sheet music, GuitarZoom has released what is now called “42 Days to Blazing Guitar Solos”.

If you are at least an intermediate electric guitar player want to do everything from nailing famous guitar to creating your own solos from scratch, I suggest going to the link below:

42-days-to-blazing-guitar-solos

Other than working on this course, I just completed transcribing another blues course and I’m working on a number of things simultaneously. Therefore, I can say I’m busier than a bee. I guess that’s it for now. I hope that over the next 42 days, you’ve transformed yourself into a guitar hero under Steve Stine’s tutelage.

Steve Stine’s Songfire Now Available

Songfire

GuitarZoom, one of my long-term employers, has another very useful course for anybody who’s interested in learning new songs on the guitar in a fast and intelligent way. This new course is called Songfire. Written by GuitarZoom’s guitarist-in-residence and professor of modern guitar at North Dakota State University, Steve Stine, This new course offers a no-nonsense approach that could enable any guitar beginner into hearing how most songs work and then eventually learn them in the process.

Now, for those who think they can become instant virtuoso players with this course, you are mistaken. This course is NOT about gaining virtuoso technique in an instant (it takes years of hard work and practice to gain that). This course is more about being able to play many of the songs you hear and enjoy on your guitar in a fast way. This course is not about being able to play your favorite songs note by note, but it is more about being able to understand the underlying harmonic structure (chord progressions, etc.) based on what you hear. Upon finishing the course, you’d be able to listen actively to many pop and rock songs and be able to play through its chord progression in a matter of minutes.

Okay, maybe some will be disappointed that virtuoso guitarist Steve Stine released a non-virtuoso course. Well, that is not the point of Songfire. Songfire’s intent is to give learners the ability to hear music as a whole and be able to at least play a semblance of it, following along the chord progression WITHOUT reading notation or tab. B ear in mind that seemingly simple, sort of entry-level topics like those in Songfire could easily lead any beginning guitarist to be stimulated into getting deeper into the workings of music, eventually figuring out what most of us would consider virtuoso technique. The positive and pleasurable effects of being to successfully learn a new song can always lead to bigger things, musically speaking.

If you want to get access to the course, just click on the Songfire image above. As usual, sheet music and text by none other than yours truly.

Franck Hermanny of Adagio Provides Feedback Regarding “Nuit Blanche” Transcription

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I was experiencing a week without any sort of new project to work with. It was one of those times in a freelance “behind the scenes” musician’s life that is free. To occupy myself while in the middle of applying for and acquiring new projects, I decided to exercise my music transcription skills by going the Steve Vai route: transcribing a rather difficult piece of music and sending it to the composer himself. While Mr. Vai back in the 80s worked on Frank Zappa’s music, I decided to take on one of the songs by virtuoso bassist Franck Hermanny.

To anyone of you who are not aware of who Mr. (or should I say Monsieur?) Hermanny is, he is the a French freelance musician most popularly known as the bassist of Adagio, a progressive metal band. While Adagio’s music primarily sounds like Ludwig Van Beethoven and John Williams playing in a progressive metal band, Mr. Hermanny’s solo work has a great dose of jazz fused with Frank Gambale style sweep picking and neoclassical shred ON A SIX-STRING BASS! This bass player sounds like he can play anything under the sun ranging from Rocco Prestia funk to Geddy Lee prog.

Back to talking about the transcription itself, I decided to take on the song “Nuit Blanche” because I recently acquired a six-string bass myself and I wanted to learn more about Franck Hermanny’s technique and music. I spent nine work hours over a three-day period working on the score. If you have watched the video of Nuit Blanche, you’ll see and hear that it’s no simple feat to transcribe:

“Nuit Blanche” was just perfect because of it’s pedagogical nature, given that I usually transcribe sheet music for music education purposes (mainly guitar). After completing the draft, I had the “cojones” to send it to Franck Hermanny himself and ask for feedback. So what did the bass master say about it? Here it goes:

  • He appreciated the time and effort I spent working on the piece.
  • There were some mistakes here and there, which is a given because of the piece’s difficulty.
  • I should have written it with a doubled tempo (around 160 BPM in half notes instead of quarter notes). In this case, the note values will be doubled, making it easier to sight read (reading 8th notes at a faster tempo is easier than reading 16th note runs because of simpler beat divisions)
  • Overall, he said I did a really great job.

I’m quite happy with the notation I did for “Nuit Blanche” although I can still do better as he had suggested. Since I have an upcoming transcription project I need to work on this coming work week, I would not be able to perform the necessary edits for the Nuit Blanche score for now. If I get the time, I will edit the score based on Mr.Hermanny’s feedback.

So, for anyone who is interested in getting the sheet music for “Nuit Blanche”, feel free to contact me. Please remember, however, that this sheet music is still in draft form and is in no way final or official…that is unless Mr. Hermanny would ask me to create an official version with his guidance and blessing of course ; ) (and in that case, you would have to buy the score rather than get it for free).

Six String Madness Interviews Mark Galang

Just this week, I was interviewed by Scott of Six String Madness regarding my work and insights as a music transcriber for Steve Stine and GuitarZoom.

Read the interview via the links below:

http://www.sixstringmadness.com/exclusive-interview-mark-galang
http://www.stevestine.com/exclusive-interview-with-mark-galang/

For more tips about playing guitar and info regarding getting the best blues, rock and metal guitar lessons on the net, go visit sixstringmadness.com.

Steve Stine’s 96 Blues Licks Now Available

After two weeks of hard work, I’m proud to announce that Steve Stine’s long anticipated 96 Blues Licks course for guitar has already been released by GuitarZoom. If you’ve ever dreamed of playing the blues and all sorts of its derivatives like blues rock and Texas blues, this is the course that you’ve been waiting for.

Steve Stine’s 96 Blues Licks course can be seen as part of a continuity of lead guitar instruction courses by the guru himself. If the first Solofire installment and Music Theory Made Easy provided you with the “how” of guitar soloing and music making, 96 Blues Licks provides you the “what”. You can say that it’s going to form part of your ever expanding vocabulary of lead guitar lines.

One of the most awesome aspects of 96 Blues Licks is that it provides some insights into the music theory behind playing the Blues. The introductory material provides a good method into how any guitar player would approach using the licks and putting them in the context of any song. Rather than just being told how a lick is played, the introductory materials actually provide more by helping learners expand the licks into things more than just soloing.

The sheet music provided (transcribed by no other than yours truly) is in the usual standard notation and guitar tablature format. It covers all of the materials in the DVD and we even went far as including all of Steve’s jam track improvisations at the end of the course so that learners can actually gain insight as to how Steve approaches playing the Blues.

So, to cut the long story short, if you’ve ever dreamed of being like Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Chuck Berry or Stevie Ray Vaughn, check out Steve Stine’s 96 Blues Licks. If you’re a blues guitar fan, I guarantee that you’ll get more than your money’s worth just listening to how Steve gets you going with the Blues.

Kidoteca’s Magical Music Box: iPads and Android Tablets as Instant Mega-Music Boxes

Have you received a music box as a gift during your childhood years? Now you can go back to those sweet childhood memories filled with wonder and excitement through Kidoteca’s Magical Music Box. I would be quick to admit my bias when m writing this review (I worked on its music after all), but I just can’t contain my excitement over it. Truth of the matter is that I really love it, and I think most of you will too.

I just received a complimentary copy of the software from Stanislas Hauptmann of Kidoteca. As soon as I had it installed in my iPad, I couldn’t help but be filled with awe and excitement as all of the 16 piece of music that I arranged for this instrument came to life.

The present version of the Magical Music Box gives you a total of 6 different music box styles. Instead of a single diorama you might find in an actual music box, you can actually “dress up” your music box depending on your mood or whatnot. However, (again, here’s my bias going off), the most important thing about the Magical Music Box is the music itself.

I arranged a total of 16 pieces for this instrument. These piece range from the most serious of classical music pieces like “Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5”, children’s classics like “Old MacDonald” and others. Of all the selections in the Magical Music Box, “Swan Lake”, “Beautiful Dreamer” and “Invention No. 8” are my favorites.

One more great thing about the Magical Music Box is the interactive interface. Upon opening the music box, you can start cranking it up to produce sounds from it just like the real thing. If your iPad has a folder-style case, you’ll see that if you cover up the screen, the music box is going to stop playing. Again, this is the same as real music boxes where closing the lid would stop the mechanism from playing. If you’re not in the mood to crank up the music box, you could just press the gramophone icon so that it would play as if it was a player piano. Another cool thing about it is that you can access tiny bits of history regarding each piece of music in the Magical Music Box.

At the present time, there are two versions of the Magical Music Box. You can try out the Lite version for free before you decide to purchase a copy. I think you can get way more for your money if you purchase the full version, which is only $0.99 on the App Store at the present time.

You can get a copy of Kidoteca’s Magical Music Box through the following links:


iOS Users

Android Users

Kidoteca’s “Magical Music Box” to be Released on Apple’s AppStore Tomorrow

About a few weeks ago, I was working with Kidoteca, a publisher and developer of iOS and Android apps aimed at children, on a project called the “Magical Music Box”. My job consisted of arrangement and transcription of various pieces of music from standard notation or audio and into a special worksheet that Stanislas Hauptmann (one of the top guys at Kidoteca) and his crew developed. I can’t wait to be able to try out on the iPad and hear for myself the results of my work.

To give more details about my experiences while working on this project, Mr. Hauptmann provided me with a list of various pieces of music that he wanted for the app to run. The challenge for me was to rearrange a variety of music with varying complexity into versions that would work for an instrument with barely 3 octaves in range (C3 to C6). This component of the job is indeed challenging, especially when I had to slim down complex pieces like Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Act 1 Finale and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 into simple 1-minute pieces with a maximum of just 2 parts. It’s hard to do justice to such classics with those conditions, but I’m guessing I was able to pull that off.

The second challenge of the job was that I had to convert what I hear in my piano and read in the sheet music into Mr. Hauptmann’s specific code. He supplied me with a worksheet that essentially became a vertical step sequencer. I had to input notes according to scientific pitch notation, set a tempo and set a note value per beat. Seems easy on first look. The difficult part, however, was that I had no way of verifying by audio the results of my coding unless Kidoteca renders the worksheets as MP3s. I had to kiss the expectation of working like I do with FLStudio or Sibelius goodbye and instead try my best to accurately write down on the worksheet what I was hearing whenever I sight read or listen to the pieces that are assigned to me.

The third challenge was to curb my urge towards making complex arrangements. Complex arrangements do not work well most of the time when writing for the Magical Music Box as the notes tend to get muddy. There is a great emphasis on making the melody prominent and writing a simple yet driving bass line. There are at times when Mr. Hauptmann and I had a few differences over how the arrangements should go. Fortunately, we were able to settle things and figure out what works.

I also had the opportunity of writing descriptions for the pieces of music I arranged. It’s kind of like writing program notes for a recital except that this time it’s for an iOS app.

It seems to me that things are working out well as we’re going to see the release of Kidoteca’s “Magical Music Box” tomorrow. I just watched the YouTube promo video and it seems to have a really stunning interface. Of course, the music is *ahem* wonderful as well. Do check out the “Magical Music Box” by Kidoteca at the AppStore and Google Play. Turn your iOS and Android devices into a lullaby station or a mesmerizing kid’s music machine.

P.S. With this music box, you never have to wind it up to start playing plus it’s always at a constant tempo so the music doesn’t die down slowly.

The iPad as an Amazing Musical Tool

Just last week, my wife and I bought a new iPad from one of the shops at the SM Mall of Asia. I had been contemplating about getting a tablet computer or e-book reader for years given the advantages they have. I always thought that I could at the very least have one as a library or sheet music stack on the go. Upon getting an iPad, it opened up a whole new world to me.

The first thing about the iPad that was obvious to me was that I can use it as a musical instrument. This is due to Jordan Rudess’s influence, having seen him on many Dream Theater videos that feature the iPhone and then the iPad as an alternative to his Haken Continuum. Taking cue from that influence, my first app purchase was Wizdom Music’s Tachyon and MorphWiz. These two apps simply blew my mind away as it transformed my iPad into a new musical instrument, sort of like a fretless instrument with more controls. More toys for me to make a noise with then.

The second obvious application for the iPad was as a sheet music reader. I have plenty of sheet music in PDF format and so I got Adobe Acrobat Reader installed in the tablet, loaded up some of my sheet music in it, and there I go. I now have most of my sheet music with me in just a small package. No more folders or extra envelopes to bring with me then.

Reading all over the web, I realized that I can do more with it that those things I’ve mentioned. I have GarageBand in my iPad so theoretically I can perform multitrack audio and MIDI recordings with it. I have most of the things required to make that happen such as a couple of keyboards (from the massive Kurzweil PC88 to the Korg Nanokey), my trusty Technics digital piano, some guitars, and my Zoom H4n recorder. All I lack now is the digital camera connection kit for the iPad (essentially an iPad port to USB adapter). Since the Zoom H4n and the Korg Nanokey has been confirmed to work with the iPad, if I get that connector then boom! A recording studio on the go that’s more mobile than my laptop rig.

Since I’m a music transcriber, I’ve also thought about how the iPad would work as a scorewriter. It’s unfortunate that Sibelius for iPad hasn’t been written yet. However, there’s Symphony Pro and Notion for iPad. Since I’ve been reading reports about how both iPad scorewriters are prone to crashing, I held off the decision to purchase one or the other.

The iPad’s WiFi connectivity can turn it into a remote control surface for DAWs like Sonar, Logic Pro, Cubase, etc. This I haven’t tried yet but I’m assuming that it would be a good alternative to getting an actual control surface. I would have to admit though that nothing beats the actual hardware. But if you’ve got an iPad, it maybe worth trying out.

Having spent only a few days with the iPad, I now have an understanding of why a number of musicians prefer to use the iPad, iPhone, Mac Books and other Apple products for their music production needs. It’s easy to use, and it’s already optimized. I didn’t need to do any tweaks of sort to get things like MorphWiz running. With my PC-based music production gear, I had to spend hours tweaking various aspects of it to get them running smoothly. The big turn off for Apple products is the price. The iPad is not cheap, though I got mine lower since the New iPad just got released and I got the iPad 2. If I’ve already seen that much from just spending a few days with the iPad, I suppose there’s still a lot of exciting things for me to look forward to as this new device helps me in creating new music.