INSTRUMENTAL aNY GENRE, ANY INSTRUMENT, ANY MUSIC
ISSUE 1. MAY ‘14
BEAUTIFUL INDePENDeNCE an in depth talk with one of britains most creative & inspiring musicians
Diablo sWING orchestra’s ANDERS JOHANSSON - IS YOUR VOICE AN INSTRUMENT? ACOUSTIC VS. ELECTRIC DRUMS - MUSIC & THE BRAIN MORPHWIZ & EZDRUMMER-2 REVIEWED! + NEWS!
INSTRUMENTAL aNY GENRE, ANY INSTRUMENT, ANY MUSIC ISSUE 1. MAY ‘14
CONTENTS NEWS PAGE 4 - RAGE AGAINST RETIREMENT PAGE 5 - SOFTWARE TURNS VOICE INTO INSTRUMENT PAGE 6 - IRANIAN PEOPLE CATCH FALSE HOPE features PAGE 8 - INTERVIEW WITH ANDERS JOHANSSON PAGE 18 - IS YOUR VOICE AN INSTRUMENT? PAGE 22 - DRUMS, ACOUSTIC VS. ELECTRIC PAGE 25 - MUSIC AND THE BRAIN! PAGE 28 - WHY EAT CARROTS WHEN YOU CAN PLAY THEM PAGE 30 - MORE THAN A HOBBY PAGE 32 - BREAK FROM NORMALITY PAGE 36 - INTERVIEW WITH JON GOMM REVIEWS PAGE 40 - EZ DRUMMER 2 PAGE 41 - COCONUT KALIMBA PAGE 42 - ELECTRIC OCARINA PAGE 45 - MORPHWIZ Contributors: Natalie Roberts - Oliver Watts - Lewis Wilson
RAGE AGAINST ...RETIREMENT? OLIVER WATTS
Drummer Brad Wilk has recently admitted that the band is unlikely to play together again.
he last show Rage Against The Machine played was in 2011 at the LA Rising Festival, and in a recent interview with Blabbermouth it has come to light that LA would seemingly be their last gig together ever. “Well, as far as I know, we played our last show in 2011 at the Coliseum, and if that was our last show, that’s a good way to go out,” said Wilk. “I sort of had to put it in my head that that band is over in order for me to just move on with my life, to be honest with you, so that’s kind of where that lies. The Coliseum — awesome way to go out.” Rage Against The Machine recorded four albums together, the last of which was a covers album, before they split up in early 2000. After reforming in 2007 they played several shows but never committed to a full tour. In 2012, guitarist Tom Morello said, “Once a year, the band meets and very seriously discusses and turns down awesome offers to tour the world.” Although the future seems dim for Rage Against The Machine, that is not to say that the musicians are not busy at work. Morello recently collaborated with Bruce Springsteen, while Wilk contributed drums to Black Sabbath’s last album ‘13’.
NEW SOFTWARE TRANSFORMS YOUR VOICE INTO ANY INSTRUMENT Natalie Roberts
It is now possible to literally translate your voice into musical notes, thanks to the release of new software.
mitone: Mind to Melody, has been released as a test version. This software has been specifically created to allow the human voice to translate into a musical instrument. The project was funded through Kickstarter with a total of 2,433 people backing the development, exceeding its goal of $20,000 and raising $90,517. Evan Balstar, the inventor of Imitone, said: “You can use Imitone to compose music, perform it live, digitize recordings, dynamically control audio effects, train your singing, or tune your instrument. Other, still stranger uses exist, but those are for you to discover.” Imitone works by using a microphone as a MIDI input. An algorithm then identifies the pitch and assigns a note to the user’s voice.
can be played out as any digital instrument with no latency, meaning the user can get almost instantaneous feedback. Evan added: “There’s no setup required; you just start by launching Imitone, then you launch your favourite MIDI enabled music program. Then you sing into the microphone, and just like that, your voice is automatically converted into notes as if you were playing them yourself.” The program is now available to pre-order at http://imitone.com/ for $25, with an expected release date of 1 June 2014. Evan added: “Help close the gap between your musical ideas and a full pledged song.” For more information on how the voice is a perfectly working musical instrument, check out page 18.
When used alongside music software, the note
Iranian People Catch false hope
Lewis Wilson Many citizens of Iran have been placed in awe in front of their television screens, after seeing people playing musical instruments on TV for the first time in 30 years.
lthough this may seem like a normal occurrence to most pveople who watch television, musical appearances such as this have been regarded as ‘taboo’ in Iran, “although music is halal, promoting and teaching it is not compatible with the highest values of the sacred regime of the Islamic public”, said Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Alikhamenei. ‘Sharq’ Newspaper in Iran wrote an article shortly after stating that “The spell on instruments in the national media is finally broken”. However, this spark of hope that was created was soon shattered by the truth that this display was, in fact, a mistake “we invited the band but because of a mistake on our part, for 10 seconds people could see the instruments” admitted Gholamreza Bakhtiar, producer of the program. An anonymous Iranian even tweeted “Am I dreaming or what?” shortly after the mistake was made. The ban will continue to be enforced, and it would appear that Bakhtiar is being held responsible for such an error, “of course I am ready to accept the consequences”, he commented. This ever continuing ban has, and still causes much confusion
and disappointment for Iranians, as Persian culture is renowned for combining music and poetry in both education and culture.
Allegedly, there are Iranian channels ran by exiles where they can view such content, such as the BBC’s Persian services, however, this would involve purchasing an illegal satellite. For now, Iranians can only be actively optimistic about the ban being lifted, which has already been the case. Earlier this week, young musicians who formed a band called ‘Pallett’, protested against the ban. After being asked to perform on the IRIB (Islamic republic of Iranian Broadcasting), they decided to mime playing the musical instruments. ated was soon shattered by the truth that this display was, in fact, a mistake “we invited the band but because of a mistake on our part, for 10 seconds people could see the instruments” admitted Gholamreza Bakhtiar, producer of the program. An anonymous Iranian even tweeted “Am I dreaming or what?” shortly after the mistake was made. The ban will continue to be enforced, and it would appear that Bakhtiar is being held responsible for such an error, “of course I am ready to accept the consequences”, he commented. This ever continuing ban has, and still causes much confusion and disappointment for Iranians, as Persian cul-
ture is renowned for combining music and poetry in both education and culture. Allegedly, there are Iranian channels ran by exiles where they can view such content, such as the BBC’s Persian services, however, this would involve purchasing an illegal satellite. For now, Iranians can only be actively optimistic about the ban being lifted, which has already been the case. Earlier this week, young musicians who formed a band called ‘Pallett’, protested against the ban. After being asked to perform on the IRIB (Islamic republic of Iranian Broadcasting), they decided to mime playing the musical instruments.
Diablo Swing Orchestra - Bassist Anders Johansson has been regaling us with stories of his youth, equipment, influences, technique and everything else it takes to make Avant-Garde Jazz Metal as groovy as it is... and it is groovy... damn groovy.
here comes a point with music where things start to sound the same, melodies blend with previously released songs and even chorus’s just plod along like most other tracks released, but this is where Diablo Swing Orchestra comes in to ruin all of that. Of Swedish heritage and boasting possibly the most original sound of the last 30 years come a band with such inspiring talent and originality it makes them hard to ignore. Oliver Watts interviews Anders Johansson to find out more... OW: What instrument do you play and why? AJ: I’m proud to call myself a part time low end bass player. Mainly using basses dropped into baritone B-E-A-D, I do yet again emphasize the low end part, haha! My poison of choice is electrical instruments, though I do keep a 1940s double bass in my home to fail at too… To fully understand the reason for my choosing the bass, we have to go back to square one. It is, however, unfortunately not a pet shops-and-rainbows tale though. In high school, to keep us kids from hanging out in the streets after school hours, the local youth recreation center arranged a series of activities. You could either play chess, billiards, Ping-Pong,
pottery etcetera — Or, you could be in a band. I always wanted to be in one since as long as I can remember, so my time had clearly come. There was just one catch. Arriving a tad too late to the first session, all instruments were taken, except for the bass, sitting alone over in the corner. I remember frowning upon this, since I’d rather be the fronting guitar man, with Curt Cobain being top of mind at the time, or at least the eccentric drummer. Not the ”bass player” — Who was that anyway? And that’s how my four string venture began, until me and that bass truly hit it off on a high note… I never looked back since.
“I still haven’t found my ideal bass rig, having gone through everything from Ampegs to Marshalls. ”
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OW: Which are your brands of choice? AJ: My main Diablo Swing bass is a Henrik Jansson custom built one. I call it a baritone bass, since it’s a four string bass, but slightly taller to be tuned in B-E-A-D, as stated above. That particular bass was preceded by a prototype — an altered Fender US Standard Jazz Bass, which can be seen and heard in clips from tours around 2007-2008. That one worked really well too, but wasn’t tall enough for the mission really. Aside from the Henrik Jansson made bass, I have a deep love affair with Fender Jazz Basses in general, though I do use others too. I’ve written more on the instrument matter further down, if you want to keep reading. Moving on to strings. I’ve used Ernie Ball’s .50 to .135 for quite a while, but that being a five string kit, I always end up with a whole lot of single .50s laying around the house! Usually I bring these on tours as give aways though — so they do come to good use anyway. A few years back however, I got me a few packs of the DR Neon strings. Orange was the colour for a few tours back in 2010 to 2012. I humbly tried to get a sponsor deal with DR, since strings are a vast investment for a bass player, and I use up a lot, but no luck yet though, but damned be the one who gives up right?
den, there surely isn’t much to do in between the worry free childhood and the pangs of grown up life — hence the efforts of the youth recreation center as mentioned before. Your spare time is narrowed down to video games, sports or music, basically. I started at the first, surprised myself with the second, and yet excelled in the latter, haha! My being 35, I guess that makes it about twenty-one years of pretending now. Phew. OW: Do you play any other instruments? AJ: I try to swing some chords on the baritone guitar I borrowed from Pontus (Mantefors) while recording demos at home, but I would definitely not say that I know how to play. Riffing on a seven string or a baritone guitar, like the ones Daniel and Pontus use, really parallels some efforts on bass. Those baritones are like brothers from another mother! On another note, I would indeed love to have the space and possibility of housing a drum kit. Maybe in a future that may also contain an actual house!
After losing trust in one cable brand after another, due to glitches while performing, I finally found the Proco Excalibur cables a while back. Costs like five lesser cables, but they do work. Not only regarding connecting and playing through, but also when packing them in a haste to get off a festival stage, or when they’re handled with little love by stressed out stage techs. So what about amps, I hear you wonder? Well, I still haven’t found my ideal bass rig, having gone through everything from Ampegs to Marshalls. The latter is what I sport at the moment, being a VBA 400 top, pushing an 8x10” cabinet, which brings a great straight up rock sound, but I am looking into what Orange amps could do for me as a possible successor. I have been fortunate to try Orange setups on a few tour occasions, and thus far I must admit being impressed indeed. I’m not going for a high-end techie bass tone, but rather a warm, punchy, growly one, and I have my suspicions that may mean an all tube situation… OW: How long have you been playing? AJ: As a fourteen year old in a small city in Swe-
OW: Do you name your instruments? AJ: I do, but only the custom Diablo Swing bass that I’ve been sporting the last few years so far, which is dubbed ”Fyrfingerfasan” — It’s Swedish for ”The Four Finger Fear”. The name has its roots in my losing the tip of my right thumb in a furniture crafting class in 2009, only months before touring in Mexico. The bass was soon due, and I needed something to laugh about; shed some light onto the whole episode — yikes, what a memory… The name really came to good use though! I haven’t come around to naming my others yet, and I assume they still have to man up and prove themselves before we can get around to that part.
OW: How does your instrument choice lend itself to the production of your music? AJ: Good one. Since the core of most of our songs generally are written by Daniel Håkansson or Pontus Mantefors, I believe a lot of the bass development happens first when we actually rehearse songs before the recording process begins. The guitar parts could be done already, and I plainly experiment onto that. Other times, Pontus or Daniel may have an idea for a bass part, and then hands it over to me to evolve. Usually my mere way of playing it in my rough and snappy manner adds something to it all. ”Moderation” is not a word I would choose to describe it, and it’s not always ”all good”, but I do believe it has character! When it comes to the actual instruments themselves, answering the question only in regards to the latest album (Pandora’s Piñata), wouldn’t do it all any justice. Instead, here’s a short bass essay on the matter. The Butcher’s Ballroom was my first venture on a five string bass, thanks to Daniel Håkansson’s humble demand. It was an all new 2005 butterscotch blonde Fender American Deluxe Jazz Bass V, and it was used on the whole album, run through an Ampeg SVT-Pro 2 top. Up to that point my main instrument had been a series of Fender Jazz Bass-fours, and a Yamaha Billy Sheehan Attitude Ltd II. Corny, I know, but whoa could that girl sing! On the other hand, that Fender V was no bad seed either. It stayed on the weekend-road with me for a couple of years until we were to record Sing Along Songs For The Damned And Delirious in Gothenburg. It was time to change that butterscotch player for a custom built Windmill Jazz V. Just as the Fender, the Windmill was an active bass too, and it sounded truly snappy and edgy, just as promised. However, it was kind of
heavy and lacked that warmth I’d longed for since leaving the Fender V. I’d like to say that warmth in bass tone isn’t easily come by at all. I think I’ve partly wrapped my head around it lately though — read more in my answer to the pedal board question further below. Anyhow. Having swung that Jason Newsted replika from stage side to side for a while, small hands reaching around that vast fiver-neck, I figured I’d do something about it. Before long, I’d changed a Fender US Standard fretless four into a fretted semi-baritone tuned in B-E-A-D. Hell, I wasn’t using the G-string anymore anyhow. That bass became my wingman for a couple of short tours, but the standard neck wasn’t long enough for a proper dropping of the B into an A, which is kind of Diablo Swing key. So, once I’d sold off the other instruments I’d used with Diablo Swing since 2003, the Henrik Jansson bass ”Fyrfingerfasan” was born. It’s a passive baritone necked, slightly smaller-bodied Jazz Bass-four string sporting Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder hot mics, or the DiMarzio Model Js, depending on my mood. Removing everything that wasn’t needed for the Diablo Swing job, I ended up with a four string once again, this time using only a volume knob for adjustments. However, the slightly taller mahogany baritone neck allowed me to tune it in B-E-A-D, preserving both snappiness and warmth. Finally! But it doesn’t stop there. Adding a HipShot A-Tuner for the B-string, it’s now fit for everything from Bedlam Stickin’ to bedside slappin’. Yes, ”Fyrfingerfasan” is my main instrument up to this day, though assisted by a new Fender US Deluxe fourstring, also set up for B-E-A-D tuning.
“I’ve been meaning to save up to acquire a Wal fourstring, like the one Justin Chancellor (from Tool) has,”
In my later years, bassists from a vast spread of genres have influences me, which must be taken into account, aside from those idol-stunned years of youth. Former Incubus bassist Alex Katunich and Billy Gould of Faith No More are two for sure. As are Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam and Fernando Silva from Quantic & His Combo Barbaro — an amazing, Colombian roots grove act as formed by producer Will ”Quantic” Holland. I do find a lot of inspiration from Latin American bands like that these days. It does seem like steady grooves are built in or simply absorbed by the culture and people over there, which is indeed a treat to take part of — especialOW: Is there an instrument you never learnt to ly while touring, but also plainly on the stereo in play but wish you had? the comfort of my own home. Got a little off-topic AJ: Top of mind is again is that double bass, frown- there, so back to the matter at hand. ingly gazing at me from the corner of my living room. One day, I’m gonna give that one a thorough beating though, haha. On a serious note, I think I’m indeed going to take some lessons to get my fingers working the gaps of that neck soon enough. OW: What techniques do you use to practice? AJ: My main practice would be to strengthen the skin of my fingers for any tour or recording venture. One show is often enough to reveal poor preparation in the shape of terrible water blisters. My actual exersize is simply to swiftly tap my right hand fingers onto any hard, edgy surface whenever, as well as preparing my hurt thumb for the job at hand. Anything to toughen up those tops! Regarding regular playing practices, that would be trying to relearn our own Diablo Swing songs from old. Not always the easiest thing, I may add!
OW: How is your playing different to someone else’s? AJ: In short, judging from hearing me play, I would say it would be fairly easy to pinpoint who I’ve borrowed from, listened to or been influenced by through out the years, but I do know one thing that is somewhat of a trademark for my playing style — percussiveness. My lack of harmonial skills is thoroughly balanced with sharp attacked, snappy garage arts, and that too has to be considered when I favorise other players for inspiration. My being all fingers, that would also constitute the choices for my main asset list of great bassists to sway from. OW: Who is the greatest bassist of all time (in your opinion)? AJ: The list could truly be made a long one. In my youth, Steve Harris (album: Powerslave), Les Claypool (album: The Brown Album) and Flea (album: Blood Sugar Sex Magik) have certainly stained me throughout the years. At least on a wannabe note, haha. I’d also crown Tim Commerford of RATM in this matter. A true role model of both finger quantizing (that man is tight!) as well as for elevating the instrument for proper playing. How some bassists hang their basses knee low is beyond me, as you may have seen.
A thought just came to mind. I’d love to experience blend of high-strung, delay melodies and low end, Fredrik Thordendal, main guitarist of Meshuggah, odd-timed groves, serves me any day of the week. but on the bass. Just imagine a version of his solo Ladies and gentlemen — We have a winner. Mr. work ”Sol Niger Within” as performed on bass Justin Chancellor! instead — I mean, it’s only a pin or two from where he’s already at, sporting that 8 string Ibanez. OW: What effects do you use (if any)? Fredrik’s performance of that song on Swedish TV AJ: Nerdy bass data is indeed a narrow path to wandrum program ”Trumtrum” way back, along side der down, but boy do I humbly enjoy explaining all drum virtuoso Morgan Ågren, surely is one of my the layers of that onion to whom ever is interested. main music encounters of all time (YouTube it!). First and foremost — My ground rule is to always use as much of the same gear both on recordings On to the finals. Even though finger playing wouldn’t as well as during live performances, even though be his main affliction, I must put Justin Chancellor of producers’ and live technicians’ opinions may differ. Tool at the pole position of my best-of (album: 10 000 I believe it creates a somewhat safe-zoned enviDays). That man does indeed have mad talent, and ronment, and is therefore very forgiving when it simply catches my ear like few others. The perfect comes to all the different setups you have to cope with while touring. If it can’t be my personal amp head, then at least it’s my own instrument and my ever-so-mobile pedal setup, right? This being said, touring is a bit like living in a huge castle, but at the same time to only be familiar with the entrance and hallway. In the other chambers, anything could happen, and this is the main reason of me not letting go of my Sans Amp Bass Driver, evening out all differences from venue to venue; rehearsal space to rehearsal space. It simply reduces the risk. The same goes for my EWS Japan Bass Middle Control. It’s a tiny two knob pedal that adds middle crust and crunch to the tone that may go missing in tough venues. A pedal that I seldom use, but can’t remove, is the EBS Bass IQ Envelope Filter. Not your average bass wah, but a nice addition to get that funky touch when needed. Actually, I also added the Mad Professor ”Snow White” Bass Auto Wah to my board as of today. It’s hand wired in Finland and has a far more analogue vibe to it than the Bass IQ. Let’s see who wins the battle, or if I end up using both. I might replace my old octaver, should I come across one that actually works. I used a few different ones over the years, but none of them can reach quite that low, unfortunately. The last one I had was the Ampeg Sub Blaster. It has a great reputation, but hardly lives up to it, I’m sorry to say. The fact that it’s quite hefty and built like a tank, doesn’t make for a neat carry-on luggage either. Sorry, Ampeg fans!
As influenced by Justin Chancellor of Tool, I’ve also mounted a flanger to my pedal setup. Not a Boss version like Justin uses though, but a slightly more advanced Strymon Orbit pedal. Set to a slightly wet signal, it truly reveals another dimension to a classical bass tone. Love that. OW: Are you lucky enough to own your ideal bass guitar? Or is there one that you would love to own? AJ: I must say I am, though I would love to build another bass like ”Fyrfingerfasan”, but this time make it lighter, since it ended up a little hefty, despite of it’s slightly smaller jazz bass body. I have a couple of vintage basses that I love too, one being a 1974 Fender Jazz Bass, and the other a 1978 MusicMan StingRay. I’ve been meaning to save up to acquire a Wal fourstring, like the one Justin Chancellor has, but I can’t seem to reach those sums thus far, haha! That would indeed be a great bass to dig into, even though it’s a more high-tech path to wander than I’m used to. As a conclusion, I must say that simplifying everything from gear to playing style has really done the trick for me, at least up till now. If you can’t play it while standing, don’t bother, right?
DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA defuses the seriousness of everyday life, with a humorous twist and an audio-visual world of wicked laughter where everything is allowed. The music represents a grand variety of styles and elements, constantly surprising as well as keeping listeners alert and curious of the orchestra’s next move. This deadly swinging, eight-piece band makes people tap dance all the way into the grave.
- Anders Johansson May 2014
YOUR VOICE IS THE PERFECT MUSICAL INSTRUMENT
Natalie Roberts Among the many musical instruments, one that can go anywhere with you and adapt to a wide variety of tunes (if adequately trained) is your voice.
he voice is presumed to have been the original musical instrument; with the first “songs” likely to have been individualistic and improvisatory; simply an imitation of the sounds heard in nature. At what point singing became a way of communicating meaningful messages cannot be established, but it was undoubtedly an important step in the creation of language. There are now multitudes of ways in which the voice can be used as an instrument; singing, rapping and even beatboxing.
Kirsty suggests the best way to select a vocal coach is to look for experience in both teaching and singing, and to ensure that the vocal coach you choose teaches the type of singing you are interested in. Singing is often disregarded in the world of musical instruments as it isn’t something you are able to “play”, but it is one of the most adaptable and unique instruments anyone could have; nobody’s voice will ever sound exactly the same as anyone else’s.
Vocal coach, Kirsty Bailey, who has been teaching singing for five years after graduating from The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, explained: “The voice is an instrument. Like any instrument, it has to be tuned. Singing is a skill that needs practice to be mastered; singing can be part of a group. Singing uses complex parts of the body to get the sounds much like a brass instrument with tubes and valves! The voice needs care and attention, much like a clarinet with new reeds and valves needs oiling.” It is imperative that you warm up your voice before singing to be able to reach every desired note. It will also prevent any damage to your voice. Each of us has a specific vocal range; some may be capable of hitting very high notes, while others are more comfortable singing low. These vocal ranges are categorised from bass (the lowest) up to coloratura (the highest). For those who are interested in singing at a more professional level, a vocal coach is essential as they can help to expand the vocal range, and improve the stability of the voice.
“The voice needs care and attention, much like a clarinet with new reeds and valves”
The voice is also capable of allowing you to create any genre of music; classical through to pop, or soul through to rock. There are few other instruments with this versatility. The voice can hold a tune without any support from another instrument; singing a cappella is one of the most powerful ways to showcase a strong voice. Another way in
â€œSinging is often disregarded in the world of musical instruments.â€?
which the voice is often used without background music is in beatboxing. Contrary to popular belief, beatboxing is not a new concept; it has been showcased for decades. It’s only recently, however, that it has become prevalent in society. When somebody uses their voice to demonstrate beatboxing they are using it in a completely
different way to someone who is singing; the aim of singing is to project your voice as clearly as possible, while beatboxing involves effectively “crushing” the sounds. Both involve a high level of talent. Because of this opposition, it’s incredibly difficult to sing and beat box at the same time, but some people are capable of this. Just as singing can be honed to perfection, so too can beatboxing. The best way to learn the basics of beatboxing is to follow someone else for guidance, and to understand that, as with any musical instrument, it will take a lot of time and dedication to tune your instrument. The voice is very powerful if used correctly and is undoubtedly worthy of being accredited as a musical instrument. Its versatility and range make it suitable for any musical genre, and unlike any other musical instrument, it is completely unique to its owner. It’s also free!
“Beatboxing involves effectively “crushing” the sounds.”
Drums, acoustic VS. ELECTRIC LEWIS WILSON
he drums have been heavily influential in the world of music for many years, from the most basic form of percussion such as banging on a wooden box, to acoustic and even electric drum kit.Yet, what features of the drums have made them so positively engrained within the art form, how have they transformed, and potentially, are they being replaced?
Acoustic drum kits have been and still are used traditionally around the world. From revolutionary bands such as the Beatles, to modern hits such as the arctic monkeys, the acoustic drum kit has always contributed strongly to music, and has provided the very backbone to the band. However, technology has steadily been changing the face of music, both in terms of genre and of instruments. So, what is it about the electric drum kit that appeals over the acoustic? Is it the wow factor or does it come down to musical preference? A lot of people prefer to use electric kits for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it depends what you specifically want to use it for. Should it be that you want to be gigging with a band, then an acoustic kit would be more suitable, as you cannot beat the dynamic and volume that it will deliver, no matter what type of music you are playing, the crowd will feel more alive with the dynamics of
an acoustic kit that you can fill the room with. In the words of the great Buddy Rich, â€œI play a percussion instrument, not a musical saw; it needs no amplification.â€? However, there are of course some downsides. Being a musician may all seem like fun and games, yet there is more work involved than you think, especially when it comes to transportation. Again, it depends on your situation. If you happen to have a fully functional van, or car with enough space, then shifting around an acoustic drum kit from gig to gig can be a terrible pain. Setting it up is also time consuming, and is the last thing you want to do after your adrenaline is pumping from playing a set. Electrical drum kits, depending on size, are generally far more compatible, lighter and easier to shift around. So, if you have to carry your drum kit down the street to your local pub for a gig, which from experience is a nuisance, perhaps an electric kit is more for you.
For those of you who do not know how to play drums, or would like to learn how, electric kits are becoming increasing popular for beginners for a number of reasons. Firstly, and normally placed by people around you as most important, is of course the noise levels. With an electric kit you have a volume dial just like on a pair of speakers, so you can hit those drum as hard as you like, whenever you like, and you won’t have those neighbours banging on your door,
meaning you can practice more regularly. Unlike the violin, the electric drum kit is also very forgiving when learning, yet an acoustic kit can deliver a far punchier mistake. Yet, all this said and done, electric drum kits can actually lead away from traditional techniques that many successful drummers use today, so if you are looking to take it seriously
“I play a percussion instrument, not a musical saw; it needs no amplification.” then perhaps an acoustic kit is more suited to you. However, if you are really just looking to have fun, then electric drums would seem more suited to you. Yet, as with many other good things in life, there comes a cost. Generally speaking, electric drum kits, depending on the quality, are around £500, which is more expensive than most mid-range drum kits. However, they are far easier to maintain. Acoustic kits, on the other hand, more often than not don’t come with cymbals, or cymbal stands. So, there can be a lot of extra cost involved, as well as constant maintenance: tuning, buying new drum skins, new drum sticks, cracked cymbals to replace and more. Yet, don’t let this put you off, as nothing can beat that authentic sound. All in all it comes down to personal choice, and as technology continues to develop, the electronic drum world is bringing out more and more for people to see and to try, yet those wooden barrels will always promise to deliver.
music and the brain
oliver watts Music is a huge part of people’s lives, without it people would exist in a completely different way. Studies have been completed to see just how music affects people; can certain pieces make you more intelligent? Can they speed up the ability to learn? What can the music someone listens to tell you about their personality? Continue reading to find out! The Mozart Effect
spatial tasks were performed to a higher quality when the tempo was faster and when the key was major. The tempo changes affected arousal but not mood, whereas changes in key affected mood but not arousal. STAY WITH ME HERE! These findings from the University of Toronto are consistent with the idea that the ‘Mozart Effect’ is real and has merit.
The Mozart effect refers to a set of research results indicating that listening to Mozart’s music may induce short-term improvement on the performance of certain kinds of mental tasks knows as ‘Spatial Temporal reasoning’. Now you may think that what you are about to read may be confusing, full of words that only neurologists understand and basically just be brimming with information that may be useless unless you are working towards a career in psychology, but you have my word, it does get easier to understand!
In 2001, the University of Toronto examined the effects of tempo and mode on spatial ability, arousal and mood. A skilled pianist recorded his performance of a Mozart sonata as a MIDI file; the file was edited and reproduced into four versions that varied in tempo (fast or slow) and mode (major and minor). Participants of the experiment were then played a single version of the MIDI file and asked to perform certain tasks. The outcome of the experiment showed that performances of
Although this is only one type of music, how do our brains work when a particularly happy song is played, and what about sad? When you hear a piece of music, you can normally decipher whether you think it’s a happy or sad song. This isn’t just a subjective idea that your brain comes up with; it is, in fact, your brain responding differently to either mood of music. Sometimes we can understand the emotions of a piece of music without actually feeling them ourselves! Why else do people enjoy listening to sad music? It makes them happy!
Genre & Personality
Have you ever been friends with someone who you got to know purely based on similar musical tastes? This is no surprise! A study of people who spent a period of time familiarizing with each otherâ€™s top 10 favourite songs gained a fairly reliable prediction as to the listeners personality traits! Some traits were more accurately predicted based on the personâ€™s listening habits than others. For instance, openness to experience, extraversion and emotional stability were the easiest to guess correctly. Although it is horrible to generalise people like this, it has been proven that a lot of personality traits can be detected by someoneâ€™s musical taste.
• Blues fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease • Jazz fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing and at ease • Classical music fans have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and at ease • Rap fans have high self-esteem and are outgoing • Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle • Country and western fans are hardworking and outgoing • Reggae fans have high self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease • Dance fans are creative and outgoing but not gentle • Indie fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle • Bollywood fans are creative and outgoing • Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease
• Chart pop fans have high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle, but are not creative and not at ease • Soul fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease Science is proven and unproven so easily today that facts are not often facts for too long. With music being such an important and life changing medium for peoples emotions it’s easily seen that the brain is affected lots of different ways. Will Mozart make your child smarter? Maybe. Is your new girlfriend ‘The One’ because you like the same music? Probably not. So many variables are in play that it is hard to say fact or fiction to any of these ideas, but what we do know is, if you love music, the one thing you need to thank more than the band or your older sister (for giving you your first album because she hated it) is your Brain!
WHY EAT CARROTS WHEN YOU CAN HOMEMADE INSTRUMENTS PLAY THEM?
Natalie Roberts We all know that musical instruments are expensive, so why not try making your own? It’s not confined to just children; this is a fun and rewarding activity for anyone, so channel your inner Blue Peter presenter and let your creativity flow.
We’ve found an inexpensive (and fun) way to make yours (or your children’s) musical dreams come true; creating homemade musical instruments. We all know how to fill an empty bottle with rice to make a maraca, but this is for those of you looking to take the next step in making your own musical instruments. Within an hour or two you could the proud owner of a carrot recorder! It does take a bit of hard work and fine tuning with the drill holes to make it work, but what better way to spend your day than creating your own work of art that can actually be used as a fully functioning musical instrument?
You will need: A carrot (as straight as possible) – approx. 20 cm long and 3.5 cm wide A 19ml drill bit (or a similar size; small enough to fit inside the carrot and hollow it out) A 5ml drill bit A sharp knife
Place the carrot on a chopping board and chop off approx. 5 cm from the bottom end (the pointy end). Using the 19ml drill bit, hollow out the inside of the carrot from the end you just cut to make a tube; you can do this by hand if you prefer, rather than attaching it to the drill (as it’s safer). Stop drilling before you go through the other end (the part which has the leaves attached). Lay the carrot on the chopping board and cut into it about 1cm deep, approx. 1 inch in from the open end of the carrot. Then remove the knife and take it approx. 1 inch back down the carrot and cut a groove up to meet the cut you just made, revealing a small hole. Using the 5ml drill bit, make two holes down the carrot; the distance between the holes will affect the sound made. Your carrot recorder is now ready to play! For the full video, check out: http://youtu.be/ Tn5O3_C1sqw.
MORE THAN A HOBBY LEWIS WILSON
A lot of us get that excitement, that rush from picking up or putting down the instrument/s that you are so passionate about, how much would it take to make it your life? With the current music industry and rate of unemployment, are there ways of using your skill to open up doors? The music industry is not the way it used to be, and, sadly it seems to be becoming increasingly difficult for musicians to make money. What with people being able to access music from a huge range of free websites, people just don’t seem to want to buy albums anymore, the digital age has risen. Yet, keep your instrument close, because even if you can’t make it big, people always need music and there is always money to be made somewhere. Weddings… people are getting married all the time, all around the world, and weddings always need music. It might not fulfil your childhood dream of ‘rocking out’ on stage in front of 1000s of people, but it does pay handsomely. If you can manage to land yourself in a five peace wedding cover band, you are looking at a payment of anything from £1000-£3000. Now, this is of course not as easy as it sounds…If you want to be landing £3000 for a wedding gig you are going to have to build yourself a very strong reputation, but this isn’t impossible. Gauge the crowd correctly and play to your heart’s
content. And yes, there will be people there who will want to murder you for playing that Bon Jovi song that every sober person loathes as they watch a drunkard head banging, “playing weddings isn’t as glamorous as it sounds, but it pays the bills, you know? Occasionally you’ll get to play a song or two that you love, but as long as the gig is followed by a nice cheque, who’s to complain?”, comments Kris Watts, a former wedding band player from Bluefin (Functions Band). So, there are some compromises to be made if you are willing to put in the time. Fear not, playing in a wedding band is not the only viable option. If you are a dedicated and passionate enough perhaps being a session musician is more up your street. This will give you more scope for variation and creativity, yet you will be put to the test. Session musicians are hired to fill in for a certain part of a composition. Whether it is playing guitar for a band member’s absence, or adding piano to a track for a band without a pianist. Remember, you will be put under pressure to perform. This type of profession can pay handsomely, yet starting out is not easy, and can often present you with a ‘catch 22’ situation. Musicians, producers, bands etc will not want to hire you unless you have experience in the field, so, how can you get experience in the studio in the first place? For a lot of your first sessions you
will have to offer your expertise and services for free until you have managed to build up a decent portfolio. Then after that the price you charge, which is often ‘per track’ or ‘per gig’, will solely depend on what volumes this portfolio speaks. In theory, depending on your skill level and target label, the less you charge the more business you should get. If you match the mark, some tracks can pay out to £4000, but don’t forget that this is a freelance form of music and that you are only required when you are needed, ‘a gun for hire’ as they call it in the music world, so this is not a very regular or reliable source of income. For some of you it may be tempting to pick up your violin, your guitar or whatever it may be and take to the streets. This activity can fall under many titles, ‘busker’, ‘performer’; some would even call it a form of begging. However, you are a street musician. This is of course the most unreliable and poor musical income, yet some people will happily travel the word with their instrument, making a life from entertaining the streets of fast moving cities. It offers the ultimate amount of freedom, and should you do it well, it will bring you a huge amount of satisfaction. Yet, there seems to be much that hangs in the balance between making money and happily playing your instrument, but even if it’s not much, people are always willing to pay to hear music, just make sure it’s you they are paying to hear!
as t sn’ .. i s. gs d n u n i o u d y o d s , we s t l i g l yin s as he bi a l t ou “p r s o y m gla it pa but ?” w kno
break away from normality Natalie Roberts
Millions of people play generic musical instruments, but if you are looking for something more unique it can be difficult to find. We’ve searched the market for you and found some incredibly funky and unique musical instruments. Never let it be said that everything has already been done; that it’s impossible for a new musical instrument to come onto the market. We’ve found our top four unconventional musical instruments, ranging from one that has existed for over 12,000 years, to one that has only just been invented. They range in price from a very affordable £10 to a more pocket-pinching £678; each with their very own fantastically unique approach to music. Which one will make it onto your wish list?
Piano Fingers - approx. 20POUNDS
Piano Fingers originates from Japan, and is often sold as a toy, but it actually works incredibly well as a very tiny piano that you wear on your hand.
your fingertips into their respective clips and start making music! Piano Fingers will work when your fingertips are pressed against any flat, hard surface, and you can make a variety of sounds, ranging from the traditional piano to bells and even cats!
If you love the piano (or if you’ve always wanted to learn how to play, but never got round to it) then this gadget is perfect for you! It beats playing the piano on the many apps available on smartphones and tablets, as you are actually using your fingers and thumb in the way that you would when playing a real piano. You simply slip the gadget onto your wrist, insert
With one full octave note range this may not be as great as an actual piano, but it is certainly fun to play with. You even get the added bonus of the way it makes your hand resemble a futuristic robot!
OCARINA - APPROX. 10 POUNDS
The ocarina is now made from a variety of materials, but the first known ocarina-like instrument appeared approximately 12,000 years ago.
To play, you simply blow into the mouthpiece and, just like a flute, cover the small holes to make notes.
Unlike the better known flute, this is very small and can easily fit into one hand. It’s also much easier to learn, so if you are unable to dedicate the time each week to learn how to play the flute, but wish you could just pick it up and make a tune, then this is perfect for you.
It will take a little time to learn how to turn these individual notes into tunes, but far less time than flute lessons would take.
Because of the convenient size of the ocarina, you can take it anywhere, meaning that you will be able to crack out a tune whenever the mood takes you.
We’ve even reviewed an app that enables you to play the ocarina on the iPhone! This wonderful instrument has existed in its differing forms since 9000 BC, so why not check out what makes it so special?
It’s easy to teach yourself how to play the ocarina, and you can make some beautiful music!
“If you are unable to dedicate the time each week to learn how to play the flute, but wish you could just pick it up and make a tune, then this is perfect for you.” 33
HAPI drum APPROX. 300 POUNDS
Originally made from an empty propane tank, the HAPI drum was created by Dennis Havlentena in 2007. His idea originated from old African tongue drums; one of the world’s oldest known instruments. A variety of versions have since been created; usually with specially selected steel, and although this is in the higher price range, it is definitely worth it! Even if you know nothing about music, you will still have a great time playing the HAPI drum because you can learn by exploring the different sounds it creates. To play, you simply place the drum in front of you (or on your lap) and tap the “tongues”. It’s effectively a combination of a piano and a drum because each “tongue” makes a different note (or
sound). This percussion instrument gives you the ability to be a one-man-steel-band, and it’s very easy to get carried away with the rhythmic melodies you can create. It really is quite difficult to go wrong when you’re playing the HAPI drum as it’s all about expressing yourself. So if you are interested in playing a musical instrument which has an incredibly relaxing vibe then this is the perfect instrument for you! You don’t even need to know how to make a tune; the HAPI drum will teach you as it’s all about allowing your feelings to dictate the tune.
“If you are interested in playing a musical instrument which has an incredibly relaxing vibe then this is the perfect instrument for you!” 34
APPROX. 678 POUNDS
If technology is more your thing, then check out the AlphaSphere. Created by Nu Desine, this is a cool new concept musical instrument. It is effectively a piano/drums/computer all in one ball.
exactly how you wish to.
Unlike traditional instruments, the AlphaSphere can be connected to your computer; which allows you to program an unlimited amount of sounds, meaning that you can change the way your AlphaSphere sounds depending on the music you wish to create. This is all done through AlphaLive; the official software to accompany the AlphaSphere. The interactive design of the 48 tactile pads allows sound to be triggered and manipulated with subtlety. Each pad is pressure and velocity sensitive, meaning that you can make your music sound
If you’re looking at the AlphaSphere wondering how good the range is; up to four octaves could be mapped around it! That’s seriously impressive considering it looks more like an incredibly funky beach ball than a musical instrument; looks can evidently be deceiving. This is one of the pricier instruments, but with its infinitely programmable sounds, you are never likely to get bored with the AlphaSphere. It’s incredibly versatile This is a step in the right direction of how technology can affect musical instruments and, whether technology is your thing or not, it’s hard to deny that this is seriously impressive!
“Whether technology is your thing or not, it’s hard to deny that this is seriously impressive!” 35
BEAUTIFUL INDePENDENCE OLIVER WATTS
Jon Gomm - is one of the few entirely independant musicians around today. He has no label, no record deal, he is just one man, doing what he loves... and we love him!
OW: What instrument do you play and why? JG: I play a Lowden O12C, called Wilma. She’s handmade in Northern Ireland. I bought it because I went to see a singer songwriter called Nick Harper play a gig in London, and his guitar sound was MASSIVE. So I decided I needed one, but I couldn’t afford a new one, so I started searching the
classified ads in Guitarist magazine. I was surprised not to see a single one! I didn’t know these were handmade instruments at the time, and in very short supply. So I checked the previous month’s issue of the magazine - still none. I went through my whole stack of issues, and eventually I found one, in an issue from nearly two years previous. I thought “what the hell..” and called it anyway, and the guy still had it for sale. But it was in Winchester, a long way from where I live, and I didn’t have a car at the time. I spoke to my dad on the phone later that day, and I told him about it. He said “That’s weird, I’m going to Winchester tomorrow.” So he went and picked it up. I don’t believe in fate, but it’s a big coincidence! OW: Which are your brands of choice? JG: George Lowden reinvented the acoustic guitar, he changed the way it’s built, enabled the wood to move more, and released the soul of the instrument for the first time, in my opinion. He’s a genius. I play Newtone strings, I have my own signature set. They’re handmade in Derbyshire, they’re really unique and beautiful. Mine are super heavy, super low for the massive bass I love. I use Fishman pickups, they make one originally designed in Scotland called the Rare Earth Blend, which has a microphone built in, and is absolutely superb. And for amps, I use Trace Acoustic. Again, British designed by Paul Stevens, who is an amp genius. A beautiful amp. OW: How long have you been playing? JG: Since I was a little kid. 32 years or so.
“That’s why the guitar is amazing. There seems to be infinite musical results”
OW: Do you play any other instruments? JG: No, I’m not interested in other instruments at all. Not playing them. But I do sing, so that’s like an instrument I guess! I practice singing quite a lot OW: Where did you get the name Wilma? JG: I used to watch Buck Rogers as a kid. He was this space hero, and a jock and a womaniser, and a complete d*ck. The real hero was the pilot, Captain Wilma Deering. She used to save his ass every week. She was my hero. OW: Have you named other instruments as well? JG: I have another Lowden, called Betty, named after my grandmother. And also it gives me the Wilma and Betty connection from the Flintstones. I’m a songwriter: everything has to have a double-meaning.
OW: How does your instrument choice lend itself to the production of your music? JG: I only play Wilma, for all my gigs, all my albums, everything. I’m not sure I would even be an acoustic guitarist if it wasn’t for finding that guitar. And over the years, because of my playing style, the wood has worn and scratched and gouged. Some areas have cracked and I’ve had to glue them, some I’ve covered in resin to keep it intact. And all those different areas of wear all have a different texture, and I use them to create sounds. It’s a unique and special instrument. I’m very lucky! OW: How is your playing different to anyone else’s of the same genre? JG: What genre? If you mean “contemporary/percussive acoustic guitar”, that’s not a genre. It’s a technique. It’s like saying vibrato is a genre, or double-bass-drum pedals is a genre. But in reference to that style of playing, I don’t know what’s different - I have a lot of different influences. For example, my song Afterglow, which is one of my favourite songs of mine, is triphop (like Portishead, for example). I don’t know if any of my peers are influenced by trip-hop! That’s what makes us all different - our musical tastes and backgrounds. Andy McKee is into 80s AOR, metal, a bit of prog. And loads of other stuff, no doubt. But it’s really different to my background which is blues, pop, jazz. OW: What techniques do you use to practice? JG: I warm up with two-handed (eight-finger-tapping) scales, fingerpicking patterns, and plectrum excercises. Then I knuckle down and play some of my toughest songs. I practice at different tempos too, it’s important to be able to play everything in your repertoire at half speed or so. If you try it, and you can’t, you don’t really know the tune! OW: Is there an instrument you never learnt to play but wish you had? JG: I’d like to learn to play the trumpet. I don’t know why. And viola. Maybe one day! OW: Who is the greatest guitarist of all time (in your honest opinion)? JG: This is impossible to answer. Here’s a short list: Michael Hedges, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, Nick Harper, Stanley Jordan, Tom Morello, Jonny Greenwood,
“I only play Wilma, for all my gigs, all my albums, everything. I’m not sure I would even be an acoustic guitarist if it wasn’t for finding that guitar”
Django Reinhardt, Paco De Lucia. None of those guys can do what any of the others do, and I can’t do what any of them do, not fully. That’s why the guitar is amazing. There seem to be infinite ways of approaching it, and infinite musical end results. OW: What effects do you use? JG: I use a bunch of stomp boxes, mostly Boss ones. I use 3 parametric EQ pedals, one for each pickup in my guitar. And an LS-2, which is like a swiss army knife pedal, to blend the signals. Then I have overdrive, octave, delay and reverb. Reverb is the most important, and the most fun. I can switch my reverb pedal from a small room sound, which is really intimate and intense and close, to a big cavernous cathedral sound, which is epic and kind of swallows you up. It changes the mood of the room I’m performing in. OW: Anything you’d like to add about your relationship with Wilma? JG: Monogamy is wonderful.
“Wonderful to watch. Genius.” - Stephen Fry “I love your work and style so much. You are very special” – Jon Anderson (Yes) “Hands down the most amazing guitarist I have
Jon’s latest album - Secrets Nobody Keeps is available now from www.jongomm.com (it is also available from amazon.co.uk but don’t buy it there!!!)
EZ DRUMMER 2 LEWIS WILSON
fter 8 years of release, EZDrummer is still the number one selling drum production kit on the market, so let’s see what they have in store now. Toontrack, the company that creates this synthesizer software, have recently brought out another jewel for all you instrumentalists and singer/songwriters to get into the groove with…EZDrummer 2 Like its predecessor, this piece of synthesising technology is designed to work as a fully functional drum kit for musicians to use when producing music, and stands at £105. The first edition of the program was more of an advanced accompaniment for your work, yet number two has delivered something that provides a more realistic, versatile and stronger backbone for your production. Unlike the original, EZDrummer 2 offers a far broader range of variables that you can adapt and customise as you please. For starters, it comes with 2 whole new drum libraries to choose from, appealing to musicians who have a more diverse or even varied music taste. This selection covers professional industry brands such as DW, Gretsch, Yamaha, Ludwig and vmore. After selecting which kit you wish to use, the ‘World of virtual drumming’ really begvvins vto open up, as you then have the option of tweaking each drum individually with features such as tone, ambience, volume, variations of the drum and more, helping to tailoring the kit to fit perfectly with your sound. All this said and done, many people are critical of
such software. As many if not most people will agree, why would you not use a real drum kit? Despite EZDrummer2 having completely modelled its audio engine and re-mastering the sounds, nothing will ever match the acoustic kit. Yet, when convenience calls, you can’t carry a drum kit around with you everywhere you go, but EZDrummer2 is by far the closest thing to it. Musictech.net, powered by Musictech magazine gave this software a 9/10, saying that “EZ Drummer 2 defines the next generation of virtual drumming software that many will seek to emulate.” It may all sound intricate and complex to those who haven’t used this software before, but there are easy to follow tutorials within the software to help you on your way, and even more posted by fans on internet sites such as YouTube, and Toontrack themselves. So, get grooving.
coconut kalimba natalie roberts
The coconut kalimba, or thumb piano, is something often sold in gift shops as holiday souvenirs, but that doesn’t mean that it should be excluded from being accredited as a musical instrument.
’ve always loved African music, so the coconut kalimba was something that caught my attention instantly. Not only does it sound amazing, but it also looks fantastic! The kalimba I chose has seven metal prongs and, because the base is fairly large, it makes a deep and sensuous sound ranging right up to a high (but not pitchy) soprano level. I thoroughly enjoyed playing the kalimba, and whenever I feel fed up of generic music, I reach for it to create a sound that many other musical instruments are incapable of replicating. I’ve fallen in love with what sounds like a mini steel band in my hands. The beauty of the kalimba is that it is truly an instrument that allows you to express yourself. It’s perfect for anyone, even those who feel that they have no particular musical knowledge, as you don’t need to learn how to play it. It really is as simple as just holding it and gently pushing the prongs down.
and use the kalimba to compose an actual melody, then it is incredibly versatile and can even be tuned just like any other musical instrument. Although I’m musically trained, I found it much more fun just allowing my thumbs to roam around the kalimba creating some funky (and some notso-funky) tunes. If you are hoping to master a Beethoven tune and demonstrate your musical expertise then this is unfortunately not the instrument for you. The coconut kalimba is, however, the ideal instrument to release your inner feelings through music; no constraints, no sheet music telling you what to do; you just play what you feel like playing. The coconut kalimba is the essential instrument for anyone wishing to experiment with allowing their mood to take complete control of the music.
If, however, you do decide to take the next step
Technology is changing the way we live, and it’s even making its mark on musical instruments. Ocarina is an iPhone app that offers a unique opportunity to actually transform your phone into a woodwind instrument.
’m a big fan of technology and how it’s changing and, dare I say it, improving music. After a little scroll through the app store on my iPhone 4S, I stumbled upon “Ocarina”, created by Smule, an American mobile app developer founded by Ge Wang. Ocarina looked too good to be true on the app store as it displayed images of a person using their iPhone as a recorder! Feeling hopeful, I paid the 69p to purchase the app, and eagerly waited for it to download. I was convinced that I had probably just wasted my money as I couldn’t figure out how blowing into my phone could possibly result in it working as an ocarina (which is basically a mini flute/recorder). I opened the app and followed the setup instructions (which were very simple), then, feeling sceptical, I blew into the microphone on my phone. It worked! I hastily began playing some sort of made up tune in excitement. I still didn’t understand how this app could actually be breath activated, so tried to play the ocarina without blowing into the microphone to see if it made any difference, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the app was indeed breath activated.
the four dots in it) takes you back to the ocarina screen where you can play your tunes. The second circle, with a grid across it, takes you to a picture of the globe and gives you the opportunity to listen to other people’s music from around the world. A commonly played tune is The Lord of the Rings theme tune, which I am yet to master. As if being able to play the ocarina on my phone wasn’t enough, the third circle (with a serrated circle inside it) allows you to alter the “root”, the key in which the ocarina is set, and the “mode”, the sound of the notes, so you can decide what you want it to sound like, from a flute to a penny whistle. You can even type in a name for your ocarina! I’m yet to think of a name for mine, but it’s good to have that option.
When you first click onto the app, the opening screen displays a website where you can learn how to play the ocarina. Once that screen fades away you are left with the actual ocarina screen, and ready to begin playing. It really is as easy as that! You simply blow into the microphone and press the circles to make notes. It takes a bit of time to figure out which circles produce certain notes, but after a quick search on the website suggested on the app, I managed to easily find out how to play a scale, and even figured out how to play a few simple tunes. It took far less time than it would’ve taken to actually learn how to play the recorder or flute! If you tap the “antenna”, four circles appear at the bottom of the screen; the first circle (with
The settings tab allows you to customise the app.
“I’m still amazed how this fantastic app has transformed my phone into a fully-fledged musical instrument!”
If you find yourself a little short of breath after playing for a while, but still wish to continue, there is even the option to switch the ocarina to “touch mode”. In my opinion, this takes away a lot of the fun though as it then becomes just like many other apps; the uniqueness of being able to actually blow into the phone is what makes this app so wonderful.
Check out www.smule.com/ocarina for more information. A simple tune to get you started.
The far right circle (with an “i” in it) takes you to a tutorial screen where you can click links to the website to learn more about the app. This screen also displays your “love ranking”; if you choose to share your tunes with the world (which I am not quite ready for yet) people can “love” them. I’ve had this app on my phone for a week and am getting concerned that I may be slightly addicted to it. I’m still amazed how this fantastic app has transformed my phone into a fully-fledged musical instrument! Unlike a conventional recorder or flute (or ocarina), I can play this instrument whenever I fancy as, thanks to it being on my iPhone, I am able to turn down the volume. Long gone are the days when playing a musical instrument was only possible at one sound level (and often at the expense of maintaining a good relationship with your neighbours); now you can alter the volume to suit your surroundings, thanks to the wonders of technology. During my early teen years I learned to play the flute, and although many people may frown upon the inclusion of technology in the world of musical instruments, in my opinion, this is a fantastic, albeit cheaper and much easier, alternative. For anyone who is unable to afford any woodwind instrument, this could satisfy your musical urge. It only costs 69p, so just type “Ocarina” into the search box on the app store and you too could marvel at the wonderful way your phone is transformed.
ised r p r y su as inl t n asa app w e l p e .” as “I w d that th ctivated n to fi breath a deed
OLIVER WATTS This half-instrument, half-app has been designed to be unbelievably simple and allows the user to have all the sounds of a musical instrument available to people who don’t have the skills to play for real!
orphWiz is the brainchild of Kevin Chartier & Dream Theatre’s Jordan Rudess. They have invented the first instrument purely designed around the iPad, which is based on a keyboard but acts as a synthesizer.
The great thing about this app is that it has been created with the user in mind; there are countless features and sounds to keep even the least musical person interested for hours. Problems that are incurred with an app like this obviously come from the fact that if you don’t have an iPad there There are over fifty presets installed within the app is very little point in using it. The screen size on a which allows for immediate music to be made just smaller iOS device would make the usability far by touching your fingers at random points around too cramped. the screen. This app holds so many customizable controls that you’ll never get bored, no two sounds At £6.99 this is on the pricier side for a instrument are alike and neither are the crazy waveforms! app, but considering how much content you get If, once installed, you still aren’t quite with it, I have no problem recommending it. sure what to do, Jordan Rudess has even uploaded several tutorial videos to help you out and get you on the right track. You just have to decide for yourself if you’ll actually want to learn it as a new instrument or just play around making hilarious noises, (both of which are great fun), if you are not willing to put in the time, you are unlikely to get as much out of it as there is available.
8/10 Available now on the Apple app store!
Published on May 30, 2014