A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Technique x (Emotion + Feel) = Angel Of Mercy from Black Label Society

I just finished doing some hard late nights and early mornings watching the FIFA World Cup tournament for the last four weeks.

As a football youth coach, it was great to see a positive attacking mindset employed by the teams. And football coaching is getting better all the time as the modern-day managers and their coaches try to find a balance between technique and understanding the game. I have seen coaches spend a lot of time on technique that the players train in isolation for such long periods that they get lost when it comes to a game.

The problem is that too much focus on technique takes away time spent on the deeper aspects of the game. Players might be great at performing drills. But without understanding how the game is played, they can’t use their technique effectively. Sure, they can take on a player and beat them with incredible technique however soccer is a team game. While Brazil has Neymar and Argentina has Messi and Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo, Germany has a team. And it was that team that won the FIFA World Cup.

Musicians are no different. There are millions of guitarists out there that have unbelievable technique. But how many of them are great songwriters. Because we all know someone with an amazing voice or great guitar talent. And maybe they should have made or could have made it. But they didn’t make it. Because the best and the brightest don’t make it the top on technical abilities alone. Music is a game and it needs to be played like one.

I just finished watching a YouTube view of Kelly Valleau playing an acoustic cover of “Fade To Black” from Metallica. The technique exhibited at pulling off the arrangement involved him combining the rhythms with the vocal lines and the lead breaks. It’s first class. All up the video has had 463,658 views on Youtube. Has anyone else heard of this phenomenal guitar player.

And the thing is, “Fade To Black” was written and arranged by James Hetfield who is the anti-hero of a technical player however his style of fast palm-muted down-picking ushered in a new style of rhythm playing. Look at any Metallica story out there and you will see that James more or less learned/mastered his craft in a band environment instead of spending countless days performing drills on his own. That’s not to say that if you woodshed you will not get far.

A favourite of mine is Zakk Wylde and he woodshedded from the age of fourteen, amassing an amazing technique. And no one can say that Zakk hasn’t created or being involved in creating some memorable songs. Just listen to “Angel Of Mercy” from the “Catacombs” album and you will see what I mean. It demonstrates unbelievable technique in the solo section while the verses and the chorus show the emotive side.

Hell, listen to his whole career and you will see what I mean. Same goes for a lot of other guitarists.

Great music must contain emotion. That is why “Angel Of Mercy” connected with me. It hits me emotionally and it makes me feel something. All the great songs do? And because I care for the song, I can’t stop sharing it and talking about it with people who want to listen. And when music is done right, it sells itself.

I am a great believer that technical abilities are a good tool to have in your arsenal as a musician, however it should be just one tool of many tools that are employed in the creation of your latest masterpiece. Don’t lose focus that a song has many moving parts and the vocal melodies along with the actual lyrics go a long way to making that connection with the audience as much as the riff.

Like the new Judas Priest album “Redeemer Of Souls”. A lot of the songs have some great musical moments and some cool riffs however the vocal melodies just missed the mark on the majority of the songs. “Halls Of Valhalla”, “Sword of Damocies”, “Secrets Of The Dead”, “Battle Cry” and “Beginning Of The End” are the exception, especially “Battle Cry”. And most of these songs are part of the deluxe edition.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Force Is Strong In The Kashmir Effect

Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” is the type of song that is so good, that it has become part of pop culture. The song was released in 1975 on the “Physical Graffiti” album.

Even “Kashmir” is a result of Jimmy Page creating derivative versions of previous ideas and songs. The first thing is the CIA tuning that Jimmy Page first employed with “The Yardbirds”. CIA stands for Celtic-Indian-Arabic and the exact tuning is known as DADGAD, a tuning that Davy Graham used for his 1963 rendition of an old Irish folk song “She Moved Through The Fair” which in turn saw Jimmy Page come along and derive a new song called “White Summer”, and another derivative version called “Black Mountain Side”.

If you don’t know who Davy Graham is, go to YouTube right now and type in “Anji” and prepare to be mesmerized. For all the music geeks out there, check out one of the riffs from “Anji” (that comes in at about the 14 second mark) and then go and listen to Queens Of The Stone Age song “No One Knows”. Hear the riff. While “Anji” wallows in internet obscurity, “No One Knows” has 17,883,776 views on the Queens Of The Stone Age Vevo account.

“Black Mountain Side” was recorded in October 1968 and released in January 1969 on the first Led Zeppelin album. It is credited to Jimmy Page as a writer, however the guitar arrangement closely follows Bert Jansch’s version of “She Moved Through the Fair”, recorded on his 1966 album “Jack Orion” which more or less was a cover of Davy Graham’s 1963 version.

All of these songs are in the same DADGAD tuning that was used for “Kashmir”. I am not saying that these songs sound similar to “Kashmir” however these songs needed to be jammed on, so that Jimmy Page could get used to the DADGAD tuning. You see great songs don’t happen overnight or by a committee. They happen by derivative jamming and by derivative accidents.

If there was any doubt about the power of “Kashmir”, then look no further than the metal and rock movements during the Eighties.

Kingdom Come’s derivative version “Get it On” helped the self-titled Kingdom Come album released in 1988 move over a million units in the U.S. Whitesnake employed the same technique in “Judgement Day” from the “Slip Of The Tongue” album, which even though it didn’t reach the sale heights of the self-titled 1987 album, it still moved over a million copies in 1989.

As Yoda would say, the force is strong in “Kashmir”. Kashmir’s legacy in pop culture was solidified in the Nineties when the main riff was used by Puff Daddy in the song “Come with Me”.

The defining part of the song is the ascending chromatic riff over a pedal point which is made even greater by the drumming from John Bonham, playing slightly behind the beat.

Dave Mustaine is a great employer of this technique. “In My Darkest Hour” and “The Call Of Ktulu/Hanger 18” both employ this technique, however there are other Mustaine penned songs that also include this technique. Progress is derivative is the mantra that I employ.

“Mary Jane” from the “So Far, So Good, So What” album released in 1988 has that riff that comes in at 0.46 and continues throughout the song. If it sounds familiar, it should, it is a very close derivative version of “In My Darkest Hour”. Both songs are similar and both songs have the ascending bass line over a pedal point.

“This Was My Life” from the “Countdown To Extinction” album released in 1992 has the main verse riff.

“Public Enema Number 1” from the “Th1rte3n” album released in 2011 has the main verse riff.

“The Kingmaker” from the “Super Collider” album released in 2013 has the Chorus riff.

Billy Squier also employed “The Kashmir Effect” and “The Ramble On Effect” in his song, “Lonely Is the Night” from the album “Don’t Say No” released in 1981. The music is “Ramble On” and the beat is “Kashmir”.

Guess progress really is derivative.

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