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Guitar Musician e-zine     04/05/2006


In This Issue:


  "..When I first heard Elvis' voice, I knew that I wasn't going to work for anybody ... hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"

                                                                              - Bob Dylan


Some Humor

  I've sure gotten old. I've had two by-pass surgeries. A hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer, and diabetes. I'm half
blind, can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia. Have poor circulation, hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92. Have lost all my friends. But ...thank God, I still have my driver's license!

A Lesson For The Learning

Interested in guitar lessons? - Be sure and check out the guitar lessons offered by Andrew Koblick at Amazing Guitar


 
Click here for all products by Native Instruments.
 

Native Instruments Guitar Rig 2

The last rig you'll ever need

By Mike Genao

The last rig you'll ever need

When I reviewed the original Guitar Rig for Musician's Friend last year, to say I was impressed would be an understatement. From the ultrarealistic amp, cabinet, microphone, and effects models to the amazing responsiveness of the Rig Kontrol foot controller, Guitar Rig represented the epitome of modeling software. When the buzz began about Guitar Rig 2, my mouth started watering in anticipation of how Native Instruments would take the program to the next level.

All in the name

When I received GR2 from Native Instruments, my computer workstation was being serviced. This left me longingly reading the box and caressing the revamped Rig Kontrol 2, kind of like a kid who gets the one toy he really wanted for Christmas then finds out there are no batteries in the house to make it work.

I immediately noticed some pictures and quotes on the back from some heavy hitters in the music world:

"Native Instruments does it once again with Guitar Rig 2. The flexibility, ease of use, and sound is unmatched. Highly recommended," reads a statement from Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor.
"There's no limit to the range of tones Guitar Rig can give you, and the sound just blows my mind every time," says Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age.
"I consider Guitar Rig to be my future." --Robert Fripp.

To hear some of my favorite players touting this program literally got me in my car and down to the computer store to hound the service department for my machine. Once that was all taken care of, and I had installed the software and Rig Kontrol 2 drivers, I was ready to dive in.

What's new?

Native Instruments Guitar Rig 2
Native Instruments Guitar Rig 2

Native Instruments clearly took it upon themselves to make Guitar Rig 2 as impressive as its predecessor, as evidenced by the array of new features it has. NI kept the same efficient interface as the first Guitar Rig, as well as the ability to operate as a standalone application or as a VST, Audio Units, RTAS, or DXi plug-in with your recording software.

There are a number of new things to talk about with GR2--namely new amp, cab, mic, and effects models (including ones for bass); the Loop Machine; and a number of modifiers that create even more possibilities - but the most logical place to start is with the enhancements made to the Rig Kontrol.

Big Rig

The biggest news with Rig Kontrol 2 is that it now has a high-quality, USB 2.0 audio/MIDI interface built right in! There's no need for any other hardware (aside from your computer, obviously). Rig Kontrol 2 has seven switches and an expression pedal, all of which can be programmed to any parameter you want. Assigning parameters is a cinch within the GR2 software; there's even an interactive graphic on the main screen that shows you exactly what's what.

The interface portion of the Rig Kontrol 2 offers two inputs, so you can have two instruments connected at once, whether they're guitars, basses, keyboards, or combinations. Each input has its own gain control, which is nice for on-the-fly level adjustments. The two outputs can be used to connect to powered studio monitors, a mixer, or a recorder, while a headphone jack lets you jam without disturbing anyone. MIDI I/O is provided too, as are two controller inputs for external expression pedals, foot switches, and the like. Not merely a means to connect your guitar to your computer, Rig Kontrol 2 offers you much more in terms of connectivity and control.

Amped up

In addition to the Gratifier, Twang Reverb, Plexi, and AC-Box amp models from Guitar Rig, GR2 adds four new amps including the Bass VT, inspired by the classic Ampeg SVT head that is so beloved by four-stringers everywhere. The Tweedman, whose role model was originally created as a bass amp, delivers versatile tone that's particularly outstanding in conjunction with a humbucker-equipped guitar. The Jazz Amp's clean sound is full of sonic richness, while the Lead 800 gives you the screaming tone that defined the metal sound of the 1980s and beyond. NI's Dynamic Tube Response technology means these amps behave just like the real thing, and with unique parameters for each one like sag and tube bias knobs, gearheads can have a field day tweaking their sound any way imaginable.

As if four new amps weren't enough to keep you busy, 25 cabinets (including six bass cab and four rotary speakers), nine mics, and 35 effects certainly will. Among my favorite presets in GR2 is the 8x10 Klassic bass rig that's full of the undeniable tone that has seduced listeners and players for years. Eight new effects are present in GR2, as well as a number of modifiers--what synth users would call modulators � that include a five-waveform LFO, analog sequencer, step sequencer, multi�step envelope, and more. With the ability to place these modifiers on any parameter you wish, there are limitless possibilities to the sounds you can get from Guitar Rig 2. And just as with the original Guitar Rig, creating your monster rack is as simple as dragging and dropping, except you now have more of everything to choose from.

The presets are a great place to start if you have an idea of what tone you're looking for. With such clever names as "Marilyn is beautiful" and "System of a crown," you're sure to find what you're looking for. From there, tweaking settings and parameters will fine-tune things.

Toolbox

The two Tapedecks from Guitar Rig are present in GR2, allowing you to play audio files in a number of formats. Load up a drum loop, press play, and you've got a backbeat to practice or jam over. Native Instruments included a huge number of samples you can use in the Tapedecks from bass and drums to complete backing tracks. So not only do you have these killer rigs at your disposal, but a complete backing band to jam with as well! Tapedeck Two handles the recording, letting you easily sketch and save song ideas. It's like having a songwriting partner right there with you.

One stellar addition in Guitar Rig 2 is the Loop Machine. Whereas in the first generation of Guitar Rig, you had to use the Tapedecks to create layers, now the Loop Machine makes this process simple and direct. I set switches on the Rig Kontrol 2 for starting and stopping the playback/recording, and basically went to town. With up to 99 phrases possible, you're really only limited by the amount of free space on your hard drive.

A tool that I found exceptionally helpful is the Operation Manual that comes with Guitar Rig 2. Written by gear guru Craig Anderton, it speaks in clear language that doesn't bog you down with loads of technobabble. Appendices on optimizing your computer, creating your own rig from scratch, and much more really take the intimidation factor out of this software, which can seem daunting at first glance. The Native Instruments website is also chock full of tutorials that help you realize the amazing potential this software has. It's important to know that when you invest in Guitar Rig 2, you've got an entire team of folks at NI that are there to help out, as well as a dedicated user community.

Endless possibilities

Whether you plan to use it as a recording tool, for live use, or both, Guitar Rig 2 is an investment in your playing that has the potential to boost your creative output to new levels. As I came up with new sounds or found a unique preset, I could sit and write a whole tune around it, then do the same again and again. Most of us have our one rig, and aside from tweaking the knobs on our amp or effects pedals, we're pretty much stuck with one set of sounds. With Guitar Rig 2, the sounds grow exponentially, giving you access to almost anything you could ever ask a guitar or bass to do. When combined with the superb functionality and built-in interface of the Rig Kontrol 2; the Loop Machine, Tapedecks, and Modifiers; and the included backing tracks; Guitar Rig 2 is clearly the epitome of modeling software.

Features & Specs:


    Software Features

  • 8 renowned guitar and bass amps
  • 15 guitar and 6 bass cabinets
  • 4 rotary speakers
  • 9 microphones
  • 35 effects
  • Loop Machine
  • Synth filters
  • Dynamic Tube Response technology
  • Drag-and-drop sound building
  • Operates as a standalone application or as a VST, RTAS, DXi, or Audio Units plug-in

    Hardware Features

  • Realtime control of all parameters
  • Rig Kontrol 2 USB 2.0 foot controller with built-in audio/MIDI interface
  • 7 footswitches and one expression pedal
  • Balanced stereo output and separate headphone monitoring
  • LED for current preset
  • MIDI I/O allows extra controllers or pedals to be connected

    Specs

  • Audio Units, VST, RTAS on ProTools 7, DXi, ASIO, Core Audio, Core MIDI, and DirectSound compatible
  • Mac requirements: Mac OS X 10.3.x, G4 733MHz, 512MB RAM
  • PC requirements: Windows XP SP2, Pentium 700MHz/Athlon XP 1.33GHz, 256MB RAM
  • Mac recommendation: Mac OS X 10.4.x, G4 1.25GHz, 768MB RAM
  • PC recommendation: Windows XP SP2, Pentium/Athlon XP 1.4GHz, 512MB RAM

 

GUITAR Q AND A

 

Jazz 101

Sam Ervin; Galveston, TX

Q: What are the most used chords for Jazz Guitar? I want to start to learn this genre and don't know where to start; all I have played so far is basic Rock songs. Thanks for the help.

A: It's great to hear that you are expanding your horizons and opening up your ears to new styles of music; it will make you a better and more versatile guitar player.

I suggest that you start with basic Major 7th and Minor 7th chords. Learn a 5th and 6th string root position for each. After you start to get a handle on this then move on to Major 6th, 9th, and Dominant 7th chords while again learning a 5th and 6th string root for each species. This will give you a great start for learning Jazz chord progressions.

I would also recommend that you start to memorize the Major scales across the entire neck in all keys. Start with the key of "C" Major and learn the five positions spanning the neck.

Jazz is a very colorful music and can often be quite complicated so be patient, it will take a little practice to make it all sink into your fingers.

Hope this helps!

Yours in Music,
John McCarthy
Rock House


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Writing Lyrics: Prosody and Meter

By John Braheny

 

John Braheny Prosody is the agreement of lyric and music. If the lyric has an "up," positive message, it would generally be unwise to use a melody in a minor key. Minor chords are used better in songs of pain, longing, despair, loss, and sadness. Ideally, you want the emotional tone of the music to enhance the message of the lyric. It's possible, however, that your message might be enhanced by doing just the opposite of what feels natural, for effect. A good example is Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's "Mack the Knife." But that should be a conscious choice, not an accident.

If Jim Webb had written the melody to the line, "Up, Up and Away" or Curtis Mayfield to the line "Move On Up" as a series of descending notes, the result would have sounded ludicrous. That's the extreme, but it's a graphic example of the importance of prosody.

Other factors also contribute to good prosody. Watch for combinations of words that could be heard as other words. "What do I know?" "What a Wino" "Let the winds take hold," "Let the wind stay cold," "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky" " 'Scuse me while I kiss this guy" (which became the title of a very funny book, "Scuse Me... While I Kiss This Guy: And Other Misheard Lyrics" by Gavin Edwards).

A similar problem exists with adjoining words that end and begin with the same sound. The phrases "teach children" and "strange journey" will give a good singer an anxiety attack unless there's plenty of space in between to allow the tongue to recover. Anyway, I'm sure you get my point. Make certain that what a listener hears is what you want them to hear and that the singer can easily sing what you write.

The best way to make sure your lyrics will sing well is to sing them as you write them. Sing your lyrics at the tempo they'll be performed. Words may look fine on paper or sing easily at a slow tempo but will tie a singer's tongue in knots when you increase the tempo even a little. If the words feel at all awkward in your mouth, or don't sing smoothly, change them. Some words like "long" and "cool" carry their own emotional meanings that feel wrong when sung over short choppy notes. Action words like "jump," "run," "crash," and "flash" may feel out of place in a slow ballad but right at home in a highintensity rocker.

One of the most important tools in the service of prosody is lyric meter. Its skilled use allows you to emphasize natural speech patterns and tie them effectively to the musical pulse and melody. It helps make the words fit comfortably with the music without putting the accents on the wrong syllables or squeezing too many words into too little musical space.

If you were paying attention in English class instead of daydreaming about being a rock star, you would probably already know about what follows. You just didn't think you'd ever need to use it, right?

Why do you need to know about meter? You may not need to remember the names of the patterns, but you should know that they are options to be considered and that they can be used for emotional effect and for variety. Few things are more deadly than an entire lyric in perfect iambic pentameter, and the melodies to those lyrics don't usually save them. When was the last time, by the way, that you heard someone use iambic pentameter in a conversation? So let's go back to English class again.

The groupings of stressed and unstressed syllables and words are called "metric feet." We usually hear them in groups of two or three.
 



This excerpt from John Braheny's book, (The Craft and Business of Songwriting, 2nd Edition) has been edited for length. It's available at Amazon.com and bookstores everywhere. For info about John's critiquing and consulting services, go to www.johnbraheny.com.


Brought to you by TAXI: The Independent A&R Vehicle that connects unsigned artists, bands and songwriters with major record labels, publishers, and film & TV music supervisors.

 


Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

 
Jason Vieaux, Images of Metheny
By Ron Forbes-Roberts
A note on the back of this CD directs the retailer to �File Under Classical,� but identifying the recording�s musical genre is not quite that cut and dry. Vieaux, an accomplished classical guitarist who devoted his last CD to the music of 19th-century Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz, here plays 13 solo guitar arrangements of compositions by jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. Hearing Metheny classics like �Every Day (I Thank You)� and �Message to a Friend� stripped to their essential harmonic construction and melody sheds new light on these pieces and provides, as Metheny says in the liner notes, �a new way of hearing what these tunes can mean.� Vieaux strings together five Metheny pieces �in the form of a Baroque suite� that includes the tune �Question and Answer,� imaginatively and successfully arranged as a Gavotte and Double. The set closes with an exquisite version of �The Bat,� played as a tremolo piece. But while Vieaux, an exceptionally musical guitarist with a rich, warm tone, reveals new dimensions in these pieces, he imbues them with the same sort of almost mystical poignancy that characterizes so much of their composer�s playing. Whatever you file this under, it�s an exceptional and beautiful recording by a remarkable player and arranger. (Azica, www.azica.com)

 



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