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Electronic music history pre-dates the rock and roll era by decades. Most of us were not even on this planet when it began its often obscure, under-appreciated and misunderstood development. Today, this ‘other worldly’ body of sound which began close to a century ago, may no longer appear strange and unique as new generations have accepted much of it as mainstream, but it’s had a bumpy road and, in finding mass audience acceptance, a slow one.
Many musicians – the modern proponents of electronic music – developed a passion for analogue synthesizers in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s with signature songs like Gary Numan’s breakthrough, ‘Are Friends Electric?’. It was in this era that these devices became smaller, more accessible, more user friendly and more affordable for many of us. In this article I will attempt to trace this history in easily digestible chapters and offer examples of today’s best modern proponents.
To my mind, this was the beginning of a new epoch. To create electronic music, it was no longer necessary to have access to a roomful of technology in a studio or live. Hitherto, this was solely the domain of artists the likes of Kraftwerk, whose arsenal of electronic instruments and custom built gadgetry the rest of us could only have dreamed of, even if we could understand the logistics of their functioning. Having said this, at the time I was growing up in the 60’s & 70’s, I nevertheless had little knowledge of the complexity of work that had set a standard in previous decades to arrive at this point.
As a bassist, bandleader, teacher, and music copyist, I’ve worked with hundreds of singers throughout the years. Though working musicians know hundreds of tunes, singers need to have good charts in order to have their music played the way they want. I define a “good chart” as a piece of written music that effectively tells the musicians what they should play.
Written music comes in seven basic forms: chord charts, sheet music, songbooks, lead sheets, fake books, master rhythm charts and fully notated parts.
As a musician has a responsibility to play the chart before him correctly, the supplier of the chart has the responsibility of providing the right kind of chart. Knowing what type of chart to use for what kind of tune or gig is very important.
This article explains what the different types of charts are, and under what circumstances to use them. I hope you find it useful.
TYPES OF CHARTS
Charts can be simple or elaborate according to the style of music and type of gig. Cover tunes are traditionally learned from recordings; classical and choral music can be found in sheet music stores as well as in various music catalogs; numerous tunes will be found in music books of all kinds; and many public libraries carry recordings and written music for your use.
The word “chart” refers to any piece of written music or any arrangement (music that has been adapted in a unique manner) of a tune. Decades ago it was strictly a “cool” slang term for a tune, but any piece of music could be called a chart these days, though a classical buff might not refer to a Mozart work as a “chart”.
Most guitarists want to be able to express themselves better with their guitar playing; however, the majority of guitar players have no idea how to actually practice this skill. This leads to a lot of time being wasted on practicing guitar in a way that does not produce big results. The solution to this problem is to develop a more accurate fundamental understanding of how to develop creativity in music.
Many guitar players try to enhance their musical creativity skills by searching the music of their favorite bands for cool riffs and guitar ideas and playing them over and over. This is certainly an enjoyable activity to do when playing guitar, but in reality it does not do very much to help you to learn musical expression. If you spend a great deal of time on this, you will be missing out on the two most critical parts of being able to create emotion in music:
- You have to understand the manner in which great guitar players and musicians ‘think’. More specifically, this means determining WHY they choose the specific notes and ideas that they do. This is something that you cannot learn if you simply copy the “notes” of your favorite songs and guitar solos. Rather than just playing the same notes as other musicians, you must spend time thinking about the emotions you want to express, and what specific musical choices you need to make to achieve that goal. Once you gain this level of musical creativity, you will develop your own unique sound as it relates to the ideas and emotions that come from your mind.
However, the answer to “How do I get more fans and promote my music career?” is not easily found by taking a highly generalized approach that ‘seems’ to work for other musicians. At any given moment, you (or the band you play in) may be struggling with various unique challenges that would require that you take specific actions in order to get more fans or strengthen your promotional efforts. That said, no matter where you are in your music career and what challenges you face, you have 3 goals to achieve if you want to both gain more music fans and promote your music:
- You have to get more people to check out your music.
- Once someone listens to your music, you need them to help support you in some manner (buying your albums, watching you live, purchasing any merchandise, etc.)
- You need to transform your fans into totally fanatics who will use word of mouth to tell all their friends about you and your music.
No matter what it is that you are trying to achieve in the music business, the three goals mentioned above will apply to anything you do as long as you are trying to develop a strong relationship with your fans.
These goals may all seem to be separate from one another; however, they are in fact all connected. Once you are able to achieve success with any single one of them, you will greatly improve your chances for success with any of the others. As soon as you truly ‘get’ this basic truth, you will find it much easier to be productive in your efforts.
Most of the qualities I will be discussing have to do with the way you ‘think’ rather than the specific actions you take. It is rare to find someone who has the right mindset that contains all of these qualities. However, you can get ‘trained’ to develop a success oriented mindset and thus massively increase your chances for making it in the music industry.
Here are the most important qualities to develop for yourself in order to build a highly successful music career:
The Right Work Ethic Mentality
Of course it is obvious that you will need to work hard to build a successful music career. However, most musicians do not understand what ‘kind’ of working mentality is required to truly ‘make it’. The type of dedication needed requires more than just working a lot on your career. It requires:
1. Understanding the ‘correct’ course of action to take in order to make progress. This means not just ‘working a lot’, but working on the ‘right things’ that will lead you where you want to go.
2. Working in the most effective and productive manner possible. Tons of people stay busy throughout the day, but never actually accomplish anything important. You don’t want to become one of these people.
3. Being aware of how everything you do factors into the growth of your music career in the long term.
4. Having the patience and commitment to do all the hard work ‘up front’, long before you get a payoff of any kind. A common example of this would be recording a full length album in the studio before actually making any profit from it.
To develop the right work ethic mindset, work to clearly understand your long term music career goals and find a mentor who will help you determine the steps you must take to reach them.
Are you searching for ways to make it in the music industry? In order to break into the music business and develop a long-lasting, successful career, it is important to (first) eliminate all of the misinformation you have heard about becoming a pro musician. Truth is, believing in music industry ‘myths’ will cause you to waste time, energy and money while never getting any closer to your music career goals.
People in the music industry are sent tons of mail each day containing recordings and other materials from talented musicians. Most of these musicians have spent their whole life working on their musical skills in order to get signed to a recording contract. Unfortunately, 99% of these musicians will not get signed, nor will they even hear back from the companies they send their music to. In many cases, music companies throw away a lot of the materials they receive from random musicians. This results in a lot of frustration for most musicians and leaves them wondering why they work hard on their musical skills but can’t seem to break into the music industry.
On the other hand, there are plenty of musicians who DO become successful in the music industry. Building a fulfilling and profitable music career is actually not as difficult as it may seem. However, the majority of musicians do not succeed because they believe in false ‘conventional wisdom’ about the music industry that ruins their chances of achieving their musical dreams. To break into the music industry and become successful, you must avoid the following music career building approaches that most people consider ‘common sense’:
1. Pursuing A Music Degree In Order To Become Successful In The Music Business…
Many years ago, I had a college friend who was an evangelizing devotee of the abstract painter Marc Rothko. I remember her gushing over a catalog of Rothko’s work, while I was thinking that I must be aesthetically challenged; I just didn’t “get” it. After all, most of the paintings were nothing but large rectangles of color, with slight irregularities and a contrasting border or stripe. All of the familiar reference points of line and shape, perspective and shadow, were gone.
I could appreciate them as “design,” but not as “art.” While they were pleasing enough, I couldn’t see why anyone would rhapsodize over these abstractions… until I first saw them for myself in person–a completely different experience! When I encountered them at the Museum of Modern Art, they literally stopped me in my tracks, subverting conscious thought and plunging me immediately into an altered state.
They were not just flat canvases on a wall, but seemed more like living things, pulsing and throbbing in resonance to a wavelength that had a fundamental connection to the Source of things. I was stunned. They didn’t “express” a feeling–they were more like feelings themselves, and they seemed like nothing personal to me, or Rothko, or anyone. When I later looked at the reproductions Rothko’s works in books, they reverted to flat swatches of color. There was a recollection, but no recreation of my experience. This was an experience that depended on the presence of the original artifact (art: a fact).
Chances are, you are already ruining your potential to succeed in the music industry because you believe in one or more music career myths. How do I know? I am sent e-mail messages on a constant basis by tons of musicians (all seeking the answers to the WRONG questions). These are questions that may seem like good questions on the top level, but are really highly damaging questions that take them far away from their musical dreams.
To put together a successful career in music as soon as possible, you’ve got to know the questions you do NOT need to be seeking answers to, and understand how to ask much higher quality questions that will put you on the right track toward reaching your music industry goals.
These are the 4 worst music career questions you should avoid asking in order to build a successful career as a professional musician:
Bad Music Career Question #1: Do I Have To Become A ‘Starving Artist’?
What do you believe is the number one thing that musicians are doing to ruin their chances at succeeding in the music industry? Is it: not practicing their instrument enough? Not putting together enough good music industry connections? Living in a city with no music scene? The answer to all of this is NO – none of these things. There can be countless reasons why a musician would fail to make it in the music industry, but the things above are merely symptoms of a deeper cause. In reality, the most common reason why musicians never succeed in this business is they have a FEAR based mindset.
The majority of musicians allow their fears to ruin their chances for succeeding in music. Some of these fears are understood consciously while others are only identifiable to someone who is looking for them.
Unfortunately, whether you are aware of them or not, your fears can be very devastating to your music career. As one who mentors musicians on how to build a successful music career, I’ve observed this endless times.
The following are some of the frequent fears that devastate musicians’ chances for becoming successful and how to overcome them so that you can quickly move your music career forward: