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Slap sounds are played similarly to a tone. Put your hand on the edge of the drum, but instead of playing with a flat hand, you curve your fingers lightly. The contact area is limited to the edge of the palm and the fingertips. The other difference is that your hands rebound immediately after a strike, so the contact time with the skin is as short as possible. Slap tones produce more of a ‘crack’ and a bright sound, but you’ll also notice a little bass resonance. Your hand should bounce off the drumhead so that the fingertip pads flick quite sharply on and off the surface with a slap. The pocket of space under the palm gives it a hollow sound.

It’s always good to try to find ways to reengage with your collaborators even if they live elsewhere — developing and maintaining a network of home recording cowriters and musicians you can hit up is a very valuable musical practice. So last Friday, I shot him a text asking if he could track something for me by Sunday. I had a flawless solo take and some background parts less than two hours later.

All of our mentored online courses come with six weeks of 1-on-1 professional coaching and feedback on your work. It’s like having a personal trainer, but for music! Share your goals with us and we’ll find a course for you, or create a custom mentorship session with a pro musician, engineer, educator, or music industry veteran to help you achieve them. 

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If you have been writing songs for some time and find yourself feeling creatively stifled, consider listening to your older songs for inspiration. Map out those songs and identify elements or themes that you can expand upon, improve, or alter. If you are new to songwriting or don’t have music that you previously released, take a trip down memory lane and listen to music that you enjoyed two, five, or even ten years ago. Identify the elements of those songs that you enjoyed and try to incorporate those ideas into your own writing.

Drumming and loud sound are such large parts of Puerto Rican culture, it only makes sense they’d be the focal point of this week’s protests. Take a listen!

Originally recorded for a Live-Aid concert, the video was voted one of the worst of all time by an NME survey. I, however, find it hilarious and always get a kick out of it. I’d like to think, based off of how goofy Jagger and Bowie are acting in the video, they were thinking the same thing.

The MIDI version is richly informative. There are long passages where there’s almost no rhythmic correspondence between the notes as written (and as “performed” in the MIDI) and the way that humans perform them. People are playing the same notes in the same order, but have pretty much thrown Bach’s written rhythms out the window. But the MIDI isn’t a very satisfying listening experience.

The same goes for creative lighting, like old lamps or customized Arduino-triggered LED lights. It looks cool, and it’s also handy in case one of the venues on your tour doesn’t have very interesting lighting options. Most venues will also let you hang a banner behind you while you play, which can really help people remember who you are without you reminding them after every song.

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In order to set up yourself for success, keep your cords, microphones, headphones, and instrument equipment organized in specific, consistent spots so you always know where they are when you need them. And then, after you’re done with them, always return these items to their respective spots. Put guitars in cases or hang them on the wall, coil cables when they’re not in use, and build shelves to store stuff that gets used less frequently. Big plastic storage bins are also a great option for extra cables and assorted items.

The United Nations recognizes 54 distinct nations on the African continent. Within each independent nation, there are dozens of unique languages and ethnic groups, each with their own cultural traditions and communities. The music and art cultures of the continent and diaspora consistently communicate profound humanity beyond the documentation of written language, which is why so many extended variations of African music — like jazz, blues, and hip-hop just to name a few — have proliferated and spread globally over the last century.

For example, the whole concept of “toplining” may still be foreign to most non-musicians, but if you’re a songwriter who frequents co-writing sessions, there’s no way you haven’t heard of it before. Likewise, the term “scratch vocal” might confuse some, but almost every singer or songwriting producer you meet will know that one intimately.

Editing is the final, critical element that if done well, will make your podcast shine. Even if you have a stripped-back podcast with one simple interview or monologue, editing it properly will improve the flow and pace of the episode. When I edit a podcast, I like interviews to sound real, so I tend to keep breaths and some natural vocal blemishes. I do take out an incredible amount of awkward pauses, umm’s, ah’s, and repeated phrases. Conversational language is not always great. Even the most well-spoken people repeat themselves and say things in a conversation that doesn’t always make sense.

When you’re a musician, it helps to have a job that you can take off every now and then when you go on tour or into the studio, here’s a few of our faves!