Music Teacher's Helper Blog

For any kind of performers, there is room for mistakes, and some arts are more gentle about it than others depending on the context and the particular feeling that is being comunicated.

In music, mistakes have the potential of being quite magical, wether it is during composition or a live performance, there is something about it that moves the way music works in an unexpected fun way that a planned performance cannot replicate. Of course it also depends on the type of music. When it comes to classical music and in some cases jazz, perfection is key in order to deliver a great performance.

This magic of mistakes can happen either in a live performance or during a recording. The basic idea is that a mistake can bring more feeling to the music or even sounds that were not intended to be there in the first place.

Live Performance Mistakes

Live performances ara filler with mistakes, and sometimes what defines a great performer is not how perfect the music is being played but how the musician is able to keep going despite the adversities.

It’s also important to know the origin of the mistake, if it’s just lack of practice and expertise, it can hardly be magical, but there is one common example, which is laughter. When musicians play and there is a clear connection and chemistry, fun things are bound to happen, and this feeling is passed on to the crowd. However that’s when the mistake happens, laughter can make someone make a mistake or a singer fall out of tune, but the idea of the magic mistake is that it doesn’t really matter, it even gives a feeling of “realness” to it.

While it’s less common, sometimes improvisation can come from mistakes, all it takes is a single note outside of the plan. Of course it all depends on the energy between every band mate.

It’s also important to remember that most of these mistakes are magical thanks to the crowd, in the end a live performance is made by both the musicians and the crowd that listens, cheers and fuels all the emotions.

Recordings/Composition

Mistakes

Many legendary songs have something magical about them that was brought by a little mistake.

According to the awesome Beatles anomalies site “What Goes On,” “…it is widely written that fitting with the lyrics [“Woke up, fell out of bed…”] was only coincidental, and the alarm clock’s purpose was originally as a marker. Nothing more. A happy accident that was capitalised on, as the Beatles often did.”

sonicscoop.com

There was also:

On one of the overdubs, Ringo shifted position very slightly at the very end, causing his shoe to squeak. This happened, of course, just when the sound of a pin dropping could be heard! A cross Paul shot him a sideways glance, and from the look on his face I could tell Ringo was mortified. If you listen quite closely to the song just as the sound is fading away, you can hear it clearly, especially on the CD version, where there is no surface noise to mask it.

sonicscoop.com

During a recording and composition it’s different than the live performance in many ways, due to the time that a musician has to play around with the path given by the mistake. Sometimes you have an idea, and it gets improved by playing a note you were not supposed to but makes everything better. In this case there is time to really listen to that and turn the mistake into the sound that is supposed to be played.

The main take away from this is to let the music take the lead sometimes, and let the unexpected happen.

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Blues is one of the most established genres that music has to offer, and it has influenced countless legends of music in Rock, Jazz and many other genres. The truth is, that every genre has to come from somewhere, for blues, it came from North America, and it was black music to the core.

It all begins with ex slaves and family from slaves from the southern plantations in the United States, mostly in Missisipi, and it came together as a blend of different affrican music, drums, folk and country.

This was all around the 19th century.

When you think of the blues, you think about misfortune, betrayal and regret. You lose your job, you get the blues. Your mate falls out of love with you, you get the blues. Your dog dies, you get the blues.

Ed Kopp

While blues lyrics often deal with personal adversity, the music itself goes far beyond self-pity. The blues is also about overcoming hard luck, saying what you feel, ridding yourself of frustration, letting your hair down, and simply having fun. The best blues is visceral, cathartic, and starkly emotional. From unbridled joy to deep sadness, no form of music communicates more genuine emotion.

Ed Kopp

That was the hook of blues, the pure emotion and the energy it evoked which while it could be extremely personal at times, it was also the kind of music that would make you dance.

Pioneers: Son House

The blues started to solidify around 1920, with great artists such as Son House, who actually did not like the sound of guitars at first: ” “I didn’t like no guitar when I first heard it; oh gee, I couldn’t stand a guy playin’ a guitar. I didn’t like none of it.”

Eddie James House, Jr. was born on March 21, 1902, in Riverton, MS. He was not very fond of his time working in the plantations and was unhappy about many things that surrounded him including the guitar which he eventually picked up a the age of 25 because of his place in gospel, but wasn’t really into the blues after some incidents in his life which included killing a man and serving two years in jail.

After his release, he truly began his life as a blues man and until his death, he was the king of the blues, for some, he still is.

Jug Blues

There were many branches of music affected from the Blues around the mid 1920s and 1930s, from jazz, to gospel but one that gained a lot of popularity was Jug Blues, or Jug Bands, which were bands that used homemade instruments and regular instruments.

It was an interesting idea because sometimes many of these people with musical talent didn’t have access to radios or musical instruments, and this represents the fact that you could just tense a string on the wall and make music, use a sink as percussion, and of course jugs.

Chicago Blues: Buddy Guy

Blues

The blues is also al about feeling, and there are many great blues players and singers that were self taught, like Buddy Guy.

I’m self taught and used to playing music how I feel it. That’s the one way old blues guys from anywhere are the same. [laughs] For instance, a lot of people say they can’t play with John Lee Hooker because there’s no pattern, but I have no problem playing with John. You can hear in his voice when he’s getting ready to make a change because he plays it the way he sings it and sings it the way he plays it. You get a groove and play off that and change when you damn well feel like it. People think blues is all about 12-bar patterns, but it’s not like that and never was.

Buddy Guy

Buddy guy played with many big names, and became very popular because of his great talent playing the guitar which was both agressive and full of that blues feeling.

At this point blues had was beginning to earn the spotlight, and Chicago was the place to enjoy this type of pure honest music that came from Mississippi and New Orleans, along with Punk, but that’s another story.

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People that embrace music as an essential part of their lives, that is, as their job, end up in uncomfortable dark places that may make them think differently about something they used to love. This is not strange or new, and it happens with every form of art that gets involved with marketing, sales, and large audiences.

However, there are moments when music can become a simple means to an end, with the end being making profit out of it. This of course means that the main reason why a musician does what he does becomes a secondary thing.

A Few Dark “Secrets”

Dark

The absence of women in positions of power undoubtedly contributes to a culture of sexism in the music industry. High-powered figures like Dr. Luke, Russell Simmons, and R. Kelly have been accused of sexual harassment.

This is a delicate matter because sometimes it can get out of hand, however it is something real, and it can’t be left out.

If you’ve got big dreams of striking it rich in the music industry, think again. 63% of album and download sales go to the label, and another 23% to the distributors. By the time the lawyers, publishers, producers, and managers get their cut, the average musician sees just 2.3% of the profit.

While money is not the main goal for most musicians, it is an important part of music as a career since it can become the main source of income, and sometimes it feels as if the musician is the product itself. From the musician’s point of view, maybe the only big thing to avoid is feeling as a product, while the percentaje of earnings seem small, there is a lot of money to be made in the music industry, so in the end, it’s best not to focus on making money.,

Uncomfortable Fame

Fame is something that is not always handled in the best way possible, and sometimes it can even come from the band itself. Sometimes hits and popular music have some dark secrets or little things that make the whole vibe a bit weird, this was the case with the famous “Sweet Child O’ Mine”.

The classic riff at the beginning of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses began as a simple string skipping practice exercise Slash would do. As he was playing it, the rest of the band started playing along in what was just meant to be a jam session, but Axl Rose heard them playing in the other room and began writing lyrics to it. The song would become one of their biggest hits, but Slash always resented it, saying “[The song] turned into a huge hit and now it makes me sick. I mean, I like it, but I hate what it represents.

While it may not seem such a big deal, it can be very uncomfortable to know that something that was not intended to be anything is now a piece of music thought to have a deep meaning and great process behind it. Again, some may have no problems with this situation, but maybe it’s a matter of honesty.

It’s Not What It Seems

Of course, while it’s not a dark secret, many people fall prey to the magic of music and the artists who play it, however most of what we see may be part of an image ready to sell and it does not represent the real thing.

In many cases, bands and artists are just an image, while the producer takes care of doing all the writing, recording and mixing, being the real creator behind the curtains. Being concious of this sometimes makes it as if the musicians we all know and love, may be just puppets to an extent, and while there are many exceptions, every musician is is potentially one of these puppets.

There is also a musician’s personality; this can also be an image to sell, and does not represent reality, but just like an actor, a musician needs to act the part in order to sell the whole package to their audience. Maybe that’s not all bad, but there is no denying that when the private life and the alter ego get mixed up, there is a problem.

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