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His guest spot on ZULI’s “Kollu l-Joloud” brought his haunting voice to the forefront, and now Saudi Arabia’s mysterious MSYLMA has released his own debut record. Dhil-un Taht Shajarat Al-Zaqum draws lyrically upon pre-Islamic and Quranic poetry, exploring themes of existential angst over a backdrop of abstract, grimy beats. It’s not a conventional listen in any sense, but even without being able to understand the Arabic lyrics, there’s something immediate and emotional about MSYLMA’s plaintive vocals. You can grab the album through Boomkat.
Alex is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer from Sydney, Australia. He founded the post-rock band sleepmakeswaves, with which he has toured Asia, America, Europe and Australia. In his spare time he writes music for short films, produces bands and subsists on altogether too much coffee. Alex is the instructor of the free Soundfly course, Live Clicks and Backing Tracks.
This minor sixth interval wastes no time, jumping in right at the top of the tune. It’s a bit tough to pick out of the dissonant, bluesy context that D’Angelo sets up with the rest of his opening riff, but if you can isolate just those first two notes, you’ll have a perfectly handy minor sixth to memorize.
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The answers lie in the way that melody takes words and frames them in a different time and space. Melody can change the amount of time we spend on certain words (rhythm) lengthening or shortening the length of notes or space — by changing the pitch between words (intervals), up or down. This is what makes song so different from speech. And yet, there are parallels you can take advantage of.
For example, we played a show in Vancouver and made friends with the other artist on the bill. She told us about an “Italian Day” street fair happening the next day, and guess what — we were there! Friends help you get through the monotony of long tours.
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If you have an existing instrumental and want to come up with a strong melody, try improvising and experimenting while singing nonsense words. This can help you ignore lyrics entirely to focus on the melody and rhythm of the words. From there, it’ll be easy to write in lyrics to fit the rhythm.
Ticket giveaways are a powerful way to get people out to your show. You can hand out physical tickets near the venue or contact local radio stations, podcasts, blogs, local stores, etc. to see if they’d be into giving away tickets to your event, for example, as part of a contest. If nothing else, you’ll create buzz around the event.
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Modes and Key Signatures have a variety of different characteristics and are great for outside-the-box songwriting. Here’s a cheat sheet to remember them!
Amy is a New York-based actor, singer, and vocal coach who’s worked in a variety of genres, from opera to rock musicals. She is the founder of TheoryWorks and the instructor for both Music Theory for Broadway Actors courses on Soundfly. She’s also a published expert whose articles on music theory for actors have been featured on Backstage (here and here), and an accomplished educator and coach whose students have appeared on Broadway, on national tours, on cruise lines, and in regional theater performances across the country.
Jeremy is a Montreal-based musician, sound artist and improviser who loves giving advice to emerging artists on how to make their tours more effective. He writes, records and performs electroacoustic “concrète” music for tape, oscillators and amplified objects and surfaces, as well as solo guitar. He has performed and released material throughout Europe and the UK, Asia, the US and Canada, mostly with his trio Sontag Shogun.
Your narrative could be a very big-picture look at your career as a whole, or you can create mini-narratives around much smaller events, like a particular album. And finally a narrative should be a part of how you communicate with your fans every single day. It’s not always about sharing your whole story in one breath. Instead think about how the content you’re creating every day relates to your story as an artist.
“At the end of the day, being able to throw your hands up and laugh when a project goes horribly awry, or bringing an attitude of openness and humor onstage, can make space for very magical things to happen out of the blue, and that’s what I love most of all.