Category Archives: acoustic guitar

WRT armageddon

timesonline.co.uk: WRT armageddon

Britain’s music industry as a whole grew by nearly 5 per cent last year, according to independent research published yesterday.

PRS for Music, the body that collects royalty payments and distributes them to artists and composers, said that the overall size of the UK music industry had risen by 4.7 per cent to £3.6 billion during 2008.

The figures, which were calculated by Will Page, the organisation’s chief economist, show that while the recorded music sector shrank by 6 per cent last year, the value of the live music sector increased by 13 per cent.

There was also a 14 per cent rise in the revenues collected by PRS for Music and a 7 per cent rise in sums collected directly by record companies from digital licensing — from the owners of web-based services such as Spotify and from the use of recordings in film, television, games and advertising.

Mr Page said that such revenues had grown for a second consecutive year and accounted for almost a fifth of the domestic income enjoyed by record companies, while a quarter of the music industry’s entire income was now derived from “business to business” revenues, such as licensing, advertising and sponsorship, which rose by 10 per cent to £925 million during the year, despite a drop in spending by advertisers.

He added: “What [the statistics] provide is an understanding of a value chain, which helps to counter much of the Armageddon-style hysteria that surrounds the state of the UK music industry. The point is that value doesn’t just disappear — rather, some will be lost, some displaced and some new revenues will enter the industry.”

What I’m skeptical about is the extent to which the live business came from heritage acts selling to baby boomers, because that’s a market which can’t last. Also because those bands just aren’t my thing.

That a quarter of the music industry’s entire income was now derived from business to business revenues, such as licensing, advertising and sponsorship seems like really good news, because it’s a volume which is big enough to matter and a way of working that embraces innovative products.

dedicated page for a song

I have set up a dedicated page for my version of the song “Frog in the Well.” It is an experiment in packaging for internet music, since a bare MP3 lacks all the chrome that makes a CD an entertaining thing to open up. Design notes —

To draw you into the page and help the recording come to life, there is some text about the history of the song.

To enable interaction by remixing, there is a MIDI version, the recording length is given (which helps people looking for background music), the recording is under a license which permits remixing, and there is an offer to relicense if necessary. To enable interaction by playing it for yourself, there is sheet music and guitar tablature as both a downloadable PDF and an embedded image.

To handle limited attention spans, I crammed as much fun stuff as I could manage into the first screenful above the fold. Video gets prominent real estate, because that draws people in like nothing else.

To make the MP3 playable in-place I included Yahoo! Media Player.

The MP3 link is labeled simply “MP3”, which doesn’t provide metadata for either search engines or the metadata section of the media player, so I put metadata (which the media player will pick up) into the title attribute of the link:

<a href="http://soupgreens.com/wp-content/uploads/lucasgonze-froginthewell.mp3" title="Lucas Gonze - Frog in the Well.">MP3</a>

To optimize placement in search engine results, the page has a good clean URL (http://soupgreens.com/froginthewell/) and the song title is in the page header.

There is sheet music inline in the document in addition to the downloadable PDF. This is to inspire people who play an instrument to try it out.

In the downloadable PDF there is a (text) link back to the site. This is to improve the stickiness of the content — if anybody does print it out and read through it on their instrument and then doesn’t get to know the main site, I must have really messed something up. Also, I’m planning to give out printouts at shows and getting people to follow the link back to the site is the payoff.

Here’s the link again: Frog in the Well.

Spirit rappings

Spirit Rappings (title page)

August 20, 1852, Wednesday

Page 2 of the New York Times, 695 words

Mr. ORVILLE HATCH, of Franklin, Conn., has become insane, he having devoted considerable attention to the subject of Spirit Rappings. Mr. HATCH is a farmer, and has been instrumental in introducing many important improvements in agriculture into the town in which he resides.

Madame Pamita, whose performances involve both spiritualism and really old American music, sent me a pointer to sheet music for an 1854 tune called “Spirit Rappings”, presumably because it’s a great number for Halloween. This post is my version of it.

Since I did a vocal part for once, the mix has the guitar and vocal parts hard panned to left and right so you can pull out the singing and do karaoke.

This recording is under a Creative Commons ShareAlike-Attribution 2.0 license. See also my boilerplate copyright statement.

Direct links:

Spirit Rappings (mp3)

Spirit Rappings (vorbis)

parlor guitar



I picked up a parlor guitar dating from the 1890s. It is in completely playable condition, even though it’s on the order of 120 years old.

The price was $750, which is incredible given that an electric from the 1960s goes for a couple thousand.

The plan is to incorporate this into my live set, along with my electric guitar and my 1920s L3. The music for the set ranges from 1800-1900. All together these materials will tell a story about the early development of American music and the prehistory of blues, jazz, country and rock.

See the entire photoset for a detailed look.

William Litten song

Cover of 'William Litten's Fiddle Tunes'

This post is a recording of a fast and furious guitar performance of a fiddle tune called “Kiss My Lady” which was transcribed in 1800 (or so) by a ship’s musician named William Litten.


Musically I wanted something energetic and raw. I didn’t care about mistakes except if they were bad enough to really mar the listening. The final performance definitely has mistakes, and both my dogs got into the action by barking.It usually takes me a lot of takes to get something with the right feel and no fatal mistakes. In this case I did a few takes a day for a few days before I got one I liked.

I don’t have sheet music for this because I got it from a book which is not online. Here’s the story.Litten was employed as a ship’s musician, and along the way he wrote down a lot of music. I think that this was more like a notebook to aid his memory than a book for the public. His manuscript was brought home to Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts, by a local guy named Allen Coffin. The Martha’s Vineyard economy was based on fishing, sailing, etc, until it became a touristy beach destination in the late 20th century, and Coffin was probably on the ship with Litten. The manuscript ended up in the library of the historical society in Edgartown, the biggest town on the island.

In the 1970s a musicologist named Gail Huntington copied it into more readable notation, made some corrections and other tidying up, cross-referenced the songs in contemporaneous publications, and eventually published it. Her publication is copyright 1977 by Hines Point Publishers, Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts 02568. This was either self-publishing or a very small-time operation.

Here’s a description of the situation by somebody else familiar with the book:

William Litten was a ship’s fiddler in Royal Navy in the first years of the nineteenth century. What makes Litten remarkable amongst his peers was his ability to transcribe music. In the years 1800 to 1802 he was aboard the HMS Gorgon, leaving England in May 1800, arriving in China in February 1801 and passing through St Helena in 1802. During the voyage he wrote down much of his repertoire, thus giving us a unique snapshot of the musical and, in particular, the fiddle repertoire of his time. The original and now unprocurable book was assembled and published in 1977. Extensive searches failed to find the publishers. The book was reproduced from a copy on interlibrary loan from New Mexico for the purposes of study at a a workshop at the National Folk Festival in Canberra in 2006. A few copies remain and are offered here.

The copyright situation of the sheet music is messy. Huntington’s substantive contributions to the original entitle her to a copyright on her contributions. However figuring out what is a copyrighted addition and what is a public domain part of the original is totally up in the air. Since she and her publisher seem to have disappeared, this has turned into an orphaned work. The good news is that a public domain performance of the underlying composition and arrangement is completely legal as far as I can tell.

My own copyrights in these recordings are released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license per my boilerplate licensing statement.


Direct audio file links

These are the real keepers:

Kiss My Lady sept 23 2007 (mp3)

Kiss My Lady sept 23 2007 (vorbis)

These are scratch recordings that I figured might be handy for sampling or comparison:

Kiss My Lady sept 20 2007 (mp3)

Kiss My Lady sept 20 2007 (vorbis)

Kiss My Lady sept 21 2007 (mp3)

Kiss My Lady sept 21 2007 (vorbis)

gig 9/26

I’ll do a set of my old guitar tunes at The Hyperion Tavern on Thursday the 26th.

Along with my solo stuff I’ll be backing up Tequila Mockingbird for a few classic jazz numbers. I’m really really not a jazz player, but Tequila’s such a strong singer that I shouldn’t have to do anything but get the chords right

I’m sure it’ll be a good time. The Hyperion is a tiny club which is barely big enough to justify amplifying an acoustic guitar. It’s in a nowhere spot not far from the eastern end of Sunset. Beer is a mere $4, and you don’t have to fight with a cranked-up PA to have a conversation.

Where: In Silverlake at 1941 Hyperion Ave., 90027

When: after 9 and before 12.

Update: here’s the listing on Upcoming. (I’m using the temporary stage name “Oddjob”, which leads to the interesting topic of special-purpose identities, which is related to why there are so many social networks.  The issue in this case is that technical conversation is for a completely different audience than music, so I need to create an internet identity for the music people).

Old tunes, new opportunities « Jon Udell

Old tunes, new opportunities « Jon Udell

As I watched and listened to all those different versions of The Tennessee Waltz, I couldn’t help but wonder what might happen if that dynamic were applied to out-of-copyright tunes. Can more of the old tunes be reborn? If so, will our new ability to share, teach, and learn turbocharge the creative process surrounding them? If so, will that process in turn lead to the production of new tunes? If so, will some of those new tunes achieve cultural ubiquity? If so, will some of those conceivably remain outside the copyright regime?

This is indeed a long shot. But in another sense it’s just a matter of patience. Think of it as a disruptive technology:

Sometimes, a disruptive technology comes to dominate an existing market by either filling a role in a new market that the older technology could not fill (as more expensive, lower capacity but smaller-sized hard disks did for newly developed notebook computers in the 1980s) or by successively moving up-market through performance improvements until finally displacing the market incumbents (as digital photography has begun to replace film photography).

For readers not from the tech industry, the classic example of a disruptive technology is that weak little PCs ended up replacing ultrapowerful mainframe computers.  Songs like Ella Waltz doesn’t have to be as obvious a source as songs like Proud Mary, they just have to outlast them.

Jon has the perfect example:

though I wouldn’t have thought Episcopal hymns would be toe-tappers, I love to hear — and play — John Fahey’s arrangements of tunes like In Christ There Is No East Or West.

It happens that this is a reasonably simple tune to play, the song has already lasted for an improbably long time, there is an easily accessible recording online, and not only is there guitar tablature available for Fahey’s version but the tab is published on Fahey’s own site.

It’s not an accident that we’re discussing this particular bit of music. For a song that isn’t a pop hit, it has an incredibly high chance of survival over the long term. And not just surviving but reproducing, in the form of lots of little baby covers which may themselves be covered and end up displacing our current generation of pop hits.

It’s true that next to current chart toppers this song doesn’t stand much of a chance of being covered right at this moment, but over time the odds will grow in its favor. The monster hits of 2007 will disappear from cultural memory, while coverable songs will hold onto their niche.

Try starting your view of history in 2006, as if you were born last year and had never lived in a time when music and physical media were tied together. The internet era has barely begun.

LA gig thursday

I’ll be playing three waltzes, a galop, a polka, and a march on Thursday the 26th in Silverlake.  It’ll be a low-key scene in a small room with no cover charge.

Club Fluffer at The Hyperion Tavern
1941 Hyperion Ave.
LA 90027

Cross street is Lyric – across and a little up from Casita del Campo – look for the barber pole outside.

Madame Pamita
Tequila Mockingbird
The Recovering Catholics
Miss Lady La Diva
Lucas Gonze <– opening slot, so 9pm

Ella Waltz 06032007

This post is a recording of the composition Ella Waltz by D.E. Jannon, which was published in 1854.

MP3: Lucas Gonze — Ella Waltz

Ogg Vorbis: Lucas Gonze — Ella Waltz

It is the third of a set of three waltzes by D.E. Jannon. I have also blogged recordings of Amy Waltz and Carrie Waltz. I don’t consider the series finished because I want to redo the Amy one, but who knows whether I’ll really come up with a better version in the end. It takes a ton of practice and a lot of trial and error with the arrangement to make one of these recordings, and I have other tunes that I want to move on to.

As I was learning the 3 waltzes I made up a back story for them. In my imagination they are named after D.E. Jannon’s three daughters. They are ordered from oldest to youngest. Amy is a teenager, Ella is a little kid, Carrie is in-between. Amy is going through a phase where she is hustling all the time and in a hurry to get away from her parents. Ella has been falling down, dropping things, running into stuff, and generally being accident prone. Carrie is moderate in all things.

The original writing on this tune had dead spots, places where the writing was thin or weak and needed fixing, so I rewrote many of the parts. My version isn’t as simple as the original, which is a loss, but it sounds better.

By the way, I got the name of this tune slightly wrong while I was working, and even though I corrected it in the end some of the metadata and file names are wrong. Right: Ella. Wrong: Emma.

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mussm&fileName=sm2/sm1854/732000/732150/mussm732150.db&recNum=3&itemLink=D?mussm:2:./temp/~ammem_7r3O::&linkText=0

These recordings are released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license per my boilerplate licensing statement.

Amy Waltz

Amy Waltz

This post is a short, jittery, very loose, and slightly overdriven acoustic guitar version of a tune called “Anna Waltz” which was composed by a guy named D.E. Jannon and published in 1854. I learned it from sheet music at the Library of Congress web site.

MP3: Lucas Gonze — Amy Waltz (1:36)

This recording is under a Creative Commons BY-SA license per my standard license statement.

See also Carrie Waltz.