Recycling Creativity by Jon Chappell

When is recycling not a good thing? When it comes to your own creativity, that’s when. To reuse your ideas is not as bad as plagiarism (presenting the work of others as More »

Searching For Sugar Man by Jon Chappell

“Searching For Sugar Man”

Searching for Sugar Man. Only once in a great while does a film come along that truly elevates the public consciousness about the life, soul, and plight of musicians and their place More »

DM_174

The Future of Ebony

Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars recently released a YouTube video chronicling his involvement with ebony and the West African country of Cameroon. Taylor Guitars is one of the largest importers of ebony More »

pandora_logo

Pandora on the Ropes

There are plenty of online music services to choose from these days, many of them household names: iTunes, Amazon, Napster, Rhapsody, Pandora, and, most recently, Spotify. More »

gear1

Using Gear for Good

Using Gear for Good. After paying for yet another unforeseen auto repair (are there any other kind?), I found myself envious of the car mechanics who probably never pay full price to More »

A five-string banjo, like the one played by Earl Scruggs, leaning against a Marshall amp stack.

Remembering Earl Scruggs and Jim Marshall

Recently we have had to endure the passing of two legendary figures in the music industry. Earl Scruggs (born 1924) and Jim Marshall (born 1923) were both household names, depending on whether More »

DM_162e

Circle Any Two

I used to work with a fellow editor who had a comeback for almost any occasion. Once I apologized to him for getting impatient. He quipped, “Don’t apologize; buy me something.” Whenever More »

Recycling Creativity by Jon Chappell

When is recycling not a good thing? When it comes to your own creativity, that’s when. To reuse your ideas is not as bad as plagiarism (presenting the work of others as your own), but it’s still “stealing from yourself.” The problem is that most people do it unconsciously. It’s just part of human nature. Behavior scientists tell us that if you write the sentence “Ringo gave George the octopus,” you’re more likely to say “Paul gave John the songwriting credit” instead of the equivalent “Paul gave the songwriting credit to John.” This seemingly harmless example should terrify anyone who composes melodies and writes lyrics, or who improvises solos, because it illustrates how you can’t escape yourself to create something wholly original. Psychologists even have a name for it: “structural priming.”

“Searching For Sugar Man”

Searching For Sugar Man by Jon Chappell

Searching for Sugar Man. Only once in a great while does a film come along that truly elevates the public consciousness about the life, soul, and plight of musicians and their place in the world as artists. Whether fictionalized accounts (Hard Day’s Night, Amadeus, Sweet and Lowdown), gritty documentaries (Woodstock, The Last Waltz), or comedies (This Is Spinal Tap!), a music movie that accurately captures the reality of our chosen profession is a rare thing. And when we find such a film, we have a duty to let other people know. And drag them bodily to screenings, if necessary.

The Future of Ebony

DM_174

Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars recently released a YouTube video chronicling his involvement with ebony and the West African country of Cameroon. Taylor Guitars is one of the largest importers of ebony in the world because the company makes not only its own guitars with it, but supplies other guitar and violin makers as well. In fact, to efficiently and legally harvest ebony from Cameroon, Taylor partnered with another company to co-purchase a Cameroonian ebony mill. It was here that Bob discovered the way to fuse good business with responsible forestry.

Pandora on the Ropes

pandora_logo

There are plenty of online music services to choose from these days, many of them household names: iTunes, Amazon, Napster, Rhapsody, Pandora, and, most recently, Spotify.

Using Gear for Good

gear1

Using Gear for Good. After paying for yet another unforeseen auto repair (are there any other kind?), I found myself envious of the car mechanics who probably never pay full price to have their own cars fixed. When they need to replace their rusted rear shocks (as was the case for me), they simply do it themselves. Sure, they have to pay for parts, but they use their own expertise to save themselves a bundle of cash by not having to incur expensive labor costs.

Remembering Earl Scruggs and Jim Marshall

A five-string banjo, like the one played by Earl Scruggs, leaning against a Marshall amp stack.

Recently we have had to endure the passing of two legendary figures in the music industry. Earl Scruggs (born 1924) and Jim Marshall (born 1923) were both household names, depending on whether you played banjo or electric guitar. (Or both, as I do.) Despite their obvious differences—one being an American folk artist, the other a British amp manufacturer—they had many things in common: humble beginnings, a sense of humility that they kept throughout their entire lives, and the ability to create a singular sound that musicians couldn’t live without once they heard it.

Circle Any Two

DM_162e

I used to work with a fellow editor who had a comeback for almost any occasion. Once I apologized to him for getting impatient. He quipped, “Don’t apologize; buy me something.” Whenever we were instructed from on high to complete some insanely difficult task in a ridiculously short amount of time, he would query, “Do they want it right? Or do they want it right now?” But my favorite little meme he introduced me to (now on the web in endless variations) was the famous “Two out of three” rule.

No, ma’am. We’re musicians.

Blues_Brothers

There’s a great line early in the movie The Blues Brothers where our anti-heroes Elwood and Jake Blues (Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi) go searching for their former bandmates, in an effort to get the band back together. They arrive at a rundown boarding house and start asking the landlady pointed questions, all serious-like in their black suits, skinny black ties, and opaque sunglasses.

CD, We Hardly Knew Ye

image001

When CDs came onto the scene circa 1983, they answered a true calling, delivering noiseless, high-fidelity audio to discerning consumers in a nonlinear format. A CD wouldn’t degrade over time simply by playing it back either, which was untrue of both vinyl and magnetic tape. Listeners went through culture shock when they sat next to a set of speakers and heard nothing—as in true, sonic silence—before the first note of music sounded. Only the terminally geeky and audiophile party-poopers groused about how “digital was sterile” or that better fidelity was actually achievable through analog means, assuming your turntable cost more than the GDP of a small country. For everyone else, CDs, and the era of digital audio democratization they heralded, were a godsend.

Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You.

DM_146e

Every one of us would like to think of himself or herself as a professional, or at least qualified as such, whether or not we’ve committed our passion to a marriage of commerce and talent. But the measure of professionalism is not limited to talent. It’s how you comport yourself on the gig or session. And it’s knowing how to relate to the leader, which may require a well–lived life’s worth of experience to draw from.