Learning new instruments?

Skip to the bottom

  • @apertome  Jan 2019

    Does anyone else like to use FAWM to explore new instruments -- either something entirely new to you, or exploring an instrument you're less familiar with?

    Any tips on how to do this well? Do you like to play things all "wrong" intentionally to get different, odd sounds, or practice a bunch to where you actually sound decent on a new instrument? Or, just embrace mistakes/sloppiness, and let them stand?

    This year, I've rented a viola, and I plan to center my album around it. I'd never played one before a couple weeks ago, but I have played violin for many years, so learning viola is not a huge stretch. I've practiced viola a bit, and I'm kind of getting the hang of it. I'm sure I'm doing some things wrong, but that is kind of inherent to this process.

    But viola music uses alto clef, and I've only ever read treble clef. Since I'm writing my own music, this is less of a problem, although I do want to compose some pieces, and I'm still trying to figure out the best way to notate things that I will understand. I don't think I have time to learn alto clef right now.

    In past years I have done several albums that centered around a particular instrument -- violin, piano, guitars, and voice -- along with my usual synthesizers.

    I'm curious what others have done in this vein.

  • @sph  Jan 2019

    Most Notation programs have a transpose function. You write in your familiar clef and transpose the voice you want to give to another instrumentalist to the target clef. I do this for the altsax player in our jazzband.

  • @sph  Jan 2019

    And concerning new instruments: that's a nice way to develop other melodies or sounds. On guitar playing with different tunings is big fun - I get lost very easy πŸ˜€

  • @pcob1993  Jan 2019

    I have a small Epiphone steel string that I'm stringing Nashville style, but have to fix the action first.
    For you non-geetar folks, Nashville or high-strung has the bass E and A at normal gauge and the other four an octave up.... I heard one recently and liked it...

  • @tseaver  Jan 2019

    @pcob1993 Interesting, the description I know for "Nashville tuning" is tuned like the upper half of a 12-string (lower four strings an octave above normal).

  • @thelostcartographer  Jan 2019

    @tseaver you're correct, perhaps @pcob1993 meant the B and E strings, which are tuned in unison on a 12-string guitar. You'd be hard pressed to find a string you you could tune an octave up from B and E standard tuning πŸ˜€

  • @tan482  Jan 2019

    Great idea to use an instrument you're less familiar with. You could come up with some totally unique sounds!
    I'm learning to play banjo at the moment and definitely intend to use it in my compositions this year.
    Can't wait to hear what you come up with on viola!

  • @guatecoop  Jan 2019

    I’m using an acoustic for Nashville tuning so I can get a 12 string sound....or just something different. I also got a cut capo that I will be trying out for some different sounds and/or layering. Apparently Tom Petty and the heartbreakers used Nashville tuned guitars in the studio a lot. If it’s good enough for him, it is for me.

  • @spingo  Jan 2019

    I've used it to make myself learn this or that piece of equipment/method (Pocket Operators, Maschine) and will do it again this year (iPhone/iPad). I may try and use the melodica I don't really know how to play this year.

  • @guatecoop  Jan 2019

    @spingo I almost bought a melodica! I just didn’t because my dog howls with reeded instruments. I love the idea of those.

  • @sph  Jan 2019

    @guatecoop Instant dog-harmonizing πŸ˜€

  • @apertome  Jan 2019

    Ah I've played some guitar but not primarily a guitarist. I'm not familiar with the Nashville tuning, which sounds interesting. I have played around with open tunings a bit. I also have a lapsteel, on my long todo list is play around with C6 tuning on it, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.

    @guatecoop I have a melodica! I don't actually use it that much. I think it would be better if I filter off some of the high end. It ... well, how can I put this nicely? It really cuts through the mix!

  • @guatecoop  Jan 2019

    I did include the dog in some songs some years back....jingling collar and I think some howling with accordions. Maybe I should just try to include him againβ€”a la Pink Floyd

  • @standup  Jan 2019

    I built an 8-string lap steel this year, I'm sure it will turn up.

  • @dragondreams  Jan 2019

    Not really new, but finally added a couple of five string basses to my collection. After almost 50 years making do with just four strings, I'm having fun learning to use the extra bottom end. 😎

  • @vomvorton  Jan 2019

    I've been learning piano for a couple of years now but I keep heading back to guitar whenever I do any songwriting. Using a challenge like this to force my hand definitely sounds like a good plan...

  • @apertome  Jan 2019

    @standup oh yeah, I definitely need to hear the 8-string lapsteel! For when 6 strings aren't enough! Closing in on pedal steel territory, without pedals?

    @dragondreams yeah viola is a bit like that for me, same # of strings, but shifted down one 5th. It requires a bit different finesse as wlel.

    @vomvorton definitely, I have come up with lines on guitar that I would never play on violin, or on piano that I'd never play on anything, or ... well, you see where I'm going with this πŸ˜€ Also I like to find certain sweet spots and exploit them. Like harmonics, or droning on whatever the lowest available note is, or whatever note sounds "best" -- these vary a lot from instrument to instrument

  • @spingo  Jan 2019

    @guatecoop Yeah, duets! Mine was like $12 from Amazon.

  • @chipwithrow  Jan 2019

    @apertome - Violin is the one instrument around our house that I've never used on a FAWM song. I played it a bit when our daughter took Suzuki many years ago. I once saw a Grateful Dead cover band with a viola player.
    Last year, I used 14 instruments (a FAWM's worth), including a kid's harp and a tin whistle for the first time. I learned just enough to hit a few notes.
    I have a cigar box guitar, a harmonium, and a tongue drum that I feel like I'm re-learning for each FAWM or 50/90 since that's about the only time I play them.
    @guatecoop - I just Googled Nashville tuning, and I'm intrigued. If I get a new guitar in February, maybe I'll do some version of Nashville tuning on the old one. Involves changing strings, which I do very rarely as is.

  • @pfoo  Jan 2019

    I do FAWM as a way to learn new things, so I'm always trying instruments I don't know how to play. This year I'm planning to borrow my husband's banjo and accordion (he doesn't know how to play them either). I used them each on a song a few years ago - watched a video, practiced for and hour or two, then recorded. That was fun. One year I did get seriously derailed when I got an MS-20 mini synth right as FAWM was starting. It took a lot longer than I thought it would to get any decent noise out of it, then I had to figure out how to get it working with my DAW. That was frustrating.

    I'm not attempting to write anything all that serious, and it doesn't bother me to have my learning efforts documented in my songs. I have to stay in that frame of mind - otherwise I start to think about quality and I freeze up.

  • @tseaver  Jan 2019

    @pfoo Yup, fighting the internal censor is a big challenge for me, too. I'm playing with lots of new hand percussion stuff now, and trying to plan out how to use it this month, even though I'm really incompetent with most of it.

  • @regis  Jan 2019

    I picked up new strings for my Nashville-tuned guitar after work - glad to see I’m in good company!

    No completely new instruments on tap this year... yet? A lot can happen in February. I got a lap steel for FAWM a couple years ago, and played a trumpet (poorly) that I had been randomly given on one of my ten 10-second songs.

  • @rustyp Jan 2019

    I just got a handpan, but who knows if it'll make it on a fawm song. πŸ˜€ But I suspect my fifths tuned ukulele will and likely other stuff. I should bring it all in to the studio so I don't forget about it.
    I have instruments stashed all over the house. πŸ˜€

  • @tsunamidaily Jan 2019

    nashville strung IS the highest strings of a 12 string. only the high B and E are the normal pitch-- the low EADG are all an octave up. the highest two strings are in the middle, D and G. it definitely leads to cool inversions with the same fingerings, and different picking patterns.

  • @apertome  Jan 2019

    @chipwithrow wow, that's quite an array of instruments! That's seriously fun.

  • @kissinginpublic  Jan 2019

    I'm learning piano at the moment and it will feature!

  • @mikeb Jan 2019

    I just won a Goodwill auction for a cheap violin (I've never played violin before!) Hope to use it for 1 song - if someone starts a 'screeching cats challenge', I'll be all set! Also have a set of cheap harmonicas, which have been sitting around for almost 2 years with almost no use. I used one for a Neil Young song at an open mc a couple of weeks back, but have never recorded with them.

Leave a Message. Log in to FAWM or sign up first...