Five Trends That Defined 2014 in Music...

What can you say about a year in which not only did one of music’s biggest brands, U2, endure vilification for giving away their music, but that they probably deserved it?

That far fewer people bought music but far more found new ways to consume it?

That a format left for dead at the dawn of the CD era somehow became the music industry’s fastest (albeit still niche) growth area?

Yes to all of the above and the ones below, too.

1. Old leftovers became new albums
Twenty years after abandoning a series of improvised instrumental tracks and, presumably, retiring, Pink Floyd ended up creating one of 2014’s most successful albums. The Endless River was fashioned out of material deemed surplus to the band’s 1994 release, The Division Bell.

They weren’t the only ones to complete the past. Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes comprised snippets of unreleased songs written by Bob Dylan during the 1967 recording of Dylan and The Band’s original Basement Tapes (which finally saw a comprehensive release this year) and completed by the likes of Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James.

Queen executed a similar strategy on a more modest scale on last month’s Forever, an odds-and-sods compilation featuring material recorded back when Freddie Mercury and bassist John Deacon were in the band and completed this year by Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor.

Ray Davies is already talking about revisiting a trunkload of uncompleted vintage material for a new Kinks album in 2015. It’s not a stretch to imagine acts of a similar vintage — the Rolling Stones, for instance — adopting the same approach, especially given the numerous tracks that remain unfinished from the Voodoo Lounge sessions.

2. Album leaks stopped mattering
Remember the furor that erupted over the leak of Taylor Swift’s new album and Madonna’s next one? Neither does anyone else.

3. On Dec. 4, older artists became even more marginalized
That’s the day Billboard and Soundscan implemented a fundamental change to the way it calculates its album chart rankings: it started counting streams and individual song downloads.

Specifically, 10 downloads of an individual track or 1,500 song streams now represent one album sale. Given that hit singles routinely rack up tens of millions of streams, that is no small adjustment.

One immediate effect: veteran artists, whose older audiences are less inclined to stream or download, took an immediate tumble. Pink Floyd’s aforementioned The Endless River, for example, plunged from No. 3 to No. 33.

4. Streaming gave us infinite choice — and showed how disinclined we are to use it.
Canada’s first music-streaming report finally came out in August and seemed to show that the sheer volume of material available doesn’t necessarily expand what we listen to.

As observed: “The top 100 list reads much like a mid-year top 100 CHR (contemporary hit radio) countdown with a few notable exceptions, including Survivor’s 1982 hit ‘Eye of the Tiger’ scoring 100.8K spins and placing 94th on the 100 list, Blue Swede’s ‘Hooked on A Feeling’ with 170.5K spins at 39 (from 127) and Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass’s ‘Spanish Flea’ logging 211.1K streams and jumping 310 to 29 on the chart.”

5. The world was in upheaval in 2014. Not that you’d know it by the music.
What would happen if someone made an album containing a song that called for the assassination of Kim Jong-un? We’ll probably never have to find out.

Ferguson, government surveillance, the new Cold War. Other than a pair of powerful songs on D’Angelo’s Black Messiah album this month inspired in part by the Michael Brown shooting, those topics were virtually unacknowledged in song this year. We can only hope 2015 will be different, in both the world at large and the music that soundtracks it.

VINYL COUNTDOWN: The four Fleetwood Mac albums that were boxed up in 2013 are finally being issued individually. Then Play On, Kiln House, Future Games (the first to feature Christine McVie) and the luminous Bare Trees, originally released between 1969 and 1972, are scheduled for Feb. 24. Lagging behind the 40th anniversary CD/DVD release of Jethro Tull’s War Child by two months, a limited edition of the LP version is set for Jan. 13. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl, it has been remixed by Steven Wilson.

The vinyl version of the compilation The Who Hits 50, which came out on CD back in October, will finally see the light of day in early 2015. The double-LP set is due out in Canada on Feb. 3.

RETRO/ACTIVE: Can a septuagenarian pull off the punishingly long drum solo on the 17-minute album version of “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida”? We’re about to find out.

Iron Butterfly, featuring Ron Bushy, who just turned 73, is reuniting for a tour and album, their first since 1975’s justly forgottenSun and Steel).

Bushy is the only remaining member from the lineup of “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida,” not to mention the only member to appear on all six of the band’s studio albums. The reunited band will also feature two other members with Butterfly ties: guitarist/vocalist Mike Pinera, formerly of Blues Image (he co-wrote “Ride Captain Ride”), who joined in 1970, and Doug Ingle Jr., who’ll play organ and sing, just like his dad did.

It turns out they do make them like that any more. Featuring alumni from pop-metal gods Whitesnake (guitarist Doug Aldrich), Night Ranger (bassist Jack Blades) and Journey (drummer/vocalist Deen Castronovo), new power trio Revolution Saints have slotted Feb. 24 for the release of their self-titled debut album.

The lead single, “Turn Back Time,” is buffed to a blindingly high sheen, just like they used to do it in 1985.

Micro Lesson 049: "F Minor" Soul /R&B Jam

Welcome to...
"Micro-Lesson 049" 

This micro lesson covers a smooth Soul /R and B jam in the key of, "F Minor."

This soulful rhythm jam  organizes a simple I, IV, V minor key progression with a smooth soul /R and B sound. 

The progression uses several 'filler licks' performed after each chord attack. The chord types apply both standard seventh quality harmony, along with the addition of an extended chord, (Bbm11). 

Every measure has a melodic filler lick used to connect each harmonic movement. These filler 'melodic statements' are mostly pulled from the, "F Minor Pentatonic Scale." However, some passing tones are applied from the, "F Natural Minor."

Take your time learning the fingering patterns for; each chord shape, the filler licks, and how to smoothly execute each of your position shifts. I hope you enjoy playing this jam. Thanks for tuning in!

Micro Lesson 049: "F Minor" Soul /RandB Jam

Apple Introduces 14-day Return Policy on iTunes, Scaring Musicians...

Apple’s iTunes will now offer a refund, no questions asked, for 14 days after a song purchase, leading to worries that unscrupulous users might scam the store...

European users of Apple’s iTunes stores can now “return” goods without giving a reason for up to 14 days after purchase, bringing the company in line with European regulations and offering the prospect of de facto “trial periods” on the app store for the first time in digital music history.

The feature, launched without fanfare, appears to be Apple’s attempt to comply with EU guidelines from June mandating online sellers to offer a “right of withdrawal” from distance sales. Those regulations stipulate that customers may withdraw from an off-premises contract with 14 days of purchase without giving any reason.

Accordingly, the iTunes terms and conditions have now been updated to include a “Right of cancellation”. The company tells users that “if you choose to cancel your order, you may do so within 14 days from when you received your receipt without giving any reason, except iTunes Gifts which cannot be refunded once you have redeemed the code.”

Previously, users were able to request a refund for content which had failed to download, but even those were granted on a case-by-case basis. For any content which had actually downloaded, Apple reserved the right to reject refund applications – as it still does outside the EU.

Apple appears to have gone further than European regulations demand, however. The regulations allow companies to refuse the right of withdrawal once the “performance” of digital content has begun – in other words, once a user has listened to a song or used an App. Apple, on the other hand, appears to be honouring refund requests, even for software which has been used within the 14 day period.

That has led many developers, particularly those who make single-use or short-term apps, to worry that they may see an increase in returns, as people “rent” their applications for no cost.

For example, ReadWrite’s Adriana Lee suggests that “you can keep your visiting brother out of your hair with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and then ask for the $6.99 back after he leaves in a week. No questions asked. It would be the equivalent of buying a DVD, watching the movie, and then returning it—something most retail stores don’t allow.”

What’s more, while apps on the app store are protected by “digital rights management” (DRM), letting Apple potentially revoke any download which it refunds, music sales are entirely DRM-free, meaning that unscrupulous fans could download the song, request a refund, and keep hold of the song anyway.

Even if fans are honest, music magazine PopJustice has questioned whether the practice might open up new ways to manipulate the charts.

“iTunes’ new rule means Union J – and it probably would be Union J – could put an album on sale on Monday morning,” the mag explains. “Union J’s more ambivalent fans (which seems to be most of them) could buy that album during its first week on sale, knowing that they’ll be able to get their money back. The album would go to Number One on the Sunday.

“The following Monday, Union J’s fans could each get a full refund. What are the Official Charts Company going to do? Recall the previous week’s chart? Union J have a Number One album.”

VIDEO: "Mac Sabbath" Black Sabbath Parody Band w/McDonald's Theme!

So, yes, there's a Black Sabbath parody band called Mac Sabbath, and they sing about McDonald's.

You can watch a not-quite-pro-shot video of the band performing "Frying Pan" (their version of "Iron Man") below.

They've also reworked "Paranoid" into "Pair-a-buns." 

"I once burned your meal / My old job was cooking veal / Now it's a culinary crime / All our future is pink slime," the frontman, Ronald Osbourne, sings in "Frying Pan." Feel free to sing along, since the video includes the lyrics. 

The band also features creepy costumed versions of Grimace (Grimalice), Hamburglar (Catburglar) and Mayor McCheese (Slayer McCheese). 

Micro Lesson 048: "A Dorian" Alternative Rock Riff

Welcome to...
"Micro-Lesson 048" 

This micro lesson covers an Alternative Rock Rhythm Riff in, "A Dorian."

When playing through this riff you'll quickly notice the association to the sounds of bands like The Tragically Hip or perhaps Oasis. 

The riff is Minor, but operates in the Dorian mode. Dorian is the second mode of the Major scale. This riff is in "A" Dorian, which is the 2nd mode of the key of "G" Major. 

The difference between the "A" Natural Minor and Dorian is the raised 6th scale tone. Off of the root of "A" this is the "F."

In "A" Dorian we apply an "F#" tone against the "A" tonal center. Every measure of this riff applies the "F#" tone with strong resolutions back to the root of "A." Practice this riff until it is smooth and easy to play. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 048: "A Dorian" Alternative Rock Riff

10 Music Business Predictions For 2015...

Here we are again at the end of another year and it’s time to gaze into the crystal ball to see what 2015 might have in store for the music business. So, without further adieu, here are 10 music business predictions for the upcoming year.

1. Apple launches a new music service. Beats Music doesn’t have a huge number of subscribers so it can be retired without fear of killing a well-liked brand. In its place Apple will launch a new on-demand streaming service that’s cheaper than the competition and features high resolution audio.

2. High resolution audio becomes a standard streaming feature. TIDAL and Deezer set the precedent, and soon all streaming services will offer at least one tier of hi-res audio. Of course, the definition of high resolution will continue to be a moving target, as some services equate the term with CD quality while others offer higher sampling rates and/or 24 bit depth.

3. The digital pie gets larger. As consumers become more comfortable with on-demand streaming, larger numbers of them register for the various platforms. More of them than ever are willing to pay for their service of choice than ever before.

4. Downloads continue to slide. Downloads fall below $1 billion in total revenue as music consumers find that having access to millions of songs is a lot better than owning just a few.

5. Vinyl soars again. Once only a blip on the radar of the industry, vinyl sales continue to grow to the point where they make a very small but significant contribution to the bottom line of many record labels. For the first time in 40 years, new vinyl production gear is produced to meet the demand.

6. Artists find the right villain. Numerous artists see the various streaming platforms as the ones responsible for their tiny royalty payments, but many begin to see the light that it’s really the record label middle man that enjoys the majority of that income. As a result, artist’s attorneys negotiate new agreements with record labels to make the split a bit more equitable, but the record labels still continue to be favored.

7. Google’s YouTube Music Key initial acceptance is subdued, but gradually gains marketshare. Consumers used to getting their music for free on YouTube don’t initially see a reason for changing to the payed tier offered by Music Key when it’s initially launched, but begin to see the benefits of the service over time. The platform may take a full year to hit its stride, but it will eventually get there.

8. Spotify and Pandora take a hit. With the new entrants from Google and Apple in the marketplace, the growth of both Spotify and Pandora is stunted. Pandora is especially hurt, as consumers find they’d much rather pay for on-demand streaming than just a digital radio.

9. Revenue from traditional music distribution channels decays, but still continues to roll. Terrestrial radio still plays a major role in breaking acts, and listenership remains high despite the increase in streaming music consumption. Likewise, CD sales continue to fall, but at a slower pace than predicted. They’ll die eventually – it just won’t be this year.

10. The next new trend in music finally surfaces. The charts have been dominated by EDM-flavored dance music and country music for too long as consumers begin to tire of the genres. A new trend emerges that sets the music world on its ear. This is one that I predicted last year, but missed on. Hopefully it was just a year too early.

These predictions are some educated guesses about what may happen in the coming year, but if history tells us anything, it’s that there’s always something unexpected that will change everything. A year is a long time and a trend that begins the year aiming one way can completely change its course by year’s end.

That’s what makes these predictions so much fun. You never know what’s waiting around the next month’s bend. I can’t wait until this time next year to see which ones actually came to pass.

- Courtesy of Bobby Owsinski [author of 24 books on recording, music, the music business and social media.]

Micro Lesson 047: "Eb Major" Jazz Melody Line

Welcome to...
"Micro-Lesson 047" 

This micro lesson covers a traditional sounding Jazz Melody Line based in the "Key of Eb Major"

This fairly straight forward Jazz melody Line from the Key center of "Eb Major,"  is both very melodic and a lot of fun to play...

The line begins with a series of pick-up notes into the 5th chord-tone (Bb) of the tonic chord (Eb Maj.7). The melody lines flow across interesting harmonies mixed with; Major 7, half-diminished chords, (Mi7b5) as well as, Dominant 7th chord ideas (C7 and E7).

The melody applies a mix of chord tones and chord extensions which are tracked /targeted along the chord harmonies through the progression. At the fourth measure, the pick-up phrase returns to take the melody back to the top. 

The melody isn't particularly fast, but it does contain some challenging stretches, so take your time developing the phrase. Remember to maintain a smooth swing feel to your performance of the part. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 047: "Eb Major" Jazz Melody Line

GuitarBlog: Jazz Minor Scale

Jazz Minor Scale

This weeks GuitarBlog explores the melodic use of the,"Jazz Minor Scale"

This week on the GuitarBlog we take a look at the sound and application of the Jazz Minor Scale. This scale is essentially an ascending Melodic Minor scale. However, it has some really interesting uses over common jazz progressions like the II - V - I. 

Additionally, Jazz Minor can operate nicely in specialized styles of jazz music, (such as Jazz Fusion), functioning as a stand alone scale. Enjoy the video!

The Jazz Minor Scale

Related Videos:

Exotic Melody and the Hungarian Major Scale...

Sometimes non-diatonic chord movements can present us with problems. If one or more chords fail to exist within a single key signature we will often need to start looking "outside" of the general scales in order to be able to use one functional scale for playing over all of the chords...

A situation like this came up recently when one of my students was trying to compose a breakdown section for one of his songs. It seemed like a simple enough idea when he first presented it to me, as two chords moving from a standard, "Em7," with no 5th, over to a "C#m7" no 5th.

Obviously, the two chords do not exist within the same key signature, but what really caught my ear was the sound of how the last chord functioned into the final measure of the jam. There's a rather unique sounding final chord tone that comes in there and it opens the door for a very cool opportunity. Take a moment to play and listen to my student's chord progression shown below in example one...


Covering this sound with any melodic idea, 'in general,' could be accomplished quite easily using an arpeggio or perhaps by simply running through a couple of minor modes. However, what I noticed and heard from this progression was the opportunity for something quite a bit different.

The Hungarian Major Scale:
With this chord progressions very discriminating use of those Minor 7 chords, (without their 5th chord tones, played a minor 3rd apart), plus the arrival of that, "A#," tone at the last measure, we are set-up for the perfect scenario for using the awesome sounds of the, "Hungarian Major Scale." 

I know what you're thinking, (those chords are both Minor and this scale is Major!)... Yes, I realize that those chords are both Minor, but due to it's unique intervals, the Hungarian Major will indeed work for this situation!

If you've never been exposed to the distinctive sound and exotic application of the Hungarian Major Scale, it is truly a sound and a tonal structure, that offers composers and improvisers some incredibly interesting color.

To create this scale, all you do is take your basic major scale and sharp the 2nd, sharp the 4th, and flat the 7th. Obviously, that raised second is the same as a minor third. So, as you could imagine, this scale has excellent melodic functionality for both major and minor tonality music. Which is exactly why we can apply it over these two Minor 7th chords from our example progression.

Let's begin our study of this scale by establishing the scale degrees:
They are; 1, #2, 3, #4, 5, 6, b7.
In the key of C we would have the scale tones of: C,D#,E,F#,G,A,Bb.

Since our chord progression from example one functions off of an, "Em7," we can analyze the scale from off of a Tonic of, "E." This would give us the scale tones of: E, F##, G#, A#, B, C#, D.

Practice playing through, and listening to, the scale tone layout of the scale neck-pattern given below in example two specifically for the, "E Hungarian Major Scale."


Building melodies for this scales' sound, (like many other new and different scales), can be a lot of fun and can be part of the practice of this scale. Everything comes down to how we make our studies of targeting specific scale tones.

Keep in mind, whenever we are using an exotic scale, (and even when using very common scales), resolution is a trend we should always follow. Resolution into good sounding color tones occurring along the line of the melody that you are constructing - must be practiced.

This harmonic and melodic trend is all about resolution, and every practicing musician must develop their ability to target resolution tones. This skill can become better developed through the study of unique and different kinds of scales and harmonies.

In our harmonic situation, (of these two Minor 7 chords that can be covered using the Hungarian Major Scale), we will be targeting chord tones along the first three measures.

However, upon the fourth measure, we can target stronger melodic scale tones which hang over from measure three into measure four. This tone is specifically that of, "A#." I've targeted this tone in a melody line that you can learn to play below.

Below, in example three, I've composed a sample melody for that chord progression from example two. Take some time to listen and to learn how to perform the line. When you feel ready, try playing the melody along with the example two audio track. Afterward, try using the scale to create further directions with the use of the, "E Hungarian Major Scale."


The study of exploring unique and exotic scales like the Hungarian Major Scale can really expand our musical horizons. And, expanding our horizons as musicians does a lot more than just expose us to different tonal and harmonic sounds.

Expanding our musical horizons pushes us to be able to understand how a very different tonal sound can be tied into the trend that is created across any style of harmony. This is why composing is such an important musical task for all serious musicians.

Obviously, we need to know how to control the most popular 'common' scale types first. These include; basic Major Scale and the Natural Minor Scale. They are of paramount importance to us initially. Learning these scales must be studied for many hours up to a level of high competence.

Later on, the study of the Modes, Pentatonics and Arpeggios are also crucial. However, exotic scales, like Hungarian Major, will teach us different ideas beyond the color of the basic scales. Exotic scales allow us to stretch our imagination and help us to draw on one of the most important elements which we require as composers, which is the ability to arrange and target our resolutions.

Thank you for reading this week's Blogger lesson post.
- Andrew Wasson

VIDEO - Hillbilly Shred: How to Sound Like a Bluegrass Player

Courtesey of Guitar World's "Jimmy Brown"

Arranging fiddle tunes for guitar using a neat trick to make the guitar sound more like a mandolin.

STEP ONE: Understand that the violin has four strings, which are tuned in perfect fifths, low to high, G D A E. The G note is the same pitch as the guitar’s open 3rd G string. 

Figure 1 shows a way to play the violin’s four open-string notes together on a standard-tuned guitar. As you can see, the violin not only is tuned quite differently than the guitar but also encompasses a higher pitch range, though there is some overlap. 

The mandolin, (the violin’s sister instrument and fretted equivalent), uses this same tuning, except it has four pairs of closely spaced strings, known as courses, with each course tuned in unison, just like a 12-string guitar’s B and high E strings.

You can play these fiddle melodies on the guitar, mandolin-style, using alternate (down-up) picking, which is commonly referred to in bluegrass as flat-picking. In doing so, you'll discover that they can be challenging to articulate and perform with any kind of speed, as they typically require frequent string crosses, (which is a huge technical challenge for the pick hand). 

This presented the guitarist with a problem to solve, as you probably won't enjoy just doggedly muscling through the difficult string crosses, which will be quite arduous at times and not very much fun at all.

The creative solution—the previously mentioned trick—was to deploy a capo way up at the 12th fret (on a cutaway electric guitar equipped with a piezo pickup). Doing so will allow us to play the melodies in their original register—an octave higher than we would if looking at the music as if it were written for guitar. 

It also gives us additional fingering options, as the frets in this upper area of the neck are much closer together, effectively extending my reach. The result is that the instrument sounds and feels more like a mandolin.

Figure 2 presents a take on the popular bluegrass standard “The Eighth of January,” arranged for pick-style guitar, capo-12. (If you play this arrangement on acoustic guitar, you will need to lower the capo at least two frets and perform it in a lower key, due to the instrument’s wider neck joint.) 

In the video below guitarist "Jimmy Brown," is using alternate picking, and you’ll see that he strategically arranged the note fingerings so that every string cross is executed with what’s known as “outside-the-strings picking,” which is much easier on the pick hand than “inside-the-strings picking.” There are a few quick position shifts, but they’re not difficult to make because of the short scale.

This arrangement sounds cool all by itself, especially if you tap your foot loudly on beats one and three. But for an authentic, bluegrass-style second-guitar accompaniment, try additionally offering the set of chord voicings shown in Figure 3, which are played as if the tune were in the key of C, (with a capo at the second fret transposing them up a whole step to the key of D). 

The Video Lesson:

Micro Lesson 046: "F Minor" Funk Rhythm Riff

Welcome to...
"Micro-Lesson 046" 

This micro lesson covers a fast Funky Guitar Groove in the "Key of F Minor"

This Micro Lesson combines fast sixteenth-note Pentatonic licks with triad and Minor 7th chord shots to produce a groovy funk rhythm riff. 

The first half of this riff operates with the same sixteenth and quarter-note based rhythmic statements. These highlight the use of the "F Minor" Pentatonic scale along with the diatonic chords of the key signature. 

Measures 3 and 4 act to resolve the riff through the application of a fast paced, "F Minor," scale run in measure 3. A strong resolution occurs back to the tonic chord in measure 4 using the IV and V minor chords of this key for the turnaround. Take your time and use a metronome to build your speed. Enjoy! 

Micro Lesson 046: "F Minor" Funk Rhythm Riff

How to Easily Play Four Popular Christmas Carols...

It's a scenario as traditional as the turkey itself: 'Twas the night before Christmas: and you were hunched over a piano book trying to figure out how the heck you're meant to play that '15-chord-a-second-version' of Deck the Halls...

Well, in the spirit of the season, (and in an effort to save you drowning your sorrows in a sea of toffee pennies), I've placed the link below to my "Christmas Carols" page on the Creative Guitar website. 

These easy to follow Christmas-song guitar lessons will most definitely help you deliver that much needed six-string seasonal cheer.

From "Silent Night" to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," ...grab your guitar, settle down with a mug of mulled wine and get strumming... 

Click the link below for the FREE lessons:
Creative Guitar Studio Christmas Carol Video Series

Micro Lesson 045: "E Major" Smooth Jazz Melody

Welcome to...
"Micro-Lesson 045" 

This micro lesson covers a Smooth Jazz Melody Line in the "Key of E Major"

This Micro Lesson revolves around applying a smooth diatonic jazzy melody within the tonality of Major in the key signature of "E Major." The melody idea is completely diatonic, yet operates around a common set of seventh quality chords producing a modern contemporary jazz effect. The progression is all seventh chords as; "I, III, IV, II, V, I." Comprised almost entirely of eighth-notes the feel of the line is performed in straight time. This is more evident to styles like smooth jazz, pop-jazz, or contemporary music rather than to jazz with a swing, or traditional jazz meter. Learn the line and gain the speed, (goal tempo is a quick 140 b.p.m.), with a metronome. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 045: "E Major" Smooth Jazz Melody