Music theory websites, books, DVD’s and software

This post’s dedicated to all the musicians of the world.

I am a musician, though I don’t read music. I have good pitch, but play by ear; I started with guitar by learning how to play based on basic guitar chord charts and transferred my skills to piano by seeing what notes made up the guitar chords and playing them on piano.A pianist friend told me I played inverted chords on the piano and it’s because of this hearing the notes in the order of the guitar strings. Interesting.

12-string guitarI don’t play bar chords on the guitar as they were always too demanding of my wrist and I lacked the strength in my fingers to do them well. I know just enough to realize the higher the notes are on the little lines, the higher they are to the ear, and I know that certain notes mean certain time intervals, like a whole note is four beats, a quarter note is one, etc.

Don’t ask me to play from sheet music unless I already know the song and there are guitar chords printed above the music so I can sound it all out and memorize it. I don’t even know how to read guitar tabs, but from the looks of it, it shouldn’t be hard for me to learn if I just take the time to learn it.

The time. That’s just it. If I want to get back into music, I need to discipline myself to take the time to learn it, and I don’t know if I want it that badly. Crazy, isn’t it? People who’ve known me for less than thirteen or so often don’t know that I play or that I used to write a lot of songs. I have not picked up my 12-string guitar or played my keyboard in many, many years. How sad is that?

I did take the step of having my hubby bring my keyboard up out of the basement and set it up on its stand in the office, at least. It’s there, waiting. So is my guitar. Unless the strings stay in good shape for over a decade of disuse, they need to be replaced.

That said, there are millions out there who can not only read guitar chords and tabs, but sheet music. They can pick up an unfamiliar piece and bring it to life the first time they read the music and play through it. What must that be like? I can only imagine!

I have some great links for any musician looking for music. And the drumroll please…

8Notes.com
A great site which offers free sheet music for piano, guitar, brass and more. This looks like a great resource with an active forum. It looks like they offer a lot for free and extras for those who subscribe to a paid service.

Ricci Adams’ Musictheory.net
This site offers free lessons, training games, and music utilities online. Further, it offers the complete course in downloadable version!

There are some highly-rated music theory DVD’s, software titles, and books available at Amazon, too:

My grandma wanted to pay for me to get piano lessons when I was a kid. Now I wish I’d taken her up on the offer. As an adult, I don’t know if I have the interest. Also, having played by ear, slowing down to plink out quarter notes would be torture. What do you think?

Do you have favorite music theory or tutorial websites? Please, share them in the comments!

Lot of King, Koontz, Straub, Grisham & more books for sale

We’ve did a nice round of de-cluttering in our house and ended up with many boxes of books. I have this box of assorted horror, medical thriller and legal thriller books for sale. Authors include Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, Peter Straub, Robin Cook and Michael Crichton. I wish to sell this as one lot. All but three of the books are paperbacks. Click the thumbnails to enlarge to pictures. Click the links below to see details about book. Please note that the links are not necessarily the same paperback editions I have in this lot. With the exception of a few books, these are all in good condition or better. They’re reader copies, not collector’s items. 😉

Here’s a list of what you’ll receive in the box of bookish goodness:

Abduction (PB) – Robin Cook
A Case of Need (PB) – Michael Crichton
A Time to Kill (PB) – John Grisham
The Rainmaker (PB) – John Grisham
The Runaway Jury (HB)- John Grisham
The Street Lawyer (HB) – John Grisham
The Testament (PB) – John Grisham
False Memory (PB) – Dean Koontz
Odd Thomas – (PB, advance reading copy) – Dean Koontz
Forever Odd (PB) – Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas is such a great series, but there are only two books in this lot. You can see the whole Odd Thomas series here.

Icebound (PB) – Dean Koontz
Life Expectancy (PB, advance reading copy) – Dean Koontz
Sole Survivor (PB) – Dean Koontz
The Face (PB) – Dean Koontz
Bag of Bones (PB) – Stephen King
Black House (PB) – Stephen King & Peter Straub

Don’t have The Talisman, but you can get it at Amazon

Different Seasons (PB) – Stephen King
Firestarter (PB) – Stephen King
Four Past Midnight (PB) – Stephen King
Gerald’s Game (PB) – Stephen King
It (PB) – Stephen King
Misery (PB) – Stephen King
Nightmares & Dreamscapes (PB) – Stephen King
Pet Semetary (PB) – Stephen King
Skeleton Crew (PB) – Stephen King
The Dead Zone (PB) – Stephen King
The Drawing of the Three (PB) – Stephen King

Sorry, but I don’t have the rest of the Dark Tower Series. The rest I borrowed from my library.

The Green Mile (PB) – Stephen King
The Tommyknockers (PB) – Stephen King < Rough shape, but quite readable Lost Boy, Lost Girl (PB) – Peter Straub
Mystery (PB) – Peter Straub

Price for the whole lot of 31 books: $20. I will consider shipping them for actual shipping cost based on their total weight of 24lbs 4oz. That should be $13.50 including insurance. I accept PayPal.


Libraries, ebooks and readers

While watching a segment regarding the electronic revolution and the publishing industry on CBS Sunday Morning today (Out of Print, the Written Word Considered), something occurred to me. Some public library systems already loan electronic content like ebooks and audiobooks through a partnership with services like OverDrive, but they require reader software and the books must be read on a laptop or desktop computer unless you have a supported mobile device*.

What I’d love is for libraries to get together with one of the mainstream ebook readers – something like the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader and the Barnes & Noble Nook. If they could get a bulk discount sufficient enough to make reselling the devices profitable, this could serve as a source of additional funding for libraries.That’s a big “if”, though, since even at wholesale prices they’re likely to be pretty dear in price.

The Nook and Sony Reader both allow for ebook loans through the OverDrive system used by libaries who offer this service.

At the least, though, accessibility to loaned content really needs to be out there for mobile users. There are tons of public domain books available for free download, but I know I’m not alone in wanting access to bestsellers and other contemporary content. I know I’d use it a lot since I like reading on my T-Mobile G1 phone.

What are your thoughts on publishing, electronic publishing and libraries? Any news you have on these fronts is very welcome, so please post comments!

* I just saw that OverDrive does, indeed, support some mobile devices — including Android! I’m downloading their beta and I’ll write more about it later (if I don’t, remind me!).

Bachman and Bou

I’m enjoying some Fireside Blend at Caribou this afternoon. With me is a Richard Bachman Stephen King book, Blaze: A Novel. I haven’t even cracked it open to read more yet, though; I keep seeing people I know and figure I can read a book any time, but some friends I rarely get to see. Not only that, there are always new friends waiting to be made. So many of our friends were made right here while sitting in these very chairs.

Anyone feeling blue should consider finding a nearby coffee shop. You never know who you’ll meet and befriend. Coffee may be pricier at a good coffee shop, but it’s still much cheaper than a therapist! A good coffee shop is like Cheers (wasn’t that a great show?)…Just without the drunks. 😉


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New goodness to read: Homemade Grits

I found a new (to me) blog yesterday, Homemade Grits. Lesley and her husband Sam are expecting a baby girl, Matilda. Soon! 🙂  I stumbled upon her blog while doing a search for something I’d seen on CBS Sunday Morning. She has a whole entry about the show and I was drawn right in.  I really enjoy reading her observations about things. I don’t even know her, but I’m excited for her and Sam!

I wish her and her growing family all good things.  When you visit, please click on some of her ads, okay? Let’s just call it a virtual baby shower from me and my merry little band of well-wishers. 🙂

Anyway…Something she wrote about really piqued my interest tonight. In talking about redecorating their home office, she showed a photo of bookshelves arranged in color blocks and linked to the original article about the idea. Wow, did it catch my eye!

Now, it might make it a little hard to find anything, but it would look fabulous, so who cares?

It’s rare that I read the majority of my fiction titles more than once unless I really loved them. And my beautiful assortment of gardening reference books collect dust since it is so much easier to go online for the latest information about any given subject or project. But there they sit, survivors of good-intentioned office purgings.

Maybe if I arranged them by color, I could justify my unwillingness to give them away: “But they’re part of a theme, honey…They’re, uh, they ARE the decor in here!”

Either that or dedicate the worst day of PMS each month to the task of downsizing.