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…
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’
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!

Garden photos slideshow: Minolta DiMAGE A1

I ran across this group of garden photos taken with my Minolta DiMAGE A1. That camera had quite the story behind it, a testimony to good customer service.

Sometimes I miss that camera. My Sony Alpha A300 is wonderful, but I don’t have the lenses yet which would allow me to get some of the shots I used to get with my Minolta or my subsequent Fuji. Still, I love my Sony! They’re a terrific line of DSLR cameras.

The music is courtesy of the generous Kevin MacLeod. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your offering this caliber of music, free. You bring life to any project I do. I want to give you props! Thanks!

Kevin also has music for sale. Amazon has a nice selection of Kevin’s music available for instant download.

Norah Jones sings to her dog

This new release from Norah Jones’ album, The Fall is great! Any dog lover should appreciate it, especially any single dog lovers. Here are the lyrics to her new song, Man Of The Hour:

Man of the Hour

It’s him and me
That’s what he said
But I can’t choose between a vegan and a pothead
So I chose you, because you’re sweet
And you give me lots of loving, and you’ll eat meat

And that’s how you became
My only man of the hour

You’ll never lie and you don’t cheat
And you don’t have anybody tied to your four feet
Do I deserve to be the one?
Who will feed you breakfast, lunch and dinner
And take you to the park at dawn?
Will you be my only man of the hour?

I know you’ll never bring me flowers
Flowers they’ll only die
And though we’ll never take a shower together
I know you’ll never make me cry
You’ll never argue, you don’t even talk
And I like the way you let me lead you
When we go outside and walk
Will you really be, my only man of the hour?
My only man of the hour
My only man of the hour

I love The Fall’s album cover, with the big St. Bernard!

You can listen to the song over at Amazon and, if you like it, buy it for under a buck. Ain’t technology grand?

An aside: Don’t you just love how we can pick and choose what songs we like now instead of having to buy an entire LP? Even when singles were released on CD, cassette or — dare I say it — 45RPM record (now I’m showing my age), you couldn’t always find that one particular song you wanted unless you sprung for the whole album. When I think of the hoops we used to jump through to make a mix tape of songs we liked, I am soooo thankful for the technology today.

Tell them I’m a mermaid

I stumbled upon Filmstripman’s great collection of vintage 1970’s and 1980’s 16mm educational films tonight. Wow, what a resource!

This particular film, Tell them I’m a Mermaid, is particularly interesting. In it, seven women – all physically disabled in one way or another – share their stories via song and spoken word. Originally begun as an acting workshop, it evolved into this complete production. The playright, Nancy Becker Kennedy, sings and acts in it as well. She is the woman who is quadriplegic.

What a great message these strong women give. All three segments are below. Let me know what you think!

Part 2/3:

Part 3/3:

I thought this was awesome! Each woman challenged me in some way.

The NY Times published a feature about it on December 5, 1983. There’s a great line about them in it: “The women are interesting because they are interesting women.”

People as pixels: imaginative group shots

t-mph-49-ameagleI’ve always loved seeing creative group photos, be they from weddings, school events or Christmas get-togethers. They sometimes make creative use of props or costumes, sometimes incorporate odd poses…Just something to make the pictures stand out from the rest.

This isn’t anything new, though. I have some vintage photos in my collection which feature two couples posing in various silly ways for the camera. I need to scan these pictures and post them in a separate blog entry. Right now, though, I want to bring your attention to some amazing group shots from the turn of the last century and the early 1900’s. They’re photos taken of soldiers at various militaryt-mph-46-woodrowwilson posts, hundreds of soldiers per shot making up “living” objects.  You might say each soldier serves as a pixel in the grand design.

I’m posting some small thumbnails in this entry, but I encourage you to go to The Hammer Gallery’s People Pictures online gallery to view larger thumbnails all on one page, each opening to a high-resolution image you can view in great detail. These shots are amazing!

t-livingunclesam-loresAnyone who’s done group portraits knows how difficult it can be to get everyone situated and in sync. We photographers can take dozens of shots and end up with one keeper. Thank God for Photoshop and other image editors! So, imagine what patience it took to create these massive tableaus. You know it had to be very hot, standing crowded together in wool uniforms. I wish there were movies available to show the behind-the-scenes work that took place before the shutter was depressed and history was made.

And film was expensive back then, plus developing the pictures took time. There was no way to preview images in a handy LCD and see if everyone had his eyes open or if Charlie in the dark uniform was accidentally standing in the middle of the white-uniform section. Precise detail had to be noted ahead of time, for there were no second chances, not with groups this large!

t-mph-48-libertybellI wonder if the majority of the people in these pictures ever got to see the finished photographs. Did each serviceman receive a copy? I’ve seen one of the prints firsthand, the Human Liberty Bell. It was an old photo, probably original to its 1918 vintage, framed in a well-worn dark wooden frame. I’ll do more reading on this mole-zion-shieldsubject and in the future will provide more detail about who received copies and where else the images were used.

Again, to see many more of these amazing group photos, in higher resolution, go to
The Hammer Gallery’s People Pictures Online Gallery.

For more information about these pictures and the process the photographers went through to capture them, see the following links:

Actually, I’m learning so much from each new link I read, I think I need to revise this entry at some point. In the meantime, if you Google Arthur Mole and John Thomas, you will find a lot of information. It’s fascinating reading for anyone interested in the military, photography or art.

My fake album: St. John’s Episcopal Church, a Trifling Investment of Fact

Here is your task: Find your fake band and album.

Attention musicians, designers and underemployed friends with basic Photoshop or quasi-Photoshop skills.

1 – Click
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 – Click
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 – Go to Flickr’s “explore the last seven days” area at
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 – Use Photoshop, Picasa or whatever software you like and put it all together.

5 – Post it as a note to Facebook and tag the friends you want to join in, or blog it and leave a link in your comments.

Here’s mine!

St. John's Episcopal Church: A Trifling Investment of Fact

St. John's Episcopal Church: A Trifling Investment of Fact

Photo from

C’mon now, do one yourself and post a link in the comments or tag me in a note at Facebook!

I hereby tag these friends: Tami, Nigel, Joanie, Howie, William, Rebecca and Dana.

Williams Shamir at YouTube

I received a friend request from this YouTube user today. Normally, I don’t add people on social networks as friends unless I know them in real life or have gotten to know them through a common interest online. I do, however, always look at the user’s profile and see what the person’s all about.

Well, Williams, aka Willy, is creative and I enjoy his videos! I commented on this one, saying it reminds me of those videos people post where they depict what it *sounds* like someone’s singing, to a hilarious end…Only he’s actually singing what you think it sounds like. Look at the illustrations.  LOL

Anyway, say hi to Willy! Be sure to check out the artwork hanging on his walls in this video, along with the painting videos he’s posted. He’s a talented artist as well as musician.