Becoming a Musician

How hard is that?

We were talking the other day about what it takes to be a professional musician. I remarked that being a professional just means that you have had at least one paid gig in your lifetime – it may not be paying the rent. A friend responded that many of the finest players make very little money compared to engineers and computer geeks. He thought this was unfair and I tend to agree. Life is unfair in many respects. Let me count the ways.

If you spend time at any competitive sport you will always find the same small group in the winners circle. When I used to run the Robert Hamilton ten mile event in Calgary I always met the same four or five runners at mile four. They were already at mile six on the return lap. This would happen around thirty minutes into the race. I ran a seven minute pace; they ran a mile in five minutes.

Now a pace of five minutes a mile is world class running so only a very few people out of the thousand or so who enter these events will ever run that fast. What can we say about the folks who were still a minute faster than I was. Well, they were mostly professional athletes, people who could make a living on the the playing field.

The moral of the story is that you have to be very very good to get paid for doing some fun gig like running ten miles, or playing professional soccer or ice hockey. My only claim to being a professional athelete is that I taught skiing at Paskapoo ski hill in Calgary for a few years. I became a Level II instructor. I was not a ski racer or a manual groomer. Those are the real pros on the hill. Level II ski instructors are often paid minimum wage, but they have one of the best jobs in the world.

In my case the difference between my efforts at seven minutes a mile and the pros who were a minute faster was likely wind sprints. To become a Level III instructor, a real pro, would have taken at least a year running race courses and becoming a Level II coach. I thought that was just too much work and besides I had a day job. I was content with my pace; it was about a minute better than average and I was there to have a good time.

Rick Beato says all you have to know to be a real pro, a session musician, is the three hundred or so tunes in the “Real Book” — in every key. These are all Jazz standards so you don’t get to use a capo. I don’t expect to ever be that good but that is the way I’m going.

I Ain’t Marchin Anymore

Phil Ochs
        G            C         D
Oh, I marched to the battle of New Orleans, 
       G          C             D
at the end of the early British wars 
    G                    C
The young land started growing, 
       Am                Em
the young blood started flowing, 
       Am       C    D
but I ain't marchin' anymore 
 
         G                  C
For I've killed my share of Indians,
       D
in a thousand different fights, 
      G            C          D
I was there at the Little Big Horn 
    G             C           Am        Em
I heard many men lying, I saw many more dying, 
    Am        C         D
but I ain't marchin' anymore 
 
          Am     C          G              Em
     It's always the old to lead us to the wars, 
     Am         Em       Am
     it's always the young to fall 
         Am                              Em
     Now look at all we've won, with the saber 
                                          and the gun, 
     C             Am       D
     tell me is it worth it all?

For I stole California from the Mexican land
Fought in the bloody Civil War
Yes, I even killed my brothers
And so many others
But I ain’t marching anymore

For I marched to the battles of the German trench
In a war that was bound to end all wars
Oh, I must have killed a million men
And now they want me back again
But I ain’t marching anymore

Chorus

For I flew the final mission in the Japanese skies
Set off the mighty mushroom roar
When I saw the cities burning
I knew that I was learning
That I ain’t marching anymore

Now the labor leader’s screamin’
When they close the missile plants
United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore
Call it peace or call it treason
Call it love or call it reason
But I ain’t marching anymore
No, I ain’t marching anymore

Urge for Going

Joni Mitchell       5     6    5    5  
        Capo III    Dm    Bb   A    A    Dm    Bb   A  A   
A                 G          G                    A
I awoke today and found  the frost perched on the town
  A             G                   G              A
It hovered in a frozen sky  then it gobbled summer down
D                  C
When the sun turns traitor cold 
    D                 C              E      E7
and all the trees are shivering in a naked row
   A               G                         A
I get the urge for going  But I never seem to go

  G        D       A              G               D      A
I get the urge for going When the meadow grass is turning brown
G              D       A       A         G       A
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

A               G                   G              A
I had a girl  in summertime She had summer-colored skin
     A          G                G                     A
And not another man  in town  My darling's heart could win
    D                    C
But when the leaves fell on the ground
    D                  C                     E              E7
And Bully winds came around and Pushed them face down in the snow
      A              G                           A
She  got the urge for going and I had to let her go
  
 G           D        A              G                D        A
She got  the urge for going When the meadow grass was turning brown
G     D          A             A          G       A
Summertime is falling down and winter was closing in

A                   G                        G               A
Now the warriors of win ter           gave a cold triumphant shout
A                    G                   G                A
And all that stays is dying ;   all that lives is gettin' out
D                C
See the geese in chevron flight 
D             C        E            E7
Flapping and racing on before the snow
  A                    G                    G                    A 
They got the urge for going And they got the wings  so they can go

 G           D        A              G               D           A
They get the urge for going When the meadow grass is turning brown
G     D       A                A         G       A
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

Dm    Bb   A           5  6  5    fret
 
A                      G                      G                 A
I'll ply the fire with kindling I'll pull the blankets up to my chin
A             G                           G                  A
I'll lock the vagrant winter out and I'll bolt my wanderings in
D                            C
I'd like to call back summertime
D                 C            E        E7
Have her stay for just another month or so
A                 G                   G                     A 
But she’s got the urge for going So I guess she’ll have to go

G            D         A             G               D           A
She gets the urge for going When the meadow grass is turning brown
G             D       A                A         G        A
And all her empire is closing down and winter is closing in
 
Here is an analysis of the chord progression in Nashville notation.  Note the flat 7s and flat 3s.  The 57 is the E7  the seventh of the fifth.   When we transpose the A shapes to C shapes to remove the need for a capo we find that amazingly only two shapes, E-bar and A-bar are needed.

C is played at the 8th fret with an E-bar shape.
Bb is played at the 6th fret with an E-bar shape.
F is played at the 8th fret with an A-bar shape
Eb is played at the 6th fret with an A-bar shape
G/G7 are played at the 5th fret with an E-bar shape

Verse
 / 1  b7   b7   1   //   4  b3   /  4    b3    5  57   /   1  b7  1 /         
A Shapes  
/  A   G   G    A   //   D   C   /   D   C     E  E7   /   A   G  A /      
C  Shapes 
/  C  Bb   Bb   C   //   F   Eb  /   F   Eb    G  G7   /   C  Bb  C /      

I'll ply the fire with kindling I'll pull the blankets up to my chin
I'll lock the vagrant winter out and I'll bolt my wanderings in
I'd like to call back summertime
Have her stay for just another month or so
But she’s got the urge for going So I guess she’ll have to go

  Chorus 
/  b6   4    1    b6   b3   1   /   b6   4   1      1    b6   1 /                            
/  G    D    A     G    D   A   /   G    D   A      A    G    A /
/  Bb   F    C    Bb    F   C   /   Bb   F   C      C    Bb   C /


She gets the urge for going When the meadow grass is turning brown
And all her empire is closing down and winter is closing in

 

Ballad of Edward Snowden

Capo V  Dm -   b = 90
Am                                    C                G
Come gather all around me friends I'm glad to find you well
Am                                  G
Sit right down beside me here -- a story I will tell
Am                               C           G
Tis about one Edward Snowden a patriot of note
      Am                        Am    E      Am
Who hacked  away the N.S.A. and got Obama's goat


C
Our  Eddie was a sys admin;  a job that pays you well
Am                                     G
But he couldn't stand the spying and he couldn't stand the smell
Am                                     C                    G
Of a hundred million e-mails - that would make the Stasi proud
Am                                       Am      E     Am
As they vacuum up the contents of the systems in the cloud


Am                                  C              G 
So one day Eddie writes a note to a fellow name of Glen 
Am                                 G
Glen Grenwald at the Intercept; a fellow with a pen
Am                                 C               G
I have a tale says Eddie that will put you on the floor
    Am                                  Am      E      Am
But first you need to a secret way to speak to Citizen Four

C               
We need to use encryption , we need pretty good privacy 
Am                                      G
To keep our secrets out of sight of the spying agency
Am                                  C                 G    
We’re gonna need a password when we put things in the mail
Am                                             E       G
And we need a damn good password to be staying out of jail


Now Glen was just a newby, hardly heard of P.G.P.
But he had a friend in Laura who already had a key
Together they got started with a system known as TAILS
They conjured up a master key; we hope it never fails
 
The files are at the Intercept-go read ‘em if you dare
The movie got an Oscar but nobody seems to care
A hundred million phone calls; that would make the Stazi proud
As they vacuum up the contents of the systems in the cloud


    Am                               C              G      
It's better than a year now since Ed left his cushy post
Am                             G
And flitted off to Moscow with Putin for a host
Am                          C            G
So now he's living quietly a guru of the net
    Am                                     Am  E      Am
Who better knows the secrets that can make old Biden  sweat


C
Go look at those secret files; you scarce believe your eyes
Am                                G
A hundred million secrets here -- a hundred million lies
Am                                C                   G
Both Microsoft and Yahoo helping spooks read all the mail
Am                                            E       Am
And Clapper lies to Congress -- but he never goes to jail

Am                                C                  G
I'm just an old curmudgeon and  I never thought I'd see
Am                              G
A good man has to hide away in Moscow to be free
Am                              C                           G
A hundred million phone calls; that would make the Stasi proud
       Am                                        E      Am
As they vacuumed up the contents of the systems in the cloud

C
It's all to make us safer –sure Its all to keep us free
Am                                      G
That's why they read the e-mails of the likes of you and me
Am                                     C                G
A hundred million e-mails - that would make the Stasi proud
Am                                              E       Am
As they vacuumed up the contents of the systems in the cloud

White Christmas

 A       3    2  0 2   Bm    Bmaj7  5 
 I'm dream  ing of a   white Christmas
  
  D     4    5   E7   10 9    7  A
 Just like the ones   I used to know
  
        0    2   2    F#7    0   D        Dm7
 Where the treetops glisten and children listen
  
 
    A    3       2    0   2  Bm      E7  3 2 0
 To hear sleigh bells in the snow
  
  
  
 A       3    2  0  2   Bm    Bmaj7  5   
 I'm dream   ing of a   white Christmas
  
 D    4   5   E7   10  9    7  A
 With every  Christmas card I write
  
                              D7/D
 May your days be merry and bright
  
         A        D     E7       A
 And may all your Christmases be white 

This arrangement in 4/4 time has the melody mostly on the top two strings. The numbers are the fret numbers of the melody on either the b or e strings.  The E7 chord is usually played on the 7th fret 779797 except for the last line in each verse where it is the usual E7 in first position.

11 Aug – Jazz standards for Beginners

I’ll start out by saying that jazz beginners are usually pretty good blues players. We have a few of those at the circle but nobody needs to stay on this list. As usual play what you like, just show up to play.

Here are 25 Jazz standards from the teachings of Aimee Nolte. If she played guitar she would be perfect but alas no one is perfect. These are ranked by difficulty for pianists from easy to more difficult. I’ll try to work down the list by linking to examples of performances and tutorials. As I learn new tunes I’ll link to my own renditions.

If anyone has a list that is specific to guitar players please let me know in the comments.

There is also a lot of Sandra Sherman here. She is a terrific teacher for beginning jazz guitar.

The 12 Bar Blues

A A A A       1  2  3  4      1 1 1 1       
D D A A       5  6  7  8      4 4 1 1       
E D A E       9 10 11 12      5 4 1 5      


Each symbol in the chart above is a whole bar of music. You
may count it One two three four, Two two three four … Twelve two three four.

The first block is the chord to play, the second block is the
bar number and the third block is the Nashville Number of the chord. You may use block three to play in some other key.


The fourth block is a mnemonic that may help you remember
block three.


You can play along by just looking at the first block