Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Basic of Drum..

This tutorial assumes that you know nothing about drums and have never even picked up a pair of drum sticks. This page will explain everything from reading music to how sticks should be held.

First thing we need to talk about is how you actually play the drums. The great thing about drums is that you don't really need a drum set to play. You can use a table top, your knees or even a friend's head!

OK, if you are a right-handed person you will be using your right hand to play the hi-hat, your left hand to play the snare drum, your right foot to play the bass drum and your left foot to move the hi-hat up and down. If you are a lefty, then everything is reversed...your left hand will play the hi-hat, right hand the snare drum, and so on.

Note: this is not a must, it is more important to play how it feels more comfortable than how you should play the drums. I know several good drummers that are left-handed but play on a right-handed drum set up. For the following examples we will use the right-handed style of playing.

Since we aren't using a drum set at this point we'll just use the desk you are sitting at. Tap your right hand on the desk four times while counting to four. Next add a tap with your left hand on the third count. Take a look below for a more visual sense of what you are doing.

count 1 2 3 4
R=right hand R R R R
L=left hand L

This is the basic hand pattern for 80% of drum music played in today rock/pop music. Repeat this pattern over and over without stopping. When you feel comfortable with this, move on to the next section.

Now that you have got the hand stuff figured out, lets add a foot into the mix! Tap your right foot on count one. See below for what this looks like to help with your counting.

count 1 2 3 4
R=right hand R R R R
L=left hand L
F=right foot F

Now your cooking! Once you have this hand/foot combination down and can keep up a steady rhythm for at least 3 minutes straight you are on your way to becoming a drummer.

Lets take a look at some actual drum music and then talk about all the different parts of it. This is the same pattern as above written out as a drum transcript. The right hand is playing eighth notes on the hi-hat and the foot and left hand are alternating on the quarter note downbeat. We'll talk more about what eighth and quarter notes are later on.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Life and Loves of William Shakespeare

Although he wrote some of the world's most renown romances and comedies, William Shakespeare's personal life remains a great mystery. Little is known about the writer and what is thought to be known is hotly debated by scholars. Conspiracy theories and suggestions of hoaxes and false identities abound, but have resisted proof for centuries.

What is known about Shakespeare is that whatever his identity, his works provide insight into human nature and the nature of love. His 38 plays, as well as his many sonnets, capture themes and emotions in story-telling that continue to be the most entertaining concept of today.

The most widely agreed upon story of Shakespeare's life suggests that he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1554 to a prosperous glovemaker. In 1582, when just a lad of 18, he married Anne Hathaway and had three children, including a son who died at the age of 11.

No documentation of Shakespeare's life between 1585 and 1592 exits, lending these "lost years" to great conjecture and controversy, He re-emerged as a public figure in 1592, working in London as an actor and playwright. Though he was not yet the writer he would become, already the playwright Robert Greene referred enviously to Shakespeare in 1592 as "the upstart crow" of the London theater. He was quickly drawing the attentions of hungry theater-owners in the burgeoning Bank side district and the jealousies of bitter rivals. He began spending his summers in London, returning to his family in Stratford every winter when the public theaters were closed due to fear of the plague.

Throughout 1593, Shakespeare published several of his most erotic sonnets, but it was in 1594 that he really made his career breakthrough, coming to the fore with this great work of romance, "Romeo and Juliet." He joined the Chamberlain's Men, a theatrical troupe which enjoyed the patronage of the royal court and which later built the famous Globe Theater.

What accounted for the sudden turn-around in Shakespeare's creative life ? Did he have a real-life muse in his hidden history that unlocked the secrets of the human heart ? Several theories have been advanced by Shakespearean scholars and biographers, many involving a mysterious "dark-lady" to whom the bard seems to pine for in several of his sonnets. As the Shakespearean scholar Arthur Aches writes :

" I believe, from what I find in the Sonnets, that our poet's connection with [a] woman commenced at almost the same period as his acquaintance with Southampton, in about 1593, ... I believe, also , that he genuinely loved her, and fired with the passion and intensity of his love, produced in those years the marvelous rhapsodies of love in "Romeo and Juliet," ... and other of his love plays, which have so charmed the world, and still charm it, and shall continue to do so while the language lives. If ever a man lived who sounded the human heart to its depths, and gauged its heights, that man was Shakespeare, and such knowledge as he had, and shows us of life, may not attained by hearsay, nor at second hand."

The true nature of Shakespeare's love will only ever be known through his enduring works. He is believed to have died in April 1616, on the anniversary of his birthday, after developing a fever whilst spending a night entertaining the playwright Ben Johnson. He is buried in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Shakespeare In Love...

Those who are looking for a historically accurate portrayal of Shakespeare's life had better look elsewhere - but then this was never intended to be a serious look at the life of the man. Those who attack it for its' fanciful relation to history have missed the point entirely. It is a romantic comedy obsessed with nothing more than making references in storyline and plot to the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and those references are made so seamlessly it could almost be assumed that what we see on the screen actually happened to the man.

In fact the overall story we are presented with is not new. Anyone who had read or seen `Romeo and Juliet' will have a pretty shrewd idea of the path the narrative takes - the twist is that in the film, Shakespeare writes the play `Romeo and Juliet' in parallel to, and based on, his `real life' relationship with Lady Viola.

The opening sees Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) desperately trying to write the masterpiece `Romeo and Ethel, the Pirates Daughter', a comedy he hopes will rival anything by Christopher Marlow (Rupert Everett). Words fail him until his muse appears in the shape of Lady Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow), a noblewoman whose love for the work of Shakespeare's leads her to dress as a boy (since at the time women were not allowed on stage) and attend an audition in disguise (mistaken identity and women dressing as men are devices Shakespeare often used in his comedies). She is given the role of Romeo and begins a forbidden relationship with Shakespeare, the only one who knows her real identity, in spite of the fact that she is betrothed to the villainous Lord Wessex (Colin Firth) at Queen Elizabeth's (Judi Dench) command.

Fiennes portrays Shakespeare wonderfully and not as the infallible master of rhetoric. He takes the Bard from the pedestal and brings him down to a human level that we can all sympathise with. His relationship with Paltrow is handled sensitively, although many of the scenes that are exclusively their own did have enough a little too much `Chick-Flick' for my liking. Paltrow's R.P. accent is technically very good, and though I normally like my English to be played by the English, I was as happily surprised by her performance as I was by Ben Affleck's brief, but memorable portrayal of the self-important Ned Alleyn. Much of the credit, though, must go to Michelle Guish for the wonderful supporting cast including: Judi Dench, Simon Callow, Imelda Staunton, Jim Carter, Martin Clunes and Geoffrey Rush, to name but a few.

John Madden directs hypnotically and constantly keeps the camera on the move but most credit for the film must go to Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard for their cunning and often self-parodying script. The only comment I would make is regarding the sheer number of theatre references. Those who have worked in the theatre will be aware of many, if not all, of the in-jokes that the film is littered with. Those who have not may be left with the feeling that they have been excluded from much of the content.