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Monday, August 27, 2012

Featured Band 001 : Well Hung Heart

Earlier this month I received an email from Grow Vision Studios about the band Well Hung Heart. An Alternative blues infused rock trio band based in Southern California. 

The band is composed of two British and American singer Greta Valenti from Louisiana. 

I was asked if I could feature them here in Rockosphere. But before I said yes, I reviewed first the band profile and personally I like blues based kind of music so they got my interest right away.

I also found out that Grow Vision is the creative mind behind the Papa Roach music videos for songs “No Matter What” and "Burn".  And this really makes me very excited to feature them here in the blog.

Without further ado, here’s the full bio of the band and down below is the video of their lead single "Devil" from Their newest album "Young Enough To Know It All". You can download some of their songs via souncloud for FREE! by clicking here - Download Well Hung Heart Songs.

Origin:             Orange, California, United States.
Genre:             Blues rock Alternative fusion
Members:       Greta Valenti
                        Robin Davey
                        Phil Wilson

Keith Richards once proclaimed, ""If you don't know the blues, there's no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll or any other form of popular music"".

There is no mistaking the bluesy undercurrent that forms the bedrock of Well Hung Heart's raw and uncompromising Rock sound. British born guitarist Robin Davey cut his teeth with the Blues elite, jamming onstage with the likes of Buddy Guy and recording with Mick Jagger. Davey quickly secured a place as the youngest ever inductee into the British Blues Hall Of Fame, and has built a reputation as an eclectic and cutting edge musical mind.

Singer Greta Valenti grew up amongst the deep-rooted musical traditions of New Orleans. Though the two's early years were spent on opposite sides of the Atlantic, they have both found common ground in their passion for the raw honesty of music, delivered in its most unprocessed and unrestricted form.

With a dose of Hendrix, and a nod to PJ Harvey, Well Hung Heart is just as comfortable channeling Nirvana as they are Leadbelly or Led Zeppelin. Greta Valenti's pint size frame belies her vocal range. From whispered tales of regret, to frenzied screams of intent, she is often found onstage clamped to Daveys' back in an attempt to bring him crashing to the floor. Or alternatively throw him a curve ball, should he try and play the same solo twice.

Well Hung Heart record just as they play live - stripped down to the core, void of multiple takes and studio trickery. With Davey handling simultaneous guitar and bass duties, and fellow Brit Phil Wilson on drums, Valenti is left to lead the three piece in an assured but unpredictable stomp through their take on the Blues, Rock and Roll, and its many subsidiaries.

Well Hung Heart finished off their first year in existence with high profile shows both sides of the Atlantic. Appearing at London's prestigious O2 Academy, and the Make Music Festival in Pasadena, opening for Grimes, Grouplove and Cults.

Their debut album ""Young Enough To Know It All"" is set for an October 2012 release and features the lead single ""Devil"".

Well Hung Heart acknowledge that though their influences might stem from the roots, their approach to finding an audience is very much in the present. With a series of self-directed YouTube videos establishing the band's presence, Well Hung Heart have managed to build a burgeoning fan base, both with their blistering live performances and their creativity in the digital age.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Easy Way To Understand The Blues Scale

Have you ever wonder why there are so many blues scales? There is E blues scale, b blues scale, A blues scale, and so on. The problem with these variations is that it makes very confusing especially to beginners. 

Blues scales
Understanding the blues scale is very important and failure to do so may lead to frustration. It is easy to get overwhelmed with so many scales when you just starting out.  

However, if you just take time to understand the basic principle behind the blues scale then you'll realize that it is just as easy as ABC. 

In this post I will do my best to explain the blues scale in the simplest way and hopefully once you finished reading, you will fully grasp the principle behind the blues scale. 

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Blues scale is called hexatonic because it is made of 6 notes. Now the question is "where these 6 notes came from?" The notes were derived from the minor pentatonic and the minor pentatonic came from the major scale. Now you’re confused! 

Let me explain this really simple. Remember the do re mi fa so la ti do thing that your music teacher taught you back when you were still a little Guy.? That's the major scale. It is composed of 7 distinct notes plus the 8th note which is just a duplicate of the first note. Take 5 notes of from the major scale and you'll have a pentatonic scale. 

To be specific, take the 1st, flat 3rd, 4th, 5th, and flat 7th note out of a major scale then you'll have a minor pentatonic scale.

                                         1st       2nd      3rd       4th         5th       6th       7th     Octave
C major scale                  C          D          E          F          G          A          B          C
C minor pentatonic          C                       Eb        F          G                      Bb        C

Shown above is an example of a major scale in the key of C and how C minor pentatonic extracted from the C major scale. Take note that This principle can be applied to any key and not just in key of C. Don't be confused with this. 

You can have major scale and minor pentatonic scale in key of A,B,D,E,F,and G. Basically to get a minor pentatonic, you just omit the 2nd and 6th notes out from a major scale then have the 3rd and 7th flatted and you'll have a minor pentatonic scale. Here's another example in the key of A.

A major scale                 A          B          C#          D          E          F#          G#          A 
A minor pentatonic         A                       C            D          E                        G            A 
Now from the minor pentatonic, we can extract blues scales out from it. If you look at the pentatonic, there are only 5 notes. Of course the word "Penta" means five. But in a blues scale we should have 6 notes. So we need one more note to complete the scale and that note is the flat 5th. The note arrangement of blues scale is 1st, 3rd, 4th, Flatted 5th, 5th, and 7th. You can notice that the notes are just the same with minor pentatonic except for the added flatted 5th. 

So to make it simple, a blues scale is just a minor pentatonic with added flatted fifth. 

That flatted 5th is also called the blue note and that makes all the deference when being played with other notes. If we apply the principle of the blues scale pattern from an A minor pentatonic, your A blues scale would be A, C, D, Eb, E, G, A.  

You see you just need to copy the minor pentatonic scale then add the flat 5th on it, that's simple.

A major scale                 A          B          C#          D          E          F#          G#          A 
A minor pentatonic         A                       C            D          E                        G            A
A blues scale                 A                       C            D    Eb  E                        G            A

We have already answered where does blues came from musically. The next question is "Why there are so many blues scales? Basically, we only have one blue scale and that is the 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7 but you can apply this pattern to any key so you'll have many blues scales.

Photo thanks to John Steven Fernandez

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Devil Music: Why Metal Is Considered Evil?

"Metal is devil music". "It is the work of the Devil". "Heavy metal is devil worship music." Or worst "Heavy Metal is the devil". These are some of the famous lines you would often hear from people who positioned themselves as religious. 

Devil's Music?
I grew up listening with Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera. Then came death metal such as sinister, Dismember, Napalm Death, Sepultura and others. 

As a young boy growing up with metal, I wonder if I'm worshiping the devil by listening to the music and this really puzzled me for many years.

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But what's really makes metal the devils music? 

Why these people would consider this beautiful type of music the work of the devil? Is it the lyrics or there is something else? In order to find out, let’s go back from the beginning. Back to the time when heavy metal doesn't exist yet.

Trace the root and you'll know its history.

Most metalheads firmly believed that heavy metal was conceived through the creative minds of the band Black Sabbath. Though there are other metalheads who consider Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple as the pioneers of heavy metal, but still Black Sabbath wins the majority.

The Devil and Music

In the midst of the industrial revolution in Great Britain, Black Sabbath draws from its womb in the rough streets of Birmingham. But the very critical point of heavy metal history is when Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi incorporated the Flatted 5th in many of their songs which later became their signature sound. Little did he know that because of his heavily usage of the tritone, it would revolutionarize the rock music industry forever. The flatted 5th is also called the Devil's Interval or tritone

Iommi is not the first man to discover the tritone. Long before him and black Sabbath, The Tritone has already known by classical composers during the 19th Century. The Roman Catholic considered the Flatted 5th to be devil music so this was suppressed by the church during the middle ages. In modern day, Black Sabbath did not escape the critique of the church and the public. They were banned and were forced to play underground in England.  

So the answer why metal is considered to be evil is because of the flatted 5th note or the tritone.

The funny thing is that Iommi never had an intention to make their music to be some kind of devil worship music. In fact in one interview he said, "When I started writing Sabbath stuff it was just something that sounded right. I didn't think I was going to make it devil music.

Where the hick the term "heavy metal" came from?

Originally, black Sabbath is a jazzy blues rock band but because of the devil's note they developed a new kind of genre. No one knows what kind of genre they were playing at that time. Too heavy to call it blues rock or Psychedelic rock. In an interview with Iommi in a heavy metal documentary film Metal - A Headbanger's Journey, he said that he already heard the term heavy metal but he doesn't even know the meaning of it. 

Many metalheads believed that the term Heavy Metal was inspired by the industrial revolution in UK where there are huge factories processing heavy metal ore and they relate it to this new breed of music.  

The heavy metal soon evolve and being split to several genre. It evolved from just musically evil to both musically and lyrically evil. The evil thing is the favorite topic to many death metal and black metal bands in the 80's up to present. Maybe because the topic about the devil and music grabs attention to the public and make the bands popular. But there are some Norwegian black Metal band literally worships the devil on their lyrics and on stage, to the extent that they even actually burn down Christian Churches. These guys are really taking being evil to the next level and not just a plain marketing strategy.

However, many of heavy metal bands today doesn’t use the devils note and doesn't have evil lyrics but still considered to be satanic. Why? Simply because their music are so loud, they have long hairs, their wearing black t-shirt (with skulls on it), and most of all, their body is wrap with tattoo! Crazy! Isn’t it?

In my own point of view, there is no such thing as devils music. The flatted 5th is just part of the music and I simply love the way it sound. Heavy metal is just another form of music and it can be evil or not. I think the thing that makes a song evil is the lyrics and not the music itself. Any type of music can be evil. One can worship the devil by making evil lyrics in a pop song, hip hop, orchestra, and even national anthem.

To wrap things up, lyrics, appearance, and misconception of the close minded religious people makes metal the devil music.