A buddy of mine is selling this gorgeous SG clone he’s been luthering together, shoot me a message if you’re interested.
Mahogany neck, Granadillo (Mexican Rosewood) fingerboard, medium-jumbo frets and traditional crown pearloid inlays; 2-way truss-rod, bone nut.
Chrome plated hardware
Traditional tune-o-matic bridge and stop tailpiece
Humbucking pickups with chrome covers
Black pickup rings, cover plates and switch tip
Switchcraft right-angle pickup selector switch
Black top-hat bell knobs
Custom blend stain (mix of Red Mahogany, Bordeaux, and Cherry Red Color Tone liquid dyes) hand-applied on neck and body.
Clear satin nitrocellulose lacquer on body and neck
Gloss black nitrocellulose lacquer with gloss clear top coats on headstock
Gibson crown (mother of pearl) decal for headstock included
Gig bag included
I built this guitar to learn set-neck construction and to try a dyed color finish, so I’m not looking to make big profit on it. Asking $525.00 (plus shipping if not local), which is a little than what it cost me for the parts and supplies to make it. It took about 20 hrs to build.
I’ve had a couple good guitar players play it and they say it plays and sounds great.
It looks like a saxophone but plays 512 notes — many you’ve never heard before
How a jazz musician created the Infinitone to challenge Western musical ideas.
By Tony Rehagen
In 2017, Subhraag Singh was on a flight from his home in Stuttgart, Germany, to Atlanta, wondering if anyone else could hear the music in his head.
It had come to him in his dreams — this amazing, almost atonal soundscape. But whenever Singh awoke and rushed to his saxophone or keyboard, the sound was just beyond his grasp. Nothing felt quite right. Unable to recreate what he had experienced in his sleep, Singh realized this music existed outside of the rigid 12-note structure of Western music, in which he had been trained as a jazz musician. He needed an instrument that could access the subtle tones between those notes — so he spent two years and his life savings creating one.
Once he had a working prototype, Singh, 37, entered the Guthman Musical Instrument Competition, an international showcase for the newest ideas in music, held annually at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. And now he was flying to Georgia with his homespun brass horn — dubbed the “Infinitone” — stowed in a makeshift sheet-metal case in the plane’s cargo hold. This was the moment of truth: In front of the entire world, industry professionals would either tell Singh that they believed his invention was the future of music, or that he had simply lost his mind.
The Infinitone, an elongated pyramid of brass, resembles a futuristic soprano saxophone, with the usual mouthpiece, reed, and ligature. But while a sax’s keys attach to valves that open and shut, the Infinitone has five motorized slides that give it the flexibility of a trombone or guitar. The horn plugs into an iPad, which controls the slides. Rather than playing the instrument directly, the player touches the screen to play a colorful spectrum of 512 notes — 256 per octave, instead of the usual black-and-white 12.
In Atlanta, Singh and his Infinitone would go on to win first place and $5,000. The judges included Mike Adams, the CEO of Moog Music — a company that had created another paradigm-shifting instrument — and Alfred Darlington, also known as electronic musician Daedelus, who raved about the possibilities that Singh’s invention opened up.
“It looks like a soprano sax,” Darlington said in a recent interview. “But what it’s able to do defies the held beliefs of what an instrument should express.”
Today, Singh is poised to release Infinitone DMT, a software based on the eponymous instrument, which will allow anyone to access notes they’ve only dreamed of. “Just like painters can paint using a palette of almost infinite shades,” says Singh, “musicians can also make music with infinite varieties of musical intervals.”
Western musicians have been pushing the accepted boundaries of tonality for as long as there has been a standard scale. Musicians elsewhere, including India and China, have always operated outside of those confines. The hope is that Singh’s software might make such experimentation more easily accessible to artists everywhere. Western music teachers usually indoctrinate their students with Western notions about what is acceptable and what sounds good, says Anthony De Ritis, a composer and a music professor at Northeastern University. “A tool like this could open windows,” says De Ritis, “as long as people like what they hear.”
Singh has never been hemmed in by the conventional. When he was in kindergarten, the teacher played a song and asked the class to draw a picture of what the music made them feel. Most of the students drew trees, birds, or green grass. Young Singh scribbled a mess of impressionistic colors. “To me, music has always been something that has transcended language,” he says. “I can say things with music that you can’t say with words. Where words leave off, music continues.”
The improvisational wilds of jazz drew Singh in. After taking up piano at age 7, he turned to the saxophone at age 11; his heroes were virtuosos like Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane. He grew up to study composition and performance at Purchase College at State University of New York under jazz heavyweights like Lee Konitz, Gary Bartz, and Larry Ridley. He blew his alto sax on stages from The Blue Note jazz club in New York to the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
“For 250 years, piano has held court. We’ve been under the tyranny of that emotional palette, and we don’t need to be.”
Alfred Darlington, also known as electronic musician Daedelus
But even playing his own works, Singh says he got bored. So he dropped out of school and moved to India, where for three years, he worked under Bhai Baldeep Singh, the North Indian master of composition and several instruments. While in India, he converted to Sikhism and adopted his Sikh name, which means “all music.”
Indian music is structurally different from the Western school. In addition to using different tunings and scales, notes are divided into ragas — ascending and descending patterns that are sort of a combination of what the West considers a scale and a melody. Each raga corresponds with a different mood, season, event, or even time of day. Indian music also divides each octave into 12 swaras, which roughly correspond to the Western chromatic scale, but there are only seven notes per octave, as opposed to 12 in the West. This new musical language expanded Singh’s idea of what was possible — and that’s when the dreams began. But he still couldn’t find a way to bring those imaginings into the waking world.
Frustrated, he began to dig into temperament — the musical term for the adjustment of sound. “Equal temperament,” the commonly known tuning system, wherein the octave is divided into 12 equal-sized semitones, has only been the standard in the West for a little more than 200 years. It was adopted in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as the modern piano became the standard instrument for composition and vocal accompaniment.
Prior to that, one could travel the globe and find an almost inexhaustive range of instruments, notes, and tunings. Digging beyond those rigid Western parameters “was the light bulb moment,” says Singh. “There are more than 12 notes. Just like when you tune a piano from one note to the next, there are all those frequencies in between. There is an infinite spectrum of tonality.”
All Singh needed now was an instrument that would enable him to easily access this infinite spectrum. He set up a workshop in his basement and went to work. “Once I got into this world of tonality, it was as if I was on a ladder and all the rungs behind me fell off,” says Singh. “There was no going back down.”
More than two years of mistakes, false starts, and YouTube metal-working tutorials ensued. But by the end of 2016, the Infinitone was real.
“The degree of control that the Infinitone allows is impressive,” says Darlington, who is now an assistant professor and founding principal of the electronic digital instrument department at Berklee College of Music. “For 250 years, piano has held court. We’ve been under the tyranny of that emotional palette, and we don’t need to be.”
After winning the Guthman competition and securing an investor (his uncle), Singh turned to marketing the instrument. Adams, the Moog CEO and Guthman judge, suggested getting the Infinitone into the hands of artists who could harness its power and use it to create works that would catch other musicians’ ears.
“It’s easy to get started, but takes lifetimes to explore,” says Singh. “You can just hit a scale and start jamming. As you learn more, you can adjust parameters, access traditional tunings from other world cultures, and then you’ll create tunings of the future. I see this as being in the toolbox of every musician.”
While Singh’s brainchild is a unique and groundbreaking instrument, he’s far from the first modern musician to explore outside of the 12-tone scale. The early 20th century saw several composers push against the boundaries of standard tonality, including Arnold Schoenberg, Charles Ives, Kyle Gann, Harry Partch, and La Monte Young.
And Singh hopes that his newest technological advance will allow more musicians to access his broad range of tones. For interested composers who play something other than saxophone, Singh and his associates have developed Infinitone DMT (Dynamic Micro Tuning), a software plug-in based on the idea behind the instrument. When the application is released this spring, it will enable any music-minded artist — or anyone who’s merely curious — to explore a wider world of musical expression.
Long ago, when I picked up my first guitar, I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I daydreamed about having a shiny gold Les Paul, just like all my favorite bands did. I wasn’t so much concerned with the benefits of playing guitar; I just wanted to look cool and learn my favorite songs.
Like so many new guitar players, I was quickly discouraged. All the concepts I was learning were challenging to master, my fingertips were killing me, and nothing was fun. I was ready to pack up my guitar and find a new hobby. Thankfully, I pressed on and kept learning. Twenty-something years later, I look back on how the guitar has made me a better person.
Beyond the fun of playing, the guitar can unlock many powerful benefits for your health.
Guitar As Therapy
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, pick up your guitar and see if you don’t feel better after the first few minutes of playing. Playing an instrument has the power to relieve stress and anxiety and reduce cortisol.
Research shows that this type of activity has the power to short circuit the brains traditional responses to stress and anxiety. Instead of allowing those feelings to manifest, when you’re playing an instrument, you’ll be surprised to see how quickly they melt away when you’re stimulating yourself by playing an instrument.
The BBC further posits that playing an instrument can raise your white blood cell count. White blood cells are critical to effective immune system response, and it seems it may also affect your sympathetic nervous system, which regulates our stress responses.
For Your Heart Strings
The clear mental benefits of playing an instrument are great, but there’s so much more playing an instrument can do for you. Playing music also has implications for your heart health.
Berklee School of Music’s Chairperson, Suzanne Hanser espouses the benefits of playing an instrument for your health, especially for older people. Playing can help to lower your blood pressure and reduce your heart rate. A recent BMJ study suggests the same heart health benefits.
Mental And Cognitive Benefits
Perhaps the most impressive health benefits of learning guitar are the cognitive and psychological benefits associated with learning an instrument.
Playing An Instrument Staves Off Mental Degeneration
Playing an instrument can also keep your brain sharp, helping to stave off degenerative diseases that are common in older people, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. In fact, seniors who engage in the kind of engaging mental activities like playing an instrument can reduce their risk of developing these conditions by up to 75%.
Other activities such as brain games like crossword puzzles or chess also help slow or prevent Alzheimer’s, as does dancing. But, as a musician, I’d argue none of these activities are quite as fun or enriching as playing an instrument.
The Cognitive Benefits Of Playing An Instrument
The guitar is particularly unique, as it seems that the brain of a guitar player BEHAVES differently than non-musicians’ brains. In a 2012 study in Berlin, researchers concluded that the neural networks of different guitar players appear to synchronize while they’re playing a piece of music and that synchronization actually occurs before they even begin playing.
Further, it seems that guitar players can toggle between conscious thought and unconscious thought during solos and other difficult passages. This suggests that learning the guitar allows players to tap into the creative side of their brain, allowing their ideas and virtuosity to flow through them uninhibited.
Playing an instrument has also shown to have an incredible effect on the plasticity of our brains. Pat Martino, the renowned jazz guitarist, had a severe brain hemorrhage in his 30’s, prompting scientists to remove a significant portion of his left temporal lobe. While Pat recovered from surgery, unfortunately, his playing ability did not. He completed lost the ability to play.
Within two years, Pat was able to relearn his instrument completely, and he approached it with the same virtuosity he had before his injury. This incredible development suggests a significant link between brain plasticity and playing an instrument.
While these benefits exist for everyone, they’re especially profound for children. The science is in, and playing an instrument can help improve brain structure and development. For kids who get an early start on learning, it looks like an instrument can also help improve long-term memory.
Music and Childhood Development
It’s clear that children are one group that stands to benefit the most from musical instruction. Through music, children can unlock many powerful benefits including improved listening and comprehension skills, improved concentration, and better performance in other academic subjects.
Merely listening to music can unlock powerful mental benefits, but perhaps the truest improvements occur when students engage in playing music or music therapy. According to a recent Frontiers in Neuroscience study, researchers found that children who participate in playing music were able to better develop their memory, comprehension and listening skills, and concentration.
Music and Math
The scholastic benefits don’t stop there. There’s also a large body of research which suggests that learning a musical instrument improves a child’s ability mathematical reasoning and ability.
When you think about it, this connection is a no-brainer. At its core, music is about math. Time signatures are math, the number of beats in a measure is math, and many of the concepts of the guitar are also closely tied to mathematics.
We know that learning an instrument can improve your cognitive abilities, and studies show that musicianship affects executive functioning. Executive functioning is an area of skill that closely related to mathematics, as well as the development of many skills that the professional world demands.
Music and Creativity
In general, every aspect of neural processing seems to be improved when children learn an instrument. Beyond these tangible mental benefits, there are also implications for the general development of the student.
When it comes to guitars as therapy, students who take up the guitar can unlock a new creative outlet, expand their knowledge of music, as well as themselves and others. Once a student is confident enough to begin performing for an audience, the guitar is the tool that allows them to step outside their comfort zone while expanding their horizons.
Instruments can also be an exciting way to limit your children’s screen time. Any parent can tell you; it sometimes feels like they’re losing a battle to the screens in their child’s life. I can’t think of a better way to provide an alternative to tv and digital devices than playing an instrument. It’s also a great way to get the whole household involved in the fun.
Practicing your instrument touches on each of these aspects of professional development. You’ll learn how to set goals for yourself in your practice time, and how to diligently attack those goals by managing the way you practice and the time you spend on different areas of your instrument.
When you accomplish your goals, you’ll also feel a powerful sense of accomplishment that will inspire you to keep practicing, learning, and growing.
If we capped this article right here, there’s already an incredibly strong case to begin learning an instrument. But there are still so many additional benefits associated with learning an instrument; including the profound physical benefits related to learning the guitar.
First, there are the obvious benefits. Playing guitar is physically demanding on your hands, and over time, regular playing will help you improve the flexibility, dexterity, and strength of your hands and wrists. Playing will also improve your motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
One area where you stand to benefit that you may not have considered: playing the guitar can actually help relieve pain. When we’re playing music, our brain has the powerful ability to divert our attention away from what’s bothering us, i.e., physical pain, so we can instead focus on playing an instrument.
Still asking yourself “why should I learn to play guitar?” What if you knew that it could actually help you lose weight? Merely sitting and playing will help you burn a modest 145 calories an hour. But, if you play standing up, you can accelerate that to an impressive 217 calories per hour. This is just another powerful benefit of this helpful hobby.
One of the most visible effects of playing a musical instrument is in your emotional health and wellbeing. Ask anyone who has played the guitar for any amount of time, and they’ll be quick to tell you how their instrument helps them express themselves, find more joy in life, improves their self-confidence and more.
Music as Self-Expression
Playing an instrument provides you with a powerful form of self-expression. Whether you’re learning how to play your favorite songs, or writing your own compositions, there are few ways that offer such an opportunity to express yourself quite like learning an instrument can.
Ask a guitar player how they feel when they’re performing, and they’ll be quick to tell you about the happiness and joy they feel when they’re on stage. It’s true, hearing the crowd cheer and yell as you provide the soundtrack to their evening can be downright euphoric.
An instrument also has the power to improve your self-confidence. Few things have the ability to make you feel the way you do when you begin to learn new things, conquer pieces that were once too difficult for you, and share your music with friends and family.
By expressing yourself on a public platform, you’ll not only become more confident in your ability as a guitar player; you’ll become more confident in other aspects of your life, as well.
Music, Meditation, and Consciousness
Playing an instrument is also a great way to learn patience, and find inner peace. The act of learning an instrument is predicated on hours of repetition, discipline, and practice. At first, it can be easy to lose concentration and focus, but over time it’s something you learn to revel in.
While we’re on the idea of finding inner peace, playing an instrument is actually a powerful form of meditation. Cultures throughout the world have realized the power of playing music as meditation for centuries.
In their powerful book Music and Consciousness, David and Eric Clarke posit that music has played an influential role in their meditation practice.
“Music, used as an object of study and a series of training exercises, can have a regulatory, balancing effect on the mind. Like the breath, music can be deliberately used as a bridge between the voluntary and autonomic nervous systems … It moves beyond intellectual, conceptual, discursive thinking towards an emotional, sensual realm.”
Learning music can also teach you to exist firmly rooted in the moment, a practice that mindfulness has sought to unlock for many years. Spend an hour or so working through some of your favorite practice routines and you’ll quickly realize how connected music is to meditation and mindfulness.
Finding Fulfillment Through Learning Music
Finally, playing an instrument allows you to unlock a powerful sense of self-fulfillment and achievement. Few things in the world feel quite like mastering a new piece or tackling a new piece or practice routine that was above your ability the last time you tried to learn it.
One area where the benefits of learning guitar are most profound is in the social benefits of learning an instrument and participating in making music with others.
Connecting with Others Through Playing Music
Participants in the Music for Life project met with researchers at the University of London to discuss their experience playing music with others as part of the Music for Life project. The participants were quick to point out the social connections they were able to forge with other people through this project.
In addition to allowing them to make new connections and meet new people, they also experienced other benefits, such as friendship and camaraderie, collaborative learning, and even teaching.
Most musicians are able to make lifelong connections through the practice of playing music, and these bonds can lead to fulfillment in other areas of life, as well. The people you play music with exist as a strong support network that you can call on when you’re overwhelmed by other aspects of life.
Scientists have discovered that this type of bonding also results in increased production of oxytocin, which is known as “the love hormone.” In simpler terms, this type of social interaction triggers that warm and fuzzy feeling within your body, which has severe implications on how you’re feeling and thinking.
By playing music with others, not only are you learning yourself, but you’re also teaching, helping others feel good, and enjoying the company of like-minded individuals. Just ask the members of New Horizons Band, a New York-based band composed of musicians from all walks of life.
Based on their reporting to researchers at the University of Illinois, members of the band were thankful for the opportunities music has brought them, including the ability to learn and refine their craft. But most importantly, members spoke highly of the social implications of playing in the band.
Through the band, members were able to create new social bonds, find fulfillment as part of a team, and by helping others, and improve their own self-images in the process.
The Powerful Effect of Teaching Music
When people engage in playing music collaboratively, something special happens. Not only do the players improve their abilities, and learn how to play as part of an ensemble; the social aspect of playing together allows them to explore and develop in other areas.
Players who have already mastered a passage are quick to offer assistance to others. It’s common for them to discuss what they’ve learned and how to apply it with others after their session is complete. This kind of social bonding and camaraderie is one of the most important and useful aspects of learning an instrument.
Sure, the mental, physical, and social benefits of playing the guitar are well documented, and each benefit is a compelling reason why you should pick up an instrument and begin to learn. But, there’s still plenty more benefits that you may be able to enjoy by playing an instrument, and these are the fun ones.
Money, Power, and Success
Oh yeah, now we’re talking! Maybe you picked up the guitar for some of the reasons we’ve discussed above. But, if you’re like most people, you bought into the dreams of adoration from the opposite sex, millions of dollars, and the screaming legions of 30,000 fans at every stop on your tour.
While it isn’t likely, all of those daydreams can come true. Popular musicians are often catapulted to national success in acclaim, and with that, they get to enjoy everything they’ve ever dreamed of. From the adoration of fans to the lucrative concert and promotional bookings, playing the guitar is one way to cement yourself in the annals of history.
Even if you don’t achieve quite that level of acclaim, working musicians everywhere can make a living from their passion, while also unlocking a world of new experiences as they travel throughout the country and the world.
You can learn a lot about yourself and others through the windows of a tour bus, and beyond the social implications of this type of living, it’s also a great way to broaden your horizons, and your exposure to new things.
Another powerful aspect of learning to play the guitar is the exposure to other cultures throughout the world. If you’re looking to explore different cultures, there are few more effective ways to do so than through learning a musical instrument.
It’s one thing to read a book or take a class that focuses on a specific culture, but by learning an instrument, you’ll actually be able to immerse yourself in that culture.
One of the unique qualities of the guitar is that unlike many other instruments, guitar and similar stringed instruments have played a significant role in virtually every type of popular music from the last several centuries.
From classical to jazz, to rhythm and blues, rock, and hip hop, the guitar has left a lasting stamp on almost all popular music.
As a guitar player, you’re able to explore all of these different styles and the impact that they’ve had on cultures throughout the world.
American culture, in particular, has been forever changed by the growth and popularity of the guitar.
In the early 1900s, guitar graced the stage with ragtime and jazz bands and played a supporting role in the development of jazz and the culture surrounding it. As time went on, the guitar became a lead instrument, and its imprint on the genre was masterfully crafted by artists like Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, and George Benson.
The guitar was also of paramount importance to the delta blues musicians of the early 20th century. This distinctly American music paved the way for the future of everything from pop to rock to r&b and hip hop.
It’s also interesting to explore how our culture is interconnected to other cultures throughout the world. The pentatonic scale, which is the framework of blues and many current pop styles in America is also found throughout centuries of Japanese music.
Even if you just explored the history and culture of America through playing the guitar, you’d have years and years of practice and learning ahead of you. For most musicians, you never stop exploring and learning about yourself and the world and culture around you through the lens of your guitar.
Did I Mention…
There are still so many more reasons to play the guitar!
For one, even if you never become rich and famous as a musician, it’s still the easiest way to feel like a rockstar, if only for a short time. Through the guitar, you can learn to play just like your idols; you can learn their songs and style and interpret it in your own way through learning and practicing.
Guitar players also have great looking homes. The guitar itself is a work of art that’s rivaled by few things in the world, and they make some of the best decor for any room. Whenever you’re not playing, hang your guitars up on the wall for an instant conversation piece, and to add warmth, style, and personality to your living space.
Playing the guitar is also a great way to think back on your own memories. Music is a powerful connector. I’m sure you have certain songs that when you hear them, memories wash over you. That feeling is also powerful when you’re playing your old favorites and classics.
Best of all, learning to play the guitar is a skill that you’ll be able to carry with you forever. What may begin as a simple hobby can grow into a lifelong skill that helps you learn and grow personally, socially, and professionally.
Above all, it’s fun! I can’t think of many better ways to spend an afternoon than with my guitar, practicing, learning, and playing for my own enjoyment or the enjoyment of others.
The benefits of playing guitar are widespread, and they can have a profound effect on virtually every aspect of your life. Considering all these benefits, it’s hard to find a hobby or activity that’s able to provide as much enrichment as playing the guitar.
From the cognitive and mental benefits that everyone can unlock to the improvements that musical children see in their other scholastic subjects, learning an instrument has powerful implications for your brain’s development and fitness.
Beyond the brain, there are also many physical benefits associated with playing the guitar. Learning the guitar can help you reduce your blood pressure, improve your overall heart health, and boost your immunity. Plus, it’s a powerful form of therapy.
Then, there are the personal benefits. Learning guitar provides a limitless creative outlet, allowing you to express yourself while providing a boost in confidence, and powerful feelings of accomplishment and joy.
Socially, learning an instrument can profoundly affect your social life and your relationship with others while also providing a strong sense of fulfillment.
If all these reasons aren’t compelling enough, the benefits of playing guitar are well documented with regard to history, culture, and more. Taking up the guitar is a fun and enriching way to learn about your culture, and cultures throughout the world.
Whatever your reasons, playing guitar is one of the best ways to improve your health, wellbeing, and so much more.
Singer-songwriter Leon Redbone, who specialized in old-school vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley-style music, died Thursday, his family confirmed. He was 69. Though, in characteristically whimsical fashion, the official statement announcing his death gave his age as 127.
Although Redbone’s pop-defying predilection for seemingly antiquated musical styles of the ’20s and ’30s made him the unlikeliest of stars, he became one anyway, appearing several times as the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” — including two spots in the inaugural 1975-76 season alone — and landing frequent appearances with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show” into the 1980s. Later popular successes had him singing the themes for TV’s “Mr. Beledevere” and “Harry and the Hendersons,” along with contributing a duet of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Zooey Deschanel to the soundtrack of “Elf,” for which he also voiced the animated character of Leon the Snowman.
Redbone had officially retired in 2015, with a representative then citing unspecified health concerns that had “been a matter of concern for some time” as the reason for his being unable to continue performing or recording.
A post on Redbone’s website confirming his death contained enough deadpan humor and obvious fiction that it was almost certainly prepared in advance by the singer himself. “It is with heavy hearts we announce that early this morning, May 30th, 2019, Leon Redbone crossed the delta for that beautiful shore at the age of 127,” it read. “He departed our world with his guitar, his trusty companion Rover, and a simple tip of his hat. He’s interested to see what Blind Blake, Emmett, and Jelly Roll have been up to in his absence, and has plans for a rousing sing along number with Sári Barabás. An eternity of pouring through texts in the Library of Ashurbanipal will be a welcome repose, perhaps followed by a shot or two of whiskey with Lee Morse, and some long overdue discussions with his favorite Uncle, Suppiluliuma I of the Hittites. To his fans, friends, and loving family who have already been missing him so in this realm he says, ‘Oh behave yourselves. Thank you…. and good evening everybody.’”
Ironically, one of Redbone’s most popular concert pieces was “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” — a number that incorporated whistling solos that further ensured Redbone would be talked about in his absence. That song title, which dates back to 1930, was adapted as the name of a documentary about Redbone that premiered at festivals in 2018 but has not yet been widely released.
Redbone’s improbable career saw the release of 16 full-length albums beginning with “On the Track,” his 1975 debut on Warner Bros. He went on to put out albums on his own August imprint through Blue Thumb, Private Music and Rounder, with his final new release, 2014’s “Flying By,” issued through his August Records imprint (distributed by Rounder), as were all of his recordings dating back to the mid-1980s.
Jack White was a fan, as became clear with Third Man Records’ 2016 re-release of Redbone’s Warner Bros debut as well as “Long Way from Home,” a new collection of recordings unearthed from the early ’70s, before he was ever signed.
White was only the latest in a long line of celebrity acolytes, starting with Bob Dylan, who first turned Rolling Stone on to Redbone in 1974 when he told the magazine, “Leon interests me. I’ve heard he’s anywhere from 25 to 60, I’ve been [a foot and a half from him] and I can’t tell, but you gotta see him. He does old Jimmie Rodgers, then turns around and does a Robert Johnson.”
Bonnie Raitt was another huge supporter, saying, “He’s probably the best combination of singer-guitarist I’ve ever heard.”
The fabulism in the statement of Redbone’s passing on his website was nothing new for the singer. When he was first profiled by Rolling Stone prior to his debut album coming out, the autobiographical details he gave out included: “My father was Paganini and my mother was Jenny Lind. Wunnerful, wunnerful.”
In later speaking about his preference for remaining enigmatic, Redbone said, “I don’t do anything mysterious on purpose. I’m less than forthcoming, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m mysterious. It just means I’m not inclined to go there.”
As writer Andrew Dansby of the Houston Chronicle once put it: “To get caught up in biographical detail is to miss the point of the creation of Leon Redbone. The 1960s folk revival restored awareness about influential American blues players. But other worlds of old music and performance were left in mothballs: ragtime and old-time jazz and the sounds of vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley. By projecting a persona without a detail-filled biography — essentially a caricature — Redbone deflected attention from himself (though stylishly so) and back to his songs.”
Biographical details did emerge, possibly against his best wishes, even if they stood little competition against the enduring enigma his fans enjoyed. The Toronto Star revealed that he was born Dickran Gobalian and “reinvented himself under the guidelines of Ontario’s Change of Name Act” when he moved from Cyprus to Canada in the mid-1960s. He got his start playing Toronto folk clubs in the early ’70s, the newspaper said, pointing out that he later settled in Pennsylvania.
“Very little of my life goes into my music,” Redbone told the Star, explaining the disconnect between his public and private personas. “I’ve never considered myself the proper focus of attention. I’m just a vehicle … not so much for the particular kind of music I prefer, music from an earlier time, as for a mood that music conveys.”
It may be urban legend, but the story goes that when music industry legend John Hammond asked Redbone for his phone contact, it turned out to be the number for Dial-a-Joke.
His persona oddly lent itself to numerous commercial syncs, from Budweiser to Purina’s Burger ‘n’ Bones dog food.
That Redbone showed up in animated form so often, from the dog food spot to his vocal work as the snowman in “Elf,” may have been prefigured by the artwork for his Warner Bros. debut. That album cover featured not a photo of Redbone, but rather a Chuck Jones drawing of the character Michigan J. Frog. That was a possible gag on Redbone’s singing voice but mostly on how the star of the Warner Bros. cartoon “One Froggy Evening” was brought back from an earlier time in formal, anachronistic garb to sing music from another era — in other words, a character that could loosely have been the amusingly anthropomorphic model for Redbone’s own.
At a 1990 concert at L.A.’s Roxy, the power went out but, naturally, Redbone continued to perform acoustically by candlelight. At that show, Redbone summed up how the appeal of the earliest pop music seemed obvious to him, when he encouraged the audience to sing along with “Polly Wolly Doodle”: “This song’s more than 100 years old,” he said, “so you’ve had plenty of time to learn it.”
They’ve played 300 shows around the world – and most of their instruments don’t make it through the set.
by Eliot Stein
12 March 2019
It’s three hours before showtime and members of an orchestra are seated onstage in the garden of a 1,000-year-old Benedictine monastery outside Cologne, Germany. On cue, the neatly coiffed, black-clad musicians slowly raise their instruments, purse their lips and begin playing the opening passage of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Just then, a sound technician abruptly cuts them off. The carrot flutes were too strong and he couldn’t hear the leek violin.
“One more time,” he says. “Starting with the cucumber.”
In the past 21 years, Vienna’s Vegetable Orchestra has played nearly 300 shows all around the world (Credit: Heidrun Henke)
This is Vienna’s Vegetable Orchestra: a 10-piece ensemble from the city of Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart that plays music with instruments made entirely from fresh produce. Over the past 21 years, the group has played nearly 300 shows at packed venues around the globe and performed everything from classical with cabbage to techno with turnips in a rich, rhythmic ratatouille. The orchestra recently released its fourth album after a successful ‘Krautfunding’ (‘herb-funding’) campaign and is showing the world that, actually, you can play with your food.
“Vegetables are unpredictable,” said Susanna Gartmayer, who plays the carrot marimba, radish bass flute and a dozen other edible instruments in the group. “No two pieces of produce are the same. It’s a challenge.”
Unlike traditional instruments, which can last for hundreds of years, vegetable instruments quickly go bad, so the orchestra has to create new ones each time it plays. The morning of every show, this group of artists, novelists, architects and designers goes to local markets with a detailed shopping list and carefully combs through the crates. After pounding on the pumpkins, pawing through the parsley and peeling back the onion skins to select just the right produce, the musicians carve, slice and drill their fresh finds into performance-ready instruments. Once the veggies are peeled and cut they may only last about six hours, and whatever the musicians don’t use gets boiled down into a soup that’s served to the audience after the show.
But as the group arrived back at the Brauweiler Abbey that morning and unloaded their haul for the evening show, they noticed a big problem: someone forgot the aubergines, and there weren’t enough courgettes.
While a runner hurried back to the market, the remaining musicians grabbed their knives and power drills, transforming the dressing room of this Zen-like monastery into a construction site. During the next two hours, hollowed-out carrots, cucumbers and calabashes slowly became horns and flutes; severed peppers morphed into trombones; and sliced celeriac and pumpkins turned into bongos and drums. Each musician makes between eight and 25 instruments per show, and as the performers gradually tested and twisted their produce into tune, a cacophony of trilled scales, percussive thuds and surprisingly resonant notes sang through the sanctuary.
“It all started as a joke,” said founding member Matthias Meinharter, scanning a room full of veggie guts and breathing in what smelled like a compost bin. As he remembers it, he and three of the orchestra’s other members had signed up for a performance-art festival at their university in Vienna. “We were brainstorming what we could do, and we thought: ‘What is the most difficult thing to play music on?’,” he said. “We were making soup together at the time, and one idea led to another.”
It takes two hours and up to 50kg of vegetables to create the orchestra’s instruments (Credit: Heidrun Henke)
Twenty-one years later, the orchestra has played at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Shanghai Arts Centre and was invited to a Ukrainian oligarch’s mansion to perform at Paul McCartney’s 60th birthday. “I think he liked it,” Meinharter said. “He’s a vegetarian.”
“Many people think we’re kind of cabaret or just a funny performance,” Gartmayer said, drilling holes to make a carrot xylophone. “But they’re surprised to understand that there’s actually a lot of sonic potential in vegetables, and that we want to make really interesting music.”
There’s actually a lot of sonic potential in vegetables
The orchestra has invented more than 150 instruments over the years – and for many members, that’s half the fun. Some are ready-made items from the market: crunching dried onion skin in your fist sounds like a rainstorm, thumping a pumpkin with your palm resembles a bass drum and rubbing two leeks together as a bow and body creates a squeaky string section. Others are cut-and-carved creations resembling traditional instruments: parsnips, courgettes and peppers make good wind and brass instruments, while hollowed-out gourds are percussive. The most complex are transformer-like hybrids that combine two or more vegetables. Want to imitate a saxophone? Attach a severed bell pepper to the end of drilled cucumber, add a carrot mouthpiece and you’ve got the ‘cucumberphone’. Need a slightly deeper pitch? Swap the cucumber for a courgette and you’ll have a ‘courgette clarinet’.
“One of the most fascinating things about touring is learning how food differs around the world and coming up with completely new instruments,” said calabashist and pumpkinist Jürgen Berlakovich. In South-East Asia, the group discovered an elastic garlic grass that made a great bass string. In the US, they found markets that sell giant agave leaves, which can be used to shake kidney beans like a maraca. In China, the water radishes are bigger. In Italy, the cucumbers are smaller. In Siberia, the vegetables are expensive. And in England? “Turnips,” Meinharter said. “Lots of turnips.”
Vienna’s Vegetable Orchestra uses fresh produce to create musical instruments, such as…
(Credit: Alexander Koller)
Despite covering a few Kraftwerk and classical pieces, the Vegetable Orchestra mainly composes original material, which can range from dark and hypnotic electronic sounds to beat-oriented house tracks. To do this, they attach tiny condenser microphones and little pickups to the veggies to amplify their natural tone and, as Berlakovich said, “to make them come alive”. But when they first set out, learning how to play the parsnip wasn’t the only challenge: there was no way to write music for food.
Because veggies are shaped differently from crate to crate and country to country, they can sound different, too. So instead of notes, the group developed a sort of timeline showing when the instruments come in and a graph of high and low pitches. “No-one else could read it,” Berlakovich said. “It’s like a secret code.”
Before showtime, the group covers this turntable with beans and uses a bean tip as a needle (Credit: Eliot Stein)
At the end of their sound check, the orchestra descended from the abbey’s outdoor garden stage and quickly re-wrapped their instruments in moist towels. The show was set to start in 90 minutes, and the veggies were in trouble. “It’s unusually hot today, which makes the vegetables brittle and break,” said founding member Barbara Kaiser, holding up the severed head of a cabbage. “But they like to die dramatically on stage.”
When the sun descended under the abbey’s spires, a team of tuxedo-clad ushers lit fire torches around the complex’s manicured courtyard and opened the doors. Soon, hundreds of well-heeled Germans were strutting through the vaulted walkway, many asking one another if they had ever heard of this Gemüsegruppe (‘vegetable group’) on the way to the Champagne bar and their seats.
As the all-black-clad troupe took the stage and steadied their water radishes, a few nervous giggles echoed through the garden. Berlakovich soon kicked into the warbling root prelude with a thumping bass pumpkin beat, two members tapped wooden spoons on dried squash, and the carrot section looped in a fluted melody, sliding the song into a trance-like tribal rhythm.
The group uses distortion pedals and microphones “to make the vegetables come alive” (Credit: Eliot Stein)
By the third song, the audience was tuned in to the texture of the ambient compositions: the crackling of celery stalks, the rumbling urgency of onion skin, the groovy claps of aubergines and the wind-like effect of rubbing two parsley bouquets together like pompoms. By song four, nearly everyone at the 500-person show was bobbing their heads along – except for one serious, older-looking woman wearing a black dress in the front row.
Towards the end of the set, bits of dried veg-struments were flying off the stage with each tap, clap and pluck. The group shook the abbey’s foundations with a take on German Krautrock, hooking distortion pedals and microphones into heads of cabbage and strumming their waxy leaves like guitars as shredded greens littered the stage. By the time the orchestra culminated their final song by rolling a legion of legumes and potatoes down a ramp, the once-clean stage looked like an exploded farmers’ market. The orchestra then bowed to a standing ovation and began mopping it all up.
“For me, this is still multi-sensory performance art,” Meinharter said. “The audience can hear the music, smell the music, see the music and then taste the music.”
Whatever vegetables the orchestra doesn’t use are boiled into a soup and served to the audience (Credit: Heidrun Henke)
After the show a swarm of people surrounded the musicians, eager to buy CDs, snap pictures with the group and taste what they’d just heard. In keeping with a 21-year tradition, the performers offered their instruments to anyone who might want to go home and practice jamming on the produce themselves.
Gartmayer asked if anyone was interested in her pepper trumpet, and the older woman in the black dress reached out her hand, stuffed it in her purse and walked briskly towards the exit. When she thought she was out of sight of everyone, she pulled the pepper from her purse, put it to her mouth and gave it a good, long hoot.
Join us in celebrating an evening of music and entertainment, on Friday December 21st from 6 to 8:30 pm, as we watch our students perform the songs they’ve been working on this season. The format is relaxed, and the stage will be open to anyone who wants to share a song or their hearts with us and our families. We’ll provide coffee and a few morsels, but feel free to bring any holiday treats or goodies you’d like to share. See you there!
Ecclesia Clear Lake
218 Clear Creek Ave,
League City 77573
Having participated in the golden age of classical Arab culture in the Near East, Jews played an important role in Spain as mediators between Arab and Christian culture, and Jewish poetry and music consequently reached a new pinnacle. In the 13th and 14th century Jews were also musicians at the Castilian court, we used great equipment and instruments from sites as Music Critic online. Together with Arab musicians they played an important role in the performance of the “Cantigas de Santa Maria” (eleven of which tell of Jewish live and culture in Spain), compiled by King Alfonso el Sabio (1252-84)
Throw on some headphones, crank up the tunes, and what happens? Your toes and fingers start to tap. Maybe your head and shoulders begin to bob. Pretty soon, you might be on your feet, busting a move, joyously belting out the lyrics. Music has taken over, and your body is now along for the ride.
While it may be obvious that music impacts you physically, understanding how music and the brain interact requires deep study and an ability to probe the mysteries of the human mind. The result is a fascinating picture of the role music can play in brain development, learning, mood, and even your health. Dive into cognitive studies, and read on to learn exactly how music affects your brain.
Music, Your Brain, & Wellbeing
One of the first things that happens when music enters our brains is the triggering of pleasure centers that release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy. This response is so quick, the brain can even anticipate the most pleasurable peaks in familiar music and prime itself with an early dopamine rush.
Beyond simply making you feel good, however, there’s evidence that music can even be good for your health. Research has shown that listening to music is associated with upticks in immunity-boosting antibodies and cells that protect against bacteria and other invaders. Music has also proven to be effective across a variety of treatment scenarios for conditions ranging from premature birth to depression to Parkinson’s disease.
Even in terms of brain development, music can play a key role. Training to play an instrument, for instance, is believed to increase gray matter volume in certain areas of the brain, not unlike how physical exercise can tone and enlarge muscles. As a result, musicians often experience improvement in brain functions like:
If you’re ready to learn how to play a new instrument at home, start by finding a new or used instrument that interests you. Check sites like Craigslist or head over to your local thrift shop or instrument store to find options like pianos, flutes, guitars, banjos, and more. Then, look up free tutorial videos online to start learning. Some great online resources available to teach you how to play the instrument of your choice include:
Many of the beneficial effects of music on the brain are not limited to any single genre. Whether you’re listening to the smooth jazz styling of Billie Holiday on vinyl, the classic country sounds of Johnny Cash on YouTube, or The Beatles and their powerful British Invasion rock music on Spotify, different styles can produce the same results – as long as they align with your musical preferences. In this way, it’s the brain’s relationship with familiar and favored music that is key.
In other cases, the style of music can play a role. When it comes to the best music for learning, for example, experts recommend different genres for different purposes. Upbeat music, including songs with positive lyrics, can provide an energy boost and get your brain primed for learning. Once it’s time to buckle down and concentrate, however—like when you need to read, write, or study your course materials, instrumental music and soothing genres can help you stay calm and focused. Ultimately, however, each person may develop an approach to studying and music that’s uniquely suited for them. For more on this topic, check out courses in psychology that explore the inner workings of the human mind.
Some places you may be able to find new music include:
If you’d prefer to study to gentle or ambient sounds instead, download apps like Rainy Mood or A Soft Murmur to help you focus.
Experiencing New Music
There are other ways you can learn about new music without plugging in your headphones. Take part in any of the following activities to explore different types of music:
Go to open mic nights in your community
Attend local concerts in your area
Ask your friends and family for music recommendations on your social media and have them share their favorite songs, playlists, or genres
Use different tools like Pandora, Spotify, MoodFuse, to find new music
Use apps like Shazam to help you remember the music you hear while you’re out, so you can go home and download it later
Whether you play an instrument, listen to your music streaming app, or enjoy going to live concerts, music is having an active influence on your brain. Understanding how music and the mind interact, and how to fine-tune your music consumption for maximum impact, can have an effect on the way you feel, think, study and more. So, put in your headphones, start your favorite album, and feel your dopamine levels rising. For a deeper understanding of music and how the body works in general, explore an online degree in psychology or cognitive studies.