Chris Zoupa video rundown

This blogpost will also be in english.

In case you didn’t have an hour to watch the whole interview with Chris Zoupa of Learn That Solo, I’ve done a transcription of the topics covered in the interview, with “The Best Of” Chris’s answers to my questions:

How did you start making LTS:

“I was living with a guy who’s a motivational coach, and I talked to him about how I felt that a lot of youtube videos where of poor quality. His response was “if you feel, that you could do it better, then you need to prove it, and get started. Otherwise you’re wasting your talent.”

“I started LTS in 2012, and in the beginning it was very low key. I still remember the excitement of the 100th subscriber.”

“If you’ve got 10 subscribers, then every single subscriber you get is a massive moment for you. Someone on the other side of the world gives a crap.

On teaching and the guitar school:

“Being a guitar teacher and running a music school is not fruitful enough for me, creatively, because of bills, taxes and a lot of other hassle. I want to focus more on Youtube, and on creativity. I’ve always been teaching, and when I opened up the music school I was very excited. Now that Youtube has grown I want to focus more on this, the next stage.”

 

"Why only teach people, that live around the corner, when you can teach the whole world?"

“Why only teach people that live around the corner, when you can teach the whole world?”

On choosing the videos:

“At first I wanted to create attention with the songs I chose. Now that the number of subscribers has grown, people will pound on me. I’ve had people write to me like I owe them something – ‘I’ve asked you FIVE TIMES to do this song!’ – ‘We deserve it!’”

“Even my girlfriend pays attention to what people are asking for – ‘There’s a lot of people requesting Eruption!’”

“We try to look for the most relevant requests, but there’s sometimes that I will do something really hard and stupid, regardless if it’s going to get 100.000 views or not. For instance Wintersun, Children of Bodom, Yngwie Malmsteen or Jason Becker. Something that will push me out of my comfort zone.”

“If I was to only do stuff that are very formulaic, I would quickly get bored and stagnated. I also want people to see different sides of me, like when I did Django Reinhardt recently. To make people know, that they can request different things, I’m not a 2 dimensional heavy metal guy, I listen to all types of music.”

On preparing the pieces for video and transcribing the solos

“I always start from scratch, out of a conviction, that whatever tabs or other videos out there, I will be able to make it more precise. Maybe it’s a form of undiagnosed OCD, but I want everything to be perfect. I’ll start figuring out the chords and keys of the solo, and when it gets more problematic, I’ll use the audio program Audacity to focus on sections. I won’t digress on to the next section until the first section is up to speed.”

“Usually, once you know the chords of the song, the guitarist will solo within certain shapes on the fretboard. People will ask me ‘do you actually learn everything note for note’, and I do, but people will solo in a sensible way, there will be reason behind it.”

“People will ask me ‘how many hours a day do you practice?’ I may be holding a guitar for 10 hours a day, but that includes learning a piece, writing something or teaching. If I’m stuck on a piece of music, I’ll make that section into an exercise, until it gets up to speed.

“I’m feel like I’m wasting my time, if I spend it practicing something I’m comfortable with. Instead I will take something that I need to learn, divide it down into little chunks, and then practice maybe 12 seconds of music for as much as an hour every day. When I teach, I divide the solo into sections, which is as much information as I can take in, at one time. So in a way, I’m teaching the solo the same way I would like to be taught.”

“I need to be challenged, and the great thing about Youtube has been, that every day my to do list gets longer. There’s always something new to learn.”

About the recording session:

“Most of the time, recording takes place at the office of my school. I have the laptop, that I’m talking to you on, and a digital HD camera, and then my guitar and my amp. Every section of the solo will be done in a single take, and besides that I do an introduction and a ending.”

“I’ve recently started to add tabs, even though it’s a very big hassle. I have to figure it out, write the tabs, cut out the picture and insert it into the video. People don’t realise how much work that goes into recording a video – and I don’t have a crew, it’s just me.”

“When I make Youtube videos, even if it’s songs that I have taught before in the music school, I will go to greater detail to get it perfect. In Hangar 18, there are tiny nuances in Dave and Marty’s soloing, and I will nitpick, and try to making everything as good as I can.”

“I’ve realized at this point that I’m doing something that a lot of people think are awesome. Then comes the new challenge! It’s gotta be HD, it’s gotta be with tabs, it’s gotta be with tabs!”

“I have a much harder skin now, than I used to. If someone comments ”that bend was out of tune”, then yes, maybe they’re being very picky, but I can hear it as well. So I try to avoid it, and work on improving my playing. I don’t wanna think that I’m finished, there’s still things to learn and things I can improve on.”

“I just redid Symphony of Destruction. It was the first video I did. It was so funny to watch myself fumbling and struggling with the words, and in the end I was going “I’m not sure what goes on here”. There’s NO WAY I would do that today.”

Band and endorsements:

“The last band I was in, Belasira, didn’t even have an audition, they just wanted “that guy from Youtube”. We toured Australia and got signed to management in the US, and as we where about to leave, to death of my girlfriends mom made me stay with her, forcing me to leave the band.”

“Luckily I got to keep my endorsements from PRS guitars, that gave me an opportunity to buy three lovely guitars very cheap. I’m very happy and proud to be able to use them in my videos.”

Teaching:

“I’m going to start an online curriculum, with general lessons, within the range of beginners to intermediate, in the same niche of Learn That Solo, but this will not only be about ‘the cool part of the song.’”

“Skype lessons enable me to charge a lot more than normal lessons, because people have sought me out, and are more dedicated to being taught by me and learn very specific things.”

On earning money:

“My partner is working very hard on finishing her psychology degree, and it breaks my heart to know that I’ve arrived at a point where I can support myself doing the stuff I like, and she’s only halfway there. Supporting another person financially, and not just yourself, is a good goal to set yourself.”

On making videos that convey an element of discipline, ideals or otherwise:

“I have a student with a rare muscular disease, and he specified that he wanted lessons from me, a 45 min drive away. Because I seemed like a nice guy when he watched my videos, he explained. That was a really big moment for me, because that wasn’t anything I thought came through in the videos.”

“I have helped other guys who have contacted me, and not put it on youtube. The tutorial videos to Metallica’s Orion were dedicated to someone, to help him with a grieving process.”

“So I want to be portrayed as someone who has a sense of humour, but also as someone who gives a shit about being happy, letting people explore creativity and using music to improve quality of life.”

On Learn That Solo as a brand

“I don’t think about it that much. Learn that Solo is me, and it wouldn’t be the same Youtube channel if another guy was doing it. But it would be a lack if people started thinking of me as the Learn That Solo guy.”

On the future of Youtube videos – will people still post it in five years?

“There’ll always be kids posting videos of them playing, to get feedback from friends. And some of them will display real talent, like Brian Chew. I can’t see it snowballing anymore than it has, Youtube is already jampacked with shredders.”

On what makes him special:

“I think, without sounding too arrogant, what I have is a unique in that I’m determined to get things right. My ears are my gift. And when I get told ‘this video is the best on youtube, of all of them, it really means a lot to me.”

“I’m not going to be the greatest guitarist in the world any time soon, but I have got a lot of patience and I can convey things that might be convoluted in a somewhat concise way.”

On Youtube as a creative forum:

“I have a little exercise thing, that I call Solo Builders, that I do when I discover something awesome, a way of playing. I put it out there, and maybe people can do something creative with it. I’m friends with other guitar teachers on youtube, it’s not like we’re in competition with each other. I love youtube, and I love that people are putting something creative on there.”

On being creative and the new album:

“If you upload enough lessons, people will start to go “That’s great, but who are you, and what’s your deal?” You can’t just be some guy that’s really good at playing other people’s stuff, what do you create?”

“My new, original stuff is without doubt the best original material I’ve ever done. It’s going to be a bit modern metal and ‘djent’-based material, and a bit of the jazz and the rock I grew up with. I don’t want it to sound too virtuosic, or dated.”

“One thing that has been terrific is that a lot of guys have offered to do guest solos. If I do too much composition on my own, it will sound me regurgitating myself. I also team up with a bass player, and this helps me get a different set of ears on it. The guys that play solos will have a whole different way of playing, and they do something that I will never be able to.”

“I thought I’ll do the solo album, and then on the next album I’ll ask the guys to collaborate on it, but I thought ‘No! Just do it now!’”

Interview with Youtube Guitarist Chris Zoupa

Video

This blogpost will be in english.

The last couple months I’ve had a lot of time to practice the guitar. One of the most important tools for learning new songs, and improving your skills, is Youtube videos, and an evergrowing amount of videos out there can teach you skills, songs, solos or techniques to spice up your practice schedule.

One of the contributors, that quickly attracted my attention, was the guitarist Chris Zoupa and the site Learn That Solo. He teaches solos from famous songs, mostly in the metal genre, and often ones that require advanced techniques and excellent skill, something that Chris delivers.

When I asked him for an interview with Musikvidenskab i dag, he instantly agreed. I wanted to interview him to find out, how much work and effort goes into the recording of a solo.
As I try to explain in the beginning of the video, if all we had was the records and youtube videos, we wouldn’t know how much hard work goes into the music that we listen to.

In the interview, Chris explains how he goes about preparing and recording the song.
Besides this, he was also kind enough to talk about his aspirations as a musician.

We ended up with a talk about how Chris as a professional musician can use Youtube in a number of ways:
– as a way of learning and challenging himself, of pushing himself to take his playing to the best level he can
– as a way of connecting with others. Both with the viewers, and the excitement of having the first 100 subscribers. And also with other guitarists, some of which end up contributing to his coming solo album.
– as a financial support, and something that has enabled him to make money giving Skype lessons, has earned him endorsements with the famous guitar company PRS, and landed him a gig with his last band.

Please enjoy this video, even though the editing is obviously less than perfect, and I didn’t know what I was doing, and only discovered that you could “full screen” the recording in the end.

It’s a long video, and for the busy blogconsumer I will prepare a “Too Long, Didn’t Watch”-rundown of the best of what Chris answered to my questions.

Best wishes, Peter

“Now following!”

Har fået et “follow” tilbage fra guitaristen Bumblefoot, efter jeg begyndte at følge hans feeds på Twitter.

Det, at en af mine yndlingsguitarister nu har mulighed for at følge med i mine udgydelser på dansk opvejer næsten, men kun meget lidt, den skuffelse jeg følte, da det gik op for mig at jeg gik glip af en clinic med ham ved hans besøg på Copenhagen Guitar Show i denne måned.

Jeg befandt mig ellers i København, og besøgte venner jeg ser alt for sjældent, men havde intet hørt om det.

Jeg følger åbenbart ikke med, siden jeg er gået glip af sådan et event. Eller også er det endnu et eksempel på en kedelig tendens i musikverdenen – at der eksisterer så mange forskellige underdivisioner, der alle beskæftiger sig med musik, som så ikke formår at tale med hinanden. En masse fingre på den samme hånd, om man vil, men for at hånden fungerer skal der være et godt fælles samarbejde.

Nå. Bumblefoot er en guitarist, der siden 1995 har udgivet plader, enten under dette pseudonym eller under sit borgerlige navn Ron Thal.

Han er specielt kendt for brugen af båndløs guitar, som han spiller på med stor opfindsomhed og et højt teknisk niveau. Som i denne bluessang fra pladen 9.11:

Manglen på bånd på guitaren gør det let for ham at lave glidende bevægelser, slides, der lyder som skud fra hans “strålepistol”.

Hans brug af tapping, hvor man spiller på gribebrættet med “den anden hånd”, altså den højre, hvis man spiller på en højrehåndsguitar, har han forstærket ved brug af et fingerbøl, noget jeg tænker man måske kan høre på denne vilde sang, der bruger meget tapping og slides:


(beklager den medfølgende video, det var den eneste version af sangen jeg kunne finde).

Bumblefoot har været kendt for at bruge en guitar, der forestiller en blanding mellem en fod og en bi. I denne video kan man se den:

Der er link til et interview og en video med Ron Thal inde på Copenhagen Guitar Show’s Facebookside:

https://www.facebook.com/CopenhagenGuitarShow

Alt i alt synes jeg, at mange af de ting Bumblefoot laver er sjove og vidunderligt innovative på guitaren. Der er også nogle af de ting han laver, jeg synes er dødkedeligt, og for tæt knyttet til en speciel slags stil, enten neoklassisk, funkrock, samba eller andet. Han opererer med mange forskellige stile, men det er når han er sig selv, og tør være mest vanvittig, jeg synes han er bedst.

———–

I dag skal jeg have midtvejs-evaluering fra ledelsen her på Aarhus Musikskole, hvor jeg er i løntilskud. Det glæder jeg mig til. Weekenden byder på musikalsk fest i aften, og øvning og læsning lørdag og søndag.

God weekend til alle.

<script type=”text/javascript”>

var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-37623208-1’]);
_gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]);

(function() {
var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl&#8217; : ‘http://www&#8217;) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
})();

</script>

Øver nu: Steve Vai – Sex and Religion

Herved introduceres et nyt segment på bloggen. Jeg spiller guitar, klaver og synger også lidt. Jeg elsker at lære nyt og låner ofte nye noder for at udforske ny musik. Overskriften “Øver nu” vil jeg bruge hver gang jeg finder nogle sjove noder, til at omtale kunstnerne bag  eller til at præsentere musikteoretiske detaljer, eller andre ting.

Steve-Vai-Sex-Religion

Steve Vai er legendarisk indenfor moderne elektrisk guitarmusik, og hans vej til stjernerne er folkekendt blandt guitarister: Som teenager sendte han uopfordret en transkription af noget af Frank Zappas sværeste musik til ham. Zappa blev imponeret, og Steve fik en plads i hans band. Derefter fortsatte karrieren støt, og Vai overtog pladsen efter Yngwie Malmsteen i bandet Alcatrazz, og blev lead guitarist i David Lee Roths band efter han gik solo fra Van Halen.


Vai fortæller om sin tid i Frank Zappas band.

Efter grundstenene var lagt, var tiden inde til at skabe en solokarriere som så mange andre “superguitarister” før ham. Efter to plader med fokus på guitarspil udgiver Vai i 1993 Sex & Religion, der gør større brug af rockband. Her medvirker Terry Bozzio på trommer, der også spillede med Frank Zappa, bassisten Thomas Michael Stevens og Devin Townsend på vokal. Vokalen fylder generelt meget i dette band, og den 20-årige Townsend markerer sig som en exceptionel rocksanger. Senere skulle han danne bandet Strapping Young Lad samt udgive soloplader, og  Devin Townsends evner og ekstreme stil er for mig en vigtig grund til at denne plade er fantastisk.

På en måde kan Sex & Religion deles op i to dele, delt mere eller mindre på midten – den skulle i følge allmusic være udkommet på noget så eksotisk som kassettebånd. På side A er vi i høj grad i starten af halvfemserne, med en ekstremt farverig blanding af heavy rock og en art funk til følge. Der bliver kørt frisk igennem på “Here and Now”, der er kosmiske kærlighedserklæringer på “In My Dreams With You” og der er politisk eller prædikende groove på titelnummeret. Det er numre, som er temmelig ordinære rent formmæssigt, men de bliver leveret med så stor energi at man helt mister pusten.

Side B starter med en kort instrumental sang og derefter ‘tribal funk’-nummeret “Survive”. Men allerede fra næste nummer, “Pig”, er der helt andre boller på suppen. Alt den høje intensitet, der har været på pladen indtil nu, har fået trykkogeren til at eksplodere, og det gør den i en solid gang spirituelt gearet progmusik.

I slutningen af “Pig” begynder Vai at lege med guitaren, mere end han har gjort før:

SPMFF164013101409140_0001

Der er godt gang i de alternative nodebeskrivelser hen mod slutningen af “Pig”

Næste sang, “The Road to Mt. Calvary”, består mest af lyde af en kvindes skrig og synthesizer akkorder, og efter dette eksploderer bandet i sangen “Down Deep Into The Pain”, en sang der bygger på pladens semi-kristne ‘smerte’-tema. I disse otte minutter er intensiteten i højeste gear, og på intet sted på får man lov at slappe af. Specielt ikke i Bridge-stykket, der er en serie af dur-akkorder, der rykkes parallelt kromatisk op og ned i en melodi, der går på tværs af sanglinjen (starter 1:24 inde i sangen):

SPMFF164013101409141_0001

Siden med de parallelle dur-akkorder

Før soloen er der spændende kontrapunkt og kontrasterende intervaller, og der er mange forskellige instrumenter i gang. Efter guitarsoloen gentages bridge melodien gentages mens der spilles udholdte toner vredet ud af guitaren, og lyden af skrig kommer igen. En kort melodi, en bas der eksploderer, og vi er tilbage i omkvædet. Efter dette er der et langt stykke med talte stemmer der beskriver noget der minder om religiøs vækkelse. Man hører blandt andet kvinder og mænd stønne. Mod slutningen vokser instrumenteringen og gør brug af endnu flere instrumenter, og til sidst lyden af en fødsel, og noget jeg kun kan få som en ko, der muh’er (!).

Lyt til Down Deep Into the Pain her:

Næste sang, der slutter lp’en, er forløsningen og afslapningen efter fødslen. Rescue Me or Bury Me hedder den, og den indeholder en lang, vedvarende guitarsolo, en slags sidste åndedræt inden pladen slutter.

For mig som guitarist er det helt sikkert pladens A-side, jeg får mest ud af at øve og spille. Der er meget godt at hente ud af de spændende facetter i Vai’s guitarspil, både riffs, brug af originale akkorder med åbne strenge og rytmisk placering og groove i både formled med sang og soloer.

Men det klæder Vai usigeligt med en sådan gennemgående følsomhed for det intense og det spirituelle som han bygger en kompliceret progressiv rock på, noget der for alvor tager form i slutningen af pladen. Og hvor meget af hans (og andre superguitaristers) output er metervare-ekvilibrisme er dette her en intens og meget spændende plade, som jeg nyder at vende tilbage til engang i mellem.

Og så er bandet også en bande ‘lookers’. Lad os slutte med en video der viser dem live i et amerikansk tv-show. Hver enkelt medlem har et helt klart image, og tingene stritter i mange forskellige retninger.

Et synligt eksempel på hvad der også skete i øvelokalet, og som måske var grunden til at samarbejdet ikke holdt og Vai efter dette koncentrerede sig om at arbejde mere solo og mindre i band.

God øver!

God weekend og god øvning!

Video

Bloggen ønsker god weekend med denne video, en historisk gennemgang af guitarens udvikling.

Jeg hørte for nylig Søren Berlev udtale i et interview, at den elektriske guitar ikke fyldte så meget i musikbrugeres bevidsthed som den havde gjorde. Ligesom alt andet i verden er der høje og dale i guitarens popularitet, men denne video nævner en del nytidige artister, der er kendt som gode guitarister – samtidig med at de er gode sangskrivere.

Jack White, Josh Homme og John Mayer har en stor del af skylden for at der stadig er unge mennesker, der samler guitaren op, for at lære musik at kende og forhåbentlig prøve at skabe deres egen musik.

Der kommer en gennemgang af et andet guitarværk snart her på bloggen. Indtil da erklærer jeg mig helt enig i videoens pointe:

Learn to play an instrument – because it’s fun!