Author Archives: Teo Lazarov

Bon Jovi is finally included in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame

FI-NAL-LY! Bon Jovi is included in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. It took the organization some time to make the decision, but in the end they did and the rock band is happy. Founder Jon Bon Jovi told the crowd last week that he had prepared several speeches over the years. Some started with ‘Thank You’ others with ‘Fuck You’.

The old rockers became known in the eighties with the songs You Give Love a Bad Name, Livin’ on a Prayer and Bed of Roses. In the nineties the comeback came with songs like It’s My Life.

Successes

Bon Jovi is an indispensable part of the rock scene. If we look at the statistics, it did indeed take a very long time for glam rockers Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, David Bryan, Tico Torres and Alec John Such from New Jersey to be included in Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.

The band played a total of 2600 concerts in more than fifty countries for 34 million fans. In addition, the act sold more than 120 million records. To quote Darth Vader: “Impressive. Most impressive.”

Setlist Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi is still performing. It is the driving force, the passion of the glam rockers. As can be heard on their last album, the New Jersey boys do not care about trends. This is also reflected in the songs they choose to play. Their last performance consisted of this short but powerful setlist.

Prepare yourself, because the New Jersey rockers are coming this summer with their This House is Not For Sale USA Tour.

Five ways to overcome your stage fear

Have you ever performed on a stage for a group of people? If so, then you know that this can be quite exciting. It all seems very magical in advance, but when it’s time to shine the nerves play up. It is not always easy to be at the center of attention. So, prepare yourself with these five tips.

 

Tip 1 – Know your stuff inside out

You’ve probably heard the motto: proper preparation prevents poor performance. In the case of performing this is the way the cookie crumbles. It’s important that you can play your part blindfolded, especially when you have no stage experience. This can only be achieved by practicing everything to the letter.

Now that you’re training for your rockathon make sure it’s in a similar setting to the one you’re going to perform in. No, you can’t build a pub or a concert hall in your attic. What you can do is imagine how you are on that stage.

Are you sitting on a stool, are you standing in a power stance? Think about it and practice your stage presence in the way that you are going to perform it. This is the only way to get to know your stuff inside and out.

Tip 2 – Visualize the perfect performance

If you’re not playing, it doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare your mind for the gig. Visualize your performance with the most successful outcome. Pretend that it already happened and you’re looking back at the show. The most important thing is that you actually believe for a moment that you really did the gig and that it was truly successful.

Your brain cannot distinguish the difference between real and fake as long as you are completely convinced of your reality. Therefore, try to visualize everything in detail. How did it feel to be on stage? How did the crowd respond? How did it feel to play flawless? Do it a few times and thank us later!

Tip 3 – Physical training

Nerves are tapping into your energy reserves, so it’s good to work out on the day of your performance. Drain your energy with some sports. Working out forces your body to produce endorphins which are substances that enhance self-confidence and reduce stress.

You don’t have to run a half a marathon before your gig. Some powerlifting will do the trick, but don’t wear yourself out too much. Don’t like lifting weights? A healthy walk for at least half an hour is enough to start the production of endorphins. Needless to say that you’re aim isn’t to be completely broken on stage.

Tip 4 – Play for your favorite person

An advice that is often cited when we talk about performing for a large audience is: visualize the crowd naked. Sounds weird? It is. What you can do is imagine playing for your favorite person. Is it your father, your mother, or your best friend?

Whoever it may be, pretend that everyone in the audience is that one person who wishes you all the love and happiness in the world. This psychological hack provides peace of mind and self-confidence. That’s why it’s perfect for giving away a top performance.

Tip 5 – Avoid stimulants

Avoid everything that will boost your heart rate. An enhanced heartbeat in combination with being nervous isn’t a great combination at all. Stimulants such as caffeine have this effect. An increased heart rate makes you more concentrated and self-aware. This may sound as a good thing, but when you’re tense, it actually means you get even more stressed out.

So don’t drink coffee or energy drinks before you go on stage. Take a glass of citrus juice instead. The substances in citrus lower your heart rate. This will make you calmer, more relaxed and ready to rumble.

Final thoughts

All the tips mentioned above will help you tame the worst panic attacks. Keep in mind, however, that some tension is good. You can bite your nails for a while, as long as the stress disappears the moment you go on stage.

If that’s not the case, keep in mind that the audience also consists of people just like you. All of those spectators would have been just as tense, or even worse, if standing in your shoes. Let them know that by telling your audience that you’re nervous. Drag everybody in the joint into your reality. It’s part of the game and it makes it more fun. Happy jamming!

How do I choose a good beginner’s guitar? Part 2: Acoustic Guitars

Playing the guitar is an adventure, and much of it depends on choosing the right kind for you. In part 1 of this quest for a good beginner’s guitar, we already discussed how to choose between an acoustic and an electric guitar. In this section we will zoom in on the three most well-known versions of the acoustic six string.

If you like Ed Sheeran, Paco de Lucia and Bon Iver, an acoustic guitar will suit your taste. It has the sound you need to jam on a quiet, a raw or a passionate song. Below we discuss three types of acoustic guitars. This will help you choose your beginner’s instrument even better.

Classical Guitar

Every instrument has a foundation; something for the creative mind to explore, develop and improve upon. Although the Spanish guitar has its predecessors, we see the classical instrument as the basis for most modern guitars. When we talk about a Spanish guitar, we refer to the model as conceived by Antonio de Torres Jurado (1817-1892).

With his six strings, the nineteenth-century guitarist and luthier has laid the foundation for the contemporary version of the instrument. The Torres model was superior to the guitars that his competitors build, so guitar makers started to copy the Torres design.

Characteristics Spanish Guitar

The Torres axe is characterized by the beautiful double O curves of the small body. The body is often built of solid spruce or cedar wood. The more firm the wood, the better it resonates with the strings. Additionally, the guitar has a wide neck so the strings are spaced farther apart than on other guitars. This makes the instrument very suitable for finger picking, but less practical for strumming chords.

The rosetta around the sound hole is a reference to the time when the Moors left their mark on Spanish music. The strings of a classical guitar are made of nylon (even the wound strings have a nylon core). This gives the instrument a warm and full sound. Of course, this material did not exist in the nineteenth century. That’s why Torres used strings made from the guts of pigs for his guitars.

Musical styles for the classical guitar

The Spanish guitar is very suitable for classical guitar pieces from the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The work of Johann Sebastian Bach is often played on this instrument, but also contemporary composers such as Britten have written compositions for this guitar. Great guitarists in the classical genre are Andrés Segovia, John Williams, and Julian Bream.

Additionally, the classical guitar is a widely used instrument in Spanish folk music called flamenco. The genre is characterized by exciting rhythms and typical chord progressions. The basic chords for flamenco are Am, G, F, E. Famous flamenco guitarists include Paco de Lucia, Jerónimo Maya, and Charo.

Spanish jam

You can play a Spanish jam yourself by first strumming an A-minor chord, and than switching to E-major. From there on, you can slide this position one fret up. Strum the strings and progress another two frets up. This way you turn the E into an F, and the F into a G.

Because of its warm and full sound, the Spanish guitar is very suitable for intimate and more folky songs. Think, for example, of tracks that involve a lot of finger picking, such as the song Fragile by Sting. The width of the neck provides plenty of space to fret the notes, while the nylon strings ensure that the picking and fretting is less slippery (and less painful!) for your fingers.

Western guitar

But what if classical guitar and flamenco are not your thing? Well, then it’s probably better to not buy a Spanish guitar.. For the more mainstream pop and rock songs, the Western guitar is your instrument. It has a larger body, steel strings, and a narrow neck–through which a metal rod runs. The sound is a lot more snappy and bright than that of the classical guitar.

The history of the Western guitar can’t be traced back to one specific builder as easily like with the Spanish guitar. In fact, there are a number of guitar makers who exceeded all expectations in the early days of this instrument. They experimented with the size of the body, the thickness of the strings, and the action of the guitar.

Western guitar models

The four most famous models of the Western guitar are the double-0, the triple-0, the dreadnought and the super jumbo. The double-0 is almost an exact copy of the classical guitar when looking at the body alone, but the double-0 has a few small adjustments that are characteristic for the Western design. The neck is narrower, the strings are made of steel, and the body is slightly larger. The double-0 is in no way a Loog, but still the smallest of all Western guitars, and therefore most suitable for children.

To give the sound more power, guitar maker Christian Frederick Martin developed a model with a larger body at the beginning of the twentieth century: the so-called triple-0 guitar. This guitar has a slight convex back so as a result the body is not only larger, but also deeper, which makes the bass tones stand out better.

Due to the increase in volume, the triple-0 is also called a grand auditorium. The grand auditorium is a fine entry guitar and many guitarists find the medium-large model easy to handle. Eric Clapton even has his own signature Martin triple-0, the Martin 00028EC.

Dreadnought

C.F. Martin developed the dreadnought for the real bad boys in 1916. This type of guitar was the largest six string you could get on the market at that time. This axe model is named after the then largest warship HMS Dreadnought from 1906. The instrument is characterised by a larger body than the grand auditorium, it has oval square shoulders, and a neck that is connected to the body at the fourteenth fret.

The dreadnought is perhaps the most widely known Western guitar model. The instrument has a fuller, louder, and bolder sound. This makes it ideal for rock ballads and country. You can easily say that the dreadnought is for the Guns ‘n Roses, Elvis, and Johnny Cash lovers.

Super Jumbo

In response to Martin’s dreadnought, guitar maker Gibson built an even bigger and more brutal beast. The body of this guitar is so humongous that Gibson just simply named the six string exactly that: the Super Jumbo.

Artists like Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jimmy Page, and Chris Isaak embrace the super jumbo and its powerful sound. Still, this guitar has never been as big of a hit as the dreadnought. Because of the large body, the instrument is just too much to handle for the average beginner (and average-sized person).

Selmer guitar

Now I hear you thinking: ‘Pop is cool, rock is okay, classical and flamenco sound great, but I like jazz!’ To get that real jazzy sound–made famous by Jimmy Rosenberg, Django Reinhardt and Fapy Lafertin–you’ll have to look for a special model of guitar. The Selmer guitar–also known as the Gypsy jazz guitar–is a combination of elements found in a Western and a Spanish guitar.

The Selmer model is best known for its D-shaped sound hole, but sometimes an oval-shape (‘petite bouche’) is used instead of the D-shape. The original Selmer guitars date from 1932 to 1952 and were built by the French luthier Selmer and the Italian Mario Maccaferri.

Special model

The Gypsy jazz guitar is very similar to its Spanish sibling, in terms of the width of the neck and the distance between the frets. Additionally, we also see several characteristics of the Western guitar, such as the steel strings and the larger body.

The idea behind the D-shaped hole is that allegedly the sound of the strings will project better and any unevenness of the vibrations will be filtered out. The bridge is adjustable, in contrast to the Western and classical guitar bridges; Maccaferri copied this from the mandolin. The strings come together at the top of the neck in a snakehead-shaped headstock.

Rules of thumb for choosing an acoustic guitar

By now, you’ve got a pretty good idea of the different types of acoustic guitars. Brands such as Selmer, Gibson, Torres, and C.F. Martin are–of course–the cream of the crop among the models mentioned. That said, as a beginner you don’t necessarily need an expensive brand; what you do need is a decent guitar that’s easy to play and sounds great as well (to you, at least).

It is therefore important to know which materials make an instrument sound good. For example, the top–that’s the front of the body–is most commonly made out of cedar or spruce wood, as both resonate really well and also have their own distinct sound.

The top can be either solid wood or plywood–obviously more expensive guitars are mostly solid wood, but guitars with plywood tops can still sound great. Don’t be fooled by whatever clever marketing is out there and simply choose a guitar that meets the rules of thumb above, and you’ll have an instrument for life. Happy jamming!

Beyoncé and Jay Z strike again! Check the setlist of this eighth wonder of the world called On the Run Tour II

This a very special announcement for all you Beyoncé and Jay Z fans! The power torque of the pop industry is back on the stage. Last week they announced the dates of their On the Run Tour II. It is the sequel to the tour the couple did four years ago. Did you missed that one? No worries, life is all about second chances. Prepare yourself to sing along with this setlist.

In 2014, rapper Jay Z and diva Beyoncé Knowles surprised the audience with their first joint tour named after the song Part II: On the Run (ORT). Not only did all the concerts sell out within minutes, but extra dates had to be scheduled.

The Guardian called the show: “A two-and-a-half hour joyride.” Rolling Stone undoubtedly dubbed it a Beyoncé show: “Husband and wife might get equal billing here, but make no mistake: This is Beyoncé’s show.” One way or the other, the duo did a very good job four years ago. And now they’re back for more.

On the Run Tour II

With nineteen sold out shows, 979,781 visitors and a total revenue of 109.7 million dollars, the ORT Tour is one of the most profitable concert series of 2014. Of course, there was a need for a sequel. Now, in 2018, the duo strikes again and this time not only America. Beyoncé announced on her website that she and her husband will perform in no less than fifteen cities in Europe.

We hold our breath when we think of how this new tour has to top its predecessor. Be prepared for a big show with all the classics tracks, cool choreography and challenging fashion escapades on stage, as we are used to from the power couple.

Setlist

Past performance is certainly no guarantee for the future, but if Beyoncé and Jay Z stick to the set list of four years ago, then it is a guaranteed trip down memory lane. How could it be otherwise with classics as Hard Knock Life, 99 Problems, Crazy in Love, If I were a Boy and Single Ladies. It almost feels like a cheesy commercial: two for the price of one.

The great thing about the setlist of On the Run Tour 2014 is that the duo doesn’t hesitate to throw some great covers in the show. How about songs like Young Forever, a variant of Forever Young by Alphaville and Ex-Factor – a Lauryn Hill cover. Check out the complete set of the original On the Run Tour below and play along. Happy jamming!

Historical album of the month – Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven

What does it take to turn a record into a historical milestone? That’s what we’ve been asking ourselves in the editor room. Our first answer would be that a historical record needs to inspire and stand at the beginning of a new genre. A shining example is Pantera’s album Far Beyond Driven.

March 22, 1994. The Billboard charts are dominated by Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Ace of Base. With the growing popularity of grunge bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden, the glory days of heavy guitars seem to be over. Then the unexpected happens, heavy metal band Pantera releases their seventh album.

Far Beyond Driven

Let’s go back in time first. Far Beyond Driven is the third major record label release of the band. It’s a successful attempt to top the previous album Vulgar Display of Power, with a heavier guitar sound, and more sluggish riffs.

With their guitars tuned in Cis Dime Darrell and bass player Rex Brown produce a threatening and sinister sound, that sends shivers down the listener’s spine. The low grunts coming out of front man Phil Anselmo’s throat are complemented by the raw and groovy rhythms of drummer Vinnie Paul Abbot.  The album is solid as a heavy metal rock. And, it ignited a metal revival that no one saw coming.

Critics

Despite the heavy sound the record enters the Billboard top 200 at number one. To everyone’s surprise. It shows that metal may be sidelined, but it has far from disappeared from the mainstream.

The critics are divided on Far Beyond Driven. Some journalists praise the band for producing a unique record without compromises, that still reaches a major audience. Others see a futile attempt to top the success of Vulgar Display of Power. A third group dubs Pantera “an overnight success”.

The beginning of the end

“Overnight success my ass” says bass player Rex Brown in an interview with Rolling Stone. The band, founded in 1981 by the two brothers Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, is slowly making a name for themselves at the time of Far Beyond Driven. While they once started out as a glam rock band, nine years after their formation they switched to a heavier style, that has become their typical sound.

In 1994 years of rocking are beginning to take their toll. Front man Phil Anselmo’s spine has been worn out by incessant touring and performing. His back pain is becoming intolerable and the singer turns to anesthetics. First in the form of booze and painkillers. Later this habit of self-medication develops into a heroin addiction. That’s the beginning of the end.

I’m Broken

The track I’m Broken is the first time that Anselmo shows his vulnerable side. Listening closely to the song, we can hear a cry for help. The man who was defined by the media as a tough superhero, can’t face the music anymore. The pain in his back is eating him up. It’s clear that he’s not used to losing control.

Looking back he says, in the documentary Pantera Behind Closed Doors, “This is right when I started feeling the pain in my lower back, and it felt scary. I think this is one of the first times in my life, man, that I had this thing called ‘vulnerability’ kick in, and that was a very uncomfortable feeling.”

Planet Caravan

Far Beyond Driven is characterized by groovy blues metal songs like 5 Minutes Alone, I’m Broken and Becoming. But there’s also some great material for the shredding fans. The closing track of the album is unexpected: Pantera’s cover of the Black Sabbath song Planet Carevan.

The song was recorded for a collaborative cover album in honor of the godfathers of heavy metal. An album where multiple metal bands give tribute Black Sabbath. The collaboration is discontinued because there are disagreements with the record label. Pantera decides to release the track on Far Beyond Driven. The sound is very trippy and eccentric, but doesn’t lose its characteristic Pantera vibe.

Pantera

 A year after releasing the album Phil Anselmo suffers a heart attack due to an overdose. He takes some time out from the band. Meanwhile tension between the band members increases. Therefore, the greater part of the album The Great Southern Trendkill was recorder separately. The Abbott brothers are working together with bass player Rex Brown in their home studio in Dallas, but Phil Anselmo sends his parts from New Orleans.

Pantera releases one more album after The Great Southern Kill. Reinventing the Steel from 2000 is a tribute to the genre, the fans and the history of the band. Yet, tensions still divide Anselmo and the rest.

Shooting

In 2003 Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul decide to break up the band to start a new project: Damage Plan. During one of the concerts a confused fan stumbles on the stage with gun, and shoots Dimebag. The rest of band and the roadies can barely escape.

Local police stop the shooter before he can do more damage. The event not only signals the definitive end of Pantera, but also the death of one of the world’s leading guitar virtuosos. The metal scene is shocked by the death of Dimebag Darrell. To honor him Eddie van Halen even lays one of his notorious Frankenstein Guitars with Darrell in his grave.

Metal Revival

In 2014 Pantera celebrates the 20-year existence of their most successful album. Far Beyond Driven 20th Anniversary Edition Delux is a remastered double sides release of their classic record. The fans are treated to a live recording of the Monsters of Rock 1994 concert. Whatever your opinion on Far Beyond Driven is, metal was never the same afterwards.

Together with its predecessor Vulgar Display of Power is one of the albums that started a spiritual revolution of the metal genre. It paved the way for bands like Slipknot, Mudvayne and Korn. A new sub-genre was born: nu metal.

How do I choose a good guitar for beginners? Part 1: Acoustic or electric

Learning to play guitar is an exploration. Your entering a new world that’s yours for the taking, but you shouldn’t lose sight of why you embarked upon this journey in the first place. Everything depends on what instrument you choose. If Chordify is your guide, the guitar will be your weapon, your shield and your best friend. But how do you know which guitar is up your alley?

It sounds simple: buy an instrument, take lessons and before you know it you’re jamming like Jimi. Right? Well, let’s start by picking a guitar that matches your preferences. Because, this step is just as important as it is simple. Your choice will determine the fun that you can get from playing and the direction it will take you. Our advice: choose wisely.

Stay close to yourself

“Start with a classic nylon string guitar. If you master that you’ll be able to play everything you want.” Is one of the most-heard advises people give when you set off on your guitar playing journey. There is essentially nothing wrong with this reasoning, if you’re a big fan of Paco de Lucia, and if you have enough time to sit in your armchair, studying classical music all day.

But what if you like Ed Sheeran and you want to play along with pretty pop songs. Is it still a good idea to buy a classic guitar and take lessons in the corresponding genre? Our answer: “no, of course not.” That’s like eating pancakes with a spoon or teaching the rules of soccer to football players. You can do it, but it will get you nowhere.

So, ask yourself the question: what do I want to learn? The easiest way of doing this is creating a list of five artists or bands plus five songs that make your heart skip a beat. This will take you a few steps closer to determining which guitar is the best match for you.

Acoustic vs electric

The next important choice is deciding whether you want an acoustic or an electric guitar. The difference? An acoustic guitar has a hollow body that naturally amplifies the vibrations of the strings. The advantage is that you can play everywhere, without dragging along a heavy amp. The disadvantage is of course that you’ll always be heard. Especially in the beginning, when you’re still prone to mistakes, this is more of a con than a pro.

Most electric guitars don’t have a hollow body. Your sound is carried to an amplifier by a cable that you plug in. Instead of a hole in the middle there are elements that pick up the vibrations of the strings and send them to the amplifier.

This allows the volume to be adjusted easily. You can even play with headphones on. But the advantage is also its downside. You always need an amplifier to get your sound across.

Genre

Now that we are starting to get a clearer image of the basic differences between acoustic and electric guitars it’s time get out your list of favorite artists and songs. What are the similarities between all the tracks and bands?

If your list is full of bands like AC/DC, Guns ‘n Roses and Muse you’re clearly leaning towards rock. If, on the other hand, you have noted Ed Sheeran, Bon Iver and Nirvana, you’re probably more into indie and singer songwriters. Nice to know, right? But how on earth does this relate to choosing a guitar? Well…

Now that we have established your area of interest in the world of guitars, picking an instrument will be so much easier. You see, AC/DC on classic guitar will get you nowhere. With that goal in mind you’re better off getting an electric six string. For Bon Iver on the other hand, an acoustic western guitar will add miles of authenticity to your sound.

The adventure has only just begun

You’ve already gained a lot of wisdom as to what instrument floats your boat. The decision of playing an acoustic or electric guitar is a very good start. It will save you a lot of time and unnecessary grievances. While we have come a long way, it’s also only the beginning.

Whatever choice you made, both sides offer a wide variety of diverse instruments that are specific to the genre that you want to master. Are you going for a Spanish guitar or a western? Do like the Gibson sound or are your ears tuned to Fender?

In the next parts we will dive into this matter more deeply. Until that time, we advise you to pay a visit to your local guitar vender armed with the knowledge you’ve gained so far and try out some guitars. And when your there, download our app to play along to your favorite music. Happy jamming!

Three songs to jam along on Saint Patrick’s Day

Just before Easter Ireland is in the mood to party. The people celebrate the day of the country’s heavenly protector, Saint Patrick. As the legend goes, he rid the island of Satan. Supposedly, that’s why there are no snakes in Ireland. Let’s raise our glass of green Guinness, say sláinte (cheers), and jam along to three songs rooted in the Irish soil.

Not only Ireland is shining in green colors right before Easter. St. Patrick’s Day is also celebrated in Australia, Canada and the U.S. The impact of Saint Patrick, who roamed the island in the fourth century AD, can be measured by the prevalence of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Furthermore, Patrick introduced the shamrock as a metaphor of the holy trinity. Today this this clover with three leafs is still the symbol for Ireland. But, not everyone likes St. Patrick’s Day. There are still some ‘pagans’ that silently protest the holiday on the 17th of March, by wearing the image of a snake on their coat or jacket.

U2 

Apart from green Guinness, three-leaf clovers and a day-long party, it is tradition that the leaders of America and Ireland come together on the 17th of march. They use the occasion to discuss the situation between Ireland and the rest of the island.

The division between protestant and catholic belief systems has been the cause for a lot of civil conflict in the 20th century, where both sides have suffered many casualties. The song Sunday Bloody Sunday, the third single of U2’s album War, describes the horrors of these Troubles in Northern Ireland. Here, you can jam along Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Cranberries

This next song is also a must have for your St. Patty’s jam. Zombie from the Cranberries has an easy structure that consists four chords, E minor, C, G and D, so it’s great for practicing your basic guitar skills. The only challenge will be throwing your voice like the late Doloros O’Riordan. But you can’t have it all.

The Dubliners

After consuming the necessary number of pints, the mood will surely be set to party. Let’s say you want to spice things up, and your next drink is a good old whiskey. What better song to add to your jam than Whiskey In The Jar from The Dubliners.

And, there’s something to enjoy for everyone. In the seventies Thin Lizzy recorded a hard rock version of the song and if you want to go metal, in 1998 Metallica covered the track on their record Garage Inc. We’re a little bit purist, so we still think the original is the best fit for St. Patrick’s Day. So, bottoms up, sláinte, and happy jamming!

For more inspiration check our channel for a specially compiled list of St. Patty’s Day songs.

Step outside your comfort zone and jam along with these top three Billboard hip-hop tracks

If you’ve been jamming with Chordify long enough, you know that our catalogue can seem infinite. Which of course means that your jamming possibilities are as well. So now it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and play along with a genre in which guitar or piano are not the first instruments that come to mind: hip-hop.

Don’t get us wrong, we totally understand that you love to incorporate Ed Sheeran in your Saturday afternoon jam. But don’t you ever feel the need to play that one Post Malone song, or jam to a Kendrick Lamar tune? “That’s hip-hop right? There are no guitars and pianos, that’s just beats”, we hear you think. But think again!

Hip-hop dominates the Billboard top 10

Let’s take a look at the Billboard ranking list. Drake is number one with God’s Plan, followed by the king of groove, Bruno Mars, in third place. Scrolling through the charts we see that the top ten is packed with cool hip-hop tracks. Two Kendrick Lamar songs for example, one on which he collaborates with The Weeknd.

And those are not the only hip-hop songs in the Billboard top ten. How about Post Malone’s Rockstar, another Drake song, or last but not least Migos with Stir Fry in tenth place. You’ve got to admit that your fingers are starting to get itchy, right? That’s why we’ve selected three top ten hip-hop songs you can jam to.

1 – Drake: God’s Plan

Canadian rapper Drake has conquered the world since his debut album Thank Me Later that appeared in 2009 on the Young Money Entertainment label of colleague Lil Wayne. That same year the album became number one in the Billboard top 100. From that moment on, the rapper could not be stopped.

With his laid-back flows and wavy beats Drake belongs to the top of the popular music scene. Try to jam along with the song God’s Plan and you’ll understand why. The track is a nice mix of basic chords and barre chords. Perfect for training your grip. Check it out.

2 – Bruno Mars: Finesse

Peter Gene Hernandez from Honolulu, better known as Bruno Mars, has regularly been in the top 10 of the pop rankings in recent years. With songs likeBillionaire and 24k Magic, this artist has shown that he can play both funky and super poppy.

Besides being a singer and rapper, Bruno Mars is also a hell of a guitar player. His track Finesse currently peaks at number three on the Billboard charts right under Ed Sheeran. For the advanced guitar player this song is a challenge, due to all barre chords. And, if you’re a beginner, you can practice less-used chords like Dis and Es minor. Try it and jam along.

3 – Kendrick Lamar & SZA: All the Stars

When we talk about rappers, the name Kendrick Lamar must not be omitted. The man who grew up in the same place as Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Coolio maintains an image of renewal in rap music. His lyrics build on stories from the hood, but from a contemporary perspective.

Like Bruno Mars’ previous track, this song is for the advanced guitarist. Once you’ve mastered the tricky grips, another challenge arises. The beat is very important in hip-hop, that’s why you should pay close attention to your right hand. That’s your strumming hand, that keeps the rhythm. Try it yourself. Happy jamming!

Historic Live Albums – The Concert in Central Park by Simon & Garfunkel

Some concerts turn out to be different than you had expected. The show by folk duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel in New York for example. The charity concert for the renovation of Central Park is listed in the history books as one of the best live performances of the two musicians.

In February 1982 the first live album of the folk duo Simon and Garfunkel was released: The Concert in Central Park. With classics such as Mrs. Robinson, The Boxer and The Sound of Silence you can’t erase this folk duo from the history of popular music. The record is also a vain attempt to bring the two musicians together, who haven’t played together for years due to quarrels.

The Concert in Central Park

The occasion for the concert is Central Park. The park has fallen into decline as a result of many budget cuts in the 1960s and 1970s. The green heart of New York – meant to offer the inhabitants a place where they can come to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet in ‘the city that never sleeps’ – is in need of renovation.

The city is still struggling with financial problems at the beginning of the 1980s and doesn’t have the three million dollars needed to restore the park. Mayor Ed Koch calls upon the Central Park Conservancy to come up with a solution at the beginning of 1980.

One of the initiatives of this foundation is to organize charity concerts in the park. The proceeds of the merchandise, television and video rights go to Central Park. The folk duo, which has its roots in New York and often refers to the city in its songs, is a perfect choice. Even though Simon and Garfunkel have their doubts about the project.

Simon & Garfunkel

You know what they say: “quit while your ahead.” Most artists never do, but there is always an exception to the rule. Simon and Garfunkel reach their peak after five studio albums at the end of the sixties.

Around that time, the two New Yorkers grew apart both as friends and musically. They decide to stop. Their last album Bridge over Troubled Water dominates the top of the Billboard rankings for ten weeks.

When Paul Simon is approached for the benefit concert about ten years after the act collapsed, he reacts enthusiastically. However, he has doubts about a possible collaboration with his old friend Art Garfunkel and is not entirely convinced of the commercial success of the project. Simon struggles with depression and wants to avoid setbacks. After some insistence by the promotor he contacts his buddy.

Preparations

Art Garfunkel lives in Switzerland when he receives the phone call from his old partner in folky crime. His enthusiasm is so great, that he immediately flies back to New York. There the preparations begin for what would later become one of the duo’s most successful live albums.

The rehearsals are not without struggles and fights. Old wounds open up again and the two have a lot of quarrels. In an interview Paul Simon says: “The rehearsals were terrible. Artie and I were arguing all the time.”

At first Simon wants to open the show with his solo act and then continue the performance together with Garfunkel. After some discussion, both artists agree that this concert should be carried by both of them. Although the announcement posters contain the separate names of the musicians, the artists announce a week before the show that they will perform as Simon and Garfunkel.

Commercial success

With half a million visitors, the folk duo concert in Central Park is America’s seventh largest show. It raised some 51,000 dollars for the renovation of the park. In addition, the album itself and the live recordings become great commercial successes. It almost seems like the two stars could reunite again.

After a much-praised performance, Simon and Garfunkel try to renew their career as a team and follow up with a world tour. This turns out well, but the attempts to record a new record end in disaster. Art Garfunkel leaves the studio and Paul Simon takes advantage of the situation to record and release his solo album Hearts and Bones.

The Concert in Central Park was not the last time the two claim the stage as a duo. Over the years they play at each other’s solo performances. In 2004 they even perform together under the name Simon and Garfunkel on the live album Old Friends: Live on Stage.

Set list

During the concert in Central Park, all classics are covered alternated by the artists’ own work. Of the 21 tracks played, only 19 made the record. The fans who want to hear the whole concert must check out the video recordings.

Curious about our historical record of February? Check it below.

Five tips to prevent blisters on your fingers

Blisters on your fingertips. You probably know the feeling – just when you’re getting into the jam, your fingers start hurting. Of course you don’t want to be a whiner, so you stubbornly continue playing. The result: blisters. After which you can’t practice for a couple of days. Here are five tips to prevent this situation.

Blister Prevention Tip 1 – Practice regularly for short periods of time

Just started playing the guitar, or haven’t jammed in a while? Most likely your fingers are not used to pressing on strings. The result: pain and swelling of your fingertips. One of the best ways to cultivate calluses and get rid of the uncomfortable feeling, is to practice often.

Sounds obvious doesn’t it? Just keep in mind that your fingertips have to get used to the feeling. Especially in the beginning it’s important to keep your jam sessions short. Choose a song you want to play and practice it for a quarter of an hour. After fifteen minutes your fingertips are probably burning. Stop jamming and give them some rest.

Playing guitar is very addictive, yeah we know. But it’s also similar to playing sports. If you want to see fast results, you’ll have to rest as much as you train. That’s why our advice is to take at least a twelve-hour break between jam sessions. Follow this approach for a week or two and thank us later.

Blister Prevention Tip 2 – Cool your fingers

The pain in your fingertips is caused by the strings cutting into your skin. It takes a while for your body to strengthen that part of your fingers with callus. You can speed up the process by cooling your hands after playing.

After jamming for fifteen minutes, turn on the cold tap. Keep your fingers under the pouring water for a minute. You’ll notice the improvement right away. The burning sensation will fade, or perhaps even disappear.

Blister Prevention Tip 3 – Reduce the action of your guitar

The action of your guitar is the distance between the strings and the neck. The higher the action, the harder you have to press to get a clean sound. That, of course, is painful for your fingertips. This is why it is wise to lower the action on your axe. Here are two ways how to do this.

By tuning your strings down a semitone, you’ll reduce the tension on the strings. Less tension equals less pain. A semitone down means that your E-strings, both high and low, are tuned in Dis. The A becomes a Gis, the D changes into a Cis, the G becomes a Fis and the B becomes an Ais.

The second way you can lower the action is to place a capo on the first fret. This ensures that the strings get closer to the neck. Again, this approach will feel much better for your fingers while playing.

Blister Prevention Tip 4 – Clip your nails

More calluses on your fingertips is equivalent to less pain during jamming. You can accelerate the formation of calluses by using a larger area of ​​your skin when playing the guitar.

Clipping your nails is a good way to do this. Less nail is more skin surface. Try it out, but do not clip your nails too close to the skin. That can be painful and counter-productive.

Blister Prevention Tip 5 – Select the right strings

Depending on the type of guitar, you can choose to use less ‘painful’ strings. The least hurtful strings are those used on a Spanish guitar (also called a classical guitar).The G-string, B-string and high E-string are made from nylon. This makes them a lot less painful than their steel counterparts, that you’ll commonly find on a Western guitar.

If you play electric or Western guitar, you have a choice: light, medium or heavy strings. Light strings are thinner and require less force when playing. And less force means… yup, less pain.

No pain no gain

Follow the tips above and you’ll see that progress comes faster than you think. The process ain’t painless, but on the other hand the motto is: no pain no gain! Therefore, keep practicing and keep striking them chords. It will get easier and more fun with every session. Happy jamming!