Thursday, August 27, 2009

Month of the Woodshed

August is the least busiest month of the year for me, in 2009, so I've been using this time to explore some new routines and prepare for a busy fall season. One of the things that I've been doing is getting up earlier, checking all of my social media networks and taking care of administrative duties, then launching into a hardcore practice session that includes ear training, scales, left and right hand exercises, learning new tunes and rehearsing older ones. My main emphasis is on the chromatic dulcimer right now, learning how to get around the fretboard and pull out the tunes that I want. One of the ways I'm doing this is through ear training.

With ear training, you're training your ears to recognize tones, especially the intervals between tones. Being able to hear these intervals goes hand in hand with knowing the scales on your instrument and being able to arrange your own music. For years, I've played by ear, but part of the challenge here is to not only hear the tone, but be able to at least name the numbered interval (if you can also name the note, then you are truly accomplished at this.)

The Interval Ear Trainer is a free online resource that plays a series of tones and allows you to guess what they are. The application keep score and also allows you to hear the intervals in ascending, descending, melodic or harmonic fashion. On the average, I listen to about 11 intervals a day and have seen an improvement in my ability to hear them in the ascending category. Since the tones take on slightly different characters when played harmonically and in descending fashion, I'm going to work on those next.

How will this help you as a musician, specifically a diatonic mountain dulcimer player? For one thing, it will help you to identify tones in music that you hear and in music that you play. Besides the basic Major and minor chords that make up the bulk of the music we encounter, there are also extended chords such as 6ths, 7ths, 9ths, 11ths and 13ths. You'd be surprised how many of these are available to you on a diatonic dulcimer and, if you begin ear training, you'll see how easy it is to slip some of these chords into your music and spice it up!

Even if you know nothing about intervals, try playing it as a game and see how soon before you are able to correctly identify the intervals. I can assure you that it will improve your playing a hundred-fold!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

United Breaks Guitars Song 2

United Breaks Guitars Song 2: David Carroll's Second Ode To United Airlines (VIDEO)

David Carroll's promised second in a trilogy of United Airlines tunes has been released and, like the first, is catchy, well-written, and on the YouTubes.

I'm not sure how it's doing for the Carroll train, which picked up steam in a big way with "United Breaks Guitars", but it's also gotta be doing wonders for his video production team, who now get extensive credits at the end of the song (stay for the post-credit action - pretty damn funny.)

As for me, there will be no trilogy; color I satisfied. Got a nifty tune for the next album, Northwest apologized and gave me money (in the shape of an airline ticket, but what the hell - it helps) and "Only A Northwest Song" has been steadily racking up hits and is poised to become the fourth most-watched video o' mine on YouTube. It's introduced a lot of folks to my music and that's pretty cool in and of itself.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dive: Recording Resumes

After a busy mid-summer season, I'm back behind the board working to complete "Dive!" The latest track is an older tune that's been performed live a handful of times and never been released. Entitled "Nine One One", I've been test-driving it on Blip.Fm to garner some early response; all parts were recorded yesterday.

Today, I'm working on finishing a tune called "Big Fish Little Pond", for which I've had the chorus for a number of years, but have never completed. It happens that way sometimes, I let a tune chase me around, demanding closure, before I feel compelled to follow through.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mountain Dulcimer In The Band (Book 3) Now Available!

NEW! Bing Futch - "Mountain Dulcimer
In The Band (Book 3)" with 2 CDs (2009)

Book 3 in the "Mountain Dulcimer In The Band" series is now available! Like the other two books, it comes with two CDs of leads and backing tracks so you can play along! Featuring insights into ensemble playing technique, the book also allows solo musicians the freedom to explore new approaches to improvisation while having fun as the lead player in the band. Tunes include "Scarborough Fair", "Sandy Boys", Swallowtail Jig", "Buffalo Gals", "Golden Slippers", "Angeline The Baker", "Whiskey Before Breakfast", "Liza Jane", "Cripple Creek", "Shady Grove" and more!

Click here to order!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Interview with Jan Pulsford in Second Life - Wednesday

[UPDATE: Tonight's interview has been delayed due to tech problems. I'll post an entry with the rescheduled date and time as soon as we have it. Thanks!]

Wednesday (8/5) night at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET - I'll be a guest on Jan Pulsford's "Behind The Monitor" in Second Life. The show will be broadcast live. The radio stream is
and in second life it is downstairs at the music ALL music Peace Park:

A little about Jan:

I am what people consider a "veteran musician" whose life has been jam packed with musical adventures from touring with erstwhile major label pop artists like Cyndi Lauper and the Thompson Twins to working with indie artists like Dulcimer legend David Schnaufer and jazz great Chico Freeman. My songs and music has been performed by artists as diverse as Ani da Franco, Steps, Chico Freeman, Eurovision, the Leaders, Dr. Elmo, Zoe Girl, Jeff Oster, and Darlene Love, whose rendition of "Night of Peace" is fast becoming a classic. Most of the nineties were spent as Cyndi Lauper's keyboard player, co-writer, producer and musical director. We toured the world together and our creative partnership spawned some of her most artistic and critically acclaimed work. Over twenty songs were released on the albums "12 Deadly Cyns" ,"Sisters of Avalon", "Merry Xmas" and "Shine"

Don't have a Second Life account? It's free:

Hope to see you there!