Friday, December 14, 2012

Musicians who drown in Music Theory

Hi all!

So long I haven't write an update! but anyways there's so much to talk about right now; Christmas, new gear, new projects, ideas, and so on. I will start with this interesting topic that's I've been focusing on.

Ok, let me start with a little story, when I was getting into music and learning guitar I feared music theory at the time, I just wanted to play, do finger exercises, focusing on technique and not wanting to get into anything that was theoretical, you know stuff like, formulas, scales, intervals, harmony and so on. Don't get me wrong I was a immature musician back then, now its the other way around, now I love music theory and overall music harmony. Now let me explain something, as a composer and songwriter I've found that the more I get music theory in my head, the more my head clouded with musical terms, note choices and extensive harmony, drifting me away from getting great moments of inspiration and muse, in other words, getting obsessed with musical theory killed most of my creative and unique writing. Let me put an example, this way you can understand me better: I wrote something in a mayor tonality, it was a melody and I was harmonizing it, I discovered that I was playing a minor 7th rather that a mayor 7th, evoking a Mixolydian type of sound, obviously as you may know, I didn't knew what was "Mixolydian", well, yeah but I didn't was focused on that at that time. The melody sounding in my head was with that minor 7th, I said to myself: "this is wrong, this is not the mayor scale, I'm hearing a bad clash of notes and the theory is telling me that this is wrong".

This is just a basic example, but there are a lot more! anyway, don't get me wrong, music theory is good, is the language that we as musicians speak in communicational terms and it is a good "presentation card" for us too. But, to much of it can close inspirational doors for you, so if you are looking for a unique, free and "out of the box" approach to your music, this will be bad. Yeah right, we know that all in excess is bad, even music theory and harmony, but think about it!

From my experience, I can tell you that the inspiration is important but the thing that you must focus on the most is your ear, your ear is the most important thing!! I know a lot of musicians who are just drowned by theory and musical harmony, they have blistering technique and all that, but they are people who tells you "hey, this chord cannot be in there, in page 132 of the "Music Harmony" book tells that this is wrong!" and believe me, it's totally stupid to say that, they are just theoretical robots and they're like religious people who live just citing things from the bible, so, I pretty much recommend that you focus on your ear, and listen the things in your head and try to do them with your instrument!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Implementing a new concept

As you may know and it have been said over and over, I'm conquering the solo thing in a very intense way, and it's for many reasons, but its decided I'm taking the approach of making an album in hibernation, and even producing it myself, there's no other way around for now, after that the hunting of musicians will begin, and that my friends is hard, but it will be good to play my music live one day!

So I'm into implementing the use of a diferent direction for my band, is normal that a band have politics and rules for a more democratic enviroment but this is in what I think: think that the band is a team the same as the one in an advertising agency! Yes! In a advertising agency you have: A creative director, a copywritter, art director, graphic designers you know they execute the idea of the creative director, and he just give direction of how he want things to be done, I think its the same way that my band will work, my job will be giving the main ideas and working as a musical director, nobody will stand in front of me saying and questioning musical direction and dumb stuff, that I think is the best way to put it to work.

Of course I want to have great and passonate musicians in the project and maximize what they can do best, depends of the talents that the musicians have of course. I'm not necessarily will be a musical Trujillo or a damn tyrant in what the music could be, I'm just doing that, directing, the same thing that a creative director do in a campaing, think about it, the album is the campaing, the songs the pieces and the theme is the strategy. Of course for me the musical product and the presentation will be important and those kind of things relate to me.

There's two ways of writing an album, me entering in hibernation and write material and even producing it, the other way is writing as a band, jamming, writing, trading ideas, ect. An album can be the mix of those, or maybe not, dont know right now...


Iros RR

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Progressive Rock in Two Worlds now?

Hi there!

This is a topic that is bugging me for awhile now and I will just write my personal view and opinions. First let's break it down, as every good Prog Rocker know, Progressive Rock is a musical movement that started in the late 60's and emerged/flourished in the 70's, in my personal opinion is the most awesome moment in the history of rock and music in general, there was this flow of creativity which, in my case, I truly love. In that period bands like, Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, Van Der Graff Generator, YES, Camel, King Crimson, Jethro Tull etc. released wonderful albums and music, just a bomb of creativity exploded, unique music and it was wonderful, this musicians making this albums were more of a jazzy and classical background, I mean, they did rock music but inspired a lot in the jazzy and classical compositional templates, that are very free in terms of what you can do. The bad thing is they didn't get popularity, it was a very crazy music for the masses, it was very segmented in a way though.

Now, in our era, or in my era to be more precise, which is the 90's and the present time, bands like Spock's Beard, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, were inspired by the 70's, but there's a trend that they are NOT truly the progressive rock of our age, that they are just "copying" the bands or progressive movements of the 70's and just writing music in that template and not making something "unique". However, is true that there are much similarity in that sound, but, is just influences! Some artists and musicians friends alike cite that the true progressive rock of our era and the true "music of the future" is bands like Radiohead, Mars Volta and Tool, don't get me wrong, these bands are great, sound modern and are truly unique, yes, UNIQUE, and that's important.

But, they lack that "essence" of musicality maybe, I mean, is wonderful music, very unique and full of experimentation, but is not that musical compared to the other kind of "modern" prog that is available now, is music more focused and done by instinct rather that true musicianship, and that's one of the definitions I have for Progressive Music, is music with high musicianship. So, now progressive rock or progressive music, it is divided in two worlds; The one that is "modern" and the one who sound more of the music of the 70's era. So let's put up a name to them for a better understanding now: Post-Prog (Radiohead, Tool, Mars Volta), and Neo-Prog (DT, Transatlantic, Flower Kings, The Tangent) Progressive Metal which is another great and popular kind of progressive music, will be included on the Neo thing, just to divide both worlds.

Both worlds are very different, and in fact, I don't think that Post-Prog has any kind of influence of the great prog bands of the 70's, it's just rock music with a lot of experimentation, and creative production, that's how it emerged I think... Neo-Prog in the other side tends to sound more Symphonic, and Eclectic, mixing jazzy elements and stuff, which for me have a greater value, I mean, some people see this kind of world as a very "pompous" one, but it's not, is just music with more musicianship, is music written by musicians, in the other hand Post-Rock it is NOT in that kind of stream, there are just a bunch of guys with great talent who picks up an instrument in their garage and experiment a lot making music, and the result is that.

I know that there has been a great arguing in all this, and it is quite a complicated topic to discuss, but I have my personal preference and taste and I go better with the Neo one, is more MUSICAL, and I'm a musician trained in harmony, trained in songwriting, trained in my instrument, and that have to be tested on music, and the music for that is that Neo-Prog thing.

Post-Prog, is more mainstream, is true, is more accessible to people, is very influenced on Space Rock and Ambient stuff, which is very cool, but you know, is very easy to write, very easy to perform... take Porcupine Tree for example, it is a great mix of Pink Floyd, Ambient and Tool, Space Rock emerged with Pink Floyd, and believe me Pink Floyd was a very, very popular band, in the package of prog band of the 70's Pink Floyd was without a doubt the more accessible and popular, so of course it will get more mainstream view, and that in a way is good of course! don't get me wrong, ambient stuff and space rock can be a very easy music to write and perform but those elements can add that touch of eclectic-ness to a band sound!

Conclusion, there are really two worlds and both of them have pros and cons, in my case I could release tomorrow an album with rock music mixed with ambient stuff and make a great mainstream "progressive" band, but I want more than that, I'd spent lot of time with music, writing it, and with my guitar on my leap, so why just make music with ambient and noise? it's not the case for me, the thing for me is that I have to feel challenged every day, if not, why do it? so, I truly don't know if my future band would fit in one of those two worlds, of maybe the two at the same time, I really don't know, the worst thing to really do is to be predestined.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My REAL Soundcloud account!

I have been receiving a lot of feedback and followers from my false soundcloud account, let me explain, originally at the beginning I created a normal account but one day I signed in with the stupid Facebook button by mistake, the thing signed in creating another account. I know I have pointed out this several times, but I'm still receiving lots of messages and followers on my "false" account. The weird thing of all this is that I'd tried in deleting this account but, it never deletes!!, anyway here's the link of my real SoundCloud Account:

Here you can access and hear a few of my sounds and things, in fact, some future demos and works will be posted there!

So stay tune to that!!



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The world of music is for hermits?

I've found that music in every aspect is a very intimate, inspirational, spiritual, technical and even methodical thing, by this I told you that if you want to be a good musician who plays and write good music or maybe even produce it requires TIME, and a lot of it. Maybe for you writing a song is easy, but to give the final touches, recording it and add ideas here and there, is a time consuming task.

And I've come to the conclusion that if you want to make good sounding and unique music you have to drive yourself out of the social stuff that you've been into, you have to take time to practice your instrument, listen to music, write music and by that I mean not just "listen" for the sake of listening, I mean real focused LISTENING between you and your 5.1 system, or your great sounding stereo. Listening music while running, doing exercise or at work is different, totally different, so yeah, you have to do that in order to focus yourself on the music held down on your musical project, and if you want to produce it yourself, even more. Recording, Mixing, Mastering, Engineering WILL take a lot of your precious "social" time. 

However, I'm talking about the real musician here, the musician who is up to make experimental music, different music, unique music, gorgeous music, not the one that is making shit for the sake of being cool and being in a band just to impress the girls. Music is dedication, hard work, and like any other business is planning, is thinking straight, is scheduling. So, I tell you, musical projects came with compromise, sacrifice and time. In my personal case I just had like ONE real band or musical project, and it was of course Titan Atlas, it never came out I know, and by that I mean an album and all that, all the other stuff was just jamming bands from school and not REAL bands that were into composition, writing and producing records. I've found myself "driving" from society for doing this stuff and I know that it will get more and more drastic with more compromise in producing a record or so. But that's it I think, for example, Do you want to be a good painter? Ok, just paint and paint and focus on that, not in what's outside that canvas! you know what I mean right? The real musician can get caught on this stuff and time vacuum type of thing for making music and for the sake and passion of it, but, I say this to you, It WILL be rewarding. Guaranteed. 


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Band and/or Solo

I was reading an interview by Richard Barbieri (Porcupine Tree Keyboardist) and he was talking a lot about this topic, about how democratic a band should be, how the band handle the collaborations, handle different opinions, insights and all that stuff. I have to say that Richard is a member of Porcupine Tree and a solo artist as well and he described both situations.

However all this reading made my mind even more clear on this and made me think more about what kind of direction I will take to make music and play it live. Being in a band? Being a solo artist and write everything and just "hire" musicians to play it live? I mean, there's a lot into this topic and can be deceiving and confusing, but I think that this is the way. Bands broke up, making decisions with other people could get very tricky and complicated, there could be lots of creative discrepancies, disagreements in what direction the band should take and not to mention the difficulty to please everyone's ambition and have them get their "space" into the band. I think is a matter of the people and the musicians really, the members all have understanding in the style of music the band have? Do they come from the same background? Do they have the same goals and motivations? Do they have all the same level of musicianship? Do they all play more than one instrument?, all this questions come to mind and I think then Why Porcupine Tree, Opeth, King Crimson are "bands" and not solo works by its leaders: Steven Wilson, Mikael and Fripp?

Steven Wilson, for example, began a solo career not so long ago, so, why he is still in this band Porcupine Tree? And the reason is that for the artist is a different thing, it is like "Ok, I want to do this that go out of the main direction of the band, so I'm going to release a solo record to do it” so this concept made clear the idea that, if you are in a band you stay in the direction of the band and if you want to play another type of music, then go ahead and do your thing. I mean, if you are in a punk rock band for example, stay to that, and if you are the bass player of that band be the best bass punk player available and ad to the band your best sounding punk-type bass lines ever, now, if you want to play death metal because you just heard an death metal band that inspired you? Go ahead write your stuff and go solo, because the band you’re in is labeled as punk rock. Your bandmates will probably kill you if you present the idea of making the next band record a death metal album!

Now, in progressive world is more complicated than that, is not that simple, progressive music is so vast, eccentric, eclectic and hard to define, that tends to change overtime even in the same progressive band or sound, take for example the same prog band “Dream Theater” their album “Images and Words” is not the same as their “Train of Thought” are they? I mean, there are both great progressive albums but with a completely different direction, that’s all. This in prog music is rather normal, but can get confusing sometimes, I mean you can have a prog band influenced in the prog music of the 70’s but it can be maybe folk oriented, or more psychedelic oriented, or more jazzy, or even symphonic, you know is difficult to define rather to be more epic, or songwriting oriented etc. It is normal that prog music tends to experimentation and the band sound changes overtime with each record, and this can be called like the “evolution” of the band sound getting better or not, it depends, this “changes” could happen because the fans, the musical context, band agreements, outside producers, management, etc etc.

If I want to create and found a band I know that I could not fall in love with the line-up, If one member swap out look for a replacement and keep going, that’s it, look band like YES and King Crimson, line-ups changing almost on every record, this helps to ad variety maybe but it lacks its initial foundation of sound really, I mean look at bands like Led Zeppelin, Page created that band and never suffered a replacement because he said that if one of those guys where out, he rather disband everything than keep it alive, you know, he felt in love with the line-up and lucky for him he never suffered from the lost member.

But I think the important thing here is to set a style, the big picture so the band gets “labeled” in some way to have a big reference on what the band musically could deliver to the listener, and to place everybody in a band in a mind set to play their instrument in the best way and add to the overall music.

So, in a band contest everything is different that the solo artist approach and for me I haven’t yet decided which way to go really, I’m still working on that, right now it’s all trial and error and see how things can work better for me musically, and I think the key is gather committed, responsible and good musicians with a great attitude, vision and vast musicality, which is very, very difficult.

Iros RR

Monday, April 9, 2012


The writing of music is something very intricate, intimate and personal that is why bands have always a leading composing force in all the formula. Now, you see, you can name any band you want and I can name you the one responsible for the style, creation and even the production of the music. Songwriting is a creative process, for me is like drawing a painting, you have a theme, an inspiration and then you draw what you see in your head, is pretty much the same with music, your brushes are your instruments, the canvas is the paper with the lyrics on, the composition is the arrangement and the colors is the notes and chords, the technique is the style. Now that you see it, it’s almost the same!

Now imagine yourself in this situation, you’re painting this picture, and then your mate or friend began to put out strokes and colors to your painting, see? Two things can happen: 1. You’re getting uncomfortable because you’re feeling that your painting is getting all a mess. 2. The guy is a great painter and he is fixing your picture in every way.

This example I gave you can be deceiving, but it leave clear one big message here, Co-op songwriting must be done with people who know well the elements and things implied with music and with songwriting, they must all have experience, doing this will proof your opinions and ideas, I mean, how in the hell you will say that this note or chord must be moved or replaced when you don’t even know what a chord actually is? Understand? The knowledge is important, it helps a lot that they are in the same style too. So, the other side of the coin is a extreme too, take for example bands like Genesis, Pink Floyd or The Beatles, they’re bands that have exceptional brains in the art of crafting songs, every single member is a master in songwriting, at the same time this can cause trouble and creative disagreements. These bands even broke up by this exact reason; however, they knew how to work together and what they did to music is now legendary.

This is how is done, and don’t even try to argue with me in this one because it is how it is. First of all, if you are a musician analyze and evaluate yourself, analyze your inner self and concrete how much you know about music, music theory, music elements, inner ear, sight reading, composition, harmony, expertise, I mean, all things related to music in general, it’s very important that even if you are considered a “master” in music, you have to know your weaknesses too, everyone have them. Now that you know where you are, say to yourself if you will be a composer or a player, then off you go! Recognize that some other musician can be better in some aspects, stick to him! There are musicians who focus on their instruments so well but doesn’t have that song crafting very polished and there are musicians that are geniuses in making music but don’t have that expertise on the instrument, so tell to yourself, where are you.

As a musician I have polished every necessary skill to make music and perform it so I can write things and be able to play what I write, but this is my case, your case could be different, just try to be prepared, train yourself in how to make songs and how to play well your instrument, it’s the best presentation card when you’re beginning to play in a band or introducing yourself to co-op songwriting or other musicians.

So, for example, you’re beginning to write a song with a musician friend, you just have to proof that you know how to do it, and have that musical knowledge that complete this task, it will be more difficult if your partner doesn’t know what you’re doing, and why.

In this case I will give you some guidelines to complete this task: First of all, you have to come with a open mind, make sure that the people that you’re sharing your music with is in the same level of knowledge and compromise, or at least try.

In bands situations:

A band is just a group of musicians who play music, jam and write together, but, what difference a band from an ensemble band its the music, the leading force in it and how cooperative the process of making the music is.

1- Members trade ideas, or record themselves jamming, and yes, a band have to have synergy in his play, that’s what makes them unique.

2- A lead member presents the music and the others just play it adding their touch with their instruments.

3- Members suitable in music harmony and overall music composition write together a song, from it arrangement to the whole instrumentation and share it to the others.

4- Members trade individual recorded demos, this one is very professional and implied lot of musical knowledge and expertise by the individual members who participate, doing this, they merge this demos and ideas in a complete song, each one have to have the proper gear for this task.

5- Have a clear sight in the member’s functions. In this case, you can assign a role or function to each member who participate in the band knowing what each member do best, for example the roles can be: Songwriter, arranger, producer, lyricist, visual artist, conceptualist, this depends a lot of the type of band and the type of musicians, obviously some roles can be merged into one person. Drummers came with the natural talent of creating rhythms, beats, and spontaneity but, it will be normal that they as drummers don’t know much about notes and music harmony, in this case they can be great arrangers, conceptualist, producers and even lyricists, take Rush’s Neil Peart for example. In other cases drummers can be exceptional and complete musicians and can play others instruments as well having the gift of composition, somebody like Dave Weckl or Gotye would be the case.


1. Economical help and cooperation.

2. Establishing different roles and divide the process of work.

3. Make it feel like a whole organization, like a business of some sort.

4. Jammings, Co-op songwriting.

5. Live performances easier.

6. Optimize process of production due to all members providing help.


1. Possible creative disagreements.

2. Defining a concept or style.

3. Establishing new ways or different paths.

4. Much more compromise.

5. Time is a factor.

6. Adapting is something mandatory.

7. Entering with a flexible and open mind.

Solo artist situation:

This is the other world in making music, going solo, many artists end up in this one, many of them start in a band and then goes off, depend a lot of their personal beliefs and life situations.

1. You write alone your own music, by inspiration, personal life events, etc.

2. As a musician you’re compromised only in yourself and assume all the roles necessary, songwriter, arranger, producer, lyricist, etc.

3. Have a clear sight in what you really love to do and write, and what your philosophies in life are.

4. You really have to enclose yourself in the process but you can if you want make somebody of trust to have the critic ear to your work.

5. Hermit things apply, it will be normal that you create music aside from social activities, recording in a room, writing, focusing, experimenting, concentrating on things in the process, the music is important to you, and it will be time consuming.

6. You as a whole know what you really want and have all the concept and visualization ready, you work in the pace you want to work and you do everything yourself, many artists think in this way, people like Frank Zappa, Steven Wilson, Steve Vai, just to name a few, this people create, direct, produce and conceptualize everything associated with their music.

7. You create music that is personal and is an extension to your heart and soul, but the music have to be recorded and even played live, so you have to gather some musicians to do the job, you can either record all yourself if you have the instrument expertise, if not, pay out sessions musicians or having cool musicians who love your work and have interest in play your music.

8. This is the most personal way of creating music, and the process can be more tedious and hard but the only one that knows that is you.


1. Complete freedom. There’s nobody by your side telling to do things, neither giving opinions nor discarding musical material that they don’t like.

2. Creative Freewill. You’re solo; you create the music alone having complete freedom in doing what you like to do.

3. You create music in a pace that you are confortable with, no hesitation from others.

4. Very personal and intimate. You really can freely evoke personal concepts and themes.

5. There’s no: “arrrg this idiot came with the stupid concept of doing a song about a homosexual horse that rapes squirrels, WTF??!!”

6. You write the way you want and the notes you want, no more adapting to the expertise of some bass or guitar player to play a particular section.


1. You assume a lot of roles making it difficult to maintain.

2. You lack of economical cooperation, making a lot more difficult to sustain a musical project.

3. You still have to look or pay musicians to record and/or play your music in a live environment.

4. You lack the feeling of support.

Now that you have all that information, you just know what to decide in terms of this topic, having a band is a whole experience and you as a musician have to embrace it, you can hook up with great musicians and learn things from them in every way, analyze your case, and remember that a band is like a serious business you all have to have the same goals and motivations, so it is a real deal in terms of compromise, having a band? Dictate all this points very clear to the others, make agreements and everything could work out.

In the case of going solo, is a total new and free adventure, that you must live one day, it’s just a matter of how you view music in terms of personal beliefs, it can be very confortable to you, it all depends.

You can be both if you are serious in all this stuff, you can have a well established and serious band and having your solo project working and running in the background, its all about how to prioritize things, divide you different musical interests in different musical projects or bands, want to play metal? Embrace a metal project. Want to play jazz? Create or join another project with this viewpoint and style, or why not? Maybe mix them together? Again, you’re the one who knows. Remember that the musicians in your band can have other musical projects so bear this in mind, never stick to something and compromise your nest full of eggs! I recommend being the independent as possible in terms of musical goals and expertise, remember, its up to you.

Iros RR

Friday, March 2, 2012

These Walls

Hello there followers and friends! Thanks for hanging there for me for such a long time; I had abandoned this blog completely shit! And I don't even remember the last time I posted out something. Well anyway I’ve been caught in the “Working Man-move out to make more money-college crap-hermit with no time” thingy, maybe is not normal in some people, but I have like 3 different jobs, plus lots of shit to do and lots of responsibilities, and as you can see, I don’t have time for NOTHING! I haven’t picked my guitar in several weeks, and have been very disconnected with musical stuff, last time I tested a PRS guitar with a friend and I realized that my chops were on a pretty bad state, my pinky was like DEAD, I felt really bad, but, I know that with a little time and workout my chops will be in shape again, but hey, my acoustic skills leveled up for sure.

I’ve encountered this problems/walls and realize that for focusing really in what I love and want to do (MUSIC) I have to surpass a lot of things: first of, college, this is already taking me a LOT of my time and I’m finishing that shit up, and really I want to get out of that crap as soon as possible! Another thing will be acquiring new gear, guitars, and yes, build a whole home studio, this will cost A LOT.

I know for sure that I will get this goals one day, with time and dedication, money will come eventually and is just a matter of putting a great effort and time in projects like “Building my Home Studio”. After all this is done, and the walls are gone I WILL record songs, demos, and finance a musical project (people think that having music recorded and having a band is a game of children). As you can see, all these walls stop me from doing what I love to do, and nevertheless is a sad thing, right now I’m focusing in work, business and money, (and maybe other things) but understand THIS, I have to be prepared to start doing it, but anyways time will tell.

As you may know, I’ve been ALWAYS be frustrated with all this stuff, this isn’t new in my life, but, everything at the end will be OK, I KNOW that!