TIME HAS COME TODAY!!
By: Mike O’Cull
There is no more basic element of music than time. Time is what holds the band together, time makes us dance, time gives even basic speech a musical quality (rap, anyone?). Time is also, unfortunately, the one area where aspiring musicians suffer the most and inflict the most harm on their audiences (outside of harmony vocals, that is.). That guy who always has to stop between chords and the band no one wants to dance to? Time bandits, both. In this contribution, I will give you the simplest, most direct path to rhythmic righteousness and proper time travel.
What is that path, you ask? Why, it is the use of one of the most time-honored and true-tested practice devices to ever enter the practice room. I mean, of course, the humble metronome. You don’t have to get the giant old-lady piano teacher kind that swings back and forth; the modern, compact digital kind will do nicely. Start at a setting of 60 to 80 bests per minute (bpm). That click you are hearing is a quarter note. It is worth one beat and is what you tap your foot to instinctively. Start by playing one note on each click of the metronome. Stay with it as best you can without slowing down or speeding up. Practice that until you can do it without thinking about it too much. When that gets easy, try to play a song along with the click, again without getting ahead or behind. This type of practicing to a perfect time source will help you internalize that quarter note so, no matter what your hands may be doing, your heart holds it together.
More advanced players can play their scales and exercises to the metronome. Play them two notes per click (eighth notes) and four notes per click (sixteenth notes), striving for accuracy over velocity. Start out at a comfortable speed and work up a couple bpm at a time until you can’t keep up. Keep a log of your tempos and over the course of a few weeks you should see your numbers get higher and higher. Make metronoming part of your daily practice routine for a while and the results will surprise you. What once was a butter knife will have turned into a razor blade. See you in the shed!
MIKE O’CULL plays guitar, writes songs, produces tracks, teaches, preaches, writes poetry, makes art, and is in love with human creativity. He has the ability to put a song in your ear and make it stick. He writes songs that combine every cool thing he has ever heard into a new sound that is funky, rocking, literate, and conscious and contains elements of blues, hip hop, rock, funk, and skid row poetry. He has a new release slated for 2016 that will contain his new and topical track ‘Tough Times These Days,’ which is now being previewed on YouTube. In 2015, he released a single, ‘What’s Old Is What’s New,’ that was co-written with poet/activist Leroy Moore of Krip Hop Nation which mixes down and dirty blues with old school hip hop and an EP, ‘The Mike O’Cull Band,’ that features seven funky blues/rock original songs. Both are available on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon. He is also the creator of Street Level Guitar, his own unique method for learning to play guitar. SLG involves a concentration on the practical aspects of music and guitar playing blended with a personal development angle that ensures his students build the confidence to perform, not merely play. http://www.Facebook.com/StreetLevelGuitar is the place to hang out for more info.
Mike has also worked as a music journalist and PR writer since the mid 1990s, including 12 years with the Illinois Entertainer (http://www.IllinoisEntertainer.com), contributing to the start of the blogosphere with http://www.ChicagoGigs.com in the late 1990s, and has been a contributing writer for http://www.ChicagoMusicGuide.com, http://www.ChicagoBluesGuide.com, Gig Magazine, and scores of others, and has written bios, press releases, and liner notes for many different artists.
This year is a new beginning in his story and career and Mike is making his most fully-realized music to date that is equal parts current and classic, old school and new jack. He is a fearless creative with an expansive knowledge of American music mated with the touch and vision of a modern producer, songwriter, and instrumentalist.