The story behind this obscure mid ’90s musician is almost as good as the music. Brian Shimkowitz, a blogger at the time, found Ata Kak’s cassette at a flea market in Cape Coast, Ghana in 2002. “You may never hear anything like this elsewhere,” he declared in his very first blog post. “No one I know in Ghana listens to this frenetic left-field rap madness.”

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I’m talking about the way compression can make tracks seem like they fit together a little better. When set up correctly, it makes the whole song feel like it’s glued together in subtle ways which give it a nice, musically polished, cohesive sound. The goal with mix buss compression would be to just tame any transients that may spike up in volume just a little too much, and then bring the overall volume of the rest of the tracks up just a bit. We’re just trying to add a little more energy and fullness to the mix.

Ideally, you’ll want musicians to show up, do their thing, and be ready to roll, so you can’t be what gets in their way. You’ll save time and get better performances from the musicians if you plan ahead of time and have things set up and ready to go before they arrive, not after.

Okay, to really get your head around phase, we need to move beyond the on/off perspective we just outlined. Phase is quite literally a relationship of degrees. In other words, our “out of phase” sine wave has a 180° phase relationship to its mirrored counterpart. Were we to gently move our duplicate sine wave through all degree positions in the phase relationship, we’d encounter different degrees of cancellation, and therefore different degrees of amplification and attenuation — from silence to peak volume and everything in between.

We must realize that Ligeti was working in the Hungary, in (almost) total isolation from the rest of the continent, where Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, and later Boulez and Stockhausen were using serial techniques to find a way to detach modern music from the “tyranny” of the Western tonal system. Ligeti approached the same problem from an apparently antithetical standpoint (using one note instead of a fixed series of twelve pitches), yet focusing on the other parameters of music in order to create direction and growth.

Another sticking point for us 1099 folks are deductions. Since we’re self-employed, we try to get as much back as we can come tax time. Maximizing our deductions just makes good sense. Why would you pay more in taxes than you have to?

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But one of the most important aspects is that it’s either built with or able to handle a good amount of tremolo and reverb. Those two effects, along with the warmth that decent tubes will give you, should set you up with the perfect country sound. Here are some of my favorite choices for playing country music:

The points of reference are circled in red in the below image. Look at how the open string (Fret 0) and Fret 12 feature the same notes, but an octave above. The note of A appears three times so we can already see there’s a relationship between Fret 5 on the 6th string, and Fret 12 on the 5th string as well. We’ll explore this further as well.

“Happier”: Wait, no… what are you… no! Not the dog, come on, man, not the dog, what are you doing to me, Marshmello? Okay, so here’s a form I’m not adequately equipped to categorize or compare to anything else: what’s stumping me is what to do with the three-bar space in between the pre-chorus and the solid chorus/refrain that’s introduced at the beginning. For now, I’m lumping it in with the chorus as part of a chorus variation. But you could also think of it as an extended part of the pre-chorus, especially as its lyric is taken from it. Or, I guess we could even call it an “interlude.” It’s slippery. I have to highlight the half-bridge that ends the song — you almost never see half-bridges.

Evan Zwisler is a NYC-based musician who is most notably known for his work with The Values as a songwriter and guitarist. He is an active member of the Brooklyn music scene, throwing fundraisers and organizing compilations for Planned Parenthood and the Anti-Violence Project. He started playing music in the underground punk scene of Shanghai with various local bands when he was in high school before going to California for college and finally moving to New York in 2012.

With overwhelmingly positive results, we’re happy to share a few select testimonials of Soundfly’s Beginner Harmonic Theory course directly from our students.