Bluegrass Still Coming Up!

Enthusiasm for “unplugged” music has helped revitalize the careers of middle-aged rocker Eric Clapton and elderly crooner Tony Bennett. It may also be behind the growing interest in a purely American musical form–bluegrass. Born in the 1940s and based on folk-music traditions, bluegrass incorporates guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and banjo to create melodic musical lines.

Adults who buy bluegrass music are a small share of all music purchasers, at 2.4 percent. Yet these 4.6 million aficionados average more than nine musical buys a year, well above the U.S. average of five annual purchases, according to a new survey by Simmons Market Research for the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). The potential for bluegrass is even greater. In 2013, about 30 percent of adults said they like bluegrass music.(1)

banjo-bluegrassWhy don’t more bluegrass fanciers take home bluegrass tapes and CDs? One possible reason is that many bluegrass performers refuse to write and record songs expressly for broad commercial appeal. Hit singles are virtually unheard of. That didn’t stop 24-year-old Alison Krauss, a bluegrass singer and fiddler, from selling more than 2 million copies of her 1995 recording, “Now That I’ve Found You: A Collection.” Krauss wouldn’t court commercial success, even as her single got play time on radio stations nationwide. She reportedly passed on contract offers from major Nashville record labels, and eschewed large, big-money, high-publicity concert venues for smaller spaces with better acoustics.

Whether for lack of self-promotion or just the nature of the genre, bluegrass music appeals most to both the poorest and most affluent adults, and those who are young and in late middle-age. About 3 percent of those with household incomes below $10,000 or $75,000 or more are bluegrass buyers, compared with 2.4 percent on average. Low-income bluegrass fans may have more money than it appears. Many may be college students whose parents are footing the bill.

The popularity of bluegrass has been steadily increasing since it took hold as a music form 40 years ago, says Dan Hays, executive director of the IBMA. “There were enough bands in the 1950s for bluegrass to become a musical category,” he says. “Then the folk boom in the 1960s and multi-day music events in the 1970s brought a lot of attention [to acoustic music].”

Bluegrass is also becoming more popular in international circles. The IBMA has members in 28 foreign countries. Bluegrass is especially on the rise in Japan and the former Soviet Union. “Bluegrass is popular for the same reason blue jeans are,” says Hays. “It is uniquely American.”

Those Conservative Guitarists…

It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but the musicians with the most nonconservative reputation are really a little fuddy duddy when it comes to their purchase choices. Other pastimes, like Hockey, Tennis and Golf continue to embrace new tools, new materials and performance enhancing equipment, whereas the world of the guitarist remains startlingly the same. It’s almost like time has stopped with guitarists.

Classic, or snoozeworthy?

The kid walking into the store may have a blue mohawk, a nose ring, tattoos, and a burning desire to rebel against “all the hypocritical conventions of our decaying society.” But, when it comes to buying his guitar, chances are he’ll come down on the side of the convention, play it safe, and pick one of the forty-plus-year-old designs that represent the mainstay of the guitar business. As popular musicians in every genre strive to lead the cutting edge, it’s more than a little ironic that they all seem to rely on guitars that predate the Lawrence Welk show. So much for the power of tradition.

As the accompanying chart illustrates, approximately 67% of new guitar sales are generated by three basic model types, the newest of which made its debut in 1955: the height of the accordion boom. In broad strokes, the three major guitar varieties, which are now produced by scores of manufacturers include: the dreadnought acoustic, first produced by Martin Guitar in 1916; the Les Paul type electric, characterized by two humbucking pickups and a set neck, and first introduced by Gibson in 1952; and the Strat type, which features a bolt-on neck and three single-coil pickups, first introduced by Fender in 1954.

The success of the these three mainstays has nothing to do with a lack of alternatives. Despite the market’s affinity for the tried and true, creative luthiers and designers continue to offer unique new instruments. Some gain visibility and commercial acceptance, like the completely original Steinberger headless bass. Unfortunately though, most are passed over by retailers and musicians alike. All of which calls to mind Winston Churchill’s observation about one of his political opponents. “He offers sound and original ideas. Unfortunately, the sound ideas aren’t original and the original ideas aren’t sound.”

The shockingly high failure rate of genuinely new guitar designs has done little to deter luthiers. On the following pages, we present a gallery of some of the more novel “sound and original” ideas that range from the sublime to the ridiculous, and end with a rhethorical question: why is it that guitarists are so remarkably averse to change?

Buffalo’s Celebrations And Discoveries Was Classic

The 1993 Guitar Foundation of America International Festival and Competition, or “Celebrations and Discoveries”, was probably one of the most epic guitar conventions of all time. It lives on in history through the minds of those that were present.

Those attending the festival were treated to a whirlwind of recitals, masterclasses, workshops, panel discussions, and lectures. These events were staggered so that, in theory, a diligent registrant could attend every single one. In practice, however, this became impractical because in order to do so one would have had to miss the drama of the preliminary, semifinal, and final rounds of the annual competition and the displays of 25 different suppliers to the guitar trade who had set up a giant Vendor’s Fair, both of which were going on simultaneously with the festival events. Host for “Celebrations and Discoveries”, which was held October 21-25, was the music department of the State University of New York at Buffalo.

The scope of the festival activities was made even larger by the substantial number of University students and faculty, plus Buffalo music lovers who were drawn to the many performances. This was particularly true of the five evening concerts, which might fairly be considered the backbone of the festival.

Good planning was in evidence everywhere. For those “backbone” recitals, for example, there was clear recognition that even for a large convention of guitarists and guitar mavens, a little leavening was needed in what would otherwise be a succession of five straight guitar recitals. Taking this principle to heart, the first evening concert was given over to guitarist Nicholas Goluses and flutist Bonita Boyd, two Eastman School of Music faculty members. The duo made a profound impression with Joan Tower’s 1983 Snow Dreams, a disjunct, episodic work, now chattery, now lyrical, that leaves an afterimage of swirling motions. In a nod to Segovia, Goluses played Ponce’s Variations and Fugue on Folia de Espana in a technically adept manner while illuminating its quieter regions with subtle colors. The recital by Eduardo Fernandez could be considered a town-gown affair, co-sponsored by the festival, the host University, and Buffalo’s premier presenting organization, the QRS Arts Foundation. Fernandez responded with a program uncharacteristic of most guitar recitals. With four major multi-movement works spanning three centuries, it had the heft of, say, an Alfred Brendel piano recital. Gliding smoothly from the Bach Lute Suite in E minor and Sor’s Sonata No. 2 to the extended techniques demanded in Brouwer’s Sonata and Ginastera’s Sonata, Opus 47, Fernandez imbued everything along the way with a feeling of elegance and magisterial authority. Only his own fractured and seemingly purposeless Consecuencias left this listener unmoved. The recital itself suggested overlooked possibilities in programming with a somewhat heavier center of gravity than is the norm.

A break in the recital format was provided by the Baltimore Consort, which took the stage for an evening of authentic Renaissance diversion. Most of the music for soprano, lutes, Renaissance guitar, recorders, crumhorns, viols, and the like was taken from their hit recording with the too-cute title La Rocque ‘N’ Roll, and while long stretches seemed quite undifferentiated, other portions offered music of real distinction.

The concluding recital by the highly regarded David Russell came as something of a disappointment. Although he started strongly in works of Barrios, Rodrigo, and Hunt, the selections themselves presented a rather monochromatic front. And with Handel’s Suite No. 7, technical and interpretive problems surfaced, most naggingly in the artist’s failure to contrast the successive variations in the suite’s glorious concluding Passacaglia or even to heighten our expectation with strategic pauses before attacks.

But then there was the magnificent performance of Roberto Aussel to remember from the festival’s second evening. On the technical level, his playing was superbly precise rhythmically but never became stiff or metronomic; there was not a wrong note or even a hesitation, and on top of this I detected only one audible finger slide in the entire two-hour recital. When it came to making music out of notes, I was perhaps even more impressed. The shaping, weighting, and turning of his ornamentations seemed absolutely right. Articulation and animation of both rhythm and line were well-nigh perfect, and Aussel’s control of dynamics and color gave his playing a confidential intimacy that drew listeners forward in their seats. After a while the aura of near-perfection made me forget I was hearing a guitar–only pure music.

He played the Suite No. 25 by Sylvius Weiss, making this minor baroque figure sound like a rival of Bach. Music of Sor and Brouwer was elevated to a new level; and works of Obrovska, Oyens, and Campana that veered away from tonality and called for extraneous percussive effects were made to sound extremely idiomatic for the guitar.

While all this was going on, three rounds of the International Competition were taking place. And when the dust had settled, Keven Gallagher of Saddlebrook, New Jersey had the gold medal, a $2,000 cash award, a custom-crafted guitar from California luthier German Vazquez, a passel of concert bookings, including one at next year’s festival and another with Buffalo’s QRS Arts Foundation, and other perks.

By happy coincidence, the winner of the 1992 competition in New Orleans had been the young Buffalo guitarist Jason Vleaux. So when he had his afternoon recital the audience included a large number of his local friends. He rewarded them by displaying a good sense of rhythmic freedom, clean articulation, a lot of technical finesse, and a natural sensitivity for phrase shaping in works of Morel, Regondi, Bach, and Ponce.

In other non-prime-time events: a recital by Richard Savino on older-style baroque and classic guitars generated a lot of interest; a lecture by Richard Greene on the widely varying standards in guitar programs at North American colleges and conservatories was considered timely and provocative; and James Smith presented two hours’ worth of never-before-seen films and videotapes of Segovia master-classes spanning nearly 30 years.

Bringing Snoring To A Stop

Snoring is an issue that certainly a lot of people face. Despite not seeming dangerous, a person should try to solve his or her snoring problem. Snoring will lead to sleep deprivation that might cause heavy fatigue and further health complications. In some cases, snoring might be the symptom of potential heart disease. But do not fear, as there are many snoring remedies such as a snoring mouthpiece like the ones featured here to help you solve the problem.

One of the solutions you can try is to change your pillows on a regular basis. Pillows are the home to dust mites. And once there is too many dust mites nesting in your pillow, allergens from these mites may actually cause you to snore. So, make it a habit to change to a new pillow every once in awhile. Another remedy that you can try is to not consume alcohol or other sedatives before you go to bed. Taking alcohol before sleeping will cause your muscles to relax. And when your tongue and the soft palate relax, it will cause a narrower airway in which air can flow to your lungs.

Start by trying each home remedy for a small period of time. Soon, you will begin to understand what works for you.

Snoring is a kind of sleeping disorder that is being found in people more than ever as the population increases. Nowadays people of all age group undergo this problem and you could say it has become a perpetual syndrome found among the common man. Snoring can happen due to various kinds of reasons. Sometimes fatigue and excessive nasal pressure can be the reasons for snoring. However, with the improvement of medical science, one can get rid of snoring habit very easily. A few easy snoring remedies are that can be undertaken by individuals are like usage of nasal strips, which are very easily available in the market. These nasal strips are very easy to wear and work wonders. These strips are very light in weight and it can be said that these are the ultimate solution for snoring remedies. One can get these nasal strips online and can order these strips with the help of internet sitting at home. These strips are so effective that the manufacturer offers a money back guarantee to all its customers in case it fails to work. All together, it can be said that nasal strips are the best solution that are available in the market, which fights snoring problem and eventually helps the individual to get rid of snoring.

Medicines typically will not cure snoring. This is because all snoring is not caused by a single factor. The reason for snoring varies from person to person. Age and gender difference can be a common factor for snoring. Once people reach their middle age, snoring usually seems to gradually become part of their sleep. It is also often noticed that men are more prone to snore than women are. Whatever be the reason for snoring, the right snoring remedies  can help eradicate this issue in course of time.

One of the best snoring remedies is proper food intake. A heavy dinner can be a surefire cause for snoring. So, be careful to have a light dinner as far as possible. Changing the sleep posture can also be of great help in reducing snores. Intake of alcohol is another common reason for snoring in sleep because it relaxes muscles and leads to the narrowing of the passage of air. Here it must be noted that though various things contribute to snoring, the root cause is always the narrowing of the air passage while breathing during sleep. When the passage is narrowed, air comes out with an audible sound. Therefore, snoring remedies focus on understanding what causes this narrowing in individuals and arrive at the specific lifestyle change that can make a definite difference.

Snoring is a problem that may be affecting about half of the population. The problem is usually common in men who smoke or are overweight. Here are some its main causes and remedies that will definitely show you the proper way of how to stop snoring. During sleeping, if you are not able to breathe properly then it can cause snoring. Sleeping on your back also cause snoring. Having large tongues or tonsils can also be a reason for this problem. Usage of alcohol, cigarettes and sleeping pills also cause snoring. The following are some remedies that are effective for snoring treatment.

  • Change the pattern of your sleep.
  • Avoid sleeping on your back. It will help you to breathe properly.
  • Lose your weight. It will help you to reduce the intensity of snoring problem.
  • Avoid taking any pills without doctor prescription.
  • Avoid usage of alcohol and quit smoking. Start breathing exercises.
  • Avoid dairy and fried products because these are a key reason for congestion in people.

Snoring can be a sign of a serious problem if it is persistent. You should consult your doctor in this condition. The physician will evaluate the actual problem. Call your doctor now if you have problems such as daytime, loud or heavy snoring. If your breathing stops during sleep and you experience inappropriate timing of sleeping, be quick and talk to your doctor about it.

Snoring Is Treatable

Many people have snoring problems but fortunately, now we have many snoring cures as well that help us to reduce or eradicate the snoring problem easily. Here are some cures that will surely work for some. Keep in mind that snoring can be serious sometimes and cause many problems for the sufferer. Therefore, you should know how to stop snoring fast. One of these ways with with anti snoring devices known collectively as snoring mouthpieces. They include such brands as Good Morning Snore Solution, ZQuiet and SnoreRX. Read some reviews at this site.

A simple tip that can reduce your snoring problem is to bring some change in your sleeping position. If you sleep on your back, you restrict your air passages during breathing. This cause a sound we recognize as snoring. If you are overweight then try to lose weight. This will help you to reduce or completely stop the snoring problem. Along with it, stop using alcohol as well. Quit smoking, because cigarettes damage your throat passages and partially block the airway during sleep. There are some few cures that will definitely help you to reduce snoring. If you find that your snoring problem is persistent then you need proper treatment. You should not take it lightly. Consult with your doctor immediately. Good sleep is an important and necessary part of our life. So, take proper medications to solve this problem.