Life’s Just Got Easier – 1 License, 1 Price, Multiple Usage

smartassmusic_100x100We’ve been really hard at work behind the scenes recently, with a major site re-organisation and one of the first updates to be implemented is to make life more simple for you!

Our new entirely Royalty Free, single Blanket Media License means that once you purchase a track, you are covered for just about any media usage (Film, TV, Radio, Internet, Multimedia, CD, DVD) as long as you use the music within a production (combined with images, video or  a voice-over). You are also covered for “in store” music as well as “music on hold”.

1 License, 1  Price,  Multiple Uses –  No more confusing licenses and prices.

Full details can be viewed here.

More improvements and updates coming very soon 🙂

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Best Quality Royalty Free Music

smartassmusic_100x100Well, we’re onto the new faster, bigger server and it may have been a bumpy ride but it has enabled us to add much more music and I’m really proud of the latest tracks. It’s honestly some of the best royalty free music I’ve come across (and no, I didn’t write it myself!).

New composers Michael Taylor from Australia and Guy Zerafa from Canada have provided us with some of the highest quality scoring I’ve come across which is perfect for TV, Film and video use.

Guy is an award winning film composer and a wonderful guitarist, expert in many styles. His tracks simply ooze quality. Listen to these and you’ll see what I mean:

Long Ride Subtle Latin American influenced track with acoustic guitar and violin.
Things We’ve Said Louisiana  style blues with electric guitar, fretless bass and harmonica.
No One Knows String Quartet

We’ve also added a Hollywood Style Scores package to the Track Packages section. This is a collection of 10 Hollywood style orchestral tracks and is highly recommended.

We have lots of important updates and improvements which we’ll be rolling out very shortly and we’ll post the details here first.

Posted in: Royalty free music

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Ghosts in the Machine

smartassmusic_100x100You know those really frustrating weeks where nothing goes right?!
For the diligent amongst you, you may have noticed some “ghosts in the machine” at SMARTassMusic this week. On Friday I noticed some missing tables in the DB, which was very strange and possibly due to a server error. We got this fixed as soon as possible and on Monday we started with a big server upgrade to give us more than double the space and a faster server.
Unfortunately this coincided with more DB tables dissappearing and the server upgrade  meant that we couldn’t access the system to correct this until the transfer was complete. This took all week!!!!!.

The site was in fact fully functional for almost the entire time although access to many tracks was impossible through the searh facility. This did not make me a happy bunny :-((

I’m glad to say that everything has been restored and process of moving to a new, bigger, faster server is now completed.
Personally, I want this site to provide superior quality content, quickly and easily and believe me, any downtime frustrates me hugely, as those around me will testify!

Sincere apologies if anybody was inconvenienced but everything is back working and with far more resources.
Actually we have big improvements which are already under way and we should be rolling them out soon 🙂

More great music is waiting to be released very soon.

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New Hollywood Style Adventure Tracks


A warm welcome to new composer  Michael Taylor from Australia. I love the quality of Michael’s Orchestral scoring.  Among other tracks, we’ve added several Hollywood style adventure tracks which, quite frankly he’s saved me days of work as I know exactly how much time goes into producing audio of this quality. These track are great for adventure scenes, fight scenes, sci- fi and the gernerally, best video you’ve got.

Have a listen to these:
Red Baron”  A super stylish, exciting score. Some of the best I’ve heard.
Return to the Scene” Very dramatic, dark underscore.
Silver Bullet” A wonderful, flowing, dramatic score.

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New Brazilian/ Latin Music

smartassmusic_100x100We’re very proud to have new composer Felipe Vassao join us at SMARTassMusic.
Felipe lives in Brazil and although he composes in many styles, he has a totally authentic Latin flavour in many of his tracks.

He has cleverly combined traditional Brazilian elements with modern production and styles. It’s a style that personally I love but I’m also happy to add a more Latin flavour to the collection too.

Have a listen to:
Drum and Bossa” A modern Bossa Nova beat with acoustic guitar and heavy drums. I love this!
Eletrosamba” A similar take as the Bossa but with Samba. Come on……you’ve got to love it 🙂
Samba Pump” A powerful percussion track.
Samba Hip Hop” If you’re foot’s not tapping…I don’t believe you.

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New Electronic Music

 The blog’s been quiet recently but we certainly haven’t been slacking!
Among the many things we’ve been doing is adding some really good new music to the collection.

The first new batch to be uploaded was a new set of up-beat, positive electonic tracks by Jon Cooper. I’m personally a little wary of electronic music styles  because they’re very easy to do badly but Jon keeps coming up with really interesting tracks that draw you in with great melodic ideas and a fine sense of space and scale.  He’s really one of the best I’ve heard.
Have a listen to these and you’ll see what I mean:

“Dissolution of Memory” great electronic kit with a heavy synth bass and great use of space.
“SuperKolidor” energetic percussion with a dramatic piano and synths.
“The Blue Lounge”  hip-hop backbeat with classical style piano and synths.

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How to Get Beyond Music Theory?

How to get Beyond Music Theory

How to get Beyond Music Theory?The subject of balancing a knowledge of theory with “instinctive” playing came up in a music forum the other day. It’s obvious that musicians have strong views on this but I really don’t see the two aspects as being in conflict with each other. In fact, I have very strong views on the matter! :-))

Learning How to be a Natural:
My whole teaching approach is based upon how to play “naturally” or “instinctively” but it’s also based in a very sound knowledge of theory.  When you learn an instrument you have to perform a great deal of conscious work because you need to tell your hands what to do. We learn this by moving through small conscious steps until each element is allowed to be controlled by the subconscious. We can then move to the next level. If you put in enough hard work you may eventually reach the stage where you can forget everything and just play – but  there’s really nothing instinctive about it.

When playing Jazz, I’m only content  if I’m able to play utterly within the moment and play (only) what I’m hearing in my head. As a result I may improvise within the chords, or outside of them. I’ll play whatever I feel at that moment and even though it appears and feels “instinctive”, it’s really no such thing, as this ability has been very hard earned and I’m still able to explain what I’m doing in terms of theory afterwards.

Learning to Hear:A knowledge of scales and harmony not only helps you understand the logic within different styles and helps you discuss musical ideas, most importantly, it allows you to HEAR the music better!
Very few people  have the ability to hear music and immediately and replicate it. For the rest of us the ability to hear music accurately can be made far easier by breaking it down into smaller elements.
If you familiarise yourself with the sound of a basic chord (for example C minor-C,Eb,G) and then add the 7th (C,Eb,G,Bb), add the 9th (C,Eb,G,Bb,D). It doesn’t take long before you can recognise this chord precisely, anywhere at the keyboard by recognising a combination of the chord quality and it’s texture (or voicing). For example a Cm9 played in “closed position” in the middle of the keyboard (Middle C,Eb,G,Bb) will sound rather ordinary, but open up that chord so that you have C in the bass with G above, then Eb, Bb and D – you have a large resonant chord. You could invert it so that you have C in the bass the add Bb (below middle C), D,Eb,G. It’s the same quality chord (minor) with a different texture. Learn all your keys and you can now recognise a minor chord with any extension in any position on the keyboard. (See Jazz harmony posts).
There’s no real difference between this method and recognising a particular model of car in different colours. Some cars may have slight modifications but it’s still the same car and you’ll recognise it every time. Instead of hearing a bewildering array of notes, you’ve brought it down to thinking about the smallest possible elements. When you come to play, you don’t think at all-you hear and you’re subconsious does the work that you’ve taught it.

Knowledge of scales and harmony enables students to make sense of the bewildering amount of patterns that we use in music. These patterns are entirely man made and many of them are learned in our childhood without knowing it. To western ears, Arabic music or Chinese music can sound very out of tune but it’s because the westerner’s brain hasn’t learned the same patterns. The same applies to Jazz. Many people don’t like Jazz because their brain can’t work out the patterns and it may sound discordant or agitated to them. This type of learning is below the conscious level and might be described as “instinct” in exactly the same way that we learn a language (and accent) when young. When we talk, we don’t think about how the words and sentences are made up (because we learned that when young) , although in order to teach somebody else we need to have a very good understanding of spelling and grammar.

Thinking Orchestrally:
It should be said that the piano lends itself to thinking theoretically because of it’s visual, logical layout. We can think orchestrally the whole time-and by “orchestrally” it matters not if it’s Ravel or Bob Marley. You can hear the notes and mentally overlay them onto the keyboard. The mistake that most pianists make is to play the piano! The best pianists are trying to emulate orchestras or Big bands or other instruments. It adds colour and another dimension to piano playing. Vladimir Horowitz is the most wonderful “orchestral” pianist. An example of pianistic playing is the wine bar “Jazz” that you hear, with loads of pointless runs and arpeggios.
Guitarists approach their instrument differently and find the guitar more of a “feel” instrument because they can’t really look at what they’re doing. Also, guitarists don’t have to learn a completely different shape for each key, anything like the extend that a pianist does. This does mean that they can learn faster without the need for much theory- but beware. I can’t tell you the amount of amazing guitarists that earn a fraction of what they could,  because they can’t read music properly.

Don’t Limit Yourself:My point is that a thorough knowledge of theory helps you HEAR music better and learn how to forget the rules and play from your heart. Without this, even with a lot of talent you’ll probably be stuck within one style and be musically restricted. I’ve seen it time and time again.

Posted in: General, Music, Tutorials

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Blank Manuscript Paper Download

music arranger

I thought this may be useful for the musicians amongst you. I’ve produced some blank manuscript paper for you to download and print out.
The links below are single stave versions in treble and bass clef as well as double stave piano manuscript. They’re also in US and UK paper sizes.

Single stave Manuscript paper- treble clef. US
Single stave Manuscript paper- treble clef. UK

Single stave Manuscript paper- Bass clef. US
Single stave Manuscript paper- Bass clef. UK

Double stave Manuscript paper- US
Double stave Manuscript paper- UK

Simply click the link above, download the PDF and save a copy o your hard drive.

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Jazz Piano Harmony Tutorial

jazz harmony tutorial

This worksheet is another quick overview of Jazz piano styles within 2 sheets of A4 paper.
Whatever your standard, it’s always useful to be aware of these harmonic stylistic differences as it’s particularly useful for solo piano as you can mix and match the different approaches to provide textural interest.

Download Jazz Harmony Tutorial
Fig 1 shows the basic II-V-I progression in closed, root position and you should always be aware of this in the back of your mind.
Fig 2 Shows these chords opened up in 2 ways, to provide a more resonant chord using only the same notes.
Fig 3 is an example of Bebop voicings, which are usually very sparse using only 3rds or 7ths and thus known as “shells”.
Fig 4 extends the harmony by the use of added 9ths and 13ths. Notice that this is still based on the basic “open” voicings.
Fig 5 extends this idea and shows chromatically altered extensions.
Fig 6 shows the rootless voicings used by most modern Jazz pianists. These take the important notes of the open chords (3rd,7th and possibly 9ths,11ths,13ths) and inverts them to produce intervals of 2nds and to enable the chord to fit within one hand. These voicings are only effective in the tenor register of the piano.
Fig 10,11 shows how these voicings may be used when “comping” in a rhythm section. The right hand adds a stronger trumpet like element with an octave and 4th or 5th, boosted by the thick rootless voicing of the left hand.
If you’re familiar with these approaches in all keys then you’ll have plenty to work with, especially for solo piano.

Happy practising!

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Download Full Preview Tracks

Full length track downloads are now available for all logged in users, without the need to contact us.
You’ll see a download icon on the right hand side of the track box  
and by clicking this (if you are logged in) you will be able to download a full length lo-fi MP3 version to try out in your productions.

We’ve got loads of new tracks coming out at the moment-in fact we can’t add them fast enough. I’ll keep you posted here very shortly.

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