Self Publishing for Guitarists Part 6 – Audio

By – James Martin

It is a rare tuition book now that doesn’t come with it’s own audio component, and my Zero Point series are no exception. As these books are aimed at beginners, it’s imperative that they have a clear idea of what it is they’re trying to do, to ensure that they’re practicing the right thing.

We’ve all had beginner students loudly proclaim, “I’ve been practicing C all week,” before launching into some hideous-sounding mutation of a chord shape… this is what happens when students don’t have a clear goal of the sound they’re trying to produce.

So for a beginner’s book, an audio component is essential. There’s no better way to get across seemingly abstract concepts such as rhythm, dynamics and the tonalities conveyed by different chord voicings – words, no matter how eloquently written, simply cannot compete with letting the student hear the sound for themselves. There’s a famous Frank Zappa quote, which I think any music teacher can relate to – “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.”

Copyright restrictions mean that all music has to be original, so you can’t post transcriptions of songs and audio recreations of them without expecting some legal comeback – I chose the safe option and decided to write all the music myself.

Most of these took the form of simple chord sequences – interesting note, chord sequences are exempt from copyright restrictions. Imagine if you could copyright the 12 bar blues, or the I-V-vi-IV…

This approach also allowed me to ensure that the difficulty level rose gradually and logically – crotchets evolving into quavers and syncopated rhythms, major chords being adapted into minors and suspended voicings.

A clear and logical difficulty progression is essential to prevent the student becoming confused and demotivated, as we’ve discussed before.

I’m sure everyone reading this has at least some sort of recording/sequencing software – certainly, those of you of the Apple persuasion will have GarageBand installed on whatever iThing you use, giving you access to very useful drum and percussion loops.

Personally, after a brief and unsuccessful flirtation with Pro Tools, I stick with trusty old Cubase LE6 – I know it’s a bit of an old warhorse now, but I’ve been using Cubase ever since music college in the 1990s, and learning my way around a new system seems an unnecessary hassle.

This was also an opportunity to develop a new skill – playing the drums. I’ve been mucking about with this for a few years now, after having bought a little Roland TD-1 V-drumkit.

This went straight into Cubase via a MIDI-USB cable, allowing me to quantize any mistakes. I have to say, this made the process far more enjoyable than tediously step editing every drum line, and the additional practice sharpened up my rather rudimentary drumming skills.

I flatter myself that the audio component sounded a little more organic because of it, rather than a simple programmed “Kick 1-3, Snare 2-4, Hi hat 8ths” loop.

Keyboards were done the same way, whereas bass and guitar went in live through Ye Olde Line 6 GuitarPort – out of production now, but freely available on eBay and a wonderfully useful little bit of kit, a guitar-USB interface with some excellent amp models on board.

After mixing down each track, it was a simple exercise to remove the guitar track and export a mix as a backing track – workload halved in a stroke.

With the audio component recorded, your next problem is working out how to include it into the package – although there are many different self-publishing options, I could find none that dealt with audio.

So to work around the problem, I took two approaches – I placed the audio files on my website as a free to download Zip file, with a link prominently placed in the title and copyright pages of the book for those who buy online via Amazon, and for those students who bought the book through me, I burned CDs or DVDs.

There are plenty of CD labeling programs available which do a great job of branding discs with titles and images of your product – you really can do better than just writing on them.

All it takes then is a quick trip to Staples to bulk buy the plastic CD pockets, a decent glue to attach them to the inside of the front cover and we’re ready to go.

Next time – the all important cover design. You know why they say “Never judge a book by its cover”? It’s because everyone does exactly that.

Check the rest of this series on self-publishing for guitarists.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 7

Part 8


This article has been independently supplied by the author and expresses the author’s own views and opinions; the article does not purport to represent RGT’s views or policies.

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