The Loog BB King Playlist – Or How to Turn a Frown into a Smile Today

B.B. King's Lucille

B.B. King’s Lucille

Today is a sad, sad day – the world has lost another amazing guitarist. And even though BB King will continue to inspire kids and adults for generations to come -as most passing musicians do- it’s always sad to say goodbye.

Today is the first of those days. Ever since we heard the news, we’ve been listening to the King of Blues nonstop, rediscovering partially-forgotten gems, reminiscing and sharing BB King tunes with each other. Surprisingly (or not), it made a seemingly crappy day end with a happier, bittersweet note. So for all of you mourning our King today, here’s a small sample of what we shared today, the day in which BB King turned from legend into legendary.

“Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but no one wants to die to get there!” – BB King

B.B. King In Concert - San Rafael, CA

This is just a sample – there are hundreds of more songs on YouTube and Spotify. Or, you could take Eric Clapton’s suggestion and find BB King Live at the Regal to listen to this weekend, along with your kids. They’ll probably thank you -and the King- later 🙂

The Effects of Music on YOUR Brain

We’ve covered how music affects your kids’ brains before, but when you get a Loog it’s certain that you, the adult, will also be subjeted to music for a greater portion of the day. Worse things can happen – and we’re here to show you. Welcome to the sweet world of the effects of music on your brain!

These effects on adult brains can be positive and mysterious. When listening to any kind of music, different parts of the brain light up – we use different portions to process different things. So it’s natural that a whole array of effects follow, some of which science is still trying to explain. Here are some of the effects music has on your brain.

How your brain processes music

1. Music affects how we see people
Listening to happy or sad music will make you think another person is happier or sadder. It’s science. Apparently, music primes us to process emotion – so when faced with a neutral face, we’ll think the person wearing it will be feeling the same things the music we listened to conveyed.

Heath Ledger

To the left – before listening to dubstep. To the right, afterwards.

2. Sad music can actually make us feel better
This is no universal discovery but we found this study that actually explains why. Apparently, “we initially experience negative emotion, such as sadness, and subsequently experience pleasant emotion because of the rewarding effect of enjoying art. Thus, the experience of listening to sad music may ultimately elicit pleasant emotion.” Makes sense!

3. Don’t bop and drive
Music can actually make us worse at driving. This is really hard news to swallow BUT, there’s an upside: silence is worse. The best thing is to turn the radio on and listen to something as uninteresting as the traffic ahead.

4. It can increase creativity
“Yeah, sure,” you say. “I listen to a song, want to write my own songs, tour the world.” Pretty much, but that’s not what we mean 😉 Science has found that moderate ambient noise (as compared to low ambient noise) fosters creativity and innovative thought. So next time you have to put your thinking cap on, perhaps press play on the music player of your choice? Just remember: moderate ambient noice. Don’t go all metal on your brain!

5. What you listen to speaks loads about your personality
Yup, now people can correctly judge you for whatever’s playing on your iPod! This study found that what music you usually listen is a good way to predict your opennes to experience, extraversion and emotional stability. Just for reference, Blues fans are creative, outgoing, gentle and have great self-esteem. But we already knew that 😉

Pictured: Two Blues fans

Pictured: Two Blues fans

6. Music can make us healthier
Listening to music can relieve pain up to 21% when it comes to osteoarthritis, disc problems and rheumatoid arthritis. And according to the same study, it also alleviated depression-related pain up to 25%.

But what about actually making you healthier? The same source has studies that have found that relaxing music every morning and every evening can lower your blood pressure. Likewise, listening to music daily can speed up recovery from strokes, inducing neuroanatomical changes in the brain.

It’s even more good news for those who suffer from migranes, chronic headaches, reduce their seizure recurrence, recover from childbirth, early tinnitus or if you’re down for an immunity boost.

Music makes you healthier, more creative, happier and, depending on what genres you care for, a better person. So why not make some yourself tonight?

Guilty Pleasure of the Day: Awesome Quotes by Musicians

One of our greatest guilty pleasures is surfing around looking for awesome quotes by musicians. Yes, we know: most quote-sharers tend to be cheesy and annoying BUT the truth is there is nothing as inspiring as the right words at the right time. Plus, it’s okay to be cheesy and kind of annoying from time to time 😉

We actually have a folder with many of these quotes and re-visit them from time to time on Twitter, Facebook or even Instagram. So why not share them with you? This is not a complete list (we really didn’t want to drown you in quotes) but a start – we actually want YOU to share yours with us and keep adding to our collection!

So what’s your favorite quote by a musician? Let us know in the comments and we’ll share 🙂

Leopold Stokowski Thom Yorke Robert Smith Patti Smith Keith Richards Jimi Hendrix Paul McCartney Prince Bob Dylan David Grohl

Five Harder DIY Musical Instruments to Make This Weekend ;-)

It’s no secret that we’re crazy about DIY, especially DIY instruments. Just you, some pieces of wood and metal, a whole lot of patience and the pleasure to actually build something with your own hands. That’s the simple joy of it, and something that you can easily share with your kids. So, now that you’ve built your Loog, dare you tackle something a bit more complicated? We’ve already shared some pretty easy-to-make DIY musical instruments to build for your kids in our blog before, but let’s take it a knotch higher this time…

Washtub Bass

 

Washtab Bass

This is a very old, folk and traditional hand-made bass from the early 20th century that’s great to play along your own Loog or acoustic guitar. Usually used in ensemble folk and jug bands for decades, all you need to make one is a steel string cable, a metal washtub and a broom for the instrument’s “neck”. Find the entire guide to build a washtub bass here.

Hang Drum

Hang Drum

The Hang Drum is actually a new and very interesting instrument. Created in Switzerland in the early 00s, it’s a new kind of percussion instrument, very much like a reverse steelpan, that is used to create rythm and melodies. It has a very beautiful and ethereal sound. All Hang Drums today are built on demand and tend to be very expensive, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t build a rough version of it yourself! Using only a propane tank and some power tools -and LOTS of patience to tune it- you can create a really cool sound that’s not as clear as with the real thing, but still awesome. Full instructions here.

Pocket Theremin

Pocket Theremin

The Theremin was the first electronic instrument ever made – it was created in the 20s by Leon Theremin, and is still the only instrument that you can play without touching it. Moving your hand near one of its antennae changes the pitch, while doing so over the other controls the volume. It’s very difficult to play in a “classical” way but SUPER fun to just make blurpy, ghost sounds. You can build a small and simple Theremin easily for under $20. Are you good at fiddling with electronics? Even if the answer is no, this is a good starter proyect. Instructions and a complete list of items needed here.

Cigar-Box Guitar

Cigar-box Guitar

The cigar-box guitar is actually the grandfather of the Loog guitar. It’s much more complicated to build, but so totally worth it. These babies are fretless instruments, so they are much more challenging to play than a regular guitar, but sound great with a slide and some practice. Want to try one? We already have an entire blog post showing different instructions to different kinds of cigar-box guitars for all kinds of skill levels.

Turn Anything into an Instrument
If you’re more into pocket Thereminds than Cigar-box guitars, then you’ll probably love this one: Makey Makey is an invention kit that lets you control your computer with anything. Drawings, pieces of clay-doh, bananas, pieces of cardboard… ANYTHING. The concept is simple: Makey Makey is just a small card with cables and alligator connectors. You plug those alligator connectors to anything, and plug the Makey Makey to one of your computer’s USB ports. That’s it – the possibilities are endless. Look at this video that shows a few of the thousands of musical instruments that you can build. It includes musical paintings, a piano played with balloons on the ceiling, touch-sensitive fur, organ gloves, and much, much more!

5 Awesome Guitarists Who Overcame their Physical Disabilities

The guitar is not a particularly hard instrument to play, at least compared with most classical instruments. Sure, you need both hands but just use one to press the strings on the fingerboard and the other to pluck them. It’s that simple.Yet sadly not everybody is blessed with run-of-the-mill levels of hand dexterity or mobility, whether at birth or by accident. Most people don’t even dream of tackling an instrument in these cases – and those who do tend to quit once it gets hard. Yet it’s amazing how many famous guitarists have continued to play even when severely handicapped. With some, you can’t even tell they have a disability in the first place!So here are five different stories to inspire you and bookmark for when you (or your kid) feel the urge to quit because “playing guitar is too hard”. If these guys can do it, there’s no excuse!

5) Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

Tony Iommi
The lead guitarist and primary composer of the FIRST legendary heavy metal band, Tony Iommi, had an accident when he was 17 years old and instead of quitting turned his disability into a new sound. While working at a metal sheet factory, leftie Tony lost the tips of his right-hand middle and ring fingers, which made fretting the guitar impossible. He first tried playing the guitar with his right hand – but when that didn’t work, he first molded plastic tips to protect his fingers and re-adapted his tecnique. Then, as bending strings was tough on him, he also tuned down his guitar, going from E to C# – and so, the down-tuned, heavy metal guitar sound was born.

4) Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
Try to learn any of the hundreds of Joni Mitchell’s songs and you’ll find something that’s a bit peculiar: all of her songs use several different and strange open tunings, that give her guitar an ethereal and full sound. Open tunings (which we already wrote about in this blog) are very popular in folk and blues. But Joni had another big reason to use them: when she was just 9 years old Joni contracted Polio, which seriously affected her left hand. Playing with opening tunings made it easier for her to learn to play the guitar – kind of what the Loog already does for kids, but way before its time 😉 According to Joni, her limitation then became “a tool to break free of standard approaches to harmony and structure” in her songwriting – and a breath of fresh air for music lovers, even today.

3) Vic Chesnutt
Vic Chestnutt
Good ol’ Vic was one of Americana’s best-kept secrets. An underground artist during the 80s and 90s, he became famous with the release of a tribute album where several famous artists covered his brilliant and poignant songs. When Vic was 18, a car accident left him partially paralized, limiting the movement of his hands. Vic had to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life – and could only play very simple chords, in a very rough way. Yet that didn’t stop him from having a brilliant career as a songwriter, with a little help of his musician friends and his beautiful, powerful voice.

2) Les Paul
Les Paul
Lester Willia Polsfuss, AKA Les Paul, was not only an amazing jazz guitarist and the guy that gave the iconic Gibson Les Paul its name – he was also a great luthier and inventor. He collaborated with Gibson in the creation of the electric guitar, and was a pioneer in using techniques like delay, double tracking and phasing in his own recordings. In 1948, Lester had an almost fatal car accident which affected his right arm and completely shattered his elbow. Reconstruction was impossible, and he would lose movement of his arm forever. In one of the most rockstar moments in history, Les Paul asked the doctors to put his right arm in a fixed angled position, so he could keep playing his guitar. It took almost a year of recovery, but he continued to play, for more than SIXTY years, until his death in 2009. That’s punk rock.

1) Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt
We all know Django, right? He’s easily one of the greatest guitar players of all time. Creator of several jazz standards and father of the Gypsy Jazz and Hot Jazz genres, Django started playing at a very early age, and was already making a living with his music at 13. He lived in a Romani camp, with zero formal education and taught himself how to play. One night when Django was 18, a fire destroyed the caravan where he lived with this wife. He suffered severe burns on half of his body, mostly on his right leg and in two fingers from his left hand, where he lost all mobility. The doctos said he would never play guitar again. Of course you know that’s not what happened. With patience and some physical therapy, he created a new technique to play guitar, using his index and middle finger for all his super-fast solo work and the two paralyzed fingers to play chords. You can see his technique here:

Almost all of these guitarists thought that they would never play guitar again, yet slowly found that their disability provided them with a new approach to the instrument. So new, in fact, that all overcame their problems and created the best music of their career post-accident. Limitations, in art, are always a gateway for freedom. So remember: when stuck in front of a hurdle or when struggling, try to turn it around and, like these musicians, explore the freedom in your limitations. The world will later thank you for it 🙂

The Right Amp for Your Electric Loog Guitar

We told you all about amps in our latest post, but what about the Electric Loog Guitar? Well, if you’ve been reading our comments on Kickstarter, Facebook or other social media, you would have noticed that you can actually hook your Loog to any kind of amp but there are a couple of 100% personal preferences we have when it comes to turning the volume up to 11.

And just in case you’re not a comment-follower (we get you), here’s what we usually recommend to new Electric Loog Guitar players (with Amazon links to compare prices).

1. A large Marshall Amp

Marshall amp

Nothing to say here, really. It’s a Marshall – a freaking piece of art. This is what you need if you want to go LOUD.

2. Battery-operated Fender Mini

Fender Mini Amp

These amps are great to practice without disturbing anyone – or to avoid your little ones from creating too much of a havoc. Plus, its portability is awesome! You can take it anywhere and the battery tends to last quite a bit.

3. Tiny Vox amPlug Headphone Amp

Vox AmpPlug

This little guy makes even less noise with a huge plus: no messy cables lying around. It’s great to just take with you to the couch and play by yourself (or when you need some ignoring to do – we’re not judging!). It’s also really cool to learn and try out different Electric Loog sounds without disturbing the neighbors during your, uh, discovery process 🙂

4. An i/o for iPads and iPhones like this one

iRig

If you’re into tech, this is your guy. Obviously, this one’s silent and needs a good set of headphones to create some proper sound. However, it’s even MORE portable than the rest – and with a guitar as small as the Loog, we know our players are going places. We just like the nifty factor – you’re using your own mobile phone or tablet to use a guitar. And that’s already pretty awesome for us.

Any other amps you’d recommend to other Loog players? Let us know and we’ll add them 🙂