Making Noise on the Internet

Photo of the bass and guitar in my apartment.

Welcome to my virtual basement. No, this isn't a site devoted to strange dark things that I keep in a dungeon at home (unless musical instruments are strange to you), this is a site devoted to giving people an introduction to basic musicianship. Growing up in Richmond, Va., I had a lot of musical instruments lying around -- an electric bass, a drumset, and occasionally an electric guitar were all lying around when I was a kid. So I got exposed early on to music and how to make it. I would listen to records and copy what I heard the drummer play, at some point I received some basic instruction in playing the bass, and I picked up a few chords along the way on guitar. I had tolerant parents who didn't mind the noise. When I left home to attend Kenyon College, on a whim I took Dr. Locke's course on Basic Musicianship (Music I, which we would refer to as "clapping for credit"), and it answered a lot of questions I always had about music. Although I wasn't as good a student as I would have liked to have been, it still gave me a basic grasp of the important ideas. This is why I designed this site -- to provide the viewer with the same sort of rudimentary and primitive exposure to musicianship that I had growing up in Richmond with a basement full of instruments. This site is not intended for musicians. A serious musician would laugh at the lack of polish present in my own musicianship, and may even say that my understanding of their craft is basic to the point of being flawed. Although I've been a veteran of many bands spanning many styles, I don't think anyone in those bands would tell you that I had monster chops. I was always an average musician, but the creation of music was something that always interested me.

How the Basement Works...

Photo of the drums.

This site is organized into four areas that fall into two basic categories: theory and practice. Just like with anything else of intellectual rigor, it's extremely difficult to do anything meaningful in music without understanding the thought that goes behind it. So the three "meat" sections of this site are about the musical instruments themselves -- guitar, drums, and bass -- and they include links to sounds and rhythms made by those instruments. The other broad section of this site deals with music theory. I mean no disrespect to people who sing, but I left a vocal section out because a) the voice is the most intuitive instrument in music and b) it is one I know nothing about. At the top of this site, near the masthead, there are two soundtracks. These are basic, low resolution, one-minute compositions I created myself with my own instruments. They will play in a separate window and can be looped to act as background music for this site as you view it. Just know that if you click on a link to a page outside the Basement, such as a definition link, the music will shut off. Both tracks are my copyrighted material, my intellectual property, and are not to be reproduced in a context outside of this site without my written permission.

Every field has its own jargon. As much as I hate to use esoteric terms, they are necessary for the concepts described in any area to be properly understood. Because I don't want to be accused of spreading misinformation about seminal concepts in music, I have elected to link the musical terms in this site to an online musical dictionary maintained by the Department of Music at Virginia Tech. Tech's online musical dictionary uses simple and accurate definitions.

To get started, you could go to my page on music theory.