Well, it’s that time of year again. Time for my holiday Christmas Concert! That’s right: If you’ve seen it before you’ll want to see it again! This show’s got it all—Costumes, music (of course), special guests, holiday shenanigans, the works! So bust out the egg nog, cozy up by the computer, and enjoy some Christmas cheer! Just click on this embedded player on Saturday, 12/22/12 at 8 PM and enjoy the show!
I’m going into the studio this Sunday to start recording my first full length album of original compositions and arrangements. I could not be more excited! That means my workload is about to get crazy. I am going to try to get this album out by the Summer—I’ll be talking about this in my next blog post so stay tuned! All this in addition to: 1.) My YouTube release schedule and 2.) My Ustream Holiday Christmas concert! More details to come so please be patient, the next blog post is going to be a long one!
Yes, it’s November. Yes, Halloween has been over for nearly a month. My YouTube channel has ignored this fact entirely and will continue to do so. This month I served up my take on the theme to the popular show “Game of Thrones”. Yes, I know—does the world need another Game of Thrones cover? I submit that it does! I think my arrangement has a unique classical guitar/classical ukulele sound that you won’t find in the many arrangements that are out there on YouTube. Plus, as always, there are no overdubs. Nick and I could potentially perform this, among many other arrangements that we’ve done, at a live concert. Yes, that might actually happen. But I’ve said to much about it already… Here’s the arrangement:
Here, of course, is the original show opening for the HBO series “Game of Thrones”:
I love this show! I’ve been a sucker for the whole fantasy genre ever since my Dad read me the Hobbit in its entirety when I was five. Sadly I am too poor for HBO, which means I go over a friend’s house to watch “Game of Thrones” (watching this show with fellow nerds actually really enhances the experience!). In this arrangement Nick and I cosplay two sworn brothers of the guard. If you saw the last episode of Season 2, yikes… The brothers of the guard are in for quite the surprise. Season 3 is starting up in March and I can’t wait! That means the viewing parties are back on. I was told by one of my friends, Matt Talbot, that the sworn brothers of the guard take an oath not to choose sides. And yet, plain as day, I have the House Stark sigil in the background of my video. OOPS! Big mistake. That’s a big, nerdy mistake. Not confusing Star Trek with Star Wars big (which is punishable by death in more viciously nerdy circles), but pretty big all the same. Luckily I tend to run with a very docile crowd. They’ll forgive me, even if the internet might not. Still, my bad.
Speaking of Matt Talbot, he recently worked on some album artwork for me. Matt’s a next-level-brilliant artist (check out his website! HE’S BEYOND AMAZING: http://http://mattrobot.com/) and he agreed to do the artwork for my Christmas Single up on Bandcamp:
Look at how adorable that is! Matt did a brilliant job coming up with artwork inspired by LP covers from the 1950′s. Come one people, that’s worth a $1.00 in my humble opinion! Plus the music is nice and would make a worthy addition to your holiday mix. Throw it on your iTunes playlist this Christmas season. Am I laying this sales pitch on a bit thick? I hope so.
One more thing: People are transcribing my arrangements and putting them on the Interwebs! Here’s my original Doctor Who Arrangement, wherein I take the original theme and re-write it in 12/8 for solo classical guitar:
So, it was only a matter of time before this would happen. Here’s an 11 year old kid named Andrew Foy doing my arrangement:
He originally posted his video as a response to mine but then changed the response to another video. He probably changed his response to a video that gets more hits, seeing as how things age rapidly on the internet and my video is now, like, so 2011! Can you blame him? He should have a ton of hits for this! He did an amazing job. I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from him soon. If children are our future then I say our future is looking bright!
Best part of the video: He saved up all his allowance money so he could buy a sonic screwdriver to use at the end of the video, just like I do in my video! I saw that and my two Gallifreyan hearts just plain melted. That’s money well spent, Andrew! I’m still enjoying my sonic screwdriver and I’m in my 30′s.
That’s it for now, folks. New update coming really, really soon, and I promise it will be worth the wait!
I haven’t been posting much on my blog lately. That doesn’t mean that nothing is going on. Tons of things have happened since my last blog post, but I’ve been too busy to stop and reflect on my work on this website. So here it goes, my first blog post in quite a while—I promise I will be posting more often starting… Now!
First off: I know, it says “Matthew Lister: Classical Guitar” on the website, but where you aware that I am also a classical ukuleleist? I’ve been writing a number of arrangements lately for guitar and ukulele. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been up to:
Here’s my arrangement of the John Williams’s “Imperial March” from Star Wars:
Just call me UKE SKYWALKER! *groan* No more puns, promise…
And yes, I have to confess that I have been sucked into the show “Downton Abbey.” What can I say? I’m a sucker for period dramas. Can’t wait for season 3! Here’s my version of the theme song for guitar and ukulele:
Compare mine to the original (I included more of the original piece in my arrangement than the TV show intro):
I plan on taking the whole “Cosplay YouTube Arrangement” thing I’ve been doing to the next level this year. More videos coming soon! Watch out for the video I have planned for Halloween. If all goes according to plan it’s going to be a doozy… Last year’s Halloween video really set the bar since it got featured in Doctor Who Magazine and on the BBC website. It’s going to be hard to top that so that’s why this year I’m going for over the top!
So why haven’t I made any new YouTube videos for 2 whole months? For starters, the amount of arranging I had to do for weddings this Summer was INSANE! It’s nice to have the gigs but I spent more time arranging for weddings than I did for YouTube over the Summer (What can I say? I need to make rent!). I regret nothing because one of those arrangements is *definitely* going up on my channel this year. This tune will be a departure from my normal YouTube cosplay arrangements and more of a return to form for me in terms of covering pop music. I know, why wouldn’t I do something a little more obscure? Typically I don’t go for well known stuff but I had to make an exception this time…
Reason Number 2 for the lack of YouTube-age: My YouTube accomplice/partner in crime Nick Lanzer got married! And yes, I did play his wedding ceremony just like he played mine. Nick just got back from his honeymoon which is why we couldn’t record any of the YouTube arrangements we were working on. Right now we have a backlog of stuff so my channel is going to EXPLODE very soon!
Reason Number 3, and the biggest reason, that I haven’t made any new videos is the fact that I am working on an album of original material and arrangements. The first third of the album is already out as an EP entitled “Guitar Duets, Mozart Minuets.” Click here to listen to the whole thing streaming for free! Yay Bandcamp embedded player!
The rest of the album is comprised of all original compositions and 2 more arrangements. I plan on putting the whole album up on Bandcamp and iTunes next Summer. My best seller on iTunes/Bandcamp thus far is still my cover of the Princess Bride:
It still blows me away how popular this arrangement is! This single is still going strong on iTunes! I’m hoping the audience that found me through my Princess Bride arrangement will enjoy my original work as well.
So there you have it: New album, new YouTube arrangements, a ton of gigs, and a full roster of guitar and ukulele students for the Fall… All this means that I am going out of my mind with work. And yes, I couldn’t be happier about all of it.
Oh! One more thing! I got my Subway Performer’s License and started busking in the Boston T! I will be tweeting my location when I do it so there you have it—a very rare opportunity to hear me perform live on a random Sunday! Just follow me @mattguitarman on Twitter! (*WARNING* I tweet about the nerdy stuff I like a lot…) Lately I’ve been playing guitar/violin arrangements with the very talented Betty Widerski. Look for us in the Boston Subway sometime!
Well it’s about that time of year again. The holidays are upon us and this year, like every year, I will be holding my live Christmas concert in December! Tune in on December 21st at 8 PM to hear me play holiday classics on solo guitar! So, on that day and time, grab a nice tall glass of egg nog and click on the embedded player below to enjoy some warm holiday goodness! Or you can CLICK HERE!
Humor has always been an important part of my life and it always will be. It is therefore an unfortunate fact that, despite my love of comedy, I am not a particularly funny person. When I crack a joke the best I can hope for is usually a groan, although occasionally I will get a mild chuckle when I am (and this happens so rarely it’s barely worth mentioning) “on fire”. I leave humor to the professionals and it is for that reason that I am always on the lookout for a good laugh.
Contrast my love for humor to my current vocation: Classical music. I’m sure John Gay’s “Beggar’s Opera”, an English spoof on Italian high opera, got a lot of laughs in 1728 but its humor would most probably be lost on today’s audience. The same goes for “Opera Buffa” (Italian for “funny opera”)—its humor is also lost on the modern audience. Sure, I’ve played plenty of movements entitled “scherzo” (which in Italian literally means “joke”), but the humor contained in those movements is really only identified by the most astute musicians. And, even then, the “joke” really isn’t that funny (That Schubert Scherzo takes a Minuet form but it sounds far too bright and jocular to be a Minuet! And yet it has a Trio accompanying it, just like a Minuet would! ROFLMAO!!!). There are a few exceptions (Victor Borge comes to mind) but for the most part people who do classical music are not “in it for the lulz”. Don’t get me wrong, learning to interpret a piece in a playful manner is important when you’re doing classical music, but you’re still not allowed to laugh at any “serious” classical concert.
A while back, during my never-ending quest for a good laugh, I stumbled upon the Nerdist Podcast. It is easily the most hilarious, insightful, and intelligent podcast that I have ever heard and I now listen to every episode that comes out. When I first heard the theme song to the show, Anamanaguchi’s wonderful piece “Jetpack Blues, Sunset Hues”, I was immediately intrigued. Its quick tempo and playful nature sounded like a boisterous 8-bit scherzo to me.
After a while I decided that this piece would be an excellent candidate for a classical guitar duet. I arranged the piece, got my good friend and accomplice Nick Lanzer to play along, and I even included (against my better judgement) a “scherzo” of my own: At the end of the video I make a reference to the show (“Enjoy your burrito!”, the line that concludes each podcast), only I translated it into Italian. Why? Again, I am not that great with humor, but let’s face it: By classical music standards I am downright hilarious. But in all seriousness Italian really is the standard language of classical music: We play movements entitled “Allegro”, “Andante”, “Adagio”, “Scherzo”… Why not have the language of the classical Nerdist podcast theme be Italian?
I never thought anything would come of the video. I know, I always say that. I thought that nothing would come of the videos I did of works by Amanda Palmer, Otep, and I never thought anyone would ever see my rendition of the theme song to Doctor Who (I’m mentioned in issue 441 of Doctor Who Magazine! On sale now!). I swear it’s still a surprise every time it happens!!! (Ladies and gentleman, behold the most shameless humblebrag of all time. In all seriousness I am totally surprised every time my work is recognized by anybody). Let me get to the point: The creator of the Nerdist podcast, Chris Hardwick, apparently saw the video, liked what he heard, and posted the video on the official Nerdist website.
Wouldn’t you know, a few people had a mild chuckle at this video. I’m on fire! So here it is, my Scherzo for the 21st century:
Needless to say all of the kind feedback I have received for my arrangement has really touched me deeply. It feels great to have my work appreciated by so many people, so I can’t thank Mr. Hardwick enough for introducing his listeners to my work. I truly am honored beyond words.
I finally got done recording my arrangements of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Seven Minuets” KV 65a for 2 guitars (click here for my previous blog on the subject). Recording with Matt Marcil down at Tweeksound Recording Studio has been a wonderful experience; he is a genius when it comes to sound engineering and a joy to work with. Credit also goes to my brilliant duet partner, friend, and guitarist extraordinaire Nick Lanzer.
The seven track EP is out now on my Bandcamp Site and all 7 tracks are just $3.00 (or you can listen to the EP streaming for free!) I am very proud of this project and I could not be more happy with the result. I put a lot of work into these minuets—I plan on publishing the sheet music to them as well so that other guitarists can have the opportunity to play this beautiful music. I hope you enjoy listening to these tracks as much as I enjoyed arranging/YouTube-ing/recording them!
So here’s the Bandcamp embedded player. Spread the word! Embed this everywhere you can (click on “share” for the embed code)! I want as many people as possible to hear these guitar duets:
If you grew up in rural New Hampshire in the 80′s and 90′s chances are, unless you were Mr. Moneypants, you didn’t have cable. I often credit my ability to play guitar to this fact. I always had plenty of time to get some practice in and, chances were, I didn’t have anything better going on.
We didn’t get many channels so when my family did watch TV it was confined to NBC, ABC, CBS, and PBS.
Oh, PBS. PBS really was the cream of the crop in my mind. Sure, the other networks had hit shows like Family Ties, Cheers, Alf—all the stuff that dominated popular culture. But PBS had the oddball stuff; the stuff that really warped by grooves and brought out the true nerd inside of me.
But the best, and possibly the weirdest, show that PBS ran in the 80′s and 90′s was a little British sci-fi show called Doctor Who.
Watching PBS in the 80s meant you got what the BBC was showing ten years ago, which meant that I grew up with Tom Baker playing the role of Doctor Who (He starred in Doctor Who from 1974-1981). Many people over the years have played the role of Doctor Who but man, did I luck out on the first Doctor I ever saw:
Tom Baker, the fourth actor to play Doctor Who, was quite the character. Everything about him was giant: His stature, his hair, his big, toothy grin, even his long scarf that could be used as a sturdy rope suitable for climbing (should he ever need such a thing to get out of a tricky situation). His playful nature and fondness for Jelly Babies won me over in a heartbeat.
I will be celebrating this year’s Halloween dressed as Tom Baker. I got a ‘fro wig, a scarf that was knitted for me by my friend Brenda LaBranche from the original scarf pattern, a corduroy coat, a sonic screwdriver, and a package of Jelly Babies. And, keeping in spirit with my other holiday videos, I decided to do a Halloween classical guitar video in full Doctor Who regalia. I had, all told, an incredible amount of fun putting this video together. It really brought out the kid in me and allowed me to express my love for Doctor Who through my instrument. I’m going to post two videos here: My arrangement and the original. Enjoy!
When I first posted my cover of “Storybook Love” on YouTube I had no idea how popular it would eventually become. In fact, judging from my blog on the video, I had considered it to be just another wedding arrangement (of which I have written dozens for various clients over the years).
But for some reason this one was different. As the video of my cover started to take off on YouTube I began receiving a number of emails asking me for the MP3. I did not want to violate copyright laws so my response was always, “Sorry, but I can’t”. After receiving around fifty or so emails I realized that I should probably look into it.
I did some research on the internet but the most helpful resource I found regarding copyright law was actually a book entitled “Getting Permission”. There I learned about Songclearance.com and how easy it is for artists to get a license and pay royalties for their cover songs.
I was ecstatic and, most of all, shocked to see how easily I could make my cover happen and get it to the people that wanted it. I purchased the license for Mark Knopfler’s “Once Upon A Time…Storybook Love” through Songclearance.com and headed down to Tweeksound Recording Studio to get the track done.
To put a finishing touch to the release my sister-in-law, Jessica Grace Brooks, did the artwork for the track. I LOVE the sketch she did of me! She is an amazing artist—I think everyone should definitely check out her website.
Now here’s where I’m going to sound old: I can’t believe how easy it is to get distribution these days (Well, at least online distribution). Due to copyright restrictions I can only sell my cover in the US, but who cares? That’s nationwide! All I had to do was get a Tunecore account and I was up and running. Back in the day getting my music into record stores nationwide would have been impossible without being signed to a record label. Now I have distribution throughout the country at the touch of a button. Incredible!
So, for this newbie to music publishing, this is all very exciting. I am now in the process of recording an entire album and I could not be more thrilled about it. Stay tuned to my blog for more updates! I hope to get this entire album up on iTunes ASAP.