Thursday, September 30, 2010

Guitar Hero Tournament - Get A Competitive Advantage

During the month of October, Teen Services of the San Francisco Public Library is presenting a Guitar Hero Tournament for our teen patrons at several library branches.

Guitar Hero is a video game where players use a guitar-shaped controller to simulate the various solo, rhythm and bass guitar parts of rock songs. Players try to accurately finger and strum the controller in time with the audio and video from the game. The game scores the player for accuracy.

The library has owns a pair of Guitar Hero songbooks. These collections present the sóng in the "Guitar Recorded Versions" format, meaning that they give note-by-note transcriptions of the songs as they are play on the record. The songbooks present the music in both staff notation and tablature notation. The latter shows the the position of the fingers upon the guitar's fretboard. These versions include all solo and rhythm guitar parts as well as the vocal melody and chord progression.

Practicing with these song books gives the player an opportunity to work through the intricacies of performing each song independent of the game. After woodshedding on the riffs, you'll be well on your way to becoming a guitar hero.

Guitar Hero (Hal Leonard, 2007).

Guitar hero 3, Legends of Rock: Songbook (Hal Leonard, 2008).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth

Caving is a sport that does not call to mind the type of heroics that one associates with mountain climbing, but thanks to the new book Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth, armchair adventurers can get a taste of the extreme elements of the sport.

Cavers exploring the largest and deepest caves in the world deal with the same dangers that mountain climbers do: the possibility of falling, hypothermia, and getting lost – all of which can lead to death or catastrophic injury. One aspect unique to caving is that in order to go deep underground, cavers may also have to don scuba diving equipment to explore the underwater reaches of these caves. This adds another layer of risk to an already dangerous sport.

Author James M. Tabor profiles two speleologists, Bill Stone and Alexander Klimchouk each seeking to find and explore the world's deepest caves. These geological wonders are miles long and thousands of feet deep. Their quest, like any expedition, takes planning, funding, the right equipment and a high level of fitness. Stone’s background as engineer suited his needs as an explorer. Diving equipment is heavy and the regular diving tanks can hold a limited amount. Descending into the caves carrying the many tanks needed to do exploratory work is impractical at best. Over many years of tinkering Stone was able to devise a way to scrub out the carbon dioxide that is exhaled so that the same "air" could be used over and over.

For those who might be intrigued by caving, the library has a number of books on the subject:

The Amateur's Guide to Caves & Caving: Skill-Building Ways to Finding and Exploring the Underground Wilderness by David R. McClurg (Stackpole Books, 1973).

Cave Passages: Roaming the Underground Wilderness
by Michael Ray Taylor (Scribner, 1996).

Caves: Exploring Hidden Realms
by Michael Ray Taylor (National Geographic, 2000).

Caving: An Introductory Guide to Spelunking
by Donald Jacobson and Lee Philip Stral (Harbor House Publishers, 1986).

Caving Basics
, edited by Jerry Hassemer (National Speleological Society, 1982)

Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling through the Dark by Barbara Hurd (Houghton Mifflin, 2003).

Venturing Underground: The New Speleo's Guide by Ben Lyon (EP Pub., 1983).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Architecture for the 21st Century - a photo display

The library pays tribute this month to architecture and to the men and women whose creativity shapes our cities and our environment.

Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain (photographed by Peter Knaup)

The San Francisco Public Library with the American Institute of Architects, San Francisco Chapter will present a series of documentary films on each Wednesday in September at 6:00 PM in the Koret Auditorium as part of the sixth annual Architecture and the City Festival.

Architecture for the 21st Century, a photo display at the Art, Music and Recreation Center, cracks open a window on the kind of buildings we may see in the future. It showcases the “most important structures built since 1980” and “the most significant building in the 21st century constructed by 2005” as selected by a panel of 52 of the world’s most distinguished architects, academic, and critics. The results of this survey were published in "Architecture's Modern Marvels" from the September 2010 issue of Vanity Fair magazine. (All images in this entry are from this article).

Rem Koolhaas, The Seattle Central Library (photographed by Robert Polidori)

Advances in construction technology, in digital representation, in the use of new materials have broken down the traditional limits of architecture. Geometric forms can now be joined into startling new configurations, organic shapes can be combined to give a building the illusion of movement. In overcoming the physical restraints of the past, the 21st century seems to usher in new stage in the history of architecture.

Daniel Libeskind, Jewish Museum, Berlin (photographed by Jens Ziehe /© Jüdisches Museum Berlin)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Banjo and Bluegrass Music

The San Francisco Public Library's Green Stacks is a program to promote greener living in our community. What could be greener than going off the grid, sitting on your front porch, picking up a banjo and playing bluegrass music?

The Library has a number of songbooks of contemporary banjo music, as well as instructional material for learning the instrument. Starting Bluegrass Banjo by Robin Roller is a good place introductory method book.

With the Parking Lot Picker's Songbook: Banjo Edition you can learn the standards of the banjo repertory including song made popular by Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, and many others.

The Peter Rowan Songbook is a collection of songs by this well-known folk revivalist. Rowan also participated in the bluegrass "super-group" Old & in the Way, which has included such luminaries as Jerry Garcia, Dave Grisman and Vassar Clements. The Old & in the Way: Banjo Songbook includes transcriptions of Garcia's banjo solos.

Béla Fleck's The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales From the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 2 includes tablature transcriptions of the music of this Bay Area banjo virtuoso.

The latest treat we have for the banjo aficionado is The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo by actor and comedian Steve Martin, and transcribed by banjo great Tony Trischka. Martin's recording of these songs won the Grammy Award for Bluegrass Album of the Year in 2009.

If you're looking to put it all together with your unplugged friends, the library also offers Best of Bluegrass: 10 Must-know songs Arranged for Fiddle, Mandolin, Banjo, Guitar, Dobro and Bass.


Béla Fleck's The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 2 transcribed by Ian Perry (Homespun Tapes, 2002)

Best of Bluegrass: 10 Must-know Songs Arranged for Fiddle, Mandolin, Banjo, Guitar, Dobro and Bass, music transcriptions by Pete Billmann (Hal Leonard, 2006).

The Crow: New Songs for the Five-string Banjo by Steve Martin & transcribed by Tony Trischka (Homespun Tapes, 2009).

Old & In the Way: Banjo Songbook, transcriptions by Alan Dalton (Alfred Pub. Co., 2005).

Parking Lot Picker's Songbook: Banjo Edition by Bill Evans & Dix Bruce (Mel Bay Publications, 2007).

The Peter Rowan Songbook, music transcription, Leo Cavanagh (Homespun Tapes, 2005).

Starting Bluegrass Banjo: The Definitive Step-by-step Guide to Playing 5-string Bluegrass Banjo by Robin Roller (Oak Publications, 2007).

Black and white banjo images from Catalogue of Musical Merchandise (C. Meisel, 1894).