Sunday, September 27, 2009
Planning; so much practicing; listening, visualizing, & practicing again. Dissecting pieces, playing ever so slowly. Then finally yesterday wonderful engineer, producer, guitarist extraodinaire and dear friend Tony Geballe arrived. We knew my acoustic amp was dying and went shopping and found an out of production Genz Benz that fit our needs and was less money than I was prepared to spend. Experimented with the amp and mic placement, set levels, and put on new strings last night.
Today we hit record and arrgggh distortion in the mix. Checking cables and switched preamps and still this low end presence. Off to buy a new mic, perhaps the dampness of the basement affected the condenser mic. Upon returning back to setting levels and to work we went. We recorded good takes of Kinnara and Prayer From a Small Room. We worked with Dancin' Free but I could not play the opening bars with conviction.
So not the way we planned this day but some very good work was accomplished. Personally I am happiest that the distortion only affected the mic. I was fine, Tony was fine. One very important piece of information I gleaned from my last recording process that I intend to apply to this one is very clear. How we get there is more important than when. I do not want to allow a technical issue distort my relationship with myself or those I am working with. Distortion is fine on an electric guitar but I must strive for clarity.
Friday, September 25, 2009
I had scheduled a recording project with Tony Geballe this weekend to begin work on my next solo guitar release. Being an organized sort of fellow I set this up months ago. I did not take into account a sneak attack by the flu. For one that prides himself on his planning skills ... Needless to say guitar work the past four days has been minimal so hopefully the preparation of the past few weeks will suffice.
During the past weeks I have applied a variety of techniques to learning the pieces I wish to record. All are solo compositions of my own that came to me sometime in the past year. The past few months the muse has favored me with several new pieces that kept me busy. Thus three of the four pieces needed to be relearned and one of them went through a fairly major revision. Perhaps this is why I am the least confident of that particular piece " Leaving Song."
Beside dissecting the pieces and practicing transitions and phrasing; I recorded rough takes of all them over time. Much time has been spent listening to these takes primarily on my commute to work to get these pieces in my ear. I can now hear them with out playing them. Even sing them a bit. Plus they have all been notated. This is all new ground for me as I continue to learn what works for me to achieve growth in my musical abilities.
I have also worked with visualizing the pieces. Visualization of the fretboard has never come easy to me. Progress has been made in this area recently probably due to having the pieces in my auditory memory. Last night and tonight while doing my Alexander Technique lie downs I was visualizing while resting my left elbow on the floor and allowing my left hand to move and form the needed chord shapes. I can not verify if this is adding anything to my performance of the pieces but will experiment more.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuning the Air
This unique guitar performance concept demands to be heard. Nine guitarists with you in the middle. A circle of musicians enveloping you in their dynamic performance. The new season begins tonight September 24, 2009 and runs through December 17th at the Freemont Abbey Arts Center in Seattle, Washington. If you are anywhere close to Seattle on a Thursday make sure you experience this.
For more information go to: http://www.tuningtheair.com/
For a sense of their performance visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZDi1KOIQOM
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I've been quiet on the blog this past week, but still active musically. Preparing for a recording session next weekend with Tony. Spending my time addressing parts of four pieces that will be recorded. Also had some work done on my guitar by a fantastic luthier, John Warden, who in a conversation reignited the desire to pursue a musical approach I have played with briefly in the past. Of course finding the time to experiment with this is another consideration, but when the passion arises I tend to find the time.
While walking on Sligo Creek just now the evening insects have begun their serenade. Accompanied but the occasional siren, car radios blaring, helicopters, and the creek another symphony unfolds. When one car passed on the road with spanish music blaring and the driver singing at the tops of his lungs, I felt his joy from music, even though this form of music does not appeal to me. And that is when tonight's blog title hit me, we do all have our song to sing.
Are you singing yours?
Photo generated by Brian Eno's 77 Million Paintings.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Qi Gong on the beach this morning. Sun was shining & the surf delightful. A great way to begin my day; & coupled with my sitting, a great benefit to my guitar practice. Focusing on my breath and movement, fostering harmony in body and mind. I know my practice of Qi Gong has positively impacted my guitar playing. These gentle movements that align my energies and awaken the sensation of my flesh. Preparing me to sit with my guitar and aim to have this same presence while playing.
At one point watching the Ocean’s relentless, yet focused motion I realized that the ocean, like the breath, goes on regardless of whether I am paying attention. The ocean, like the breath, is magnificent when I am observing. Both are life. What happens to my playing when I am paying attention? Does the mystery of music come alive? Do I become alive?
What is the volume of air that has moved through my lungs in this lifetime? Could this fill the oceans? Fill the spheres? All life is one, all inter-are. One song is all songs when sung by the heart.
Music Sweet Music.
Life Beloved Life.
Sit; breathe, learn; love; let go…
Sit; breathe, learn; love; let go…
Always beginning – Always letting go.
I love music. Can I love the musician? But, of course, I can. Slowly … ever so slowly, I learn, love, let go over time. Just as a piece of music develops through time; love of life evolves through time. The melody of life ebbs and flows; harmonies flowering and then dischord takes root. Another line begins, develops, crescendos. My practice is the audience allowing the music of life to evolve.
Listen … Listen … Play …
Sunday, September 6, 2009
After warming up tonight I decided that it would be good to record takes of what I will be recording with Tony Geballe later this month. I do rough takes often these days to capture ideas that I am working on. Generally these takes are for my own listening, perhaps my wife if she is in the car. I was a bit amazed when I hit record tonight at the mental activity that ensued. Something about knowing that someone else would be listening to these takes as my plan was to email them to Tony to give him an idea of the music we will be recording.
Eventually I got up to stretch and practice Qi Gong to get my energy flowing and my mind and body harmonized. At one point I was just moving in a swimming manner, when the notion that I am swimming in an ocean of music came to me. I suggested this to myself when I returned to my stool. This quality of swimming in music rather than playing my guitar brought out a sensitiveness in my movements which was lacking earlier. Prior to recording the following takes I allowed my hands to gently move to and fro and sense the energy mount. Then I brought them to my guitar. I will work with this notion more.
Takes of three pieces were recorded. Soon to be sent off to Tony.
Are you swimming? Stay tuned.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Startled awake at an ungodly hour today with a phone call from work regarding an urgent issue. Nearly thirteen hours later I arrived back home, tired to say the least.
Shower, snack, and some relaxing led up to guitar time. Decided to be easy on my self. Work at known areas of pieces that need improving for the recording project and to not plan to take on new challenges. Perhaps this notion borne from exhaustion is a pearl of wisdom to be examined more often.
I recall from Madeline Bruser's The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart that one most be in love with the mechanics of playing. I certainly am. After playing through Kinnara I focused on a section with tricky fingering and slowly played through. Soon found myself taking joy in the movements of my fingers, praising the progress being made. The long day was forgotten, I just sitting, playing, and listening.
Moved on to "the bridge" from last evenings practice. I felt it deserved to be played with to respect where this took me last night. My practice could have come to a halt, energy lost, but instead I was able to complete my efforts. I have been listening to rough takes of this piece and the others I am working on in the car during my commutes. This is paying off by getting the pieces in my ear and allowing me to hear where some parts need fleshing out or trimming.
Tonight while slowly working on the second section the notes opened up for me in a new way and what I already felt was good became better. Now I can transition to the next section in a musical way. I incorporated an idea I have heard in my mind. This has not worked in past attempts, but tonight I heard what followed in a different way and changed this section drastically. The idea was weak and needed firming. I recorded a rough take and will listen in the morning.
After a peek at the full moon I am going to play through two other pieces and then sacrifice myself to the gods of sleep.
Stay tuned! Keep making music.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
The Bridge is an interesting concept I found in Twlya Tharp's book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life . She strives to end a practice session with a bridge to the next days work.
Tonight was one of those nights where I needed to draw on my discipline to even pick up my guitar. Thursdays are always tough professional days and today had added challenges. I arrived home later than I prefer, had dinner, and prepared our home for a book discussion group.
By 8:30pm I was ready to curl up in a big chair, but I had my night off on Tuesday. Plus I do have a recording session with Tony at the end of this month so to the basement I went. Good work with Kinnara and I moved on to Leaving Song. A short break and I decided to take a look at one of the newer pieces. Very difficult to get this piece flowing tonight. I have not played it in a few days. Negativity began creeping in. I struggled a bit.
Then I let go. Stretched a bit and remembered the bridge. I decided to just work on the first two sections and get myself to a place for where I could begin tomorrow night. Progress made. I felt good as I completed the session.