Saturday, June 11, 2011

Challenging Myself

Challenge #1 Warning Sign

I've been feeling a bit disconnected from the guitar the past few days.  Partially due to tiredness from work and the intense heat of the past few days, family gatherings, and watching the NBA Finals.  Viewing this from a slightly longer arc, my past few Saturdays have been very busy, so I have not had a nice long session with music. Today, the DC Guitar Circle was meeting from 2-5pm.  Time and circumstance would make joining them in the flesh difficult, but I did decide to join them at a distance.

I mulled over how to best use my three hours, feeling the need for a practice that would challenge one of my weaknesses.  Last night I was looking at some partial scores, that need to be transcribed from tape. Most of these are musical ideas that are not completed.  Could I work at this for three hours I heard myself ask?  Almost immediately I began making excuses as to why not, and thus knew that this was my guitar work for today.

Beginning at 2pm, I chose three potential partial scores to work with and one idea, Corvus, that is only on tape.  Deciding to begin with Corvus, I put on the head phones.  Sitting with  the guitar and headphones on I thought through the AT directions, as I wanted to maintain my freedom of use while transcribing.  Historically I contort my body when transcribing, but with a little added attention, this need not be the case.  Just a little over 90 seconds of music took me almost 30 minutes to transcribe, which is part of why I avoid this act.  Yet I know that this skill can and will be developed, if and when I practice the process.

As I played through what I had, I heard how this idea could develop.  Forty-five minutes later, I thought I might have a completed piece.  At this point, my body was tired, so I did an AT lie down for 15 minutes.  Arising from the floor I decided to play through what I had once and then to record the piece with the new additions.  As I was playing I found that a transition was missing between sections and a couple other issues.  I worked with this for a while and began to be disheartened about what I had done.  The time was now 4:30 pm.

Much had been accomplished which I did feel good about, particularly having a qualitative and lengthy connection with the guitar.   I felt like letting go and having a nap, but I still had 30 minutes to go on what I said I would do.  The thought of writing the blog crossed my mind, but before I began I said that this would be work with the guitar, not writing about what I did.  Fine to blog about the afternoon, but later.  I could not work with Corvus any longer, so I looked at what else I had selected to transcribe.

I was so tempted to let go, but I know the value of honoring commitments, so I continued.  Listening through Frame #10, which had a few bars transcribed I was back to my task.  I had two versions recorded with significant variation from one another after the first four bars.  Arrggh.  Decisions, what to transcribe.  Not wanting to spend my time on this,  I moved on to the next section where both takes agreed.   At 5pm, I completed my practice,  noticing that freedom arose by keeping to my commitment.  With gratitude I put away my guitar, and grabbed my novel.  Twenty minutes later I had completed Anathem by Neal Stephenson, a great story which thoroughly held my interest for 890 pages. And then a much needed nap.


  1. Bravo! Sounds like a really satisfying Sunday!

  2. oh drat! - Saturday - oh well -