Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Saturday - 30 min DADGAD, went to music store to find new strings and to poke around. Played Cedar/RW nylon Taylor for a while (30min?) Mostly standard, some drop D. I still think it a very nice instrument. The store was all out of Martin SP (just light gauge!). I bought Marquis and DR lights, which are inexplicibly 0.10 gauge. The store clerk didn't know why DR thinks 10's and not 12's are light either. Looked at many Irish/DADGAD music books. They have four that look interesting. This made it impossible to choose one. The ones that looked the most interesting were a Stefan Grossman books of Jigs, Reels, Hornpipes, and Slow Airs for fingerstyle guitar (mostly standard and drop-D tuning), and a book of essential session tunes. But then there was the DADGAD book, and the intro to Irish rhythm playing on guitar (I could use some of the basics here!)

Sunday - played at church, but didn't practice later.

Monday - 20 + 35 min. DADGAD - Frenzy, County Down, Merrily/Cunla, Kadourimdou, Feast/Voyage, Hymn 11, and improvisations around scale/mode patterns. I will post diagrams of mode patterns for DADGAD tuning sometime soon. It is very helpful to have worked them out.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday - played at Sit n Bull pub open mic. Sign up is at 7pm, the performances start at 8pm, so it is pretty easy to get there and have about an hour to settle into the space and warm up. Practiced right hand patterns, two-finger alternations, and string crossing, the Day after the Feast, the Voyage to Ireland, the Rakkish Paddy, Cunla/Merrily, Kadourimdou and County Down. Performed County Down and Kadourimdou. The first went very well, the second lacked groove and slips abounded. It is a very difficult piece, and there is no single place it falls apart for me, it is just shakey throughout. I am not sure what to conclude besides just that I must practice it more, at slower tempos while focusing on the groove. It was commented to me by a friend that this is a nice open mic to play at because most of the people there are not even paying attention! There is some truth to this, though as I proved last night, it is still possible to psyche yourself out.

There appeared to be no (or a very short) feature, so there was time for another round. I had not intended to play, but the open mic host wouldn't let me leave until I had played two more! I should have done this anyhow... I played Capricorn and Great is Thy. Both were played well, though my guitar tone felt weak, and I was a little out of tune (I actually plugged in all my electronics on stage because I wasn't set up ahead of time; this is the solution to not being in tune!) It may just be time for new strings. Interaction with (what was left of) the audience was good during my second (two song) set. Great is Thy seems to be an arrangement people can connect with.

I am hoping to go guitar shopping two weeks from Saturday. I am thinking these days how nice it would be to be able to have a DADGAD and a standard-tuning guitar ready for action!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

35 mins - warmups, Capricorn, Rakkish, Feast/Ireland, Kadourimdou, Cunla/Merrily. Very low energy and bad concentration today. Had to get up early for an 8:30am meeting. Ugh.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Thursday - another Amazing Things open mic. Played Capricorn and County Down plus Great is thy on the bonus round. Totally lost my place twice on Capricorn! I can't figure it out... I thought that one was as "in the bag" as anything I play. I guess lapses in memory can occur to anyone at just the wrong moment. I remember reading on one of the California Guitar Trio journals about two of the three of them blanking out during a performance of Beethoven's 5th. If it can happen to them sometimes, I guess it is okay if I blank out from time to time. It was good that I had an amnesia story ready to tell... I will have to keep a couple of these up my sleeve (and hope I don't forget them too!)

There is the one about the big mailbox... I can talk about the crazy guy who used to order seeds from huge catalogs so he could scatter them all over the yard at my folks' house. Come see me play and you might just hear it!

Taking today (Friday) off from playing. Headed up to N. Turner Maine tomorrow. Will bring guitar and play much over the weekend.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tuesday - 60min DADGAD, Kadourimdou, Merrily/Cunla, Rakkish, Capricorn, The Voyage to Ireland.

Wednesday - 60min + ~20 in Guitar Center. Same stuff as yesterday, pretty much. Some drop-D on a cedar/rw Taylor in Guitar Center (Canarios, Aguinaldo)

Guitar Center is about the most unpleasant music store in the world. Everyone there called me "man" or "dude", there seems to be no policy restricting the disproportionately loud plunking of teenagers on electric guitars and basses, and for some unfathomable reason, you must give your full name to the cashier when attempting to buy a set of strings.

Me: "Is it really necessary that I spell my name out for you?"

Cashier: "Um, sorry dude, but that's sort of like, the rules"

Me: "I don't understand; I don't have to give my name anywhere else when I try to buy something"

Cashier: "Uh..."

Me: "Fine; my name is on my credit card. Here"

Cashier: "Sorry about that dude"

I am hoping sometime this fall to make another trip down to Acoustic Music in CT. It could not be more different. The guy who runs the place is great, the atomosphere is living-room nice, the sympathetic resonances from dozens of hand-built guitars make the one you're playing sound dangerously good (dangerous, because it is not going to sound like that when you bring it home!)

They have a cedar/rw Goodall GC that looks very interesting, and the Dancing Crane, as far as I can tell, is still unclaimed. Perhaps there is hope for my DADGAD guitar aspirations yet...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Back from vacation

Camping in Maine by a lake. Playing guitar last week was a truly joyful experience. My tuning drifted flat about a quarter tone, which has the effect of making the same strings sound a little new and different, and easing the action just a tad. But in the fresh air, with a gorgeous view of Long Lake in front of me, the smell of the pines and wood fires lazily meandering by, I'm able to relax and concentrate in a way that is very rarely possible at home.

Maybe when I am ready to start recording material, I should go off in the woods somewhere; at least change my surroundings and make sure to be some place where the beauty of creation can soak in. There is no better source of inspiration.

I have decided that Martin SP fingerstyle strings are good, and I am going to keep using them for now. I stayed mostly in DADGAD this week, practicing Cunla/Merrily heavily, as well as County Down, Kadourimdou, The Last Pint, the Rakkish Paddy, and Capricorn. Also worked on Hymn 11 and Sentimentales, though it was a pain to not really be able to spread the whole score out to read through. The Irish jigs are nearing the polishing phase, which means hopefully I can start playing them at open mics maybe next month. I hope to return to open mic playing this week. Rakkish, Capricorn, and Kadourimdou?

Camping also has left me with a strong bump to the head, complete with minor concussion and three stitches. I now have to find a doctor to remove the stitches this Friday. I am doing much better since Friday when it happened, but I am still taking today (Monday) off work to rest before becoming more active once again.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thursday ~75 min. Chasin the Groove, The Bright Field, some of A Field of Flowers, Aguinaldo Jibara, I feel the winds of God, Far Away, Canarios, Bourree in E minor, a little Be thou my vision, a little Jerusalem, Cunla/Merrily, Kadourimdou, the Voyage to Ireland, a little Sentimentales Pyromaniaques, the Rakkish Paddy (it was hot tonight!)

My mind is super fuzzy because I've broken the cardinal rule of practice by having 2 margaritas with dinner. I think that is why I practiced so many different things... lack of any reasonable attention span!

Will rest Friday (tomorrow) in preparation for travelling to ME, for a week up in the woods by the lake. The forecast is excellent, so I have high hopes. The Bourgeois is coming along, so besides reading, walking, talking, sitting, and sleeping, I will be able to get in much guitarring.
Wednesday: 25 min in DADGAD, Cunla/Merrily & Kadourimdou, 15min in Drop-D, I feel the winds of God, Canarios, Jerusalem, and a little Aguinaldo Jibara. Full workout at the gym after leaving work, 20 min cardio + weights. Very good energy while practicing. It amazes me how obvious this correlation is now that I'm journalling regularly on practice and exercise. Perhaps a good idea is to plan a workout for the afternoon of nights when I perform... (that and lots of coffee)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tuesday, 15+25 mins. All Kadourimdou. I generally begin this one at a slow comfortable tempo (when I am warming up with this piece) in the 7/8 section in the middle. I play through that a couple of times at the slow tempo until I've warmed up, then I will go into the slow section and finish up the piece, looping around to the beginning. Then, depending on how in control I am feeling, I will take the tempo up a bit and play though several more times.