Monday, July 31, 2006

Sunday, no practice - travelling all day, up to ME to see family.

Some first thoughts on recording candidates:
  • Capricorn
  • County Down
  • Fare Thee Well
  • Great is thy Faithfulness
  • And did those feet/Canarios medley
  • Merrily Kissed the Quaker/Cunla
  • The Rakkish Paddy
  • The Last Pint
  • I feel the winds of God today (Kingsfold)
  • Be thou my vision
As there are no new compositions on this list, it is important for each that a new recording add some distinctive expression or element. For some this will be a more sparse recording than originally rendered (Fare thee); for others it may a new mood or rhythm (Great is thy); for others it will be additional instrumentation to fill out the sound (The Last Pint, County Down). This last category means finding musician friends who would be willing to contribute to such a project, particularly fiddler(s) and percussionist(s) given the general theme I am aiming for.

I seems I know a lot of guitarists but not many other types of musicians... perhaps meeting new people will happen though networking, or getting involved in the kinds of musical communities where I'm likely to meet such folks (did I hear 'Irish pub jam'?)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A cool resource

A free PDF guide to chords in open tunings.

A good project for me would be to go through the DADGAD section and start identifying the repeating shapes and add arpeggios and scales (diatonic and pentatonic). Perhaps Adam could even be convinced to add these to his guide (if I ever get around to transcribing them!)
Thursday 7/27, no practice: I spent the day helping my dad dismantle the front deck on my parents' house. It was poorly constructed and as a result the wood where it connects to the house has been rotting for some time now. Hands and arms very tired after all that prying and hammering!

Friday 7/28, 20min right hand warm ups and County Down. Shannon's sister has come to stay with us this weekend. We are going to the Lowell Folk Festival tomorrow. I am really looking forward to seeing some good music and eating some good food!

Saturday 7/29, 40min, Capricorn, Sentimentales Pyromaniaques, Merrily/Cunla. I have begun to think about putting together a recording of some of the music I've been working on these past few years. It would be heavily Irish/Celtic themed, though not exclusively (I would want for Great is thy faithfulness to make an appearance, for example). I am excited by the idea of enlisting a few other musicians to enrich the guitar arrangements. More on this to come...

The folk festival was good, though we were only able to stay for Saturday afternoon. The highlight was seeing Liz Carroll and John Doyle perform together. What a treat! These two are as deeply steeped in Irish music as you can get, and their interplay was truly amazing to watch. I am going to have to get some of their recordings to soak more of this music in...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tuesday, 30 mins. Cunla/Merrily, Capricorn, The Day after the Feast, The Voyage to Ireland, Kadourimdou. New strings: Martin SP Fingerstyle.

The Martin Fingerstyle strings are a new thing for me. I was offered the option when selecting the strings that would replace the ones that were on the Bourgeois when I took it in to be worked on. Let's go try to find out how they are different and why that is better for fingerstyle players...

According to Todd over at Maury's Music, these strings are designed to be more flexible (easier to press and bend?) and longer lasting. Not sure how they accomplish the latter point (the color of these strings is much more towards yellow/gold than the more bronze/gold of the regular sp's), but the former is served by a thinner solid core and thicker windings. So far, I find them to be very easy to play, but lacking in a certain power and/or brightness, especially on harmonics and when played hard. Todd recommends medium gauge - this sounds scarry to me. I may go back and forth a couple times between regular SP and fingerstyle for comparison's sake before making up my mind.

Tonight, two 25 min sessions and one 20.

1: right-hand warm ups, F major scales (DADGAD) in 2 octaves, Great is Thy, sections of County Down, Frenzy at the Feeder, and The Last Pint.
2: Merrily/Cunla.
3: Capricorn, Kadourimdou, stretches.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Thursday, practiced ~15min Great is Thy and County Down.

General mental distraction and emotional stress have made the concentration required to practice very difficult this week. I am hoping these factors will subside soon and I can get back to normal.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Well, I have my guitar back, with the neck freshly reset and refretted, and am back to regular practice. Last night (Tuesday) was about 35 mins, all in DADGAD:

  • Right hand warm ups (four-finger arpeggio patterns, two finger single string picking, two finger string crossing)
  • County Down
  • Great is Thy
  • The Dance of the Capricorn
  • Rakkish Paddy
  • The Last Pint
  • Kadourimdou (cut off partway through on account of supper being ready ;-)
I am very glad to have had the work done on the Bourgeois; playability is much improved, there is no danger of the first string getting pegged behind a fret, intonation is spot-on, and buzzes are gone. Unfortunately, I think I went for too long before having this work done, and am now faced with the challenge of unlearning a few bad habits I had unconsciously gained in order to work around deficiencies in the instrument. But this is a small price to pay.

Here is a good article written by luthier William Cumpiano that offers a thorough discussion of neck angle and playability (among other topics).

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Making up missed journal entries...

Here's the lowdown:

Monday - rested

Tuesday - ~30min, DADGAD: Last Pint and Kadourimdou. Bad concentration, too much Charles Shaw with dinner. It probably merits a mention that alcohol should never be consumed on a practice night (or at least not more than one drink, and not until after practice)

Wednesday - ~25min, Merrily/Cunla - played through several times.

Thursday - nada

Friday - L'Abri lecture night (no guitarring); very good presentation by Matt Dickerson on the writings and influence of George MacDonald.

Saturday - ~25min, Merrily/Cunla + ~30min jamming with a friend up in the woods of Shutesbury. I played Dance of the Capricorn for him, and we jammed for a bit on Zoe, Ten Penny, O Leaozinho, and the opening bars of Field of Flowers. A little over a year ago, we started learning the two part arrangement of "Field of Flowers" that appears on Keaggy's Lights of Madrid album (from the transcription included as a PDF on the CD!). Our running joke has been that I made it about 75% of the way through learning my part, and got no further, while he proceeded to learn the entire piece. Which is funny because the whole project was my idea in the first place! The joke was reversed on him recently when he did the same thing with another friend and a Bach piece. Somehow it is harder to finish a piece when playing it with a friend is your idea!

On Saturday I dropped my Bourgeois off at Fretted Instruments Workshop for a refret and neck reset. Regardless of the possible purchase of a cedar-top guitar in the future, I decided that this work was important for me to have done on the Bourgeois, as I plan to keep it for a good while longer. I am told the work will be done in a couple weeks, so I am going to take a brief sabbatical from guitar playing. Well, maybe I will break out the nylon string a few times... I hope to do some reading as well in the time otherwise spent playing guitar.