Friday, June 29, 2007

Practiced ~1hr in the morning. Our apartment is a chaotic maze of half-packed boxes. The depression associated with moving makes it hard for me to concentrate. Worked on Sonata VI briefly, practiced Toy for Two Lutes, Invention in Dmin, Kadourimdou, a little Last Pint.

Discussion last night about authenticity. What does it mean for a person to be authentic? A: an absence of deceit. In other words, to be authentic is to be neither deceived nor deceiving. What is the way out of the trap of self-deception? There is no internal solution - there must be some external Truth that comes in to the picture and awakens you. So what can one do? Expect a poke or a gentle hand on shoulder: "thou art deceived."

Also talked about hero worship and identity theft. How to be yourself? What does this mean?

God has created each person. We do not know our true Name, but we stumble about trying to live up to the one we give ourselves (or that we are given). Or we try to live up to someone else's name. Of course the person in your head you are trying to be is not even close to the person in reality that you think you are trying to be. Uck. What a mess.

Best to focus on music, not on personality. Our art is not who we imitate - it is the Work to which we are called.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Found O'Neils free in PDF form:

Check it out! (of course it is still pretty nice to have it printed out and bound) The nice thing about this collection is that many of the tunes have chords (but strangely, not all of them...)
A jog and then a new jig this morning: Castle Donovan (key G, played in DADGAD). Used backward learning technique, going one phrase at a time, probably playing each about 10 to 15 times. In 25 minutes, was able to play though the A part, more or less, and then took a five minute break, while taking a look at the B part (only new stuff is the first four measures, the final four, as is typically the case for these tunes, are just a variation on the second half of the A part). 15 minutes spent on the first half of B, then 10 on the whole thing. Wrote out chords, going to play it together with Sh.

Explored possible keys for Come thou fount (G + E's wedding request - this is the processional, a very beautiful choice!) A in DADGAD seems most promising. Will most likely play variations on the melody while M Atwood strums chords (we need to ensure the proper balance so the melody will come through, but as we will both be amplified, this shouldn't pose a problem).

Need to talk with Jerod about duets from the Renbourn renaissance guitar anthology for J + T's wedding (prelude music?)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Back from a three day visit to Planet New York (city - an entirely different version of reality for me). Played for a little over an hour this morning, DADGAD mostly, 2nd law towards the end. Discovered while on Planet NY that I have a co-worker who shares an interest in fingerstyle guitar playing. He is from Australia, and is a big Tommy Emmanuel fan. We hope to meet up at some point and exchange music.

This summer two weddings, both long time friends, who have asked me to play. I am beginning to practice hymns for both: Be thou my vision, Great is thy faithfulness, Come thou fount. Back to practicing soon before (hopefully) a visit to L'Abri for Friday night lecture (it is Dick Keyes tonight -- !!!)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Yesterday morning: Improvised (and then wrote down) a simple warm-up type exercise in G major. It is basically running up and down the scale in 16th notes with a simple bass line underneath in quarter notes. You can get the transcription here (it doesn't say so on the PDF, but the tab is for DADGAD tuning).

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Yesterday practiced in evening after work before heading out to L'Abri. Began page 3 of Sonata VI (not IV as I had previously written). I am working backwards on this page as I did for page 2. Starting at the end and working backwards is an interesting method for learning a piece of music. Here are possible positives of this approach:
  • As you practice, you move from unfamiliarity to familiarity. This sets up a helpful dynamic of the release of tension.
  • As you learn the measure before (or the phrase before, or page before, whatever) the last one you learned, it changes the measure that comes after. This ties in to a question I have been thinking of lately:
What makes a thing new?

Possible negatives:
  • It helps to memorize a piece this way, but it does nothing to help with the problem of focusing attention on what is coming around the corner. This quality of attention is absolutely essential, I am learning, in many aspects of music, not the least of which is improvisation. But perhaps I am wrong in saying this - perhaps it is better to envision the end and work backwards? An intersting question...
And problems one deals with in either case:
  • Fingerings may need to be adjusted in response to what comes (before/after) what is already known.
I would love to hear from any readers (if I still have or ever had any!) your thoughts on learning music backwards, or the problem of learning music in general, what is most effective, what are the tradeoffs, what principles must be upheld.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hello after a two month break from posting!  

Here are the major happenings for me musically:
  • Visited my favorite music shop, Fretted Instruments in Amherst, as part of an Amherst birthday trip.  Played a surprisingly nice Chinese guitar (only around $1000!) - no match for the Bourgeois or the Froggy, but impressive nonetheless.  Picked up a copy of O'Neil's music of Ireland
  • Embarked on a project of continual challenge: I am endeavoring to play some new piece of music every day I practice.  Right now this means working through fiddle tunes in O'Neil's.  The rules are:
  1. I have never seen the tune or section of a tune before that day
  2. I will attempt to learn and play it for that day only
  • Went to afternoon guitar workshop taught by Brooks.  Very inspiring time - most of the technical information was not new to me, but I tried to keep things lively by staying in DADGAD and translating what Brooks was showing us.  Met a few cool people (not that the people I didn't meet weren't cool, but I didn't actually meet them, so...) and got a chance to talk with Brooks afterward.  He has been thinking (as have I) about the problem of the communal needs of the fingerstyle steel-string player.  We are going to meet up next month for a lesson.
  • I have been learning much music with friends.  Ben and I have Bach's Invention No. 4 in D minor (his most evil invention ever) and Toy for Two Lutes, a nice Renaissance piece that we both happened to have (my copy is in an anthology of Renaissance music arranged for guitar by John Rehnborn).  Ben, Dan, and I are two pages in to Bach's 4th Sonata, and Dan has given me "Trombone Duet #2" (that is literally all we know about the piece!) to work on.  No progress so far on Duet #2... hoping to start in this weekend!
  • I am in touch with Al to get together again to continue work on our second duet, Penny Lane.
  • I have ordered two sets of strings in gauges suitable for DADGAD tuning.  The Froggy stays in DADGAD pretty much continuously at this point (or AADGBD, for Hedges' "The 2nd Law", which is even lower!) so it needs strings that can keep up.  The strings are:
  1. Pierre Bensusan signature strings from Wyres - these have a coating on them sort of like Elixirs I think
  2. John Pearse phosphor bronze "New Medium" gauge.  John Pearse seems to offer a variety of interesting string gauges, including on for New Standard Tuning (CGDAEG)
  • Work has begun, inspired my the work of Brad Meldau, to create an arrangement of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android"
  • I have gotten together twice now with another friend, Joe Renzoni, to create spontaneous improvisational music.  This is very scary and fun; I have the feeling it is actually extremely good for me to be leaping into the creative unknown in real time without knowing what will happen.
Tonight I have more time than anticipated for practice, so I am taking advantage of this to practice the Sonata in preparation for (probably after journey group) tomorrow night.