In Search of the Zone

Too many focus issues I think!?

Frustrating sometimes

It can be so frustrating sometimes trying to improve ones ability to make music. I have often found myself feeling like no progress is being made after so many years of trying. This despite being able to actually play many pieces of music of my own and others compositions on the keyboard, guitar and drums, while singing too!

Why would I feel this way after decades of musical pursuit? The feeling is, ‘I could be better’, if I just practice a bit more maybe it will produce the result I am in search of.

Evidence to the contrary …

My guitar from my formative years learning to play

Evidence of a life devoted to practice here. A well worn fret board of the only guitar I had for the longest time. I do have proof that practice works, but there are plateaus it seems where not much progress is being made. New musical pieces original and from others prove to be a challenge to perfect. And developing technique that can be called upon in an instant with out much mental effort requires significant mental effort to get to that point.

From time to time in this dogged pursuit of musical ideals and recently amidst my study of studying, as in how to study to make progress, I found an ability I didn’t think would be possible given my skill set. But within an almost zen like presence I was able to achieve the realization it could be done.

Amidst the cacophony going about in my brain I managed to find a still space to actually study, to practice in such away as to make an advancement maybe not immediately as in developing virtuoso technique but in the mind set it might take to get there.

Much of the cacophony going about in my thought processes was about being able to do that which I was already doing. Playing the keyboard. But I wanted more. Another song to pursue, to jam with another musician, to record my effort for posterity, or a post anyway. All these thoughts confounding my effort to make progress to the next level.

Obviously that was a problem, not being in the right frame of mind to achieve next level technique. Til one morning I attempted something I thought impossible for me but managed to do anyway. I immediately endeavored to notice what had happened to make this possible and found it was a quiet and still mind not desirous of anything but a particular aspect of playing.

The revelation that I could be of such a mind, was and is confounding because the only thing I really can remember besides the sense of stillness and focus was that I was at the keyboard to play. I have been wondering ever since, how do I get back there to that mental state? All I can do is sit and play and try not to let the cacophony of mental distraction whittle away my resolve to pursue musical ideals despite my abilities or lack thereof to realize them.

it cAN BE DONE

Playing Scales and the Russian Method

The skill that I am referring to has to do with piano style keyboards and my limited understanding of something called the Russian method of playing scales. Basically there is a way to play scales where the fingers are playing the notes of the scales simultaneously but opposite of each other like a mirror image. This is some what easy for certain scales that use all the fingers in a certain fashion.

For example a D minor scale is played: (1=thumb, 2=index, 3=middle, 4=ring, 5=pinky)

D Natural Minor keyboard fingering

Usually played right to left and or left to right.

As I understand it the Russian method uses the same fingering and direction as above until at a certain octave of the root or tonic pitch, one that I choose at random, at which point the hands then play away from each other, in a mirror image of fingering the scale.
Start in the middle one octave apart. Of course one can traverse another octave if desired.

D minor Scale with alternative direction
This is how the Russians do it!

In this pattern the same fingers of the hand are playing at the same time as they move away from and back towards each other.
It is as if and is in fact playing from the center of the scale indicated above and outward!
You will notice the scale is not in unison same pitch different octave, but still sounds somewhat harmonious as it still uses the same notes in the scale.

And yet its not quite that simple

Easy enough when the fingering pattern aligns thusly but with certain scales this is not the case. For example F major D minors significant counterpart. The fingering does not align as easily to this method as one might hope. This was the challenge I was referring to earlier about lacking the ability to make those specific fingering combinations and could not even imagine putting in the work to try and do so. But one morning my head space was such that it just happened. While I am still not fluid and its not second nature as I would wish it is good to know it is possible to get there.

F major fingering concisely displayed indicating Russian method and straight forward style

What made this possible of course was the consistent desire to make it so despite many attempts at not quite getting the results I wanted in other many other musical pursuits. I am finding that the desire for second nature or muscle memory playing really does stem from some very basic principals and concepts regularly engaged with and applied.

Here are the scales in musical notation by way of garage band!

Musical Notation of D minor and F Major with inversion pattern

I will post a short video of the practice I am describing shortly.

insight innovation?

This isn’t to suggest my practice regimen is by any means the ideal that anyone could use to achieve musical excellence but mostly it is offered as encouragement to continue to develop and entertain one self above and beyond the oft passive activities that might otherwise corrode and inhibit ones ability to achieve alternative potentialities.

Though it might sound like it, I am not complaining. No after writing this and realizing playing scales backward and forward from the middle is really not that much more difficult to learn than the forward and backward again method I started with! It just seemed difficult because I hadn’t thought about it as really just the same but different!

merci

The Sonique Spiderweb is here!

A printable version of the sonique spider web. To make one if you want.

The Sonique spiderweb

Here it is for any to use. I am doing what I can as I am able, to show its utility as a musical instruction device but it can do more than just teach. Which if you decide to track my trajectory of haphazard blog posts and video demonstrations will eventually become evident. So a little more about making one.

As it is rather a bit much to assemble and offer for sale I am making it available at no charge, as a .pdf for anyone to print and use. Here is a video of how to make one yourself if you should be so inclined. So if anyone wants one and does not want to buy it from me, here it is for the low cost of nada.

Although I would not refuse a donation if you wanted to show appreciation for the effort involved in producing this and the associated material, blog posts, videos, and music that are a part of this enterprise!

One-Time
Monthly

for a download Make a one-time donation if you so desire

Make a monthly donation

Choose an amount

$5.00
$7.00
$10.00
$5.00
$7.00
$10.00

Or enter a custom amount

$
——

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

So there you go. Hope that is not too much pressure, and it is not required but appreciated if offered. As is simply being interested in my invention!

If you watch the video you will see what a challenge it is to manufacture. While the video shows how to make it, it is not demonstrative of how long it takes to produce despite being some 20 plus minutes long. And that is after I cut some material that while, not irrelevant to the process of producing it, it is perhaps not absolutely necessary to show.

All that being said I do feel it has a lot to offer and believe it will be of use to persons wanting to understand notational relationships in music theory displayed simply and alphabetically.

Hopefully the sonique spiderweb will be of value to those who endeavor to increase their musical proficiency and find new and innovative ways to understand musical concepts as a result. What follows is a rather detailed but far from comprehensive explanation of the sonique spiderwebs capabilities. As well as options to purchase an assembled functional sonique spiderweb.

as mentioned previously

So here it is at long last I am letting it out into the wild!
Finally filed for the patent, that was my benchmark to letting go.

I can no longer use that as an excuse not to share it!
There is a lot to unpack here and I plan to do just that as time permits.
I intend that it is helpful to anyone desirous of learning certain music theory concepts.
It has a lot to offer in this regard.
In particular, the relationships of notes and how those can be utilized to work together in harmonious expression.
I have some videos posted of how to use it on my youtube channel.
Some basics to get started.

Links to my youtube videos.

How to use the sonique spiderweb to build chords.
How to use it to make scales, major and pentatonic examples.
How to use it to learn and find the name of the notes on a guitar.
As well as an overview of its many features.

Some information about the sonic spiderweb

From the advert.

What is this thing we are looking at?
Who has devised such a mechanism for capturing the attention of musically inclined persons to satiate their thirst for notational music theory?
How does it impart its wealth of information so practical to the study of music?
When can it be used to further musical aspirations?
Where can I get one?
Welcome to the Sonique Spiderweb.

This machination of musical mystery and perchance mastery has been developed over many years and has taken many forms to reach this present iteration!

I have personally put my own hands to work at the task of making this device as useful and easy to employ as possible. I call myself guitarbeau!

With in its dodecagonique shape lies an amazing ability to clearly display in alphabetic form the names of musical pitches found in a mode scale or chord and transpose that information in a snap with a twist or a turn!

This will become evident as we delve deep into its angular lines and tangental appearance to discover pragmatically proffered, perfectly possible potentialities and prudently practical purposes.

The Sonique Spider Web has been constructed in just such away as to not require alternative energy sources to operate, it can be put to use at a moments notice. No wait time, no boot time, no file search, no extension cord needed.

Obtaining it can be as easy or as complicated as you might prefer.
Order one from guitarbeau.com
As it is hand made and requires some time to assemble it is priced exorbitantly see the website for that information.
Or make one yourself with a printable pdf on display at the top of this article that contains just the musical data available for display but with out all the particularly spectacular tantalizing features that make the Sonique Spider Web such a fascinating choice to explore!
Though you could develop your own perspective on those features, I’ll share my technique should you want to go that route. Visit the video on how to make the sonique spiderweb.

With out further ado let’s spin this thing and see how dizzy we get!?

THE SONIQUE SPIDERWEB

A description

So there is an abundance of information available here on this 8.5 by 11 inch cardboard invention.

Starting with the outer perimeter.

We have surrounding the sonique spiderweb 12 intervals or scale degrees designated at 12 equal distant sections making a dodecagon or 12 sided shape.

These interval designations are:

the ROOT, a minor 2nd, a Major 2nd / 9th, a minor 3rd, a Major 3rd, a Perfect 4th / 11th, an augmented 4th or diminished 5th, a perfect 5th, a minor 6th, a Major 6th / 13th, a minor 7th, and a Major 7th.

These are the 12 intervals or scale degrees used to define the spaces between musical notes from a root note.

Moving from an interval to another interval can be described as moving in steps.

Either a half step to an interval right next to it.

Or a whole step, to an interval separated by another interval or scale degree. This is a teaching paradigm that I don’t use very much.

inside of the outer perimeter

The next segment of the sonique spiderweb has 7 common modes or scales indicated with in it at specific intervals.

These modes are based on a Major scale and each begin from a subsequent interval of the major scale.

These are designated as:

Ionian: A major Scale begins from a root note

Dorian: A natural minor scale with the 6th interval or scale degree 1 half step or interval higher. Begins from the major 2nd interval of the ionian major scale.

Phrygian: A natural minor scale with the 2nd interval 1 half step lower. Begins from the major 3rd interval of the ionian major scale.

Lydian: A major scale with the 4th interval 1 half step higher. Begins from the perfect 4th of the ionian major scale.

Myxolydian: A major scale with the 7th interval scale degree 1 half step lower. Begins from the perfect 5th of the ionian major scale.

Aeolian: A natural minor scale. Begins from the major 6th of a the ionian major scale.

Locrian: A natural minor scale with the 2nd and the 5th intervals both 1 half step lower. Begins from the major 7th of the ionian major scale.

at the heart of the sonique spiderweb

The inner section of the sonique spider web has the musical alphabet indicated on it in sequential order.

Also indicated are key signs that correspond to the note or notes named in this version these are in the treble or “G” clef.

The note name section of the sonique spiderweb can be rotated to allow for transposing a scale or chord into another key.

sliders hiders blinders deciders

This feature really gives the sonique spiderweb its splendiferous capacity!

Just underneath and at the edge of the sonique spiderweb are movable sliders that can be used to hide or allow the display of the note names of the musical alphabet.

For example: to display an Ionian major scale use the sliders to hide note name data on the inner section:

at the minor 2nd, minor 3rd, augmented 4th/diminished 5th, minor 6th and minor 7th intervals,

and display note name data at the Root, major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th, and major 7th intervals and voila the notes to any major scale

are visible.

For example with a C note displayed or dialed in at the root we have C,D,E,F,G,A,B.

A C major scale. if you’re an astute observer you will also see the various other modes are like wise displayed along with the major scale.

This is because these other modes are found with in the Ionian major mode or scale!

With a simple turn of the inner web we can dial in any major scale in any key.

but wait theres more!

But that’s not the only scales we can display!

Using the sliders we can display a variety of other scales. All we need to know is which intervals are used in a given scale.

For example to display the notes of a major pentatonic scale.

Utilize the sliders to allow the display of a root, major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 5th, and major 6th.

And hide all of the other intervals with their associated sliders sliders and voila! A major pentatonic.

Choose what key to play in by turning note name segment so that the desired pitch appears at the root position.

can you display chords? yes you can!

Chords are possible too!

Want to work on major triads. Display a root, a major 3rd, and a perfect 5th, hide all other intervals and dial in the root note you want to work with.

Want to add a minor 7th reveal the note under that slider and add it to the chord voila!

Want the major 7th instead a simple swap of slider position at the corresponding intervals, et encore voila!

What about something esoteric like a F#diminished 7th chord I discovered whilst playing we are the champions by queen.

This neat chord can be played from any interval and look like itself on the guitar fretboard and use the same notes albeit in different positions.

At least that’s how it occurs to me.

the intervals involved are: a root, minor 3rd, dim 5th, major 6th.

Look how it appears on the sonique spider web, we have root interval open going clockwise 2 intervals hidden, another the minor third open, continuing

clockwise 2 more intervals closed, then the diminished 5th is open, then 2 more intervals closed, the major 6th open, then 2 last intervals likewise closed.

A step and a half betwixt each pitch evenly positioned yet sonically amazing can you believe it.

there will be more to come

So those are the basics basically. Moving forward there will be more opportunities to study and put the sonique spiderweb to use that should provide a lot of fun.

I have made an adjustment in the manufacture of my device to make it more economical.

the sonique spiderweb (revised version simpler construct reduced the time to build it)

a music theory teaching aid to display alphabetic note name data and inter-relationships betwixt that data. shipping is included. please allow 3 days for processing. its just me doing it all. I will respond within 24 hours though with confirmation.

20.00 $

Design it yourself

When I try to focus on too much!

If you work it.

I fancy myself a creator. I am usually working on one project or another. The Sonique Spider Web being my coup de maitre, the master stroke, that I hope to launch here shortly.
But being a perfectionist, which is just another word for procrastination or fear, I become distractible. Wanting to do many things, too many me thinks. I’ll start another project before finishing the first, see the Sonique Spider Web above, I’ve been at that since 2004!.
So being true to nature here is another distraction to perfect.

Something to …

Design it yourself.
The idea, guitar straps that can be embellished however you might like.

The concept seems inventive enough, and has potential to generate ideas galore.


The strap material white poly-propylene is a challenge to put a mark on but..

it cAN BE DONE

DEVELOPING THE IDEA
Not sure what marking to test the material with, experimentation was in order. Many markers and pens worked though not as easily as I would have hoped. The strap material is not flat like a piece of paper or willing to absorb ink in away that might be preferred.
Here are examples of some designs and various means used to draw on it.

That is supposed to be a VENOM likeness for a friend of mine.

And then they came into existence

SHADOW DRAGONS / DRAGON SHADOWS

Coming from a place of fascination, and idealization were they bred. Imagination brought them into existence. And, like they who construed them, they take many forms and personalities. Playful, personable, proactive, problematic, perplexing, perturbing. A plethora of types to fill the imagination with wonder and enthrall their advocates and detractors alike.

These silhouettes can be made from many materials, these seen here are cut from of leather and a much easier to work with foam material.
Attached to the strap by way of a pin, or 2 sided tape and velcro loop material these can land anywhere one might prefer.
Size may matter. I currently am training a purple suede shadow dragon to monitor my practice regimen and determine how well it holds up.

Rough Draft

As with many creative endeavors, the refinement process can be embellished and improved upon. Novel and I think more attractive solutions to the original design will offer alternative expressions in visual appeal. These will of course be developed further as opportunity affords, not to mention the potential of other creatives to run with the idea and elevate the art form to ever new and interesting levels.

I call the ones with the wide wingspan divebombers and the narrow ones wasps!

music and media

As musical paraphernalia that can be deployed as a statement of what your interests are, you can decorate your strap how you see fit. Putting on display to your audience the things that matter to you and uniquely identify and endear you to your fans.

Or if you’re a fan and want to express yourself to a favored musician whose instrument is supported by a strap and that can be decorated to demonstrate your appreciation to that musician you can do that too!

insight and innovation

Given the never ending cacophony of ideas and ideals there are to pursue it can become distractive at times to focus whole heartedly on one thing in such away as to bring it to fruition in any period of time.

Fruition can mean many things, as far as artistic endeavors are concerned, getting it out there to be seen or heard is probably the foremost thing.

This takes time and patience which often can benefit the result even if the process may seem to stall. That doesn’t mean things are still or nothing is happening at some level.

Despite imposing consternations that want to deter a project. If the interest is great enough to start, it can be enough to finish.

Given some time and recognizing that it like wine, things can and do improve with age if such is worked on, the process will bring such efforts ever closer to realization.

so then

Choices.

It may seem obvious and redundant to say, but we pursue that which interests us the most regardless of what we might think or say we are interested in. We do what we want for the most part when given the freedom to do so. So it stands to reason, that when given the opportunity of a choice, what is the interest that propels us to action, and what does it say about us that we choose this or that to focus and act on?

I say this as I look forward to a day of labor at various tasks that while doing them I find myself wishing I was doing something else.

But the option to choose is always in one way shape or form, more or less available and those choices are rife with endless possibilities to distract. So then, what can propel the creative choices that are desired when the time is available to act on them?

in a word, begin


As already mentioned a lot of what gets started takes awhile to get where it is going, but won’t get there if it never starts. And if it starts then stalls but still seems like it wants to go, remember where the motivation came from in the first place and fill the tank with that and with a word closely related to begin, continue.

voila !

If you would like to purchase a Strap with a Shadow Dragon see below. Or Contact me for more details.

White Guitar Strap with Shadow Dragon Silhouette various colors

White Poly- propelene guitar strap that can be decorated as you see fit. See examples in the blog. Includes 1 Shadow Dragon Silhouette that can be attached via velcro to the strap, various colors sizes and silhouette shapes.

$25.00

merci

Time

Music and Media to Incite Insight and Invigorate Innovation
Timing is everything, well time is anyway.

I thought this suitable because I needed a subject and this is one.

It a cliché because it’s true.
Whether in humor, a silly punch line or witty comment delivered at the right time for a laugh.
Or in music, when the spacing of the notes flow and feels right.
A song you can sing or let reverberate around in your head space radio, and carry with you through out the day.
The melody or lyric, sounded in just such a literal time space that is music, so as to elicit interest or give personal concepts meaning, validation and vigor.
Or perhaps in life in general, a word of encouragement or insight gained from reading or study, shared at the right time can make a difference.
In all of these instances time is involved.
To provide encouragement or offer insight, we need information of just such a sort, which requires reading and observation at some level.
To make music sound musical, practice is obviously involved.
Humor seems to arise as if from nowhere, but it too is built on past experience and thought processes even if one does not write jokes as a practice.

All involve time.

PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE

I recently began to try and play some music I had committed to memory years ago.
I remembered I knew it then, but but now? This particular music fell out of practice as other interests encroached upon the time and energy that was devoted to music.
Some times that was other music, too often it was not.
Presently irritated, frustrated and somewhat despondent about the loss of my ability to just start playing these pieces again, believing, once I had learned it, it was mine forever.
I thought I would not forget something I spent a considerable amount of time to memorize.
This is not the case.
I have forgotten more than I know!
Someone once told me, referring to B.B. King and myself in the same thought no less, that “he had forgotten more than I’d ever know about the guitar!”
As I was a brash young guitarist amped up to make it as a musician, it seemed to this person a pertinent point to make.
Not really knowing his motivation for saying such a thing, other than some confluence of events that equated all of us in that instant in his mind.
The statement stuck with me.
However the lesson it now intones has more significance.


If you don’t use it you lose it.

It is easy to remember the concepts involved in music, reading it, fingering on the guitar or keyboard, how it sounds, or is supposed to.
But if it is not actively engaged with regularly, it will suffer want, which can of course lead to discouragement.
Which can lead to ‘why bother’ which has been a go to preference too many times, leading to a lessening of interest in keeping that particular music and the necessary skills to play it, alive.
Revisiting some of the more complex music I once pursued and reorienting myself toward it has proven a challenge to maintain enthusiasm and take the time and energy to hear it come from my hands again. But it has also been one accepted gladly, as I am still having a go at it.
I choose to struggle with this at present because I can see where having this once again as a part of my skill set can contribute to a more involving musical future.
Despite possibly being seen as a resting on my laurels kind of affair, it is in fact a jumping off point. To not only maintain the status quo, but to advance it as well.

To stay active on ones instrument of choice is a good thing.

Even if it is currently only to maintain flexibility and prove that the feasibility to make advancement remains intact.

Music and Media

The particular pieces I am reacquainting myself with are from 2 very different musical era’s and obviously, 2 different people. One is by Fernando Sor (1778-1839) a classical guitar composer, which title appealed to the idealist in me “Fantasy Op.7” It is also in an unusual time signature 6/8, for some one like me accustomed to 4/4 rock n roll. In fact when I first undertook to learn this piece I ignored the time signature all together, primarily focusing on the notes and fingering. Despite this blatant ignorance of an instrumental part of the music and barely knowing how to read music,

I some how managed to make it sound like music.

The other piece is from a guitar master named Guy Van Duser who has the brilliance to arrange music from stride piano players to the guitar. In this case a tune called “Snowy Morning Blues” by James P. Johnson sometimes referred to as the “father of stride piano” This title also appealed to me. Again I had learned the music but due to lack of practice it was no longer available as a part of my repertoire of pieces I could play competently. But I wanted to once again.

Insight and Innovation

I have discovered in reorienting myself with this part of my musical past and the musical past in general that my abilities have also changed.
I can not stretch my fingers like I used to.
The fingering suggested by the music in some parts of the arrangement required a deeper dive into the music notation and not just follow the tablature as presented.

Because the guitar is structured in such a way, alternate positions are available on the guitar to play the music in more than one position on the instrument.

For example: Near the end of Sor’s Fantasy Op. 7. There is a pedal G note part The G gets played continuously through out several bars, at one point the score suggests a D note on the B string and a B note on the E string this is a 5 fret stretch. Trés Difficile (very difficult for me)
The same notes can be played at the 12th fret and still allow the pedal G note to sound.
Given my current abilities, this is a useful work around.

In Guy Van Duser’ “Snowy Morning Blues” arrangement a similar stretch was asked of my fingers. This time it was a 4 fret stretch but one that could be accomplished by another fingering.
It has an open A string as the bass, B on the G string, and C on the B string. An A note is to follow the B on the G string as is and open G string after that.
By fingering the A note on the D string and the C note on the G string and the B note on the open string the same combination can be effected and my hand isn’t quite so overextended. See the tablature below.

I was able to transpose the notes with out reading the music but it was still helpful
Summary

As a result with the careful study of the notation, a work around presented itself and I felt a sense of accomplishment in applying myself to the task and gained a deeper connection with the music and my abilities as a result.

So this would suggest, with a little digging and will power, alternatives to certain difficulties can be overcome and further develop musical skill.
It is a struggle some times to go deeper but by doing so even at a seemingly microscopic level, improvement can be made and we can become more invigorated by investing in the process rather than giving up because a certain challenge has presented itself.

Mais Non?

En Fin Circles the video

Artwork for this post.
and of course the audio which really is the important part of this enterprise.

Music as Shapes

So I wrote Circles on guitar, circa 2004. The lyrics came much later and are based loosely on an infatuation I was having at the time. At the time I gave no thought to the time signature, in 6/8 to the best of my guesstimation, not my usual modus operandi! However the main draw which prompted pursuit of this musical idea was the shape of the pattern I began with. The idea was to take that shape and invert it on the guitar betwixt the chorus and the verse. That is, viewed as a shape the chords made on the fret board, played in one direction for the chorus and shifting up a whole step in the verse and subsequently reversed or inverted the shape and thus provide its distinctive sound. This was, in my mind, away to generate novel musical structures visually. This video is my most recent attempt at resurrecting this song, rhythm section and all. When I first recorded it in 2004 I was able to get more elaborate with the drums and bass thanks to a little program called cubase. I even got the program to play a piano emulating the guitar part. I have since learned to play the keyboard myself. Though my interpretation of the guitar part is not note for note, as it was with a score editor in the edition of cubase I have, which is no longer available to play it and I lost the file though the recording still exists. I am happy with this recent version. Note I wrote about wanting to accomplish this effort in 2019.

Music and Media

I wanted a video to share it because, I hear so many good things about the internet gravy train that many are on and I wanted to get on board and decorate my mashed potatoes accordingly! But being a perfectionist recent audio and video efforts left me wondering is this ready enough to share? I almost released a previous version because the audio recording was done, its what you will hear here, and I was tired of battling my ego on the visual front. But after repeated editing attempts with the early shoots, I realized it could be better. So I reshot the video, synced it as best I could, and voila!, something I can put out there, to an audience of maybe? Also my mission statement is ‘Music and Media to Incite Insight and Invigorate Innovation’ so there is that to contend with and aid with maintaining a measure of consistency here on the blog.

Insight and Innovation

So the innovative part was the guitar pattern being viewed a a visual construct rather than a musical one. Even though music was the result intended. I have yet to be able to similarly visualize patterns on the piano keyboard but am nevertheless enamored of the instrument and perhaps in time and with practice I will see patterns emerge I can play with. Though my recent advice to practice with ones eyes closed might seem to run contrary to that premise!?.

So, what has been the challenge concerning my on again off again romance with the recording arts? Time and inspiration? Presently the desire to share can be agonizing. So much is already out there and to get anyone to listen let alone pay attention only contributes to that struggle. Then generating the confidence to share with a world that probably won’t notice almost seems moot. As for songwriting, the process sometimes tells me things I don’t want to hear but should be dealing with, it demanding attention in an inimitable way. So avoidance is one reason I don’t write and record like I might otherwise. This despite claiming to be a musician / songwriter, the work can be painful on a number of fronts. Effort and emotion being the primary instigators of my nonchalance. To develop a song completely, at least the way I do it requires a commitment that seems to want for a payoff of some kind other than the song itself, and to be more than merely entertained by the process, and/or heaven forbid, informed by it!. Yet shouldn’t that be its own reward, art for arts sake, for the sake of the artist?

Artists of all kinds might be dealing with similar concerns and constraints such as mine. Yet. It has been said that masterworks do not arise in a vacuum. The masterful spend countless innumerable hours working at their craft, creating as they would, regarding something that mattered, creating. This despite the vicissitudinaryness of life, or in spite of it. They work at their craft pleasing the creator with in and hoping probably, for the observers from without to also take note. But even if that didn’t happen so what, something surely is gleaned from the experience and progress, inching towards a better version of the next creation or themselves can’t be a bad thing.

SO Then

As is ever the case, and this is obviously true for more than just myself. There are other unlimited idealistic aspirations clamoring for attention, and these want to be developed as well. Drawing, building, making, creating, even seeking away to survive on these efforts, is a creative act. This seems a challenge when so many want to share their masterworks in the making. How to choose what to peruse? Perhaps we can be grateful so many creative energies are being brought to the fore. Though the ever flowing wellspring of creative pursuits might seem overwhelming, it should allow us to realize we are not alone in wanting to do likewise. At the very least we are doing it because we want to and it’s important that we do. Someone will benefit if not directly from our creations then indirectly by letting our creativity flourish and express itself we can be more comprehending in our everyday interactions.

So as the song suggests “In circles, run around” “Fly- – around in circles”. There are other songs to record, other projects to see through other things to share regardless if I get attention or not. I do because I want to, I don’t for the same reason, just depends on the…?

The NPR Tiny Desk Concert Submission Post

Self Portrait: The artist as motivated to try something different!?
I didn’t mention this at the time but..

I really just needed to put something out, get heard as it were. After writing and recording so many songs, and doing nothing with them this seemed like a momentum moment, actuating motivation!? So after having put it out there under the auspices of a contest. I am now second guessing what did I do, by signing over all the rights to use my song Rattle Snake Jane as they see fit, and realizing this is regardless if I win or not?

Getting the ‘You tube channel’ up and running for the submission process was almost too easy. Having been wanting to start one for awhile now. However generating relevant content that I am pleased to put up, is another story. Still a plethora of ideas continues to flow in, preoccupy and befuddle my abilities at follow through but nevertheless, I am willing to continue this endeavour.

but I hate the way I look on camera!

So that means, making videos where I am performing is a challenge. Still I try and get creative with the process, much to my dismay sometimes, as I struggle to puzzle together the next offering in iMovie, or some other program I have available in order to cobble together the disparate views of my idealogy. Yep, I spelt it that-a-ways for reasons you are of course, always free to think about!

I really should plan my posts better

I am always thinking about a graphic after I’ve started writing but get so excited that I actually wrote something that I don’t want to wait to publish before I can find something visual to include here. Then there is the editing, and getting hung up on placement of and defining nevertheless, and momentum moment, and what should probably be a link, but is not, to my idealogy!?

Alack there are more dagblammit ideas to pursue!

So I need to get back to work on editing the next video, so there will be something to write about next. I am contemplating a patreon page so my massive fan base can show their support, but that seems like a lot of work and I always feel like I need to have more to show to warrant such consideration. I did try a self portrait recently that was outside of my usual approach to art, so that’ll be the graphic for this post.

As always leave a comment if you wish, and thanks for reading.

Not in the mood to practice?

productivity and attention

So its a fairly well known concept that to be good at something you have to do it a lot. This is not always easy to do. Focus often suffers for a number of reasons.

  • Tiredness
  • Motivation
  • Complexity
  • Fear

These are the few that I came up with as I am tired, not unmotivated but challenged by the complexity of blogging and fearful of putting it out there. Well the blog has been here quite awhile and I am now earnestly making a go of it. Fear has been supplanted by momentum as I just started a you tube channel, ‘guitarbeau’s youtube channel’ posted a music video for a contest submission, and directed viewers to this site so… I have motivation to make it worth the trip, as well as some momentum which some have argued is more important than motivation.

Just get started and what follows is a result in the direction one is going. Obviously results may vary depending on the amount of interest and attention given to the effort, but it will stimulate focus by ‘just doing it’ or ‘do or do not, ‘there is no try’ if you prefer to get your act going via quotes from pseudo otherworldly guru’s! There is in fact a ‘try’ just like there is a, ‘taste it you might like it?’ So as this is about practicing a musical instrument when unmotivated or unfocused read on.

Try it with your eyes closed

So I maintain a schedule for practice or try to, it is sometimes difficult to get with my self imposed program. But learning music is a must do for me, as is improving my ability on the guitar and keyboard. In a previous post I mentioned and referenced an article that made some fine suggestions for improving the ability to learn, As the subheading here suggests I found another way to make that happen as well as find a new way to obtain focus on the effort of musical education and improvement.

Its not that difficult

I was struggling to get going one morning so I thought I’d feel my way around the keyboard and see how much muscle memory had become apart of my skill set. Turns out, it was quite a bit. Not that I am flying through the scales at break neck speed, even with my eyes open. But I can find the way with my fingers and ears better than anticipated or that I thought I’d remember.

but wait there’s more

Not only did I impress myself with this version of practice but discovered a component to scale sequences that I had not encountered before. Going through the cycle of fifths and corresponding harmonic and melodic minors related to each I discovered the relative minor scale of the major can lead to the next scale degree in the cycle of fifths.

Briefly and as it relates to the keyboard

Starting with the C major scale and then playing the relative A minor scales, harmonic and melodic, the G major, the fifth from the C, of course is found left of the A (minor), making it easier to find “in the dark” so to speak. G major then is related to E minor or vice versa left of which is the D which is the fifth from the G, got it? And so it went until I reached the scales that for me still require a visual reference from which finger to begin so back to my chart I go to get um, my footing!?

In summation

So the crux of the matter is, focus can be started many ways, and while practicing with your eyes closed might seem daunting to try at first, it can yield beneficial results when done with the intention to improve our musical proficiency. As can just about any endeavor. Just get doing it, or not.

Something I noticed about Key Signatures

So as I am in the process of writing a patent application for a musical instruction tool here, only partially seen at present. I noticed not every note in the musical alphabet had a corresponding key sign associated with it? Did that make the note designation irrelevant or invalid? No, because even though some notes do not have their very own key signs they can nevertheless be referenced as a so named musical note in certain contexts. So you go D# and G# stand tall with your enharmonic bretheren knowing full well the truth of your sonic brilliance!

Scales are…

Scales are a necessary component of learning to play a musical instrument. They can be challenging to maintain in a practice regimen because they remain constant and over time can become boring to play.

I read recently that a way to improve your ability to learn a new skill rapidly is to practice it ever so slightly differently. This it is said, can provoke the brain to internalize the information more readily and make it easier to access.

I wondered how this could be applied to scales. As mentioned they are somewhat static in their execution even though they are fingered differently when played in different keys and/or on different strings. They are still seemingly a straight forward and/or backwards exercise, as is also an option.

Then I realized there are alternatives to playing scales and that by using the above suggestion, to vary ones approach to the exercise slightly, can make it more easily understood and internalized and become an integral and useful part of ones musical vocabulary.

I have inadvertently found myself taking this approach one step further, as I struggle to commit new scales to memory. I alternate the note order again slightly. Moving forward 1 step or key and then back, and then forward again this time to the note 2 steps above the previous one and then back 1 step, being careful to use the fingers my scale chart says to use to play the scale in a straight forward way. Some may know this to be a difficult maneuver because of the need to cross certain fingers over or under as one makes their way through the scale.

Perhaps a more readily understandable description of this alternate scale practice method would be to simply play each of the notes in the scale 2 or more times before advancing to the next note. This can also be applied with the follow the leader approach mentioned earlier. This has proven useful in improving my ability. As has practicing regularly, which cannot be over stated.

Video Examples

Here are some video examples of these exercises as they may not be entirely understood just by way of my explanation, as a video supplants a 1000 words!?

Follow the Leader Left leading right hand 2 octaves above and 1/8th note after C Major
Alternate Way to Play a Scale

I hope anyone reading this will find something of use in my efforts to encourage. Please leave a comment if you wish.