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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a result with the careful studyof 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.
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.
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…?
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.
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!?
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.
So as I am in the process of writing a patent application for a musical instruction toolhere, 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 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 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.
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!?
I hope anyone reading this will find something of use in my efforts to encourage. Please leave a comment if you wish.
This is a finger exercise that will challenge you and perhaps add a new component to your musical vocabulary. Its a fairly straight forward structure, despite the name, almost chromatic in nature. So the simple animation provided below will give a good sense of how it is to go. It can be played anywhere on the fret board. The animation suggests the low end of the fret board. So begin by working up the neck
1st finger 1st fret E string (F note)
2nd finger 2nd fret A string (B note)
3rd finger 3rd fret E string (G note)
4th finger 4th fret A string (C# note)
4th finger 4th fret E string (G# note)
3rd finger 3rd fret A string (C note)
2nd finger 2nd fret E string (F# note)
1st finger 1st fret A string (A# note) from here begin the pattern anew next note on the D string
2nd finger 2nd fret D string (E note)
and so on across the fret board.
Depending on where on the fret board you try this, find corresponding chords to play along with it.
Making an impression in the digital realm is not as easy as I thought it would be. I have been spending time generating artistic and musical content but not at the level I would like it to be. And then there is the ownership of it, specifically the rights of ownership as in copyrights. Generating new items, songs, art, is fun and invigorating but sharing it presents problems. Thinking it is so good that it has to be protected from theft so that I might get the full benefit of my brilliance, i.e. money! I should be so well regarded that someone would think enough of my skill to steal from me! I bring this up because there are alternatives to copyright.
Gwenn Seemel a visual artist has written about this in her book “You Share Good” and spoke about it in a Ted Talk. Also has made a success of her efforts at producing art as a non copyrighted effort. By placing her work in the public domain she has at the very least eliminated one hindrance I seem rather effective at using to prevent me from ‘sharing good‘. Mistrust and the sense I might lose out if the work is not properly “caged in a copyright”. Or the other seemingly more relevant fear, my creations will be co-opted and used against me, by not allowing me to perform or recreate pieces that I developed!?
At this point however it is just fear preventing any sort of display or sharing. I should be delighted anyone would think enough of a creative endeavor of mine to want to utilize it as they would. Still it is nice to be acknowledged and recognized for ones efforts. I once had some wire sculpture stars I made on display at a swap meet and noticed one had gone missing. Rather than being upset about the loss I was pleased someone found it intriguing enough to take it.
Surprised I was by this perspective coming from my mind.
Well it was taken, (maybe knocked off the table) but I found it a bit later, being kicked about on the ground, completely ignored, and worst of all, discarded by the person I thought had wanted it! I was more bummed by that than the perceived theft. But the emotional response I had to the instance as it initially played out in my imagination was interesting. And it still reverberates today as some sort of perspective or assessment of things that matter to me, that I could make better use of.