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.
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.
Round and round he goes where he stops nobody knows!
So this is overdue, at least as I had planned it. But wouldn’t you know, other possibilities presented themselves in order to try to make this a more cohesive whole. Then I read something on Medium from Ayodeji Awosika about “embracing the suck” How the first 100 blog posts, or song attempts, or presentations are not going to be the best one is capable of. But it takes all those to get to the good ones, to the better examples of ones capabilities. So while I drafted an outline for this post, basing it on the songwriting, recording and publication process. And contemplated how best to demonstrate that. I felt a video would be the most viable expression of the effort but time and perfectionism has not let me realize that at this time. So even though I am “embracing the suck” I still know I can do better than just throwing something out here and leaving it at that. I mean I made an outline for this! Again, to strive for a little continuity and purpose I suppose more than any thing.
So the outline went like this and I am using a song I already wrote and complete but not recorded. So definitely listen for that here next post.
Develop an idea. in this case a chord progression that would change position at a point in the song and be figured/played in an inverse way to see what contrast/inspiration that would generate.
Write Create Edit. Fairly self explanatory took awhile to get lyrics, tried writing in french even enlisted my mother on that front to see if that gave it more charm.
Record Embellish Overdub. Lush it out, make some juxtapositions to make the auditory experience something to relish. I also transcribed it on the keyboard, as I am in the habit of doing with my guitar originated songs. Both to develop skill on that instrument as well as afford alternative opportunities of musical performance.
Administrative. Copyright. This seems a foregone conclusion, but of all the music I’ve created over the years I’ve yet to do this one thing. Perhaps due in some part to the fact it doesn’t get heard often, and I hem and haw about it. But it can be a useful thing to have as a component in the finale of my outline. And aid as an incentive in the process of wanting to get it out there!
Promote and Publish. Make a video as previously mentioned, describe the process, share related art work.
So that has yet to be completed after all this time. Perfectionism being what it is I err on the side of edit some more. So I have this to offer instead.
So this is the 12 note names of the western musical scale with associated key signs in the treble or G clef for reference. This being a significant part of the Sonic Spider Web awaiting patent application to reveal the full concept it is shared here. You will see that instead of the common circle of fifths, the notes are displayed sequentially as the notes would occur on a musical instrument. Some notes/tones have two names, this is called enharmonic, sounds the same but is written differently, depending on the key sign a musical piece is composed in. This information is a primary building block of musical understanding. I hope you find it useful.
So this symbol in the Guitarbeau logo is meant to stand in for the G of guitarbeau!
Spent part of the week looking at some creative attempts mustered in the past that were to become a series or contribute some refinements to technique. Much was made about them at the time but follow through was wanting. So many songs, new skills to acquire (keyboards), working with pen instead of pencil. Sculpted with wire. Not much of that made it to see the light of day or heard at an open mike at night. Stymied by perfectionism, still it pesters and percolates in the reverb of the mind. Show your work. Below is from a 1990’s sketch book.
So that’s some of the possibilities sought after in the past. I haven’t stopped trying to ARTiculate from time to time, but other concerns seem more important even when blank pages and broken strings could benefit from some attention! Keep Pushin On!