Monday, October 20, 2008

Methinied Morricone

I’m not averse to Morricone here at IG (I do, after all, suggest Cinema Paradiso as a melodic atom for practicing guitar…), but here’s something out of my normal orbit:

I would, however, never recommend Metheny’s technique as a starting point to any of my students.

Video via The Jazz Guitarist.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

an sms conversation between two teachers of improvised music

SOH: Any tips for dealing with the hopelessly terrified?

TIG: Ritual humiliation? ;-)
Seriously, i recommend getting everyone to make
the "least musical sound". Invariably what they do
is still quite musical (and/or boring and loud),
so you can push them to do better.

SOH: That sounds like a good idea.

TIG: Honestly, students - they think they should
preempt the music.... :-)

SOH: These guys seem to think that they could be silent
when they're asked to perform & somehow the
improvisation fairy will visit in the night.

TIG: Improv fairy? Mwhahahahaha.

SOH: Haven't you heard of her? She brings freedom & fun
& exemption from effort & lots of good shit like

TIG: Substitute the improvisation sandman who comes at
night to take away your muse if you haven't played.

SOH: Yes, I will rule with fear! Maybe I should get a
scary costume.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

classical dynamics

Okay, Devin Hurd manages to lob me a meme. I’ll bite—anything to inject a little actitity into this (temporarily) neglected blog.

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.
Wish I had a more (overtly) musical book at hand, but here goes:
Jerry B. Marion and Stephen T. Thornton (1995), Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems 4th ed. (Fort Worth: Harcourt).
As it happens, the would be fifth sentence occurs at the very end of page 123. Thus, taking the first three sentences of page 124:
Example 3.2
Consider a pendulum of length l and a bob of mass m at its end (Figure 3–12) moving through oil with θ decreasing. The massice bob undergoes small oscillations, but the oil retarts the bob’s motion with a resistive force proportional to the speed with Fres=2m√(g/l)(lθ̇). The bob is initially pulled back at t=0 with θ=α and θ̇=0.
Hmm… If this has a link to Devin’s book, it’s in that it reminds me of flipping through Braxton’s Catalog of Compositions.

Okay, I’ll tag a couple of musicians—Dominic Lash and Taylor Ho Bynum—who always seem to be looking for a good read (and might have a more interesting book at hand then a physics text book), and, just for a measure of insanity, I’ll tag sjz. I’m also going to lob this over to roboflutist even if, between taxes and recitals, I suspect she won’t have the time to respond.
Finally, to atone for the choice of a science text book (of the positivist, empirical variety), I’ll tag Zuska.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

the grant application algorithm rev. 1.0.0

For FS.

A very simple algorithm:

1. Choose ‘edgy,’ trendy words and phrases that the arts organizations currently love (e.g. ‘collaborative’, ‘sustainability’, ‘interdisciplinary’, ‘defamiliarize’, ‘hybrids’).

2. Lay those words down as if on a scrabble table.

2.5. Optional: get intoxicated / stoned.

3. Try linking those words to make sentences (actual resemblance to grammar is purely coincidental).

4. Make sure targets and goals are not measurable (how exactly can you compute ‘artistic practice’?).

5. Voila! A completed grant application for the arts.

…Yeah, I was talking to a theater stage manager who hit the nail on the head: “arts funding is turning artists into liars.” Too true.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


There’s no such thing as a wrong note, just (missed) opportunities.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

well, this is depressing (addendum)

Dan asked for some background on the London Musicians’ Collective vs. Arts Council of England dispute. Most of what I know, I’d heard on the grapevine. While others have also blogged about it, possibly the most reliable info I have is from the LMC website itself. Look at the two articles ‘LMC Funding Crisis: January 2008’ and ‘LMC Funding Crisis: UPDATE 5 February 2008’. An except from the former article:

The LMC currently finds itself among nearly two hundred arts organisations who are having their Arts Council funding severely cut back. In December we received notice that Arts Council funding, which has always been fundamental to the LMC’s survival, will be cut off from 1 April 2008.
And the update:
Sadly the LMC has not been reprieved by the Arts Council of England, and our funding will stop from 31 March 2008.
We wrote to the Arts Council answering their points of criticism, but clearly failed to dent their intentions…. The fact is that events like the LMC Festival cost a lot of money, eg just one visa for a visiting musician runs into hundreds of pounds.
You may also want to have a look at some of the letters of support for the LMC.

BTW, apologies for not responding to all those who have left comments recently, I’ve been a little overwhelmed (if you can be a little overwhelmed) with stuff (including an upcoming performance with a former teacher of mine… time to practice).

Friday, February 08, 2008

well, this is depressing


We [the London Musicians’ Collective] sense that no one in the ACE [Arts Council of England] Music Department actually supports the kind of work the LMC does, and that this, rather than the war of statistics, may be the true reason why we are being cut off. This is further evidenced by the fact that no one from the ACE Music Department has attended an LMC event for the past five years, in spite of repeated invitations.

Monday, January 28, 2008

how dumb are guitarists

How dumb are guitarists (at least according to marketing)? Apparently very, very, very (perhaps up to 11+ on the dumb-o-meter).

“Re-issue”, “classic”, “special re-creation”, “original… formula”, “celebrates a return”, “vintage tones”. (Not bad for a 130 word press release).
But seriously, ladies and gentlemen: strings that are “hand-wound slowly”? “vibrate completely”? with “maximum sustain”? and “warm”?

Give me a break.

Monday, January 21, 2008

the three ages of jazz pt. 1b: the nursery

Continued from pt. 1a…

the early bird (continued)

We’re joking about jumping up on stage and playing free jazz for this extremely hip ’bop club audience.

   …At least, I assume we’re joking.

Yet another conservatory band later, MH comes and shouts something into BC’s ear. It’s loud in the club so I don’t catch the conversation, but as MH struts towards the stage, BC, while opening the sax case, turns to me and says, “I think we’re on.”
I barely have time to parse what BC’s just told me. Before I can ask for confirmation, BC’s picked-up the soprano and headed for the stage.

   …Like I said, we’re running on pure adrenaline.

I fumble with my guitar, throw the case onto a crowded table, realize I don’t have a strap (I’ve been a sit-down player), hope there’s a chair I can use on stage, almost collide with TL and the bass, stare blankly at a wall of amplifiers that (apparently) every band has contributed to. I plug into one amp, can’t figure out the controls (goddamn high-tech, German engineering), try another… TL launches into the bassline for ‘Lonely Woman’, I stagger from the amp wall, hoping that the level ain’t too high or low, and realize I’m sans volume pedal. Oops.
We don’t stick with ‘Lonely Woman’ long; BC half-heartedly blows the first A of the head, but gives up for some post-Coltrane ‘free blowing’ (I realize later that I’ve never heard BC be so straight). I’m far, far, faaar too loud.
And I have no idea what I’m doing…

   …at all.

We’re done, the audience, to my surprise, cheer. BC turns ’round with the biggest smile you’ve seen in your life.

At Free Jazz Central, I kept asking TL if my volume level was too high, and now I’m apologizing again to the bass player for being waaaay too loud. TL says “not at all”, but I’m unconvinced, and BC laughs that I’m the only guitarist they know who worries about being too loud. I make a mental note: try and be a little less concerned about my volume level in the future. (I’ll be reminded of this many days later when some of my less capable students demonstrate a inflexible sense of volume. But that’s another story….)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

the vertical guitar(ist)

Well, in the guitar / guitarist / luthier sphere there’s that never ending quest to finally reengineer the posture. Considering how old the problem is, there’s surprisingly little in way of lateral thinking solutions.I’ll admit I’ve managed to be ignorant of Paul Galbraith until a few minutes ago, but he does seem to have an interesting solution.