This is an instrument from Kenya, I believe it is called a Cora. A good friend of mine gave it to me as a gift a couple years ago. I’ve been wanting to try to do something with it ever since, and here is my first attempt. It has 5 strings, and is set up sort of like a harp, so that each string can only play one note. I’m not sure how the strings are supposed to be tuned, so I just tuned it to sound interesting to me.
Since I only had 5 notes to work with, I tried to vary things by playing different rhythmic motifs. I think the rhythms clash/come together in very interesting ways, and create some beautiful textures. There are 6 different parts. Each one improvised. Kind of stealing the idea from one of my previous tracks, Lightwire Shadows. Except here I am much more limited than I would be on guitar.
I think the key here is to listen and wait to hear how the different pieces come together, clash, and evolve throughout the piece.
Here is something different. A departure from guitar. My first attempt at a solo piano improvisation. I was working on a piano piece and sort of drifted off into this idea, so I hit record. The bass movement is the same basic chord progression/root movement of the piece that inspired it, but the melody lines drift off into completely different territories that leave everything feeling very ungrounded.
So this is not the piece I have been working on that I mentioned in the previous post. I had to take a break from that one before attempting to record it again. Hopefully that one will be posted soon. But in the meantime…
I sat down earlier today and came up with the main melodic idea in this piece and decided to turn it into something. Steel-string acoustic guitar tuned down a whole step from standard tuning. I’m not really sure if I should call this an improvisation or not. I came up with the idea very quickly, and recorded it very quickly…it felt much more like a composition than an improvisation, but it happened very spontaneously. In any case…here it is…
In the season of the flu…the sick guitar player gets nothing done. So…no posts lately. I’ve been a bit under the weather the last week, and haven’t been feeling up to recording much of anything. Good news is, I’m feeling mostly better.
Even better news is (and another reason for lagging behind on posts):
I have a new song just about ready to post. In a departure from the more spontaneously inspired music found in previous posts…I’m hoping to have a new song up sometime in the next day or so that is completely through composed. I’ve been spending alot of time trying to get it finished rather than recording other new pieces. It is a solo acoustic guitar piece I have been working on for months. Putting pieces together, arranging, re-arranging, battling some serious creative blocks, throwing ideas out the window, coming up with new ideas, throwing those ideas out the window, and re-arranging them all again. And I believe that, finally, I am happy with the ideas that remain.
So until then,
A new one I recorded in one take earlier today. Open D-tuning. Lap steel resonator guitar.
This piece has 4 steel string acoustic guitar parts layered on top of each other. The guitar is tuned down a whole step to DGCFAD. The entire piece is made up of chords rapidly fingerpicked in four note groupings. I was definitely inspired by composer Gustavo Santaolalla’s album Ronroco, as well as by the way that Steve Reich achieves a beautiful shift of colors and sound from chord to chord or motif to motif in his piece Music for 18 Musicians. (Both are amazing works, and very deserving of attentive, frequent, and detailed listening.) Additionally, I generally like the idea of having two conflicting concepts co-exist. Here you have a rapid, almost frantic, repetitive and percussive flurry of notes that persist throughout, but at the same time there exists a slow, gradual shifting of colors. While I was improvising the layered parts, another idea that kept entering my head was call and answer. As I was playing the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th guitar parts, if I heard a rhythmic or melodic idea in one of the other parts, I would attempt to mimic it in the part I was currently playing. What results is a wall of saturated sound, that, if listened to closely, reveals little melodies and rhythmic motifs. All of this, interestingly enough, despite the rapidly/frantically repeated notes, results in a very calming sound (at least to me). It is very much like being in a large crowd in a public place where many, many different conversations are occurring all at once, yet you are still able to make sense of words and phrases here and there, independently of the sound as a whole.
The picture in the original post is from a trip I took to Alaska 2 years ago. I was in Seward, and I set my camera out on the balcony of the hotel room one night for a time exposure shot. I like the image, and it seemed fitting…so I decided to post it as well…to hopefully add some visual appeal to my blog.
I would love to hear what anyone who cares to share took from this piece. Sonically, visually, emotionally, musically, anything at all. So if you feel so inclined, leave a comment or send me an email. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanks for listening.
P.S. If you haven’t already, check out my link to the site inBflat.net for one of the most beautiful and moving uses of the internet I have seen/heard in a long, long time.
This is a solo steel string acoustic piece I recorded last night entitled “Been Hoping.” In the spirit of presenting a musical stream of consciousness, this piece is entirely improvised.
Comments/thoughts/constructive criticism welcome.
You might be wondering what this is all about. Here is an attempt to answer that question:
This is an experiment.
A place for wandering and wondering.
Searching and (sometimes) finding and searching some more.
An admittedly self-indulgent odyssey.
But it is also…
A place for music to be heard.
Occasionally a place for thoughts to be read.
And sights to be seen.
But mostly a musical place.
A story told in a musical stream of consciousness.
Make yourself at home.