If you follow this site regularly, you know that I frequently work with my good friend Patrick Joseph on both music and videos to accompany that music. Patrick is an immensely talented singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, and is a great collaborator. We have been working together for a little over a year now, and it has been an incredibly rewarding creative outlet for me as a guitarist. Working with a singer/songwriter can sometimes be a challenge. Artists typically have a very clear, concise idea of how they would like their songs to sound. Oftentimes this results in quite a limited and narrow creative space to occupy as a guitarist. Of course, there is good reason for these limitations as many artists spend hours and hours obsessing over how to make a song the best it can possibly be, and the last thing they want is for some crazy guitarist to come in and try to re-invent their wheel.
Patrick works the same way: spending hours and hours writing and recording, perfecting each and every note and lyric before a song can be deemed “complete.” The big difference is Patrick is willing to work as a collaborator as well. He allows me a lot of creative freedom. I am not held down by a predetermined notion of what a guitar player should or should not bring to his music. I create my own guitar parts, but more importantly, I can stretch and explore sonic territory atypical of the guitar. I can occupy space that might normally be occupied by a keyboard or synthesizer, or create atmospheric/ambient electronic sounds that make people (I hope) listen twice when they see acoustic guitars.
This is territory I am very fond of exploring as a guitarist, and it is also what makes working with Patrick such a rewarding experience. My creative goals of exploring new and/or different sounds are fully satisfied, and I benefit/learn from working and performing with a talented singer/songwriter.
This video is a departure from our typical do-it-yourself approach, and was shot by our friend, and amazing photographer/videographer, JP Agustin.
Arsonist Blues is from Relics, our upcoming EP of re-imagined versions of songs from Patrick’s debut album Antiques. Our covers EP is also in the works as well as many other projects that will be unveiled very soon!
This piece happened for two reasons…
1. I was feeling like some moody modal improvisation.
2. I wanted to try recording my Hans Pukke (luthier) classical guitar to see what sounds I could get with my limited recording setup.
I have always known this guitar to have amazing balance and incredible treble tones. One of my favorite things about it is the way notes just sing on and seem to ring forever after they have been played. The overtones and harmonics this guitar generates are out of this world. It just has such a rich sound, and I feel very lucky to own this instrument. Unfortunately, I don’t think the microphone I have really does it justice, but I think this recording came out alright nonetheless.
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…
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.