Tag Archives: guitar

A Million Miles

One day off for last day’s post and it nearly throws off my whole schedule. I only remembered I needed to write this now, a mere two hours before it’s Wednesday. I am definitely a uni student.

Lately I’ve been working on a massive music project that I’ve assigned myself for the summer. I have told myself that I have to have fifty pieces recorded by August 30th, because, like all professors, I don’t believe I have a life outside of my work. And now I’m at least two people, wait, no, three, because I also assigned myself this blog post.

Anyways, I have twenty-some pieces in progress or ready for recording and honestly I’ll be thrilled if I even get thirty done. I’ve been searching through old pieces that younger me has left unfinished because I don’t just re-use old writing. In my search for musical ideas, I found something I thought was lost forever – the music 13 or 14-year-old me wrote for the dreadful song lyrics I posted here ages ago. For those who don’t remember, these were written as a game with three of my friends. Here they are again:

a million miles away i am lost inside my head
my body floats in space the world is turning
all my synapses burning
my amish friend dropped my lightsaber down thither
it cut off my hand so slowly turning
ah my mangled arm so damaged
even more than vader could have managed
i am falling falling
great times compared to tatooine

And here is the single hand-written copy of the music I wrote to them:

You can tell how much this music meant to me from the marks where I tested pens on it later.

I’m currently developing it into a cello and guitar duet. I decided to leave out vocals because I can never unhear the original lyrics with this music, and let’s be honest, these lyrics are pretty awful. I love them, but no. I am making the title of the piece A Million Miles though, because it needs the connection kept clear, if only to Sarah, Patrick, Micael, me, and whoever reads this blog.

Hopefully my project is a success. I will let everyone know in September, and will share whatever ended up recorded. As a marker of some of my first compositions and lyrics, A Million Miles will be the first posted, and it will be up whether I complete the fifty pieces or not.

Advertisements

Great, now try it whilst standing on your head!

Lately I’ve been focusing on really settling down and getting some songs written. I’m aiming to have enough to be able to start a band in September or October without running into this conversation:

Person 1: So what should we play?

Person 2: I sort of have a start to a song, but it’s not done and I don’t have a part for your instrument. You could figure something out just by listening, right?

Person 1: …I could try…I have some unfinished stuff too.

Nothing ever gets finished and there is never an actual rehearsal. End band.

Right now I’m working on two pieces in particular and they’ve made me realise that my part writing has gotten stronger just because I keep writing for the wrong instruments. The first piece I’m working on was finished as an instrumental piece for my composition class last semester. It was originally intended for guitar and harp, but since I am not overly familiar with harp music, I ended up writing a harp part that was better suited to two harps. We only had one, so we had the bass clef line covered by cello, with worked really well. The great thing about this was since I’d been thinking of the two lines as one instrument, even though it was physically impossible to play, the two parts fit together really well. In my re-write, I’m moving the guitar(which was originally on melody) to cover the rest of the harp part and writing lyrics to the melody I have. In this piece, it would have also sounded great to have two harps, but I’m trying to make sure I’m writing for instruments I’ll have easy access to.

The second piece I started by fooling around on the guitar and coming up with a chord progression and rhythm. This is the first time I’ve started by laying the structure and mapped out the progression before coming up with lyrics and a melody. On one hand, it feels a little backwards, but on the other, it’s been putting some helpful limits on possibilities. Once I had the progression, I started to try and write a melody, and I wrote about half of it before deciding I’d start trying to put some lyrics in and taking the rest from there. That was when I got completely stuck. I wasn’t writing anything I was happy with, and though the line was strong enough, I felt like I was getting pushed away from a song I had previously been obsessed with. The other day I was trying to work on it again, and on a whim, I changed the vocal line to the cello part.* Suddenly it all made sense. I still have to write the vocal line, but I have a strong accompaniment. This means I have officially turned my normal song-writing method on it’s head.** Hopefully my momentum keeps up so I’m prepared for fall.

Also, I suck at band names, so people should put suggestions(serious or not) in the comments in order to amuse me.

6 minutes left.

*Can you tell what instrumentation my band is going to have yet?

**I am resisting making a reference to a youtube video on inverted chords that probably no one will get.


You’re never too old to make mistakes, so let us make them

I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that at some point you’ve known someone who every once in a while would say “I always wanted to learn how to play the [insert instrument here].” And when it was said that he or she still could learn to play said instrument, maybe one of the reasons for not doing so, along with lack of money and time, was something about being “too old” to start learning an instrument. This reason always confused me, especially since as a child, I had a teacher tell me that being a musician was cooler than being a dancer, cause you could play professionally for pretty much as long as you wanted, while you’re only in peak physical condition for dancing until your mid-to-late-20s(Just to clarify, I am not anti-dancer, I am paraphrasing a teacher). So where did this age limit come from? My theory is that it’s in place because little kids are adorable when they make mistakes.

When I started to learn to play the cello at age 7, there were weekly recitals. I didn’t play in all of them, but every kid in this organisation played in a few a year. The skill levels ranged widely, with the high school kids playing fairly advanced pieces while the youngest children couldn’t get a clear sound out of their instrument. What was important was, everyone performed, and if you slacked off on your practising, well, you still had to perform. And it was all okay. The audience was very understanding, and everyone learned proper stage etiquette. That organisation was more professional in running its recitals than some of the school groups I’ve been in since.

But of course, people grow up, and it’s not so cute to watch an adult make a mistake, not to mention that the adults don’t like to be seen making those mistakes. So we end up with tons of small concerts for children beginners and almost none for the older beginners. Every music performance with adult players features very skilled players, so the beginners think that they’re not good enough to perform yet. Even worse, other people hold the adult beginners to higher standards than they should because they forget that they are beginning, and just think “performance.”

I started to learn how to play the guitar in September. Around the middle of this semester, my teacher told me she wanted to get her students playing in front of an audience, at a concert that will be happening this Sunday. It was originally planned that we’d play in an ensemble, and then a few of us could play solo pieces. The ensemble fell through due to a lack of people, but I was still working on my solo piece. Yesterday, my teacher told me that I probably wouldn’t be allowed to play in the recital because I didn’t meet her standards to perform. I started to say something about how my parents had already made plans to drive 7 hours to see this recital, and she said something about how I shouldn’t embarrass myself in front of my parents and the rest of the audience, and wait until I could have a good experience performing. Now, I’m not perfect on this piece in any sense of the word, and a more experienced guitarist would probably play it twice as fast as I do, but I’m not bad for a beginner. I would almost certainly make a few mistakes, but none on the embarrassment level. Most importantly, just because I’d make a few mistakes does not mean that I would not have a good experience.

Performing isn’t just about showing off what you can do, or entertaining your audience. It gets you used to being on stage, allowing you to deal with performance anxiety, and teaching you how to deal with making mistakes in front of an audience. You can be a great player and still not know how to recover from making a mistake. By acting as if it will be the end of the world if we mess up in front of an audience, we are putting the audience the role of something to be feared, as opposed to people who want to see us succeed.  If we keep putting off performance until we’re perfect, we’ll either never perform, or we’ll never be satisfied with ourselves as musicians.

-8 minutes left.


Some guitar, devolving into non-sensical rambling, with a picture to make up for it

So I now own a guitar. It is a Fender Squier, and sounds amazing. It’s also blue. I’m hoping that I will figure out how to play it at some point. Today I played an E chord and was very proud of myself. Imagine, tomorrow I might learn a G chord…

Hmm…need a new topic…gah, I can’t in good conscience end the blog post with so little said. If I do, it’d be no different than a glorified facebook status.

Here comes the part of the blog where I say whatever comes into my head with no filtering. Woo, blog post, fill up the blog post. Everyday blog posts may have been a mistake. Ooh, flowers! They’re shedding more petals than they were. Maybe they got mad that I told the internet they were still all nice and pretty a month after I bought them. Maybe they thought I raised everyone’s expectations too much. Uh-oh, typo, got to fix that, dude, how fitting is it that I did a second typo on the word typo, fix that. I wonder why anyone bothers reading the Baltimore Sun anymore, it’s such a horrible newspaper. At some point I need to come up with the next Guster installment so that I can pretend to not be boring.

Okay, I’m sorry for that. Have a picture of the guitar to make up for it.

guitar.jpg

18 minutes left.


Been lazy, but have some pretty pictures

So this is why me and blogs don’t mix. At some point I’ll think, nah I don’t wanna do this right now, I’ll do it tomorrow. And sometimes tomorrow turns into three weeks. If I’m lucky. Which apparently I am. Whether you are lucky or not depends on how much torture it is for you to read this. I would like to point out at this moment that my friends and family are not required to read this, they will just be guilt tripped if they don’t.

So anyways, three weeks. I had a birthday, which I tried to ignore, but no one let me. No matter what they say, I’m still 5. There were two huge snowstorms, one the day before my non-birthday party, the other a few days later. Have a snow picture. Those lumps you see? Those are cars.

Image006.jpg

This is our car. Notice the branch that decided to become its hat.

Image003.jpg

There were also some monster icicles outside my window. As I was obsessed with taking pictures of them, they will be at the bottom.

So I have decided to learn to play the electric guitar, once I save the money to buy a beginner one, and an amp., so probably in a month. I was playing around with one in a music store a month or so ago, trying out distortion pedals, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking of it since. And before anyone asks, no, I do not play acoustic guitar. I have tried, but was never really into it, and the neck felt too thick for my hand. Those two combined meant I didn’t practice, which resulted in me forgetting everything I learned. My dad is amazing for never getting tired of showing me the same chords every time I picked up a guitar. Hopefully soon I won’t feel like my arms are useless when I perform.

Anyways, icicle pictures!

Image000.jpg

Image001.jpg

Image009.jpg

7 minutes and 50 seconds.