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I listen to where they want to live – Linda Hogan

December 14, 2015

The ideal for musicians is to place all thDSCF8876e notes with exactly the right sound in exactly the right way on any given day. On a recent recording I was fighting myself, struggling to record the notes and not being happy with the results. Perhaps I was not finding where they wanted to live that day but trying to fit them into the wrong kind of space. Forcing the wrong kind of sound and speed the notes so that they thumped where I wanted them sing. As I reflect, those pieces were relatively new, and had been given only about 140 hours of rehearsal. The other works had been given well over one thousand hours of rehearsal over about eighteen months. It is crazy how much time it takes to learn something so well that you control every note as to the volume, timbre, speed, articulation and place in the phrase. Then you have to makes sure that each note is centered close to the fret so that it blossoms rather than squawks!

There were some other things I noticed in the studio that day. Recently my playing wants to include some indeterminacy, places with some improvised bits. Some of these places are texted but my fingers like to choose things from a list of possibilities. Having written a couple of pieces in a renaissance style with ornaments, my hands no longer want to do the same thing every time. Thinking back to some solo music I wrote in the blues tradition – Well Tempered Blues – I note that the style changed me. Repeats included rhythmic deviations and additions as the style asserted itself over me. Even though the music was played on a classical guitar the idiom fought to be heard.

Not all my music demands this approach, when the music is more formal, the notes seem to be happy to stay in place, asking only for delicate shadings in performance to colour them. There are two fairly major pieces on my upcoming CD that are like homages to the folk tradition – Appalachian Colours and The Ancient Waters. All of the notes from these pieces were happy as written, even though they were sometimes a struggle to get in the correct place. It is difficult to predict when my own notes will want to veer from the page into the unknown. Sometimes it is a challenge when to stop revising as well!

523138_10152080635930441_430457671_nA sunny winter day is excellent for selling donkeys – fat, gray donkeys against the white snow. Buyers are happy in the sunshine and decide faster because of the cold. Nasrudin was happily selling donkeys, with great success. This amazed his fellow traders so much that one evening, an old horse-trader took the Nasrudin aside, “Would you please tell me how do you manage such low prices? With all my experience and connections, I can’t beat your prices, even though I don’t pay my workers, steal the fodder, cheat on the weight and quality of the beasts, elude the taxes. Your donkeys are still cheaper, how do you do it?”

“Simple: you steal so many things – I only steal donkeys.”

  1. William, you are an inspiration

  2. Hele Montagna permalink

    Love reading your blogs

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