Friday, February 22, 2008

FAQ: Why not more original compositions?

I'm glad you asked that question. The simple fact is, I'm not that original a musician.

Something I'd like to point out, however, is that there are thousands of musicians who don't write their own stuff. They're called "classical" and "jazz" musicians. No one goes up to Nigel Kennedy and says "Hey, I like all that stuff you do but how come you don't write your own violin concertos?". Or "Hey, Art Tatum, nice piano standards but how come you don't write your own stuff?"

But, somehow, if you have an interest in popular music and especially if you play guitar, people immediately assume you're a singer-songwriter or something.

To me there's SO MUCH good music out there to be learned (and so much mediocre original music to be shunned) that it takes all my time just trying to figure out what the creative geniuses have done.

It's true that with some musicians this study of previous masters has lead to their own ability to find a compositional "voice" and begin to write. I don't think I was born with that gene, frankly. (Gene Frankly...I think I went to college with a guy by that name)

But, all that being said, I am interested in writing. I do *occasionally* get the inspiration. I've got a handful of ideas right now that I'm kicking around, but they never come out to much and I can't seem to develop them beyond the 30 seconds or so of what interests me about them. And then I get tired of hearing them.

FAQ: How do you remember to play so many songs?

Simple answer: I don't.
As hinted at in the preceding post, I work on something new, film it and forget it.

This is part of what's so great about the Youtube revolution (if you will). Before the late spring of 2006 when I posted my first Youtube efforts, I worked on the same things over and over again thinking "this way I'll be ready....". I was thinking I might have gigs or busking opportunities or I might just have friends over and would need to make sure I've got a few things down pat so I can demonstrate them.

Of course, that's still a good idea, I guess. But these "gigs" don't just happen even for musicians who are struggling to live by them, let alone interested hobbyists who like to play and don't have a whole of lot of ambition about it (

Youtube is the absolutely perfect venue for players like me. And I'm extremely lucky to have started so early (in June 2006 there still weren't that many guitar players posting) to have gotten the exposure that I now have.

And I thank everybody from the bottom of my heart for all the kind words of support. It's really much more than I deserve (more on this in a future post).

FAQ: No Tab, Pepsi

I'm frequently asked for tablature for my arrangements of popular songs.

I don't use them. I don't make tablatures after arranging something for myself, because I don't need them. Once I've completely forgotten how to play something all I need to do is refer back to the video I made and relearn it by listening and watching. Often as a result of this (and in combination with listening to the original song) I make improvements to the arrangement.

This is vastly simpler, I find, than taking out a piece of paper with little dots and dashes on it and trying to figure out what I was thinking.

If I were to entabulate an arrangement it would take longer than relearning the whole thing from scratch. A Benedictine brother in the middle ages painstakingly illuminating the Book of Hours would consider his work a rush job in comparison to what it's like for me.

Now, I figure there are these programs now that do all the work for you. Is this the case? You play an audio track into a notation program and it writes it out for you? What a dream come true. I had that idea when I was 6! :D However, if that is the case then there's no need for me to make (and email, snail mail, scan and fax etc etc) any tablatures of my arrangements, because the person so interested only has to find one of these software programs and voila, they have score and tablature just from saving the audio out of some video of mine.

Does that bother me? Not in the least. I encourage it (although I encourage ear-training much more!) After all I've already "borrowed" the tune from someone else who has legitimate copyright claims (more on this in another post). Certainly if anyone wants to copy and study what I'm doing that's their bunch of grapes. Just happy to be of service.

Not So Bounteous Clefage

I should change the name of the weblog!

Abandoned Blog Syndrome

Sorry. I've been suffering from ABS for quite a while (see name of this post). Not much of a weblog if I don't log things to it. I'm intending various posts going forward. Bad time management is the key factor.