Sunday, February 24, 2008

500 Years of Female Portraiture in Western Art

This is an amazing YouTube video of the history of female portraiture in Western Art. Each portrait morphs from one into the next, and the music is the Sarabande from the Bach Cello Suite in G, BWV 1007, played by Yo Yo Ma. Simply fabulous.

This one is by the same video artist, and does the same treatment with female movie stars. Here the music is the Prelude from the same Bach Cello suite, from the same CD by Yo Yo Ma. I just love this stuff.

I'm still in the midst of my annual metronome slow-play/forte play practice regemen, so posting will continue to be infrequent. I've managed to succeed with the program on two pieces I've previously failed with, so that's a good portent. I've discovered that pieces with a lot of rhythmic variety are much more difficult to do than the perpetual motion/motoric type works - a "duh moment" - and the one I knocked off yesterday was the famous Minuet in G from the Anna Magdalena Notebook of 1725 (Attributed to Bach, but actually written by Christian Petzold). That piece fits perfectly on the guitar with no transposition, which is quite rare. Anyway, I've been playing it for a couple of years, but it took me this long - five attempts - before I could get it down to half speed. The Bach Bourree in E Minor still eludes me, but I'm getting close. Since I have to go through the "problem pieces" at least three times, I may yet get it on one of the next two passes.

Jim Kozel is working on my Parker Nylon Fly as I write this, and I ought to have it back in a week or so. I'm just dying with anticipation. It will be so excellent to have an RMC pickup system in it. This guitar will have cost me over $4,000.00 before all is said and done, but it will be worth it. The next post will probably be when I get it back, probably within the next week or two.

Now, that is a redhead! My favorite variety, too: Even her eyebrows are red (And I'm sure her eyelashes would be too, if not for the makeup). The most awesome redhead I ever personally met looked a lot like her. Alas...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day to me is simply the end of my least favorite part of the year, which starts with Halloween. The psychological beginning of spring, March first, is right around the corner, and warmer weather is on the way: I can't stand cold weather, which is why I live so far south.

The Parker Nylon Fly has been shipped to Jim, and he should get it tomorrow, so I ought to have it back by the end of the first week in March. I'm psyched.

I've finished my metronome slow-play/forte play practice routine with the pieces I have the routine down solidly with, so now I'm into the newer and more difficult "problem pieces" and that's going fantastically well. My manager and I plan to get me established in San Antonio this year - my home town - and I ought to have my set to a whole new level for that by the end of March (The "problem pieces" take a lot more time to go through than the old reliable pieces).

I have my workouts up to thirty to forty-five minutes once or twice a day now, and I'm in better shape than I have been for about four years, and that feels great. I'll be able to get back to my jogging in March also - I'm a fair weather runner - and so by April I ought to be a lean, mean, performing machine.

Looking forward to a productive 2008!

Marina would make a nice Valentine.

Monday, February 11, 2008

She's Off to See the Wizard

I have finally finalized arrangements to send my custom cedar Parker Nylon Fly to musician and luthier Jim Kozel to have an RMC Pickups system installed.

After emailing back and forth with Jim and Richard McClish - the brainiac behind RMC - most of the winter to figure out the best approach for this guitar, we've decided to go with the ultra-compact Polydrive I preamp and the super-responsive and warm Tall Acoustic Gold saddles.

This is a very exciting project for me, because I'll now have an RMC system in the Parker just as I have in my two Godin Multiac Grand Concert SA guitars.

Not only will I now have the 13-pin output for synth access, but I'll have it in a super-light electric nylon string guitar with a 24 fret neck and the best playing feel of any electric nylon string I've ever encountered, and I've played almost every one available over the past twenty years. Of course, I'll also have the regular 1/4" output jack for my traditional rigs, and that unbeatable RMC sound.

Unfortunately, the stock pickup system in the Parker leaves much to be desired: So much so, that I was not able to get an acceptable sound out of it at all. Like all piezo-based pickup systems, it suffered from a lot of "quack" in the sound, and just an unacceptable amount of boomy handling noise. The RMC system is the only one in the world that totally eliminates both of these problems.

What I'm really looking forward to is the ability to stand up while I perform for the first time since my rock and roll and jazz days: I can stand and perform with the Godins for sets of thirty minutes or less, but they are just too heavy to play a two-hour gig with standing up.

Like almost all former rock and jazz guys, I guess, I really enjoy standing up to perform: Standing allows me to move around and get into it!

"Cute": I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. I think this girl would have the market on cute cornered in whatever room she happened to be in.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

YouTube Discovery: David Underwood and Jackie King

YouTube is amazing. There's no telling what's going to turn up there. Here are two of my former teachers from my late teens and early twenties: David Underwood on the left, and Jackie King on the right. David still teaches classical guitar at Trinity University in San Antonio, I believe, and - last I heard - Jackie was living and performing in the San Francisco Bay area. Jackie was also in The Willie Nelson Family for several years, and those jazzy Willie Nelson albums are a direct result of Jackie's influence. Jackie is the best straight-ahead jazz improviser on the guitar I've ever heard or heard of.

David is playing a Bach piece, and Jackie is improvising to it (No, your eves aren't playing tricks on you: Jackie plays left-handed). I remember them doing stuff like this as a joke years ago, but I had no idea anyone ever videotaped it. Last time I saw either of these guys was back in the late 80's, and I'm guessing that this video dates from then.


The title of this photo shoot is Alpine Goddess. I live in Alpine, and I can tell you that girl is not from around here. I'd know if she was!