Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tap Technique Breakthrough

I have only two tap technique pieces in my set so far - Eddie Van Halen's Spanish Fly and Joe Satriani's A Day at the Beach - though there is a third that I wrote coming up soon on my to-do list (The Toccata in E Minor from Sonata One in E Minor; link, PDF and streaming MP3 in the right sidebar).

The first problems I encountered when I started learning tap on the nylon string were, 1) Getting the tapped notes to ring well, and, 2) my left forearm would pump up and lose strength from all of the anaerobic activity involved, especially on the two-finger Satriani tap piece, which is motoric and fast throughout.

The problem of the notes not ringing well solved itself as I built up calluses on the tips of my right hand i and m fingers, and just a whole ton of forward and reverse wrist curls on my Bowflex allowed me to build up my forearm strength and endurance. Whereas at first my left forearm would pump up just one time through A Day at the Beach, now, three years later, I can go through it ten or more times in a row with no problem (And both of my forearms are all sinew and ripples now).

The final remaining problem has been that, in actual performance situations, I'm not warmed up to the tap technique when I get to the tap tech pieces in the set. When Im practicing, it takes three to five times through those pieces before I start to really flow with and groove on them, so in performance situations I have to play them rather slowly and deliberately. This has vexed me for over two years now, but I finally came up with the solution.

What happened was, I asked myself, "Self, what if you play these pieces once through each at the end of every suite when you practice, instead of eleven times through and only at the two places where they belong?" - the idea being, if I play them all the time when I'm not warmed up to them perhaps I'll get better at playing them relatively cold. Yes! That's the answer, right there.

There's two ways to look at this: I'm either getting much better at playing them cold, or I'm making myself warmed up for them all the time. Regardless of perspective, after just a couple of times through my set maintenance practice routine doing this, I can jump into them cold way better now.

Whew! What a relief.

So, if you are trying to learn tap tech, but like me find actually performing tap tech pieces in the middle of a set with mostly trad tech nightmarish, try this: Just play them cold a lot. It's worked near miraculously for me, and in just a week or so (But remember, I've been busting my butt over tap tech for a few years now).


Had a really cool private party gig at a home in the hills above Alpine the other day.

The house was a gorgeous Spanish style place, and since it was below 60 degrees - my minimum required temp for outdoor playing - they put me in the living room. I thought it would be just another background music thing, but it turned into a command performance situation, with the living room packed with guests, many of whom had never heard me play before. It was a blast.

I wish I'd thought of taking some outside pix, but I only had my iPhone, which has a pretty lame camera (As you can see).


I've come up with a novel approach for writing the final blog and book form of Why Music Works: The Harmonic Series, Musical Context, and the Natural Laws of Musical Motion." I'm writing all of the examples, which I call musical proofs, out in Encore 5 first, and then I'm going to go back and re-write the text. So, the first thing I'm going to post/publish will be an index of the musical examples, each of which will have streaming MP3 audio, a JPG of the score, and a link to PDF's, if anyone wants them. There are also Observations and Deductions on the score pages, so the index will serve as both a review and a primer.

There is going to be a lot better flow this time from a pedagogical standpoint - I've been working on this for two years since the Musical Relativity series of posts - and the musical proofs are way, way tighter now. I have 45 of the example proofs done so far, I'm really psyched at how well they are turning out, and I'm thinking I'll probably have well over sixty before I'm done.

My metronome slow-play season starts after Thanksgiving, and I could be interrupted by a move to San Antonio at any time if I find a house, so I may not have anything but the index posted until next March or so. We'll just have to see how it all works out.


Off to San Antonio for a week tomorrow, so I can look at houses, do some bee's wax, irritate old fiends friends, and spend Thanksgiving with mommy. So, have a happy Thanksgiving, and I'll have a post for when I get back.

Don't think mom invited Erica Campbell. Pity.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Experience is No More: Mitch Mitchell Dies

No band influenced my teenage years more than The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The only others even in the same league to me were Cream, The Who, and Led Zeppelin. I didn't have any posters of anybody but Hendrix in my bedroom, however. In fact, I had this one from Woodstock. I see that it's "rare" now and commands $85.00!

That poster was in the bedroom of my first three apartments as well, until a ruptured pipe upstairs from my condo destroyed it in 1980. I wanted to be the right handed white guy version of him for years, but my musical tastes eventually turned to jazz and then classical music. I always thought that particular poster represented the epitome of the rock guitar god much more than the more flamboyant poses and guitar burning stunts: Eyes closed, riding the wah-wah pedal... just into it.

So, it was with a true sense of loss that I read today that Mitch Mitchell has died while on tour with his tribute band, Experience Hendrix. Noel Redding died back in 2003, before I started this blog, and Jimi, of course, infamously died in 1970 at the age of only 27.

My favorite Hendrix album was, by far, Electric Ladyland, and THE higlight of my NYC rock band days was the time my band did some recording at Electric Lady Studios, which was, "The House that Jimi Built."

RIP and Godspeed, Mitch. I'm sure there's one hell of a reunion concert going on about now in Rock and Roll Heaven.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Noel Redding, Jimi Hendrix, and Mitch Mitchell.


Major undertakings going on, and another epic series of deep musico-philosophical posts are on the way. Plus, a review of GVOX Encore 5, which is what inspired this upcoming series of epic posts.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Interesting Representation of Jesus (Updated)

While doing a Google image search of "Jesus" to get wallpaper for my iPhone (Hey, it's the "Jesus Phone" right?), I came across this image.

I'd link to the site, but it didn't explain any more than this: The image was made from The Shroud of Turin. It is quite striking to me, and I've read more than one book about the Shroud, in addition to many, many articles.

Anyway, I think it looks quite inspiring on my "Jesus Phone."

UPDATE: Here is Chist Pantocrator, the sixth century representation of Jesus that Dr. Shield mentioned in comments.

This was also based on the Shroud of Turin, and any student of western civ ought to be familiar with it... which begs the question, of course, that if carbon fourteen dating places the Shroud in the middle ages, how does Christ Pantocrator even exist with a much earlier date of nearly a thousand years? I'm smart, but I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, and the first thing I thought when those carbon fourteen results came back was, "Well, duh. The Shroud barely survived a fire at about that time, so of course it's infused with carbon from around that date." Simplistic, as there are other factors involved, like the patches of cloth from the repair after that fire, but really.

Much practicing and house hunting going on, so posting will continue to be once a week or so, and, well, trivial I guess.

Nothing trivial about this, however.

Never seen this sectacular redhead before, but the set dates from 2005, so she's not exactly new. Yes, her hair is really that red. All of it. LOL!