Thursday, May 28, 2009

Set Organization Progress

After four years and nine months, I'm starting to finally complete learning all of the pieces for some of the suites in my set (The previous post on the 19th was my four year "blogversary" BTW). Discovering the two crowd pleasers in C - Unchained Melody and Dust in the Wind - really helped to bring things together.

Since my set is divided into suites that progress around the circle of thirds from A minor to A major - A minor, C, E minor, G, B minor, D, F-sharp minor, A - this means there is light at the end of the tunnel for the first four suites as well as the last one in A.

I have completed learning the A minor suite, so it looks like this now:

01] Figuration Prelude No. 1 - Hucbald
02] E-Axis Study in A minor - Hucbald
03] Sarabande, 3rd Lute Suite - J.S. Bach
04] Sonatina in A minor - Hucbald
05] Gavotte II, 3rd Lute Suite - J.S. Bach
06] Irreducible Fugue No. 1 - Hucbald
07] Tears in the Rain - Joe Satriani
08] Irreducible Fugue No. 2 - Hucbald
09] Classical Gas - Mason Williams

This pattern of two originals, a Bach lute piece, a third original, a second Bach lute piece, a fourth original, a minor crowd pleaser, a fifth and final original, and then a major crowd pleaser is fun, interesting, eclectic, and perfect for dinner and bar crowds where I'm background "musical wallpaper." In situations like that, you don't want to draw too much attention to yourself, but before it's time for a sip of tea, or whatever, it's nice to play a rockin' piece to get the crowd's attention and generate some applause (And hopefully tips). This suite runs between 25 and thirty minutes.

I'm currently working on the last piece for the C major suite - Dust in the Wind (I got Unchained Melody, and it's delicious) - so it's shaped up like so:

10] Figuration Prelude No. 2 - Hucbald
11] E-Axis Study in C major - Hucbald
12] Bourree II, 4th Cello Suite - J.S. Bach
13] Allegretto in C major - Hucbald
14] Ode to Joy - L. van Beethoven
15] G-Axis Study in C minor - Hucbald
16] Unchained Melody - Zaret/North
17] G-Axis Study in C major - Hucbald
18] Dust in the Wind - Kansas

Same number of pieces, same pattern, and the same duration; 25-30 minutes.

I have one piece left for the E minor suite - the Sarabande - and it will be thus:

19] Figuration Prelude No. 3 - Hucbald
20] E-Axis Study in E minor - Hucbald
21] Sarabande, 1st Lute Suite - J.S. Bach
22] B-Axis Study in E minor - Hucbald
23] Bourree, 1st Lute Suite - J.S. Bach
24] G-Axis Study in E minor - Hucbald
25] Gymnopedie No. 1 - Eric Satie
26] Fighter Pilots - Hucbald
27] Spanish Fly - Eddie Van Halen

Still nine pieces with the two originals and then alternating with others, so a similar pattern is maintained, as well as a similar total length.

I play four of these suites before my break, but a couple of things are still not set about the G major suite, so that one will take some more time before it gels (The last piece before my break is the Joe Satriani tap tech masterpiece, A Day at the Beach. so I end the first set on a real high note). In any event, I'm psyched to be finishing up these first three at long last, so I'm highly motivated to get the last few pieces memorized.

As it stands now, it looks like the G major suite will end up in this configuration:

28] Figuration Prelude No. 4 - Hucbald
29] B-Axis Study in G major - Hucbald
30] Menuet in G - Attributed to J.S. Bach, but actually by Christian Petzold
31] Scherzo in G major - Hucbald (The jazz piece from Sonata One)
32] Jesu, Mein Freude - J.S. Bach
33] G-Axis Study in G minor - Hucbald
34] Cancion Mixteca - Jose Lopez Alaves
35] G-Axis Study in G major - Hucbald
36] A Day at the Beach - Joe Satriani

The only piece I'm not positive about is Cancion Mixteca. I have a great arrangement of it by Tim Sparks, but I'll have to see if I like the flow of it with the rest of the pieces in the suite. I think it will work, but it's pretty radically different. Then again, the whole set is highly eclectic, so that's why I think it'll be cool.

Since it's taken over four and a half years to rebuild my set to this point, you can see that I put a lot of thought into this. Each suite has a nice pace within it that builds to the concluding crowd pleaser, there's a little bit of something for everybody in terms of styles. I spent just a ton of time searching for those pieces that aren't mine to get the flow just right, plus I make it fun for myself to perform and the listeners to hear (Well, you can't please everybody, but as this has developed, I've been able to test the effectiveness extensively at gigs, and it works great).

As I've said before, one of my biggest gripes about other solo guitarists is that, with most of them, their sets don't display that a lot of thought went into putting them together. The idea for me is to take the listeners on a musical adventure, and not just to show off all the time. For the dinner and bar crowds, receptions, art openings, &c. that I do, constantly showing off is a distraction, and therefore counterproductive. Concerts are another matter, and I'll address that at some point too.


Blogger Minicapt said...

"Hush, Mabel, he did say '... there is light at the end of the tunnel ...'; we must have faith in the guitar player."

Free downloads ...?


3:07 AM  
Blogger Hucbald said...

I'm planning another recording marathon for next winter, J.M.

8:20 PM  

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