Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP: Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett

Hell of a day, yesterday; the world lost "The King of Pop" and the "Queen of the Seventies."

I must admit that Michael Jackson's music was a guilty pleasure of mine back in the 80's. Considering the genera of pop music, it was just so amazingly well executed, both in terms of the arranging and the production. I'm thinking specifically of Rock With You and Beat It (Links to original videos on YouTube/No embeds available). I especially like Beat It because, 1) The opening synth hits are a Synclavier, and I was a Synclavier programmer back then, 2) The track has Eddie Van Halen on it, and 3) it's just a great song (And not a bad video for the time either).

Some of the studio engineers and programmers who worked with Michael are friends of mine, and everything I ever heard about him indicates that, yes, he was a very strange person - in that way many impossibly talented people are - but that he tried to be a sweetheart, and often failed. Also, his hangers-on didn't help matters, and I won't be surprised if it turns out that they enabled his untimely demise.

All that aside, Michael Jackson was one of the greatest musical showmen of the modern era; he made over-the-top cool.

Damn, I wish I could move like that. His physical grace was preternatural.

As for Farrah, what a pity. Damn cancer. Being fifty-one means I was a freshman in college when "the poster" became such a phenomenon, and though I didn't have one myself, over half of the other guys in the dorms did.

RIP and Godspeed, Michael and Farrah.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Stefano Barone: Genius Solo Guitar Pioneer

Italian solo guitar virtuoso Stefano Barone just sent me a Friend Request off of my MySpace page. Long time readers know I play some tap tech on my electric nylon string guitars, and that the Tocatta from my first guitar sonata is a tap tech piece, so I really love this kind of thing.

Check out this epic mix of acoustic guitar and electronics. I think that's even an eBow sustainer he uses!


Seriously, I'd rather pay to see this guy in concert than any traditional classical guitarist I can think of, and I plan to get into that kind of minimalist mood music two-handed tap within the next year or two myself. Very compelling.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ventures Guitarist Bob Bogle Dies at 75

Bob Bogle, the red haired guitarist for The Ventures - the most popular instrumental group of all time - has died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 75 years old. Not bad - beating the Biblical "three-score and ten" - for a musician, and he leaves generations of guitarists in his debt.

Walk, Don't Run.

Wipe Out.

More recently, with Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Tequila (My favorite hard liquor!).

The Ventures induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bob was ill, and not there, but he lived to see it.

Needless to say, I had Ventures albums growing up, and was hugely influenced by them. RIP and Godspeed, Bob.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rebuilding Pieces from Scratch

I have now finished memorizing both Unchained Melody and Dust in the Wind, so I now have the A minor, C major, and A major suites of my set completed. Instead of moving on to finish up the E minor and G major suites, as I had planned, I'm going to have to take a break from memorizing new music to fix up some old pieces that are becoming problematic.

If you have a lot of music memorized, as I do, adding new pieces can send shockwaves through the rest of your set, especially for pieces in the same key, or that have similar moves in them: Your brain just gets confused between the new pieces and the old pieces as you're adding the new pathways for memorization. Since I have memorized three new pieces since the beginning of the year, one in A minor and two in C major, some of my old pieces in A minor, A major, and C are actually verging on falling apart.

Usually, I will break out the metronome and slow the piece down step by step until the moves are back into my conscious memory, but I got a new idea from listening to, of all people, Tiger Woods. He was talking about rebuilding his golf swing from scratch when he got into a slump, and when he was recovering from an injury. That made me think about rebuilding pieces from scratch by breaking the music out, and simply relearning every move from the very beginning.

Since some of the earlier arrangements I've done are not written down - I did them all in my head - this will also give me the oportunity to write those out. I've also wanted to upgrade my Classical Gas arrangement - it's not written out, and I have some new ideas for an "Ultimate Version" of it - so that will be one of the first ones I do. This means I'll have to actually stop performing it for a while - until the new version is ready to rock - and since I have extra pieces in A minor now, I can do this without too much disruption. I'm just going to put Eric Johnson's Desert Song in place of it for a while.

So, this will lead to a new epic series of Ultimate Guitar Arrangement posts.


This isn't the usual style of babe I post, but this pic really took me aback: Everything Old is New Again!

When I was in high school, girls were wearing Led Zepplin ball caps, peace symbol pendants, and hip-hugger jeans with wide belt loops. This pic wasn't taken in 1974, however, it was taken in 2009! Can avacado green appliances be far behind?