Friday, May 10, 2002

No playing last night, achy and sore, but interesting session this morning, mostly playing banjo-style in D. I had previously thought that the range of notes should be greater than it actually is. Key concepts include smooth rolls with direction reversals, unexpected intervals within a chord, occasional use of scalar non-chordal tones. This also reminds me of the Bakersville sound, particularly when the subdominant chord has its third suspended (ie, in key of A, when the D chord rolls off a G note).

I have a feeling this style of playing will be very effective when contrasted with Clifton-style or fiddle-style playing. It's a big flavor.

Also revisited two hornpipes, Galway & Chief O'Neill's, and the playing of these pieces was influenced by the previous emphasis on crispness, note duration, note spacing, and accenting.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Big work crunch this month, so when I'm at the computer I'm not logging here, but I'm still practicing. Have been listening to Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies, lots of good standards there... "Somebody Stole My Gal", "Avalon", "Sadie Green", "Right or Wrong", "Wabash Blues"... I think he may have gotten a handling on "Harvest Moon" from Connie Boswell, need to check dates.

This morning I was working through some banjo transcriptions from Sonny Osborne... in the past I've made this more difficult than it needs to be, so much of that style is just within one hand span. I don't have it down idiomatically yet, but I can hear the snap and syncopation kick in, and that's fun.

No rags recently... no klezmer either. But I've been pulling back some musette from memory, difficult tunes that I haven't played for months... it's satisfying to see that they're still there.

Monday, May 06, 2002

Three practice sessions, no overall theme, just running over tunes therapeutically. Retrieved a few Irish tunes I hadn't played for awhile, Banshee, Christmas Eve, Maid Behind the Bar, Ships are Sailing. Also practicing that staccato arpeggio style, moving it closer today to a 5-string banjo sound, focusing on keeping it in the range of a twelfth with the tonic on top, similar to a banjo tuning. "When You & I Were Young, Maggie" is starting to morph into something personal, other songs include "Blue Moon Turns to Gold", "Midnight on the Stormy Deep", and "Jolly Beggarman".

Sunday, May 05, 2002

Well, it would have been a nice day, playing with about 40 musicians at a reserved space in Golden Gate Park. Unfortunately, after we started, a bunch of tribal beaters set up on the other side of some bushes and were unbelievably loud. Most of us left.

I've seen this happen before, and I'm tired of it. They're welcome to play, but they have a human responsibility to (a) see what's already happening before doing something; and (b) see what effect their actions have on others. They're just loud, and stupid, and obnoxious, and I'm tired of getting chased out of the park by these righteous morons.

(I have a responsibility to figure out a graceful way to assist them in becoming more fully human, but for the life of me I couldn't see a way to get through to them.)

If you're a musician, then listen. Just listen. You can't do anything without listening.
Had only one session Friday... rare, just took the evening off entirely. On Saturday I went to Gryphon Music for a workshop on "Unobtrusive Percussion" by Piper Heisig. I had thought it would be about rhythmic perception and fitting in, and while there was some of that, there was also a focus on using a very small kit: a drum head (no body), two brushes, and a mallet. It's a cool idea... abstract a full drum kit down to something you can hold in your hand, with volume appropriate for acoustic instruments.

She also spoke about the importance of listening, how the lyrics should make some type of story the audience can understand, how it's important to strive to make the group sound better. It was also great to hear her sing again.

I'm looking forward to the session in the park today. I'll be sitting in a chair, so I'll have to pick a spot where nobody can stand behind me with their soundhole in my ear.... ;-)