New Music – Indiana Fields

Audio Recording, Guitar, Songwriting 1 Comment

I’ve decided to leave the recorder running when I practice. If nothing else, it gives me a reference for what I need to work on and whether or not I’m making progress in specific areas.

While doing so today I was able to rattle off a somewhat clean rendition of an original composition for guitar called Indiana Fields. The piece is unique in that it virtually played itself out of the Larrivée when I first got it 14 months ago.

This was something inspired by my cousin Alessandro’s current movie project, working-titled Red Gold (more info available here, but you may want to ride the volume control on your computer, as the ambient music is a bit loud, IMHO, and there’s no ‘off’ widget).

The script, which is a love story loosely based on events that occurred at Camp Atterbury, has apparently gone from a one- to a three-hanky tear-jerker since I read the first draft, which was compelling enough in its own right.  Prior to reading it, in fact, I was completely unaware that either Italian or German POWs were held in the continental U.S. at any time. But apparently there were POW camps established in Indiana during WWII. I’m anxious to see the film, once completed.

Anyway, my apologies for the room’s ambient artifacts and low-rez mic. This was taken with the dynamic just laying on my rack setup, not the condenser on a stand. The latter stays in its moisture-controlled container unless I’m actually recording.

Indiana Fields, 1943 – MP3 – 192kBps – 5.5MB – 4:00 min.

Nails, Not on Chalkboard

Guitar, Songwriting Comments Off on Nails, Not on Chalkboard

Something I’ve been attracted to, but like so many things haven’t taken time to really pursue, is fingerpicking. Travis Picking, in particular, I find quite fun-sounding, and after trying just a little bit of it, I find that it’s reminiscent of playing bass and singing lead vocals – simultaneously – Back in The Day.

If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it (the bass/vocal thing). There’s not much like the feeling of accomplishment you get from playing one melody and singing another with a completely different rhythm. It’s a weird balance of split-personality and a kind of synergistic, whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-parts thing – the parts being hands, fingers, brain, bass, voice, two melodies, two rhythms, two musical components… and the whole being, well, actually producing all that sound at once. The first time you get it all correct is pretty magical. And being able to repeat the feat is about what it must feel like to put on the Bat Suit. You really are doing two completely different things at once, but they become one thing.

I don’t have an acoustic 6-string, only the 12-, which doesn’t respond well to bare-fingertip-style picking. I’ve pretty much used a Herco (or whatever I can find that’s close) as long as I can remember. So I’ve been letting my nails grow just to see what that does. I’ve never tried it. About a week ago they got long enough to try playing a bit. Actually, I probably would have just kept waiting and eventually chewed them off the first time I came close to putting an eye out, but I caught this video and was instantly inspired. It’s a little repetitive, but you almost need to hear some of what he does a few times to appreciate what he’s doing here (and here, here and here).

So I sat down with the 12-, assuming it would be a painful reminder of how long it’s been since I played seriously at all. Three hours later the fingertips on my left hand were aching and I was grinning from ear to ear. I told Patty it was like someone else was playing. Magical.

Not sure about a 6-, but on a 12-string it’s difficult to imagine fingerpicking without nails. And what an amazing difference it is to be able to hit both strings in each pair instead of just one! It’s an entirely new style (of course) but when you hear it coming out of the guitar in your own lap it’s a little eerie. The somewhat bastardized version of Blackbird I try to play was next to effortless but, more importantly, sounded much better.  But the best part was just fiddling around and eventually trailing into this progression/rhythm that has grown over the past week (in my head, so far) into a pretty serious rock anthem (from fingerpicking on a 12-string… go figger). I think it’ll be pretty fun and powerful – kind of Bon Jovi meets Rick Springfield – and I think you’ll like it. In the meantime, I’ll try to get the basics recorded this weekend and put something up here.

Work on the other tunes continues apace, as well as intermittent guitar practice, which is why I haven’t been posting much here. It’s kind of an explosion in super slo-motion.

We’ll see where the pieces land.

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