Talk about quirky angular guitar riffs, this one’s at the top of the list. Justin Bieber’s new song, “That’s What Love Is” from his new album, Changes is a nevertheless a good technical workout.Justin Bieber Talk about quirky angular guitar riffs, this one’s at the top of the list. Justin Bieber’s new song, “That’s What Love Is” from his new album, Changes is a nevertheless a good technical workout.
When I set out to put together my weekly radio show with three female musicians I had no idea how it would fly. Well, it flew just fine thank you. The final segment was planned to be an interview/review of a double-release by the band, Silver and Moonlight. However, and as a great surprise to me, the interview segment blossomed into an exhaustive analysis of music making, improvisation, the inner workings of band live and composition, and a look into the mind of a gifted and artistic young lady…I would dare say a modern, artistic renaissance woman.
A little background:
Kiaya Abernathy is a vocalist, lyricist, multi-instrumentalist, spectacular visual artist, and a very creative photographer. If that isn’t enough, she’s strong-willed, perceptive, and enlightened. That would all be understandable if she were in her forties, but if you take off a decade and a have you are closer to the truth.
Kiaya is dedicated to bringing to the masses art in all of its expression. In this interview, she speaks for all of us who struggle to bring forth creative and meaningful music into a world where sameness and commercial gain eclipse meaning and foresight.
As you listen to Kiaya speak about her band, her father, her ideas, and her hopes for the future, think of the way things could be. The way music would change if her worldview were a reality. If music were set free from the chains of what has to be.
This “classical guitar” work in the new acoustic style is by far my favorite of the ones I’ve written so far. Both its sound and construction are exactly what I look for in instrumental guitar works. Like anything else that comes as a pleasant surprise, this was one of those sessions where everything came together. I must say however, that I never go into a session with a preconceived idea, well at least not one that is carved in stone. My brain doesn’t work that way even though I can be very conservative and by the book in other areas of performance and study.
I go in to such sessions randomly trying not to get caught up in the guitarists mindset that can plague your endlessly. The thoughts and schemes such as what key? What scales or chords? Should I go into an altered tuning or not? Should I play fast or slow? That does nothing more than push your spirit into a one-dimensional force bent on being traditional. Traditional for the sake of tradition. Not to pay homage to it, but to be bound by it.
I don’t remember consciously doing this but it has a logical rhythmic flow to it. The piece starts out by stating the melody in between a very dense foundation
of dark arpeggiated chords. I overdubbed some, but not all of the harmonics onto the work as a decorative effect. I, like many non-guitarists, tend to find them aurally attractive and very desirable especially on acoustic guitar.
The slurred sections were not easy but flowed surprisingly well considering that I had no plan for incorporating them. I’m very happy with how they turned out. It’s my climbing Mount Everest moment as that are fairly athletic. It will take quite a few minutes to pull them back under my fingers in that exact configuration. However, I must take the time to score out the work so as to codify it. In that way, it becomes “official”, solid, unbending. Unless, of course, I go back and change the score.
As musicians, we all have areas that are endemic to our playing. I love the angular in music, but to produce it well is not easy. This was one time that it happened without the usual struggle and gnashing of teeth. The fleeting moments of non-compliance with the voices in our heads that would doubt us.The total control one has sought from the beginning of the journey. However, I’m sure I’ll go back to the struggle until I can take control of angular and the unexpected in my playing.
A blistering funk/soul track by Maryland’s own Vonn Love, sets the tone for a ride that will have you moving for the next 5 plus minutes! Vonn Love’s clever approach to the subject of “woman” is at once engaging, tongue in cheek, and just plain fun. His ability to combine the best of soul, funk, and blues is tops in the genre.
Love’s sharpshooter guitarist Mark Jeffery Campayno adds some real fire to this biblical bash taking his PGM 150 Paul Gilbert Ibanez and ripping into the strings with a pentatonic, blues, funk, fusion, fury that fits both the mood and the groove of this bouncy and bravado-rich track.
Vonn Love’s mystery vocalist adds the right amount of soul and sass to this collaborative masterwork by mockingly wailing throughout the middle section of the tune.
Love is always full of surprises and he doesn’t disappoint here. His very clever refrain, “Look at this mess y0u got us in” is the “Adam Complex” at it’s finest. Ya Adam, sure, blame it all on the woman.
If Love keeps this up, there’s going to be some real juice comin’ his way soon.
How does one begin to explain the emotions contained within such a piece of music? It’s not possible with mere words. If it were there would be no music. To this day, this song weighs heavy on my heart. Basically, the music was birthed on a Sunday afternoon with my son. Looking back, that day was telling. In a way, the power of God was present that day and it now seems that a message was being sent to me. After dropping my son off (the most painful moments of my life) I drove the usual three hours back home. I had no intention of recording anything as it was late and I was tired. Looking around the room I saw my old Aria acoustic guitar. I picked it up and the music began to flow. It was as if a force outside of myself compelled me to do so. I played a few minutes and then decided to record a little of it. The result will always be one of my most memorable acoustic pieces. The pain, regret, longing, and yes, remorse are evident in the music. Do I hear any ray of hope in it? Well, I’m looking still…
Another blog post on the teaching of improvisation? Yes. When you consider that we all come from differing backgrounds, training, instruction, and preferences. Mix all of this together and you begin to see how complex it can get. Instructors come to the teaching of improvisation with a set of skills that have been honed through gigging, practice, and study. The study of scales, modes, and chords end up in our mental and physical tool kit and we call upon them when we improvise and when we teach students to do it themselves.
Without question, there have been, and still are, great improvisers in all genres who have had little or no formal training in music in any way but can improvise freely and masterfully. Remember that these musicians have the gift of “hearing” and can play what they hear on their instruments with ease.
For most the best way to learn or improve on improvisational skills is to do it every day. There is no substitute for good old-fashioned woodshedding. The amount of material available today is staggering. So, we should see a great resurgence in improvising and a rise in its popularity right?
Getting students to practice improvising is not easy as it throws them into the “unknown”. This is the land that few dare to travel to especially in the early stages of awkwardness on the guitar. Once self-assuredness and confidence build up, skill development in improvisation can blossom.
We will look at the unlimited amount of help that is available with the explosion of music software that is at everyone’s fingertips. Most importantly, approaches must be taken to get students to actively “practice” improvisation on their own. Music, and the guitar need to be an active part of the student’s life at home and with his or her circle of friends and family.
In the upcoming posts I will call upon my teaching and playing experience to dissect a methodology that works as a global template of sorts. This template must, and should, be fluid and adaptable meeting the varied (sometimes severly) learning styles of each student you instruct.