Thursday, December 29, 2011

Enter Piano

It has been musically quiet on the home front these past two days, except for two brief set downs at the Piano. Now for me, after forty some years of playing music, finally I have myself a Piano. I have before now been without the experience of access to the keys at my leisure. In truth I have had very little exposure to the keyboard throughout life. One of my aunts had a Piano when I was very young, but for a few years, there after the Piano was absent from access to me, except for those brief hours separated by years, where a place that I was for a small space in time provided a Piano, allowing me small instances of opportunity to play. It was never enough to gain more than a slight knowing of that which they offer. Then later in life there was an electronic keyboard in the house I lived, and I did fool with it some, though at that time in my life I was wanting only for the Guitar, thus it was simple to most generally avoid its keys. Yet for those few months I did come to experience that which the keyboard offered, as far as the evident way one can observe and learn the structure of music, quite effortlessly. This is due to its structure and the way that structure relates to music. The keyboard offers a straight forward view of the score of music as the white keys dance with the black, the musical key structure becomes evident. At least that is what it seems for me, personally.

Like so many other learned intellectual activities in life, the reading part of music has always had the interference of my dyslexic vision. Although it may not actually be considered a visual problem the fact remains that when seeing symbolic script of any sort that I am aware of, it is to me problematic for my brain to interpret that which is before my eye. This is likely the influencing factor that has prevented my becoming fluent in the use of musical notation while playing music. Actually two other pieces of history need to be stated in order to accurately depict my own earliest experiences with music. My first exposure to anything resembling structured music and performance of music, started when I was of the age equal to that of early grade school. At that time I sang with a church Children's Choir. There may not have been any formal use of written musical score, though the lyrics were presented in a musical score type of manner, employing stanzas that had repeating lines of verse and the use of a coda. When I entered the 5th grade then, I started playing a clarinet with the school orchestra, if one could actually call it an orchestra. That class did introduce me to musical scores. It also introduced those goofy tricks to learn the staff, spelling "face," and that "every good boy does fine." I must admit that those two tricks disallowed me the ability to understand the staff as an even flow of the alphabet, that simply repeated. To me the staff was always F A C E or Every Good Boy Does Fine. I took on the mind set that the staff was only about the limerick or riddle, that abstract use of symbolism rather than the fluid flow of the alphabet and its consecutive notes. It took about fifteen or twenty years of actually playing music for that fluidity to become evident to my mind. I realize that is partly due to the dyslexic tenancy though it was also due to the teaching technique and my personal issues with visual symbolic imagery.

And finally 6 months ago I purchased my first, and my very own, piano. It is a quality instrument made by Yamaha, an electronic Piano, though it is one with few amenities. In this short time I have learned quite a lot, bringing out an ability to be familiar with and play the instrument, and also in understanding the musical key structure. The key of B major, or C major, then the minors, etc. It is vastly helping with my ability to understand why chord patterns fit together verses those which present ugly sounds rather than that of melodic harmony. Now I have always intellectually understood these qualities through their sounds, yet I had no ability to fluently articulate any reasoning to support the innate understanding I could hear.

This evening I played the piano some. My ability to play the instrument has a long way to go before it evolves into a natural fluent form. I still struggle knowing where all the notes are. Yet with the piano I can grasp the identification of each note. This is a condition that after forty some years I am still unable to do with a Guitar. That to me is puzzling, considering the amount of time I have invested in playing the instrument, writing musical compositions of various forms and performing, near flawlessly for so many years. I have always used the technique of memorization for playing music, for knowing songs. Still I am unable to fluently read musical score, although now I truly believe that the reason for my seeming inability to do so comes from the mix of that seeming incompatible teaching technique and how visual imagery interacts within my brain. Still I long to play the Piano with the kind of fluidity I am able to play the Guitar.

I set out to state that I had sat down at the Piano tonight and played a short pattern that I invented quite spontaneously. It proved further that I am developing a better feel of fluidity with the instrument, as well as putting it together with the understanding of musical structure. I notice the need to play the F# out of how it fits in the structure of the key, in the moment. Since I don't use written score I play otherwise, by putting my fingers to the keys, possessing that innate sense of why this fits over what will never fit. I still struggle with changing chords with any rapidity while retaining an understanding of where the other hand's fingers might need to go to keep the melody going. Piano is far different from Guitar, yet so much the same. Both use the same musical structures. A little practice every day will provide me with the ability I seek though I still lack possessing such skill. Tomorrow or even later tonight I will have another opportunity if all remains equal.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I had originally written up most of what will immediately follow this, though with what was allowed in the Heading, I have edited that which became redundant.
Again, Welcome to, BaCoNatureMuse.

The name of the blog, BaCoNatureMuse can be understood if, and only if "you know." If not in the know, there is speculation, though you will never possibly guess the meaning in a name without knowing me. As I write this blog, I may refer to our little mystery from time to time, just because, throwing out a hint, then another, disguised of course. That is part one of this blog, the other more important part is intended to talk of my life as a singer songwriter. Music has been a life passion since somewhere around the age of 17. I started at 13 and am now more than forty years into this musical relationship. I want to express the inner workings, what it is, being in the process of composition, as stated from its sequential order. The words need to come out while the memory remains ripe. I start today, from today and move hence. I realize it to be fair to at times, review history, forming conclusions. It will become my instrument, to analyze hopefully answering the question as to why I don't work more at my music. Recent time has proven this personal path, to be trending more toward less of the passion, than I would like and actually need to continue moving forward. These activities are: playing instruments, practicing, recording, writing, editing, fiddling with recording setup, testing microphone input,mixing the recordings, Singing, strumming, learning and feeling the joy from being in the process.
Good Luck to Me!
Actually since this is the beginning, a slight history is in order. I wrote New Years Madness in the late 1970's and have yet to complete recording with quality and completeness. I recorded it many times over the years on a stereo cassette tape player. This process of learning how to record through intuition, the method that brought me to where I am, is probably lacking but it is what I have done, leaving me at this point on the learning curve. I started working on it a few years ago. At that time I wrote a couple different Bass tracks (in midi) and recorded a rough draft with multiple tracks of Guitar a track along with a vocal track.

I had to review the many previously attempted versions stored on the hard disk (6 of them) before actually heading into working on the project (altering, adding, editing). In that process I found the two differing Bass tracks and what looks not to be a lot of wasted time and HDD space. As always when I wish to work with music beyond simply playing the Guitar or Piano, I have to start the old desktop computer that is now dedicated strictly to music. For what I do and the software (Cakewalk Pro Audio 9) I have and sort of know how to use and old P3 system with Windows 98 of all things. The system seems quite flawlessly stable since this is the only thing I do with it. I also realize in all likelihood I am again a dinosaur, but I don't care at this point. My goal is the end result which I can gain with this setup. I also use a Pevey PA system for gathering analog audio through Shure mics. That is fed into the computer sound card, on through the software to make individual wave recordings. It takes several minutes from the decision to work, until the old computer is booted up and some non essential programming is shut off, for the computer to be ready. It seems cumbersome. Anyhow after my review, for the sake of preservation, I made yet another copy of the preferred Bass track, to use as a guide, saving it, in yet a "new" file.

This is a complex song. Its tempo changes many times. At one point there is a transition over many measures where the tempo accelerates every second measure by a few BPM through 6 or 8 increases. In my writing the Bass line in Midi, I over looked that there is also a musical time change three times during this transition, where the time shifts from 4/4, to 3/4, to 2/4, and then resolving back to 4/4. Though having missed this during my initial writing the Bass part's score, when practicing the rhythm Guitar part, each time I entered this section of the piece, I lost the beat. It took a few times playing through this section before I realized just what it was that was causing me trouble. At least Cakewalk offers an easy editing method for this kind of a situation. After completing that edit and rehearsing a couple more times I was content with the resultant track and its flow. I rehearsed it three more times then although I was lacking absolute confidence in my guitar part through that transitional part, I went ahead and recorded the rhythm Guitar part. It was not perfect or up to the standard I will insist on with this recording. I can either do some punch-out editing over those errors or most likely I'll simply re record the track maybe tomorrow.

It was a good session. I made some decisions about the Bass track, and realized the error in the time through that transition section. I also did some editing in the metronome settings to allow for better enunciation of the one beat. That may be one of the glitches with this program. because I found there was a shift in those settings somehow. It could also be that I actually changed them at some time, having no recall of doing so. That was my experience for this day in my own musical being.