No tags :(

Monk picks the notes from the piano tentatively, as if it were a tune he once heard long ago and then, indistinctly, through an open window from an apartment down the street. There is more than uncertainty in the way his fingers falter, sliding between half-remembered chords, surprising themselves with fragments of melody, with things he would have preferred to have remained forgotten. ‘Memories of You’. From “Wasted Years” – A John Harvey novel.

Having recently discovered the noun autodidact I’ve decided to borrow this description, take it on as my own, a simplified Renaissance man; boastful perhaps – certainly no Leonardo, as Mister Thomas would have it.

A famous guitar-player friend had told me that open tuning would make it seem as though I could really play. An illusion. Random shapes and patterns that would eventually become a sonic methodology – same as most improvised music I’d say. The thing is, my musical history, all fifty-odd years of it, has had a great deal to do with chance or a least opportunity, following them when offered, never wondering if this or that was okay. Surprisingly enough it turned out there were numerous like-souls walking a similar path, investigating the new improvisers that were coming into focus.

From the perspective of this story let’s stay with guitarists. I have been fortunate to have two special players in my musical journey; Arthur Bull and Lloyd Garber, both encouraging me, listening to my purpose, offering tuition in a roundabout way, ideas for me to relish and learn from, a language of invention. And then all those blues guys back-when in American history. Selling their souls to the Devil. So it were said.

Recently in response to a doctor’s question about my livelihood I replied, “I’m a retired musician”. His response was “You can’t stop being a musician”. There has been no intention of returning to public performance, my desire being discovery, an investigation of the myriad possibilities this wooden box can reveal. Startling in many ways, far outside the standard idea perpetrated by tradition.

It’s true that a few close friends know of my guitar investigations, some encouraging me, others thinking it was my usual sense of humour transferred to an instrument I don’t play conventionally. But then if we all thought that traditional conventions determined everything there would be no change, no future, no…

The period from August 6, 2018 through the winter to January 22nd, 2019 my investigations concentrated entirely on the myriad open tunings available to the guitar. I discovered, through the web, a detailed list of tunings and examples of tunes and who played them in specific tunings. A helpful guide.

The three recordings posted are titled “Farewell Hues” [October 22nd, 2018] “Edgar Said” [January 20, 2019] and “B Natural”[January 22, 2019]. As always they come with a story: “Farewell Hues” is named because I thought it would be the last time I played this instrument. However the deal I was seeking at the music store was a straight exchange for a baritone ukelele. No way, the offer was $200. So back home it came and off we went again. “Edgar Said” [open C# tuning] and “Be Natural” [open B tuning] are both inspired by my friend Barry Edgar Pilcher’s signature C Sharp B Natural

All are played on an unamplified steel string Kala Thinline being recorded on Quicktime Player with the microphone of the Mac 10.9.5 computer. “Be Natural” using only three chords is played wearing rubber work gloves to soften the feel of the notes on the strings.

End Notes:
Arthur Bull [Left – Photograph by Bill Smith]

Lloyd Garber [Right – Photograph supplied by himself]

Barry Edgar Pilcher [Postcard – cropped] from http://www.govonis.org/netart/Net-Art/index.php

This is the final episode of my improvised guitar investigations. I now return to my classical studies of Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti.

Please feel free to contact me at classicimprov@yahoo.ca