Friday 13 November 2009

What's happening October 2009

October turned out to be a busy month, and an un-busy month at the same time.  I had my busking permit, valid for a month, and I played three times in the Murray Street mall before I decided my guitar/amp combo just wasn't working out.  My battery amp was showing up problems - I reckon it needs a preamp between the effects pedal and the car audio amp, the sound was progressively getting boomier and "fuzzy" in the middle probably due to impedance mismatch.  The guitar was also showing up problems, the bass response was quite poor.

It was a really useful experience though; firstly it proved to me that I do in fact like playing to an audience, and that I have the ability to "muddle my way through" the songs I know (yep, there were plenty of errors, but you just play through).  The "stress test" on using my equipment in a gig scenario showed fundamental problems which I'm on my way to rectifying.

On the home made solar powered battery amp, even after all these years of effort, I decided to scrap it and just buy one from a manufacturer.  5 or 6 years ago when I started this project, you couldn't buy a battery amp, nobody was making them.  Today you can walk into a music store and test out several all made by different manufacturers, different price ranges, different features - and most cost less than my home made one and sounded better!

On the guitar side, I pulled off the saddle and made a new bone one.  Which made the pickup balance worse!  After trying several different things I decided to give the guitar to some experts and let the professionals fix it.  3 weeks later and it came back much better, but it still wasn't "perfect".  After the last year or so of experimenting with sound I know what I expect from a guitar pickup and amp, and now I want what I expect ;)  So I'm still working on it - after seeing what the professionals did and thinking about the physics of the situation I reckon I'm on the right track...

At the moment I'm selling one house and buying another, the big move in around 2 weeks.  I think a combination of that stress, and poor diet - my fingernails have gone weak, over the month I smashed up my thumbnail and middle finger on separate occasions, which for someone who plays on nails is really, really, really annoying.  So in between the guitar being in the shop and having short nails there wasn't much guitar playing the tail end of the month. (If I crack a nail, I will cut and file it down to the crack, and then cut and file all the others to the same level.  The only thing worse than cracking a nail is having the other fingers with long nails and one with a short nail!)

I think I've mentioned it but I have been jamming with a fantastic drummer on a Sat morning while our kids are in music classes.  I play my fingerstyle and he drums along to it.  He's got a real ear for the drums, once he's heard a song on the radio he pretty much knows the "feel" of the drumming in that song, so when I pull out a song he hasn't even heard for 10 years his drumming still sounds just like the original song!  He's more of an rocker-from-way-back than me; the stuff I play is a bit quieter than what he's used to, but he puts up with me.

Unfortunately with the house move, there is only two jam sessions left!  I'm very disappointed, it is the guitaring highlight of the week.  It has shown me that solo performances might be well and good, but when you are working with someone else it can be even better.  The chic who teaches our kids has had a listen to us before; in fact she is a singer, last week she came in while we were doing some pink floyd and it turns out she loves Dark Side of the Moon.  I cast out a challenge to her - brush up on "Great Gig in the Sky" and sing it for us next week...tomorrow!  A very challenging vocal solo, I'm looking forward to seeing how she goes.  I will record the session on the iphone, if it comes out alright I'll put some mp3s somewhere.

Finally, while we are on the subject, I have been putting a bit more effort into my Dark Side of the Moon project.  Once or twice a week I play Breathe-Time-Breathe Reprise-Great Gig in the Sky back to back, ie side A of the album minus "On the Run" which I don't even know if you could come up with anything on guitar.  Breathe & Breathe Reprise I have been playing for a few years now so they are done and dusted, in fact I've tarted up the bassline a bit so it sounds great.  Time I have a good resolve for the intro (not the alarm clocks though!) with some bongo drum playing on the body.  I haven't bothered with the solo yet; at the moment I've cut my DSotM project back to "just the basics", as the years go by I'll add to it - for now I think it is better to get stuff finished to a certain level rather than aim for 100% and never actually get there.  Great Gig in the Sky on the other hand needs to have a solo, it is the essence of the song, at the moment I am half improvising but I have the groundwork laid so sometime soon I will complete a near-enough rendition of the vocal solo and call it done.

In the meantime, when I've got the guitar pickup balanced and my nails have grown back somewhat, I think I'll record a video of DSotM side A for YouTube.  It will be rough and a bit unfinished, but I haven't posted anything for 3 months and my fan base is dropping! ;)



  1. Just wanted to thank you for your efforts! Your videos are great, and for me, you have filled in a gap by providing nice tab, nice videos, etc., that are “achievable” for a person of more “normal” talents. (I hope that came across the way I meant it, your material is VERY challenging)

    I’d like to be Naudo, but let’s face it…..

    I’m working on a number of your tabs, and enjoying it quite a bit. In fact, this has been such a pleasure, I will be making a donation to you, very soon. You deserve something for your efforts.

    Speaking of Naudo, I continue to be baffled that he has no CD available. I would LOVE to hear him in a studio setting. Any idea why he has no product available?

    Keep up the good work, you are very inspirational!

  2. I know exactly what you mean, and it just is what I'm trying to achieve - bring Naudo to guitarists by "simplifying" it and getting it on paper. We'd all like to be able to play like Naudo; we have to start somewhere. I reckon I'm helping out a little - there is some tricky stuff we need to get into our heads around if we want to aim for Naudoism. The average fingerstyle player needs to push their brain into the land of "thumb independence"...and the average flatpicking player needs to get their fingers just working to begin with, the perfect opener for that would be the "here comes the sun" tab.

    The tabs I put out are part of my journey; it would be great to say "learn this, then this, then this and you'll be there" but unfortuantely it's not that easy. The earlier Naudo attempts I did are pretty awful when I look back now. And furthermore, the more I have studied Naudos stuff the more I'm starting to get into his head what he is doing. I believe he isn't a fluke, that with dedication and a lot of perserverence it would be possible to play like him.

    I've got a long way to go myself, and in each Naudo piece I "demystify" I'm understanding him more (and looking back on my earlier work as even more awful!) I should write a blog entry about what I consider he is doing, and what you'd need to do to start down that path.

    My hope is that anyone who is following me, I'm not leading them down the wrong path. I'm _starting_ to understand him, and I'm making mistakes as I go. I'm no expert, I'm just a hack who is sharing my findings with the world...and I'm glad to hear you are enjoying them!

    Donations; nah, no worries, I'm just pleased to hear from you.

    As for The Man himself; I've had a few emails with Naudo, his English is mostly understandable, but a lot of the message is lost in the translation. I've also spoken with his friend Juan who's English is better, and I've got an idea of Naudos character and thus why he doesn't have any CDs. Basically he is a gentle, unassuming, casual sort of guy who isn't really interested in pursuing anything other than simply playing the guitar. I reckon if he had a businessman pushing him then there'd be CDs and world tours and DVDs...but if you dont' have that push behind you, and you are happy, and you are making enough money to get by, why would you?

    Thanks for stopping by Rich, I love talking about playing, especially with other Naudo fans :)

  3. Here we go again, Naudo! I have to add something, can't help it.

    Jaw, I also had the same idea about the business aspect regarding Naudo. Someone may be the best in the world, but if the man doesn't promote himself, most people will never have the chance to hear about him, and even if they do, there will be no conventional way for them to get hold of the music, whether it is by CD, download, or live. Not many people can put up with low quality videos. We are an exception here, we favor substance over form, and aside I reckon we are not too impressed by arrogance. And Naudo, as far as I can tell, is everything but arrogant.

    Regarding the music itself, I can see you are almost a hero, Jaw, for transcripting and providing Naudo tabs! Well to be honest I'm not including myself as I follow the route of only playing as long as I enjoy it, otherwise I don't, and reading tabs is everything but fun for me (so it has to be either by ear, or making my own arrangement, but I've never tried to play Naudo accurately, may be someday).

    However I think it's important to say that learning Naudo tabs should only be part of a learning process, but that even eventually playing it 95% accurate (an achievement) is not an entry to Naudo's musicianship. Because with Naudo, it's not one particular arrangement that matters, but it is rather the 'tools' he is using, in other words his range of skills, tricks, and overall knowledge, that allow him to come up with that arrangement. Acquiring some of those skills and real understanding of it is, in my opinion, the opening door to Naudo's playing (at least to tend towards it).
    That's what sets him apart from some very technical players like T.Emmanuel, whose challenging arrangements and flawless execution mean everything for them and for the listener, when Naudo just lets it flow, picking from his huge knowledge as he wishes, in that respect when watching Naudo it doesn't feel like watching the best arrangement he could possibly come up with, but rather one option he felt like doing, among others, it's more like an open window to his feeling during the 5 minutes of the song, no matter what the song is (if he wants to play Bossa he'll do it even with 80's pop-rock), rather than a show-off, but that's what gives this sense of authenticity and freedom I have never seen in any other guitarist (I can't know for sure how much is improvised, but to be on the safe side I would say that at least he can find chord inversions with any melody note on the spot anywhere on the fretboard, and can vary rhythm accompaniement style endlessly, keeping the melody independant, and keeping the beat like a rock at all time, which overall is pretty much complete improvisation, remember that 'tutorial' video he did 'And I love her' (Beatles)).
    And sometimes it can look like a show-off, occasionnally, but I think he's very instinctive, he gets bored with the 'wow factor', and switches to something else before you get bored as a listener.

  4. Yes as you say, I violently agree.
    But I would add that his knowledge of the fretboard, chords, scales, and ability to play any chosen melody note anywhere on the spot (whether keeping the original melody or improvising a solo) is by no mean unique, in fact any good jazz guitarist should have those skills, so Naudo knows and uses all that, but it's the level of complexity that is unique, integrating the bass, mid range notes, and melody, when jazz players basically use the exact same knowledge but just to play solo.

    In fact, to a certain extend, I can use the same approach, but with a limited knowledge. And I'm sure you can do the same.

    Jaw, I would like to submit an idea to you related to Naudo, I don't have your email address, my be you can send me an email to my address, so I can explain. Cheers.