Tuesday 25 January 2011

What's happening January 2011

The earlier reports of the death of "What's Happening" are greatly exaggerated :)

Over Chrissy I took two weeks down South, and then another (working) week up North, so over three weeks I played the guitar maybe twice, for about 15 minutes each time.  I was happy to use the break as a test for the left pinky, which has continued to remain "injured".  What I can report is that it got better, but after the three weeks I sat down for an hour and it started to go bad again.  Just a dull pain when I stretch it too far, or put a lot of pressure on it.  Luckily my brain is working again unlike the first time when I did the damage, and I thought "this is starting to hurt a bit, I'm going to stop now" and did.

So the left pinky injury summary to date is:
* If you are playing something difficult and it is starting to hurt, *DON'T* play through, stop, play something different, approach the piece slowly over days/weeks, build up to it.
* Stretching for me hasn't really been effective for this particular injury.  Stretching definitely helps avoid cramping when you are playing too hard and muscles are tensing up, but it has made basically no difference to the pinky.  I find if I'm relaxed during a session then after the first two songs I'm warmed up; those first two are my stretching.
* Rest, time and not pushing it too hard is slowly, - v e r y   s l o w l y -, improving the finger.

Meanwhile, I love playing Super Mario theme!  It is a zero flick song, it's all standard fingerwork.  Since creating quite few flick-style pieces recently I (a) didn't think I'd enjoy  just plucking ever again and (b) felt that too much flicking was becoming boring.  Trapped!  But this piece is a lot of fun to play, bright and chirpy.  Difficult, I won't kid you, but doable.  I put two maybe three instances of left thumb bass fretting, I don't like putting it into songs because it is "bad technique".  The two occasions I do it there was no real other way to achieve what I wanted.  Trust me, when I've worked out a measure I will try and try and try to get it using standard techniques, and if that fails I might first try to rework it, and as a last resort I'll break into the bad techniques ;)  There is one part where I bass thumb the 2nd on 6th and two note harmony 5/6th on top two strings, sliding down, holding the bass note.  Difficult, I don't get it every time, but great when it works out.  Song is otherwise ready for video though, I think you'll like it, must dust of the camera and get recording!

I'd actually forgotten about "Take me Back" until a few days ago.  Did I mention I have a list of all the songs I can play sticky taped to the back of my guitar?  Once I start playing a song I remember exactly how to play it and what to do...but I can never remember all the songs I can play!  I hadn't written that one down yet, so forgot about it.  Heard it on the radio and remembered it is still in my production line!  It's a pinky hurter, so I'm taking it easy on that one, just once a session is enough.

On the gig front, not good news.  Finally got back from one cafe "I don't have a spot for you" which was good at least now I know.  Other pubs and cafes yet to get anything firm from.  Lunchtimes is as good as out, nobody wants that.  If I want lunchtime, it will have to be busking.  I'm not amazingly keen to go busking again, but if it ends up being that well it's better than playing to the bedpost and dog.

Since lunchtime gigs are out, and it will need to be evenings (cutting into family time which I wanted to avoid), I may as well open the floor to any venue nearby.  There are open mics in a few places within 10kms from my house, but I dunno, open mic is bands, and singers, people doing stand up comedy.  Does a bloke playing fingerstyle guitar fit into a place like that?  I should go check one out to get a feel for it, but again, cutting into family time.

I've sent out a request to one nearby venue that could be alright, currently not doing live music, but who knows.  Yet to hear back.

Also sent an email to another Perth fingerstyle player, Andrew Ellis, he has a regular session and apparently has "guests" from time to time, I could be a "guest"...again yet to hear back.

I tell ya, if this were my profession I'd be starving on the street!
Anyway, welcome back to ramblings.  If I ever say I should stop rambling again, remind me that this is a blog about rambling :)


  1. Hi Jaw,

    Lists, I know exactly what you mean. I've kept a list of folk (and a bit of pop) songs that I can play and sing, that was fine, then I started to add some fingerstyle instrumental but I failed to update the list because most of my fingerstyle pieces are not really finished (until I write the music down, or make a video which you know I haven't).
    Recently I made a new list just for fingerstyle, containing not only the songs that are completely arranged, but also those for which I haven't settled about a definite arrangement and need some extra effort, a solo, something I want to add. Even that is important, because it may sound strange, but sometimes you can forget that you ever played a particular song, even if it sounded good and you were enthusiastic at the time.

    I was just wondering, for a general audience, they get more out of guitar/singing covers rather than instrumental guitar covers, don't they? Sad reality? Unless they are into guitar, let alone fingerstyle guitar, but that is a minority. Of course that's provided the singer is pleasant to hear, which is less common than we may think. I guess most singers will please some people but annoy others, but a good fingerstyle guitarists will please most.

  2. Open mic is a great idea.Why not bring your family along!

  3. Hi mates!

    I never thought about thumb fretting as a "bad technique", I guess it applies to classical players only. I remember the time when we first met:) I tried to avoid it, but it's so very common, so I practiced and I get used to it quite easily.
    There is an other interesting technique I'd rather call "bad". I learnt (spied out :)) from a fingerstyle master, I use it in two songs already. It's a one finger barre across a fret. For example you can fret a C# and a F# on the H2 and E1 string, and a G on the E6 simultaneously with it. A bit nasty but very effective :)

  4. Ilove the video of you sitting on the park bench picking Borsalino.I can imagine walking down the street pondering on one of those days you just have to pull up your boot straps and "DO It Anway".Then from a distance you hear a sweet sound that can only be from a guitar.Awakening every cell in your being following the sound in the air,coming face to face with guitar in the hands of a true guitarist!A smile comes forth as if the morning sun has rose in your heart. THAT IS MUSIC MY FRIEND.

  5. Rom - you are right about guitar/singing. For any new guitar player my first recommendation is "learn how to sing". Being able to sing and play the guitar *is* better than just the guitar alone. Singing is very personal though, for me, most singers don't catch my attention, and many make me cringe. Whereas on guitar, unless the player is flubbing all over the place, I will always enjoy it. But, they do have to be good players :)

    (and yep, mental note, update my back of guitar list :))

    L3fty - I use the term "bad technique" for thumbing bass notes only out of my long ago training, where you'd be whipped if your thumb wasn't in the back middle of the fretboard at all times. Thumbing bass notes has got me out of trouble in many arrangements :)

    April - ha, I can see you're a passionate lover of guitar. Interestingly, according to my youtube stats, only 15% of all the people watching my videos are women. Not that everybody would correctly enter their gender. It is a strange statistic, whenever I've played for real life audiences it is women who tend to be the most receptive to the music. Maybe blokes are too blokey when they aren't hiding behind computers; what kind of bloke would want to show they are enjoying music being played by another bloke? :)