Monday 17 July 2023

Rusty Songs

Most of my songs I need to play once a month or they go a bit rusty. Where I'll forget a chord or a section and I'll have to fake it through it. The problem is further exacerbated - if a song is already rusty, I'm less likely to play it in a performance situation, so I avoid it making it rustier still.

The solution to rust is to spend five to ten minutes in quiet practise time to polish it up.  If I haven't played a song in six months I might need to refer back to my sheet and spend half an hour.

How to stop it rusting again? I'm still playing for an hour in the lunch room at work on Fridays. Since my set list is around three hours long, what I'm thinking is, have a setlist sheet and play in order.  And then next session pick up where I left off.  Until the sheet is finished, and then restart.  That will give every song a play through once a month minimum!

For even better skillz, I'll give the sheet to an active listener and ask them to pick songs.  I'll have to know my songs well for that.  I plan later this year to stop in some open mics, I reckon if I have 70 songs in good condition and ask the audience to pick, that will be a good party trick 👍

In the meantime, play, and polish.  I reckon currently 40 songs are rust-free, 10 are rusty, 10 need some more serious sanding, and around 20 are almost a lost cause 🙂

Saturday 1 July 2023

Noodling with Stairway to Heaven

We've all played Stairway to Heaven. Such an iconic rock song, it's the same age as me!  We've all mangled it, never playing the whole song just little bits and pieces for our own amusement. And then got tired of it and stopped playing for while.  Well for some reason it jumped into my head again a bit over a week ago and I started noodling with it again, taking some creative license from Naudo's cover, and I started tabbing it out.

Because it is a "precious" song it's important not to upset people with your cover - and I'm not talking just butchering your playthough, we all do that anyway - I'm talking your choice in arrangement.  So with my "campfire" guitar I keep stashed under a desk at work I played through some concepts to some work colleagues, both laymen and musos, for some feedback.  There were some flourishes and motifs I added (after all these years I have developed a certain style I almost cannot escape) some were universally panned, and some were approved.

The feeling I get (when I look to the West) is that people want it as close as possible to the original.  I'll give a little sigh here, and at least to some part obey the people.

So in my borderline obsessive arranging and considerations and testing, after fretting Am and adding the g-string A as the melody so many times, I injured my left hand index finger.  I actually stopped playing altogether for a few days, but it is a bruise in the top joint, the last time I did this was more like a fortnight to heal.  The moral of this is that don't keep playing through pain even if you are in the middle of some obsessive arrangement.

But this morning, I tested my finger, yeah, it is still bruised, but I persisted long enough to at least record a little section of my current thoughts, for your consideration.  It's on a telecaster copy I keep near my computer because it is quiet and soft on my hands, and even though I don't like the narrow neck and the sound is incredibly unforgiving with fingerstyle with fingernails, it sounds nice enough when recorded through my computer.

Just the first verse and a bit of chorus, there is plenty I've sorted out, but I hurt my fingy :-)