People who don’t write or compose may not know just how painstaking the work can be and usually is. While it is true that some songs flow so naturally and are completed in as little as 15 minutes, it is often only so after decades of practice and hundreds of failed precursors.
The computer has brought about an era of nearly instantaneous production. It has also brought about a plethora of low quality “creative” work. But mere expression is not creative — the worth of the ideas expressed and the way in which they are expressed do. This takes a long time to cultivate.
Young people who wish to become artists — you may not call yourself an artist unless you have earned it and when you have attained it, you will not call yourself or insist upon being called an artist for the pain of remembering your own conceit that you once did — should understand that it is a very long road. But once you reach it — if you do — the inestimable value of having reached it makes the attainment worth all the pains.
Once I’ve chosen a song, I decide how I’m going to deliver it to the audience. That involves a number of considerations: the key, for example.
This is the first of a series for the solo singing guitarist, both professional and hobbyist, who’d like to know how another soloist goes about his work in rehearsal.
In addition to key choice, I’ll cover: how I understand and deliver a melody, the considerations regarding the meaning of the song and writer/composer intent, knowing one’s own abilities, the different way to play to a live audience as opposed to a studio recording and the equal importance of technical mastery and in-the-moment joyfulness.
I hope you enjoy it!
Listen to my brand new Space City Funtet album, BLAST-OFF!
Just click on this ROCKETSHIP!
Also on iTunes:
Whinin’ and Complainin’: Classic Nashville Out-of-Love Songs
Releasing October 1, 2019, Blast-off! is an album of new compositions for voice, saxophone, clarinet, guitar, piano and bass, intended to accompany films, TV shows and commercials that haven’t yet been created. They’re playful and inventive and joyful and fun: music written to herald the new FutuRetro Age. We’re blasting off into the art of the future!
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Some ask me how I can sing in Mandarin. Well, it just comes through me. I recently discovered another example (of a singer delivering something meaningful far from his instant venue). Yes, there is no linguistic disparity. English was his mother tongue, but not American English.
Thomas Fraser (1927-1978) was a fisherman in the Shetland Islands. Over many years, he recorded American country and folk music on his own tape recorder. His grandson discovered the tapes decades later. And what we hear is, well, this is the meaning and the intention of the original in the place it originated — not the Shetlands! Even his guitar playing is thoroughly “right.” Compare this to any Jimmie Rodgers from the 1930s.
“Genuine, authentic?” This is so much pish-tosh. No, it does not matter through whom it comes, or when, just that what it is, that it actually is, is expressed. And anyone might be able to do it.
Every once in a while comes along an album, finely produced, well-played, extremely well sung, in sum subtly seductive, clearly an epiphany of heartfelt expression to the performer.
But which comes off to the listener, for all its artisanal craftsmanship, as oppressive to listen to because of the ideas it conveys. I’ve encountered this rare specimen today, though I shan’t name it or its creator.
Surely, the performer of whom I speak is thoroughly convinced of her rightness (righteousness?) in “speaking from the heart,” that shibboleth all post-modernists employ to justify what they create. And even that her work is Art (so she has said in interviews), regardless of its intention or its effect.
We must be cautious when any performer claims to be an Artist. There are few, very very few, who ever reach that level of creative expression. And those few would rarely admit to such achievement, because they know how dear, how rare and striven for that attainment truly is. But we know the tree from its fruits.
Rather, I hear in this performer’s voice, an insistence, a dread of life and a sense of the innate superiority of her ideas, which, sadly, give little of substance to the audience other than emotive dissonance — clothed in harmonious tones, mind you. Such is not my life, nor any life I care to hear about.
This is a lot of fun. Demonstrates (to me at least) just how accomplished a performer Waylon was. The song is “Loving Her Was Easier” (Kris Kristofferson).
At about 1:32, he sings “Healing as the colors in the sunshine and the shadows of her eyes.” In the middle of the phrase, you’ll notice a very very tiny smile that comes to his lips and a curious split-second look in his eye. PROBABLY because he just realized he repeated the fourth line by mistake! But covered beautifully, unnoticeably on national television with all that pressure.
The lyric that should have been sung is: “Talking of tomorrow and the money, love and time we had to spend.” Instead, he naturally went with another “ea” sound that started the previous line.