Over the weekend and despite the dreadful British summer, the offspring to the pair of Swallows that nest in our outbuildings every year took to the air! This is good news for us all, firstly the Swallows themselves because they have had another successful year flying all the way from Africa just so their children can have a British passport and for me because I can continue to work in the room they have adopted as their home for the maternity visit this year. The room incidentally is going to be my office/studio and is featured in an earlier post nattily titled – 6 Things you can do to help you reclaim the life you had before you became “Dad” here http://wp.me/p2tHwz-6L
Although they have officially flown the nest they generally hang round for a good few weeks after getting fed and getting used to feeding themselves, here they are resting in the family home after a regular swallows day …
“I hope she’s not going to post that on facebook, the lighting’s terrible”
As no one – that is – no one at the moment reads or views my blog I thought I might just as well use it as a dump for my thoughts as my “Morning pages” although in my case they never were morning pages and most often were “Whenever I find Time Pages”. This is one of those moments waiting and working on an instrument that has long run times you can get on with other stuff while it’s whirring and flashing away, the latter coming from the strobe that is used to illuminate the latex beads as they pass through a glass cell in sync with a camera so all the happy events can be viewed and analysed at a later date. Part of my day time employment consists of dropping in latex beads that are certified a certain size and then if the instrument says they are something else then we apply a correction factor to bring it into line. So basically I spend a lot of time looking at spherical blobs in a two dimensional plane either live whilst being drawn through the cell or as recorded images, fascinating or what? I don’t think so but apparently the customers find the information gathered by these instruments help them to create the correct size and shaped material for whatever application they require it for. This is massive field of particulate science and I am not proposing I enter into that now but I will say that for instance, Silicon Carbide is a commonly used abrasive material and the less round it is the better but size is also important so the material is generally ground to reduce the overall particle size but as that is done they become more round. What a horrible sentence and I do need to start writing more.
I am presently recovering from what is commonly known as a bout of depression which was triggered initially by a severe chest infection. Because I have been living on mainly will power and adrenaline for at least the past two years and possibly longer my body could no longer cope with the stress of holding together a full time job, completing the building work on what is now our home and also trying to start an on-line business, teaching guitar and write and produce some music. This was all without any real break for R&R for about four years. Anyway, as I was saying I am recovering from this illness at the moment with the help of an SSRI and some reading. The book I have just read in less than a week was “Back To Sanity” by Steve Taylor which seems apt considering what I am going through at the moment. I must say now that there is little wrong with me that living in a sane world would not cure but as you all know most of the western world is consumed by the insanity of acquisition and celebrity in any order and that the ego driven consciousnesses will in the end destroy itself which is good but unfortunately because of the power that this major part of the world has over the whole planet it will mean the destruction of it and most of it’s inhabitants. So how is playing the guitar to move people going to help with this? because it is a way of being in the moment and not having your mind consumed by pointless thoughts about the past which cannot be changed and the future which does not exist yet and is one of the many ways that can used to find a way back to being in touch with your heart and getting rid of all the wasteful distractions that bombard us twenty four hours a day. We can use playing the guitar as a form of meditation that will bring benefits to all areas of our lives and this is the first tentative step on our journey towards that end.
I have been a regular meditator (Person that meditates) for quite a long while and strangely it seems to be coming back as flavour of the month lately. I’m wondering what programs could be on the market soon to fulfill this “Need” we’ll probably start getting the emails soon. So I was aware of meditation as long ago as the 60s and dabbled with it without any real focus on and off until I decided to enrol into a Trancendental Meditation program back in the 80s. This went some way towards a less stressed and thoughtful way of life but I drifted away from the practice through one reason or another, not sure why because I did find it beneficial but I think at the time I was surrounded by folk that thought it a bit weird to do such things anyway, I think I was looking for a way of “being” rather than “doing” and it’s taken all this time to reach clearer vision about what I was initially seeking through the practice of meditation. One of the problems I had had though was that it seemed separate from the rest of my daily activities and although the benefits were supposed to last and sustain through what I now understand to be a subconscious level I became too easily distracted from being in the moment and spent too often reacting instead of responding, I did.
I have recently started playing in a band and at last using my Peavey VK212 in anger rather than at low levels in my office/studio at the old place. The first time I used it with any sort of volume the mains input fuse blew and was forced to use my back up amp, I thought it was just a glich and took it home to change the fuse, however, the second time I used it exactly the same thing happened and I was starting to think that maybe I had made a duff purchase, anyway, this time I took it in to work so I could get it on the bench one lunch time and have a proper look. After a bit of searching in a forum I managed to find out how to remove the electronics from the cabinet and I also managed to find a copy of the circuit diagram so out it came and the preliminary visual inspection showed nothing that would indicate a component failure and the fact that the three internal fuses were all intact gave the opportunity to breath a sigh of relief. I was at least expecting to see either the bridge rectifier, a diode or resistor burnt out but it was all clean and free of the usual noxious smells that emanate from overloaded silicon! But, no such sites met my eye and there are three internal fuses that were all intact so with some input from a helpful engineer at Peavey UK we concluded that it was probably the valves burnt out and as they were now almost four years old and past their due change date I ordered a matched set of JJ6L6s for £80, whopped them in and hey presto, loud and proud!
Does this picture represent anything close to the state of your dreams and wishes?………. Are there corners of your mind that have been collecting discarded, unwanted stuff filling unused space in your head with clutter?
It’s time to get rid of it, out with the old and in with the new. You can do it!, take a step today. I have just spent 16 years renovating a derelict barn into a small but warm and comfortable dwelling for our family of four, now I have more time not building, I can reclaim my former life and the picture shaows the centre of operations as it stands today. With all the skills I have picked up during the long building project I am transforming this neglected corner of the yard both spiritually and physically to my own control room. This is the beginning of the story and in the coming weeks and months you will see not only the development of the “Bowridge Bothy” (The name I have given it) but the topics I cover will reflect the transformation from
Find yourself some space This can be anywhere, the spare room, one end of the dining room that is never used, better still another building that is sonically and physically isolated from the others in the family ( See what I have in the photo). This first step apart from deciding that you are going to reclaim your life back from what has been slowly ebbing away is one of the most important steps in your quest to become renaissance man. The place you see in the photo is where I am going to teach/ play guitar, write, blog and generally retreat from Eastenders, Jerry springer or any other trash TV that’s on in the house.
Fill that space with your own stuff Once you have found the right place, you are going to have to defend it from invaders and the inevitable creep of other members of the family’s desire “Dad, can I just put this in here for a while”, you might think that to say no is being unreasonable and they may even try to make you feel that way but it’s not true, everyone has their own place and anyway how often have you commandeered the girls bedroom for storage for your bike?
Make your own time I have found this almost impossible to do during the last 15 years while we have been doing the barn conversion without feeling guilty. I know we have had a lot of work to do and with a full time day job it means inevitably that your evenings and especially weekends are going to make demands on your own free time but take a reality check, this is your life, is it absolutely necessary to spend the few hours you could be out on your bike or walking the hills by the coast helping with chores that could be done easily without any real need for help other than making someone else s life easier.
Learn to say No This is probably the hardest one of the list to work out mostly because for years as a dedicated father you have been the pillar of all things practical and been there to help fix broken devices, both software and hardware engineer, composer of letters, research assistant, mentor, cook, taxi service and naturally you would say yes to all requests without question, but are you really obliged now to get drinks for the teenage daughter and mother who are so busy watching the latest episode of Waterloo road and find themselves unable to move because maybe the cat is sat on them? or just because you happen to be near the kitchen and looking as if you have some time on your hands? Which leads us on to our next point….The best way of saying no is to have retreated already to the new space that you are creating for your campaign for world domination but I’ve found
Don’t let the bastards get you down. You are a child of the universe, you have unique gifts that can enrich the world, it doesn’t matter what they say, how they might mock you or with the best of intentions advise you against becoming too intent on your idea that you want to write, learn to sing or paint even because they know that you will never be able to make anything of it. If you can dream then you can make it happen.
Get in touch with your spiritual side We are spiritual beings even if you cannot accept or believe it of yourself right now, we really long to be in touch with the greater universe and not just what we take in through our five senses. Try meditation, tai chi, yoga or any other esoteric discipline you may have your eye on at the moment. Either way, you should be aware of where you are now and be able to see where it is you want to be and there are a million websites out there helping you get in touch with all that. Not all of it is bunkum but it might take you a while to find your own path. I found mine and can give you some tips to save some expense and time.
I know that this post is not specifically about any aspect of playing something on your axe and I make no apologies for that, this is a new direction for me now that I am beginning to realise all that I am but indirectly it has major implications for others in a similar situation, how many of you out there, dad’s particularly; now the kids are teenagers or older, need your own space to at least set up up your own space. I know so many blokes like me specially the guys with all female families that have real trouble having the room to express their inner visions easily and without being made to feel foolish even if the comments (Guidance) are well intention-ed.
Further reading: Here’s a couple of articles I cam across that are somewhat related to where I am thinking.
Let’s try again, apologies for not updating or posting for ages I am in the process of moving home at the moment and although it may sound an excuse I have to say that the house we are moving to is still incomplete and requires me and my partner to finish it! As we both have day jobs it means that we are spending almost all of our other 8 hours in the day working away at building and final finishing. At the moment the daughters’ bedrooms have no plaster on the walls and on one side not even a wall to plaster, one of the outside doors has 9 holes where new double glazed units have to and other things like no guttering down one side of the building, anyway, it has become a major obsession in my life at the moment so most other things are being put on the back burner. This of course means my posting has become less and less and I don’t seem to be able to fit in the video making. I had a problem with the room where I did those anyway and in my next incarnation the room will be brighter and much more conducive to doing great work. Most of my guitar students are now off for the summer anyway and I haven’t progressed with either my singing or classical guitar course.
One of the ideas I have for the website is doing guitar course reviews, and hopefully give you some idea about which courses are worth it and what you might get out of them. Personally I don’t think you can beat one on one coaching for a musical instrument and I think you need to be in the same room as well but we’ll see.
So, for the next two months you probably notice no difference whatever from the last three months because that’s how long I have been focusing on the conversion and as most of the comments I get are spam I am assuming that I don’t get many regular visitors anyway plus the fact that without feedback I am stumbling along blindly.
Life does not stop and our dreams remain despite having more pressing matters to attend to so as long as I keep taking steps toward achieving them I am doing something and doing something is better than doing nothing any day. So I am forgetting the rules, the formatting, the thinking that nothing is good enough and I am just going to keep writing what I can, when I can and that’s what’s coming out here.
It seems a lot of regular guitar teaching websites offer a great deal of info and very useful tips on the technique and nuts and bolts of playing the guitar but I don’t come across many articles about the strategy for producing a finished product or the mental and emotional blockages that have to be overcome to finish a new or even just learn a piece enough to perform it. It’s ok to sit in your room and practice all day and even play along to backing tracks but there is nothing like the real thing of playing before an audience to get some real feedback. You may be able to roll off some killer chops and licks when on your own but when you are being observed and if you consider the quantum weirdness effect here, things change, you might find you fingers seizing up or even worse forgetting what your are meant to be playing next. What you look like also plays a part in how you feel and your overall level of confidence.
Well, I found this out myself just last week and realise that I need a lot more practice at performing complete pieces of music and I have even considered getting some help with image and presentation. I have played in bands, vocal quartets, folk groups and lately a guitar vocal duo, but in all the time I have been playing, I have never played solo either instrumental, or with singing (That will come next) so I sat down to record some tunes last week I had been working on specifically with the intention of recording as a performance to promote myself on Youtube. I needed an instant audience and I know of someone I can easily call on at a moment’s notice also happens to be one of the most critical I know of, myself.
So I had rehearsed three tunes a few times and sat down to record them on my Zoom Q3 and It’s amazing what goes through your mind thinking of all the millions of people just sat there watching you, it has quite an unnerving effect and what was normally a relatively straightforward, relaxed performance and I refer to quantum wierdness here when you are being observed things change!, you seem to lose a certain amount of fluidity to say the least. Anyway, the first tune I wanted to do was a cover of “Somewhere over The Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. It is my own arrangement played on my new classical guitar and is neither long nor complicated but it took me about ten takes to perform it all the way through and even then I was not too pleased with it. As it is I am going to re-record it again and have decided to post a tune I have been developing of my own which I have called “Guitar Salsa” for now. This is mainly because it’s played on guitar and you can dance your Salsa steps to the rhythm so was easy to name. Even the performance of this is not the best I’ve done but perfection can wait , I need to get it out and actually I am not so anxious about this because it’s rather embryonic as it is so is being published as a snapshot of work in progress. it will be further developed.
So in conclusion I have found this exercise incredibly valuable not only as an aid to helping to complete something but as a mirror to see exactly what you look like and sound like from the outside (Can be a bit disconcerting). This method of practice is extremely valuable not only for the inexperienced performer but for seasoned players also and I guess is probably used anyway by professionals to hone their skills. If you don’t believe me just try playing a piece from beginning to end without hitch good enough in your opinion to be broadcast. You might be a natural performer and be able to do this without any inhibition but I feel that there are a lot of performers and possibly even the best erstwhile performers that we will never see or hear because they have never stood up either before a video camera or a mirror or more importantly a live audience and gone through a song or played a piece from beginning to end mainly because there is no reason to. Well consider the completion of just a couple of tunes to camera as reason enough and you will gain fantastic value from doing just this.
I love to hear your comments so please feel free to tell me what you think.
Following on in my series of basic guitar set-ups, this one is about setting the individual string lengths to give an accurate octave of the open strings exactly at the twelfth fret.
As all the strings are of a different mass and also tuned to a different frequency it follows that the vibrational nodes of each string are going to fall in slightly different places and as the frets are fixed in one place, the way of compensating for the difference is achieved by having slightly differing string lengths. The heavier and lower in register the individual string is, the longer it needs to be to obtain a more accurate intonation over the scale of the frets. The most obvious outcome of this maladjustment is that you tune your guitar’s open strings perfectly but when you play some chords particularly higher up the fretboard, it sounds out of tune!
Different types of guitar have different methods of reaching this adjustment, this video covers a Gibson type bridge with angular saddle pieces that are adjusted by an ordinary flat blade screwdriver. Some guitars have hex wrench screws and some cross head screws but the principal remains the same.
Acoustic guitars do not generally have individual adjustment so you have to rely on the quality and accuracy of the manufacturer. This issue will be covered in a later post
I love to hear your comments so please do post your thoughts.
Continuing from my last post here’s my latest instructional thread on – as the title suggests – how to remove fret buzz.
In this particular instance the fret buzz has been made manifest by straightening the neck but it may be that your guitar has always had this annoying problem and completely put you off playing, so here’s how to fix it!
Not a fully comprehensive tome but enough to give you the general idea and I would be glad to go into it in more detail if asked so please leave comments so we can share the experience.
Hi, this is my first video and one of a series which will help the newbie or improver guitar player to understand and fix any perceived problems that they may have with their instrument, particularly those that have had an instrument lying around unused and unloved.
Like life itself, you generally get back what you give out – so it is with the guitar – and everyone (Every guitar that is) like ourselves, has a unique sound and personality so the more time and attention you pay it, the greater the rewardsyou will receive back!.
Topics covered in this series:-
Adjustment of truss rod – This one.
Removal of fret buzz – Usually following adjustment of fret buzz.
Intonation – Adjusting the octave perfectly over the 12th fret.
Action – Height of strings away from the frets by adjustment of the bridge.
Nut adjustment – Height of strings away from the frets by adjustment of the nut.
This series of articles, video’s/audio’s I hope goes some way to remove some of the mystery from the process of going from a rough take to a full blown multi-track production suitable for release.
The actual material I will be working with is a song called “Weathergirl” and was penned by my songwriting collaborator Andrew Brock.
Without explaining too much about the song itself – as it should speak for itself – I suggest you go ahead and listen to the first draft which consists of an acoustic guitar and two tracks of vocal sung by me to get an idea for harmonies and construction.
The whistling part unless of course retained by popular demand I intend to replace with a Guitar Solo. I had idea’s for violin solo also be we shall use what is readily available i.e Me and one (Or two) of my various guitars. I will also add some percussion, not sure what yet but I do have a Korg PADKontroller and some good drum sounds but not sure I can get the light feel necessary for such a breezy sounding song.
I would much appreciate your comments good bad or ugly as I am considering this as a collaboration that could ultimately end up with many different versions.
I am currently involved in a self development course to try and change my habitual habits of not seeing things through and changing my mind before the major change I originally intended has come anywhere near fruition.
It does however now seem to be working both on a subconscious level and also in my conscious actions and is self-evident from my output since I have been following the regular daily short video’s.
I have achieved at least some of the tasks that I know I should have done ages ago and persistently but always talked my self out of. The main difference between previous attempts and now is that I actually feel like doing it instead of just going through the motions and hoping that I would feel better afterwards.
Anyway, the latest two instalments are the the subjects that gave arise to my Reality Checkpoint and are concerned with negative and positive emotions. It is with this simple scoring system that has made me aware that I am not very positive at all! and goes some way to explain why I have never managed to lift myself out of the rut that I seem to have been following for possibly twenty years. Actually this is a wholly pessimistic outlook as there have been quite a few major accomplishments by myself and my partner within this time period, in fact a lot more than some people manage in a lifetime but what I’m trying to say is that it is a viewpoint on my terms and not other peoples idea of what they think I or themselves should be doing or have done.
To illustrate I will list the emotions and my current score for each one, first the negative….
On a scale from 1 – 10 (1 being “I am in control of me” and 10 being “I am consumed by these emotions”)
Fear – 3
Jealousy – 5
Hatred – 4
Revenge – 7
Greed – 2
Superstition – 2
Anger – 7
Total = 30
Now the positive…
On a scale from 1 – 10 (1 being “I am numb to this emotion” and 10 being “I am in harmony with these emotions”)
Desire – 3
Faith – 2
Love – 1
Sex – 1
Enthusiasm – 2
Romance – 1
Hope – 2
Total = 12
The total scores speak for themselves and it is apparent that I am more than half consumed with negative emotions!!
I am wondering if this is an average score or am I just individually not a very happy person? I would really like to know where some other members of the tribe come out on this?