Big Picture


I'm taking up guitar again but it'll be different this time

For a start, I'm selling most of my gear. That isn't really it, though.

A Modernist Manifesto

Of course a modernist manifesto in 2020 is a bit absurd (pun half-intended), but something has to be done -- or, to put it another way, we have to start somewhere. Postmodern culture, which has produced so few things that meant anything to me, has been stone dead for quite some time but its ability to envelop and ironize anything makes it hard to transcend. It's a blockage that needs clearing away.

I've always written manifesti of some kind at times like these, even if they were usually private, so here goes.

Found Form

I'm currently trying to prise myself away from my latest project and release it -- more on that soon, I hope -- and thinking about the next one. It got me onto the subject of how I handle large-scale forms and I thought it might be useful to try to set that down. Most of this blog is about the local details involving a note, scale or chord so this is a bit of a departure.

A Change of Emphasis

I thought a brief word was in order to explain the apparent change of direction of this blog of late. This is that brief word. In short, as the heading suggests, a lot is staying the same but the perspective is changing.

Balanced Steps

Just a quick note on something funny I noticed in Richard Cohn's Audacious Euphony that led me to a mild (and daft) reharm of Giant Steps.

Uses and Abuses of Tablature

If you want to follow the fashion of the online guitar pundits, the thing to do at the moment is denounce "tab". It's an unnecessary crutch that stunts your growth as a musician, they say. Eat your greens and learn to read traditional notation instead!

Finding your Voice and Being Contemporary

By chance I happened across three people giving somewhat related advice about learning jazz, but from very different directions.

The TL;DR here is that every musician needs to develop a way to figure things out for themselves in their own way, and that this is a creative process rather than a chore. Formal education can be useful for some specific things but spoonfeeding leads to weak forms of learning that you can't rely on and standardised syllabi produce standardised results. You need to know the tradition but it's raw material for you to form into your own voice.

DIY Effects Pedals

I wanted to let it be known I'm still alive and kicking, and still playing, just not thinking about theory / vocabulary ideas at the moment so my posts here have been scarce. I feel like I have a big backlog of stuff to work on on that front and a small amount of time available to do it, so adding to the pile isn't very productive. But also, my musical activities have been slightly taken over by a new thing: building effects.

Advice for Jazz Beginners

"I'm already a competent player and I want to learn jazz" is a common position for people to find themselves in, at least if online forums are any indication. Here's my compendium of advice I wish someone had given me when I was starting out.

Advice for Guitarists from Two Magicians

Here's a video of two well-known stage magicians talking about advice for younger aspiring performers. If you can translate what they say into musical terms you'll find some useful insights here.