Musings @musicandmeaning.com

Oh, the truth will form and fall apart again.
"He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood." – E. M. Forster

Archive for January, 2001


Friday, 19 January 2001

Gray, Buckner, guitar strings & night skies

Not a whole lot of new developments since a few weeks ago. I’m still really into the music of David Gray and Richard Buckner, and my CD player still has the same discs in it as the last time I wrote.

I know that I’ve been mentioning Mr Gray quite a bit within the past couple of months, and a lot of my friends aren’t familiar with him. So in case you’re not either, you might try catching this week’s Austin City Limits on PBS. ACL is an hour-long show featuring live music, and usually is split up into two half-hour segments (each segment showcasing a certain artist’s performance). So if you’d like to hear/see David Gray and finally find out what I’ve been raving about, please try to tune in. If you’re in the Los Angeles basin, you can either tape/watch ACL with Mr Gray this Saturday night (20 January) at 12:45 a.m. (yeah, technically it’s Sunday, the morning of the 21st). His set includes six songs, including "Babylon," which is probably his most popular song in the U.S. right now. He performed a condensed version of the song on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn earlier this week (and yes, I saw him both times). Anyway if you’re not familiar with ACL and aren’t sure when it’s on in your area, you can find out the exact time/date on the Austin City Limits site.

Other news… Well, I was de-tuning my guitar from standard to DADGAD a couple of days ago and my first E string decided to break. I must say that the sound of a string breaking is never pleasant, and almost always unexpected. I think I’m going to try to devote my classical for alternate tunings and my steel-stringed for standard (but a half-step down) tuning to try and avoid more de-tuning string breakage, since it’s not the first time that happened. But nylon strings just don’t sound the same, and sometimes steel just sounds more appropriate, e.g. when I was practicing a Nick Drake tune, the steel just sounded better. Anyway. Sorry for rambling.

Earlier in the month, on kind of a whim, I signed up for one of those free Barnes & Noble information sessions. I prefer to say that than "courses" because they’re not exactly what I’d call courses, and I definitely think the whole "university" name is just wrong. In any case, I’m taking "The Night Sky: An Introduction to Astronomy." It’s a month long and we’re almost three weeks down. I only bought one of the (two) books recommended for the session, but just reading that plus the online lessons are actually pretty helpful for such a newbie like me. I’ve wanted to learn more about astronomy for a while now, and thought that the free BN.com session might be fun, or at least a good starting place. So far it’s been interesting, and the lessons are directed toward complete newbies like myself so I don’t feel overwhelmed. Plus, getting involved with the info session has also re-sparked my interest in photography (using an SLR camera), especially in photographing stars. We’ll see how that progresses.

See you later. Hope everyone’s 2001 is getting off to a good start!


Wednesday, 3 January 2001

Happy new millennium!

     Hope everyone’s holidays were enjoyable, how
ever you spent them. I’m thankful that I was able to see many friends,
a few whom I hadn’t actually seen in ages, over the past few weeks.
As for holiday gifts, well, I’m lucky to have gotten some fabulous CDs,
some of which are dominating my CD player
as I write this. The newest/main attractions are David
Gray
, Richard Buckner and the soundtrack to my favorite Rodgers
& Hammerstein
-based film. :-) Thanks to those people (you know who
you are!) who knew what to get me.

     One thing that I’m bummed about: I missed
both Weekend
Becomes Eclectic
shows on KCRW (30 & 31 December). It’s
not the first time I’ve missed both shows over a weekend, but the Sunday
show was a "best of 2000" retrospective, I think, and I probably missed
a truckload of good stuff. And you know, reading a playlist just isn’t
the same…

     Recently I got to visit a music store (a new
branch of a big chain which shall remain nameless here). It’s so amazing
how a roomful of guitars, all asking to be played, can brighten my day
(I guess you can tell by reading this that I don’t visit music stores
that often) :-) Anyway, I mostly looked but did play a few, including
a Martin
000M that sounded surprisingly good. Unfortunately the place didn’t
have any of the particular brands/models that I’d heard about and was
looking for (Martin 000-16 and variations, Martin 000-15 and variations,
Larrivee
OM models and Parlors, Tacomas). But my time there did allow me to come to the conclusion that if I ever
have the chance to get another guitar, I would prefer something smaller
than a dreadnought. I played a few, including a Martin D-15, and they
were way too boomy for me. I also played a Guild
D4
and a Gibson
Working Man 45
. Again, too big, but the WM45 also sounded too trebly.
Maybe it was the fault of the strings? I wasn’t there long enough to
test drive anything else, but there were definitely enough guitars in
there to last an entire afternoon. :-)

     I also saw two movies, both of which I liked,
but one more than the other: I highly recommend Finding
Forrester
(the character of Forrester is a writer — played
by Sean Connery — but I doubt it has any connections to either C. S.
Forrester or E. M. Forster). I also "kind of" recommend Cast
Away
, which just pummeled its way to the top of the box office.
Finding Forrester is a much better executed movie — and
has a much clearer story — than Cast Away, which feels
aimless and completely immersed in its own confusion in the last third
of the plot. Forrester is genuinely thoughtful, but the
Tom Hanks vehicle (by the way, Hanks still does a good job) only makes
a half-successful attempt to be profound; it could have been much more
powerful if the ending/resolution had been more developed.