Written by Gregory Jackson
9:30 Guitar Meeting I
Arrivals, set up, and tuning guitars.
9:45 Guitar Meeting I
The Circle: Friedie, Marian, Gregory, and George
George provides AT instructions, starting with the view from above. We bring part of our attention to the top of the head. Can we visualize ourselves from above as a whole? We visualize from this perspective different parts of the body, extending to view from ourselves outward, into the space and our place in it. We move into the Circle, sit and begin playing the open A string. Next, we begin also playing fretted notes, starting with a pair and extending to several in sequence.
Marian leads a warm-up exercise for the right hand picking the open A-string. We move quickly to playing the open D and 3 times on the A, moving the D to different beats: DAAA, ADAA, AADA, and finally AAAD. We tap the downbeats with the left hand, and circulate the downbeats.
Marian leads an exercise for the left hand, playing a sequence of 5 notes (see tab, show at 60 bpm). We play the patterns while counting the 1 of each bar in 4/4. Very difficult, and the playing falls out of synch with many wrong notes. Marian suggests adding complexity by playing the ascending and then descending. The feel and confidence partially improves, but still quite a long way to go. We drop the counting, and focus on the left hand by adding various stretches to the pattern. The stretch between the 2nd and 3rd finger is particularly tough. Friedie requests more repetitions. We continue, adding some changes in the position, moving one fret per cycle from 7th to 1st fret, and then an ascending return to the 7th.
11:10 Guitar Meeting II
Ideas for repertoire? George suggests “Maraton,” which has been presented in bits and pieces during different meetings. Can we play this? We have Marian and Gregory on lead, and Friedie and George on bass. We first review the notes of the bass part, and establish (after some confusion) where the bass enters. We work on the Intro and B section. We agree to study the score and keep working on this.
Marian leads a circulation in E major Blues. A short circulation has a good flow and the “blue” notes create some musical interest. The circulation remains a bit stuck in the high register and ends quite succinctly as a bass note is played.
George leads a circulation in C whole tone, bass register and thumb. Good flow, but sounding a bit static or repetitive with the four chairs. George calls for moving the lead seat after each pattern. A good call, since confusion ensues! We stop and re-establish a focus on the sequence of 4 notes before each move. Marian suggests marking a pause after each 4 notes, and the new seat begins after pausing when ready. We have better eye contact and do better in passing the notes with intention to one another. The pause brings a musical quality through phrasing and a certain mood emerges briefly that fits to the C whole tone bass register. Progress! We bring the same quality back circulating without the pause. We maintain some rounds of this circulation, concentrating on the flow and limiting our range of
notes to 1-2 good ones. Nonetheless, the seat movement sneaks up inevitably after a couple rounds to create confusion. A good challenge.
We complete our meeting with guitars.
12:05 Discussion of Future
We meet in the Circle without guitars for the first ‘full’ meeting of the Berlin team since Mika’s departure. This meeting is a much needed opportunity to exchange ideas and wishes for the future of this Berlin team.
George reviews upcoming projects the BGE vs Munro, now set for August 14-21, 2016. All four of us will participate. George and Marian are preparing the upcoming AAD in June.
Wishes? Aims for the future? Gregory suggests thinking in terms of the next year. Where would we like to be? Gregory expresses the wish to become a functioning performing group. In essence, this is a quartet. However, the boundaries of the team also clearly extend beyond this to Hernan and Luis. If others share these aims, the team is also open to new members in the future. An X-tet?! We establish that this wish is shared among the team.
We discuss various approaches to establishing a specific aim related to this wish. What quality should we bring to the aim? Being hot? What is hot? And how to organize ourselves as a group and verify progress toward the aim? Lots of ideas are presented and discussed.
The aim: the Berlin team aim to establish a hot performing guitar X-tet over the course of the next year. May 21, 2017 marks the completion of this phase of activity.
Toward this aim, we set the challenge of learning two pieces of repertoire per month. These pieces will be a mix of existing/recent pieces played, new pieces, or ‘eternal challenge’ pieces like EOTN. We will need to test things that sound good for the core quartet team, in terms of arrangement and challenge. We agree that a well-organized approach to adding and consolidating repertoire is essential to make the best use of our time in personal practice and group rehearsals. So we will agree two pieces before the beginning of each month as focal points in group and personal practice.
For the remaining part of May, “Maraton” is the piece to learn.
Time is limited before Marian’s necessary departure at 1 pm. We discuss many issues with a general sense of agreement, but without yet defining specifics. These issues are noted below to discuss further in order to clearly define or implement at future meetings.
- Concern expressed about continuity of meetings with only four very busy players. Possible evening meetings where necessary, perhaps on a fixed weekday evening available for supplementary meetings. But is this realistic? Clarity of aim will support work in weekly meetings, even of smaller duos and trios.
- An extended rehearsal once per month. All day with lunch break.
- “Presentation day” as a performance format with explanation of “what we do.” Marian
reports good experience with this in BA and UK. This could interest people to attend
an open NST day.
- “Open NST Day” seems worthwhile as a way of testing potential interest of new participants in Berlin. An experiment, worthwhile if it can be done in support of our primary aim.
- Performance challenges along the way are necessary!
- At least some rehearsals should be done ‘electric’ with PA, so that we have reliable experience with the gear. Marian notes that playing plugged in is a different thing, and can be revealing. It is necessary to prepare for this.
- Recording pieces along the way could be used to verify progress. Recordings could be more formal recordings or informal. The recording process should not distract, but could be a useful tool if done effectively.
- More immediately, we aim to bring several well-established pieces into the August BGE vs Munro project. Considering that the timeframe is relatively close, this project will effectively be our first performance challenge, albeit within a larger whole.
- MTM is available to address technical and logistical needs of live sound and recording.
Completion by a short group fist to initiate the next phase of work by this newly constituted Berlin team. Farewells and goodwill in moving toward the future.