Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Letter F

Well I guess it had to end here. Classical composers: Faure, Frescobaldi. Writers: Faulkner, Flaubert, Frost. Artists: fuckicantthinkofanybody.

The Letter E

I can't believe I'm still following this out, but here goes. Classical composers: Elgar, Erb. Writers: Emerson, Ellison. Artists: Escher.

The Letter D

The ice is getting thinner, but I think I can squeeze another one of these out. Classical composers: Debussy, Delius. Writers: Dostoevsky, Dickens, Dickinson, DeMaupassant. Artists: Dali, Donatello. It's the artists I fear I'll run out of soonest.

The Letter C

A bit trickier, but I think we can manage something here. Classical composers: Czerny, Cherubini, Chopin, Carter, Cage, Crumb, Copland. Writers: Chayefsky, Cheever, Camus, Castandeda. Artists: Chagall, Calder.

Eh, at least something to show in all three categories. I don't think I could do that with artists and writers with all 26 letters of the alphabet, nor could I with composers, but I could come closer in that area, even having something for the letter X(Iannis Xenakis).

The Letter B

On your mark, get set- go! Classical composers: Bach(JS, CPE, JW), Beethoven, Brahms, Bartok, Berg, Berlioz, Britten, Busoni, Bruckner, Bernstein, Barber, Berio, Babbitt, Bassett, Boulez, Buxtehude, Bizet. Writers: Boll, Brautigan, Baudelaire, Burroughs, Bukowski, Beckett, Baldwin. Artists: Boticelli, Breughel(elder and younger), Bosch.

Hm. A bit better on the composers than my previous effort(that tricky letter M, see below)and on the writers, but nicht zu gut on the artists. Can't win 'em all I guess..

Bach. Offenbach. More than a coincidence?

Have you ever considered the similarity between Bach and Offenbach? Yes, Johann Sebastian Bach and Jacques Offenbach. Without Bach, there'd be no Offenbach. He'd be Offen-something or other, but not Offenbach. If, as it's said, that there are no accidents in the Universe, then there'd likely be an Offenbrahms. And an Offenbeethoven. And maybe even an Offencrain.*

Also, there'd be no Verdi without Monteverdi. No Schuman without Schumann. Without Weber, Webern would just be n, although he'd still be a "Von" guy. And Yoko, without Nono, would just be Yoko ______.

We definitely need our predecessors, our forbears, if only for their names.
*Samuel Crain(1954-), obscure American composer.

Them Changes

Well at the moment I have one guitar student, whom I teach maybe every two or three weeks. We work mainly on how to play songs, how to adapt them to the guitar. Not always easy, but therein lies the learning. At very least, you end up knowing more about your fretboard than you did before. But we always give it a good effort as far as making the music on the page(quite often written for piano)work on the guitar.

This is one of the few situations in my teaching life where I travel to the student's residence rather then having them come to mine, or to a studio. I don't normally do this, don't really care for it, but this is an exceptional circumstance, so I make an exception. And I reward myself for the drive every time by getting dinner on the way home at a local Taco joint. Tasty food- I'm a Sancho man myself, plus rice-but tired service. Not quite rude, but just tired.

But then I'll take good food and funky service. At least the food's good. And the guitar lesson is always a pleasant experience, even if I don't care for the drive. So I have a drive I don't care for with a good lesson, and good food with slightly surly service. I guess it averages out..

This last lesson was okay as lessons go. Not really unpleasant as such but- well, partly to mostly sunny. Problem: chord changes. In this case, the changes to My Funny Valentine. It gets confusing for student and teacher alike, sifting through the various versions of standard tunes. The Real Book has one set of changes and your songbook has another. And the teacher has yet another, ever-so-slightly different from those two.

For the sake of just learning the damn tune, the elegant solution is just to pick one. And you can do it more or less arbitrarily(by State Flags if you prefer)since there are really no OFFICIAL changes to any of these tunes, even though there are, yes, original ones(which may themselves not be as musically satisfying as subsequent versions)and those more or less agreed-upon by common practice.

That's right. There are no "Official" changes. Learn a version of the tune- maybe even the one in the Real Book-and then have your fun once you've thoroughly mastered it. And that's the beauty of jazz. Saying it in your own way. I never wanted to say it somebody else's way anyway. Not for long.

We ended the guitar lesson being pretty much on the same page. It was more a matter of my methodology as a teacher, my needing in this case to just pick a version of the tune we're learning, preferably one with a printed page so you have something 'tangible' right in front of you. One of the rare times when there was dissension in the lesson, and on the way home got my 2 sanchos and rice from the Taco place with friendly service!!

I guess the suddenly friendly service at the Taco place was the Universe's way of counterbalancing the mild but still uncharacteristic negativity of the guitar lesson. Or maybe it's more that a good(i.e. positive, non-incendiary)guitar lesson and friendly service at the Taco place afterward are mutually exclusive. Something's got to give way, on one side or the other. Or maybe it's just me ascribing meaning to it based on my own prejudices rather than any kind of objective reality. I think I'll pick Number 3, Alex...

Well that may be one of those mysteries I'll never really know the answer to. If indeed there's any one answer to it. Like the changes to My Funny Valentine.