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These Little Aches And Pains

I used to smile with disdain when I read about acoustic guitar players whose playing was being limited – or even stopped – by the onset of complaints that frequently afflict us oldies. I uncharitably thought that it was probably more to do with their technique and posture rather than any real handicap. I couldn’t see how such a gently activity like picking a guitar could possibly be affected by anything other than a broken arm! I couldn’t imagine that even a chronic small discomfort would get in the way of my muse. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Recently I have been been shown the error of my attitude, by which I mean that I’ve found myself rubbing sore joints and tendons with increasing regularity. And hand cramps have suddenly started appearing. I’m dreading that I, too, will one day have to downsize my guitar so my gnarled fingers can negotiate the fingerboard. How much time have I left?

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The Blurring of the Lines (Day-Jobs and Night-Waves)

Last week during a conference call at work (my day-job) a colleague on the other side of the line gaily quipped about having visited my (this) website and made a friendly remark about what he heard, music-wise. Some of my colleagues on my side of the conference call looked at me – and each other – in a mildly quizzical fashion, having no idea what he was talking about. I uttered some sort of conspiratorial remark to my distant colleague and, laughing, pressed on to the business at hand. I was chairing the meeting so I exerted whatever control I had to overcome and gloss over the (to me) surreal moment.

It is necessary that we independent musicians who need to also hold down a day-job are able to separate out our lives into compartments so that we can concentrate properly on the different roles and responsibilities we assume at different times. It helps us to avoid seepage between the two less the lines be blurred and we become confused. As far as my day job is concerned I owe it to my clients that they get value for the money they pay me. As far as my musicianship is concerned I can guilt-free follow my muse after five-o’-clock knowing my bills will get paid.

I don’t have to think about it normally. Funny though; If a musical colleague asks about my day-job, I pour forth without inhibition knowing she no doubt shares a similar experience. But if a day-job colleague stumbles across my website, I flinch in terror. Why?

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“Roots” and “World” Music

I feel safe talking about this because I have spent many years puzzling my way through playing in folk clubs even though I’d be hard pressed to find a folk song in my repertoire, notwithstanding my early labours arranging solo fiddle tunes for guitar. Back to the point: I’m puzzled about those other terms. What the heck is “world” music? Is it intended to mean non-western music? In other words, is it shorthand for “rest-of-the-world music”? I find “roots” easier to intuit: I guess that’s used to indicate a music out of which other music grows. In which case plainsong from the 10th century is “roots” music. Right? Well, I’m gonna re-brand myself as a punk-roots songwriter. I hope ya like it!

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The Performing Arts

What does “The Performing Arts” mean? Does is mean “the arts of performing”, or “the arts that are performed”? Or is it that the inference is that Performing is an Art?

Suppose I suggest that performing is a craft as distinct from an art.

“Nonsense!”, you might say, “Where would music be if it were not performed?”

“Nowhere”, I would agree, “But it’s still the music that’s the art: and the performing of it, however expressive, or mechanical, or finely crafted, or badly executed it might be – is still a performance.”

“Well,” you might opine (hoping to bludgeon me into submission with your dialectic), “there is art in performance, why else would singers be called “Artistes”?. “Why, indeed? Well, I might rank the term “performing artist” almost on the same level as “music industry” (my favourite oxymoron) in the sense that common usage is no guarantee of its, well, common sense.

There is craft and guile aplenty in performing, but Art?

Debate.

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BBC Introducing…

One of my good friends at The Listening Room alerted me to a new BBC service for “under the radar musicians” to submit their music for consideration for radio play. I think that’s a fanstastic opportunity and a round of applause is merited to our national broadcaster for providing it.

For those of you out there who would like to send in their own stuff, here’s the link:

BBC INTRODUCING…

I presume this to be available to UK residents, only.

I uploaded Red John, Irresolution Blues and The Shirt. There’s a message beneath each song uploaded:

“Thanks for uploading. This track hasn’t been listened to yet. We aim to listen to all tracks that are uploaded as quickly as possible, but sometimes it can take a while. You’ll be notified by email as soon as someone does listen to your track…”

I’ll let you know what feedback I get, good, bad – or nothing at all.

I uploaded Red John, Irresolution Blues and The Shirt. There’s a message beneath each song uploaded:

“Thanks for uploading. This track hasn’t been listened to yet. We aim to listen to all tracks that are uploaded as quickly as possible, but sometimes it can take a while. You’ll be notified by email as soon as someone does listen to your track…”

I earned a badge:

Head to bbc.co.uk/introducing, upload your music and you could have your tracks broadcast on BBC Radio

I’ll let you know what feedback I get, good, bad – or nothing at all.