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I used to play with a flatpick…


… but gave it up after it flew out my fingers and struck an audience member in the eye!

Well, that’s the story I tell, anyway. Consequently, I’ve had to arrange some songs for fingerstyle which involved many happy hours of figuring out new nail-breaking preventative measures. A number of songs haven’t lent themselves to be rearranged for fingerstyle, so they’ve bitten the dust except for a few phrases that could be cannibalized and reconfigured. A few others have proven to be susceptible to recasting as fingerpicking tunes and I think have even been improved, thereby. It’s been interesting finding ways to pick out melodies with the fingers that previously had been picked with plastic which has involved using two fingers on the same string – or thumb and fingers – which, while it maybe common practice of a classical guitar player, is a bit of a unusual discipline for a “folk” guitar player who is used to anchoring fingers to particular strings.

The end result is a few songs, having been thus rearranged, that have a quirky feel. A challenge to play, yes, but worth it.

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Mixing it


Getting to grips with some new titles is always interesting for its own sake – but it also refreshes the ears if they’ve been only fed a diet of familiar sounds and songs thereby slowly losing critical acumen. At another level, there’s the odd effect caused by continuously recording and mixing solo acoustic guitar and vocal. That kind of presents my ears with a pretty constant sonic palette and while that’s great for becoming sensitive and attuned to subtle nuances, it does become make me feel satiated with that sound world and in need of some contrast.

An easy short term fix is just to slip in a CD in the hi-fi for some sonic wash and rinse, but from time to time a real break is needed; some distance between the recording (say) and the mixing and the “auditioning”. It’s at this time I’ll explore swing jazz or immerse myself in some Sibelius or Mahler, or get out some maps and plan some days in the hills. I may even take a look at the TV but I always end up staring at twenty-four hour news channels or endlessly scrolling the schedules. Occasionally, a favourite movie DVD will get spin…

But not too long and I’m back in the chair again, mulling over that soundworld and trying to hear it with someone else’s ears. Just a guy with a guitar: who’d have thought it would be so involved?