Tuesday, March 18, 2014

From the woodshed: On learning, week of 3/17/14


  When I first started this blog a few years ago, I was talking almost exclusively about the technical and mental aspects of the guitar.  Since then, it's turned into a little bit of everything, and I get a kick out of that.  I hope you do, too.  However, it's been a while since I've written about the learning of music, something that's turning into a lifelong endeavor for me.  So, welcome to a new occasional series designed primarily for guitar players, but hey, everyone is welcome to join in the From the Woodshed posts.

On the Turntable

One of my teachers told me once "make sure your music library is as extensive as your usual library."  Sounds like a great philosophy to me - especially if I can get some competitions going between those two libraries of mine!  Vinyl records are the new preferred format for me, and here's four records that I can't stop listening to this week.  Hopefully they'll manifest in my playing.  If you haven't heard them, give 'em a listen.  They rock!

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue  

Check out Miles' tone on the first trumpet solo - how focused, careful, and breathtaking it is.  Then when Coltrane jumps in with the tenor sax, I'm struck with how open his heart sounds.

Thelonious Monk - Monk's Dream

I got this old and scratchy record for a buck in Richmond, VA.  Wired on Mountain Dew and up way past my bedtime, I returned home, put it on the turntable, and was blown away.  It's like the rules of music are a sidewalk, and we all walk blindly down it.  Monk laughs, steps off to the side, picks up the sidewalk, twists it like a pretzel, and puts it back down.  It's very surreal.  Check out his cover of the jazz standard Body and Soul to see what I mean.

Johnny Cash - American VI -Ain't No Grave  

Cash's last album of Rick Rubin's American series, released posthumously, has been called Rubin's eulogy to Cash.  It's spooky, moving, and addictive.  The title track is one of the heaviest things I've ever heard.

Johnny Cash - American V - A Hundred Highways

Like Ain't No Grave, this album is also part of Rubin's brilliant series.  It seems like they've both managed to capture the essence of what it must be like to be old, tired, somber, and well aware of the reaper.  Another traditional is my favorite on the track, and it's right scary.

On the bookshelf

The power of habit.  

Got me thinking about how practice is more than just about acquiring skill - it's also to build discipline and willpower.

On the music stand

One of my comrades has been learning the solo to Dream Theater's Under a Glass Moon, and I've jumped in and joined the fun.  Check out measure 148.  It's a great position-shifting exercise!  http://www.songsterr.com/a/wsa/dream-theater-under-a-glass-moon-tab-s6280t0

A quote

Just saw this on Facebook, via my mom.  It seems like this encapsulates the songwriting process for me right now:

Tear off the mask. Your face is glorious.  - Rumi 

Till next time, comrades!  That's what I've been working on.  Feel free to join the conversation in the comments below.  I'd love to get some ideas from what you've been working on!  Keep on rockin'!

- Josh


markfretless said...

Good one! I enjoyed this. Glad to see that your reading and listening tastes are rich and eclectic. Check out soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy´s solo and group interpretations of Monk´s music...

Josh Urban said...

Hey Mark!

Thanks for the nice comment - and suggestion! I'll check it out! Man, I so appreciate all of the knowledge and love of jazz you showed me. Great stuff!