Saturday, August 16, 2008

samurai photographer vs. a crimson grail vs. nature

Nature won.

I'm despondent, disappointed, and sad.

Friday, August 15, 2008

samurai photographer vs. a crimson grail pt. 3

Full orchestra rehearsal tonight. For the most part, it sounded incredible. I have some issues with people in our section who can't keep time (because they are not looking at the conductor) but I'll get over it.

One of the people in my section, a really super cool guy named Duane (I may be spelling his name incorrectly) made me giggle today by making the obligatory Spinal Tap joke about the sustain of my guitar. I am surprised I made it to day three without hearing a Tap reference; usually they occur right off the bat.

Show tomorrow. I wonder if PW's opinion of me will change, and if it does, will it change for the better? I hope so.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

samurai photographer vs. a crimson grail pt. 2.5


I got to play through the Park I borrowed from DV today. I think that first E chord is still reverberating through St. Paul's nave.

It still scares me to hear such volume/power coming from myself. I don't know if I will ever get used to it. I guess I feel that once my sounds become amplified, they aren't mine any longer, but someone else's. Or not. I sort of don't want to identify the reason why, I'm not ready to accept the real reasons why I'm so hesitant to play loud.

I keep thinking to a few years ago, when someone I cared about very deeply told me that hearing me play in the Branca orchestra made him feel emasculated. Hearing that triggered a long-silent voice in my head, and the flood of "You're just like a guy/you're more like a boy than most boys are/you don't play like a girl" thoughts washed over me and made me question every creative decision I have ever made.

These past two days, rehearsing with 200 other people, I noticed there's more than the usual 5 women playing. I'm happy to see them. I want us to be visible, and to play music perceived as "boy" music, because I don't want any female musician to have to feel like I felt (and still feel, occasionally) that day. I don't want female musicians to think that they have to play "pretty" music to be considered "good musicians" - this seems to be less of a problem in New York than in some other cities.

Most of all, I don't ever want to be made to feel like less of a woman because of the music I choose to play. Hindsight tells me that the problem lay in this person's own insecurities, but that doesn't mean that his words didn't really hurt. The wound was there before he was, but he happened upon the best way to re-open it. It will never go away completely, at least not until I allow myself to play loud, through an amp, without an instant twinge of guilt. And that's my issue to deal with.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

samurai photographer vs. a crimson grail pt. 2

I'm a little bummed about rehearsal last night because I did not get to plug in! The beautiful Park amp that DV lent me went unused, but that will change today.

As expected, there were plenty of people less proficient than I, including someone who strung the guitar incorrectly (the grommets were at the tuning pegs!) and someone who did not understand the concept of bar chords.

I learned a new technique from MM, the pinch harmonic. I need to practice.

I got to hear the Soprano section, amplified, up in the actual church. It sounded amazing, and made me wish that we would be playing the piece in there to begin with (if it rains on Friday, we will) because the shape of the sanctuary accentuates all the harmonics and overtones really well. Which is probably why Rhys refers to this as a piece of sacred music.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

samurai photographer vs a crimson grail, pt. 1

Today's the first rehearsal for A Crimson Grail, and as is the custom, I'm freaking out.

It happens every time I do one of these massive public things. It's part of the process, and part of me likes it. Being nervous before rehearsal is how I get it out of my system, which is good, but it makes it a chore to be around me for a few days. I know as soon as I sit down in my section tonight all the nervousness will dissipate and I can concentrate on the task at hand.

Unfortunately for me, the task at hand is tremolo picking. I never play with a pick, even though I have tried many times. I just don't like it. Even with Glenn, I started out picking and eventually just used the ball of my thumb to strum the strings (something that would amaze my sectionmates who noticed, because it's pretty rough.) This time, though, I am determined to do it the "correct" way. So over the past week I have been practicing a) holding a plectrum correctly and b) the tremolo picking technique as employed by Rhys (and Glenn as well.) Downstrokes are the easy part. It's the upstrokes that are killing me.

KW gave me some helpful advice which seems to be working, and PW told me that when he ues a pick, his index finger hits the string first, so he's got this freaky concave fingernail. Awesome.

By coincidence, MM has the same part as I do (as he has for all the Brancas) so once again I get to lean on him for help.

I'm ready.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

samurai photographer vs. a crimson grail

If there's a multi-guitar orchestra playing on the Eastern seaboard, chances are I'll play in it. I am getting predictable!

This time around it's Rhys Chatham's A Crimson Grail, which has been rewritten for 200 guitars.

I got my part assignment today, and it turns out that I'm a Tenor. I've never been a tenor before, and I'm pretty excited about that. However, in Rhys' tuning scheme, I have the most "difficult" way of stringing my guitar (difficult because I don't know how I am going to keep track of which strings go where, because there are four different gauges!)