In 1978, somewhere in India, I was introduced to the delightful combination of papaya and yoghurt. The papaya is sliced in half, the seeds are removed, and then the fruit is filled with yoghurt. A slightly sour yoghurt is best, because it creates a wonderful contrast to the sweet flesh of the papaya. I use a sheep’s yoghurt called Black Sheep. I eat this with a grapefruit spoon, but any spoon will do.
From an article about analog vs digital recordings, where I found this bit about telephone band practice
Here’s one bit of historical trivia: Even the earliest connections in the 1920s were so continuously lifelike that musicians who had access to shared “party” lines would often practice music over the phone, rather than travel to each other’s houses.
We performed at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA, this month. It’s an almost annual event that goes back to 1990 or 1991 when we performed at their old location for the first time. Every year the Birchmere is one of the gigs we look forward to. A great bunch of guys run the place, the venue is nice, and the audience fantastic. After our performance one of the guys working at the club asked me about guitar practice.
I gave him an abbreviated version of this post, which is from 02007-09-04 and still feels true and appropriate.
We practice to create space. This is true for playing a musical instrument, but applies to everything else as well, I think. Practicing creates familiarity. Familiarity creates intimacy.
When we practice playing a piece of music or a scale, we train our brain by using our body. We scrub those neural pathways by moving our fingers. And that creates space. If moving from this note to that note has been trained and ingrained, we no longer have to think about that move and are free to consider other or additional moves. If moving from point A to point B has become utterly natural, then I have established space between those two points in which I can make additional moves. Or, imagine jumping from a rock to another rock. Once that jump has become easy, we might add a turn, a twist or a salto. In music, we might add a new note, a trill, a tremolo, a vibrato… We have created space (or time) in which to make additional moves – or choose not to! The more natural that jump or that piece of music becomes, the more space we have created. Then we have more time and more choice.
I find it important that the space we have thus created should not necessarily be filled with additional notes as we can use that space to embue the sound with more intent or emotion instead. When we no longer have to work at getting to the next note or musical sound, we can enjoy playing the current note with complete conviction.
A large duffel is better for the musician who tours by bus. This is because one can open its zipper without moving the duffel out of the luggage compartment. A suitcase, on the other hand, has to be moved out of the bus compartment and onto the parking lot, or the sidewalk, to be opened. This is not a problem when the sun shines or when the bus is parked in a lot, but when it rains, or the bus parked on a busy street with a narrow sidewalk, it represents a sizable problem. Do I carry the suitcase onto the bus, which doesn’t have the space for opening a suitcase either, or do I try to climb into the luggage compartment, which may be quite full of all kinds of other cases and boxes…
A suitcase is better for a van tour, especially one that begins with a flight to the location of the first gig. Even better is a suitcase with very good wheels. Additional luggage items can be strapped to the suitcase and the whole thing can be rolled along easily. Airports are designed for wheeled luggage, as there are escalators and elevators ready to carry one to a different level. Sometimes, however, the musician with the duffel sprints up the stairs faster than the escalator moves with the musician and his suitcase. That’s okay because the musician wheeling the suitcase will catch up when the musician who carries the duffel tires.
For many years I mostly toured by bus and therefore I have a few duffels of different sizes in my garage. As of the beginning of 2018 I switched to van tours and now you might spot me guiding a suitcase, with very good wheels, through hotel hallways and airports.
Thirty years ago this December we drove to Los Angeles for our first little tour, about four months before Nouveau Flamenco was released.
Sometime in 1989 the Native American artist Frank Howell, who commissioned the album that later became Nouveau Flamenco, said this to me:
When you stop to learn you begin to die.
It was very good advice and I thought about it quite often in the past thirty years. I would add that to learn could be replaced with to change or to adapt and the value of the advice would be undiminished.
Last year I joined Coursera, which is an online education platform featuring courses from many great universities, and other institutions, worldwide. The first course I took was about Modern Art, a course created by MoMA. It was enjoyable and I learned a lot. This year I took another course, presented by Princeton University, called Buddhism and Modern Psychology. The instructor was Robert Wright, somebody I was not familiar with. The course description does not do the content justice. I am interested in neuroscience, because I find it interesting how the view of the meditator, which is the view from the inside, is analyzed by the scientist, which is the view from the outside. The course covers more than the basic science that involves brain scans, it introduced me to Evolutionary Psychology (link to Wikipedia… not sure how useful that is), which turned out to be quite the exciting rabbit hole to dive into. I learned that Robert Wright wrote a book entitled The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Every Day Life, published in 1994, which was one of three books the Wachowski siblings gave Keanu Reeves to read to prepare for his role as Neo in the movie The Matrix. By now I am thoroughly fascinated. How did an author of a book on Evolutionary Psychology (Science, view from the outside) come to lecture about meditation and Buddhism (Meditation, view from the inside)?
I bought Robert Wright’s newest book, Why Buddhism is True – The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment and read it slowly over the last two months, savoring some of the pages and letting passages rest in my mind, like dough that needs to rest before baking… For me this book ranks up there with Ken Wilber’s A Brief History of Everything, which I read in the Nineties and which connected a lot of dots for me.
Meditation is a revolutionary act, indeed the most revolutionary act we are capable of, because it is, perhaps, the only method we have to reject our programming. When the house is on fire (Climate Change) you don’t argue whether the house was created by a God or by evolution, you try to extinguish the fire. Similarly I would argue that it doesn’t matter whether our DNA was created by a God or by Natural Selection, the fact is that this programming is killing us as a species. Like Neo in the Matrix we are captives who do what our programming tells us to do and our programming does not want us to be happy and peaceful…
Buy the book… I have seen the paperback for as little as six dollars and change, and I myself have (so far) bought six copies that I have given to friends. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
When touring I often eat Asian food because I find that Thai and Vietnamese restaurants use a lot of fresh ingredients and they usually serve good quality food. Here are a couple of finds from the October run…
In Richmond, Virginia, we found a little Vietnamese neighborhood and discovered a fantastic restaurant called Pho Tay Do in a very unassuming little building.
The food was excellent and the decor quirky, and I usually prefer quirky over fancy. Is that Princess Diana with Prince Harry… and Elvis?
The paintings and cutouts were created by the owner.
In Pawling, New York, we went to a Thai restaurant called Thai Elephant 2. Above the fireplace there is a Buddha image that is a concave relief. The face eerily turns and follows a person around the room… I think I have a video of that and will look for it.
I received a new batch of Flash Cards yesterday. (((Yes, those are my feet under the hotel’s glass table.))) Unlike the first batch, which were blank and which I loaded individually with my laptop, this batch was preloaded and they contain the following:
Fete Album 24/88.2kHz FLAC
Fete Album 256kbps mp3
iTunes booklet PDF
And as a bonus there is the video I made for “This Spring Release 10,000 Butterflies”. The video shows me performing the song live in my studio plus selections from my slideshow.
It’s the evening before we leave to play on the east coast. The leaves already turned at my altitude. How beautiful!
I didn’t know what the effect was called, but after some searching I found this:
In telephony, sidetone is the effect of sound picked up by the telephone’s transmitter (mouthpiece) and instantly introduced at a low electronic signal level into the receiver (earpiece) of the same handset, a form of feedback.
Almost all land-line (wired and wireless) phones have employed sidetone, so naturally it was an expected convention for cellular telephony but is not standard by any means. Usability experts believe that lack of adequate sidetone causes some people to shout or speak too loudly when using a cell phone (this behavior is sometimes referred to as “cell yell”).
Cell Yell…. LOL