Stick Theory – My Interview with Music Talk

I going to conclude (for the time being) my video series, Stick Theory, with an interview I did for the pilot for a talk show focusing on local NYC musicians that was to be shown on Manhattan Neighborhood Network cable channel. It features my interview interspersed with a Chapman Stick Guitar performance outdoors. Special thanks to Manhattan Neighborhood Network. It was a blast doing it.

Music Talk Episode 1 –

 

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Stick Theory – Bodega Cats (Original Song) on the Chapman Stick Guitar

This is my tune, Bodega Cats, played on the Chapman Stick Guitar (SG12). I’m using the double guitar tuning so it’s like two standard guitar necks joined together. This was the first tune I wrote on the Chapman Stick guitar. A couple of years ago, as part of MakeMusicNewYork event, I played a solo Stick performance in a small community garden on Manhattan’s lower east side. My repertoire was very limited so I needed to come up  with some extra material. In one of those rare instances when inspiration comes when you actually need it, this tune pretty much just came out. I started with the two chord vamp in the intro and the melody just came out. Same thing with the “B” section and that was it. Admittedly, this is not a complex tune. The chords are straight forward and the melody is composed of basically two riffs. That being said, a couple of people commented on how they liked it and I have to admit that I think it came out pretty well. I liked it enough that I decided to cut a full band version of it for the New Jazz Spasms cd, New York Movie. Check out both versions below.

Stick Theory – Bodega Cats (Original Song) on the Chapman Stick Guitar SG12

You can hear a version of the tune performed by my virtual band, The New Jazz Spasms here:

 

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Stick Theory: Norwegian Wood (Beatles cover) on the Chapman Stick Guitar

I’m continuing my series of Chapman Stick Guitar videos with my cover of the classic Beatles tune Norwegian Wood. Their is a long history of jazz versions of Beatles songs. That’s the subject for a future post. I’m just adding my bit to the tradition.

 

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Stick Theory – Summertime (Jazz Standard) on the Chapman Stick Guitar SG12

Summer is finally making itself known to us here in NYC so it seems like an appropriate time to post my cover of the jazz standard Summertime to Stick Theory, the playlist of my solo Chapman Stick Guitar videos (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLogHrynqXOvSmeQXOw_SAW0etIHHKV8mX).

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Stick Theory – Summertime (Jazz Standard) on the Chapman Stick Guitar –

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“It’s a Stick Thing” . . : Complaints and Coincidences

Recently, two separate Chapman Stick related events occurred to me in the course of two days. Given that the Chapman Stick related things are not exactly common everyday occurrences, it gave me pause.

The first was a comment I received on my Chapman Stick Guitar page from someone who took exception with my calling the page “Chapman Stick Guitar”, saying that it’s a Stick and not a guitar. My response was that I play a Chapman Stick model SG-12 which Stick Enterprises calls a Chapman Stick Guitar. I believe the disagreement is coming from two different views on the purpose of the web page. The person might of thought that it’s purpose was as a general informational page on the Chapman Stick while I think of it as a journal of my personal take on the instrument. However, upon further reflection I thought that that I should explain to those who were kind enough to check out the web page that there are several different configurations of the Chapman Stick. The original Chapman Stick design (which Stick Enterprises refers to as “The Stick”) is ten strings with the bass/treble sides each having five strings. The Grand Stick expands the original concepts to 12 strings, extending the instruments range in both directions. There’s a Stick Bass, a eight string version whose range is mainly in the (you guessed it) bass register. There’s an Alto Stick and the model that I play, the Chapman Stick Guitar. So, even though the few people who know what a Chapman Stick think of the Stick or Grand Stick, there are other versions of the instrument. One size doesn’t fit all. Go to the Stick Enterprises web site for more details (http://stick.com/instruments/).

My second Stick related event occurred the next day. I was visiting San Francisco with my wife and we went down to Fisherman’s Wharf for general tourist stuff and specifically to visit the aquarium (my wife and I are big fans of zoos and aquariums and try to check them out whenever we visit a different city). There, performing right in front of the aquarium was Bob Culbertson. In the (admittedly small) world of Chapman Stick, Bob Culbertson is one of the masters. When I got my first Stick used off of eBay, it came with two of his instructional videos which were invaluable to me as a beginner. He was exceedingly gracious  with his time and it was a complete gas to just run into someone like him unexpectedly. Below, an example of his mastery.

Bob Culbertson – While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Chapman Stick

Please check out Bob Culbertson’s web site: https://www.stickmusic.com/

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Stick Theory: Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix Cover) on the Chapman Stick Guitar

I just want to let everyone know that I just posted a new video to Stick Theory, my playlist of solo Chapman Stick Guitar videos (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLogHrynqXOvSmeQXOw_SAW0etIHHKV8mX). It’s my (very loose) interpretation of Hendrix’s classic song Little Wing.

I would like to imagine that Hendrix, with his sense of exploration of sound, would be interested in checking out the Chapman Stick. The possibilities of what he could have done with it just boggle my mind.

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Stick Theory – Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix cover) on the Chapman Stick Guitar –

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“And Now For Something Completely Different” . . . : Listening To Music Before And After Isolated Tracks

I was recently watching a movie with my wife called French Kiss (1995) with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. It’s a lightweight romantic comedy but there was one scenr that I found interesting. It takes place in the childhood home of the Kevin Kline character, situated in the middle of French wine country. There, Kline demonstrated an old science project he did as a kid. He asked Meg Ryan to take a sip of wine and describe the taste. Then he asked her to sample several different natural fragrances that were stored in small glass bottles. He then had her take a second sip of wine and describe it. To her amazement, she now detected aromas and tastes in the wine she never noticed before.

This made me wonder what would be the musical equivalent of such a science project. What I came up is the following:
1)  Listen to a given song.
2) If possible listen to one or more isolated tracks of the song. Fortunately, there are numerous YouTube videos that provide such tracks.
3) Re-listen to the song again. See if you are more aware of elements in the song that you never noticed before.

Below are several videos that present isolated parts of some of the more iconic songs from rock. Here are two videos that present isolated tracks from Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. First,the guitars only, then the isolated drum and vocal tracks mixed together.

Nirvana – Smell Like Teen Spirit (Guitar Only)

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit (Drums and vocals only)

 

Below are the isolated guitar and bass parts for Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child O Mine:

Guns N’ Roses -Sweet Child O’ Mine – Slash Only (Lead Guitar)

Guns N’ Roses -Sweet Child O’ Mine – Izzy Stradlin Only (Rhythm Guitar)

Guns N’ Roses -Sweet Child O’ Mine – Duff McKagan (Bass)

 

For the recording of the classic record Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles used two 4-track tape machines. They would record parts onto the first tape machine and then mix those parts onto tracks of the second tape machine, freeing up tracks to record additional instruments (digital recording technology makes this unnecessary now). The video below presents a interesting visualization of the process. The audio of the second 4-track tape machine has each of the four tracks represented by a different color. Track 1 (green starting at 0:00) has drums, guitars, and bass (Paul and/or John or George on two electric guitars, Paul on bass, Ringo on drums). Track 2 (blue staring aat 2:24) has horns and a punched-in lead guitar played by Paul. Track 3 (red starting at 4:40) are vocals and track 4 has the three previous tracks plus some audience sounds.

Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper

 

So go listen to the songs in question, then listen to these video and then re-listen to the songs. You just might hear something new.

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