The road ends, but the journey continues...

Category: Musical Musings (Page 1 of 11)

RIP: Michael Chapdelaine

Michael Chapdelaine
1956, San Diego, CA – November 16, 2023, Boulder, CO

“Please, play Michael’s beautiful music and smile with us. Share his love for the guitar with your friends and family.” – Suzanne Dove Chapdelaine

Michael Chapdelaine, a local, regional and international (he)artist with whom I was acquainted, was the only guitarist ever to win First Prize in the world’s top competitions in both the Classical and Fingerstyle genres – the Guitar Foundation of America International Classical Guitar Competition and the National Fingerstyle Championship at the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival in Winfield.

A contemporary colleague within the world of classical/acoustic guitar who was generous with his time, knowledge and playing, Michael’s presence will be greatly missed.

Multiple Meanings of ‘sus’

Multiple meanings?

Who knew? Not me!

According to those in the know ‘sus’ means suspicious.

When author/editor (and friend) L.Marie posted about current slang  used among teens, the term ‘sus’ came up.

My comment to that post went as follows:

“Sus (suspicious)” HA! Had to laugh at this one. As a musician, ‘sus’ is common reference to a suspended chord and/or melodic line suspension. Often said, Csus7 as an example; or There’s a sus on measure 3, forth note.

My comment to L.Marie’s post on current slang

That’s my simplified attempt at using ‘sus’ in a sentence. As a musical, technical, theoretical term go here & here for explanations and examples of suspension.

Excerpts from pop music of where different ‘sus’ chords are used can be heard in the video to the left. Keeping in mind that this is a composition technique used in many other forms/styles of music.

The beauty of this particular musical sound is that once heard, most listeners regardless of musical acumen recognize this in whatever genre of music it is heard.

That sound can now be connected to its name – suspension, or ‘sus’.


Full pop song example of ‘sus’ chords in instrumental sequence (first begins ~ 0.18) – Enjoy the music!

Come Monday. That’s Today.

I cannot get past the coincidence of today’s Labor Day Monday and the Come Monday Monday also being a Labor Day Monday. It pushed me over the edge of posting on this Monday, Monday. But then, that’s a different Monday entirely!

While I like me a fine Margarita, this song (and video) by the late Jimmy Buffett is more reflective of the mellower times I remember in the 70s. Since it became a hit in 1978, I can imagine & remember the early days of being a newlywed. And our time as a couple with a newborn living in the Bay Area shortly thereafter.

Hubby was the country/cross-over fan, introducing me to Jimmy, Waylon and Willie! 😊

Of those three, I’d say Jimmy was the one who grew into a good lookin’ old guy – respectfully written I assure you.

RIP Jimmy – an everyday musician who didn’t let his unexpected fame (via that other hit song) spoil his joyful, gentle, persona.

On a side note: I hope this Labor Day ushers in cooler weather for everyone. Take care, all!

When Do Lightening Bugs Become Fireflies?

June is fast approaching and there is much scheduled.

The beginning of the month is my highly anticipated Visiting Artist Presentation/Performance at the Arts Center. The last weekend of the month is a long-planned mother/daughter trip. In between, there’s hubby’s and mine 45th wedding anniversary and Father’s Day. All-in-all a hearty, well-paced meal of events I’ve been looking forward to devouring for several months! HA!

So, what’s all that got to do with the question posed in this blog post title?

In prepping for my presentation/performance, the focus morphed into spotlighting prepared guitar in musical compositions. I fooled around with other composer’s pieces, most notable ‘Kalimba’ the featured piece for a rhythm study by A. Hirsch on the Aaron Shearer Foundation website. The sound was sort-of right, but not quite.

Plus, I wanted something I could incorporate into one of my own compositions. I dug out an experimental duo piece I wrote for classical guitar and banjo about a year ago when I was collaborating with banjo guy. I played through the guitar part in prepared guitar mode and voila! It was made for just such an application!

my prepared guitar set up

As often happens with original compositions, until something is marked as Fine// on the score, it is still a WIP. So, I adapted the original duo into a short solo prepared guitar piece to play during my Vising Artist Presentation/Performance. I had loads of fun experimenting with a final guitar ‘preparation’ and ended up using staples on 4 sets of strings to get the sound I wanted.

A great example of Kalimba/Mbira sounding prepared guitar can be heard in this piece played by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ):

“Okay, but what about the Lightening Bug/Firefly thing?” you may be wondering – albeit a bit impatiently.

Scroll back to April 6, 2023. Hubby was poised at his computer to be one of the first to enter our names in the Congaree National Park Firefly Viewing Lottery.

About 10 days later we were informed we acquired our first-choice date for the event.

In planning for this, I asserted my usage of the term ‘Lightening Bugs’ over ‘Fireflies’. It’s the term I grew up with and cling to even now as a point of identity!

The night of our excursion was a perfect night in the swamp for observing the lightening bugs’ synchronous light show. As we were immersed in Lightening Bug Glow, they seemed to be blinking a tempo (in sync, remember) to the prepared guitar piece I planned on playing for part of my Visiting Artist Presentation/Performance. The piece wafted through my mind (in sync) as the images of the lightening bugs hovered over and around us. I whispered to my hubby about my delightful discovery and he caught the vision, too.

In that moment, the original title of the piece died along with using my preferred bug nomenclature in the new title.

“Fireflies Arising for prepared guitar” rolls off the tongue nice and smooth.
It’s a rhythm thing.

What’s your preferred term for these wonderful critters?


About the following video:

“Every year tens of thousands of fireflies (Photuris frontalis) emerge from the leaf litter in Congaree National Park to begin their bioluminescent mating ritual. As darkness falls, this species of firefly, also commonly called a “snappy sync,” begins to flash in unison. The effect is like watching the heartbeat of the swamp, pulsing lights hovering over the bottomlands. This short film was created during the COVID-19 pandemic when the National Park was closed to the public and when the fireflies could be viewed without the interference of external lights.”


Weekend Notes 3.18/19.23

  • Hubby and I just got back from 2 weeks in Albuquerque (almost home!) caring for a dear longtime friend pre, during and post TAVR (heart valve replacement surgery). Originally on-call to help with the household, that same household* got struck down with RSV and then COVID so details of how we were to help changed drastically. She moved out of her home and into an Airbnb where we three (hubby, myself and herself) spent the duration.

Love is a powerful enabler

  • Meanwhile, her husband held down the fort, miraculously remaining unscathed by the actual virus, if not sleep deprivation. Love is a powerful enabler.
  • As can be seen from this 6-days-after-the-surgery photo, our precious sister-friend is stronger than ever.
Me and Joan along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque
Me & Joan along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque
  • And oh yeah, we drove there and back racking up the miles once again towards our return trip from the moon. Odometer now reads over 430K miles – only 20K left to go!

  • They officially hired me in January, and I’ve since been asked/invited to be a visiting artist/artist-in-residence during their Summer Arts Program for TAG students in the Kershaw County School System. I am turning my attention on preparing for this and am beyond the moon excited!
Source: NASA

*their household consists of her husband, a set of elderly parents, an accomplished adult child with cerebral palsy, and twice weekly babysitting of their spunky 2 year old special needs granddaughter – oh and she and her husband both work by remote from home, too.

Love is a powerful enabler

Weekend Notes 2.18/19.23

Love, Harp Guitars, Oatmeal Scotchies…and back again to love.

February is the love month.

You know, the 14th is St Valentine’s Day and all of that.

In our family, holiday celebrations often last longer than the actual 24-hour day. Hence, here it is a few days after the 14th and yes, hubby and I are still enjoying the love month.

What’s that got to do with harp guitars and cookies? Bear with me. I’m in one of those ‘everything’s interconnected’ type of mind right now.

I remember when I saw my first harp guitar.

It was hanging on a wall at McCabe’s in Santa Monica, CA.

The same time and place where I strummed that special resonator hubby encouraged me to get, but I declined.

McCabe's vintage harpguitar

McCabe’s is a wonderous place. Museum-like with vintage stringed instruments hanging on walls in rooms filled with bookcases of sheet music and racks of pick-me-up-and-try-me instruments for sale. Bustling with the local musician community of both the vintage and newbie type, too.

Scroll up to 2020/2021.

I found an orchestra made up entirely of harp guitars playing The Water Is Wide in a virtual performance on-line.

It touched me deeply while in the midst of ‘lockdown’.

A folk song of Scottish origin

…which brings me to the oatmeal scotchies.

Get it? 🙂

Every so often, I get a hankering for something butterscotchey. Simply popping a Werther’s wasn’t going to satisfy this time around. So, the handful of butterscotch baking chips I had leftover from who knows how long ago, got baked up recently in a batch of oatmeal scotchies.

Oatmeal Scotchies Recipe on chip bag

The recipe (on the back of the chip package) calls for 1 2/3 cup of those chips, but I had to supplement them with leftover choco chips and walnuts to come to the 1 2/3 cup requirement. Along with my normal adjustments on commercial cookie recipes – replacing the flour, baking powder/soda and some of the salt with self-rising flour and swapping out ½ cup of the 1 cup of butter with ½ cup of Crisco – I also decided to continue adjusting the recipe by replacing ½ t of the 1 t vanilla with ½ t orange extract.

Yeah, that’s how I follow a recipe.

However, believe me, those cookies turned out fresher & brighter because of that vanilla-orange combo.


The water is wide I cannot get over
Neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

chorus from ‘The WAter is Wide’

…we both shall row, my love and I…


Announcing an unexpected Re-Release!

unexpected cover image
Cover artwork by Michelle Marie Bruno Lilly (+ Solorio – she’s since married!) on the John Lennon Peace Wall, Prague. c2007

My 2007 cd, unexpected, is now available for purchase on Bandcamp as a limited quantity item.

Long available via the now defunct cdbaby store (back in the Derek Sivers days!) and downloadable/streamable via iTunes, YouTube, Spotify, etc. I have re-released both the physical cds & digital downloads of unexpected for additional distribution on my Bandcamp site.

***Please take a listen***

Hop over to my Bandcamp page for details on how to order digital tracks and/or physical cds.

Due in large part to the fact of its prior release taking place during the early days of digital distribution (think: My Space Music, yes I had an account!) – my mixed and mastered wav files were on a special type of cd that I then sent directly to the cd replication studio. I essentially gave them up not knowing I’d need them somewhere down the line.

I won’t get too technical but having to reverse-engineer one of my own cds on hand in order to obtain wav files to upload was a huge obstacle for me.

Oh, not the actual doing of it, but wondering if the quality of said files would be the same as if they’d come directly from the recording studio files. Lordy, I am such a sound snob an audiophile.

Add to that the amount of time required for uploading & entering each track individually, complete with a myriad of other digital data paraphernalia. No wonder I put it off for so long. (BTW: the digital files sound just fine!)

But then DIY ain’t nothin’ new.

However, as I’ve been working on current projects – improving skills on my less dominate instruments, recording ideas, composing like crazy, collaborating with Banjo Guy and laying out pdf scores for future publishing & distribution – I could no longer drag my feet in getting this pesky task completed.

And now it is.

Done.

Ready for a new set of ears to hear and hopefully enjoy for hours of listening pleasure.


MondayMonday Music: #1 Remembering my first…

purchased downloads from Amazon digital music a long, long time ago.

I ‘own’ these three pieces, but can’t offer them in total to you the listener as a share on my blog…interesting. This embed of Amazon’s ‘share’ include only excerpts. Click here for my ‘First Purchased Download’ List but then – you have to sign in/up to listen.

However, as another vehicle for sharing, I offer up the three pieces in their respective youtube embeds for your enjoyment!


All that to say I do miss ‘relevant’ music radio – underground FM anyone? (KBCO FM history, KLZ FM history)


note: I suppose you, my regular followers, noticed I’m not exactly rushing to finish up my ‘part 3’ of the Catching Up blog postings…it’ll come, just not now! 🙂 Please forgive my indolence in this matter! Blame it on the Unending Summer Heat Wave of 2022.
Stay safe & cool, all.

Catching Up part two

As per Banjo Guy’s suggestion in part one, I spent some time with my Hammered Dulcimer (HD).

Once hauled out from it’s resting spot under the skinny folding work table in my music ‘studio’, and set up in the living room, it was ready & waiting for me to play at my pleasure.

Our house is on the small side at ~1200 square feet. As you can tell, the HD does take up a lot of room. Once set up, there’s a certain feeling of commitment to sit down and really dig into the instrument. This musical outlet worked well for me as the strain to my wrists was almost nil while I worked through scales, hammering techniques and reading/playing HD tunes from HD playbooks and by ear.

Yep, I had fun!

My music ‘studio’ is nestled within a modestly sized bedroom, sharing space with a writing/computer area and a sewing/quilting area. If I have an unusually large project in the works or just need to spread out and ‘claim my space’ while creating (especially musically on several instruments at a time), my ‘studio’ overflows into the living room.

Luckily, Hubby understands the call & needs of the (he)artist. He actually encourages me to spread out  and encroach on our living room whenever I need more space to create.

Meanwhile, enjoy this more traditional HD cover of Here Comes the Sun to get a feel for this dreamy, jangly instrument. If nothing else, that classic Beatles Tune is sure to bring a smile to your face and lighten your mood.

Perhaps you noticed the wall hanging on the brick wall over the fireplace. It serves as a subject clue as to what ‘creative activity’ I’ll be discussing in part three! (I’m) stay(ing) tuned…and yes, I do mean that literally. 🙂

Floating 'L' wall hanging on brick wall above fireplace
‘floating L’ – LBL – MMXX
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