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. 🙂
Interspersed amongst my wrist issues, I managed to type out & post a few blog articles and maintain a certain level of creative lifestyle activity over the past 2+ months.
Wrist issues? you may ask, curious as to what that has to do with anything.
As an (he)artist, one needs to be vigilant in maintaining and caring for one’s tools of the trade. A good example of this would be my changing out Gracie’s & the Prisloe’s strings a while back. In the human realm, as a working musician, this care includes parts of my body. Specifically, my arms, wrists, hands and fingers.
Without getting too bogged down with procedural details, I’ll say that my search for a hand therapist quickly came up short since the ones I called, and I called quite a few, offer their services only to patients on referral from hand surgeons (at least here where I live). So, I made an appointment with the one out of only two local hand surgeons most of those hand therapists worked with, hoping for a diagnosis and then referral to a hand therapist for stretches, exercises and tips on how to baby and strengthen my hands/wrists.
Turns out, it’s a catch 22.
The surgeon, I learned after said appointment, only refers his patients to a therapist after he performs surgery on their hands. There is no middle ground (at least where I live). No intermediary non-invasive steps from the ‘problem’ to what may or may not be a needed surgery as an ‘only solution’. (FYI: I am not giving up on finding some medical professional to guide me in ways other than immediate surgery to aid in my long term hand/wrist issues).
During those 6 weeks waiting for the appointment, I did what I could to cope with the pain, hoping what I did intuitively (and also with a little help from Dr. Google) would do no harm. This included, but was not limited to, gentle stretches, use of craft gloves (yay for being a quilter!), soft arm socks as a form of gentle support and greatly reducing time at the keyboard.
In addition, I cancelled all upcoming rehearsals until after the doctor’s appointment. Say what? Rehearsals? Yep. I’d just begun a regular weekly rehearsal routine with a new musician friend (Banjo Guy).
Here is a piece I found by Guy Bergeron that beguiled us both – bringing this classically trained guitarist (me) and that bluegrass banjo player (him) together on common ground. It has become our mutually approved ‘set piece’ where we are meeting each other half-way stylistically and eager to explore a myriad of other collaborative musical possibilities. In three short sessions, we got the piece 75% down, with other music in the queue at various levels of development. Just sayin’… 😎
Banjo Guy and I met three times until the day of the fourth scheduled rehearsal. At that point, I reluctantly canceled due to fears of doing damage to my still painful wrists if I’d plowed ahead regardless of my body’s rebellious attitude. 😒
When we talked that day, he suggested two things to enrich my time off the practice stool:
Haul out the Hammered Dulcimer, set it up and play
I did the first, that very day!
Please click here for an outstanding interview with Jamale W. Wright, an amazing regular-guy artist of exceptional talent – who uses fiber as a main element in his pieces.
And the second I did a few days later.
On the plus side, during those 6 weeks waiting for the appointment, I didn’t do a lick of heavy cleaning around the house. You know, scrubbing bathrooms, kitchen sinks and such. Not that I’m complaining on that front! (FYI: Hubby does his share of the housework, and lovingly took on my share in the interim).
So what exactly did I do to maintain & enable a “certain level of creative lifestyle activity” (besides the two items mentioned above)?
Stayed tuned for part two, where I’ll elaborate on my Hammered Dulcimer set up and related et all.
Like a baby being born into an expectant family – the world revolves around that anticipated event while simultaneously continuing to turn daily on its axis.
Such is the life of a working musician – the ins and outs of projects going public and in various stages of completion with the on-going daily-ness of keeping up one’s chops, learning new repertoire, caring for one’s instruments, exploring the wide world of sound adventures while simultaneously creating a fresh crop of compositions/recordings and forging relationships with possible new performance partners.
So yeah, Gracie Needed A New Set of Strings…In Spades. She was neglected in that way. But truly in no other.
I recently unearthed a song sketch I recorded on my new-at-the-time ZOOM H4n handheld recorder after my literal Swimming with Swans* experience.
It definitely sounded way better than I remembered. Usually it goes the other way around – remembering something way better than it actually was.
Ah yes, after all these years – I hit the jackpot. Hidden in plain sight, I unwittingly discovered the namesake piece for the entire Swimming with Swans: The Music project!
All that to say, Gracie and I have been deeply ensconced in the nuances of deciphering what was recorded and translating it back under my fingers to play upon her lovely neck. Teasing to attention several other12-string pieces queued up for the next recording session (yet to be determined).
Now, if I keep the original recorded intro with those birds chirping in the background…tack it onto the future studio recording when the time comes… 😎
*This poignant experience occurred during the **Indiana sojourn part of our between homes time (from 3/2010 – 10/2010).
Long before my Swimming with Swans: The Music – Goat Suite (Saga) was released, L.Marie asked if I would like to be a featured guest on her blog once the Big Day arrived.
Of course I said, “Yes”.
This woman, herself an accomplished author, has a reputation with us creatives as being actively supportive of her fellow (he)artists – both in word and deed. Going the extra mile with surprise encouragements in the snail mail to conducting interviews on her blog, L.Marie unabashedly helps enable & promote others’ newly released works.
She’s a Gem.
Please go here for that interview and while you’re there, maybe have a look around her blog. Enjoy!
Swimming with Swans: The Music – Goat Suite (Saga) is officially released today, 3/11/2022
Brief background of this piece:
Smack dab in the middle of our three-year journey between homes experience, my husband & I lived on the compound in the desert outside Las Cruces, NM, by invitation of family members grieving the loss of a young child. We shared life with various ‘rescues’ of both the animal and human sort. Inspired by our family of rescue goats, their antics and their care for us as we cared for them and initially based upon musical intervals of their bleats, my GS(S) stands as an ‘homage’ to Mama Goat and her kids. In addition, it gives voice to the fact that those of us who have experienced or are currently in a period of displacement in a living situation or even state of mind, are not defined by that but live day-by-day, create works of beauty regardless, and share it with all who will listen.[Dedicated to Justice Marie Norwood (1/30/2008-8/26/2010)- a child filled with light & delight, never to be forgotten.]
Hop over to my Bandcamp page for details on how to order digital tracks and/or physical cds.
…I set an official Release Date: 3/11/2022. I notified my digital distributor* for them to do what they do while I continued doing what I needed to do In the Meantime.
In the Meantime, I finished my Bandcamp storefront with a Pre-Order option for both digital and physical formats along with a free listen to the first movement of my Swimming with Swans: The Music – Goat Suite (Saga).
Pretty nifty, eh? Not just the music (!), but the fact that I can actually embed my Bandcamp music player here in a post on my WP site. Along with that you’ll notice I added a cool button that allows you to ‘Follow’ me there if you so desire.
Now about that Release Date. Yep. It’s still 3/11/2022 for all intents and purposes. However, my distribution service notified me that their side of things will be delayed…so they dropped the ball on the whole ‘release date’ thing as it applies to their delivery to on-line streaming & selling sites.
Because this is my music, my unveiling, my personal pinnacle of an announcement, I still claim 3/11/2022 as my release date. Sooooo…Friday is the party! My distro service may be late to that party, but eventually they will get my music out there where their services promised it to be distributed. I’ll let you know when I get updates on all of that.
In the Meantime, stay tuned here and on my Bandcamp site!
*cdbaby is the (paid for) distro service I’m using for them to send my Swimming with Swans: The Music – Goat Suite (Saga) to streaming & selling companies such as Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, etc. So my music is basically available free for the listening once they deliver the files to those platforms (and others) as well as being available for purchase on platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, etc. According to the latest update from cdbaby, there’s a delay on their end of things for a formal release on the 3/11/2022 date. All that means is that those sites won’t have it available for streaming/etc until whenever cdbaby gets their side of things cleared up. Nothing I can do about all of that – but darn!
Around that same time, I read a post by my quilter blogger buddy, Mariss.
In another few days after that, I got sick with flu!
While I’m making up for lost time and will post an update on GS(S) release date details soon, the above does beg the question:
So, what does all of that have to do with William Blake?
Well, here’s the thing. Until I re-read that blog post and began a comment-conversation with Mariss, William Blake was not on my radar as a creative who faced technical hurdles in getting his poetry ‘out there’. Here now, was a comrade creative from the 18th & 19th centuries brought to my attention who had to tackle similar challenges as myself, an Indie Artist in the 20th & 21st centuries.
Me - Purplely delightful finish, Mariss. I'm wondering what is written on the backside, is it in Africaans?
Mariss - Good morning my sharp-eyed, purple-loving friend. Thanks for the chuckle. It is upside down Swahili. I think it is the brand name/reference number for the cloth…You no doubt surmised that I inadvertently used the cloth the wrong way round, unlike William Blake who purposefully etched his poems in mirror image (for the printing process).
Me - Upside down Swahili - very cool!
I did not know that about Blake – it seems us creatives are always having to learn new and weird skills just to get our (he)art out there!!! This is a huge comfort to me here in the 21st century because I often feel so isolated and impotent in the world of the virtual, techie and thrust-upon-DIY and am constantly having to learn and re-learn stuff just to ‘get anything out there.’
Yeah, coming up on a snag with some music release stuff. But at least I don’t have to play my music backwards to get it out there (my equivalent to Blake’s mirror writing).
Aside from my obvious reference to an old Beatles gimmick, that conversation piqued my interest in William Blake as an Indie Artist.
English poet, painter, and engraver William Blake epitomized the DIY ethic. During this period, Blake self-published some of his best known works, including Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. He wrote the text, designed accompanying illustrations, and etched these onto copper plates. He then printed and colored the pages to create his illuminated manuscripts.
To clarify: ‘etching onto copper plates’ involved doing everything backwards for the resultant printed product to display content in normal orientation.
Mirror writing – technically called retrography – is the technique of inscribing letters and words backwards. Blake used this skill in order for his poetry to be printed.
In other words: Blake did the extra DIY steps of painstakingly learning methods of distributing his (he)art that went way beyond the scope of being a poet.
And in that, I find a modicum of comfort as a 21st century creative painstakingly navigating an endless DIY labyrinth of getting my own music ‘out there’ on my terms. Even after having released unexpectedin 2007, the internet tools of the trade have morphed considerably. Many are so far out of my league, yet some of them are indeed necessary, and often interesting, to learn.
All of it – in Blake’s 18th & 19th centuries and in my 20th & 21st centuries – takes time, effort and resolve in areas outside our/my desired focus, but necessary for achieving certain (he)artistic goals of ‘getting it out there’.
Indie music is not a genre, it is a method of getting one’s music out into the world in a world where major record labels do not bankroll indie artists.
…my Swimming with Swans: The Music – Goat Suite (Saga) release is on the horizon!
As many of you know, getting my Swimming with Swans: The Music – Goat Suite (Saga) recorded, mixed and mastered with accompanying artwork and copy text for both physical and digital product has been a ‘Saga’ in and of itself. It’s been an ordeal, but worth every ounce of effort!
So, it is with immense pleasure I make this announcement:
My CDs are in the snail mail as of this writing. Physical product is on its way.
I’m thrilled, ecstatic and over-the-top elated. I want to savor this moment before taking a big breath to continue along the actual music release journey.
Please click on the link and join me in viewing this cool 3D rendering of my CD packaging.
Perhaps you’ve known other creative (he)artists who seem prolific in their body of work output because they just have a knack for effortlessly releasing it out into the public realm. Perhaps you have a perception that once a piece of music is finished (all the hard work and fun creative aspects of being a musician culminating in a completed form) all that’s left is to announce it to the world by slapping it up on Spotify or YouTube or even passing on the MP3s via email.
At least for me.
I have no illusions of being anyone great or super-starish in my music, but I do want to make its presence count. On my terms. In a manner I feel is of worth to those in my ‘world’ who have been waiting with me for this upcoming moment of formal release. And perhaps exposing those outside my ‘world’ to something different and worthy of their consideration. To that end, utilizing media outlets such as Spotify, YouTube and BandCamp are key factors – but need to be mindfully applied.
Similarly, I need to curb my personal enthusiasm and desire to share an MP3 too early or prematurely in the process.
That said, there are still a few behind-the-scenes aspects I’m completing before the time is ripe to formally release my GS(S).
I’ll keep you posted.
Once a formal music release date has been finalized, you’ll be one of the first to know.
And then we can go from there – within reach of that horizon!
It’s been awhile since I last posted. I have noticed many of the bloggers/musicians/writers/quilters/artists/poets/photographers/aka-everyday people I follow are also more silent than active on their website/blogs these days.
So, I’m in good company. 😊
I like how those same blog-buds just post something – whenever – without apologizing for not having posted for a good long time…so in that light, I do likewise in today’s post.
I’d like to add that I appreciate when those same blog-buds give heads up on taking longer breaks from their blog…so in that light I will do likewise, whenever that time comes.
Fact is, I’m in a Purple Patch. That’s a cool term I learned from Andy, my Manc Poet Bud. It essentially means – I’m on a creative roll!
This is a good thing.
My Purple Patch feels like I can fly like a butterfly!
I’m also juggling & planning some ‘normal’ life stuff betwixt and between (aha – notice another Brit phrase?) my Purple Patch Flights of Fancy.
This is also a good thing.
It includes an In Person, Face-to-Face, Thanksgiving Family Feast this year!
Yippee! Dance of Joy!
For the record, the youngsters and their respective significant others are all double vaxxed, me and hubby are triple vaxxed and we’re all ready to mix and mingle, give thanks and celebrate.
In addition, we’ll all be meeting our ‘almost-daughter-in-law’ for the very first time in person.
a brief catch-up note: As I’m tying up loose ends on some musician stuff, dabbling in finishing some scrappy quilt UFOs and working on business tasks as hubby directs – my modus operandi is strictly in Summer Mode. To be more specific – Languid, Southern, Slow&Low Summer Mode.
I’ve kept up with most of the blogs I follow, correspond with a few buds via email but as for posting anything myself – meh.
Until now! HA!
A blogger I follow has been posting photos of her surroundings using a new camera. In her post a few days ago, I thought I recognized the place in which they were taken. Besides the literal mural of a touristy postcard, my suspicions were confirmed when another photo of an art mural created on the sides of a downtown building appeared within this single post.
I remembered this place, this tiny rust-belt town in rural Michigan from just a single visit and a single positive impression made from that visit last year.
Late in September of 2020, hubby and I took a jaunt up to Michigan to visit our middle daughter and son-in-law. At the time, there was a narrow window of reduced regional COVID-19 surges so we decided it was a reasonable risk worth pursuing. (Please click here to read the fun, exciting details of our delayed Family celebration and in-house acting out of Michelle’s PhD Hooding ceremony that was cancelled earlier that month due to COVID).
One of our Family outings included ‘a Sunday Drive’ as it was noted in my Family travels MMXXpost. We meandered the back roads from their home in Lansing to destination: Jackson. Streets empty of humans due to COVID closures made for an eerie but delightful walking tour of this place – filled with artistic surprises around every corner. Literally.
Thank you, Pat, for continuing to explore your new camera and photography skills roaming the streets and snapping photos of the murals on the buildings in Jackson, Michigan. It’s heartening to see that Jackson is keeping true to its rusty rooted artistic flow.