“Autumn Smile” - (DADFAD). Every artist has that one track that they are always chasing the best version of, this is my song. This is the 3rd version i have recoded and released now and without doubt its the best yet. When i listen to it i am always reminded of the Norwegian player Knut Hem as he has been a huge influence in my playing and this song i feel echoes those influences strongest on this album. The melody was one of those ‘out of the blue’ moments when from literally no where this melody just came to me and i ran with it. A lot of my best songs come from random practice sessions and develop into full blown compositions which is why i advocate regular practice so much to improve your playing skills and to give creativity a chance to blossom.
“Harper’s Creek” - For this track i choose a new tuning to me of DGDGBD, it was a great ‘mood’ tuning and soon i had settled on the main licks and refrains after playing around with it for a few weeks and discovering its sweet spots. I sat down with my notes and jammed it to death probably for about 30 minutes straight. I then spliced together the most evocative sections into a one piece instrumental (i think i only used 3 sections in this from all my recordings). I then went back and recorded the backing tracking to underpin the song and give it an ambient, chilled out aura. The results were very pleasing and the track totally has a relaxed calm to it in my opinion. This laid back vibe reminded me of an old friend Slowhound (aka Steve Potts) who always played his CBG with a slow serene style. “Harper’s Creek” is actually a real creek right out in the middle of ’no where’ near to where Steve lives on the Solomon Islands, Maryland and so the title was a perfect fit as it remind me of a lazy babbling creek with a old rickety wooden bridge going over it. I have to say this is probably one of my personal favourite tracks to listen to.
“Sono Felice” - (DADF#AD).This is inspired by my Sardinian musician friend Roberto Diana (the man responsible for mastering this album). The translation means “I am happy” which was a direct answer to his song “If Your Are Happy” written in memorial to his late father. The instrumental had a vibrancy to it that was infectious and i wrote this song in the space of one single evening. The happy vibes i hope shine through this composition. It’s my opening track when i play I’ve and really is a great way to summarise my style and sound to people who haven’t heard my music before.
“Kings Landing” - This was inspired by a vacation to the medieval walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. We stayed within the city walls for a week and by the end we felt like we were living in a fantasy landing of kings from days long long ago. It also happened to be where they filmed season 4 of ‘Game Of Thrones’ and so one night we actually dinned in a restaurant located on the place where they filmed the balcony scenes of Kings Landing. The song has a strong medieval theme running through it and it is played in open Dm (DADFAD). The tuning was inspired by an Australian artist called Mike De Velta and a song he wrote called “Doorstep To My Heart” written and played in Dm. I posted a copy of the track to Mike and he was thrilled his song had inspired someone to write their own composition, thanks Mike.
“Winter Soul” - (DADF#AD). Is a sonata style track inspired by Italian musician/composer Giovanni Bailo. One of his classical compositions called “Serenade” caught my ear. I loved the tune very much and especially intro which i adapted for my tune, the rest of the track was also inspired by Giovanni’s recital style playing, calm, serene with a slight classical twist. the track was composed and recorded while we were have some really cold whether and as i watched people go by outside all wrapped up i thought of the title “Winter Soul” I hope you like it Giovanni ;-)
“Familiar Blue” - (DADF#AD). Is a nod to the great Ry Cooder and particularly his soundtrack “Paris Texas” and the track “Dark Was The Night”. I tried to incorporate all my favourite Cooder licks but in my own style, with a stronger sense of happiness and less despair (although i do love the despair stuff very much lol). This was recorded in a local studio in one take from start to finish, the first and last time I’ve ever done that! The title is self expiatory and is homage to an artist i deeply respect and always gain a sense of awe listening to, i love the way his soundtrack work creates moods and atmosphere of forbidding and desolate places, his music has a real profound effect on my music i feel which i s why i wanted to record this track in his honour.
“Waters Meet” - (DADF#AD). Another location inspired instrumental this time closer to home in North Devon, England. After a two mile rocky hike into the hills over looking the town of Lynton we finally came to a remote spot known locally as Waters Meet. Two fast flowing rivers from further up the hills met at this point an became one larger river which flowed down to the sea. The clearing in the woods had a sweet little cottage cafe which we had a lovely cream tea at while watching the river flow by. It was magical and when i returned home i immediately wrote this Instrumental. This track i play Iive over the sound a flowing river and it never fails to transport me to that idilic beauty spot. Travel is such a great musical inspiration :-)
“Another Place” - (DADF#AD). Very literal this track, it takes me away to another place, a place where the stresses of life just slip away. A soundscape style track that has multilayered backing tracks and a relaxed ambient feel. I had to trim this track down as i think i played it for about 15 minutes when i was recording. To me this track is what playing the weissenborn means and feels to me, it relaxes me and is the greatest stress buster I’ve ever known :-) i play duelling D strings on this track with lots of single line melodies, but as my friend TJ Owusu once said to me “a single melody when played with emotion is one f the greatest things you can achieve”.
“Beautiful Sorrow” - (DGDGA#D). Theres no two ways about this tuning its inherently sad sounding. This track started out life as a sad sounding track until i discovered a small but perfectly formed ray of sunshine in its depths which i used as contrast to the sad intro. The track grows into a joyous crescendo from the depths of sadness and despair. The tuning was once again spotted and borrowed from Giovanni Balio’s excellent book “Lap Steel Collection” and the track “Gnossiene No.1”. I just love the dark/light contrast of the finished track, i feel uplifted when i pull the feeling of sadness around into something more jubilant. Lots of people have said its one of my best tracks because of that yin/yang listening experience. The title is a perfect description of the track in my humble opinion, i hope you agree.
“The Release” - (DADF#AD). Written after a long period or working abroad had finally ended and i sat down and played in my bedroom studio of the first time in over a month. The feeing of elation that the period away from home had finally ended came through in this tune i wrote which started slowly and picked up pace as the stress peeled off. This was a song that wrote its self and i didn’t have to put much thought into it at all, most times they are the best songs :-)
“Orange Blossom” - (DADF#AD). This song was inspired by my friend and inspiration Knut Hem and his song “Early Morning Train”. He had captured this train ‘clackaty clack’ sound perfectly and i wanted to try a similar thing but based on a big American freight train. I already had the melody written for several months prior and as soon as i worked out how to capture a ‘fright train horn’ by strumming at the 10th fret and quickly sliding to the 12th and then wobbling back and forth from the 11th to the 12th all it needed then was the to give the impression of a train approaching level crossing sound (random 12th fret muted harmonics) and some pacey muted strumming 9th-7th-5th-Open and the mood was set perfect for this track (pardon the pun). The title “Orange Blossom” refers to an old commuter train that in its day (1930’s) was the only all electric New York-Florida passenger train. If you goggle it you will see a beautiful postcard illustration of it painted in gorgeous orange and green livery and that was exactly the image i had in my head when i wrote and recorded the track.
OK people if you wish to order a copy of my weissenborn instrumental CD “Soundscapes & Sonatas” here is how…
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Back in late December 2104 i turned my thoughts as many do about New Years resolutions. Now I’m not a great believer in them on the whole but this year i wanted to set myself a goal, a task that would require some planning, dedication and learning of new skills. The resolution was to write and record 12 original new weissenborn instrumentals worthy of featuring on an album. I had previously recorded and released a cd the year previous “My Weissenborn Journey” but this one was going to be different. Continuing my musical journey i wanted to write and perfect 12 tunes that had structure and proper arrangements, what i called “big boy stuff”. These instrumentals would be written, recorded, mixed and mastered by myself and that was a little scary but in a totally good way. So for the 12 months of 2015 i wrote, perfected, recorded, mixed and attempted mastering of these tracks.
So 11 out 12 wasn’t bad and i did take the kind offer of a friend to master the album but only after i had mastered the tracks myself. The end result is “Soundscapes & Sonatas”. The album title refers to the two differing styles of instrumentals on the album. Firstly we have the ‘Soundscapes’ which i define as vivid musical landscapes with multi layered loops, drones and backing tracks. The themes are normally random in execution with some repeating phrases linking the whole piece together. Tracks like “Harpers Creek” and “Another Place” are perfect examples of the approach and create an ambient, almost relaxing atmosphere that capture the weissenborns ethereal, dreamy qualities and its ability to evoke pleasant moods and calm feelings.
The other style of compositions on this cd are ‘Sonatas’. A sonata by definition is; …”a piece of music written for one or two instruments that has usually three or four large sections that are different from each other in rhythm and mood”. These tracks have more structure and were very much written, refined and polished into a finished ‘sonata’. They have intros, main melodies, bridges and outro’s etc. Tracks such as “Autumn Smile”, “Sono Felice” and “Winter Soul” are typical of this approach and come across as contemporary/traditional recital style instrumentals.