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Friday, February 14, 2020

I Finally Wrote Another Song

Summer 2018. A couple years into fatherhood. Still holding onto all sorts of creative dreams but making little progress. I was juggling compulsions, goals, responsibilities, thoughts, worries…

I was getting into mindfulness meditation. I dabbled in meditation since childhood, but I had not previously made it a routine practice. Meditation now is among a slew of efforts toward getting my routines and life in better order.

One day in August (2018), I took a break from some chores. I put on some random music. I heard some singer-songwriter stuff I liked well enough. I felt inspired (and perhaps also looking for an outlet to procrastinate and push away some stress).

I picked up my guitar, and a new song came out. It was just a bunch of thoughts that had been on my mind. Thoughts about my relationships, my compulsions, my procrastination. I recorded a better take a couple days later. Now, in early 2020, I'm finally posting it:

Through 2019, I succeeded in better sorting my priorities, improving my health and routines. Creating and posting new recordings turns out not to fit my top priorities right now. Hence taking 18 months to post this.

I have hopes and plans for more creative output sometime soon. My song here is a hint of some things to come. But I can't do everything, and that's okay. I even had a bunch of notes about more details to add to this very post — explaining the one fretlet I had on my guitar in the recording, more context about the musical style, the meaning… But now, I have to let this all go, get to my other responsibilities, and get to bed on time. Goodnight.

P.S. Happy Valentine's Day 2020 (I had my wife in mind as the "you" in the song, and I'll write her more songs some day. At least I can dedicate this post to her. Thank you, Samantha, for supporting me in all the other priorities that do matter more. I love you.)

P.P.S. I also want to find better ways to share my music that have no paywalls, ads, etc. I have some lists to look into. I've put some things on Archive.org in the past. With Soundcloud, anyone can download with the button included in the embedded player, but strangely you have to log in to download if you visit the song at Soundcloud. Like everything else I do, this is licensed CC BY-SA — everyone can and should share and otherwise do anything you want with this as long as you include credit and pass on the freedoms using the same license for any derivative works.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Featured on the Now&Xen podcast playing the Kite Guitar

I was featured on the Now&Xen podcast! Full link: https://nowandxen.libsyn.com/29268-cents-kite-giedraitis-aaron-wolf-spencer-hargraves-jacob-collier

Here's an embedded player:

The "xen" in the podcast name refers to the prefix that means "strange" or "foreign" (so xenophobia is fear of foreign people or things, xenophilia is love of them). In this case, it refers to xenharmonic, a term for musical tunings that feel foreign.

In the podcast, I'm playing on and discussing the amazing Kite Guitar, named for my friend Kite Giedraitis who discovered the tuning and invented a practical language around it.

Also while it can produce "xenharmonic" (strange) new sounds, the Kite Guitar can play familiar, comfortable harmonies that just blend better than any normal instrument! I'm not interested in merely being weird (there's lots of other xen, weird sounds out there). As you'll hear in the podcast, my goal is to play inspiring, beautiful blended harmonies I hear in barbershop quartets, blues, world music, and so on.

Note that this is mostly edited from a live conversation that wasn't planned as a podcast. It captures enthusiasm and a lot of ideas, but the three of us already understood tuning theory. Most musicians — even professionals — may not understand the language here. But anyone can still get some gist and hear the sounds.

For 20 years (note the past articles here on tuning), I've been seeking a practical system for playing more harmonic and expressive tunings on guitar and Stick. I finally have it! I'm thrilled to be a partner in developing and bringing the Kite Guitar to the world. We're planning videos, audio recordings, songs and compositions, instrument production, educational methods, theory explanations and more… For now, enjoy this sneak peak.

Kite, Jacob Collier, me,
and Caleb Ramsey (who recorded that session)
BONUS: The end of the podcast has a couple short clips from when Kite and I showed one of the earliest prototypes to Jacob Collier… We hope to get him an instrument and see what amazing things he does with it. And I plan to write sometime more about the way Jacob has inspired me both in my music and teaching.