Aria Diamond bass guitar   Leave a comment

Aria Diamond bassThe Aria Diamond series bass guitar I bought together with my brother somewhere in 1988 for around 800 guilders (325 Euros, with inflation taken into consideration that would nowadays mean a 500 euro bass, so a decent mid-priced bass), because we wanted to make our own completely arranged recordings.

I had also bought a Yamaha MT-100 4-track cassette recorder and a second hand Roland TR-707 drumcomputer. My brother had got a Roland D-10 synthesizer and Cakewalk sequencing software on his IBM XT (or AT?) clone computer. It has been one of the episodes in my musical life when my playing improved dramatically, just by recording myself over and over.

Years later I bought the other half of this bass from my brother as well.

It’s quite a basic design when it comes to looks, but it does have quite an extensive electronic scheme making several kinds of sounds possible. It has volume knobs for the pair of neck pickups and then one for the bridge pickup. Also, it has a balance knob for mixing the pickups, and a tone knob (which I typically never use).

This enables you to get your own preferred balance of deep, heavy lows from the neck pickups and sounds that pack a bit more of an attack from the bridge pickup.

It’s not a high end bass, but typically for Japanese-built Arias of the 1980’s of very decent quality nevertheless.

Posted 29/11/2015 by L in My guitars

Hey, we musicians like music for the same reasons as you do!   Leave a comment

I’ve found non-musicians frequently thinking of musicians, and especially of musicians like me who have been/still are into kind of complex kinds of music sometimes, that they can only listen in an analyzing way to music, figuring out what the musicians (and in my case especially the guitarist) are doing and how they are doing it, and what the chord progressions are and so on.

Well, here’s news for you: I don’t listen like that at all to music, unless I purposely have to do so (like when I have to figure out a song that I have to play myself in a band or for a recording).

Sometimes, music hits you – and yes, me too – so hard that it hurts. Hurts in a good way, though. It seems to release all these sad or bad things you have been bottling up inside, and then this one song or composition seems to say all that you have been wanting to say for so long but couldn’t. I suppose it was all summarized in that in that famous line by the Beatles: “…take a sad song and make it better”.

So yes, that’s how we musicians, or at least me, listen as well.

This one by Beth Hart  hit home, the other day (yes I know, my rant about YouTube, but this one doesn’t have any ads):

Posted 18/05/2014 by L in Blog

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YouTube, copyrights and ads   Leave a comment

So, YouTube is this platform on which originally you were supposed to post your own videos. That’s why it was called YOUtube, it was supposed to be about YOU. However, pretty much instantly this developed into posting other people’s videos, because most people concluded, quite rightly, that their videos weren’t what people were looking for on the internet. Having said that, I applaud everyone who continues to post their own material, succesful or not.

If the creator of the video notices that someone posted his or her video and claims its copyrights, the video gets removed.

But if the creator doesn’t, I notice that nowadays virtually any video involving a well-known person or celebrity has an ad preceding it. Which will pay money to some internet lowlife, and I suppose YouTube/Google, neither of whom accomplished anything related to the video apart from uploading it.

Not agreeing with traditional copyrights and just wanting to share these things is one thing, and something that you might want to discuss. There may be different models for getting paid for what you publish, and partly the free availability of some things actually attracts new customers.

But wanting to make money of other people’s accomplishments effortlessly is wrong however you look at it.

Posted 11/03/2014 by L in Blog

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Caribbean Holiday

To purchase and download this royalty free recording click HERE

Light and upbeat Latin tune, featuring Spanish guitars with percussion and electric bass. Makes you think of a nice, relaxed evening at a Caribbean beach.

Concierto de Aranjuez   Leave a comment

The adagio from the Concierto de Aranjuez (1939) by Joaquín Rodrigo must be one of the most archetypical guitar concerts there are. If you play the first three guitar notes of the adagio, many people will know they have heard it somewhere, if perhaps not quite sure where. Or at least recognize it as a kind of template for Spanish guitar music.

It’s only three notes, two of which are the same ones by the way, but played with the right timing it immediately sounds very Spanish. Rhythm and timing often define musical styles more so than melody and harmony anyway.

Underneath you’ll find two performances of it. It has been played by scores of classical guitar players, and John Williams is one of the very best of them:

However, this classical Spanish guitar music is so heavily based in flamenco that to me it actually sounds better when played by a real flamenco player.

Like Paco de Lucia.

Mind you, Paco de Lucia didn’t read notes, so he must have figured it out and memorized it by ear:

Paco de Lucia’s tone is sharper, more aggressive. Definitely not your music college polished tone (which in itself has its charms, mind you). And that is the quintessential Spanish guitar tone, I feel. No disrespect meant to John Williams, of course. The man has a musical and technical flexibility matched by only very few, if anyone. But with this particular piece, I prefer the rawness of flamenco to classical refinement.

Still, John Williams sounds brilliant as well, and he, more than many others, does sound and appears like someone who really plays the music, as opposed to be reproducing stuff from music scores.

Andres Segovia   Leave a comment

The first recordings of Andres Segovia I was confronted with were made when he already was in his late seventies. It’s only when you hear him performing at a much younger age (still 56, mind you) that you understand how stunning he must have been in his time, playing all this music on classic guitar that no one ever before played on it:

Posted 01/03/2014 by L in Blog

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Paco de Lucia   Leave a comment

Today it became known that the famous flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia suddenly died at the age of only 66 years, probably from a heart attack.

I am not an expert on flamenco, but it is a style that has always appealed to me very much, and one of the first flamenco guitarists I ever heard was Paco de Lucia. I didn’t know then that he was also one of the very best flamenco players that ever existed at all.

When I got my fifth degree at music school at my seventeenth (my school used a degrees system that officially ranged from 1 to 6, only they just went to 5 at my particular school) my parents had asked my older brother to go look for a record with some very special guitar playing on it, that I would get for getting this degree.

My brother, not as much into playing guitar as I but always much more the curious listener and researcher for new music, found that famous record ‘Friday Night at San Francisco ’ featuring Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia.

He gave it to me with the words “Just so you don’t go imagining that you’re already really good”. He has always known me very well.

Well, it WAS an eye opener. I never had imagined that guitar playing like this existed in the first place so it set a new – ahem – target.

I mostly preferred the playing of Al Dimeola and Paco de Lucia on that record. Al DiMeola had the clearest tone, but in Paco de Lucia’s playing there was that special Spanish intensity and the specific flamenco melodies and dissonant harmonies that appealed to me.

In hindsight those concerts of course were kind of a tournament in fast guitar playing and not everything in it was musically all that appealing, but to be confronted with something like that at the age of seventeen is hugely impressive.

But hearing Paco de Lucia playing real flamenco is even more impressive. The man could keep up your attention in a ten minute solo piece like this:

Now that’s an immense achievement for any musician.

When listening to Paco de Lucia, you know that he’s someone who captured the very essence of an instrument, that he’s doing what should be done with the instrument. These are the sounds supposed to be coming from it. It all sounds so natural and easy. Until you try it for yourself. Then you discover how much dedication and hours must have gone into this kind of control and creativity. Of course he must have had a great talent, but part of that talent ís the kind of dedication you can put into things as well.

Apart from the great loss this must be for his famlily and friends, there were definitely also many years of musical brilliance that were lost here.

An impressive concert from a longer time ago: