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by wilbeau
on February 16, 2019

This piece was inspired by a quote from Solar Storms – one of Linda Hogan’s novels: “tears have a purpose, they are what we carry of the ocean, and perhaps we must become the sea, give ourselves to it, if we are to be transformed.” One of the greatest living poets, Hogan can in one phrase dissolve the barriers between animate and inanimate; past and future; or interior and exterior. I have written two song cycles using her poems: Truth of Matter and Rounding the Human Corners, * both of these are for low voice and guitar.

wilbeau picture
by wilbeau
on February 16, 2019

I was going through my Facebook notifications in November 2018, when I noticed that Frank Wallace had come through a difficult year of health issues. Through Frank’s postings over the years, I noted that we shared similar interests, like writing for guitar and voice, or being inspired by medieval music, so I was happy to hear of his return to health. Having had a year with some health issues myself; I was glad that both of us were still active and relatively healthy.

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by wilbeau
on April 10, 2017

Editing creates more and more sense out of a work or text. Everything in a piece is there for more than one reason; a chord might support the melody and develop a counter melody. An inner voice might give breathing room to the main tune but add a small, unexpected surprise to the texture.

I have just re-imagined a set of songs originally written over 20 years ago and observe that the harmonies were chosen often to clash with the vocal line. They were chords and clusters selected with joy, I was happy just to play them so long ago, but now I work to meld them into a cohesive shape.

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by wilbeau
on January 24, 2017

I am thinking about the ways we teach music in private studios. Often we quickly learn how to read before proceeding to learn pieces from a graded collection. The thinking is that works of a similar level of difficulty are nice when grouped together. From an early age we study varied repertoire because that makes a more interesting program. We adhere to this notion even though almost none of the students will go on to become concert artists.

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by wilbeau
on January 17, 2017

The next set of blog posts will reflect a recent work I have composed. Each song from the project will be presented in turn. Because singing sends thoughts into the soul of another person, the choice of text is vital. I look for texts that reflect my notion of the sacred: the wonder of life, love of children, and our need for community. It is a privilege to take such notions into meaningful lyric expressions.

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by wilbeau
on December 19, 2016

I was thinking about Narciso Yepes going blind at the end of his career and how he must have learned music differently. He would have needed to memorize chunks of it after first reading and this reading would have been by looking at the score with a large magnifier. Doing he would have registered the music as imagined sound with the internal images of where our fingers go to produce those sounds.

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by wilbeau
on October 24, 2016

I am sometimes impressed by how much emphasis players put on fingering a passage a certain way. As if there is only one manner to produce a phrase that will give it the right personality. Keeping a melody on single string is one of those habits, as if the melody lived on the strings, not in the imagination of the player. The performer’s imagination is the most important aspect of playing; it is this imagined sound that triggers the rest of the music making process. This imagined sound needs to contain pitch and rhythm, in addition to timbre, articulation, volume and subtle changes of speed.

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by wilbeau
on October 10, 2016

Two of the teachers who influenced me the most had the grace to listen as full participants. They took the score in their hands and proceeded to live it along with each player they listened to. Players usually responded by playing better - it is much easier to play well when the person beside you is having a musical experience.

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by wilbeau
on August 19, 2016

Last week I gave workshops at Classical Guitarfest West every morning from 9–10 am. These were labeled as warm-up and technique but I chose to work on concentration.

When we work on pieces repeatedly they improve to a point and then our mind begins to wander. We think of groceries that must be picked up for dinner, projects that are due, any number of things but not about the music we are playing. This is a normal thing because after a certain degree of competency we no longer have to think about a task. Our progress stalls when we no longer attend to details.

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by wilbeau
on August 1, 2016

It is useful to think of the music we learn as gifts. Sometimes they are gifts from bygone times, like music from 1820; sometimes they are from living composers. Our mothers taught us to be gracious when receiving presents because it engenders gratitude, which in turn helps the gift cycle continue. Even if we bought the sheet music, the content is mysterious. I like to think of music coming from a from different realm, a magical time and place. It is as if we open the special window to infinity and the work comes in.girona garden