Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday's Not Gone Yet

Right now, my list of "things to do" outweighs my ability to accomplish them, but I can't take time out from busking; as that is the master catalyst in getting the things accomplished, as, many (most) of them will require money.
I didn't play at all last night, having had about 20 dollars, an almost full pack of cigarettes and new strings on the guitar when I woke up.
I also had started on a pint of vodka in the afternoon, during a trip to the Family Dollar, where I spent about 5 bucks on food, and continuing at the apartment where I tried to work on some music.
I have a backlog of recordings that I made at odd hours of the mornings, while Johnny B. was crashing at my place.
He thought it admirable that, after an evening of busking (and the high-intensity performing which that entails) that I would still have the desire to play an additional 3 hours, working upon originals, recording, mixing and adding effects, and basically still experimenting with the capacities of the Audacity program.
I now have to go back and cut and paste and slice and stitch together whatever I can from those few hours of music.
We also made about an hours worth of a video, using my laptops built in video camera (and its equally inferior counterpart, the inferior microphone) which is in a format which I have, to this day, not been able to convert into anything which can be used outside of viewing and hearing it on the laptop.
This goes also for a session between myself and Rick Parks, from Austin, Texas, that I recorded of us playing outside of Harrahs Casino, using the battery on the laptop when it was still good, which had some pretty good highlights, as I recall. It is also in a weird (M-Peg4?) format, and I haven't been able to transport it anywhere.
Other than that, it is Jazzfest, there are a lot of people in town for Jazzfest, and they should be inundating Bourbon Street at some point in the evening.
It would be nice for me to be playing some Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, or the music of some other act that some people may have specifically come to hear; but for the time being, that is in the realm of Tanya and Dorise, who can play some 7,000 songs, aided by Dorise having a "fakebook" application on her phone, and Tanyas freakish ability to play any song that she can hum; on the violin.
It's kind of funny how people always ask her if she ever played with a symphony orchestra, and she has; but that was a squandering of her true talent; because the musicians all had the score in front of them and had all practiced their parts meticulously beforehand.
Now, if the conductor just whistled the melody a few times, then said "That's basically it; you got it?"
then, I think Tanya would be one of the only ones playing, once he started moving the baton.

That is a skill which I have been working on; thinking of some song that I've never tried to play and then trying to play the melody from memory; it forces one to break things into patterns and notice intervals and their relationships to each other, in a way that doesn't occur when the piece has been memorized. There is a part of the brain that can imagine the pitch and think: "I've heard that leap before, where is the next note," as compared to "I've got this memorized and have played it 400 times; I just need not screw it up..."
Two very different lobes of the brain.
That is why an improviser will play less amazing stuff in his first few years of improvising, compared to the guy who had sat down and memorized well composed, and well known solos and then rip through them; but at some point (between the 5th and 15th years) the improvisor will overtake the other player.
This is why it is funny to see the occasional semi-famous violinist from Russia, or somewhere, who has just finished a gig with the New Orleans Symphony and has his violin with him; want to jam with Tanya and Dorise, probably because he has been out to dinner and had a few glasses of wine and was inspired by hearing Tanya play; and who has always wanted to try his hand at this "less respected, less demanding, more pedestrian, and certainly not 'classical' in any sense" music that they are playing -just for fun, maybe as a diversion; and perhaps to show off a bit and impress Tanya (-bet 'cha didn't know that there was a world-class violinist standing right in front of you; well, let me show you...").
He then has his clock cleaned by the diminutive Taiwanese girl, who is actually holding back a bit, not wanting to humiliate the guy, while Dorise alters her chords because "not all of that (Vivaldi) stuff works in a rhythm and blues context."

Johnny B. doesn't improvise at all.

When a young lady wanted to play and sing on one of our guitars; he quickly handed her his, and then later said: "I knew you'd be better at following along with whatever she played and making it sound good..."

This was on our way towards a 160 dollar night, and so we were very cooperative in doing whatever it took to increase the bottom line. It was the next night that Johnny B. turned his amp up over me and got himself kicked off of the Lilly Pad....


Alex said...

Uhh err, Tanya's ability is not freakish, it is normal. Violin is probably the most intuitive instrument there is. Youn hear the note in your head, and you play the note. If its not the same note, you move your finger. Its really easy to play. Trouble is, unless you can afford a carbon fiber job, since it's made of wood, its really delicate.

The same principle applies in trumpet, you gotta hear the note in your head first, as I told local sax busker Leroy,you gotta hear it!

Daniel McKenna said...

Then, I guess that I would be one of the best violinists here, should I ever get one. I'm able to sound out notes on the harmonica; and (I hope to post up an example of that; after I wipe out all of the "crappy outdoor recordings" and replace them.
I think I will start tomorrow.
Tanya took the melody of "Pop Goes The Weasel" and played it in all 12 keys, right in front of my ears; and it didn't seem like she was struggling, just to prove a point to me.
And she didn't just slide the moveable fingering up and down to achieve the different keys ("I know what you're saying, but I don't do that," she said)
and, although, as I improve as a musician, even at this ripe age of mine, and I begin to hear that Tanya is just not that good, I am still impressed with her ability to play the basic recognizable melody -the one that puts money in Dorise' pocket.
Brian Hudson once said that Dorise was the best hustler out on the street; and I think what he meant was that she tapped into this resource which is a Taiwanese girl who had been brought up and nurtured into the mindset of thinking that 16 hours per day of practice, her whole life, was to be expected; and that, making less money than a doctor (as her father is) in anything she does; is accepting a substandard subsistence;
and now Dorise makes as much as a doctor; and is a real estate mogul and, etc. etc.
Props to her; she isn't addicted to an expensive drug (though she used to be a heroin addict -according to herself- but that is a story for another time)

alex carter said...

OK the shitty tablet's battery was running out ... what I meant to say, what I actually said to Leroy was, "If you can't hear in your head where you're going, you're likely to end up somewhere else!" - This got a big laugh.

Of course X times 10,000 hours makes Tanya a real wiz, I just mean to say that the violin is very user-friendly. Much more so than a fretted instrument.