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Previous Item   Friday, 5th February 2010  Next Item SOUND  VISION WORD


The Upper Room Spiritual Center,
3455 W Bangs Ave, Building 2, Neptune, NJ 07753.

Rising at 06.00.

09.12    Morning Sitting in the Chapel at 07.30.

Breakfast at 08.00.

At breakfast, there was an object in my empty granola & yogurt bowl that seemed out of place: upon closer inspection, it was a ladybird. Enabled out of the bowl, after a few steps it flew away. Clearly, a sign.

Comments were presented on yesterday evening’s work in the Circle which, for several, was a novel experience…

Dealing with fear.
Contrasting Circle work in GC with the life of a classical guitarist.

A privilege to be in the Circle, but uncomfortable with the unmusical sounds being made.
To what extent is good tone, being in tune & good time contextually determined within a musical environment?
Perhaps these are qualities of musicianship, irrespective of context?
And other good comments.

This morning’s work, with all meetings in the Chapel:
Tuning the instrument, for those who feel that being in tune is a quality not contextually determined; with Victor at 09.40.
Guitar Fondling in the Circle at 10.00.
Primary Calisthenics with Tony at 11.00.
Alexander Teching with Sandra at 12.00.
Lunch at 13.00.

Tom has just visited with a suggestion regarding the presentation of picks.

11.16    Guitar Fondling with 15 in the Circle at 10.00; one leaving for lunch preparation.

When ready, please begin.
Then to circulating:
to the left; then to the right; then to the right 3 times, to the left 3 times & one simultaneous chord.
to the right 3 times, to the left 4 times.

Dividing into two groups, both in 5/8; the first group accenting 1 & 4, the second group 3 & 5.
Then 3 groups, each with one part of a triplet.

A brief introduction to the work of both hands, the aim to establish an efficient & co-ordinated functioning, employing the right amount of the right energy, applied at the right time to the right operation. Alternatively expressed: the quality, quantity & intensity of energy needed in Right Action.

A 12-minute break before the Team reconvened with Tony & Victor.

14.11    Alexander teaching with Sandra at noon: an Intro to the Five Principles with more to follow tomorrow.

Lunch with one visitor, Terry K, who has a 10-year history with GC: 20 around the tables.

Comments on this morning’s work…
Follow the leader – what do we do when the leader is off?
What strategies do we have in the repertoire of our professional lives to deal with things when they go wrong?
One member, who works on a trading floor, mentioned his boss’ advice – Just Stop! As I would express that, actively doing nothing or radical neutrality as an operating strategy.

Other good comments, coming to an end at 14.05.

A Staff meeting called in the RATT for 15.00 to be followed by a SSG meeting.

16.27    The Staff discussed the needs of the present course & then looked forwards.

The SSG: considering inter alia the experience sometimes rendered as self-remembering: stepping out of the activity to observe the activity, perhaps even to direct it;
time & cycles interacting & coming together;
the particular insights of artists, and those granted to specific generations.

Tea at 16.00.
A question/s to RF from a member of the course, on the future of GC…

Q:    What will happen after March? Will it be run by students. Or…?
RF:    I don’t know.

A quiet global-question at the coffee station, asked by Victor: If Vivien (Engelberg) hadn’t asked the question, what…?

Victor’s question refers to the beginning of Guitar Craft as part of the Claymont Society For Continuous Education’s Seminar Program. Vivien asked me, on behalf of the seminar program, to give a guitar seminar. I replied - No! I had been giving guitar lessons since the age of c. 14 years, at different periods – at 17-18, 21, 28 – and had no wish to do so again.

Then, some time later, Vivien asked again. This time, I replied yes. What was in-between the two same-questions & the two different-answers was the experience, in the sauna of the Apple Health Spa on Bleecker & Thompson in NYC, when the NST flew by, over my head going from right left, the tuning going from low to high. Originally, seen in 5ths. all the way, the top string would not go to B. so, as on a tenor banjo, I adopted an A on the first string. These kept breaking, so G was adopted. This has worked well. This is a good example of how a notion presents itself & creative intelligence is applied in bringing what-is-possible-in-an -unconditioned world into actuality-in-a-conditioned-world; for example, where Newtonian physics apply to thin strings carrying too great a load. So…

Victor:     If Vivien (Engelberg) hadn’t asked the question, what…?
RF:         Someone else would have asked the question. I would have given the same answer.

Victor:     Are you sure?
RF:        Yes.

Reflecting on my own question here in NJ - what is required of me in the rest of my life? - I feel that instruction & writing are probably more useful to the world than my guitar playing in public.

Tea at 16.00.

21.16    At dinner, Patrick performed solo, with Sandra in support.

Comments were invited & responses began with a question, as to why GC is an oral / aural learning. Why no writings?

GC is primarily experiential. But, there are also lotsa words available if we use our initiative to find them.

Why no young people, perhaps 15 or 16?

This is not an age of sufficient development for the GC approach, based primarily on the development of attention. Two people in the room specialize in teaching children, in addition to the questioner himself who teaches classical guitar to children.

Comments presented on the use of Body Beat & counting with T&V;
a moment of unity in the Kitchen.

Our work this evening: Fondling Guitars in the Chapel.

23.03    In the Circle: 17 guitar fondlers.

When ready, please begin.

Then to Circulating in 2 groups, then 3 groups, and eventually to 8 groups of 2 guitars plus one group of one guitar. Permutations…

Two groups: 1+5 in 5/8.
Two groups: 1+7 in 7/8.
Two groups: 1+11 in 11/8,
Two groups: 1+13 in 13/8.
Two groups: 1+3+4 in 4.
One group of one: 2 in a bar of 4.

Even though 4 sets of two groups were nominally playing the same accents, none of them actually did so.

A reminder was offered of this morning’s prequel to the Five Principles in the Alexander teaching class – the head – and postures changed, I noticed the heads & Sandra also the legs.

Then to whizzing. And, for the first time on the first night of a GC course where the Team are mostly unfamiliar with GC practices, the whizz reached take off velocity & flew for a while.

Conversation by the board with Group Nine, the group with only one member: this was the only group in the meeting where the sidemen wanted to sack the leader – and the leader was happy to go.

On the board…

A few words on time & relating to it...

The musician has three disciplines: the hands, the head & the heart. Each of us tends to be more functionally disposed towards one more than the others (and in some cases two of these, in which case the third centre is referred to as under-developed). Some players are more naturally centred in their hands, and by extension their bodies; some are more in their hearts, and by extension their feelings; and some are located in the head: these are the more intellectual or cerebrally oriented players.

So, we have three primary ways of relating to time: through the body, through the feelings & through the head. Our experiencing of time, from each of these perspectives, is different.

Good time is primarily in the body; connecting & playing to the fundamental pulse of any piece of music is through the body.

Music is a quality organized in sound & in time (and may also be understood as a way of shaping Silence). The quality of music is eternal, but the forms of organization adopted for musical expression vary from culture to culture, and from time to time. In that part of Western popular culture, in the genre known as rock music, c. 1973 in the United States, one way of relating to fundamental pulse was known as laid back. The drummer, while maintaining fundamental pulse, placed their snare beat at the back end, or slightly behind, the top or centre of the beat. This, without the pulse slowing or deviating: not metronomic & fixed, but good time. In punk c. 1976-77 in London, the accent was right on top of the beat, with tempi characteristically faster. These, two examples of experiencing time primarily through & in the body.

Those more seated in their emotions, and disposed to gush in their emotional lives, in their relating-to-time will tend towards rubato. In a singer, the accompanist will be prepared for colla voce.

Performers centred in their head will tend to play ahead of the beat & move around it; Sample listening to the standard repertoire of violin concerti & its soloists will reveal much movement around the beat, particularly in passages of allegro & presto. To anyone who has ever played for dancing, or those experiencing time in their bodies, this is poor time.

Three notions of the process of music unfolding: time, timing, and time ordered or organized. Time – relating to fundamental pulse & its rate of flow (tempo) is primarily in the body. Timing - the stressing of legal discontinuities in the placement of the note around the beat in response to feeling what is right - is primarily in the heart. The organization & ordering of the sequence of unfolding flow, through time signatures & bars, is primarily in the head.

One standard GC suggestion as to how we might improve our time, is to put up posters – Dance In The Village Hall On Saturday Night! – and place bowls of overripe fruit near the entrance. Those intent on dancing tend to be unforgiving towards those who upset their enjoyment with bad time.

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