Timothy's Blog

Timothy's blog on dulcimers, music, nature and life!
SEP
26

A musician's feedback loop

A musician's feedback loop

When we play music on our instruments or when we sing, our ears hear what we’re doing the very instant each sound is made.

Our brains --- consciously or subconsciously --- immediately make an assessment: Is it in tune?  Is it exactly in time with the overall flow of the piece?  How well are the tone and the volume and the phrasing matching the goals of the performance?

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2828 Hits
MAY
19

Acoustic environment

Acoustic environment

The place in which you play your instrument is part of the sound of your instrument --- always.

I could go so far as to say that the location where you’re playing is actually part of your instrument, in the sense that the sounds coming out of your instrument are dispersed to, and return from, surfaces that are sonically connected to the instrument.

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2509 Hits
MAY
05

Isolating a musical passage for practice

Isolating a musical passage for practice

If you’ve practiced music for a performance or audition or jurying, you’ve probably run across a passage that’s especially hard to get just right; in Classical music in particular there are lots of downright ‘virtuoso’ spots that need to have every note in place, or else they’re just wrong….

So it’s commonly known that you need to isolate a tough passage and play it over and over till it’s ready to be joined with the easier phrases.

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2763 Hits
NOV
19

The making of the album Common Wealth

The making of the album Common Wealth

In the year 2000 I was excited about all the well-received music I’d been able to do for Shenandoah National Park, and I’d begun playing music in the Park itself.  I wanted to branch out from there to Virginia’s State Parks, where I also was performing, especially at our nearest ones, York River State Park (for whom I’d composed and recorded two pieces on the album Celebration of Centuries, ‘James and York Bluffs’ and ‘Spartina’) and Chippokes Plantation State Park across the ferry in Surry.  So I was considering what could be added using the remaining pieces I’d composed in 1995 for the National Parks Suite and in 1996 for the defunct album project Such a Gift.

I was asked to play music in the Jones Mansion in the Christmas season of 2000.  While there my music caught the attention of Holly Walker, a State Parks program director from Richmond, so I told her of my dream of making an album of pieces for the State Parks.  To my surprise she said that they were actually looking for a CD to be sold in the park shops, so she set up a meeting for me with the Director of State Parks, Joe Elton!  When I met with Joe he had the marketing guy, Tim Skinner, sit in.  I explained my vision, and Tim took over the collaboration.  They asked me how long the album might take to produce, and I said it would probably take several months, and they asked me if in the meantime we could put together an appropriate compilation of tracks from my existing albums, thus having two new albums over the next two years.

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3229 Hits
NOV
03

The making of the album Quiet in the Meadow

The making of the album Quiet in the Meadow

Often people ask me which of my albums would be best for personal quiet times, meditation, yoga, dentists’ offices, babies’ naps, chiropractor clinics, massage therapy, reading, going to sleep, … you get the idea! Instrumental music is frequently desired for peaceful experiences, and my instruments can be highly regarded as appropriate for relaxation.

Well, the music in my head is actually pretty dramatic and exciting, but I always did intend to make a mellower album than the others, and the time seemed to have arrived in 1999 after the Williamsburg album Celebration of Centuries was done. I made my usual tune list, again a very long one.

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4221 Hits

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