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Fretless Guitarist's Debut Cd


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Pretty shameless post for your first post on the PG forum so I don't feel bad for saying this. That's the worst recording I think I've ever heard. I'm assuming this is some sort of joke since the first song was about 2:00 of the same riff which seemed to just continue into the second song. I can appreciate the guts it's taken to put your stuff out there for review (I've put out two CDs myself) but you need to be prepared for people not to like it. I'm not trying to be mean but as we have many superiorly accomplished builders here we have just as many accomplished players and this was basically sub par playing and 4 track quality recording with zero mixing and mastering.

I'd personally go back to the drawing board and purchase a tone port or something with a little bit of recording software and hone your skills. Again, I'm not trying to be rude but you obviously spammed this forum simply to get feedback so I figure I'd just be honest with you.

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OK...I actually like fretless or at least the idea of it, years ago I heard some amazing stuff on a phillip catherine/Larry Coryell record and I suggest you seek that out.

Yes it is a bit cheeky hawking an album and posting directly into the building section no less. The least you could do is tell us something about the guitar as this is what PG is all about and little is known about the fretless and it's potential.

But you asked for feedback, so here it is...

Ben delivers 11 tracks of intense, introspective improvisation and abstract sound environments.

The problem with this "genre" of jazz an philosophy is that meditation is important, but it is usually kept private...like meditating on the sounds of the environment around you, the wind in the leaves or the sounds of surf on a beach. To attempt to compete with these intrinsically meditative sounds of nature is a big ask. Japanese flute players have an ancient tradition of this, but also a musical language that does seem to touch upon some of this essence, and I imagine that is what you were looking for.

What the music needs is something to work against, to have a conversation with. This is the biggest fault, it lacks structure and direction. It neither "converses with itself" nor plays against an accompaniment. It lacks dynamics or harmonic interest to move it a long so it comes across as noodling. It lacks dynamics and harmonic motion and so comes across as flat...for an hour of tracks!

A lot of "new age" music philosophy has really missed the point in my opinion. The great masters knew it but you don't need to be motzart to do it...miles and coltrane knew it...but you don't have to be them either, nor use their musical language.

This kind of music is contemplative and can provide a backdrop to a still place. The difference is, it starts and stays still. The fact is that the masters took you to this still space, not just drop you into an alien world. So, to do this, like a good joke, there needs to be a set up...an angst to resolution, something that pulls you into the contemplative state. Without this (at least on some tracks on an album) no matter how good you are it will sound like noodling.

Before this is rejected as I just don't like this style, I make the same criticism of most shredders and thrash. It drops you into an angst ridden world often without explanation as to why that anger is there or gives speed and technique and is entirely ego driven yet not saying anything. The best are able to overcome this with technique and great composition, the best angst music will show why they are angry. Nirvana for instance had the whole soft loud, clean dirty, fast slow dichotomy for instance (though it became cliche by others) where you really felt the anger and isolation expressed. (not that i am a fan of this kind of music either).

You have a multi bladed sword as you are playing unaccompanied, so you need to work against yourself to provide momentum. But you are playing a guitar, fretless or not, but instead of revealing the strengths of this instrument (the ability to glide and play micro tones) and the guitar, you treat it like a single note instrument. Even here though, the range is like a cello but Bach had plenty of cello solo's of immense structural beauty. Chords can be played or the harmony spelt out in melody. But compared to the cello, it is all pizzicato in your case (no bow) and so again restricted to short notes especially in the higher register. On a real guitar you have the ability to play chords and numerous techniques and while restricted with your instrument, it is still possible with a whole range of possible harmonies by fact that your ability to play between the frets.

So...what I am saying, instead of showing the potentials of the fretless, like so many it shows the restrictions of the thing.

Ok...so going on a bit long...but here is some fretless that shows far more the potential of the thing. Mr Via in a contemplative mood (you can tell cause he sits down and puts on glasses...what a showman) and illustrates some of my points.

Steve Vai, live and fretless in Denver

He is medititative, but he is playing an electric guitar so it sounds like an electric guitar. He uses simple melody and open strings meditating with the open strings of this triple-neck. He uses looping technology to provide a simple backing for the fretless. He uses a sustainer to overcome the pizzicato effect and really shows off the gliding and expressive sounds possible with the fretless instrument (as a cello player uses a bow)....now before you turn off as things get heavy and you perhaps can't stand Vai's shtick (or his voice for that matter) the end of the song has a little more fretless for you.

Now, obviously a completely different genre and not the head space you were trying to express (for that see the old Catherine/Coryell record (two tracks, one as I recall was called 'father christmas) which is more your sound I suspect) he did at least try and exploit more of the potential of this instrument. He hints at it anyway by use of the vibrato arm and bending in his normal playing regardless which is often missed by impostors.

So...am I being critical for critical sake, or simply missed the point of your music...I hope not, I think not. Your intonation is good (though only single noted and not in relation to a tuned instrument) and technique and jazz phrasing is fine, the recording quality is ok to me too. There are ideas, but they seem not to go anywhere compositionally neither explored through variation nor juxtuposed to opposites or differences. There is no call and response for instance. The lack of dynamic and tonal variation comes across as 'mumbling to oneself' instead of speaking an inner truth or revealing it. In short it comes across as static. I confess I did not listen to all 56 minutes of the thing, but I did not hear an open drone or pedal point on a high string, easy compositional gambits that could have provided contrast, interest or rhythm.

I can appreciate the sentiment and the intention, plus the technique and the instrument but I did not think that it contained enough calories to be nourishing or even spiritually or intellectually fulfilling. As bombastic as Vai can be, there are moments of glory in his music that do move you in the direction he intends. If in your music you seek to take people to a quiet meditative place, then use the instrument to take people by the hand and lead them there. The fretless has the potential to be extremely vocal and so ultimately expressive, yet I have yet to hear anyone really exploit it in that direction.

A good idea would be to get a like minded collaborator, to play against and exploit more the expressive qualities of the instrument. I have had some contact with the unfretted forum from my sustainer work, but as yet no one has really used my ideas on the instrument which is a shame. I have a good mind to do it myself~!

pete

whew...I haven't done that in a while...just so you know, this comes in part from my degree in music specializing in 20th century and jazz composition, so I do know where you are coming from and I hope you get to where you are going. I hope it has been constructive and after I obtain more coffee and cigarettes, or if you would like more than this 2c you can contact me or bring it up in a more suitable forum.

pps...give us a pic of the guitar at least...we don't do ads here, they come across as spam!

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Like I said... I apologize for the intrusion. I'm a merchant, and sometimes it's not easy to reach your audience.

Pete, thanks for your post. Really, thanks for everybody that took the time to listen, for better or worse.

To attempt to compete with these intrinsically meditative sounds of nature is a big ask. Japanese flute players have an ancient tradition of this, but also a musical language that does seem to touch upon some of this essence, and I imagine that is what you were looking for.

I am on the tip (intellectually) about the natural-imitation thing, but when I said "abstract sound environment," I was only referring to the tracks where I am destroying a 1920's upright piano with a sledgehammer. What else would that be called other than "abstract sound environment?" Perhaps super-angst! But I'm not claiming to have hit these high truths of the Pythagorean bent with this recording. But as far as honesty, that's what this is. I could have made a nice version of Greensleeves but that's not where my head's at. I'm developing my own language. As for taking the listener on a trip, dynamically, or compositionally, perhaps you would be so kind as to accept this as the beginning of a long journey, expect the journey to go somewhere, but you have to look at the 'big picture.' If you so happen to come across Ben Miller in 20 years, you may come back to this recording (if you can find it!) and say, oh ****, he really put his neck out there! But y'all will never know even half of that story. My favorite guitar players are along the lines of Jean-Paul Boullery, David Gilmore, I dig Kenny Burrell and Rodney Jones, and dig Jimi Hendrix with a fat shovel...Vernon Reid...As for musicians, I'm big into Steve Coleman (his work inspired this recording, he just put out a masterful work of solo alto on Tzadik), Anthony Braxton, Stockhausen, I dig La Monte Young, but clearly I don't line-up with the academic Western thing, and also, for another thing, I don't listen to guitar players who make records like this. I like funk, hip-hop, I get my ideas from listening to great composers, speakers, painters, etc. I just wanted to lay a little groundwork for my career with this disc. The next one will be more acceptable, a jazz trio, but I probably won't post up here... :D

The guitar is a bad ****. Vigier Surfretter Excalibur!

l_35dfab002a8418449b095892da9221e8.jpg

I tune to EADGCF, because I really like the symmetry. I also dig Pythagoras, but I think music theory has advanced since the teacher from Samos (who was taught in Ancient Egypt). But I'm sort of "partial" to j.i. because as E is 1, A 3, D 9, G 27, etc. in pythagorean tuning it's cooler in j.i. with E 1:1 A 3:2 D 9:4 G 12:5, C 13:8 (approaching phi)...etc. but this is only if you're in a drone-world of E.

I didn't want to play with a drone. Or another cat. I wanted to keep it raw. That's my personality. And what I was thinking about on the train this morning (I live in Philly) is that I talk with a lot of people every day, and the fact that sometimes the conversation doesn't go anywhere, doesn't mean that it doesn't bring some light into my life.

Oh by the way, why do I play the open strings and then the second "fret" bar chord in a dotted quarter-quarter-eighth-eighth rest rhythm? Not sure, but I like it. I think that those chords that McCoy Tyner was getting into with Coltrane, which are now part of the standard vocabulary are beautifully rich. My tuning is a pentatonic scale + 1 fifth. So it has a lot of tonality in it. On the unfretted records compilation http://www.cdbaby.com/fretlessguitarists I do the same tune and I am playing all the other instruments myself except sax. For the CD release party I did the same groove with Gene Lake, who tore it up. There is a video of that on Youtube. If you can check out the album Anthony Braxton put out with Muhal Richard Abrahms in 74, there is a sick track that has a similar rhythm as the base. Oh and for the next disc, expect to hear some cool melodies and permutations, of the same thing.

Peace...

BCM

pps. as for the technique, I'll use the mircotones at the right time and place, I'm too new of a student yet. And I believe really strongly in the metaphysics of number alchemy, so I'm not taking it too fast. Right now I'm studying Kepler, Lubicz, hindu temple architecture, plato, basically in the vein of gaining a knowledge of the architecture, numerically, of the universe, which can then be expressed artistically, the fruits of which will not surely manifest for 40 years. But dig music! It's that damn deep!

Edited by Ben Miller
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Hey Ben,

I do a lot of composing (mostly for piano), so I'll offer some thoughts on what I hear. B)

"Bump": very cool riff, great dissonance... I would not play it more than four times. You build on it in "Boom", but I would make that the fifth measure of the first song. Then it's developing and going somewhere. By the time we get to "Bang", I hear what the first two tracks should be--a development of that main riff/theme. I would love to hear some jazz soloing (on any instrument) over that riff.

Those are just MY thoughts, I don't want to tell you that your vision is wrong, as I'm an artist too and I know it's frustrating when people don't get it. :D

Right now I'm studying Kepler, Lubicz, hindu temple architecture, plato, basically in the vein of gaining a knowledge of the architecture, numerically, of the universe, which can then be expressed artistically, the fruits of which will not surely manifest for 40 years. But dig music! It's that damn deep!

I don't deny that there is a deeply intellectual side to music. That's a very exciting pursuit for us music eggheads. B) BUT... remember that the common folk love music too. In my opinion, the best music speaks not only to the music geeks, but to the average non-musical person too. As much as I love "complex" music, I'm finding more and more that I think the best music is beautifully simple. Take a 2-voice fugue by Bach: the interaction of the voices is complex I suppose, but if you listen to one voice, it's just a melody roving too and fro, with an ebb and flow of tension.

Now take Debussy. You don't always have a singable one-line melody... but often the movement of the texture (with ebb and flow of tension) replaces the melody and you still hear a story being told.

Music is about cadence... that is, growing tension coming to resolution... which is why bad jams get boring, when the group doesn't follow each other with dynamics and color... music is never stable until the cadence point. ;)

For myself, I love music with a good texture or a good groove, and I don't need anything else. But I think MELODY is what makes music.

Melody is intuitive, not intellectual.

I'm not criticizing you or trying to be condescending... just offering some thoughts about the accessibility of music. I'm sure you've thought through all this already. Good luck. :D

Edited by Geo
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Well, it's interesting that he came back here to defend himself, sort of, so at least it's not pure spam.

Still, bursting in on our cozy lil' cocoon here is not the greatest way to sell yourself. Put a negative veil over your music before I even heard it. Nothing special there. Certainly nothing pioneering. It's all been done before, some of it was done 50-60 years ago already. Why can't it be enough simply to make your music, without having to puff yourself up pretending to be something avant-garde/innovative? Well, you're young yet, if you're truly intelligent, you'll get over all this intellectual hoohaw.

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At the very least you could have read throught he forum and found there actually is a muscians section! My computer took such offense that it won't let my listen to it! and then it did!

If I had to pigeon hole this in three words... tryhard self indulgence and i only got as far as the end of that horrendously eq'd bass bit on the first track.

"I could have made a nice version of Greensleeves but that's not where my head's at" pity that might have been a better idea.

Harsh perhaps but I have listened to to many musicians talk like that its boring.

Edited by joshvegas
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I am sorry if my post was offensive, if it was...

I agree also with subsequent posts too. I read this before listening...

American fretless pioneer Ben Miller explores his developing expressive language on his 2008 release, “True Son,” a record of solo guitar work. Featured on Unfretted Records’ “Village of the Unfretted,” and New York Fretless Guitar Festivals I & II, Ben is making a name for himself among the young generation of players dedicated to pushing the boundaries. On "True Son", Ben delivers 11 tracks of intense, introspective improvisation and abstract sound environments. Ben says, "This recording was meant to sound raw. It is raw. My goal is that the listener feels like they're in the room with me. It is an intimate, stripped down session, and a very honest statement of my higher self.” The disc runs 56 minutes.

“The utmost mission of Mind is to train our obscure consciousness which has emerged out of the dark prison of Matter, to enlighten its blind instincts, random intuitions, vague perceptions till it shall become capable of this greater light and this higher ascension. Mind is a passage, not a culmination.” - Sri Aurobindo

phrases like...

a very honest statement of my higher self

and...

developed on the streets of the U.S.A.

catch the eye, but it shouldn't just be blurb, it should reflect in the music. The act of making it or sharing it actually in the room with you may have a different effect, but that is not possible on "CD Baby". So we are left only with these words of intent and the music itself.

You indicated an intellectual and spiritual door in which to approach the music, so that is what I did. I am not suggesting that I could do better, but you did ask for opinion! There is a players corner for this kind of thing but I am glad to see you return and this wasn't just a hit and run post.

Why can't it be enough simply to make your music, without having to puff yourself up pretending to be something avant-garde/innovative? Well, you're young yet, if you're truly intelligent, you'll get over all this intellectual hoohaw.

In all seriousness, this is in large part true. Some have taken 40 years to get out of this with some results, while others have made equally enlightening music as a child's first encounter with a piano or guitar. However, a child does not record these things for others to buy nor defend it with abstract notions.

But this should not deter you, what ever inspires you. Along the way, you have developed already a good technique, intonation and swing. Perhaps this is not indicative of what you can do, or where your music is heading.

Music is about cadence... that is, growing tension coming to resolution...

This I tend to agree with, but intellectually is white noise....ok, lets not go there...

Melody is intuitive, not intellectual.

This I am not sure of entirely. We all learn some scales or vocabulary, a few chords at least and often through trial and error what works and what doesn't. There is an intellectual side to this, or at least academic...just as we need words and sentence structure and punctuation to be effective in getting our messages across. Even if we don't learn, we absorb expectations and enjoy variations (false cadences). Our music does tend towards a climax and release, the expectation is that the "climax" of a melody will be a high note (as a generality), or in rare occasions a low note, and the melodic drive is towards this climax and it's resolution. So, you can dissect things intellectually and find these things to be generally true. However, you have to put the vocabulary and grammar aside to create a melody with a meaning. The meaning is not in the words so much as the way they are put together and said as much as anything.

Melody is not everything either, some cultures would say rhythm is everything, others have heavily accentuated harmony and textures or sound (throat singing, for instance). Pure melody can have all of these aspects and this is why Bach was such a master, controlling melodic contour, rhythm, texture and implying harmony.

To me, music is the structuring of sound and the most effective is one which takes a language that I understand and uses it to create something interesting for me.

I think there is a time and place to explore things intellectually as a means to develop new languages and words. Really though, there is something attractive about playing with ideas in the mind and seeing where that might lead.

I offer this some time ago on this forum...

The Secret Life of Pentatonics and the Chromatic Scale

perhaps the wrong audience :D

However, looking deeper into what makes a good melody or the structure of a five note scale and how it can be combined or the pattern rearranged, in this case to reveal Quartal Harmony is valid. How so...listen to the most popular and accessible and masterful work of Jazz, Miles Davis's "kind of blue". A combination of intellect expressed with simplicity by musicians who could rise above the intellect of it to create something simply beautiful and right.

Anyway...it is good to see people aspire to more, but the pretensions and intellect should probably be left at the door when it comes to selling music. Asking for critiques is only going to open that door back up again and be judged by it's intent. As you stated the intent was an expression of one humans "higher self" you were really asking a lot of the music. To reinforce that you quoted spiritual philosophy and really I had a reason to expect a lot more from the music than that...

When I first heard "Kind of Blue" I thought I was looking in on an expression of a higher self, and still after very close listening and study of this years ago it has that effect on me. This is more what one should aspire to IMHO...

Still, what do I know!

pete

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Melody is not everything either, some cultures would say rhythm is everything, others have heavily accentuated harmony and textures or sound (throat singing, for instance). Pure melody can have all of these aspects and this is why Bach was such a master, controlling melodic contour, rhythm, texture and implying harmony.

Hm, that's true. I suppose I was thinking of "typical" western music (say a classical symphony, a romantic piano piece, a good rock n' roll tune). I suppose my statement came from this feeling... the EASIEST way to create accessible music is to create a good melody. The masters can do it with other mediums perhaps. And I don't discount the place of a good groove or good texture... You're right though, Bach's lines imply so much more than the plain old notes themselves!

I think when I said "melody is intuitive not intellectual", I meant what creates a good melody and what listens to it. The part that creates and appreciates melody is intuitive. Of course any melody can be analyzed based on scales and/or harmony beneath it, but the ear doesn't really care if something is a "non-harmonic-tone" or "appogiatura" or "passing tone". The ear looks for contour and the ebb and flow of tension. That's what I think anyway.

Theory is certainly a crucial tool for most people. I don't know where I'd be if I didn't have the grasp of theory that I do. It helps me everyday. BUT... think of the Beatles. Allegedly, they couldn't even read music! :D And thinking of Bach again... (I've heard or read) that he wrote his melodies melodically; that is, he wasn't thinking tonally, wasn't thinking "my progression will go I IV ii V V/vi vi" or something. In chorales for example, he wrote each voice according to his rules of voice-leading and within a key: he wrote linearly, not vertically.

So theory is a tool, but it's math. Music is not math but expression. :D That's why blue notes work. I don't know if you could mathematically analyze the shifting frequencies of a blue note. But it grabs your ear.

But this should not deter you, what ever inspires you.

Absolutely. If an intellectual/spiritual approach to music is what turns you on, then that's what you should do. Just beware that only the music eggheads will find it accessible. B)

The trouble is, the concept of "avant garde" is no longer avant garde, if you see what I mean. It's no longer special to be special--no longer different to be different. This is why, for me personally, I search for simplicity (sometimes) and a clear melodic contour. Of course I like to write new colors "underneath", but I try not to sound too high-brow. And I try not to write static music, or music that develops and develops with lots of dissonance but never reaches SOME kind of resolution. There is nothing more exciting than a harmonically unexpected cadence or resolution. B)

Obtuse music has been written, and it's difficult to listen to. Music has to go somewhere. As my chorale director said, "music is always becoming more dot dot dot..." (insert adjective)

Anyway, this is getting rather off-topic... but it was off topic to begin with! ;)

Edited by Geo
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Good reply Geo and the whole thread is a little off topic...I see no guitar building... :D

My music degree was a little unorthodox. Even though you had to have music theory and reading down and play an instrument, they started out by throwing that all away and looking at what exactly is music. If you think that it is a structuring of sound for intent (even John Cage's famous 3 minutes however many seconds of silence is in fact the sound of the audience reaction to a pianist walking on stage, opening a piano and not playing it!). I remember the frustration of having to devise a composition from the chance numbers on our student card!!!

In many ways they went backwards from atonal 12 tone work in the first year to 16 century 4 part counterpoint in the third year. What was interesting to me is that chorale music and the "language" of Bach was very formulated and "mathematical" (one should note that he repetitively tried to fit his name into pieces with the notes b,a,c,h (h being Bb in german at the time)), yet as we studied all the voice leading rules (which are different from a lot of "classical harmony that came later) we asked, "how did he/they come up with this formula?". The answer is that when Bach and others were doing this, there were no rules but developed over time and intuition and with a lot of thought this was eventually codified into rules, they had no formula when they were righting it, even though there was a very strong underlying logic, it was a logic that they "heard" inside.

Blues music also breaks a lot of rules and doesn't adhere to them. Early blues were rarely 12 bars in length for instance. It was only later standardized and formulated.

On blue notes and getting a little bit closer to this topic, the fretless guitar gives the opportunity to explore the notes between the frets. Listen to a bulgarian women's choir, the harmonies are truely astonishing exploiting effectively blue notes of harmony! There is an opportunity to play harmony and melody that more follows the harmonic series than the compromise of equal temperament that only came into being in Bach's time.

Even though such things can be looked at intellectually and understood after the fact, you don't need to be schooled in the blues or live in bulgaria to appreciate these things, though it helps in creating it if you absorb the sound or to know the thirds and fifths can or should be flattened for this effect.

I agree though with what you are saying to a large extent but it is naive to suggest that anything is purely intuitive. Melody or the words we speak come from culture and listening enjoying and rejecting what we here and imitation. A babies grasp of language is not intuitive, and a cry while possibly is, is not always the best means of expressing complex ideas. However, behind all our words there is still a cry and a laugh or a gasp of shock or a coo of love. Often people who profess to be seeking a "higher self" look to impose more structure instead of less. So, in some expressions a cry or a laugh is more powerful than any words we can come up with. So, much of the music that touches us most deeply is the simplest and most direct and operates on the most simple principles. Blues and Rock and even "kind of blue" (coming out as a rejection of the complexity and speed of bebop) prove that, as did folk and popular song which was far more popular and common in the era of the classical masters. Little survived of course as they didn't write it down, but the facts remain and that the most innovative music seems always to have emerged from this playground of ideas...

pete

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I'm a bit wary of statements that start with "Music is..." or "Melody is..." --it's just hard to blanket all the possibilities of what music might be with statements like that. Try more qualified phrases like "Western must tends toward...." or "Experimental music often has a healthy quotient of self-congratulatory masturbatory uncertainty..." :D

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it was a logic that they "heard" inside.

THAT'S what I was trying to say. And you're absolutely right that that "logic" is informed by the musical culture from which we come. Thanks for illuminating my idea. B)

Listen to a bulgarian women's choir,

Yes, that's a terrifying sound! :D

On blue notes and getting a little bit closer to this topic, the fretless guitar gives the opportunity to explore the notes between the frets.

As I think about it, I'd like to build a simple fretless guitar just to mess around. I've heard microtonal guitar music and it is very bizarre to a tonal ear. It made some of the people in my class feel sick! I liked it though, as I'm pretty open-minded.

PSW, your degree sounds very interesting. It sounds like they took you in the exact opposite direction that my program takes me. We start with Bach and classical for a grounding, Rennaissance to Romantic the next school year, and then 20th and 21st centuries.

I remember the frustration of having to devise a composition from the chance numbers on our student card!!!

Oh, I don't like that! :D But then again, I don't care for atonality or twelve-tone music. I tend to prefer "well-veiled tonality", if you will. B) Ives and Debussy are two of my favorites.

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PSW, your degree sounds very interesting. It sounds like they took you in the exact opposite direction that my program takes me. We start with Bach and classical for a grounding, Rennaissance to Romantic the next school year, and then 20th and 21st centuries.

Yes it was pretty cool and confronting...it has now completely gone and taken over by medical science...seriously, no more music!

The idea was to try and clear the head compositionally of preconceptions...did a lot of tape manipulations (this was before sampling of course). I remember submitting a composition made from a wolf's howl on miles of 1/4 inch tpae (forwards, backwards, sped up,down and physically cut and taped back together) with 10 reel to reels with some loops as long as the room and back (looped around a pencil taped to a desk) and played in real time! A+

It really put a lot of strain on the classical based players. Improvisors were a little better and a few really good jazz players came out of the course. I went through three years with the drummer from "the saints" who even mickguard might no :D

As I think about it, I'd like to build a simple fretless guitar just to mess around.

I have a bunch of cheap guitars (actually, way to many so if anyone is in Melbourne Australia, contact me for a very cheap new guitar...various kinds...ooppss...wrong section). There is an underground unfretted forum where people hang out...there is their own kind of following.

The key is fairly thick strings and a higher action...or so it seems. Many use a sustainer (as Vai did in that clip) as it overcomes the sustain problem and makes it more versatile, IMHO. There are a range of fretless ethnic instruments.

I have been thinking of taking a cheap guitar and simply sanding off the frets (leaving the tangs as markers) but perhaps leaving some on lower down to allow chords or something. A DIY sustainer should not be too dificult if you remove all but the bridge pickup. Jaco did some inspiring unfretted stuff on bass..."bright sized life" by pat metheny was a cool record with a young jaco before I knew who he was.

Atonal music requires a "trained ear" but I am kind of with mickguard....why should the effort be made. A little novelty is a good thing, too much and it sounds like noise! That said, I enjoy rap music that mashes sounds together that works from familiarity and rhythm rather than any tonal rules per se~

Music is where you find it...opps, sorry, another "music is" statement...hahhaha

pete

Oh yeah...Ben millers guitar has a metal fretboard and a lot of people use actual glass boards! The idea is very similar to a slide. Perhaps a slide guitar is the ultimate fretless...get one and ignore the frets!

Ohhh yeah...and that bulgarian sound...I had heard these big choirs but a few weeks ago on the radio a trio of women singing simple folk songs (no instruments) made spine chilling harmonies and melodies with only three voices live between interviews and it is simply amazing. Jeff beck is exploring some of these things with the use of a vibrato arm or slide...check out the track Nadia for a melody with unusual scale ideas, major when things ascend, minor going down...beautiful and accessible, a symptom of the changes in the UK music scene no doubt. Plus you can dance to it!

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