05/24/19 by Jesse Griffith

Day 24

Learning that most fear is a construct and all of our worries will be meaningless. Receive the gifts that Mother Nature gives and replenish them, in return it is love, life and creativity that we must choose over hatred, cruelty and destruction.

I have this thought that keeps appearing as a residual to a few years of processing and mourning the deaths of some dear people. The sudden and unexpected passing of my father, the suicide of an uncle two days before my dad and the long suffering of a best friend sick with cancer who chose the medically assisted route. Each one of these holds a life worth of lessons and teachings. The reoccurring thought is that every worry and stress each of us carries can dictate so much suffering of our everyday living. These things simply vanish when the lights of life are turned off. The remainder, what is left, are the kind moments and the virtues of one’s existence passed along as the good deeds of strangers, the smallest smile when you’re down or the timeliest acknowledgement that we are not so alone. This is leaving me to believe that people are generally good. Things are not portrayed this way in the big media corps and fast food frenzy life has become swallowed up in. These are all reflections and takeaways from another session of discovery. Everyday has new challenges contrasted by gifts of insight and new music being born.

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05/23/19 by Jesse Griffith

Day 23

“The artist: disciple, abundant, multiple, restless

The true artist: capable, practicing, skillful;

maintains dialogue with the heart, meets things with the mind.

The true artist: draws out from all the heart, works with delight, makes things calm, with sagacity, works like a true Toltec, composes objects, works dexterously, invents;

arranges materials, adorns them, makes them adjust.

The carrion artist: works at random, sneers at the people, makes things opaque, brushes across the surface of the face of things, works without care, defrauds people, is a thief.”

-Aztec

"Songs are thoughts, sung out with the breath when people are moved by great forces & ordinary speech no longer suffices. Man is moved just like the ice flow sailing here and there in the current. Thoughts are driven by a flowing force when he feels joy, when he feels fear, when he feels sorrow. Thoughts can wash over him like flood, making his breath come in gasps & his heart throb. Something like an abatement in the weather will keep him thawed up. And then it will happen that we, who always think we are small, will feel still smaller. And we will fear to use words. But it will happen that the words we need will come of themselves. When the words we want to use shoot up of themselves - we get a new song."

- Statement by Orpingalik, Netsilik Inuit

Both excerpts from Technicians of the Sacred

I have been asked a few times, "Why are you doing this?"

The cynic in me would reply, "Why do anything?"

A clear calling, a creative performance and endurance challenge. I also enjoy the hell out of the guitar and want to provide people to hear sounds in a unique setting and space. I want to share the sounds I have unearthed that dispel the norm or cliched "licks" and "riffs" that are like the stagnant waters of the guitar. Nothing against those sounds, they played a significant part to my development that I am proud to acknowledge. Underneath though, lies a deeper search for understanding and truth, a sound that cycles and drowns. A sound that I can hear and am attempting at all costs to get out. Immersing myself in a space and time that allows for little distraction, that has a pleasing tone that does not live inside the comforts of my home. Nature isn't so structured as to contain neatly compartmentalized verses and choruses, nor does this music. Tapping into a source, a well to drink from and to water the garden for growth.

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05/22/19 by Jesse Griffith

Trying to keep trusting intuition and the creation of resilience.

As the strong winds pick up I am noticing the sonic variances that the tide is responsible for. This is a brand new discovery. It is astonishing. Today's heavy fogged high tide creates a sunken sound which poses a challenge in getting the melodies to rise above the low air mass. Even the usually light and fluttering birds singing that rings throughout the cave are masked and anchored by the weight contained in the salt air. It’s a struggle to dig deeper into the instrument to produce the desired sounds but this is often the nature of things. “Accept the things you cannot change.” That is my take-a-way from all the religious doctrines I endured.

Similar weather conditions are expected for the next session, so my aim is to travel into the darkest minor tuning I have and use the weight and lower registered sounds to my advantage. Rather than fight and struggle, I want the process to flow downstream on a river and use the variables (broken fingernails, wind, fog, rain, cold, tide, vehicles, etc..) to harness whatever sound that wants to come alive. To explore the hardships of existence and realize that the nature of it all can be looked upon as a gift, and every challenge an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve.

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05/21/19 by Jesse Griffith

Thoughts aren’t made of concrete but they can build some great walls.

Along with the regiment of performing for 3 months as an installation in the Camera, I’ve wanted to implement some breathing work into my routine. This project has been the perfect outlet to be consistent in adopting the Wim Hof method readily available to everybody. Doesn’t require money or any supplemental things, just 20 minutes and an open mind. It gets pretty deep, but there is no worry or stress. Fear, anxieties and depressive thoughts fade away like magic.There is even laboratory research proving this method triggers our immune system to go to work at repairing ourselves. It positively informs every thought and interaction I have in a given day. So often we get triggered by something and it can derail us instantly. Since incorporating his method the moments of turmoil which could reverberate in my system for hours and even days simply vanish, while the positive things can soar to new heights and uplift the darkest of days.

Inside the cold, dark and damp cavern aching from a day of farm duties, I unpack my guitar, slide the wicker box I use for a chair and immerse myself into sound and partake in another session of exploration, experiment and joy. Allowing whatever comes to flow, letting go of any expectations. It is a joy to unwind on this level and a thrill just to make music.

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05/20/19 by Jesse Griffith

Cold rain dancing on parabolas on a backdrop that can’t wash the fingerprints of ghosts’ fear away, they must be tamed.

Most of my time is spent searching for the song from the innocent heart that keeps me alive. The song is elusive and always just beyond reach. How do we get there? How do we know it even exists? A few days after discovering this "Wandarian" mode/technique, I was doing some work deep down a logging road in the middle of the bush a long way from anywhere and anyone. It was in the midst of an autumn afternoon when I had a visitor in the form of a white wolf. I saw him twice that day and never again, he directed me towards a magnificent maple tree in full foliage. I could feel the bright intense glow of the sun yellow leaves pulsating. The glean was tangible as I attempted to walk away, but it kept calling me back. So I turned around to this marvel and succumbed to the awe. There was a lasting exchange of energy.

Often we forget to appreciate the little things life has to offer. The gifts that potential brings are endless. This maple tree in a forest of a million trees was there to illuminate something inside of me. My own sacred tree, the great symbol of the gifts that Mother Nature provides from the fruit to shelter, warmth to transportation, shade to delicacy, air and nests and song and beyond.

These kind of in-tune events give me reassurance, affirmation of the ether and the wonderment of each moment and showing me the courage it takes to thrive, grow a little bit each day and adapt to the surroundings and seasons that turn beyond our hands of control. The thing about being closed minded is it doesn't allow anything to penetrate in but it also blocks the outflow. We create and manifest our own suffering. If one stops to take time from the daily grind of societal expectation and convention to stop and take breaths and enjoy the presence of unspoken wisdom’s that lie at every turn of the way, things would be simpler. Find happiness in these small, precious moments. Doing something for others always raises happiness.

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05/19/19 by Jesse Griffith

"Transcend everyday, then go about your life." - David Lynch

Witnessing the grasses and plant life rise and twist to orientate themselves towards the sun looks to me like they are trying to teach us something. Seeing the subtle changes before my eyes, watching as the buds open up and absorb light. This project is reinforcing and enabling a lot of beneficial tranquil moments that allow not only for reflection inside but also to look out and into the beyond.

I am constantly surprised by what the physical space has to offer on an emotional level, aside from my original purpose of simply uncovering and researching the sonic properties and the music making / creating. Stepping into the main room is isolating and dark. Confronting alone-ness while looking at the world through a lens. Learning that through uncovering, facing and overcoming our own unique sufferings can activate the best in those around us. Getting rid of baggage, traits or habits that no longer serve. Allowing for and experiencing the limitlessness of peace that is obtainable to anyone who seeks it. Deriving inspiration from the natural world alongside the work of hands.

I listened to a revealing David Lynch conversation this morning and it was inspiring hearing him discuss his 46 years of experience in the practice of meditation and the potentials of having this and similar modalities in our daily lives. I am discovering some of these potentials in this process and always feel better after the exercise.

These are a few words that came to me before I embarked on this project, they seem appropriate:

To reconcile all the cruelty

90 days of routine obscurity

To share the pain and joy

On both sides of six strings

All the tides and in-between

A vessel into exploring unto

The depths of seeing out and into

Of knowing and unknowing

To overthrow the status quo

Finding peace in the doing so

And tranquility in just being

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05/18/19 by Jesse Griffith

Electric Wandarian

The performances continue to inspire an endless supply of ideas. This has always been a fear, and I’ve lived with the feeling that if I don’t play everyday, it will all slip away.

I am writing before today's Obscura session as this evening I am heading into the studio to finally mix a record. For the last 8-9 months I have been labouring away at an electric Wandarian album. Initially I didn't have much intended as I didn't know how the technique would translate to the electric guitar. I had one early on half-hazard attempt going electric and it sounded dull so I gave the idea up, never thought much about it again. I like the limitations of making these sounds simply with the acoustic instruments. I am not certain what compelled me, but on the evening of November 18th, 2018, I had a session booked to record a set of classical guitar material in the Camera, which I did, I aim to release this at some point. However, Charles arrived early that afternoon and I my set up my amp and my old 65 Jaguar all set up and just to see what would happen, he threw up a mic or two and pressed record.

I tracked about 6 or 7 songs, an hour of material that afternoon and gently explored the possibilities of an electric album. I kept going deeper. I found an inroad when I altered another capo. This tool allows for subtle and drastic variances of tone, feel and vibe. The album is comprised of 3-4 different sessions with unique setups for each. A few surprises along the way a few revelations and a myriad of new future directions to head in. The amount of work I have put into the electric album is astonishing, but it is my favorite kind of work - exercising passion.

The parameters are still firmly in place. No overdubs, no effects (other than reverb) and all single performance takes. Using the Jaguar with it's bloody high action, the original threaded bridge and my trusty and road worn AC 30 and Deluxe amps in stereo, the platform for sound is up to my hands, heart, imagination and other. Most guitarists like to make things easier with their equipment. My approach is often to make it harder, use heavier strings, record in non-studio environments, open up the unexpected. It forces me to dig in deeper for the notes and not to overplay.

Most pieces begin with a few plucks of the strings behind the capo. This is how I "tune" the capo, adjusting the tension is vital for the type of sound, resonance, timbre, tone, pitch and feel, all of which I can control and alter before and during a performance. After a few small turns and a couple tries to get it just so, then I can begin. Right away this puts me in what feels like an "other state."

Using two different tunings I've developed over the last few years the moods and atmospheres are limitless. Teamed with an entire fret board of capo placement options I feel like a child learning about the galaxies. The music that comes from my experimenting recording sessions has a different kind of exuberance, a DIY lo-fi rawness that shakes things up. Some may feel uncomfortable at some moments, but without that tension there can't be beauty. It is all about contrast and balance. Charles Austin (engineer) said it sounds as if "Two brothers are playing mbiras - thumb pianos, who are dueling back and forth. They love each other to the core but there is conflict, resolution and potential joy."

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05/17/19 by Jesse Griffith

Day 17

Rattles and shakes, trance states, the marovany and MONJA

If it were't for a blitz attempt at another Turnstiles record in May of 2015, I would not have stumbled upon the sounds of the wandarian mode. Record making involves some downtime during setup changes or when someone is trying to hone a part in. My favorite person to make records with is Charles Austin and to toss albums and artists back and forth is always a fruitful ear opening delight. The serendipity of these circumstances makes me wonder a bit deeper. The Turnstiles' second album remains shelved, sadly, but I am forever grateful for everything that went down.

He sent me packing with a playlist of about 150 songs, from a lot artists I could not pronounce. A lot of field recordings from Madagascar. Group vocal songs with only shakers or bone rattles for accompaniment, wooden flute pieces, a few guitar sounding songs. It was a new world to me, but deeply familiar. Up until then I was only ever aware of the music coming out of West Africa. The sounds from Madagascar are filled with wonder, joy and a rawness I have yet to hear anywhere else. A fascinating history developed in the world's largest island due to the influence from trade routes. Deeper in the playlist I came to a sound that I had never heard before in this flesh life a connection I felt instantly and a fascination that still pours inspiration over me and into what I am reaching for with the guitar. I knew it wasn't a fretted instrument, I didn't even believe these sounds were coming from one person.

The marovany is a hand made parallelipipedal hollow wooden box with openings at each end. Each musician constructs to their own needs, using whatever supplies are at hand. Two courses of strings on each side of the box sit atop individual wooden bridges, maneuvered for tuning. The metal strings are old brake cables unwound from bicycles or clutch cables from motorbikes. I am not certain how they are fashioned to the box or how they get up to tension. There is not a single widespread tuning, it is up to the individual and depends on which area they live. A lot of mystery lies in this music. The instrument and its music is used as a connecting link between the world of the living and the world of the dead.

Using the thumb and index fingers of each hand is how the kora is played in West Africa. The marovany player uses this same basic idea but can throw in additional fingers for chording and otherwise. The music that comes from these highly stylized players is awe inspiring, trance inducing and unlocks the body to move and dance as the mind is freed to connect with natural states. Used in ceremony, gatherings and everyday life I fell in love with this music.

Like many cultures around the globe, there is a sacred side and a secular side. The traditional music of Madagascar formed its identity with influences from various horizons: the Austronesian peoples on the one hand, and African, Arab and European migratory populations on the other. There are over 18 ethnic groups in Madagascar. I personally am drawn to the rustic traditional sounds from solo performers and smaller groups ensembles.

Out of these traditions is Monja. Mahafay Gege Monja, born in 1970 in Ambovombe Androy. He inherited his gifts as a musician and healer from his mother who took him to "tromba" - gatherings devoted to divination, healing the sick and exorcism. I tracked down this album made of solo marovany instrumentals performed by Monja. I do not know how or why, but instantly in the first few seconds I was immediately captivated. I still am. He is regarded highly in his country and in the last few months I recently learned he has other sides along to his mastery of this traditional instrument. He also leads and sings in a Malagasy pop band, complete with auto-tuned vocals and music videos. He seems to go by a few different names, he is an enigma.

The album I have is from 2001, recorded in Tananarive. There sounds to me to be ultimate freedom in his playing, similar to a lot of the kora music I love but a bit more reckless sounding. That is something I have been seeking my entire life on the guitar. Initially the performances sound wild, raw, unexpected twits and rhythmic turns with dizzying melodies cycling around and back again. Improvisation is there I imagine but so are defined "tunes." Where those lines are I am not certain. I don't like the term virtuoso as it implies a show-off-y flamboyance in Western society, but Monja certainly has a deep grasp of the instrument and the development he has undergone is even more impressive.

Two more recent videos from Small Island, Big Song available on youtube show Monja comfortably sitting in a courtyard, children up on balconies overlooking and a woman dancing in her chair next to Monja sitting on the ground. Maybe 13-14 years after the album his playing is graceful, elegant but without losing any of the excitement and flurries of the earlier work. There is gentle harmonic development that is not found in his earlier work, and space that is so beautiful. He then starts singing of the 200 or so views these videos received I reckon at least half of them are mine, the other Charles.

I by no means can play marovany music on the guitar, (check out D’Gary for that) but I am inspired and have found this two handed approach to be in the realm of what I am experimenting with.

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05/16/19 by Jesse Griffith

Day 16

Some distractions can deter a day's intent. Managing these dynamics really plays a role in my efforts to output. I have to practice pursuance, especially as self doubt creeps in. I can catch it quickly now and make the decided effort to plow onward no matter how loud or cruel that voice is. That voice was loud yesterday. I try to channel it towards my objectives and use it for motivation rather than self destruction.

The concept and practice of meditation is gaining main stream popularity these days, which is beautiful until it is made into a commodity and violated by marketers. The most liberating practices require nothing but time and a conscience space that opens one up to exploration. For my own benefit, fresh outside air is important. My phone turned off or left behind, and no obligations for a solid 20-30 mins.

My introduction to this world was in grade 4, in a small tight-knit French Immersion class from Madame Hebert. It was later in the afternoon, she had us all bring out the gym mats and clear the desks back. The blinds were closed and the fluorescent lights were shut off. For the next 20 minutes she put a spell on all of us. She had us floating on a cloud, putting us in touch with our bodies and then letting that body slip away. I will never forget the euphoria and the remarkable shift in everyone in the class for the remainder of the days. That year was special for this entrance into another realm in a most unlikely rural elementary school.

I never kept the practice up until a few years ago, not purposely anyway. It was when I was bedside to a dying man in severe pain. Agony I could not comprehend. Sleep was no longer possible. Each breath was a terrifying grimace, yet it was my best friend that shared his technique of meditation to work through any amount of suffering. It was incredible to witness. The radio was shut off, talking was too much energy. He loved hearing me play guitar, and ordered me to do so. From the couch a few inches away from the hospital bed I could play at a whisper, my favorite volume. This happened to be the time I started working on a composition by the great kora master of Mali, Toumani Diabate. Elyne Road, from his Mande Variations record, transcribed by Derek Gripper who I began studying under. An album of such raw beauty If music could be perfect, this is as close as it gets. An album of solo kora. I had never heard anything so profound in my life. Hearing me work through the mechanics with hours of repetition and variation had tremendous calming effects on everyone. It gave me new found purpose and an opportunity to witness first hand the healing powers of music. So meditation, music, trance, healing it all coincided together into a life of awareness and healing. I never liked that word as it implies being broken, but that was my ego talking.

I had looked into studying formal "music therapy" in a post secondary setting and I was less than impressed with the scope of courses and departmental directions it laid out. That route was clearly not for me to follow. So I embark on it from another direction.

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05/15/19 by Jesse Griffith

The rain and fog brought memories of grief.

When something familiar suddenly is veiled by layers of cloud and you get lost in your own skin. You notice each pulse is there with purpose and machine-like endurance as it feeds the impulse that stems out of the blue blood and onto the world as reaction. A shaman in BC once told me to "observe yourself." Sounds so simple but it took a lot of time to ever sink in to any practical use. It became an important perspective to adopt. It remains important.

Some days grief just grabs a hold of you and there is nowhere to escape. It felt confrontational. I wrote a very simple lyric from of this place. "Don't let me go and I won't let you go." It acts more as mantra than song. I was broken when it came to me. I remember the moment the melody entered there was a clear exodus of trapped pain. Like a wound that leaves scars, it becomes a part of you. I certainly have mine to share. There are residuals to any healing.

I have been honing in on a unique tuning for a few years now, it seems to demarcate a different phase of life. From low to high, Eb G D G C Eb, it holds a heavy sound in the bottom end and has many mysteries in the upper range. I often get good and lost in this mode. Today was entirely captivating in this tuning. As rain dripped slowly onto the ground around me a natural rhythm set in. I allowed the sound to take a hold of me and do the voodoo. loosening myself into trance or similar type states of being.

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05/14/19 by Jesse Griffith

In the low single digits the tentacles of my fingertips are blindly reaching for sounds when all feeling has froze, slipped from reach. I overcome and continue.

The micro millimeters of tension and release of the capo dictate how much of the tone is revealed. A sixteenth of a turn too tight and I loose control, a fraction of that too loose and I get an unpleasing thud or buzz. I have generally been sticking closely to the tonal positions where harmonics are exposed. If I change capo positions to in-between two frets I get sounds that are atonal, outside of the divisions of the 12 tones of western music tradition but these margins offer valid places to explore. A feeling of uncharted territory is born in these places.

When the rains come hard like today, I relax deeper and know there will be no human audience. I can let loose any inhibitions and take any musical chance that happens to come. Playing outside the margins is the ultimate liberation and today I took the opportunity.

This piece was recorded after the deeper atonal excursions occurred.

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05/13/19 by Jesse Griffith

Low tide jams. Overcast skies with a clear mind. A perfect thirteenth day of May. Many songs explored and obscured.

A random taste of today:

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And a pic from the Obscura:

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05/12/19 by Jesse Griffith

Day 12 - Discipline of Rituals

I caught three words on the radio this afternoon, totally unaware of the context or who spoke them but they were, “…discipline of rituals.” They couldn’t be more fitting as I made my way up along the shore highway to Cheverie. This is a running theme for productivity in my life. I am sentimental and I thrive in routine. The entire impetus for the 90 days was that as February (2019) dawned on me I realized I hadn’t taken a day off since October 19th (2018). That happens to be my birthday ritual I have set aside for recording the start of a new Volume of WANDARIAN music. I’ve done that for three years running and aim to keep that going. If I could work my farm job tending large animals so consistently, surely I could perform music with the same steadfast rigor. The two activities are distinct, but both are passions that feed into one another. I am incredibly fortunate for both gifts. The husbandry grounds me, brings me into the present moment and enables emotional awareness through bonds I’ve developed with each animal. Pure spirits that take a lot of muscle and energy to tend. Keeps my body active, my mind free to wander, my soul replenished and my spirit free. Without fail, I always feel better after the day’s chores are complete.

This four directional balancing act (mind, body, spirit and soul) comes from a special book, more of a life guide I recommend for anyone open, The Sacred Tree. It has tools that if received and practiced bring about awareness, wisdom, love and respect into this world. I cannot recommend it enough.

Without knowing it, the 90 day mission has quickly become a ritual. It takes sacrifice, but so did learning the instrument in the first place as does working on a farm. With sacrifice comes appreciation and reward. I love playing in this space for it creates a sense of malleability upon the audience. Placing performer and listener on equal footing to hear the sounds as they escape from the guitar and enliven the different areas, in and around the structure.

I thought about mothers everyone and enjoyed playing with that intent.

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05/11/19 by Jesse Griffith

This is all a lesson in allowing whatever that comes settle in and flow.

Though I am stationary, sitting on a small wicker stool, eyes closed, heart open, I'm not sure where the mind is but it feels like flying. What curious equipment we have. This whole journey is turning out to be an investigation into what drives creativity out of me. A navigational ride from the cosmos through to the psyche and out the other side. A willingness to travel to the depths of existence and make a soundtrack for the trip.

I began playing guitar seriously at the age of 8 when my parents signed me up for lessons and along with that, made me practice for at least an hour a day. I was a horrible student. Tried quitting a few times, until grade 7 when I decided I had enough. I did quit. Made excuses to skip out on a month's worth of lessons where the nylon string Samick sat in the corner firmly in it’s soft shell case. Reluctantly I was dragged back for one more lesson. One more Tuesday night from 7:00-8:00. I had horrible anxiety and a feeling of bottomless guilt that ran from my head to the souls of my feet, pure dread. Something changed, all of a sudden, all the theory and reading and technical jargon I was immersed in enabled something else to take over, and from that point forward I had to be told to put the guitar down. The only talent I have is that of perseverance.

Every time spectators come to visit intentionally or haphazardly, the amount of positive feedback is worth every minute of struggle I endure. My own challenges are in allowing this positive feedback to really sink in. This part feels counter intuitive. A group of Quebecois travelers made for a delightful audience for much of today’s session. Getting to learn the intricacies of the space is allowing for some memorable sonic presentations. Posture, angles, attack, touch, feel, tide level, wind, birds, humidity and a myriad of other performance variables create an experience not unlike the mixing of an album. Putting a lot of effort into what our ears are able to hear. Curating a special moment from all the variables at hand, today was a fulfilling effort.

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05/10/19 by Jesse Griffith

Day 10

The cold rainy day could not keep me away from the mission. I don’t usually approach this music with clear intent, but today was a little different. A friend was undergoing a major surgery to remove cancerous tumors from her abdomen and colon. The only thing I could do was attempt to create sounds that would be soothing, easy on the ears and pleasing to the mood. Feeling the cold on my hands reaching down to the fingertips did not deter my determination. Each note had carried a lot of weight and in doing so, I achieved brand new themes and had profound depths of creation.

Very little for words today, other than I just found out the 8hr surgery was a success.

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05/9/19 by Jesse Griffith

1/9th through the performance / installation / process and I am invigorated by how much it has spawned, creatively it is hard to contain a grasp. Similar was the feeling when I first broke free from the trappings that were constructed over the last decade or so in the pursuance of the guitar as medium. The whole impetus happened to be on a dreadnought that had been tuned to open C for over a year. Something about that particular guitar and the big broad and deep clear ringing of that tuning had me fascinated for a long time. It conjured a piano type quality and like every alternate tuning there is so much to discover.

The Wandarian mode still feels exhilarating to explore. Up until this Concert Obscura series I was afraid to spend too much time in this territory. I was afraid of ruining the magic or not honouring the process fully and scared of lackluster results. Part of the 90 days is to put an end to such negative thinking and openly explore the limitless possibilities. I am learning so much on so many levels. Music, therapy, sound engineering, the juxtaposed struggle to find peace, quieting the mind and body, creativity and the process as well as a live performance routine.

I have learned that I am the hardest audience member to please. The mind goes to many places in these two hour sessions. Today was a real battle to remain focused as life tends to pile so much up. Observing the effects of thought or non-thought has on the outcome of the sound is a unique world to enter into. Sometimes the negative can channel extreme beauty, sometimes the positive thoughts do not allow me to fully develop and theme or idea. The meandering nothingness thoughts are the worst. They clutter and mask melody, don’t allow clear direction and purpose . Playing the guitar is one thing, taming the perpetual thought machine is an entirely different beast.

Today’s performance revolved entirely around the original open C tunings - one major and one minor. All of the material from Volume I was played on these tunings, the first hour today I spent immersed in those pieces, but with an evolved sense of containment versus the origins when I was exploding with the material. Also I am now using the nylon string guitar so the strings act and react in far different ways than that old steel string Fender.

The resonances inside and around the Obscura I have learned, are far greater and more pleasing to the ear with the nylon strings rather than steel. The nylon has a pure rise and fall to the wave, very soft to the touch and as the sound travels around unimpeded by right angles or corners the notes contain unique life forms all unto themselves. The steel strings on the other hand, have harsh attack, sharp ringing vibrations and do not contain the life or beauty of their counterpart.

I am excited to see what tomorrow brings.

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05/8/19 by Jesse Griffith

The slightest change in humidity can alter the life of the guitar from hour to hour. Leaving one leaning on a recliner in the sun porch overnight can muddy the tone dramatically. I can override this by digging in even deeper for producing sound, even if that means playing quieter. I am writing before my session for the first time, circumstances are such.

Music making has an element of perseverance in my years. I set roadblocks on purpose, to try for something extra to have to overcome. This has been a course of action for my entire life. I tend to thrive in the struggle and what can be achieved under less than ideal circumstances. I also like hearing some form of struggle in other artists as they’re trying to get somewhere as opposed to repeating something already there. Improvisation is a way of life. The idea that the more one limits themselves, the more freedoms we ultimately have to break these conventions and parameters.

It is all tension and release.

The article about El Duende is still total captivation. Alignment is all I have been striving for. Knowing that civilizations have been thinking- and sharing about these metaphysical realms and constellation patterns and cycles makes me feel less lonely. Music does the same. It has tangible traces and lineages no matter what modality or genre.

That is one of the deeper themes of this whole w a n d a r i a n thing. Busting through specific categorization, it is the soundscape to finding a new vocabulary on the instrument. I love how the guitar has so many voices and endless fascinations. Again, the idea of a rawer, border-less time.

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05/7/19 by Jesse Griffith

It began so clear. A dream as a photograph. A sound familiar as nesting birds in spring. The starlings collected at work. A spark that wind grew to fire. An ancient melody encoded in sound engulfed by stone covered by sky. A sea encroaches over dykes then retreats like nothing happened. The rocks tell the stories of our elders. We must learn and to learn is to listen, to listen is to hold the tongue and discover our truth. A voice on the wind only I can hear. To catch it in mid air and spin into song while learning to believe. Exercising the muscle of imagination that is so often taken from us. Bringing dreams into focus knowing what to aim for and mistakes and changing objectives,the nature of reality. Some things I can't explain. What initiates the seed of idea?

Music has been a tool in healing people for 50,000 years and likely many more. Like ancestral harps with rhythm from galloping horses and rattling of fresh shells and old dried hollow bones. The voice is masked and cloaking. Birds and wind don’t lie, nor does the sea or what lies truly deep inside. To mine the trenches of existence just to find a vein of truth to follow. There are many paths, but only you know when you stray. Words from my father , words I live by.

I stayed in a minor tuning to present a soundtrack for the clouds taking out a full afternoon sun. In with the coming tide., no where else to go. I found peace, that was all I was looking for.

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05/6/19 by Jesse Griffith

Day 6

From Wikipedia -

El duende is the spirit of evocation. It comes from inside as a physical/emotional response to art. It is what gives you chills, makes you smile or cry as a bodily reaction to an artistic performance that is particularly expressive. Folk music in general, especially flamenco, tends to embody an authenticity that comes from a people whose culture is enriched by diaspora and hardship; vox populi, the human condition of joys and sorrows.

According to Christopher Maurer, editor of "In Search of Duende", at least four elements can be isolated in Lorca's vision of duende: irrationality, earthiness, a heightened awareness of death, and a dash of the diabolical. The duende is an earth spirit who helps the artist see the limitations of intelligence, reminding them that "ants could eat him or that a great arsenic lobster could fall suddenly on his head"; who brings the artist face-to-face with death, and who helps them create and communicate memorable, spine-chilling art. The duende is seen, in Lorca's lecture, as an alternative to style, to mere virtuosity, to God-given grace and charm (what Spaniards call "ángel"), and to the classical, artistic norms dictated by the muse. Not that the artist simply surrenders to the duende; they have to battle it skillfully, "on the rim of the well", in "hand-to-hand combat". To a higher degree than the muse or the angel, the duende seizes not only the performer but also the audience, creating conditions where art can be understood spontaneously with little, if any, conscious effort. It is, in Lorca's words, "a sort of corkscrew that can get art into the sensibility of an audience... the very dearest thing that life can offer the intellectual." The critic Brook Zern has written, of a performance of someone with duende, "it dilates the mind's eye, so that the intensity becomes almost unendurable... There is a quality of first-timeness, of reality so heightened and exaggerated that it becomes unreal...".[3]

Lorca writes: "The duende, then, is a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought. I have heard an old maestro of the guitar say, 'The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet.' Meaning this: it is not a question of ability, but of true, living style, of blood, of the most ancient culture, of spontaneous creation." Lorca, in his lecture, quotes Manuel Torre: "everything that has black sounds in it, has duende." [i.e. emotional 'darkness'] ... This 'mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains' is, in sum, the spirit of the earth, the same duende that scorched the heart of Nietzsche, who searched in vain for its external forms on the Rialto Bridge and in the music of Bizet, without knowing that the duende he was pursuing had leaped straight from the Greek mysteries to the dancers of Cadiz or the beheaded, Dionysian scream of Silverio's siguiriya." ... "The duende's arrival always means a radical change in forms. It brings to old planes unknown feelings of freshness, with the quality of something newly created, like a miracle, and it produces an almost religious enthusiasm." ... "All arts are capable of duende, but where it finds greatest range, naturally, is in music, dance, and spoken poetry, for these arts require a living body to interpret them, being forms that are born, die, and open their contours against an exact present."[

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05/5/19 by Jesse Griffith

Day 5

The fog impaired vision this morning, reducing visibility to a few feet but opened the depths of internal sights for many miles.. The air was filled with stiff salt carrying mists of ghosts and playing tricks with echoes until high noon when the sun overtook leaving for a peaceful session.

I centered around two main themes that I were entirely improvised but fully formed, then explored and expanded upon for about 4o mins each. One densely layered piece danced around the stone walls and came back with more vigor than when the notes left my grasp. The top end frequencies were rounded with a clear attack but no harshness. I was in awe of the sounds. I discovered a new position that retains the body and initial tone without getting washed away in the natural ambiance.

The second piece was much more sparse, but focused around a moving repetitive harmonic sequence with a fragile melody on top. It contrasted nicely with the moving bass line, avoiding my tendencies to pulsate a single drone tonality. To have the freedom to work on these minutia is a wonderful gift. The ritual of getting to play uninterrupted for entire hours is allowing for deeper understanding of all things. Not only the technical aspects I am uncovering on a daily basis, or the harmonic and melodic content to explore, but the time is also allowing for conceptual, metaphysical, mind and soul uniting processes to mingle.

If ever I feel disconnected or at loss for inspiration, I head to the main chamber and close the heavy wooden doors. I take position below the projected image and look in complete wonder at the outside world. The slow moving pace of rural NS life, pictured on the floor. What thrill it is to see birds sail across the floor / sky, or the tide reflecting the stark blues. The haze that is created by the projection creates pastel type colouring, sometimes vague traces of the seascapes moving features contrasted by deep details that surface in portions of the image. Watching this living lens, taking a few full breaths and I am back in trance, and able to create freely and unhinged.

My objective was not to play any rehearsed song or figure today. I was able to provide this for about 90% of the time.

Observing that the mind was much quieter today, refreshingly so, after being seemingly trapped in undertows of fleeting thoughts perpetual, it was no wonder the music flowed clearly and with calming side effects,

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