Steve Ball Diary
 
Monday September 29 
Tuesday September 30 
Wednesday October 01 
Thursday October 02 
Friday October 03 
Saturday October 04 
Sunday October 05 
 
 
Read the archive
Monday October 06 
Tuesday October 07 
Wednesday October 08 
Thursday October 09 
Friday October 10 
Saturday October 11 
Sunday October 12

Monday September 29

Day: running around debugging a metadata problem with the Electric Gauchos CD -- seems AMG has the wrong GUID (Globally Unique IDentifier) for this CD?   Ug. 

Good news, soon this will be fixed.  Special thanks to JCanning and Bill Manion for championing use of EG for the upcoming Windows MCE launch event.  

* * *

Later: another inspiring dinner with PatR at Wasabi Bistro.  Among other excitements: brainstorming many ideas for SBBS marketing and distribution.   

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Tuesday September 30

Flight to Houston for presentations for HP tomorrow. 

Q: Texas - how do I love thee? 
A: Not.

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Wednesday October 01

All day visit to HP on the former Compaq habitrail campus.

Evening: driving to Austin for day two tomorrow with Dell.

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Thursday October 02

All day meeting at Dell, sans wireless access.   Oh to have a wireless LED keychain so I could tell when/where non-WEP hotspots are.   I know they exist, but why do I not yet own one? 

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Friday October 03


Afternoon: Audio team morale 'offsite' today.  Great to see these 35ish of the best audio technologists on the planet hanging together in a non-work environment.  These really are some exceptional people.  When I think back across the groups, bands, companies, projects, teams I've worked on over the years, this team is one of the best.

Also, good news: Morale mission accomplished. 

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Saturday October 04

Seattle Guitar Circle show at Hugo House on Capitol Hill.  A good show and a good showing for who we are and how we work.   Used this show as an opportunity to present some 'games' and story-telling based on the parallels between words (notes), sentences (phrases) and songs (stories).

Introduced "Word Circulation" game and was v. surprised by the coherent result from the 3 volunteers who were brave enough to take this on.

Circulations are a direct measure of group integration and 'intelligence.'

* * *

Evening: a boyz night out on the town with MS work pals, MitchR and NoelC.  A long-over due night out sans agenda other than have some fun.  And fun was had.  Some interesting if not surreal sights in the parking lot of the Hurricane at 4am.  Geeze.   Humans are strange animals.

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Sunday October 05

Forgot about this: Electric Gauchos "Cocktail Music" video (1.5M WMV) from 1997.  :) 

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home




Monday October 06


Belltown Jai Thai social evening and then quiet evening 'off' at home to recover from a v. busy weekend. 

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Tuesday October 07

Attended an all day class followed by an early evening meeting regarding what we will be allegedly cutting from our existing work items.   Mail from JoelP today suggesting that I write a "what, how, why" summary about the SB Box Set.   Great idea.   Many stories to tell - how to capture these in a way that does not force me to write these in slower than real time. 

Hmmm... wonder if I should look into voice capture sw again for dictation? Would this save me some time in, say, writing this diary?

I've stopped publishing this in real time so that sufficient time can pass before I post potentially dangerous, controversial, or emotionally charged entries here that could get me into more trouble than I'm already in from this 4+ year subjective snapshot of an allegedly creative life in action.

I can type failrly quickly, however, my mind still moves at about 20 times what my fingers are able to capture.  Could state of the art dictation engine help this ascii capture app keep up with my hypermind?  

Note to self: check with JackU, RalphL, and DMowatt on state of the art in dictation apps.

* * *


Wednesday October 08

Evening: fly to San Jose for meetings tomorrow.  Evening spent with my old boss and friend HillelC as well as JoeP, DonF in Cupertino.  A bit of bar hopping to find food after 10pm -- Hillel knew of a place near Apple that has now gone out of business, so we settle for a sports bar. 

Windows boys have fun flying south and exchanging stories of our recent and misspent youth in and outside of MS. 

Good people, great stories. 

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Thursday October 09

All day at HP in Cupertino. 

More meetings and exchange on current and future plans.   Feel blessed to be surrounded by so many super smart people for the majority of my waking hours.   Intelligence Immersion is the best school in the world - no classroom could replace the experience of being surrounded by intense critical thinkers 24/7.   

Evening: flying home. 

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Friday October 10

My sister (and her super cute Schnauzer, Elwood Blues), now visiting Seattle. 

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Volunteered to put a team together to deliver a Seattle Guitar Circle show on Oct 19th for Lucius Gabriel Meredith's Ngente at Town Hall.  I love the Town Hall venue soooo much - regardless of what happens with the musical part of the show, because this is such an incredible space, this process will be a joy.

In leaving the former Seattle Circle house, this sense of working in a space that is, in itself, inspiring was one of the primary motivators for me that made it very easy for me to say goodbye to a completely uninspiring house in Ballard.

When the musicians lose their enthusiasm (which is inevitable in any process, usually on the edge of the 3rd week of a process, or 2nd year in a longer process), falling back on the beauty, power, and acoustics built-in to a sacred space can carry the group or process forward in ways that the fallible, flakey humans alone cannot. 

Q: when the musician does not feel like practicing, what do do?

A: Find an inspiring work space and let just being in the space draw you into your practice.

Sometimes, the little details, acoustics, and/or beauty of a space can provide that extra spark of inspiration to get up and out of bed and hit the hallway to get the fingers (and spirit) moving on a regular basis. 

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Saturday October 11

Beginner's Circle - 7 bodies in the circle.

Work with division of attention this morning.  Beginning with the new "D-Warm-Up' which has three simple instructions:

1. Everyone in the circle begins playing only D's -- Tempo, rhythm, octave, are up to the individuals, but only D's are played for the first 1-3 minutes of the 'piece.' 

2. After this 'intro' section, each player is free to diverge and play whatever they need to play to warm their left and right hands as long as whatever they play:

a) is musical (i.e. sounds good)
b) complements everything else that is being played

3. The 'piece' ends when the group converges again back to 'unison,' simultaneious D's played in any octave, rhytham.

To an an audience hearing the 'D-Warm-Up' "piece", what is being played should be indistinguishable from (a pre-composed, well-rehearsed piece of) music.

I'll even go out on a limb to say that my mission in 2004 is to open every SGC rehearsal, show, group presentation with this kind of "Key-Warm-Up" (where Key = one selected note, not implying major, minor, or any scale - that unfolds from whatever the musicians tap into) work to both tune the musicians and audience with a flexible, never-played-the-same-way twice musical soundscape designed to alter the state of everyone in the room and 'clean the slate' before the show/rehearsal begins. 

This could not be done with a 'fixed' piece of repertoire or fixed sequence of notes that is spewed forward on auto-pilot.  This "Key-Warm-Up" opens the door for an unconditioned act of grace to descend from the first note played and fill the individuals, group, and audience with a listening-based soundscape that is guaranteed to be unique each time it is played.   Since there are no preconceived notions of tempo, notes, sequence, length or form, by design, it cannot be played without (intentional listening from the first note to the last) by the players.

* * *

Another 'beat a dead horse' theme that musicians and students working with me next year will likely hear again and again:

Make sure what ever you play is musical.  In the most crude interpretation, this means: MAKE SURE IT SOUNDS GOOD.  That means the tone, volume, dynamics, amd note selection, all add to and complement what ever else is being played around you. 

One would think that this would be an innate quality that is built into the practice and behavior of most musicians, especially those alleged trained in 'quality' practices like those Guitar Craft groups allegedly manifest and transmit. 

But I am constantly surprised by the harsh, dissonant, and horrid sounds and sequences of notes that somehow continue to pour from the plastic guitars around me during sound-checks, warm ups and even during performances.   

Some suggestions:

  • during sound check, put down your pick, and play with your thumb; it is more difficult to make a harsh and horrid sound from your guitar if all you have is your right hand thumb to strike your strings
  • during sound check, don't play the 'single line' part from a group piece where your part is "BORING" and dissonant on it's own (ex. mid-section of Afghanistan, chords from Thrak, or Eye of the Needle bassline.  Instead, play a section of a piece of music that you can play that ACTUALLY SOUNDS GOOD.  Failing that, play one or two notes, adjust your volume, then stop playing.
  • In your personal practice, spend some time identifying and selecting your 'sound check' repertoire as if it were part of the show - because for the audience (and the others in your group) it is part of the 'show.'  Find something that you can do that sounds good, that turns heads, that makes others listening think to themselves: "Wow, that guitar/guitarist sounds great... I can't wait to hear what they can do when they are actually PERFORMING."
  • if in doubt about what you do that fits this description, schedule some time with me, and let's work together to develop your personal 'sound check' repertoire

Along these lines, one of the primary tasks for the SGC performance team next year will be to establish our 'sound check' repertoire. 

* * *

More on the SGC Beginner's Circle today:

Birth of a new piece, "FiveSpot" that grew out a a right hand picking primary in five (same right hand pattern as the Lark's section of "Lark's Thrak", btw) combined with a left-hand primary in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd inversion triads combined with a bass-line study in aeolian, dorian, and phrygian tetrachords.

Put these all together with a song form, and simple dynamics instructions, and you have "FiveSpot" - so named because. like the resturaunt at the top of Queen Anne,  it is a good tasting, friendly place that guitarists of every level can come for simultaneous, multi-level nourishment in division of attention, right+left hand workout in a way that sounds good to those waiting in line for their seat.

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Sunday October 12

Brunch with my sister and TravisH at the Library Cafe.  Both spent time in Austin Texas in former lives.  Great to hang with TravisH again.  Look forward to playing with him again later this year.

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Dinner at I Heart Sushi with my sister, Bob and Jax.    

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Speaking of hearts:

Stumbled onto this on the web today:

Why a broken heart hurts so much
Social rejection may affect brain as much as physical pain

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 ó A rejected loverís broken heart may cause as much distress in a pain center of the brain as an actual physical injury, according to new research.

http://www.msnbc.com/news/978061.asp?vts=101020032056
 

We have not done much work in Guitar Craft (or in any school that I know of) studying the 'discipline of the heart.'

Q: (for Crafties) What are the primaries here?

This may be a bit of a stretch, but when Trey introduced the idea of 'ear training' in Guitar Craft (actually all the way back at Red Lion House when he and RandyC were listening to the David L. Burge tapes), we may have begun to stumble onto one aspect of how musicians work with 'feelings.'

Intervals, melodies, and our ability to select intervals that affect our emotions is a core primitive skill that is difficult to transmit, not to mention describe or articulate.

And yet we all have had the experience of hearing a distinctive melody that draws our hearts into a heightened state of engagement: the solo in "Hammond Song."  "Heroes," -- or that Bill Frisell solo on an old standard that you thought you had heard done in every conceiveable way, but Bill Frisell chooses a sequence of notes that somehow tugs on your heart in a way that makes it fresh again.

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