Tag: Creativity

Painted Faces Part 1

How many paintings have forgotten faces? Faces meticulously created by artists, only to be lost in the work as a whole. 

If great works of art are comprised of pieces of a whole, then each piece is essential. 

These faces say so much, hold so much meaning, but are forgotten and unrecognized.

DSC_0618DSC_0634DSC_0801DSC_0772DSC_0800DSC_0791DSC_0777DSC_0780DSC_0784

The Small Things

I love shooting pictures with a 50mm lens because it makes you have to work within the limitations of the frame. 

These limitations make me focus on the small things. When you do this enough, it permeates your everyday life; you start to notice little intricacies and details you would not have otherwise. You realize that there is so much more to see and experience than you ever could have imagined. 

What joy it brings.

DSC_1256.jpg

Country Blues Basics Part 2: What music knowledge do I need to play country blues?

There is not much music theory needed to play this style of music, but there are still a few basics that must be understood.

As I mentioned in the previous post, blues is typically played in 5 different keys: A, C, D, E, and G.

Although some blues songs are only played with 1 chord, most are played with 3 chords. To play songs with 3 chords, you will need to learn the I chord, the IV chord, and the V chord.

Below is a handy reference chart which breaks down the I, IV, and V chord based off the key:

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 6.59.34 PM
Key Chart

Essentially, most blues songs are based around a certain chord. Let’s say it’s an A chord. If we are going to base a song around a certain chord, that means we are playing the song in that key.

Based on the chart above, in order to play a 3 chord song in the key of A, you will also need to learn the D chord and E chord.

If you look at the chart above, you will see you will need to learn to at least one B chord and F chord.

Luckily, nearly every country blues player (and most folk and country players) used a form of the F chord with no barre, and played an easy to fret B7 chord instead of B major. 

If you are comfortable with how progressions work, take a look at this post to see diagrams of the chords you’ll need to know.

Country Blues Basics Part 1: What chords do I need for country blues?

Almost every country blues song uses the same vocabulary of chords. Most songs use basic open position chord forms or a limited group of simple inversions.

Most country blues songs are played in the basic keys of A, C, D, E, or G.

What they are playing is not as important as how they play it. If you watch footage of the masters of this style of music you will notice that they are almost always holding down a chord.

These players are barely moving their left hand, but somehow produce amazingly complex sounding music.

The secret behind this complexity is in understanding the many sounds you can get out of holding down a single chord. The secret to the master’s playing isn’t in their fretting hand, but in their picking hand. The thumb of their right hand is always keeping time while his other fingers play something else.

An aphorism that sums up this idea is: ‘your left hand is what you know, your right hand is who you are.’

If you can get the left hand down, then you can focus on mastering right hand techniques, which is where the soul of the music resides.

If you think this type of playing sounds interesting then check out my instructional video of Catfish Blues to see how much mileage you can get out of a 1st position E chord (and that video just scratches the surface!).

Next let’s explore the basic knowledge you need to play this music.

Notes on Utah: Isolation on an Alien World

The alien landscape of southern Utah is unlike anything I had seen before.

If the familiar sky wasn’t overhead, the arches and canyons rising out of the red sand would be otherworldly.

Closing my eyes in the shadows, I listened and heard a silence unlike anything I had ever experienced.

The stark emptiness of my perception made me uncomfortable.

IMG_0852

Alone in forests and mountains, I had experienced silence before. But not like this. In those moments I was surrounded by something, and even through silence, I could hear that something.

Nothing surrounded me here– just a cold, alien, landscape. 

Within my body, I felt the isolation this land had formed in as I continued along the path.

I was alone here.

Climbing up a final stone slab, I was greeted by an arch giving me a window into the blue sky above. Through its window I saw a lone plane climbing into the sky.

A distant reminder of where I came from.

IMG_0035

Still, all I could hear was silence.

There are not many times in my life I had felt so alone, and in this moment, even with the plane in sight, I felt it more than ever.

But despite the isolation, I suddenly felt at peace.

The red of arches of this landscape were formed by ancient water and wind eroding the rock.

We are formed by the burden of the day-to-day wearing on us, the constant feeling of never being left to oneself, always having to conform to external forces.

In this moment I was truly by myself, and I resented my initial feeling of being made uncomfortable by the silence.

We need to be alone at times, but it always seems out of reach

I had it here, I just didn’t recognize it when I first heard it.

IMG_0858

 

Notes on Utah: Reflection on Water

 

Most people I met in Utah hated the Salt Lake.

It smells bad, it’s filled with brine shrimp, and it’s ugly.

A few months after arriving in Utah,  I got the chance to see the lake myself.

I pulled over to the side of the road and looked at the expanse.

The surface seemed like it had a reflective film placed over it. The mountains, deep blue sky, and wispy clouds were mirrored on the surface of the Lake.

IMG_0075 (1) 2

Approaching the shore I looked down and saw myself in the water. It’s not ugly, I thought— It’s just a reflection. 

The landscape nestled and cradled the Lake, and the Lake reciprocated the beauty.

But consider the Lake itself.

With no mountains and a colorless sky above, the Lake would be empty, devoid of life.

I drove further up the road until I got to a place with no landscape. From here, the lake was nothing.

Not Ugly.

It was just nothing. 

Months later I was walking through the Temple Square and stopped in my tracks. There was a pool with perfectly translucent water. On the surface you could see the sky and buildings above.

DSC_0054

I was reminded of my experience at the Salt Lake.

The shallow pool that held the water was nothing but black stone.  The water captured the fleeting picture of the city and held its beauty, just as the city held it.

But by itself the pool was nothing. 

No matter what surrounds it, the water holds it in. The beautiful, the ugly, and the nothing.

I am not too different than this. My surroundings, the landscape around me, who is around me, is all captured and reflected by myself.

I also know that I change, just as the seasons change the landscape.

The reflection shifts, only holding onto what cradles it.

Maybe my sentiment is what is hinted at by Emerson:

“To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again. The heavens change every moment, and reflect their glory or gloom on the plains beneath.

              -Emerson “Nature”