I remember the first guitar I ever touched…I was about 9 or 10 years old and my parents had an old one that more or less suddenly appeared in the house. It had a classical body, half the strings were nylon, half weren’t, the high B string was the wrong gauge, the case was made out of cardboard. I was listening to a lot of different music in those early days, from Beethoven to Jean Michel Jarre to Andreas Vollenweider to The Police to David Bowie to Abba. One thing I do remember is how often I reached for the guitar to play along. I had no pick, couldn’t play a barre chord, and usually only played on one string. But there was something magical about this instrument, and to this day, I have a strong connection with it which is somehow more physical than any other.
I later found guitarists like Al di Meola, John McLaughlin, David Torn, Joe Satriani, Terje Rypdal, Robert Fripp, and Michael Brook. I was inspired to improve my technique and dig deeper into guitar playing. The guitar is, however, a notoriously difficult instrument to master. It may shape you just as much as you shape it – the physical demands of the instrument often seem to dictate a personal style as much as you may try to impose a style on it.
In my previous albums, I’ve often used guitar textures and lines, but the guitar has rarely stood out by itself as the lead instrument.
This new album, “Adagio”, is different. This is a guitar album. It’s an album that mixes a wide range of influences throughout my life, and my personal takes on a number of styles and genres. The pieces are pictures, reflections on inner worlds and exterior scenes and landscapes; sketches, assemblies, collages. Each piece is like a photograph capturing in a moment all the impressions and work that came before, held for a moment, looked over, and then put back on the table while reaching for the next one.
A note regarding imperfections: it’s been said that Zen painters would occasionally deliberately leave or put mistakes into a piece of work. The idea was to bring the painting into the real world, not to treat the piece as some distant or abstract work of spiritual perfection, but to make it a part of a daily reality with which to engage and to embrace. I have left in place numerous, sometimes uncomfortable, clues as to the flawed nature of my technical ability on this instrument. While the standard of technical perfection may be offended, my hope is that the standard of reality will outweigh this and serve a more real enjoyment of this music.
pull this string, pull that
the perfect note makes no sound
has no memory
– TG, Spring 2014