Break’s Over, part 2: The Challenges

When I first took up the guitar in the late 90’s, I took lessons from two very talented musicians. They pushed me in opposite directions, which was the best thing for me.

Billy Barnett, who specializes in jazz and blues, walked me through the basics and taught me a couple of songs I wanted to learn. Billy is all about theory, scales, and modes. I’m still working on it, now that I have to start again.

My Number Two guitar, Cbabi Blue

And then there’s Tory Z Starbuck. He exists on a different musical plane altogether. Tory loves glam and progressive rock, exotic instruments, and anything from off the beaten path. His mode of thinking was to take most of what Billy taught me and throw it right out the window.

Yin and Yang. Perfect.

It was Tory who took it upon himself to challenge me to record a CD. He did it by teaching me something guitar, keyboard (I had a synthesizer at home), percussion, or just noise-oriented. After showing me something in each area, he challenged me write a song around it. So that’s what I did. The album is called No Relation (a Jimi Hendrix joke). Maybe I’ll put it on Bandcamp someday.

After getting my first digital piano, I thought I might want to record music again. I bought an 8-track Tascam recorder almost in a whim to capture ideas. I’ve been so busy with other things, I haven’t learned how to use it yet. But I will.

I also took my first piano lesson. My teacher was happy to see how enthusiastically I took to it. Plus, she gave me some exercises to work on. Better still, I was starting to get ideas.

I wondered what it would be like to re-arrange and record the theme from Westworld, which kind of out this whole “play your gear” train in motion. Just like that, I could hear piano, synthesizer, two guitars, and a bass part in my head. And I could — with practice — play them all myself!

A Tory Z Starbuck challenge was born, and I’m all in!

That opened the floodgates. What if I re-arranged and re-recorded two versions of the best song I wrote for my band? What if I learned the opening stanzas of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and Phillip Glass’s “Metamorphosis,” then mashed them together? What if I improvised a piano piece in the key of C? The ideas keep coming. Slowly but surely, I will endeavor to record them all. once they’re finished, I’ll just give them away online.

This could be FUN!


Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell.

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