Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Met An Alto Player...

...named Tom over at the Danada Borders. He was practising outside by the store; it sounded great, so I walked over & said hi. We were exchanging tecniques and background stories, it was a lot of fun.

Tom, if you stop by the blog, welcome. It might be fun to practise together sometime.


Friday, August 6, 2010

About "Blues Cruise By The Dashboard Lights" Sax Track...

This track is strictly the un-accompanied instrument, and I think it's one of the prettiest I've done yet. The only embellishment is a bit of echo effect. ( 0.3 second delay with 0.25 second decay) The track was created using Audacity 1.3 Beta.  I also kept a copy that is echo-free. I did use the Audacity noise-removal tool to clean the hiss out of the track. The photo is actually the dashboard gauges of my 2007 Dodge Dakota pickup truck at night. I've always loved the soft blue glow of the dashboard in this vehicle, it's one of my favorite things about it.

Thank you for listening!


Blues Cruise By The Dashboard Lights...

Blues Cruise By The Dashboard Lights...

Tenor Sax solo for poem (3-minutes, 19-seconds MP3)

I'm rolling down the highway in my mind,
Even at zero,
Put the Satellite on channel seventy-four,
BB's Bluesville station,
Let that harp wail,
The night is graced by Aurora Borealis,
Twinkling stars and old memories.

The guitar leads me down memory lane,
An old friend or two I'd not mind a minute with,
A gal I wish I could catch up with just to see,
How did life turn out, Tree?

I hear the saxophone down low under it all,
At the root of the world,
Maybe low C,
And I get lost in time as street lights roll by.

The windows are down and summer glorious,
I turn up the volume as I roll into the city,
Blues City,
Big Windy,
All the better to push my reed.

So long Sister Blue,
The stars are winking,
It'll all be alright,
I'm cruisin' the Blues tonight.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 08/06/2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Blue Earth Blues Sax

Blue Earth...

This is a spoken-word-to-music creation of mine in celebration of Earth, Love, spirit, and Human potential. It has an other-worldly sound quality to it, but I've gotten a good bit better with the sax, and it's pretty smooth here. I'd suggest reading the lyrics, then closing your eyes to listen. It's a bit meditational, too. I call the genre "New Age Blues."

The below file is the MP3 audio version. I performed the saxophone, harmonica, percussion, and vocals, and wrote the lyrics. The song was mixed and edited using Audacity 1.3 Beta. (Free download at: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/)


Written lyrics are below:

Blue Earth...

The Heart of the world,
Can be heard in the rush,
Of ocean waves,
In the rustling spirit,
Of wind in the tree leaves and grass.

The heart of the world can be seen,
In the softness of your lover's eyes,
In the flight of a bird,
Across lightly-clouded skies,
Past the snow of a mountain peak.

The heart of the world can be felt,
In the beat of your lover's heart,
Where you lay your head,
In the smile of your child's discovery,
Of the colors of butterflies,
Atop waving dandelion heads.

This gift - our lives Mother,
This joy and dance and race,
We hold her in the palms of our hands,
Tenderly or rough our touch,
The choice is no longer ignorant.

The heart of the world beats,
In every step we take,
Every act we make,
The slightest thing we do,
Like ants that could fell a tree.

The heart of the world is our crossroad,
Every one of us walks into a future,
Something we endlessly paint,
Brushes coarse and fine,
We're the foundation to the next layer.

When the spirit of love,
Matches and mates with the sense,
Of common sense survival,
Then the future is won,
Conflict dissolves,
We have what we need.

We have this world,
We have each other,
We have each creature,
Sustaining both,
We love it all,
And it all loves us,
In its timeless fashion.

Our heart is with the world,
And the world is then with us,
Opening the Universe's heart,
All the potential we could ever need,
As far as any eye we create,
Could ever lovingly see.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 07/31/2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Note On Learning Musical Instruments...

This is a brief excerpt of a conversation on this subject that can be found here:

Well, the sax is a lovely beast. If you're playing an instrument, it gives you a personal knowledge of the way it takes time and repetition to gain mastery.

With the saxophone, it's difficult to play if the ambient air temperature gets too cold, because it's metal and the instrument gets cold, stiffening your fingers up. This is vastly important, because there is no volume control on a saxophone. That means you can't do repetitive practice indoors if other people are around - such as condo and apartment buildings - without bugging your neighbors. I tend to practice outside a lot, at parks and such.

All these facts make it very difficult to get in practice time during the winter. I go weeks sometimes in the cold months without being able to play, so that first day it goes above 60 degrees F, it is a treasure.

Playing the sax also requires fine control of the reed. How much pressure you put on it. When to let your tongue touch it. You can bend or stop notes and shift octaves higher or lower by the way you control the reed. You can also get a raspy vibrato effect by rattling your tongue against the roof of your mouth just behind the reed, like when rolling your R's in speaking Spanish.

Of course, fingering the keys is just as critical. How abrupt you are moving from key to key, how fast you raise and lower the keys, all of it matters.

Once you learn to blend the mastery of the reed with the mastery of the keys, you can finally make the instrument your second voice - and then seriously consider being able to play music in proper time. Then comes expanding your range by practicing endless varieties of transitions and timing from note to note to note.

It's a growth-by-inches process and both daunting and wonderful.

I've also started learning guitar for times when I feel like I'm stuck in a rut with the sax. It also gives me another option in winter. I have a really nice Fender Stratocaster that's got a red body, white pick guard, and rosewood neck. It plays beautifully. Coincidentally, it requires blending two skills to play as well. The left and right hands must be doing two very, very different tasks that must be perfectly blended together to create the finished work. Being electric, you can also modify the sound in many, many ways.

Finally, I've learned that no matter the instrument, finesse is every bit as important as strength - and you can only gain the finesse through practice after you first build up the strength.

The key is to put in time daily. Even 15-20 minutes a day will help.