Clamour

Structure

Posted in Uncategorized by clamour on September 13, 2009

Lately I’ve been staying up until 4 am feeling sad and afraid to fall asleep.  Then I wake up late-ish dreaming about words.

Yesterday when I woke up I was mumbling to myself that consciousness is a structure made out of rebar and you have to pour your brain into it like concrete.

The tail end of my dream this morning was about getting caught inside a guitar effects pedal and falling into a pool that was underneath the floor.  Then I climbed out and had to explain to B how I had gotten in there and what the structure of the pool and effects pedal was like and how the pedal was attached to the amp.

And the other day I woke up after dreaming that I had been in a delivery room trying to make myself go into labor even though I wasn’t pregnant.

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No scarcity

Posted in Uncategorized by clamour on September 9, 2009

Today I was reading some of the historical archive stuff about riot grrl bands on Grrl Sounds and listened to some of the bands I missed out on because I was five years too young and lived in the land of boy bands and death metal.  I was especially inspired by Emily’s Sassy Lime playing a four string guitar and borrowing amps and the low fi cut up aesthetic.  I’ve been thinking so much about perfectionism, fear of judgment, and paralysis.  The first planning meeting for the Women’s Music Collective is tonight and all I can think is “who am I to make this happen?”  It’s kind of the way I feel when I write a song or a poem and it doesn’t seem real to me because it’s mine, like the only real things in the world are those that already existed without me.  Thinking about high school girls playing a four string guitar and borrowed drums turning out raw, beautiful noise is an antidote to that kind of thinking.

I am proposing a thought exercise: decontextualizing music from time and the idea of scarcity.  It’s tragic how music is thought of as locked to time and even though the music itself can travel as an artifact the rest of everything surrounding that gives it resonance is lost.  Planned obsolescence is a capitalist idea more suited to refrigerators than culture.  Music is infinite.  There is no scarcity of songs, images, musicians.  There is no scarcity of musical possibilities

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VC Andrews

Posted in Uncategorized by clamour on September 5, 2009

I just read this article in the believer (the whole article isn’t online) on VC Andrews.  It really gets it right.  For better or worse those creepy, prurient books heavily informed my sexuality as a teenager.

And then I found this site and had lots of nostalgic fun reading about all the books I’ve half forgotten.

I’m writing a song about the Heaven books because they were the ones that really got to me.

Sisterhood is noisy

Posted in Uncategorized by clamour on September 4, 2009

I’m taking this flier to Art Murmur tonight.  Let’s see what happens.

East Bay Women’s DIY Music Collective

Calling all home tapers, shower singers, songwriters, players of all instruments and skill levels and genres

Community, skillsharing, and workshops

for women and trans musicians

Organizational meeting

Wednesday September 9, 7 pm

Mama Buzz Cafe

Questions? Call 510-xxx-xxxx

email clamouring at gmail dot com

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Transubstantiation

Posted in guitar, music, Uncategorized by clamour on September 2, 2009

Yesterday I traded my steel string acoustic for an ’80s nylon stringed Yamaha classical guitar.

I hardly played the acoustic anyway because even after having the action adjusted a couple of months ago it was like playing one of those as-seen-on-TV wire egg slicers.  It sounded muddy and totally unforgiving. It had a weird separation between the lacquer of the neck and the body that made me nervous about its body integrity but didn’t really affect the sound.

It was a present from my mom on my 16th birthday.  It was the guitar I spent twelve hours a day playing during high school summers.  Then in my twenties it was the heavy, delicate thing I resented dragging around from house to house when I moved because it represented a part of my life that I was still mourning a little.

I feel liberated that I was able to let go.  Fourteen years is long enough to own a guitar that I didn’t really like that much. I like it when I can be practical and not buy into the idea that guitars are a sacred extension of the body.  Or a woman’s body, the other metaphor I see floating around that grosses me out.  There are so many silly cliches about mystical connections with musical instruments.  I think the mystique contributes to the idea that there is a right type of person (male) to play the guitar and one right type of feeling about it (all-consuming, reverential.)  I like thinking about guitars as tools for making noise.  Everyone has the ability to use a tool.  This thinking is new to me because I used to buy into the mystique wholeheartedly.  It was a big part of thinking I couldn’t play music any more much less own the term “musician.”

I have never liked classical guitar music at all and am still a little surprised that I own one.  I’m taking a community college class to learn sight reading and fingerstyle playing and thought that the nylon strings would make it easier to practice playing fingerstyle without tearing the fingertips off my right hand, which were blistered and bleeding after one class on the steel string acoustic.  The nylon strings make it easy to play for as long as I want to, kind of like an electric guitar.  I practiced sight reading this morning and I can feel the new connections prickling in my brain.  I love that feeling.  I also like the way the guitar looks small and unthreatening and a little blank; I can’t tell just by looking what kind of sound will come out of it.  It’s full of possibilities.

The guitar shop dudeliness was more muted than last time around.  It sucked a little but not badly enough to get upset about.

Next week I’m going down to Santa Cruz to play with my friend who is an amazing keyboard player with a ridiculously cool homemade electric/acoustic church organ set up in his house.  I’m going to send him one of the songs I’ve written to play together.  I feel a little nervous, like I always do when I open up to someone.  I’m going to bring my electric guitar and play loud because he lives in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors to annoy.

JAZZ KILLS

Posted in guitar, Uncategorized by clamour on August 29, 2009

So after less than a week in a band I’m not in a band any more.

Jazz got me again, just like in the 11th grade when my music friends, guys who I had known since elementary school, turned into jazz snobs and didn’t want to play fun stuff together any more.  Today (and Wednesday, when I was crying in the bathroom) I knew I was in trouble when the other guitarist wanted to play jazz standards and hear me improvise over a 12 chord blues that he was playing with the jazziest of jazzy altered chords.  I hate blues.  I haven’t soloed over a 12 chord blues since I was 16 or 17 because as far as I’m concerned there’s no reason to unless someone is making you do it.  I didn’t think that this band, which I have seen play live, was a straight up jazz band since out of the eight or nine songs I’ve heard them do only two sounded restless, dissonant, and hypercomplex.  The rest of the songs are pop/rock I can play easily.  It turns out they really are a jazz band, if not completely in music than in ideology.  That means that my competent rhythm guitar and bass and pretty good lyric writing skills aren’t enough.

I don’t swing.  I groove feebly.  I failed the virtuoso test I didn’t know I was taking.  I played a straight minor chord when I should have played a Ebm7+9.  I am innately not a jazzist.

It hurts like a breakup.  I feel humiliated even though the “this isn’t working” conversation happened in the calmest, most respectful way possible.  I took myself out for vegan Japanese food to cure my broken heart with miso soup.  I cried a little more in the restaurant bathroom.  The lucky cat watched me from the back of the toilet.  I hope it’s the last bathroom I cry in for a while.

But like a breakup this also means I’m free to do whatever I want.  Like not try to scramble songs I’ve already written to make them fit the band I’m not playing with any more or scramble my brain learning dissonant, 100% 16th note bass runs.   Like start my own band (East Bay music-making ladies, where are you?)  Also to crawl around Craigslist at 2 am fantasizing about finding women to make music with but finding dude after dude who RAWKS.

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Bass forearm

Posted in Uncategorized by clamour on August 27, 2009

It’s sore.  Bass playing takes so much more tension and pressure than guitar.  I love it.  I love bass clef and the backwards C and two dots that look like snakebite or shoelace holes or cartoon typography eyes.  I love the way it feels in my hands.  It feels powerful and simple at the same time.  It makes me want to learn how to play more lead guitar too.  I’ve tried playing some bass lines up an octave on my guitar and they sound sweet and basic and surprisingly good in a stripped down kind of way.  My ego has mostly recovered from yesterday.

I’m off to the Y for a swim but have to figure out how to not hurt my newly enlarged left finger calluses.  Rubber gloves?  Superglue?