Sunday, March 4, 2007

So how does the Stick sound?

Surely you wonder how this much celebrated instrument sounds.

[39 sec. mp3]

[37 sec. mp3]

These samples are recordings of my first sessions with the Stick. Please don't laugh! These are only to document what a common man is capable of after using an instrument like this for a couple of days.

You also need to know that these snippets are not solo performances. They are recorded in two takes. And there are studio treatments as well; the sound is reinforced with a Line6 DL-4 Delay Modeler to give a little more swing and air to the sound.

For a better taste of the possibilities with this instrument, please see the clips at the official Stick web-site.

My personal favourite would be Youenn Landreau with his amazing performance.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Why I wanted it ... and why I shouldn't have

o Why I wanted a Chapman Stick:

- It is sensual and expressive, and it responds beautifully to different styles of playing.

- It is "hands on", close to your body.

- It offers many ways to sculpture sounds: tapping, sliding, bending, plucking.

- It is equally useful for chords as well as melody or rhythm.

o Why I should have avoided the Chapman Stick:

- The "foreign" concept makes it hard to master. Be patient!

- Is it meant for guitarists? - No! - Is it workable for pianists? - No! The method of using playing techniquies borrowed from both the guitar as well as the piano makes it special and at the same time intuitive.

- The stick is a rare instrument and not much educational material are available. Thankfully the Emmett Chapman himself and different user groups have produced excellent study-books. Still you need to be prepared to experiment!

The quest for a Stick

For three years I have been looking for a Chapman Stick -- and finally now I have one!

The Chapman Stick resembles an electric guitar, but it is played with both hands in parallel by tapping or fretting the strings, rather than plucking them. Due to the two-handed approach, playing the Stick is as much related to playing keyboards as it is related to other stringed instruments.

The tuning is peculiar. The strings are grouped in a melody segment (to the left seen from the user) and a bass segment (the centre string and to the right). The melody strings are tuned in 4ths while the bass strings are tuned in reversed 5ths. While this surely prevents me from never learning how to find the scales, it nevertheless helps to produce exciting combinations.

Mastering such an odd instrument is not an easy task. I would be happy with only skimming the surface. For me, fast melodies and well structured chords seems hard to achieve, whereas jazzy rhythms and brave (dis)harmonies come more naturally.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Photo-Diary of a day in my life, January 1st 2007

To honour the first day of the new year, I made this photo-diary of a day in my life.

It was a rather dull day with rainy weather. It should be cold, at least -3 ÂșC (26 F), and plenty of snow by this time of the year. But as you can see, we only have cold rain. -- Sure seems like Global Warming to me :(

Today sunrise was at 10 o'clock, but because of the cloudy skies the 5 hours of sunlight gave only a dim light. One good thing with the cloudy sky is that you get an even light.

View slideshow
To view the slideshow, please click here!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A first blog entry

So this is a first blog entry...

Shy from entering any real thoughts, I turn this comment over to my beloved cat Masi: