The Music Of JC Harris

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet

Rants By Topic

Musical Instruments

It’s Not Like Riding A Bicycle

More on the first snippet from the new opera, The Boats. Overture. Fretless bass as passing fad. Bodhràn. Getting reacquainted with an instrument is not like riding a bicycle. Instruments as characters. Dog training. Ants. The Invisible Fence as compositional aid.

Roger CortonWe got comments that we never actually talked about the music last week.

JCHSo let’s do it. Again.

Overture To The Boats (Snippet)

RCIs this the overall tone of the piece? It sounds very ‘pop’ to me. Not ‘operatic’.

JCHWell, it’s a whole separate talk about what is an ‘operatic’ sound these days. But as far as the tones? For The Boats I dusted off two instruments I haven’t touched in ages: the fretless bass and the bodhràn.

RCThe hand drum. Last heard from on Home.

For Angela (Snippet)

JCHRight. It dawned on me last year that I haven’t really touched the fretless in […]

Record Low Gas

With final prep for the Niagara Falls Party in full swing, we re-visit gear acquisition syndrome. Teaching. Malcolm Gladwell. Ten Thousand Hours. Behavior Modification.

Roger CortonSounds like you’re still getting over that virus?

JCHYep. Some surprising symptoms.

RCAre they gross?

JCHGAS. Or rather, a total lack of it.

RCLet me tell ya, in my family, that would be a definite plus!

JCHBut of course, I’m talking about G.A.S. Not the… well, you know.

RCGear Acquisition Syndrome. Bane of musicians everywhere. The almost uncontrollable urge to purchase new musical stuff either to help one play better or…

JCHOh cut the comedy. Just because it’s FUUUUUUUN. It’s like NASCAR for kids with long, oily hair.

RCAre those the kids who still play rock guitar? OK, so why are thoughts of GAS (sorry) evacuating from you at this particular juncture?

JCHI love when you let loose. Enough. Look, I made my first ‘home’ recordings of my […]

I Never Really Liked The Guitar

Said it before, say it again, I never really liked the guitar. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great when it’s played well. There is no instrument quite as compelling in so many genres. But you gotta have a certain agreement with it in order to really make it sing. And above all, you simply cannot fight it.

And by the way, I will immediately stipulate that some of the absolute best guitar music ever made has been made by people who do not have this agreement, who do fight like Ahab for every note. I’m one of them. But that’s different. There will always be something missing for those who don’t really surrender to the instrument. As with ‘The Great Whale Dick’ it may be a hell of a fight, but you will never win.

The big issue for me, aside from having elfin-sized hands (and I don’t mean Tolkien-elves, I mean the ones that make the cookies and live in small trees) is that the guitar doesn’t really sound ‘good’ in […]

Performance And Patronage

There’s a whole philosophy about ‘the pointlessness of…’ life/love/complaining…whatever.

The history of art has progressed along with the history of commerce. Successful artists have always struggled to find ways to make a living with their art. From Beethoven to the Beatles, you see the same story over and over: the artist works like a dog performing; all the while plotting on how to stop performing and concentrate on creation. At some point, every artist needs to stop being a trained monkey and start getting paid for the tune.

I’ve railed here a bunch of times on the huge shift brought about by the internet. The main thing, in my view, has been the radical shift in how musicians are viewed. We’ve spent the last 500 years trying to free ourselves from patronage and performance and actually get paid for the music. And in the past ten years it’s all gone down the pan.

This is not sour grapes. When an artist can only make a living doing shows or selling t-shirts, it turns […]

I Need A New Drum Kit—In Praise Of Ringo & Art

I Need A New Drum Kit—In Praise Of Ringo & Art

My drum kit she is a gone. And she’s a no coming back. My loverly Ludwig Silver Sparkle set (aka ‘Old Ringo’ appears to have been ‘liberated’ from the storage space I had kept it at during my recent studio renovation. I am told that it is not insured for the current market value of $1,500 smackers.

So it’s time to mourn. Not just for the dough-re-mi. And not just because it was my pal for several decades. But rather because it was a critical part of my education as a musician. Drums are a big deal. Even if you’re playing bass or guitar, the more you know about ‘the set’, the better you do your job. So I shall grieve.

And then? I gotsta get me a new one. And, since every loss is also a chance to ‘learn something’ (grumble, grouse, grumble), I think I ought to use this tragedy to re-think my drumming.

From Pee Wee To Ring-o

My whole concept […]

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