Wednesday, April 29, 2009

1950's Carousel Ride

Carousel's were very popular in the 1950's. Here is a photograph of my wife as a child riding one. Notice the clothes and hairstyles depicted in this photo. Very 50's. I like the style of the horse as well, classic.

Though this has been a busy month I still have been able to make quite a few postings to the blog. I hope the content has been interesting. One of my favorites is the entry of the Harlequin and Clown playing electric guitars. It was fun to put together the image and fun to look at.

I had thought about making a painting from the today's image but decided that it stood well on it's own. I opened it in PhotoPaint and used the duotone function to color it, selecting a Pantone tone of blue, then converted it back to RGB 24bit color.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Like I've Never Been Refused
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Eye Candy - Long Exposure

Not everyday do I have a brilliant idea for my blog postings. Some days I am at a loss for words. Today is one of those days. So I am posting some eye candy. A long exposure digital photograph. I am not certain of the settings used by my son Keir M. Gatzka the photographer. But it is an interesting experiment.

I opened the original in PhotoPaint to re-size it and upped the saturation to 9. Then I rotated the image by 90 degrees. I also adjusted the sharpness with a directional sharpening to highlight the fine lines of the piece. After I did these adjustments I re-sized it and added a small red border.

I wrote a song last night. I've named it "Like I've Never Been Refused", using a chord progression of C C/B Am7 and a chorus of G Am G Am. The bridge is made up of the chords Dm7 Fmaj7 G7 repeated twice. It's sort of a backwards love song.

I made three tracks using the Toneport UX1 and Gearbox. I sung and played the first track, I set the microphone on a Warm and Clean vocal and flat picked the verses and the chorus but strummed the bridge. The second track I set the microphone for Bright and Clean and quietly strummed all the chords for a second guitar sound. Then I put in my Seymour Duncan Woody pickup and selected the Instrument settings. For the lead track I choose a Clean model called 'Bad' (which it wasn't) - it had very nice clean lead with reverb and some delay and sustain.

I used Audacity to record the song and output it to an mp3 format. It sounds nice in Windows Media Player 10. I now have 7 songs for my CD "The Roof".

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - The Roof
via FoxyTunes

Monday, April 27, 2009

Apologies to Derain - Guitar Players

Sometimes you just feel like bringing things up to date. Take this old painting by Derain. I just had to play with it in PhotoPaint and up date their instruments and equipment. One was playing a lute and the other was playing what appeared to be a form of guitar. But now they are Rocking!

My apologies to Marshal, Fender, and Epiphone, if I have offended anyone. I really hope not. My intentions are good and I wanted to create a work that expressed the quality of the old with the new.

The Harlequin and clowns are a staple of the painter. The guitars and equipment are a staple of the songwriter and musician. Thus a mixture of the two.

Anyway it was fun to make. Like writing a good song. Always satisfying.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Alanis Morisette - Hand In My Pocket
via FoxyTunes

Friday, April 24, 2009

Eric Clapton - Guitar Player

One of my favorite guitarists is Eric Clapton. He is versatile and "old slow hand" can really play the blues, rock, and unplugged.

I have the DVD of his Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas, Texas. (or was it Austin?) I like to re-watch it often. Many great guitarists are featured and the quality of the playing is amazing.

I had both Blind Faith and Disraeli Gears on vinyl, years ago I loved the albums. And I have a few songs from Clapton and JJ Cale playing together on my PC.

Crossroads Antigua is a rehab for those musicians and others to find who need a way back from alcohol and drugs. Many young musicians were cut down in their prime by drugs or alcohol. So Clapton and others started it to help those in need.

But Eric Clapton is only one of my many favorites, I only wish I could play as well!

My own music has only been playing around with DADGAD tuning recently. I find it at once liberating and at the same time limiting. I have only made up a few dozen chords, and lead lines using it. It definitely makes for long playing 10 to 12 minute periods at a time. A little harmonics, lead chords and drone. Wonderful.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Amanda Marshall - The Voice Inside
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cigar Box Guitar - Bo Diddely

With a distinctive rectangular shaped guitar Bo Diddely, Ellas McDaniel, gave much impetus to the bluesy rock and roll music of today. Nothing like the lute and its curvy back, light weight and delicate sounds Bo's guitar was an attack of using a single chord throughout an entire song. "Chunk a Chunk Chunk a Chunk Chunk" rhythm beat made his music unique and simple but memorable. Many of us have played the Bo Diddely style of guitar and sang that song of the same name. Less known was he also played the violin. (see below.)

What a blast playing that style, hard and rockin'. Fun to no end.

Wikipedia has quite the story to tell about his origins and his original sound. "Also an influential guitar player, he developed many special effects and other innovations in tone and attack. Bo Diddley's trademark instrument was the rectangular-bodied Gretsch nicknamed "The Twang Machine" (referred to as "cigar-box shaped" by music promoter Dick Clark). Although he had other similar-shaped guitars custom-made for him by other manufacturers, he fashioned this guitar himself around 1958 and wielded it in thousands of concerts over the years. In a 2005 interview on JJJ radio in Australia, Bo implied that the design sprang from an embarrassing moment. During an early gig, while jumping around on stage with a Gibson L5 guitar, he landed awkwardly hurting his groin.[16] [17] He then went about designing a smaller, less restrictive guitar that allowed him to keep jumping around on stage while still playing his guitar. He also played the violin, which is featured on his mournful instrumental "The Clock Strikes Twelve", a 12-bar blues.[18]"

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Animals - Gotta Get Out Of This Place
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lute Player II

Another classic painting showing a lute player tuning. I counted 14 tuning pegs, reminds one of the 12-string guitar. This was painted by Caravaggio. Using PhotoPaint I upped the saturation only by 7 to bring out the color, my image was a little washed out.

The Lute page mentions that: "The lute goes out of tune easily, which prompted Mattheson to complain that a lutenist spends most of his life tuning rather than actually playing the instrument. During the Baroque period, the lute was replaced by various keyboard instruments which could more easily accommodate the new virtuoso solo and continuous style playing typical of that period."

The Lute was considered a
Renaissance instrument, very Popular at that time period.

I have been busy this month as I mentioned so I will keep this entry short and simple. Thanks for coming by and reading my blog posts.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Youssou N'dour and Peter Gabriel - Shaking The Tree
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lute Player

I found this image in my collection of older paintings of the use of stringed instruments. A lute player with an amusing smile on his face. He really looks as though he is enjoying himself!

I did not keep track of what painter did this painting as I have quite a collection that I have used as a screen saver at times. The paintings range in styles and I tried to keep it within the string instruments genre but I did stray here and their.

The history goes back a long time. Wikipedia again helps us to understand some of this: "The origins of the lute are obscure, and organologists disagree about the very definition of a lute. The highly influential organologist Curt Sachs distinguished between the "long-necked lute" (Langhalslaute) and the short-necked variety: both referred to chordophones with a neck as distinguished from harps and psalteries. Smith and others argue that the long-necked variety should not be called lute at all, since it existed for at least a millennium before the appearance of the short-necked instrument that eventually evolved into what is now known as the lute, nor was it ever called a lute before the 20th century."

"Lutes are made almost entirely of wood. The soundboard is a teardrop-shaped thin flat plate of resonant wood (usually spruce). In all lutes the soundboard has a single (sometimes triple) decorated sound hole under the strings, called the rose. The sound hole is not open, but rather covered with a grille in the form of an intertwining vine or a decorative knot, carved directly out of the wood of the soundboard."

It is interesting to note that they are completely differentiated from harps and other stringed instruments. I have always viewed them as the ancestor of the guitar. But that is for experts to decide it is just an opinion of mine. I have never played a lute but would love to try one. but they are not in favor these days as the guitar has become so popularized as the instrument of choice. They are hard to find at the guitar stores, sort of an oxymoron I suppose I imagine you would find them at "Lute Stores."

By the way, if you recognize the painter of this image please let me know, I would appreciate it. I wonder if it is Caravaggio?

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Van Morrison - Little Village
via FoxyTunes

Monday, April 20, 2009

Guitar Dreaming - Want vrs. Need

Those of us who play the guitar are always on the lookout for our dream guitar. I am reminded about Ted Nelson's book Computer Lib / Dream Machines about dreaming of powerful personal computers and the birth of the Internets hypertext links.

How many times have you gone to your favorite local guitar merchant and played the guitars there? It is one of my favorite activities. Playing different types of guitars, both reasonably priced and those way out of reach.

I have played some great Epiphones and wonderful Taylors, Martins, Gibsons, Seagulls, Fenders, etc. I usually pick up the acoustics or electric acoustics and try them on for size. I enjoy a guitar with good action. As I have small hands I select the narrower fretboards and I am partial to Dreadnought size guitars. My 12-string is such a guitar, with a large body for greater volume and depth of sound.

Today's image is of guitars floating on blue as if in a Dream. One is acoustic, another is acoustic/electric and the final one is an electric guitar, all 6-strings. I would love to have another 6-string guitar for lead playing and the sound that you only get from an electric. I did this image in PhotoPaint using Harry's filters for the blue background adding 3 guitars and applying PhotoPaint's Effects> Art Strokes> Sketch Pad filter. I wanted the dreamy effect it has.

I recorded my title song for my next CD of songs entlitled "The Roof", it is an instrumental using the DADGAD tuning on the 12-string. Very mellow, I play some lead to a background of chords I made up for that tuning, they have no names, I also used some harmonics for the lead. It is a pleasant sound with some uptempo parts climaxing at the end of the tune.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - The Roof
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Singing Lessons

I've never had singing lessons, I didn't have them at school, or privately. This makes me wonder about the quality of my singing. I have a fairly nice voice, it has only a fair range, and low stamina for long drawn out notes. At times it can get gravelie, like stones in the throat, if I am straining too much.

I do all my songwriting and guitar playing and singing by ear. I am not a trained musician. I really wonder how much better I would be if I had taken more music in school and college. I did take some music theory in college, but it was only a low depth class, I did get a 4 point grade for it though.

So I have entitled this image "Singing Lessons" as it shows the parts of the body that are used in singing and it is backed up by the guitar image.

I looked up "singing" and found that Wikipedia talked about how singing takes place physically: "In its physical aspect, singing has a well-defined technique that depends on the use of the lungs, which act as an air supply, or bellows; on the larynx, which acts as a reed or vibrator; on the chest and head cavities, which have the function of an amplifier, as the tube in a wind instrument; and on the tongue, which together with the palate, teeth, and lips articulate and impose consonants and vowels on the amplified sound. Though these four mechanisms function independently, they are nevertheless coordinated in the establishment of a vocal technique and are made to interact upon one another.[2] During passive breathing, air is inhaled with the diaphragm while exhalation occurs without any effort. Exhalation may be aided by the abdominal, internal intercostal and lower pelvic muscles. Inhalation is aided by use of external intercostals, scalenes and sternocleidomastoid muscles. The pitch is altered with the vocal cords. With the lips closed, this is called humming."

Hmmm, humming, always with the lips closed. The image goes right along with this description. Singing involves a lot more than we usually think about when doing it. We just 'sing' and don't give it much thought.

I have found that the use of a capo allows me more range if used on the 2nd or 3rd fret. But musically I don't know what that means as far as what key I am singing in. Pathetic isn't it. A songwriter not knowing these things. I know the 3rd fret is the note 'G' on the 'E' string but that doesn't translate into anything intellectually for me.

I am certain I have many bad habits I have learned over the years without musical training. I know basics like the tuning of the guitar, some harmonics, some of the fret notes, but I am woefully lost in reading music or even tabulature. I can 'sight' read music by knowing that the note is either going higher or lower on the scale, and know that 'Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge' and 'FACE'. But is that really reading music scales, hardly.

All I do know is that by ear much can be accomplished. I do write songs, or do I "make them up"? I guess that is for the professional musicians to debate. I like what I do and that enjoyment for me is making music, even if I am untrained.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Train - Respect
via FoxyTunes

Friday, April 17, 2009

Old Arsenal of Film Cameras - Collage

I used to have two decent film cameras for photo-
graphing. The best 35mm I ever owned was a Pentax K1000 Student body SLR camera. It was my mainstay for many years. Here I am sharing a collage of this camera and the following.

They came out, pre-digital days, with the Advanced Photo System cameras. So I got an expensive Fuji Fujifilm Endeavor 4000SL for a princely sum. Now you have to buy the APS film on Ebay to find it.

Now I moved to the Digital SLR's and it's no looking back. Both my son and I like the Canon Rebel XTi that we have. And we sometimes have a disagreement as to is going to use it and when. But it's my camera so I have first choice.

Musically I have not had much time for any new songs. I need to do some practicing and just plain fun playing on the guitar. I've been reading about different tunings again and will probably be using the DADGAD tuning on the 12-string for some fun making up chords and general all round creativity. I also like to use the Double Drop D tuning as an alternative. I just love to let my creative juices flow with these alternative tunings. The drone you get with the 12-string is marvelous, sounding like a sitar at times.

That ought to prompt some thoughtful playing and perhaps a song or instrumental. It only remains to be seen.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - In A Bright Room
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Acoustic Guitar - Vector Graphic

When I was a child I wanted an electric guitar, but my folks weren't having any. The got me an acoustic guitar instead. I counted my blessings and learned to play on an acoustic. Only later did I get a Seymour Duncan Woody pickup for it and an amplifier.

Visiting with my youngest sister recently she remembered how I would get all the local dogs howling when I played with the garage door open with that acoustic guitar and pickup and an inexpensive amp, all reverb, tremolo and feedback. It was funny that she remembered that the same way I did, policeman and all.

I don't know how my parents stood it as I had an attic bedroom and I would sit for hours learning chords and stomping my foot to the rhythm of my playing. And that was only acoustic at the time. But, that stomping foot must have caused come consternation!

As for the history of the Acoustic Guitar as we know it Ezine @rticles explains it.

"All about the Acoustic guitar

The bodies of cheap Acoustic guitars are typically made from laminated tonewood. More expensive Acoustics are made from higher cuts of solid spruce top wood On an Acoustic guitar, the material which the body is made from really matters, so those looking for a rich sound will want to choose a guitar with a body made from nicer wood such as spruce top wood.

The neck of the Acoustic guitar is usually made from maple, mahogany, or rosewood. However, some guitar necks are comprised of different woods. Yet again, the quality of wood does matter. Generally speaking, Acoustic guitars with necks made of a high quality maple or mahogany and bodies made with solid spruce top are quality guitars with great tone. These guitars usually cost $250 on up.

The vibration of the strings is amplified by the soundhole of the guitar. This is where all sound that you hear comes from."

My guess is my first Harmony acoustic guitar cost less than $250.00! But it was mine and I loved it. I learned "House of the Rising Sun" on that guitar! And so many more 60's songs. It was marvelous.

The image I am displaying today is an oxymoron of a acoustic guitar with both a soundhole and f-holes. I've not seen one like it but I am certain somewhere there may be one made like that. One does not really need both types of soundholes on a single acoustic guitar.

I did the vector graphic in CorelDRAW and used many different fills to give it such great coloring, as only a computer can. So bright colors for a bright and sunny day, seems reasonable enough.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Mischief Maker Makeshift Taker
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Electric Guitar Collage

I found another image of this collage I had done in 2006 or so. It was inspired by the eclectic sounds of the Electric Guitar. Those of us who use pickups are indebted to the makers of those first guitars experi-
menting with microphones and tungsten pickups to increase the volume of guitars in the Swing era. Wikipedia states it this way:

"The electric guitar was first used by jazz guitarists, who used amplified hollow-bodied instruments to get a louder sound in Swing-era big bands. The earliest electric guitars were hollow bodied acoustic instruments with tungsten steel pickups made by the Rickenbacker company in 1931. While one of the first solid-body guitars was invented by Les Paul, the first commercially successful solid-body electric guitar was the Fender Esquire (1950). The electric guitar was a key instrument in the development of many musical styles that emerged since the late 1940s, such as Chicago blues, early rock and roll and rockabilly, and 1960s blues rock. It is also used in a range of other genres, including country music, Ambient (or New Age), and in some contemporary classical music."

The advent of such guitars led a revolution in music that resounds still today. 1931 was a pretty long time ago, guitars themselves have ancient history behind them.

I for one am glad that the guitar as an instrument was invented. I happily play mine as often as I can. I know it is one of the most popular instruments of people world wide, and for good reason. One can play simple chords and strum or pick/pluck and make music that is at once melodic and rhythmic.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: King Crimson - The Court Of The Crimson King
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lute Like Guitars - Rounded Backs

When I have visited various Guitar Stores I have been fascinated by the rounded back guitars that are almost lute like.

Ovation Guitars have such a rounded back to them and have a unique history behind them. I again turned to Wikipedia for more information on these guitars. To quote them:

"Ovation guitars are differentiated by their composite synthetic bowl, rather than the traditional wooden back and sides of the modern acoustic guitar as produced by luthiers starting in the late 18th century. Ovation has also produced solid body electric guitars and active basses.

Developed starting in 1966 and introduced as the 'Balladeer' in February, 1967, Ovations reached the height of their popularity in the 1980s, where they were more often than not seen during live performances by touring artists if acoustic guitars were being played. Ovation guitars' synthetic bowl and early use (1971) of preamps, onboard equalization and piezo pickups were particularly attractive to live acoustic musicians who constantly battled feedback problems from the high volumes needed in live venues."

The image I share today is reminiscent of the Ovation guitar style. It was a vector graphic model done in CorelDRAW a couple of years ago. I added some abstraction to it so it wasn't like plagiarism. It has more of an oval body than traditional guitars.

They have a 2009 Collectors Edition that is very nice. I have played a few Ovations but never have owned one. They are unique to say the least.

I worked on a song last night. "Time For Us To Grow" using the chord sequence of Am C G with the chorus being Am G. It lacks a bridge as of right now, but a bridge is not always mandatory for me in my songs. It is a positive song about looking at where one is (or we are) and making sure we aren't in the wrong places. But the main thrust is that we are in a position to continue to grow as a person and make goals to reach, striving to avoid a sort of dementia state of mind. Unlike a zombie personality, growth is an important part of life.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Time For Us To Grow
via FoxyTunes

Monday, April 13, 2009

Grunge and Rust

There is something about decay, rust, and grunge. This photograph is one I took with a 35mm film Pentax K1000, and scanned it in. There is also something about Stencil lettering, it has a primitive look and feel to it.

Grunge as music is another story. I don't think I ever identified with the movement, but it did influence many mainstream artists. I have to admit I don't know a lot about it. Wikipedia states of Grunge:

"The early grunge movement coalesced around Seattle independent record label Sub Pop in the late 1980s. Grunge became commercially successful in the first half of the 1990s, due mainly to the release of Nirvana's Nevermind and Pearl Jam's Ten. The success of these bands boosted the popularity of alternative rock and made grunge the most popular form of hard rock music at the time.[1] However, many grunge bands were uncomfortable with this popularity. Although most grunge bands had disbanded or faded from view by the late 1990s, their influence continues to impact modern rock music."

Kurt Cobain became famous and was a martyr of the Grunge movement. I read parts of one of his notebooks that was published, at a book store, and was left with a depressed feeling. He did not seem to be very pleased with life in general.

I think that over all much of my early poetry and songwriting was depressed as well, young and disillusioned without much life experience can do that to a person. Now I like to write Folk Rock, and bluesy music that is more positive and upbeat in its outlook. I guess I am showing my age once again. Life experience can make one bitter and resentful or you learn how to cope better and you can adopt a more constructive viewpoint.

Even though "Eve of Destruction" was a favorite song in the past, "Ohio" by CSNY is also one I have played multiple times, my outlook is not bitter. For that I am thankful.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Summer 2008
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Colors, Fractals, and Guitar

Color on the computer is amazing you can take a simple 1024x768 image and load it with color. Add a subject, like a guitar, and tuning pegs, fractals and you have some eye candy.

I try to keep to the motif of the guitar as it is my main instrument for songwriting and it fits the mode of this blog's discussion.

So I am sharing a brightly colored image today as I contemplate my songwriting. I have been so busy I haven't hardly practiced in the last couple of days. I miss it. It leaves a bit of a hole when I don't practice or play the guitar. It is enjoyable and relaxing at the same time. So I want to get some in today if I can.

Practice is important isn't it? One needs to keep the fingers nimble and trained to play chords and some lead. Even though I don't play scales, which I should learn, it is important to play along with a chord progression that I have recorded. I find my lack of training here a true challenge, To use my ear for listening to the chords and lead parts played together to try and make a usable melody or guitar line for a song to balance it out.

A good song has many parts to it. When you are limited to one instrument, though you may have many guitar models due to software that is available at your fingertips, practice never makes perfect for me. I improvise a lot. Which makes it fun to build a song and accompaniment.

I try hard not to sound like myself over and over again. But after many years of playing guitar I have a style that doesn't go away, it is almost an institution with me. So the challenge is to sound fresh and new in spite of that. What are your challenges when it comes to songwriting? Rhythm, rhyme, reason? Whatever they are you must enjoy the journey to a place you havent' been before.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Starsailor - Four To The Floor
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Open Mic Night And You

A chair on a stage surrounded by many guitars. Open mic night, you can picture yourself there on the stage, imagining you are giving a great performance of your own music. Blues, Rock, Jazz, Folk Rock, Country, etc. What do you play and do you write your own works? Photograph credit Jim Anderson of Blue Front Blues Room.

Many of us have anxiety for performing and find it difficult to share in public. But a friendly audience is here tonight. Warm and welcoming. You relax a bit more as you move into your song. Your confidence builds as you play and become absorbed in the music. After you are done the audience applauds it's approval and you are ready for your next of three songs you can present tonight. Your patter is minimal, your stage presence is lacking professionalism. But that is not the point. You are sharing your music live!

Perhaps you have done this a few times, like I have. There is nothing like it. I recall one experience when I lost my song right at the last verse. I just stated "I lost the song!" and the audience empathized with me. So I announced that my mother n law was in the audience, 74 years old, she had come though not feeling well to hear me sing and play. At the time she was our only parent/grandparent left as all others had passed away. So the audience applauded her.

Then one of them began to sing part of my song aloud. This put me back on track and I was able to finish the song and play another two. It was a nerve racking experience but I was filled with adrenaline and I had to keep playing. The audience was so appreciative and supportive it really helped. Many of them were there to play and had experienced the same thing I had. I received a lot of encouragement after my performance by some very good performers.

It was worth it.

Here is a chord progression from Rikky Rooksby's book "How to Write Songs on Guitar". I found it enjoyable to play around with but with out a song yet. It is good for practice and inspiration to use these progressions found in his book. G Em G Em Am D Am D. Try it and you will like the way the minor chords give flavor to the structure.

By the way I have no affiliation with Amazon Books or Mr. Rooksby. I just have a copy of his book and find it very helpful for songwriting. Thus the reference and link. I owe the chord progression to his book so I owe a link to it. Perhaps you'll find it helpful too.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Sheryl Crow - Soak Up The Sun (Album Version)
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Guitars Sky

Guitar Sky speaks for itself. Abstract guitars in a cloudy but blue sky. If you look really close you can see it was a design for my CD entitled "Nonesuch Calling". Wishful thinking that Nonesuch Records would be producing my work, so a play on words.

Very busy today so this will be a shorter post than usual. I have to get sleep sometime.

Glad you tuned in for the view though, really happy. More to come another day.

Chord progressions are on my mind, and I will be writing about that soon.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Sheryl Crow - Leaving Las Vegas
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Snow and a Slow Day - Cat and Dog Play

Here is a photograph that I cropped and resampled for display. It is our cat Linus playing with my son's rat terrier, Jack-Jack. Linus hisses and growls but will play infrequently with Jack-Jack and it is very amusing to watch. Just before I took this they were both sunning themselves by the window. Then Jack-Jack got a bug for playing and they began.

It has snowed here again and we were just beginning to enjoy Spring like weather. Bummer. There was some accumulation of snow, even though the ground had been cleared of it and we had days in the upper 50's. Puts a damper on long walks, unless you are a winter person. Unfortunately I am not.

I worked on a song last night using a new chord progression and upbeat tempo. "Make Some Tracks" is a decent song with a positive approach to having a life without greed. That would change the world. But I doubt my song will!

I used CAm and FG with a bridge of G Am G Em ending on a G. I repeat the chords in succession for the beat. I did use a free sample from Dooley Drums again. Which made me play with the up tempo beat. Strictly a simple beat throughout the whole song with a cross fade in and cross fade out beginning and ending. It was a challenge to keep up with the tempo, a lot of fun!

In time I hope to subscribe to Dooley Drums for additional access to real drum loops and mp3's. Right now we are paying for a new roof and front deck and door on the house. It's always something. But I am positive that things are going along well as to be expected.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Make Some Tracks
via FoxyTunes

Monday, April 6, 2009

Off the Beaten Path - Abandoned Vacuum

Ever felt abandoned? Well here is an image for you. Off the beaten path my son Keir M Gatzka found this and took a photograph. An abandoned vacuum cleaner.

It is funny how the tree appears to have grown around the handle, like it is going to try and use it. I did little to the original, upped the saturation quite a bit in PhotoPaint, I left the funny angle of the photo alone. I like it's off kilter feel. Kind of like one might feel if abandoned like this.

I'm still reading about "The Five-Chord Turnaround" in Rikky's book. It lists quite a few progressions. I am examining them and will soon test them out on the guitar. I did notice one I believe I have used before: C Em Am F G, I'm almost certain I've used this turnaround for a song but I can't pinpoint it at this moment.

Before I get to that I need to write some letters. Yes, that is correct, write letters. It's an old way of emailing but with paper and ink and a postage stamp. Remember?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Talking Records - Dover Clip Art - Vectored

Talking Records is a piece using CorelDRAW and CorelTRACE to vectorize some Dover Clip Art from Dover Public-
ations. I have samples of this clipart and one page includes a number of music related pieces. Here I found what appears to be two banjos and either a guitar or a ukulele.

I traced both the banjos and the Talking Records old time logo in CorelTRACE. Adding some color in CorelDRAW and copy and pasting into PhotoPaint. I ended up with a mosaic-like image.

I have the desire to do some more guitar work but the day has yet to lend itself to such. I am in search of a new chord progression. I have found that if I start with a good progression songwriting is much easier. But good ones are difficult to come by. I have a really good book entitled "How To Write Songs on Guitar" by Rikky Rooksby. This is a great resource for chord progressions used by many writers. Making them your own is a key to a successful song.

I'm examining the subtopic "The Five Chord Turnaround" for some ideas. He has plenty of examples of song progressions of five chords structures. One sited is "Hey Joe" and "A Day In the Life" (the middle eight.) Using such chords as C G D A E. It is up to the songwriter to use the progressions in a fresh way adding their melody and lyrics.

That is only one example, Rikky has many in this fine publication. I use it for inspiration and for encouragment. One doesn't write songs in a vacuum. Ideas come from many sources.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - I Want To Be With You
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Milestone - 100th post - Guitar and Leopard

My 100th posting! More than I had anticipated in such a short time. I have been pretty busy and I am pleased to have done so many posts since I began this blog. I have tried to balance the posts between my Digital Visual Art and Music. At times it was hard to do so, but I have a creative streak that needs a place to express it. So when I lost my website because of the economy I found and another outlet for myself.

I am currently looking for photographs that are related to guitars or music performance to use here on my blog. If you have any that you would like to see digitally interpreted I would be happy to give you a credit and a possible link to your own blog or website in the post. I only have a few rules, photographs must be music related, preferably guitars or a performance of you playing your guitar. I reserve the right to select the link, it must be to a clean blog or website, no profanity or pornography allowed!

Blues, Rock, Country, Jazz are all acceptable subjects. And if you are a songwriter you will get a plug here online.

Today's image was done in PhotoPaint and I used KPT's Collection Pyramid Paint filter and overlaid a line art image using the object properties Multiply for transparency.

I was working on three new songs yesterday. "Everyday"; "Warm and Green"; and "I Want To Be With You." Sometimes a dry spell will last quite sometime and then suddenly I am engaged in a creative fever. "Everyday" is a Country Rock song about the days of the week. "Warm and Green" is a Folk Rock song about Springtime.

"I Want To Be With You" is a Jazz-like tune with simple lyrics and some singing without lyrics, I used a chord progression of Csus2 - Am7, Dm7 - G, F - E7 E, with a jazz tempo to the chords. I am not sure of the first chord designation as it is a modified C that a friend shared with me years ago and I have looked it up but I am not certain it is a Csus2. So much for professionalism. I know how to play it so I used it regardless of it's designation!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thinking Spring Despite the Weather

Wednesday afternoon was a beautiful time. Went for a long walk to visit neighbors and saw many of springs plants coming up. Just the tiny blossoms of the early flowers, many buds on the trees realy to pop out the leaves. It was sunny and warm, a bit windy but very nice.

Today there are whitecaps on the Lake, the wind is brisk and stern. The sky is overcast and gray. But I'm thinking Spring.

Here is a close up of some lilies that grew in our yard last season. I used Paint.NET and it's Artistic> Ink Sketch filter on the image after I cropped it close in PhotoPaint. We have theses waiting to bloom later in the season and I look forward to many nice days to come.

"Spring has Sprung
the grass has riz
I wonder where
the flowers iz?"

Said an old Archie comic. So we watch the lake curl it's whitecaps and the clouds obscure the sun, knowing that soon we will have beautiful flowers in our garden again this year. All we need is a little patience.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Seal - The Beginning
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Portrait - 1976 - Painter 8

Though it's a busy month I had time today to work on a piece of art. This is from a cropped photograph of my wife back in 1976. A friend of ours took our photographs with his 35mm SLR film camera It was a portrait of the both of us but I cropped out myself after I had scanned this in at 300dpi. I have had the photograph for sometime now.

I opened it in PhotoPaint and resampled it to enlarge it to 150% it's original size for a workable image. I used the Blur> Tune Blur Directional blur on it to smooth out the texture of the scan. Saving this file I opened it in Painter 8 and selected the acrylic brushes I painted the bulk of the piece. I used Liquid Ink for the highlights in the eyes and added the blue color as her eyes are blue.

I framed it in black and then did more of the background to finish it. My wife still is quite pretty after many years of married live. And best yet she still puts up with her artistic temperamental husband. That is a boon!

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Rem - Strange Currencies
via FoxyTunes