As I prepare for touring as the electric harpist in Steve Vai’s “Story of Light” tour, I’m in a time machine.
One minute I’m back at U.C. Berkeley, throwing myself on the floor during a practice session and sobbing “Why do I always have to work twice as hard as everyone else just to be half as good???”
Then I’m 3 years down that road, pulling out every elementary practice trick I can think of (like using 10-coins to count out 10 repetitions of a practice pattern – or using a timer to help me focus). And then combining those low-tech tricks with sophisticated looping and audio-tempo-control software. The old tricks are just as good as the new tricks. They’re all great.
It’s slow pulling the music together. Sometimes I feel like I focus more on preparation than ‘doing’ – but the point here is to internalize the music so it comes out of my hands naturally, and to do that I need to really ‘know’ it and make it mine. It needs to infuse every part of my musical-self, not just the space between my fingers and the strings.
One way I do that is to keep clarifying the musical blueprint – the manuscript – until I understand how the piece works as a machine.
And I’m passionate about machines, so when I say I want to understand it ‘as a machine’ I mean I want to merge with it as a single mechanism, so that the piece and I move with one intention, no thinking, no separation between music and player.
Once the blueprint of each musical machine makes perfect sense to me, that blueprint becomes superfluous, the music is one single idea, the machine is alive and I am simply the ghost in the machine.
To read more in the Rock Harp Diaries, go to: https://hipharp.com/blog/category/rockharp-diaries/
I can’t tell you how much I admire your artistry, tenacity and VERVE, Deborah! You have what it takes to “merge” with this music in your own inimitable way. Keep counting those coins!
Sounds equally fun and scary.You’ve definately put in your time and are way beyond being hip enough to have a leather jacket show up! I’ve been a fan since I first heard you play at a club in San Diego in 1989, then watched all the top folk harpists of the times watch you at a folk harp conference probably in 1990. Everyone ‘s eyes were bulging out of their heads, and their jaws dropping down to their knees, especially the top players of the time.Have they come up with a light weight, airplane case to go with your carbon harp? How are you transporting it? Best wishes for a fabulous tour!
Listen to your music often and when I saw this I had to send a link…….
I love everything about a watermelon.
I hope you are well -you look mahvelous. -S