"Story of Light" illuminated harpAs 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.

"Story of Light" illuminated harpOne 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/

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