Friday, November 23, 2007

MySpace Music Page

I set up a MySpace Music page:

James Swan: MySpace Music Page

I never thought I'd do something like this, but my dear friend Alice was up from Nashville and "inspired" (for lack of a better word) me to set up a music page. She's an extremely gifted songwriter and singer. My friend Alice is the real deal when it comes to music. Please visit her webpage and listen to some of her songs. In order for me to access certain features of her MySpace music page, I had to have an account. Alice was the last person I performed with. We had a 3 piece (guitar, violin, stick) doing her songs. I never thought I'd really share any of the musical things I did, because I no longer feel like that person.

I played guitar as a kid. In my 20's I switched back and forth between guitar and bass. In my 30's I bought a Chapman Stick as a joke, and fell in love with the instrument. I played it fairly regularly for a few years. I play all the instruments on the MySpace page, except drums. I was typically interested in Rock, Jazz, Progressive Rock, New Age, and Avant Garde type of stuff.

I lost interest in practicing and playing in the late 90's. This of course, was around the time God's grace really was poured out on me, and my realization of my stubborn rebellious heart against the Lord. I began really delving into understanding God's Word, and trying to live my life corum deo. I'm not one who is good at multitasking. It's either practicing music, or studying the Word of God and theology. It was a simple decision to make as to which would fill up my time.

I never really considered myself a musician anyway. I never really felt I had any natural talent for it (and some of you listening will most likely agree). I would practice for hours, and then feel as if I haven't gotten anywhere. Then I would stop playing for 6 months, only to start up again with zeal and fervor.

Music could become a real idol for me, even to this day. It's one of the reasons I can't go to churches with worship bands. I'm too busy during the service critiquing the guy playing guitar and bass, or actually worshipping the guy playing if he's really good. In my church, we have an organ and piano, and the pastor leads a hymn sing. It's perfect, at least for me. The emphasis is on worship.

On the tracks posted on the MySpace page, I played everything except the drums. I even sing on one of the tracks (my German Shepherd used to howl when he heard me singing). For the guitar tracks, I used a left-handed Gibson Les Paul, and a late 50's Gibson L-4 acoustic. For the bass tracks I used a Fender right-handed Fender P-Bass strung up left handed. The Chapman Stick I play right handed, because I couldn't figure out how to reverse the strings to make the instrument function for a left-handed person.

The Songs
1. "Sparta on Stick" was one of the first things I wrote on Stick. I had probably been playing the instrument a few months. It may sound like a guitar, or keyboards and bass, but it is actually just Stick and drums. The Stick is an incredible instrument, and can sound like different instruments at the same time.

2. "Possible Worlds" is actually an edited version of a 13 minute acoustic track I put together. I had planned on doing a bass line to it, but never got around to it. I used my Gibson L-4, which gives it a different sound than say, your typical Martin acoustic.

3. "Choirs and See What I See" is three songs combined. The track begins with an instrumental new age stick thing featuring a sample of the late Walter Martin (author of "Kingdom of the Cults), called "A Miracle Could Happen". Don't ask me why I picked him- it was actually an improv'd thing I did on a Tascam 4 track recorder one night. If I recall, the Martin tape just happened to be within reach. The second song "Choirs" is kind of like a Yes meets U2 instrumental. I recorded all the bass parts, and then recorded the guitar parts. The third song, "See What I See" is my only attempt at doing something very "hard rock". I wrote the lyrics while going through the Philosophy program at college. The lyrics speak of my worldview confusion at the time. Now, by God's grace, I look back at the person I was, and praise God for His salvation in Christ. Feel free to howl along like my German Shepherd did.

4. "Leaving All the Angels" was also done around the same time, and features multiple guitar tracks, and some odd time signatures. This track is probably 3 minutes too long, but I still enjoy listening back to all the parts working together as a tight package. I had lyrics for it, but never recorded them.

5. "Happy Trauma" is a live basement 4 track recording of a Stick and Drums, with a sax (I did not play the saxaphone). While it is a bit sloppy at times. It kind of flip flops between country and jazz. I also overdubed some keyboards in the far background.

6. "Then Get Out" is a 4 track Stick recording that I improv'd one night with a drum machine. The sampled vocal is an avant garde Jazz musician being interview on the radio. I always found it funny how the avant garde crowd takes their noise so seriously. They have such a contradicting worldview. They play (allegedly) without rules, while when they discuss their music, they do so with much logic and thought. Kinda like how John Cage would've never applied his musical standards to collecting mushrooms.

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