Saturday, January 30, 2010

My guitar buddy, Bill Cooley

Bill Cooley is not a household name...unless you happen to live at Bill Cooley’s house…or at Kathy Mattea’s house. Kathy Mattea is one of the truly great musical artists whose voice lends itself to a variety of musical styles. From “18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses” to “Where Have You Been?” to her provocative CD “Coal”, her constant musical companion has been lead guitarist Bill Cooley.

I met Bill on the forum at and it turns out that we not only share a love of guitar playing, we share a birthday. We also share that birthday with Jimmy Page and Les Paul!! That’s all “good company”.

Bill has released several CDs of his own music that deserve attention. You can find out more at

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ave Verum

A video of my arrangement of Mozart's "Ave Verum" is now available on Youtube Also available for the guitar players out there, is a chart on my website

The experience of video recording this motet was a summation of some of the joys and trials of being a Musician in the Middle of Nowhere.

--Finding a room in our 900 square foot house large enough to position the camera for two difference angles.

--Working with our noisy surroundings--the slim but real possibility that the phone might ring, a rooster who crows morning, noon, and night, and the ticking of the wood stove (you can hear this last one at the end of the song).

--Lousy lighting 'cause it's the middle of winter in upstate NY, although the sun did shine enough to cause a reflection on the guitar.

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Quotes About the Guitar

Did you know that Ludwig van Beethoven once called the guitar a “miniature orchestra”? Did you know that Beethoven never wrote anything for the guitar?

Frederick Chopin, the Polish piano composer once said, “Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, save perhaps two.” Chopin also never wrote anything for the guitar.

The eminent guitarist Charlie Byrd once said, “The guitar is the sound of simplicity in a technological age.” Perhaps that is why it is so difficult to write for.

And classical guitarist Andre Segovia said, “Among God's creatures two, the dog and the guitar, have taken all the sizes and all the shapes, in order not be separated from the man” which doesn't have anything to do with the other quotes but sure sounds impressive!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My guitar buddy, Chris Woodward

Chris Woodard is an extraordinary musician: a fine guitarist, a teacher, a recording artist. I met Chris in 1982 in Ithaca, and over the years I was privileged to play on several recordings of his with Celtimorphosis, visit . Chris not only plays classical and fingerstyle guitar, he also plays a variety of pick styles, as well as lead guitar. Chris gave me my one and only lesson on slide guitar- over the phone!

Chris’ solo album “Guitar Stories” is available through his web site:

Monday, January 4, 2010

On Writing Music

I write to task. I seldom sit down and write something just because I think I should, although my string quartet would probably fall into this latter category. I write with a specific performance in mind, a particular set of lyrics or idea, a deadline. Because of this I have never experienced what is known as “writer’s block”.

My composition teacher at SUNY Fredonia (NY), Walter Hartley, once said about writing, “If you are a composer, you will pick a note to start on. If you are a really good composer, you will choose a second note and it will be the Right Note.” It took me over 10 years to understand this. What he was saying is that the second note is “right” not only because it leads from the first note, but it also leads to the third note. That’s what makes it so difficult.

When writing a vocal piece, I try to let the words sing for themselves. Words are very lyrical, very melodic, if you know how to listen. This also does not happen overnight.
You can check out some of my music on

Friday, January 1, 2010

Free on the First, "Miriam's Dance"

Welcome to the very first "Free on the First" post. At the beginning of every month, I'll be offering a free download of music, sheet music, guitar tabs, etc. Let me know how you like this one, it's called "Miriam's Dance":