My Romance

Funny, I already liked the 5/4 thirds before I even knew what they exactly were…:

The arrangement is from 2005 and appeared on the album ‘Making Choices’ (2006) by the Carlo Nardozza Quintet. The melody is played with the use of harmonics on the open strings of the guitar.

From a CD-review from that time:
The last song of the album is an amazing version of ‘My Romance’, inspired by the guitarist’s collaboration with African kora player Zou Diarra: the acoustic guitar is accompanied only by toms in the distant, and this standard – just recognizable – becomes a meditation reminiscent of My Goal’s Beyond from John McLaughlin.

I will try to explain the Just Intonation ratios from the notes of the melody. The song is in the key of E Major, so this gives a 5/4 third (G#, 5th harmonic on the low E-string) and a 5/3 sixth (C#, 5th harmonic on the A-string). Other natural harmonics include the 4/3 fourth (A, 3rd harmonic on the D-string), the 3/2 fifth (B, 2nd harmonic on the B-string) and the 2/1 octave (E, 2nd harmonic on the high E-string).

For the 2nd (F#), I had two options: for the higher octave I used the 5th harmonic on the D-string which becomes a 10/9 just minor tone in relation to E as 1/1. For the lower octave I used an artificial harmonic (2nd harmonic from the 4th fret D-string) which belongs to 12ET. The last note to complete the scale is the major seventh. I picked this as an artificial 3rd harmonic from the 1st fret G-string) and also belongs to 12ET.

Mel’s Gibson

Since 2009 I own this beautiful 1917 the Gibson harpguitar. Initially, I borrowed this instrument for the recording of When the Caged bird Sings’ but afterwards I couldn’t do anything else than just buy it.

Here’s an excerpt from our CD.

‘When the caged bird sings’ is an anthology of poems by the 19th century Afro-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), selected and set to music by vocalist Roderik Povel.

There are many stories to be told about harp guitars in general (here), Gibson harp guitars (here) and my instrument in particular. There is a very amazing picture gallery which shows Gibson harp guitars in the hands of their original owners, go take a look!

Every time I look at those images, I ask myself the following questions: would it be possible to recognize my very own guitar? Can I trace back (parts of) its history? What did it sound like in those days and how did it survive in such a great shape for almost a century?

One day, I was at the Amsterdam Public Library browsing the guitar history books. First, I opened up ‘Acoustic guitars and other fretted instruments: a photographic history’ by George Gruhn & Walter Carter. Quickly, I scanned the pages. And yes, there were harp guitars, but no, it was not mine. A reviewer wrote: ‘The chapter ends with two pages on the harp-guitar, again probably a true reflection of their (lack of) general importance.

And then, there was this book: ‘the Chinery Collection – 150 years of American Guitars’. Easily found the pages on the harp guitars and there she was, in full glory… I recognised every scratch and every dint, no doubt about it, I found her!

So know I knew the guitar was part of the Chinery Collection. But who was Mr. Chinery and how did the guitar end up in my hands? Many questions remain unanswered at this point, but there are some clues on this page at An interview with Scott Chinery in his guitar room – including a glance of my guitar – can be seen here.

Rubber Duck

why would a conservatory trained jazz guitarist…

…lose his frets?

The fretless guitar was not a subject at my conservatory. It started as an experiment in the first year after my final exam (2005). Somewhere around my 25th birthday I picked up my pimped Hohner G3T Licensed by Steinberger Headless Fretless at my customizer.

In August 2006 ‘Fret de la Tourette’ performed at the Dutch Fretless Guitar Festival in the Hague. Embraced with the energy of bashing drums and stomping bass lines, ‘Rubber Duck’ floated on the waves of the fretless sea.

This tune was my compositional contribution to CNQ‘s album ‘Making Choices’. In this period my first electric guitar, a Maya Strat copy, brutally lost her frets. Since that moment, she has never seen a stage, recording session or rehearsal room; a ‘personal affair’ we might say…

In this piece, a melody consisting of sixteen dotted quarter notes beat against a six bar bebop comping pattern (see leadsheet). Soloing in 4 builds up from muted trumpet through aggressive alto saxophone into destructive guitar. Picture me having a fight with my Rubber Duck in a bathtub…