Dear Neil, here’s the integral recording of our set in Freiburg. No cuts and no edits; just ran it through some mastering plugins. I am so glad we got the opportunity to do this and I’m sure we’ll be able to do it again. Here, there, anywhere. Anytime!
Here’s a nice follow-up to the first EUROMicroFest-event. It started out as a little joke, the night before the Cologne-event…
… and turned into an actual opportunity to play with the microtonal guitar hero with whom I’ve been in contact ever since I first met him at the Dutch Fretless Guitar Festival in 2007. Neil carries along a bag full of microtonal experience and it’s an honor – and a pleasure! – to share the stage with him. I hope this will be the start of a new transatlantic fretless collaboration. Because remember, fretless is more!
There’s a life before, and there’s a life after the EUROMicroFest 2013. I mean: being microtonal at home is nice and all, but going out to perform and lecture resulted in rewarding responses from the audience and interesting conversations with my colleagues.
One of them, composer Todd Harrop – who presented his research on the Bohlen-Pierce scale plus a survey of his compositions for BP-clarinets – summarized the weekend on his blog.
Performing again with Etienne was a thrill and a treat. And although we have both changed in so many ways, our musical instincts are still in tune with each other. He’s definitely the most microtonal drummer I’ve ever heard!
“I am really and happily moved by the performance you both did on Saturday. Because it is sophisticated yet unheroic and very lively in the sense of the unexpected.”
Martin Wolf (audience)
On sunday, I talked about how I got into microtonalism and my instruments. I spoke about my intuitiv approach to the fretless guitar and how I’m able to use it in conventional settings. Also, I showed the theoretical inspiration for my 41-tone guitar, the H-system by Aaron Hunt.
This project started out with my wish to have a 10-string multiscale headless electric fretless guitar with a tertian tuning consisting of pure major thirds.
To compensate the smaller intervals between the strings I thought I could add some more. So I had to choose and why not 10? Since this was going to be the prototype, I could always leave some out, or add some more!
The guitar is made of swamp ash (neck-through-body) with a snakewood fingerboard.
About the pickups: I am a big fan and I know the people behind it, so it was easy to get these. They are actually these, only with some more windings, I guess.
So what do I do with it?
In the first place… IMPROVISE! That’s what I like to do best, with one person in particular: drummer Etienne Nillesen. We are planning a new recording session soon, so please be patient! Please check out my Extended Play page if you like!
In this period [early 2006] 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…
Well, I must admit, this is not completely true! I found a ‘home’ recording of myself dubbing over a soundcollage from an internetfriend (also a jazz guitar student at that time, living in Buenos Aires, Argentina). We were both moving away from a traditional approach to something new, unknown…
(I’m more on the left channel, he’s more on the right)
Can improvisational freedom be reached by conventional musical means? Drummer Etienne Nillesen and guitarist Melle Weijters have found an unparalleled answer to this question by redefining their roles and redesigning their instruments. These acoustic visionaries draw their audiences into profound conversations characterised by equality, eloquence, and ecstasy.
Grok (pronounced [ɡɹ̩kʰ]) is a word coined by Robert A. Heinlein for his 1961 science-fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land, where it is defined as follows:
Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience.
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…
fret 1 |fret|
verb ( fretted , fretting )
1 [ intrans. ] be constantly or visibly worried or anxious : she fretted about the cost of groceries | [with clause ] I fretted that my fingers were so skinny.
• [ trans. ] cause (someone) worry or distress.
2 [ trans. ] gradually wear away (something) by rubbing or gnawing : the bay’s black waves fret the seafront. • form (a channel or passage) by rubbing or wearing away.
• [ intrans. ] flow or move in small waves : soft clay that fretted between his toes.
noun [in sing. ] chiefly Brit.
a state of anxiety or worry.
ORIGIN Old English fretan [devour, consume,] of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vreten and German fressen, and ultimately to FOR- and EAT .
1 Art & Architecture: a repeating ornamental design of interlaced vertical and horizontal lines, such as the Greek key pattern.
2 Heraldry: a device of narrow diagonal bands interlaced through a diamond.
verb ( fretted , fretting ) [ trans. ] [usu. as adj. ] ( fretted)
decorate with fretwork : intricately carved and fretted balustrades.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French frete ‘trelliswork’ and freter (verb), of unknown origin.
each of a sequence of bars or ridges on the fingerboard of some stringed musical instruments (such as the guitar), used for fixing the positions of the fingers to produce the desired notes.
verb ( fretted , fretting ) [ trans. ] [often as adj. ] ( fretted)
1 provide (a stringed instrument) with frets.
2 play (a note) while pressing the string down against a fret : fretted notes.