A month on now

What a difference a set of strings makes.

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Three weeks on

It's three weeks since I bought my new guitar and I must say more than liking it, I'm loving it.


Maybe I'm just getting used to the sound but even in the short time that I've been playing it, I think the sound has started to warm up a bit already. In terms of the quality of the sound it's definitely growing on me and I'm quite positive about this spruce-top instrument being the right choice for my own pieces. I haven't had the chance to play much classical music on it but when I have done, they don't sound too bad either. 


In some respects it feels like a harder guitar to play, especially when holding barres in higher positions. The neck profile is flatter than what I'm used to and that's throwing my not-much-to-speak-of technique a bit but I'm hoping I will be able to adjust my playing style to overcome this problem eventually. In other respects it actually feels a bit easier to play. Certainly tone production has ceased to be a struggle, especially on the upper strings, even with my doggy nails. And in terms of volume, I am finding it a hard instrument to play quietly! It's a roaring beast, wanting to make its presence known and while I haven't had the opportunity to test it out in a hall, it seems very responsive to driving hard, so to speak and seems to want to give more in volume the harder you push it. I really am looking forward to playing it 'for real' in not too distant a future, hopefully. 


All in all, it's onwards and upwards. One is happy!


My new guitar

I've got a new guitar now but what's interesting is how I got it!

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Went to see the great Gilbert Biberian at the Centre for Armenian Information and Advice yesterday, as a part of his 70th birthday celebrations. It was so nice to listen to him play and have a chat with him after a good 30 years although everybody else wanted to talk to him as well, of course! What a wonderful man! Long may he continue to enrich the world of classical guitar!



My latest Musicianship skills video is up and running now. It's in two parts and concludes the mini series on 'changing the key of a song to suit our vocal range'. Part A introduces musical notation and goes into the major scale more deeply which will eventually lead to the concept of key signatures, covered in Part B (which I haven't even started yet)!

By the way, practicing the classical guitar is going quite well and I may well be on target to have a half decent repertoire for busking in the summer.



I'm continuing to work on my little piece 'Easy' with the intention of recoding it both in its original solo guitar version and a band version for which my old friend Hairo Okanesseian is going to play the drums. I am looking forward to going to the studio with him.




In the past 10 days I have received two items of very sad news, the deaths of one of my best friend's mother and of the conductor Aram Gharabekian.


Suzanne was a woderful French woman whom I had the great pleasure of knowing for more than 30 years, since I met Tris his son when we were music students together at Middlesex Polytechnic. She was a very literate and generally well-educated and artistic woman and always encouraged and guided me and even helped me with the academic aspects of our studies. I always had the greatest respect for her and appreciated her kindness towards me. She will be dearly missed by all those who new her.


I knew Aram (known affectionately to us those days as Aramik) from Tehran when we were both scouts in the Armenian Ararat club. I only had one opportunity to speak to him and that was only when he had returned from Boston for a short visit home. I saw him rehearsing the music he had written for a play and was totally captivated by the sounds I heard. That single and short encouter has lasted with me all these years and I even remember the theme from one of the pieces they were rehearsing that night. It is amazing how such small encounters can make such a significant impact on you and I can honestly say that seeing Aramik at work was a real encouragement and simulus for me to at least attempt to pursue a musical career myself in a small way. He was only 58 and his death is a great loss to the world of music at large.



My first entry for 2014! Christmas and New Year are by now behind us although having just come back from central London, I feel more Christmassy again fter seeing the lights in Oxford Street and Regent Street! I know Christmas is about something much bigger than nice street lights and all that but a nice atmosphere does help the season feel more special. Unfortunately we've had a really miserable December in the UK this year, with rain and floods ruining a lot of people's enjoyment of the season but again for those who do appriciate Christmas for what it is worth, even the horrible weather can't dampen their spirits too much. My thoughts are with those who haven't had much of a 'Christamas' and whose houses and businesses have been flooded out but there is always hope for the future and may the new year bring a fresh start with many blessings to all.


As far as my projects for 2014 are concerned, I am just going to plod on with practicing, learning classical pieces and writing my own tunes as well as making both music and Musicianship Skills videos. There's an aweful lot to do so wish me luck; better still pray for me!



Well, my Christmas video is nearly ready, after spending a fair bit of time on it last night. Still a rather amateurish effort but a bit more sophisticated than last year's. I think I've even managed to get a half decent sound from my electro-classical (acoustically, of course) with nearly all acrylic nails, after a recent disaster when I managed to break all my natural ones! I'll upload it to YouTube tonight (possibly also to Vimeo). Many thanks to Michael Praverman, my good friend from church for videoing the street scenes. I've even kept in one of his witty 'off-camera' comments. See what you think.



I'm obviously not writing much in this column! Over the past three months I have been busy arranging my this year's 'musical Christmas card' and learning to play it, which has taken me ages as usual. It's now almost ready and after I have finished with the editing it will go on YouTube shortly. I have extended the video a bit this year, attempting to make it into sort of a story. Do take a look and let me know what you think. If you happen to be a guitarist and would like to have a go at playing the piece, I have made the music freely available for download on the On Offer page.


My wife and I had a really nice night out yesterday when we went to see one of my top acoustic guitar heroes, Doyle Dykes in the wonderful setting of Knebworth House in Hertfordshire. I even had a very short chat with him and got him to sign his Christmas album for me (I know, it was just an excuse to talk to him, really)! I always find him very inspiring to listen to and hearing him play live was a very uplifting experience. It was also very refreshing hearing a good musician talk about the 'real meaning of Christmas' for a change; he even got the Lord of the Manor (a mate of his, by the sound of it) to read from the Gospel of Luke! Now that's some gig! Listening to him play also reminded me of the tune I wrote last year inspired by him, which I'll start practicing again and hopefully record soon. Watch out for Fairwell Phoenix.  



Started work on the second Musicianship video. It was going OK until the cmera bettery ran out! I have ordered a spare battery now. As far as lighting is concerned, it's back to basics again with just the two umbrellas pretty close to me; it just about works. First attempt at shooting with two cameras; will see how it works when I start doing the editing.



More experimentations with lighting last night. I'm back to the old set up with the two lights on either side of me but at a longer distance away than before. I think I will definitely benefit from a hair light of some sort and the £3.00 desk lamp I got yesterday is the best thing I've found so far but needs a bit of dismantling! Now the search is on for a cooler bulb to go with it.



I've been working on my 'studio' for a while now and now it's a bit more decluttered and with all the walls covered in a black material (the stuff you put in the ground to prevent weeds growing through them) it looks the part a bit more than before. I'm still struggling with lighting though and I think the next video in the Musicianship Skills for Church Singers series will be another compromise. Still, better than nithing I suppose and I have learnt more about both the camera and lighting since I shot the first video so I am hoping that it will all come together somehow or another! I'm also woking on an arrangement of a Christmas carole for this year's musical Christmas card. More of that later.



Well, as of last night I now have a fully fledged Jimdo Pro website. Now I've really got to get my act together and produce some decent content for the site! I've got a few things on the shelf or brewing that I can start to add; I must have a couple of scores of my pieces nearly ready which may just need a little bit of tweeking and my first video in the series Musicianship Skills for Church Singers is nearly ready which can go on the For Churches page soon. I think I've go my work cut out but it's all going to be great fun!



We've been having a pretty good summer here in southern UK for a change but for me that has meant using the opportunity to do some external work on the house - yes, a man's work is never done! As a result of this I haven't had that much time to spend on music but I have at least managed to continue working on my first video in the series Musicianship Skills for Church Singers. The filming is finished and I'm in the process of editing it now; I recon it should be available very soon so watch this space!



Our friends at Jimdo reminded me that I hadn't logged in for three months so here I am! A lot has been going on since I last posted anything on my website and to be honest I can't be bothered to write about them! Suffice in saying that music has taken a bit of back seat. We'll see how it goes from now on.



Well. Christmas and New Year celebrations came and went and now it's back to normal (of a sort). After a year of playing predominantly the classical guitar and learning quite a few new pieces, I am going to get back to playing the acoustic more with the aim of writing more of my own music and just learning to play the ones I have aleady written!


As any website is only as good as its content, I'm working on that too, producing scores for my pieces and preparing to record as many videos of me playing and instructional ones as possible in the next few months. I'm even thinking of getting a fairly decent DSLR camera with HD video capability as well which will hopefully give me better quality videos. I'm still waiting for my mixer and matched pair of microphones to arrive, though and this is delaying my recordings. More on these anon.



Well, well, well, I do surprise myself! The aforementioned musical Christmas card is, believe it or not up and running. After spending a fair bit of time messing around with lighting and camera positioning and after umpteen attempts, I finally managed to come up with a half decent take which I edited and posted on YouTube last night. Now it's there in its full glory (or otherwise) for the world to see. It's just a little ditty to wish a Merry Christmas to all, really. It's on my video pages as well; I hope you'll enjoy it.



I was hoping I could go to town and do some busking today; the weather was so good for it! Alas, there was simply too much to do: I had to pick up the cat from the vets after a traumatic dental procedure, write a few more Christmas cards and so on. It would have been too rushed. Never mind, weather permitting I'll carry on soon after Christmas. Meanwhile, I'm working on a little musical Christmas card (which will hopefully be ready before Christmas)! Watch this space (but don't hold your breath)!



Not much music making today so far. Went out Christmas shopping with my wife, which was quite productive. Actually, I managed to pop into a music shop in the shopping centre and had a little play on a Koa Tanglewood acoustic, which was very playable but didn't think much of the sound. Mind you with my current state of nails I wouldn't have been able to make much of sound from any guitar!