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Silly Rascal Seeks Amnesty

January 17, 2014

Rascal Amnesty

 

Winter winds sweeping wild scents through an open doorway sometimes prove too much for an unbridled house dog to ignore.  Rushing past her hapless gatekeeper with determined curiosity the shifty hound howls: “You fetch the mail, I’m chasing sunshine!”

And the chase is on!  Leaping miniature hedgerows and bounding over circular driveways normally observed only through the windows of her royal chauffeured carriage, the red merle Aussie barks proudly: “Squirrels!  Pigeons!  Geckos!  Watch me run…free!  Free!  I’m Freeeeee!”

The neighbor three doors down, startled by the surprise afternoon visitor, gestures as if to ask “who are you who is sniffing round?”  A distant voice answers the commotion: “Rascal!”

Across the street a fraught golfer dives into a sand trap…oh, there’s a stroke of luck…claims his missing link.

“Rascal!”  Spotting her leather training leash waving overhead the domestic fugitive suddenly turns homeward and races toward amnesty.

“Sit…stay.”  Obedience.

“Did you enjoy yourself?”  Wide grin.  “Again, again!  I want to run again!”

“Oh no you don’t, Silly.  Fetch the mail!”

Season’s Greetings!

December 25, 2013

Season’s Greetings on this beautiful Christmas day!

My presence in the blogosphere has been sparse as of late with planning for new creative projects and studio work demanding attention.  On the other hand, I am excited about bringing these ideas to life and look forward to sharing them in 2014.  Until then, I hope to catch up with each of you soon.

Warm wishes for a joyous holiday and a happy, prosperous New Year!

Reach for the stars…and beyond

November 14, 2013

Reach for the stars…and beyond. Keep reaching. That’s the only way to discover life and live well enough to surpass its challenges.

“Time Standing Still”

September 10, 2013

One of the wonders of being an artist is sharing my music with a supportive and enthusiastic audience.  Completing a project and releasing it into the world always resonates excitement yet the anticipation assumes a certain risk-reward because you never know if a tune will soar across the stratosphere or sink into oblivion.

So, imagine my surprise and joy when I opened this email the other day:

Dear Mr Mahn,

I heard ‘Time Standing Still’ on Spa. It is brilliant piece of guitar music. Can you tell me if the print music is available? If not, can you tell me the chord progression? I would love to learn to play this piece. I bought your CD and I enjoy it very much. Thanks

William
Manistee, MI

As you might guess…this made my week!  I have experienced the good fortune of being honored by critics applause and I have savored an array of compliments from fans, friends and colleagues, but this is the first time anyone has expressed interest in learning to perform one of my tunes!

‘Time Standing Still’ appears on my debut album, Sanctuary, and it happens to be one of my favorites for guitar.  I gladly replied with details about the recording, noting that I performed the piece on a Cordoba flamenco guitar, similar to the model used by the Gypsy Kings, and jazz musician extraordinaire John Adams used a fretless bass to articulate the “chimes” and glissandi.

Since the sheet music is not published I provided a copy of the chord chart that we used in the studio.  I took the idea in a new direction on the title track of the next album, A Passing Moment, in which case I used a Taylor 612ceab and orchestrated it with a different palette.

Anyway, I enjoyed trading emails with Bill who, it turns out, picked up the instrument later in life.  Looking back I can name several songs or albums which inspired me to play and I would be thrilled to chat with those artists.

(Brings to mind the time I approached maestro Al Di Meola after a concert about how he records acoustic guitars.  I tried his advice in the studio and it sounded great!)

The world has certainly transformed in ways we never imagined before social media entered our lives.  Serious music discovery for me started as a teenager listening to terrestrial radio and swapping vinyl records and tapes with friends.  Now fantastic digital options like Spa are available everywhere and on demand.

Even so, in a certain sense the process still seems similar as we debate the latest release except these days I get to experience it in several dimensions.  In fact, when I think about the relationship between artist, work and audience I consider the encounter as more than simply engaging the public.

As I suggested in my last post, An Artist’s Purpose, art exists for the benefit of all involved.  We share something special through the exchange and, notwithstanding the quality of the work itself, the art form is the means of communication.

Connecting with people has always been most important and I am simply grateful for the honor.  After all, that’s what art is all about, right?

Thanks again, Bill, and enjoy your new guitar!

An Artist’s Purpose: Beginning With The End In Mind

August 12, 2013

A moment comes when every artist must answer this basic question: is my creativity meant to express my outlook and how I feel, or is my purpose to help my audience examine their outlook and discover how they feel, to help reveal and examine the truths already surrounding them?

Perhaps it freely spans somewhere in-between like a pendulum arcing point to point?

The late great violinist Isaac Stern set the stage well in the documentary From Mao To Mozart: “Every time you pick up the instrument you are making a statement, your statement.   And it must be a statement of faith that you believe this is the way you want to speak.”

What to say is a matter of inspiration and perspective.  Distinctive ideas, values and experiences meld with continual curiosity and observation to form the perspective behind the work (and artistry is work like any other, albeit within a specialized profession). The way one chooses to speak is a matter of personal preference, skill and ingenuity.

Apart from the essence of creativity and the various methods and idioms applied in a craft or discipline, purpose combines with perspective and personality to mold the inextricable identity of an artist (life and art are one).  Art expresses not only ideas but also the underlying quality and substance of a creator’s viewpoint.

People connect with compelling impressions and what is communicated can affect the audience in many ways.  Indeed, an artist should be conscious of appeal and influence.  The mature person recognizes both individual and community interests and proceeds with a certain sense of equilibrium, respecting one’s own impetus while transcending egoism to participate in the world and contribute something to it.

Of course, we each must use our intelligence to clarify feelings and reconcile our efforts with greater purpose.  We also need to lean on each other every day to survive and, more importantly, to thrive.  Troubles, trials, and tragedies are part of life.  So are peace and harmony.  While difficulties can offer opportunities for us to rise above and grow together, we must not wait for adversity to forge the bonds of unity.  We should strive to appreciate the good and the bad.

But sometimes the spirit is elusive, often because we are constantly on the go, hardly stopping to listen. People do not like to be shaped by others even when their days are at a standstill.  Many will often hold on stubbornly to misery rather than yield to a love that would liberate.

Music, literature, film, et al, each opens windows to transformative powers, alternatives to perpetual motion that are designed to pause and reflect on events, then move on.  The key is letting go, letting be, letting grow.  We give ourselves permission to relax enough to let go of what restricts us, to let a new way of being into our lives and let consequent growth occur.  Just as rest and relaxation renew our bodies and emotions, so love renews our whole being and shapes our minds and hearts to divine values.

When I engage in the recurring roles of composer, lyricist, philosopher, poet and critic, my objective is to use my worldview to illustrate obstacles and triumphs as I experience and observe them.  Verse, image and melody can lead a person through the peaks and valleys of life.  In the end, turning attention from lingering on the scenes left behind to view in one’s own unique way what lies beyond the other side of the mountains, challenging people with this simple directive:

Open your gaze to the empty road ahead.  The rest of the journey is yours to choose.  Just lead the way….

Elevate & Celebrate!!!

 

©2013 GWMIII. All Rights Reserved.

Why Lend A Hand, Anyway?

July 12, 2013

Many events and circumstances arise that beckon us to help people and we should not hesitate to reach out whenever possible.  Sadly, the response to offer support often falters when faced with the inconvenience of a situation or some self-inhibition.  Instead of making excuses or pointing fingers we should seek well-founded mutual solutions.

Why lend a hand, anyway?  Not because it feels good or that we too might need help someday or even because it seems like the right thing to do.  We ought to help someone simply because he or she needs help.  Everyone deserves the dignity of being human, always and especially during a time of need; to be valued as a person regardless of the conditions or challenges or status in society.

This subtle difference in viewpoint yields significant difference in thinking and action.  Only then can we really make our world a better place.

Whispers in the Wind

June 10, 2013

the lashing of tempest seas
mortals scarcely imagine
under sundrenched skies
natures distant turbulence
strewn across stony headlands

hours passed round the windswept lighthouse
watching memories roll over and drown
til final farewells returned shore

waves never escape the sea
neither death nor desolation
seize my last breath drawn in bitter surf
stars light a path trekked many times
it’s not weariness or loneliness
madness or even my own wits
dares bid my name surrender

whispers in the wind
speak of life yet to come
I simply turn to listen

 

©2013 Gentry Avenue Productions. All Rights Reserved.

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