Of Codas and Preludes
posted in practice on april 5th, 2015
Coda is commonly defined as "a concluding passage that brings a piece to an end." True though this definition may be, I find that it also short-changes proper endings. A good coda is more than just "an end" – it also serves to "create a sense of balance," a way to "look back" on a composition and "take it all in."
As part of the 2015 redesign and relaunch of Ravenna Flamenco, the coda struck me as a good metaphor for bringing this blog to a graceful end. For an eventful five (-ish) years, I used this space to record my pursuit of flamenco – in all its puzzlement, glory, and inexplicability. More recently, my playing is much less storied. I still play (almost) daily, but I play much more these days just for the music itself – and much less with an ear toward performance and collaboration.
Which is why I’ve decided to pen a closing post, to wrap things here up.
Of course, if this is the first thing you’re reading here, this post is also a prelude (blogs are weird like that). If that’s the case with you, I can think of no better way to sum up the goals of this project than to go back to its beginning. In the first post in this collection, for instance, I wrote that:
"I’ve reached a point in my playing where I’m beginning to play for and with other flamenco enthusiasts. But, unlike the rock and blues I’ve grown up with – and played in turn – I have no idea how this is all really supposed to work. [This blog is] a running account of my transition from playing alone at home (with myself, as it were) to working with – perhaps one day performing with – other flamencos."
I did eventually figure some things out about "how flamenco works" (though certainly not everything), and I did go on to play and perform with other flamencos. These posts represent a running account of the listenting, practice, performances, lessons learned, and all the people I met along the way.
At the risk straining this metaphor too far, I’ll call out one last musical direction: simile, which means to "continue applying the preceding directive, whatever it was, to the following passage."
For me, the "preceding directive" – the one that has driven me all along – has always been to pursue music in the way that I find most fulfilling, in whatever form that might take. I suspect this is why, even after 27 years, I still enjoy playing guitar.
That said, my playing has changed over the last few years. I’m more interested these days in playing for its own sake, for the enjoyment of the music alone. The time I spent pursuing gigs in cafes and at private events was an irreplacable part of my flamenco education. As was the years I spent accompanying dancers and singers (this especially). These days, however – and for the last few years, really – I’ve felt the need for less of that hustle, have been more content to take my pursuit of music as a chance to switch gears, unwind after a busy day (or, as is more often the case, spend an hour with my guitar in the morning over coffee as a way to start things off).
Be that as it may, my ongoing pursuit of flamenco is still something I’m keen on sharing. Less in the play-by-play of a blog (you’d likely find accounts of my morning practice sessions at least lethally dull), and more along the lines of continuing to share out the bits of flamenco knowlede I’ve picked up over the last 14 or so years. That’s one of the reasons I’ve given the site a refresh. This is also why I’ve taken the time to rebuild the metronomes from the ground up.
What exaclty the pace of this sharing will look like is hard to say. I do plan to build out metronomes for the remaining major palos in the coming months. I’ll also be looking for ways to continue to improve them and add features folks might find useful. I do plan to add more tab and articles in time, but I don’t have much of a roadmap for this at the moment (that will certainly depend on where my musical interests turn!).
In the meantime, please do enjoy the updated site and metronomes. You should find getting around and finding related material easier – and you should see additional metronomes coming out shortly. As always, I enjoy seeing your comments and suggestions, so please do feel free to reach out – either in comments here on the site, or on any of the usual socials: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and G+.
And then – as always – go play!