Guitar Circle Of Italy Meeting

+ In-house performance for invited guests

Friday 14 – Sunday 16, March 2008

Cesclans, Italy


A report by Alessandro Bruno.

Cesclans, Friday 14-03-2008

8 people around a table: Adriano, Filippo, R. Deiana, R. Duse, Stefano, Cristina, Michele, and myself; having dinner at 20:45: vegetable soup and tortilla gently prepared by the 2 Robertos: the Coordinators/Facilitators.

Silence, possibly knocking for a while at the door, was let in, and the room was filled with this nourishing presence, bringing also a gift in the form of an answer to a doubt I had about this very weekend…

The sky was cloudy but no rain. 5 people are living in this building (where the kitchen/dining room is), 3 in a smaller one, and then we have another shed we’re going to use as a ballroom.

We went there in fact just after dinner and kitchen completion and, at 22:15 to have our inaugural meeting.

In turns we introduced ourselves declaring our aim: it’s 5 “old timers”, here to complete a 3 months project, 2 new entries, and me: the supervisor.

At 22:45, after a short break, we encircled with the guitars.

We begun with a simple circulation choosing any note; we went on for a while, and then we got a pulse and placed the notes on beats 1 and 4 of bars of 5: here we began to stretch our attention…

We then moved to a Bach Prelude: each of us was previously provided with the score and the instructions, the intention was to play it as a circulation; we begun with the first 4 bars and, once we had them, we moved to the next 4. We worked it out in the end although some of us had difficulties in memorizing the whole sequence of notes.

Just after midnight we decided to go to bed, but just before that, the trio known as “The Quails” (Filippo, Adriano, Al) run through 3 pieces: Sgommarello, Se solo Sapessi, and Starving Moon. Then performed An Easy Way and Blockhead for few people still in the room.

In bed after one in the morning.

Cesclans, Saturday 15-03-2008

After an almost sleepless night (a natural tendency to restlessness when changing bed, plus noisy heaters going on and off throughout the whole night), I woke up surprisingly ok.

And that’s the Schedule:

07:00 Rise

07:30 Sitting

08:15 Breakfast – Which was actually 8:30 for Filippo and Stefano (who were on duty) had troubles with the coffee machines.

09:30 Guitar Circle: warm-up – Right hand/division of attention: alternate and cross picking playing patterns of 3-4-5 notes, tapping the foot with the metronome and, eventually, counting groups of bars… – Left hand featuring Adriano’s killer exercise inspired by Tony’s “11 Patterns”: it’s all the possible 3 fingers combinations with 2 fingers on D strings and 1 on the A string, each played ostinato for 1 or 2 minutes and then changing to the next one.

10:30 Break

10:45 Guitar Circle continues: The Header for this one would be: “Get to know the fret board with Phil”. Using the related Primary, he showed us some basic elements (vertical sequence of fingering patterns) to get points of reference and one possible key to practice the scales.

Then still Filippo presented the parts he worked out from a section of The Construktion Of Light: it’s just the beginning, but this is amazing stuff!

11:45 Break – For most of us, but not for Cristina and I who had to run to the kitchen to get the instructions from the coordinator(s), but we ended up being late anyway: I took some time to introduce Cristina to the GC Kitchen, mentioning the main Principles and the rules deriving from them.

12:00 While we were preparing lunch (pasta with broccoli and cheese), the rest of us worked on the repertoire.

13:00 Lunch – We were 15 minutes late, but the strange thing was that the whole team showed up in the dining room at 13:15, exactly when the food was on the table, although we didn’t announce any delay!

During the meal I asked for comments/observations and, when it came down to the punctuality issue, I said that we had been running 15 minutes late because of a mistake in the schedule programming: I didn’t allow a bit of time between the completion of the Guitar Circle and the beginning of lunch preparation; but why they all came in late was a different issue. We spoke about why it’s so important for us to be punctual, and in the end we agreed that we should adopt the same attitude of when we need to catch a train: we know that if the train is leaving at 12:00, even being there at 12:00 is too late…

We ate a tiramisu gently made and offered by R. Duse’s wife: delicious!

14:30 Guitar Circle again – after a C Maj. Circulation we approached some more repertoire: TEOTN, Thrack, All Or Nothing, Rescue: AON was pretty bad; the rest was not yet there but workable.

15:30 The 2 Robertos left for tea time preparation. We kept going.

16:00 Tea Time – The Quails played Bicycling To Afghanistan: a slowish (around 88 bpm) but accurate version: our best so far.

While R. Deiana was doing “money matters” a couple knocked at our door: my wife’s cousin and her husband, who live in the area, came to visit us. We offer them tea and cake, then we invited them to join us in the ballroom for a brief informal performance.

At 17:00 we played:

Circulation C Maj
Se Solo Sapessi
All Or Nothing
Bach Prelude

The latter in 2 times: first the whole piece without the outro, then only the outro.

The audience, either with an applause or a comment, gave us feedback every single piece.

They left us a bottle of wine and a traditional Easter bread and left while we were waving goodbye.

17:30 Break

17:45 Guitar Circle – “Get to know the fret board with Phil”- chapter 2: he invited us to explore experiencing the difference playing the C Maj scale with just a slight change: E flat instead of E natural; which makes C Melodic minor scale. We first saw what this implies in our “vertical sequence of fingering patterns”, we played it throughout all together, then we circulated: beautiful! We do it again, this time with thumbs: even more beautiful…

18:15 Adriano and Michele left the Circle to go to the kitchen together with the coordinators/facilitators to show them recipe and ingredients for the meal, I follow them to “initiate” Michele in the GC kitchen.

18:30 – As I go back to the ballroom I found a pretty loose situation, but we encircled again and kept working on TCOL: we managed to play all the 3 voices for an entire loop!

19:00 Quiet Time – I had to invite a couple of people to shut up, and then, at around 19:25, one of us was outside on the premises talking loud on his mobile phone: maybe for some of us this call for Quiet Time was too demanding, but it was definitely also a missed opportunity.

19:30 Dinner – Rice with stuffed vegetables. The quality of the kitchen defines the quality of the whole event; also, as we get more punctual with the meals everything else falls into place.

We have a confirmation of 4 people (Duse’s friends) coming tomorrow morning at 11:00; this led us to coordinate the few hours left until the moment of the performance.

We also talked about the future and discussed all the practicalities, preventing this way our final meeting tomorrow from being too long.

21:30 Back to the Circle – We elected a set list manager: Filippo. He called out the pieces one by one to check if the stage they were at, was good enough for them to be included in the set list.

When and if needed, we would go into details and look with the lent at specific parts, transitions etc.

In one of these occasions I presented the 3 criteria to apply (are we in Tune? In Time? In Tone?) in order to understand if it’s appropriate for us to play or not in any given piece; if we are not sure we’re asked to refrain from playing; this is a hard one, and implies a certain degree of maturity.

Then few announcement of this kind followed. One of us called himself out from the Bach circulation which, consequently, was crossed out from the list.

22:30 Break

22:45 Back in the Circle – We have a set list. Now we let it go, aiming to some fast circulation hoping that they can open the door to a whizz. After few attempts there it was! The ones among us, who had a previous direct experience of it, recognized the presence of the Whizz, you could tell by the smile on their faces; the others too, they just looked also a bit scared…

After that I passed lead and bass parts of an idea for a piece which is hopefully coming along. We learnt it and played it for a while, then, around midnight, we went to bed.

Cesclans, Sunday 16-03-2008

07:00 Rise

07:30 Sitting

08:15 Breakfast – Bang on time.

It seems like a common theme of the last 2 days has been “Analyzing the past by telling bits of our history to the new ones, and sharing with them a possible vision for the future”.

This process begun around the table with the first dinner, and completed with this breakfast: my sense is that forces pulling in different directions keep the situation in a sort of stand by balance.

Our 3 month project has been a difficult one, in a couple of moments was literally falling apart, convincing us to make this last event 2 days long instead of 4, to change location for a cheaper one, and forcing us to let go the idea to invite Mike (I wish he was here!).

On the other hand, maybe because of the new people we let in at this stage, everything here and now looks again clear and possible, as if that cloud of uncertainty just vanished. So I won’t disband the Circle and won’t take further initiatives either; some of us will go to Plon in a week time, most of us are aiming to go to SC in the summer; then we shall see …

09:10 Packing

09:30 Guitar Circle – Warm up: right hand. I insisted with that alternate picking/division of attention combined exercises to make clear that this is a field of work we should get familiar with, as much as possible. Cross picking was a 6 note pattern played at different speeds (8th notes, 8th triplets, 16th notes) always keeping the pulse with the foot and counting the bars.

For the left hand I introduced 2 Secondary exercises for combined ascending and descending fingerings.

10:20 We discuss briefly about how to arrange the room for the performance and then we rehearse the coming in-getting out procedure. I explain what we do and why we do it to make it something more than just a set of rules or an empty ritual.

We got to know that our guest are 15 minutes late due to the bad weather they found on their way.

10:40 Last touch of cleaning and packing

11:00 We collect ourselves in the green room: tuning only.

11:15 Performance

As the audience (4 people and a little dog) sit down, we walked in. The set list:

Circulation C Major
R. Duse talks
TTA followed by a Circulation in C Melodic minor (with thumbs)
Se Solo Sapessi

Although we lost part of the edge in our playing, I felt there was something good about our attitude, and the energy supply was quite strong. The audience, for the second time, looked as they were blown away. We walked off stage and encircled in the green room…

Duse took his friends to the dining room asking them to be patient for few minutes, then, as he came back, we had our brief final meeting.

11:45 Final Meeting – Silence walked in again in a clear and unmistakable way. Then few more things have been said; and, at 12:07 I declared our project completed.

12:15 We share with the audience food and drinks nicely prepared (in advance) by the Masters of Ceremony (R. Deiana and R. Duse).

13:30 Leaving the house.