Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Surrounded by guitars

What does your mind conjure up with the phrase 'drum circle'? Hippies? Parking lots at Dead shows? 15 people all playing djembes in varying tempos? Now think about the phrase 'guitar circle'. Anything? No?

Sarah and I got to experience a guitar circle last night. A collective of guitarists known as the Seattle Circle puts on performances every Monday night at Fremont Abbey called Tuning The Air. Basically, it's eight guitarists who sit in a circle, and perform for an audience in the middle of that circle. I'd heard of them before, but never caught a show. For any prog geeks out there, the group is an outgrowth of this methodology/cult of guitar technique known as Guitar Craft, started by King Crimson guru Robert Fripp.

I wasn't really prepared for how amazing an experience it would be. For starters, they're all great musicians and incredibly tight. At first it's a bit unnerving, having all these really intense musicians surrounding you. But you get used to it. The pieces were all originals (with one exception: Led Zeppelin's Kashmir), and are very harmonically dense with lots of interlocking patterns that shift and confound. The sensation of hearing music like this, not just in stereo, but truly in 360 degrees, borders on the mystical. One piece was a melody that twirled around your head as each guitarist played just one note at time. Other times two guitarists on opposite ends of the circle would play the same part, and play it so precisely that it created the effect of not knowing exactly where the sound is coming from, a sort of musical ventriloquism.

Do yourself a favor, and check it out.

3 comments:

Ron Hippy said...

Hey guys, I brought my gym bag... can I play along with you?

Anonymous said...

John,
I like how you actually write about music-related things on this blog. Then we can expand our musical horizons and appreciate "A" better!

anonymouse said...

Awww.... I kinda like the all-over-the-map style of the "A" blog. It more reflects who "Awesome" is (I know some of them). They're musicians, yes, but also artists, actors, nerds, tax-evaders, etc.