Steve Ball Diary  







guitar craft diaries
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  Monday June 04 
Tuesday June 05 
Wednesday June 06 
Thursday June 07 
Friday June 08 
Saturday June 09 
Sunday June 10 
Read the archive
Monday June 11 
Tuesday June 12 
Wednesday June 13 
Thursday June 14 
Friday June 15 
Saturday June 16 
Sunday June 17 

Monday June 04

Ug.  Up very early for a necessary meeting.  Spent some time last night with LH capturing some images from an SBRS show on Whidbey Island, Feb 4th, 2000.  

Some great stuff.  And this is just scratching the surface.  The video is pretty good too.  Damn - I wish there were some sort of Media Booster to help me get this video out of my archive and into the hands of my small, but enthusiastic, audience.  

* * *

LH has also been experimenting with some SBRS propaganda:

* * *

Listening in the car today: Death Cab for Cutie, a gift from Trey.  This CD has a similar quality to Kid A (Radiohead) - that is, each time I hear it, I want to hear it again.  And again.

* * *

Tuesday June 05

There are currently 71 items on my personal 'todo' list, not counting communications, email, and phone calls.  About 16 of these are "priority one" (ie. necessary, Pri2=optional, Pri3=luxury.) 

How did I ever get anything done when I had a full time job on top of this? 

* * *

----- Original Message ----- 
From: TH 
To: SB 
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2001 8:08 AM
Subject: I am Jack's complete sense of surprise:

From Slashdot:

"Wiggles writes: "Cryptome is mirroring a federally filed notice which discloses that a small number of companies (9) have joined the SDMI, and a large number of companies (27) 'have been dropped from the [SDMI] venture' i.e. either kicked out, or jumped ship. I put my money on the second possibility. The list of companies 'that have been dropped' is staggering in scope. Some of the more notable names include Technologies (famous infrastructure provider for streaming music), Guillemot (French maker of kickass graphic cards), I2GO.COM (American maker of high-capacity solid state mp3 players), LG Electronics (Korean makers of all kinds of consumer electronics), among others. One wonders how many more defections will follow, as the SDMI group continues to try (and fail) to achieve the impossible. As Bruce Schneier says 'Trying to make bits uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet. The sooner people accept this, and build business models that take this into account, the sooner people will start making money again.'" 

* * *

Gentle heckling from the mailbag:

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "MichaelF" 
To: SB
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2001 5:39 PM
Subject: Three Words:

<<sbrs_steve2[1].jpg>> <<sbrs_steve3[1].jpg>> 

Guitar Craft Face.

'Nuff said...

* * *

Wednesday June 06

Level Three

* * *

----- Original Message -----
From: "TM"
To: "SB"
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2001 10:35 PM
Subject: pointless email but...

is that how a thumb is supposed to look?

[look at the crap I waste my precious bandwidth (and yours) on!]

* * *

From: SB
To: "TM"
Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2001 4:03 PM
Subject: Re: pointless email but...

Uh,... good question!
There are at least four answers:

1) in Music, there is no "supposed to"

2) the photo is clearly designed by and features a non-GC-guitarist 

3) a technique is not a rule; the guy is actually intentionally fretting notes that are otherwise unplayable 

4) within our work, practices are adopted to disrupt blind habitual operation; when rituals, techniques, or practices become blindly habitual, out the window they go; if our techniques ever become a set of rules that are what they are because "that's just the way we do things" (minus context, flexibility, intention, function, and purpose), then out the window they go.

Pedantically yours,

* * *

More SBRS face:

how are these hands?

all is fallen

gravity, pulling down

* * *

Today is another significant anniversary.  Missing SGC this evening to celebrate. 

* * *

Thursday June 07

My sister's Birthday!  Happy Bday J-Lu.

* * *

Used shutterfly to develop some pictures last week. They arrived yesterday.  What a great service.  Jim Clarke George Zachary and MDV have really done a good thing here (in financing this business.)  I am delighted with the quality, price, and service.  No more local film developing.  

Hope they can stay alive.

* * *

Friday June 08

Going away for the weekend.  No phones, no email.  48-hours of guitar work.  

* * *

Seattle Repertoire Circle retreat on Whidbey Island at the Yoga Lodge.  Ten of us getting away for a retreat to 'turn up the heat.'   For me, this is also an opportunity for reflection regarding next steps.  Wish LH was coming with me, though...

Pre-dinner, what might we do for fun?

Airport Exercise
Where it Goes


An observation and suggestion from Curt regarding the constantly clever Lettermanesque monologues that permeate our conversations with good-intentioned, but unnecessary humor, irony and half-funny put-downs:  let's drop them and speak about what is real, present, and necessary for this group.

Then the conversation began to cook.  Some butchered excerpts of the topics that were flying around:

"Confusion about why this group exists: repertoire or practice or performance preparation?"

Why are these assumed to be different activities? Curt headed this one off at the pass.  

Other topics of interest:

The primary skill a musician requires is patience.  Without patience, very little is possible.  It almost does not matter what we do, as long as we clock the hours.  And hours.  Oh, and there is the little matter of how we do what we do.  But what we do is almost always secondary.   Eye of the Needle, Ear Training, Pulse Division, Vulcanization, Circulations, Improvisation, Birds of Fire, or the First Primary:

Can I play every note that I play (exercise, repertoire, or performance) in a way that is musical?  

I mentioned that I had been thinking of taking a break from work with the Seattle Guitar Circle performance team.  And that I realized that I had been asking the wrong question.  I was asking: "What am I getting out of my work with this group."

Everything changed when I asked a better question: "What do I have to offer to this group?"

Evening meetings:

Pulse division in seven
Circulations with Key Changes and vamping: Cm, Ab, E
Ending with an ultra-lame-o Group Loop (tomorrow we will review what it takes to make this work)

* * *

Missing LH very badly. 

* * *

Saturday June 09

7:00 rise
7:30 sitting
8:00 breakfast

Question from the team: what to do about back pain?

One answer:

9:15 right hand warm up, 55 minutes.  Observe: what do we do to acquire back pain?  What are we holding.  Hiding?  Or maybe we are just pushing too hard with muscles that have not done their homework?

If you wish to run a marathon, perhaps there is some homework to do first. 

A quote attributed to Bert: "You don't learn to play faster by playing faster. You learn to play faster by playing longer."

* * *

10:15 Pulse division in 8, beginning at 80bpm (quarter notes) moving up to 100 bpm (sixteenth notes.)  Also working with staccato vs. sustained notes, dynamics, and tone.  Probably the best sounding fast circulation I have ever heard flew by for a few minutes during this session.

11:00 Groovy four against five keeping the pulse (80 bpm) in our feet.  Two groups taking turns on the fours and the fives.  Climaxing with a swinging bass line and smoldering solos on top.   

11:45 Frank teaches us a song (loosely based upon Eye of the Needle; very loosely, that is, with lyrics: "I am so happy, no I'm not.  I'm so happy, yes I am."  (In a-minor.)  Then he tells us about the dancing that accompanies this little ditty.  Greg Sundberg wins the prize as today's Minister of Funny Walks.

BTW, isn't this a Celine Dion song? 

* * *

1:00 Lunch.  Feisty fuel for formidable future flatulence.   Frequent fragrant fireworks follow. 

2:30 Meet w/o guitars, standing in the circle for some pre-afternoon rhythm work.   

2:45 Nine unison guitars on the Airport Exercise at 80 bpm. Gentle endurance.  Question of the hour: can I do this exercise even once with the correct fingering?

3:30 Refinement exercise.  The group is to choose one piece for which they already know the notes.  The perform the piece for Curt, Frank, and myself.  Then, the task for the next 2.5 hours: find a way to raise the performance standard for this group for this piece of music.

4:00 SB shows Curt the bass line to Scaling the Whales while the rep circle discovers a new old way to go from a  simmer to a boil.   

* * *

6:00 A significant improvement over the previous performance, followed by a discussion about what led to this leap up in performance skill.  Continued refinement led to serious chills down my spine with the final performance of this piece.  

It does not get better than this.

A simple, reliable miracle occurs when all the talking, would-be-jokes, fears, and noise are blown away by focused group work in the circle. 

* * *

7:00 Dinner.  And a solo performance by GregS.  Well done and even better the second and third time as refinements were made.  

Self-deprecating remarks from performers are the kiss of death.  If you don't like yourself, then we will probably agree with you.   Dinner provided a safe and friendly audience.  We speak clearly about what we see, the performer listens, learns, adapts, and improves. 

Remarkable.  What a gift for the aspiring musician.     

* * *

8:30 Nine guitars in the circle.  A review of the principles behind the 'Follow the Leader' and Group Loop games.  The main principles: 

1. keep it simple
2. leave space for others
3. pay attention to what the person to your left is doing

Despite their appearance, these are difficult principles for most to put into practice.

In this case, what followed were two of the most amazing Group Loops I have ever witnessed or participated in.  Massively fun, intensely musical, and extremely funky. 

* * *

Finally, an extreme Eb Lydian descending circulation; staggeringly fast at times.  Clunky and choppy at times. And a few cycles were a whirlwind of notes evenly placed as if they were played by one giant hand across our strings.  A brief glimpse of what might be possible someday.

Lights off, then a descent to a massive free improvisation, mostly in the dark, but illuminated emotionally at the end by a resonant sequence of Cure-esque shimmering chords.  

I wonder what Gail thought of this final noise fest as she listened from her all wood room upstairs above the ballroom?

11:15 Completed the evening with a trip to the wood-burning sauna.  That outdoor shower is damn cold.  And the sauna is hotter than __________. No one could or would fill in the blank. 

* * *

12:00 To sleep.  A good day of work, all around.  

I miss my sweetness so much.  I do not wish to be away from her.  

* * *

Sunday June 10

7:00 rise
7:30 sitting

9:00 One solid hour of painfully slow right hand work; cross-picking across three strings.  First 4-3-2-3 with alternate picking at 120 bpm, one string per metronome click.  Then, at 15 minutes, one minute rest.  Followed by exactly the same for the next 14 minutes.  

Are we hitting a wall yet?

Then, one minute of rest, followed by 4-3-2, 4-3-2 with alternate picking at 120 bpm.  Excruciating.  Fourteen more minutes crawl by.  

Did I mention there is a clock with a second hand on the floor in the middle of the circle?  It is a considerable task to watch an hour go by.  

Finally, one more minute of rest followed by 2-3-4, 2-3-4 for ten minutes with a four minute acceleration up through 208 bpm, returning to 120 bpm at two notes per metronome click.  Completing the hour with a one minute return to 120 bpm with two notes per click, and 30 seconds of 120 bpm with one note per click.

Have you ever seen anyone play in their sleep?

bore·dom (bôrʹdəm) noun
The condition of being bored; ennui. 

Synonyms: boredom, ennui, tedium. The central meaning shared by these nouns is a condition of mental weariness, listlessness, and discontent: a party so dull we thought we'd perish of boredom; took up a hobby to relieve the ennui of retirement; the oppressive tedium of routine tasks.

Antonyms: amusement.

* * *

en·nui (ŏn-wēʹ) noun
Listlessness and dissatisfaction resulting from lack of interest; boredom: “The servants relieved their ennui with gambling and gossip about their masters” (John Barth). See synonyms at boredom. 

[French, from Old French enui, from ennuier, to annoy, bore, from Vulgar Latin *inodiare, from Latin in odio (esse), (to be) odious : in, in. See in-2 + odio ablative of odium, hate.]

Word History: Were they alive today, users of Classical Latin might be surprised to find that centuries later a phrase of theirs would still survive, although in the form of a single word. The phrase mihi in odio est (literally translated as “to me in a condition of dislike or hatred is”), meaning “I hate or dislike,” gave rise to the Vulgar Latin verb ·inodiare, “to make odious,” the source of Modern French ennuyer, “to annoy, bore.” In the Old French period a noun meaning “worry, boredom,” came from the verb ennuier. This noun in its Modern French form ennui was borrowed into English in the sense “boredom,” the English word being first recorded in 1732. People may have needed a word for boredom in the polite, cultivated world of the 18th century, but at an earlier period, around 1275, we had already borrowed the French verb ennuier, the source of our word annoy. One of the earliest instances of annoy in English is, in fact, used in the sense “to bore an audience.”

Excerpted from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition Copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin. 

And how to deal with the inevitable sleepy boredom that descends during an hour of this kind of work?

One approach: check out.  Ignore your pain, hold it tight like a good soldier.  Don't be such a wimp.  Instead, why not occupy your mind with something, like: what's for lunch; where is my girlfriend right now?; damn, I look good, even when I don't shower; I wish I did not suck so badly;  damn, I look bad - I need a shower; how can hide my ineptitude? I can't stand that guy; or that one either; what is that smell? did I make that smell?  etc. 

An alternative: check in.  Focus on the sound of the upstrokes on the A-string.  Watch the second hand and watch where your mind goes.  Abandon unnecessary movements.  Ignore unnecessary thoughts.   Decide to master this small task. When you check out, notice it and check back in. 

* * *

10:20 body beat; work with two against three and three against four.  A good work out.  Eight rhythm-less white guys dancing and clapping for forty-five minutes.

* * *

11:30 Final guitar circle meeting.  Circulations - an exploration of the qualitative difference between E-Phrygian and C-major. And a run-through of three pieces to play for Gail after lunch.  

1:00 Lunch with a quiet bunch.  

1:45 Final performance for Gail.

2:00 clean up and departure. 

The energy on Sunday petered out completely.  Not quite sure why after such a strong Saturday.

* * *


Seems as though all photos of the Travii mysteriously disappeared from my camera...  Perhaps a Travis was doing some quiet editing on Sunday morning?

* * *

Sunday evening: back home.  Such joy to be back home where and with whom I belong.

* * *


Monday June 11

Back in the saddle after a weekend retreat.  Getting caught up today.  Communications and re-entry tomorrow.  

Today, I have other priorities.

* * *

Tuesday June 12

The best gifts are handmade.  Yesterday I received the best gift ever.

To Sing.

* * *

Further reflection on the weekend retreat: It is astounding how much we resist that which we need most.

* * *

Wednesday June 13

Up early this morning; LH has some homework to do before a class this morning.  I am restless.  Much to do today.

* * *

Saw some excellent potential spaces for the Seattle Circle NFP project this morning with TravisM and CurtG.  Pricey, but you get what you pay for.   Need to take Dean up on his offer for grant writing.  

Despite potential parking difficulties, these spaces feel right. The building has good karma.  Now, how to pay for this space...?

* * *

Relevant stuff from the morning mailbag:

----- Original Message ----- 
From: tiktok
To: sb
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 9:45 AM
Subject: Stockhausen on audience seating:

"Sometimes I think I am in the wrong place, very deeply. We play in churches, in sports halls, in places which were never meant for music. Even the new philharmonic halls in Germany are not. My music needs spaces where the music is all around the people or where the musicians can move among the people. I hate the fact that the public is sitting in fixed rows facing one monaural acoustical situation; in the extremes that becomes a stereophonic situation, except that the music was not composed stereophonically. If you have a subscription in the Philharmonic Hall in Cologne on the right at the front, you hear cellos for a whole season and nothing else. It's like when a musician actually goes into the auditorium for the first time. All his life he has heard nothing but DUM dum DUM DUM dum and he thinks Beethoven's Seventh Symphony is just like that one part. 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: tiktok
To: sb
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 9:51 AM
Subject: Eno on computers and music (again)

One of the biggest problems, I think, with computers [is] that all of the designed energy is going into multiplying the options inside this box. Now, fine: that's wonderful, we're very pleased, in one sense; but the important thing, as anyone who's played synthesizers knows, is not the number of options that you have, but the rapport you can have with the instrument. This is why people playing crappy 35 year old electric guitars consistently come up with more interesting results, musically, than synthesizer players do. Because what you are thrilled by is not a new sound as such, but a new type of rapport that you feel. This is why there's a place for good players [and] why they don't disappear when sequencers suddenly come on the scene: because we still appreciate hearing that rapport. We feel that this is a musical activity. And these things [computers] as instruments are so pathetic. They depend so much on a kind of nerd's eye view of what sort of thing would be fun to do. 

* * *

Four hours of rehearsals this evening.  SBRS preparation for our second show at Kismet tomorrow evening, then SGC rehearsal at Bob and Jaxie's.  

The intensity of the work during the weekend retreat has had a subtle effect on my hands; the fruit of this kind of work is often not realized until days (or weeks) later when something that was previously 'impossible' suddenly comes within reach or falls easily to hand.    

* * *

Thursday June 14

Show tonight.  Meetings this morning to be followed by home work in the afternoon.   

I keep thinking about the potential work space that CurtG, TravisM and I saw yesterday.  How to make this real?  

* * *

Second SBRS show at Kismet this evening.  Another good turn out.  Added some new pieces to the set from last time. 

It's always difficult for the performer to judge their own performance during or after the event.  Nonetheless, I felt many high points during the show.  Still much to work on, and much to look forward to.  

Travis managed to catch a few photos:

LH mad some awesome promo materials

From the balcony

Walter "I have every connector known to man" Harley

Walter, the ultra-organized hero


Glass backdrop

* * *

Lyrics, for those who asked last evening.

* * *

fire place

did anyone ever tell you
did anyone ever show you
what's burning under the cover
it's possible to discover

the light had a quiet secret
remember the silent morning
invention became your teacher
and held the two waves together

light lands gently on her face
and picks itself up from falling
fire lives in her fire place
and heats her entire building
celebrity tears the world in half
we honor the separation
heat pours from her photograph
it feeds our infatuation

I can forget that we grew up together
I can forget our gentle conversations
I can burn up your long tender letters
but I don't have an explanation

one face we all recognize 
is painted across the cover
what force lives behind those eyes
that lifts you above the others?

light lands gently on your face
and sets up a new sensation
fire pours from your photograph
and reminds me of our relation

* * *


I was an orphan to my parent's desire
when they decided to punt and pour some gas on their fire
as if their lives weren't tough enough 
without another mouth to fill

so without my consulting in between bitter screams
they arranged for my transfer to a family of means
I was tossed on the trash heap like a broken machine
a scrap of litter

there's a big lock left on the back porch door 
no cookies in that jar even if it says so
they drove me to the station in that rust blue Ford 
with the crack in the rear view mirror
I was born through that window in the middle of the floor 
before the baby boom had ended
mom and dad were scrapping dirty pennies off the floor 
when the grace of the lord descended
and I arrived just in the time for the setting of the son 
with a hunger in my heart and a question on my tongue
but there's no time for questions 
when there's work to be done
get to it, get to it boy

I was a stranger to a new family's care
with a father who's fuse was twice as short as his hair
although he wanted a baby, I'm not sure he really wanted a child

and I'm not sure Mr. Oscar Meyer meant to get pissed
but I was hurt by the criticisms made with his fist
and if he'd asked me to stay instead of breaking my wrist, I'd reconsider

I was born through that window in the middle of the floor 
before the baby boom had ended
mom and dad were scrapping themselves off the floor 
when the grace of the lord descended
and I remember mama's song like the back of my glove
her bed squeaking loud with the friction of love
not even a hot bath in a clean white tub 
can drown the sad song she's singing, singing for me
where are you mama? where are you mama? 
where are you mama.
here comes your son.

and I arrived just in the time for the sinking of the son 
with a hunger in my heart and a question on my tongue
but there's no time for questions 
when there's work to be done, 
bet to it, get to it son

arrived just in time for the sinking of the son 
with a hunger in my heart and a question on my tongue
no time for questions when there's work to be done
no time for questions when there's work to be done

* * *

needle and thread

pass me that bottle
drain out the glass
need a push from the rye
for the hour to pass 
she was hot, we were bothered
a remarkable blend
she was less than a lover 
but more than a friend

I was green in my nature
she was burgundy red
we were sewn up together
with a needle and thread
like the knot in her stomach
and the war in her head
where the only escape
were the books that we read

everything undone
everything unfolding

there was steam in her engine
there was coal in her fire
twenty oceans of water
couldn't drown her desire
but she drank more than water
and the needle drew blood
and the hole that she opened
grew out into a flood

* * *

I am (not?) in love with you

you are a lion, I am a snail
you are soft wood, I am a nail
you grew up here where the mate runs free
I grew up there where my heart used to be

I'm going to put out this fire before it burns me
I'm going to destroy my desire before it consumes me

I am not in love with you
get your face out of my dream
I am not in love with you
and I do not wish to be

I am not in love with you
get your voice out of my song
I am not in love with you
get me back where I belong

water is dry, and the ocean is red
truth is a lie, did you hear what I said?

I'm going to put out this fire before it burns me
I'm going to destroy my desire before it consumes me

I am (not) in love with you
get your face out of my dream
I am (not) in love with you
and I do (not) wish to be

I am so in love with you
get your voice out of my song
I am so in love with you
get me back where I belong

* * *


I drink your water
I breathe your air
I'm in your gas tank
I'm what you wear

I buy your houses
I shop your malls
I read your diary
I trace your calls 
But you can't see me in the dark, 
so I will start a fire

You sign my contract
You shine my shoes
I fill your tummy
I pay your dues
Form your opinions
I plant the seed
where you are empty
I fill the need

If you could see me all would stop
You would feel my power
And when you see me I will spark
I will start a fire
start it now

Inside your thinking
Inside your head
When you are sleeping
I'm in your bed

I am your broadcast
You spread my news
You make decisions
I help you choose

But you can't see me in the dark, so I will start a fire
You can't see me, I am dark, I will start a fire 

* * *


I don't know how long you've been waiting
I can't see that far
do you know how long you'll be staying
I don't care how long
keep your hat and coat in my closet
they'll be safe in there
take your hands from out of your pockets
there's work for you here

I'm out in the yard keeping my plants growing
keep up on my guard, won't ever catch me slowing down
here all of my tools, I'll show you what I can do 
outside of this school

and if it gets hard, don't say I told you so
hold onto your heart, become a greenthumb

plants aren't very smart 
someone must help them to grow when it gets dark
turn on your light and get started

* * *


shake out your spine 
prick up your ears
unfold your arms 
silence your fear

open your mouth 
tear off your chains
lean back your head 
drink in the pain

confrontation won't make the weight any lighter
heavy water won't wash away heavy weather
fancy glassware won't make the poison taste better
bite the bullet, put the hammer down

gravity gravity gravity gravity pulling down
therapy charity clarity harmony running dry
gravity gravity gravity gravity pulling down
gravity gravity gravity pulling down

I will not fall down
I will hold your heavy anger
I will not fall down
I will hold your heavy anger

* * *

Friday June 15

King Crimson played a show last night in Nashville as SBRS was playing at Kismet.  Heard a report from a trusted source in the field that they were both literally and figuratively "hot."

* * *

Thanks again to LanceH for diligent web beta-testing.  

* * *

Excellent morning meeting with BillR at Still Life cafe.  A mutual check-up on where we are: near the same place.  Too many great quotes to dump here.  But here is a quick highlight:

"I'm not looking for a job.  I'm looking for meaningful work."

"I realized that I don't wish to be a professional musician.  I wish to be an artist."

* * *

----- Original Message -----
From: "TH"
To: "SB"
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2001 1:45 PM
Subject: RE: july gigs

I think all such problems arise from the difficulty of knowing what you want and communicating that to others. I still have yet to hear an aim defined for the Rep Circle. And I think that's because there isn't a common aim. Everyone's aim doesn't have to be identical, but there have be a few core things that everyone can agree on. Some of those will be goals and ways to work towards them. And some will be things to avoid. 

"Do not define the aim negatively"--I love that one.


- - -

From: "SB" 
To: "TH" 
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2001 3:04 PM
Subject: Re: july gigs

A. Knowing what you want - often a problem

B. Communicating what you want to others - even when done clearly, with tact, it stirs up emotional energy that is complex and difficult to channel

C. Defining a common aim - is this even possible? I doubt it, unless one person tells us what to do; in this case individuals sacrifice their individual aims for the 'common aim' defined by the one person. There can be some overlap in support of this aim, but personalities, egos, and control issues often undermine the communication; the language surrounding the expression of the aim is certainly rarely understood the same way by more than two people.

D. Most functioning groups (band, companies, product teams, etc.) I know of do not communicate well with each other, if at all; one person (the person writing the check or the performance review) defines the aim. The 'check' may also be intangible capital, like 'fame', exposure potential, potential to learn, meet cool people, etc. in the case where no cash is flowing in the process.

E. Groups with large numbers (> 3) make this even more complex and unlikely. What are the chances that seven people will agree on anything, including the definition or application of one word in the phrase describing the aim?

F. Money changes everything. If sufficient $$ is flowing, people then have some tangible incentive to do something; If insufficient $$ is flowing, then subjective contributions can perhaps be measured (however, this is very difficult because we each operate on different, non-objective scales: how much is my time worth compared to yours? My experience, gumption, contacts, history, talent, etc.) If too much $$ is flowing, then none of the other issues disappear; greed kicks in and the core problems become even worse.


* * *

Hence, the false but attractive quality about the phrase "shut up and play your guitar." Avoid the whole thing by avoiding communication. But structural or social problems do not go away just because we don't address them in conversation.

* * *

My approach lately is to be very clear about my ROLE in a group. In a group, at any given time, one person is the leader, and the group members are there to support the process defined by that leader. The actual person in the "leader' role may shift every two minutes, but there are only two modes: lead or follow. No leader, no efficient work. Multiple leaders: chaos and conflict. Followers who wish they were the leader: chaos and conflict unless the leader can pass the baton and shut up to be a follower when it is their turn to follow.

When I follow, I respond with that which the leader needs to fulfill their vision or purpose. When I lead, I use my antenna to measure what is needed, what resources are available in the group, and put them to work to accomplish a task.  And, most importantly: it is the leader's job to stay awake and ask for help.

So why not anarchy? No intentional results spring from anarchy. (Grace, perhaps, but rarely.)

Democracy? Results are guaranteed to be average.

* * *

Plenty of inarticulate noise in these words. Putting this crap in my diary would certainly further stir up multiple individuals in multiple already-stirred-up groups. 

Oh well. 

Words expressed as opinions (by definition) tend to do that.


- - -

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "TH"
To: "SB"
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2001 3:28 PM
Subject: RE: july gigs

"Shut up and play your guitar" usually means "YOU shut up so I can play MY guitar"...

There was an episode of "Beavis and Butthead", where the two of them are going to use some glue to glue some hair on their faces (don't ask), and one of them looks at the warning label on the glue tube. We see a closeup of his hand holding the tube and a label "WARNING: HIGHLY TOXIC!!! DO NOT USE ON EXPOSED SKIN!!! DEATH AND DISMEMBERMENT MAY OCCUR!!!". Butthead reads the label out loud "Wuh... waa.... waaarrr... words... words... words.... looks okay to me, Beavis."

There's got to be some commonality to the individual aims. Maybe the individual aims can be met by agreeing on some common practices, without naming the aims. "Play out twice a month", "Record a CD of original material by the end of the year", "Establish a circuit of venues in the surrounding two hundred miles". If people can agree on those concrete aims, it may not be important for everyone to know and understand that one person is working on conquering their stage fright, another wants to become a solid rhythm player, and the other wants an outlet for his new tunes, although it'd be helpful if the individuals had some idea of what they were in it for. These individual aims can all co-exist with each other as long as the larger structure is agreed upon. 

Although, now that I think about it, some sort of leader is still needed. For instance, if one person announces that their putting together a performance team to perform twice a month and rehearse twice a week--who's up for it?--that might be enough of a catalyst for those with compatible aims to rally around. Or, if someone says they're going to make their house available every Monday evening for people wanting to work on circulations, or primaries, or pulse division. And so on. 

However, if you start off saying "Hey--we're a circle. What are we going to do now?", you may be stuck from the outset. Perhaps circles should arise to fill needs, instead of circles looking for reasons to be.


* * *

Additional reflection:

a. There are certainly more than two modes (lead and follow) within group work, however, these are two dominant roles within a healthy functioning group working to accomplish a task or meet an aim.  

b. Those who lead and follow are equally active.  Following does not imply a passive role.  Ideally, everyone in the group is actively engaged in both of these roles all of the time; perhaps that is part of the power of working in a circle: the role of leader exists, however, the role both functions and shifts dynamically based upon the task (or aim) at hand.  I may be following the lead of the person directing the work on counting while playing, but I may also be influencing the group (via my own example or body language or non-verbal action) to play softer or louder, or more slowly, or more with brighter tone or with more energy, etc.   The leader steers the ship, but everyone else (including the leader) is rowing.

c. The leader takes on recognition and definition of what, how, and why to do something.  It may be big or very small.  It may or may not be articulated, but if there is trust between members of the group, and if the leader is awake and sensitive to the resources in the room, and  the leader has the support of the circle to engage in pursuit of the task or aim, great things can happen very quickly. 

Are there other ways of working?  Are there other support roles besides just 'leader' and 'follower'?  Of course.

What about Circulations?

Even with 'free' Circulations, someone plays the first note; and the last note; and what role is the person playing when s/he plays a C# in the Dm Circulation?   And who called the Circulation?

This is the kind of diary entry that will certainly get me into trouble. 

* * *

Evening: preparation for traveling on Sunday. 

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Saturday June 16

By request: a brief history of the Guitar Craft plectrum.

* * *

Sitting at Curt's followed by the first official NFP (NP?) board meeting, post-incorporation.    What is the difference between a 'not-for-profit' and a 'non-profit' corporation?

Two weeks from today - a special project: a 'Road Rally' to find a work space for Seattle Circle.   Details to follow shortly.

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Sunday June 17

Leaving on a ten day retreat.  No (public) diary until I return.

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