Thursday, August 05, 2010

Last week, I finished The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and W. Timothy Gallwey.

I picked up this book after it was recommended by Andy Falco, guitar player for The Infamous Stringdusters, during the 2010 CBA Music Camp.  I was his assistant at camp and found his approach to music very interesting.

The Inner Game of Music is an adaptation by Barry Green of Timothy Gallwey's Inner Game concept, targeted towards music.  The core idea of the inner game postulates two parts of consciousness, "self 1" and "self 2".  "Self 1" is more of the conscious questioning mind, while "self 2" is the un-conscious mind that does the actual work of executing a given task.  Once a task is learned, "self 1" doesn't add anything to the execution of that task and, in fact, only undermines the execution. 

Based on that theory, the rest of the book is about how to get "self 1" out of the way so that "self 2" can do its best. 

The basic theory is interesting, and does match some of my own experiences in practice.  Based on that, I've started to use some of the exercises from the book in my own playing and I'm considering buying a copy of the book for my own reference.

The book isn't perfect, though - first, the examples in the book are all based around a classical style of music.  More examples based on more improvisational and pop styles (jazz, bluegrass, country, rock) would be helpful.  Second, there is a lot of fluff in the book - lots of anecdotal info, repeated text and 70's style self-help blather than is a pain to read through to extract the meat.  But the bottom line is that the meat of the book is very interesting, and possibly useful for anyone with musical ambitions.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I just finished The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer.

I didn't like this book very much.  It reads like an exercise in "literary" writing, with dream sequences, suicides and bizarre families abounding.  This turns out not to be surprising, since the author has a Ph.d in Literature.

The story itself, a flashback that covers the details of the protagonists life until he boards a specially designed "perpetual motion" zeppelin, has little to keep the readers interest, lurching from odd situation to odd situation.  At no point does the protagonist engender any sympathy from the reader, or even basic understanding of his motivations.  And at the end, the reader is left with no insight into any character, human nature or anything at all. 

A boring, and pointless, novel.  Not recommended.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Last night, we went and saw Wicked at the Orpheum Theater in SF.

A lot of our friends had seen it, and it was highly recommended.  We thought it was an excellent show.  The singing was well done, with good turns by all the main actors, and the show itself is funny and charming.  I thought the first half worked a little better, since they had more freedom to create their own story instead of having to line up with the Wizard of Oz plot.

The staging is a particular standout - a good example of what modern theater can do when it pulls out all the stops. 

Well worth seeing before it closes on Sept. 5th.