European Tap Guitar Seminar 2004
Visit the home page of Daniel Schell, organizer of the Seminar to find out how you can attend in 2005!
Some pictures are at Ola's Page

I just got in from Neufchateau - another great year!

Some New Attendees and their Gear:

Matthias Sorof from Germany, a Stick(r)* player since about 1980, and one of the first - perhaps the first to play "uncrossed".  he has almost the same fifths and fourths tuning as standard, just uncrossed hands, and he played the heck out of his old polycarb.  His performance on stage truly brought down the house!

Adam Fulara, who played a double neck Witkowski tap guitsr.  He played jazz standards with soul and passion, and also played ad lectured on Bach, the Goldberg Variations, and different ways of approaching Bach.

Jim Wright, who we all know as the guy who answers the phone at Warr Guitars, and who plays note-perfect transcriptions of Zappa tunes on a 12 string neck-through Phalanx.  He had his whole MIDI rig with him on stage in Brussels, and sounded great as ever.

Markus Reuter (8 string Warr), who I know well from his frequent visits to the US (and frequent airplay on syndicated ambient radio shows) made his first appearance at Neufchateau, working on fundamentals such as playing position, posture, basic rhythm, and ensemble playing.

Plus the usual crowd - Ola, Paolo, Siggi, Wolfgang, Kuno, Tobias, Dave, Mark, Olivier, and our leader Daniel Schell.

And then there was humble little me with my 8 string ADG.  The popular amp this year was my Roland Micro Cube.  I brought this with me in my suitcase, and ran ona single set of AA batteries all week.  I used this for a practice amp, a headphone amp, a performance pre-amp, and I even miked the cabinet for my live performance in Brussels.

In Concert:

-Jim Wright played some of his mind-blowing note for note Frank Zappa interpretations.  One international fan of Jim's came all the way from London just to hear this.

-One of the real highlights of the concert that tappers gave in Neufchateau was the piece that Kuno and Markus played together.  I believe it was a Kuno composition.  It really brought out all the great things that tapping on a guitar can do.  No one-man-bandsmanship, no midi samples of a trumpet, no attempts to sound like an acoustic guitar, etc.. what I am getting at was that they really showed what a full bodied tap guitar can do, with sounds that you can not get from strumming or plucking.  The piece opened up with ambient chords (ok, granted, you can do this with any guitar) processed with BOSS multi effects, but the chords were extra thick because we have two guys on 8 string guitars doing this.  Then the piece opened out into interlocking arpeggios with that gorgeous full tone that only two Warr Guitars can give.  Then, while one guitarist played an arrpegiated accompaniment, the other took his turn playing a solo, with some distortion and processing.  I will say that the distorted guitar tone that each used was reminiscent of Trey Gunn, only to illustrate that it was a processed distortion, that took full advantage of that percussive feel that you get from touchstyle.

Niether of these guys were imitating Trey Gunn, just as their arpeggiated duet was reminiscent of Guitar Craft, but not a copy or even a true embodiment of GC.  It was all original stuff, and I hope that Kuno and Markus get togehter to make recordings in this vein!

-A real show stopper was when Matthias Sorof played his composition "Sandteufel" (Sand Devil) on the main stage at Neufchateau.  This modern piece has a strong groove that will appeal to a wide audience.  It comes off of his LP/CD from the 80's called "Stick Solo"

-Wolfgang and Adam playing jazz standards together. They had never met before this week but they had a real synergy on stage.

The Classes:

Jim Wright and Wolfgang lectured extensively on Jazz chords, inversions, voicings.

In the afternoons, Markus Reuter led large ensemble classes.  Some of it was in the same vein as Guitar Craft(tm), circulation exercises, etc., as well as freely improvised excercises, spontaneously composed by Markus and dictated to us on the spot.  On other days, I heard them playing the famous Mike Oldfield composition "Tubular Bells", although that day I could not participate because I was working on my master class duet with Ola.

And what was that, you ask?  I made an arrangement of the complete tone poem "In the Steppes of Central Asia" by Borodin, and Ola and I presneted it to the class later in the week, after much practice.  We then played it at our own classroom student concert.  This handsomely bound lesson book is available to the general public through Clic Music for 10 Euro plus shipping..

The School:

The summer school at Neufchateau is an awesome place to spend a week.  I spent quite a bit of time with Ivan Stefanov of the Bulgarian ensemble "Lyra" and I learned a few of their songs.  I was really impressed with the quality of the performance that his students gave at the end of the week - singing, instrumental, accorsian ensemble, all together, they really sounded great.  I think I might enroll in that class, if only I had an accordian...

The night life scene is, of course, legendary at this school, and this year, I think that a lot of the other students were even friendlier than beofre, and certainly more interested in checking out tap-guitars.

New Players:

New this year, was Daniel Dellavalle, an Argentinian from Brussels, who played a beautiful guitar tuned int he Schell style, built by Yuri Vassilievsky. Daniel was already making great progress, reading from the "My Space My Time" books with the c-dots and the Schell method.

P.S. -

The weather was awful, but during the one hour of sunshine we had in the week, this picture was taken:


(photo courtesy of Daniel Dellavalle)
See you next year!!

*"Stick" is a registered trademark of STICK ENTERPRISES INCORPORATED, with whom I have absolutely no affiliation.

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