Jamming with Chris

Right before leaving for the airport (the top of my backpack can be seen behind me) I went to Chris’s house to jam one more time. He had this cool bass riff, so he wrote some lyrics right there on the fly, extended the bass part and I tried to make something up with the guitar. I am not happy with my playing, but given the lack of time and how fast we did it I suppose it is OK. Chris is here playing the bass (though he is an awesome guitar player actually) and singing, while I improvise with his acoustic guitar.
The beer is one of Chris’s home-brewed beers (I will recommend those, if he ever distributes them). Everything was filmed with an iPAD (using its internal microphone).

Rock Climbing at Cathole, Connecticut

This was my first day rock climbing outdoors, at Cathole, CT (I went to climb indoors twice before I tried the outdoors). I did have it better than Mike though, since his life was in my hands and I had learned to belay only the day before (and he is already a pro!). We took some time-lapses of us climbing, and this one is my first or second attempt. I would have never guessed rock climbing could be so addictive…

After the trip (last Sunday) I decided to add some music to the video. The guitar levels saturate at the beginning, but I was too tired to fix it (I should have probably recorded that part again). I think the video does a good job at capturing my lack of technique how much fun it was

Johannes Brahms

Brahms meets the already famous violinist Joseph Joachim, with whom he establishes a long life friendship. Brahms even lets Joaquim write the cadenza (the improvised part) of his Violin Concerto. Some composers were not too keen on letting others touch their work, certainly Beethoven was not a fan of letting people mess up with his music.

Brahms meets Liszt, the living legend, one of the icons of programmatic music (music that tries to narrate a story by blending with other art forms, something like the 19th century version of multimedia). Every composer at that time wanted to be under Liszt’s umbrella, except for Brahms, who could not care less for programmatic music (and has the nerve to let Liszt know this). Brahms is criticized and disliked by the “avant garde” of his time, like Wagner or Tchaikovsky, for being too conservative.

Brahms meets the Schumman’s, who try to help him. Robert Schumann praises Brahms as the successor of Beethoven – a strange compliment, as it puts him under a lot of pressure. Brahms falls in love with the beautiful and hyper talented Clara Schumann (14 years older than him) and even moves to her building after the death of Robert Schumann. Most likely (though nobody knows for sure) nothing happened between them, as Brahms was extremely good at falling in love, but had no idea as to what to do afterwards.

Brahms meets Death, the Destroyer of delights and the Divider of man’s days. Not too long before that, he decides to destroy a huge amount of his unpublished works.

Maybe I should mention that one of the few poems (if not the only one) that Jorge Luis Borges has ever dedicated to a musician was dedicated to Brahms:

To Johannes Brahms

A mere intruder in the lavish gardens
You planted in the plural memory
Of times to come, I tried to sing the bliss
Your violins erect into the blue.
But now I’ve given up. To honor you.
That misery which people give the empty
Name of art does not suffice.
Whomever would honor you must be bright and brave.
I am a coward. I am a sad man. Nothing.
Can justify this audacity
Of singing the magnificent happiness
–Fire and crystal–of your soul in love.
My servitude is in the impure word,
Offspring of a concept and a sound;
No symbol, not a mirror, not a moan,
Yours is the river that flows and endures.

(from Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems, Vol 2.)