Noodling, or How I Spent My Month at Ucross

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with my productivity at Ucross. This had nothing to do with Ucross, they provided an atmosphere that nurtured creativity and productivity. It was the headspace I brought with me from NYC. The best work I did there was document a performance piece done by one of the residents. My work, feh… I brought some stories to revise and one of those seemed okay-ish (it’s a sequel of sorts to There Is Joy before the Angels of God) so I was happy with the draft I produced, though it’s still far from being anywhere near done.

I brought the 25 or so clips of A Life’s Work and arranged and re-arranged them. I came up with some good transitions, I took a lot of notes, I thought a lot about how to incorporate Jeff Stein, Paolo Soleri’s successor, into the film. I also re-realized that the clips are works in progress as well and will require re-editing in order for them to be part of the whole film. Not earth-shattering news, but there it was. It was a little frustrating not having all my footage on hand, but that was impossible given my gear and travel arrangements.

I played a LOT of guitar: I recorded a Villa-Lobos Prelude al fresco, I worked on a Scarlatti piece, and I noodled.

Noodling is what musicians call aimless playing. In my case, it was playing a straight up 12 bar blues romp with your basic blues licks thrown in. I also worked on my finger picking.

My right handIt’s a curious thing, as a classical guitarist I trained the fingers of my right hand to work independently. The kind of work I conditioned them to do and the more pattern-oriented finger picking are related, but very different skills. So spending time on that was very satisfying. I think it shook up my creative juices a bit.

I can hear you: “You went to a residency and all you did was play guitar? Was that on your application?” Yes. And no, it wasn’t on my application.

But the good news is that from that noodling came several musical sketches that might be of use in A Life’s Work. I certainly don’t plan on composing the music myself, but these sketches might start a discussion between the composer and me.

And that’s something to look back on and feel good about.

If you want hear some classical guitar music, just click on the Music page.