The Musical Secret of Life (or one of them anyway)

9 October 2011




For any of our friends who will be on Okinawa during the Uchinanchu Festival, there will be an invitation only event on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at Sam’s by the Sea. Because space is limited, tickets are required and are available upon request, but the event is free, and is open to the alumni and teachers of Kubasaki, OCS and CKS, and to all of our friends from around the world.


A little honesty can get you in trouble. A lot of it can be downright dangerous.


Well, if I called the wrong number, then why did you answer the phone?

Photo: Max Clarke.


A che cosa serve la noia?

What is boredom for?


This face has lasted for a long time. It’s a Barrymore face from the 19th century.


Drew’s father was John Drew Barrymore. If they ever made a film about his life, Sean Penn could play him in a second. Drew has two great acting strains  in her family, the Drews and the Barrymores.


John Drew (1853-1927) was an actor and a matinée idol, one of the great stars of his day. His father was also a great actor. Louisa Lane Drew, John Drew’s mother, became the manager of the Arch Street theatre in San Francisco, which she ran successfully for thirty years.


On her opening night at age 21 in New York, Ethel Barrymore was scared, and someone shouted from the gallery, “Speak up, Ethel, all the Drews are great actors.” A lot of people still think she was the greatest actress of her generation.


We should show life neither as it is nor as it ought to be, but as we see it in our dreams.    (Chekhov)

(John Barrymore)


Lionel Barrymore, a huge talent, painter and actor, who had so many great roles, maybe the most interesting in Dinner At Eight (1933).


So, let’s just say that Drew Barrymore has a lot in her soul. Still continuing the tradition after more than a hundred years. Here’s to you, talented one. You are a Drew and a Barrymore.


Big Brother and the Holding Company, Sophia Ramos.


Elie Piliwale, the youngest and most attractive member of a very young and attractive family,


Art must begin locally so that it may end universally.


Will The Circle Be Unbroken? (I just today learned the trick of painting this, after a week of frustration. I’ve only got a little start, but it is a start, and now I know how to do it. That was a tough beginning. (Photo: Max Clarke)


What we love tells the story of who we are.


Laura Joplin and her daughter Claire.


An old saying in English: She was “in the pink,”

means roughly the same as the French “la vie en rose.”


What people look like on the street in São Paolo, Brazil.     (Photo: Elise Piliwale)


Nat King Cole was such a great piano player. He was as fleet, fast, furious and fun as anyone who ever played the instrument. I still can’t believe how good he was.


Die Welt des Glücklichen ist eine andere als die des Unglücklichen. (Wittgenstein)

The world of the happy is other than the world of the unhappy.     (Photo: Max Clarke)



Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.


Beginning improvisors, here is the    Secret Of Life:

Arpeggios with a judicious addition of chromaticism, scale motion and blue notes.     (Milan Melvin and Mimi Fariña, 1968)


The great object of music is to touch the heart, and this end can never be obtained by mere noise, drumming and arpeggios. Karl Philipp Emmanuel Bach.


One of the most ancient and reverential gestures that accompanied prayer was the spreading of arms and hands heavenward. In time, the arms were pulled in, folded across the breast, wrists intersecting above the heart. Each of these gestures possesses an intrinsic logic and obviousness of intent.

The folding of hands, in the now familar image of prayer, is mentioned nowhere in the Bible.


This prayer gesture didn’t appear in the Christian church until the ninth century. Subsequently, sculptors and artists incorporated it into scenes that predated its origin… which, it turns out, has nothing to do with religion or worship, and owes much to subjugation and servitude.


The folding of hands in prayer, as we know it, originated from the holding out of hands to be handcuffed. The joined hands became a standard, widely practiced gesture long before it was appropriated and formalized by the Catholic Church.


Before waving a white flag signaling surrender, a captured Roman could avert immediate slaughter by affecting the shackled hands posture.


He’s tough, sir, tough is Slick Aguilar, and devlish sly !


That’s her name there written out in hieroglyphics. Kleopatra.


The arpeggios are like the big road map and the chromaticism and blue notes are like little detailed roads to the next town, the next chord.


Elise Piliwale, if she were one of those fancy women at the Red Dog Saloon, Virginia City, Nevada.


Main thing is… learn the arpeggios of all keys in all positions and inversions. Major, minor, augmented, diminished and, especially, half diminished chords.


Knowing the “melody” is also important, even if it is only your own melody.


Christy is beautiful, inside and out.


Big Boobster and the Holding Company, Maury Baker, Sophia Ramos, Peter Albin, Ben Nieves.


I am trying to get one of these people, if not both, to come sing with us soon.


Melody and arpeggios… of course they are both vital. it’s like line and color in painting.


I’m Charley’s aunt frrom Brazil where the nuts come from. In fact, Brazil was named frm the nut and not the other way round.


I still haven’t done a satisfactory portrait of Ben Nieves, but this one is growing on me.


To Alechim without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this blog would have been finished in half the time.


A long way is nothing. It’s how you take the first step that counts.

(Jim Wall, PhD Percussion, Doctor Drums)


Learn all these arpeggios in all these positions and modes and save years of time.


On the other hand, I suppose it could take a lifetime to learn all these arpeggios in all these positions.


It certainly has taken me a lifetime.


Of course, i didn’t realize for a long while that learning arpeggios should have been my goal.


When I began, I played in a linear style. Melody was the only thing. Melody and paraphrase of that melody.


So I played “horizontally.” Up and down the neck from first position on a string all the way up to as high as I could go, 20th fret and beyond.


After going through the Berklee methods for guitar, I slowly, dimly began to realize the importance of arpeggios.


Then, in the 1980s, 1990s, i began in earnest to learn the arpeggios everywhere on the guitar neck… and on the piano, saxophone and voice also.


The arpeggios give a schematic of where we are in the music. We don’t have to play them, but feeling them is good, because they are the outline of the chord. The skeleton. The map.


It is important to feel music horizontally and vertically at the same time.


This means being able to play melodically step by step and chordally by leaps and bounds. Melody lines and arpeggios.


There are many new tricks, mostly in the right hand, that I will probably never learn, but which are important for someone to learn now because most serious players use them at present.


If you look up my friend Joel Hoekstra, you will find a gifted teacher who will show you more in his videos and writings than you can probably learn in a lifetime.

(Mick Taylor, Sam Andrew)


Joel is not only a teacher, he plays in real life, plays as well as anyone, better than anyone really. See for yourself.


I heard a recording tonight of Joel Hoekstra, Blake Thompson and me in a room in Arizona going over Summertime for the show Love, Janis. The musicianship in that room was astonishing. I am tempted to release that recording, but it would only interest guitar players and other musical people. It’s not going to be on the Top Ten real soon, but it is a fascinating document.


The chronicler of daily nonsense in Zug, Switzerland.


Music is a tongue that utters no mean nor sarcastic words.     Photo: Don Aters.


This is the Foul Fiend Flibbertigibbet.


Sophia Ramos and I in Las Vegas.


Conscience, an inner voice that warns us that someone is looking, even if it’s only ourselves.     Photo: Max Clarke


Cogito, ergo sum.


My dear friend, clear your mind of cant… You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in society: but don’t THINK foolishly.    Samuel Johnson.


Cant (Latin cantus, song)

Phraseology taken up and used for fashion’s sake, and not as a genuine expression of sentiment.

Insincere, especially conventional expressions of enthusiasm for high ideals, goodness or piety, the jargon peculiar to a particular class, party, profession, e.g.,  The cant of the music industry.


You usually hear cant when people aren’t really thinking. Their mind slips into neutral and they begin parroting common, trendy thoughts. Politicians do this a lot. You hear accepted notions fly by like banners of banality.


Marin County Cant, early 21st Century:

(Full Disclosure, I am a vegetarian from Marin County.)


I’m radiating total acceptance now, so, I love you, man, no, I really love you.

It’s all good. Don’t blame me for that Astral Projection. My Mars was conjuncting Jupiter.

What color is my aura? Red? Holy Atlantis, it was green just yesterday !

I wish my chakra were red. I’m channeling BaBa Lu and psychometrisized on my spiritual journey. I’m on the path, closer to the godess, bro.

There are other realities, like, like tantric sex which will lead us to manifesting abundance. It’s a Higher Consciousness, so consult the Tarot and use your Third Eye. That’s my special mantra.


We’re going to Okinawa, Japan. We’ll see you next week.

(I think Kat Feaver snapped this.)

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


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