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Writing my music…
I write music all the time, there is always some aspect of a new piece

just floating around in my head.
Rarely planning my compositions, I delight in continuously searching for melodic, rhythmic or harmonic motifs and new right hand techniques,

so my music develops by ‘trial and error’,

though I do have my 'Method' to fall back on

to stimulate the creative juices. 
If inspiration occurs- and this can come at any time in so many ways, perhaps triggered by a certain emotion; love, wonder, anger, or even fear, possibly evoking images of a recent or past event, leading me to search, devise or improvise on the guitar. Often a rhythm or melody will appear, or it maybe something as small as a new chord or perhaps a sequence of chords which will stimulate further ideas.

These musical ideas, phrases and recorded fragments, then hopefully grow until the new piece begins to gel, and finally a complete picture forms.
When the inspiration flows freely I usually keep the music in my head, committing it to paper once I have finished a piece. Though if unfinished, I will write it down or record it onto the computer, using the free recording software ‘Audacity’. (I have just installed Guitar-Pro software to write my music- I am so impressed with it!)
 These partially completed ideas are then added to folders that I can browse and draw on whenever my ‘muse’ is not prompting me! Should my ‘muse’ decide to take a holiday, and these sketches lead nowhere, then I sometimes draw inspiration from the simplest of guitar studies…
and I have written variations on many of these, using my composition methods.
Just recently I completed a set of variations which were inspired by the E minor study of Calatayud, (pronounced Ca-la-ta-yuth) that most classical guitar students know...

This new composition, ‘Dancing with Calatayud’ is a very melodic series of variations, firstly in the minor key and then in the major key. I have used a lot of the guitars unique ‘open treble-string resonance’ that I delight in, together with some dissonance, and spicy, often jazzy harmonies. And breaking news... I have just added a new first movement to this... a result of developing a fascinating arpeggio technique.

Spain, where my wife and I have lived since 2005, (after thirty five years in South Africa) also greatly inspires me. The music, culture, architecture

and the Spanish people I find truly fascinating.
Currently I am writing a Guitar Suite inspired

by our gorgeous pueblo of Montefrio…
‘The mist rises’ - Musical imagery of the castle ‘LaVilla’

                                      peeping out of the mists.
‘Pueblo’ - Sunshine and shade paints the houses

                         and churches in deep relief.
‘La tormenta’ - A thunder storm brings rain cascading

down the ‘washboards‘ of steep steps in the narrow streets.

 

                                      Montefrio appears through the mist...

 

My Musical background...

Ihave always had the need to express myself musically. One of my earliest recollections as a small child is asking my mother if there were such things as ’Songs without words’

and then thinking, ’Songs without words… well- that’s easy…!’

There are precious memories of myself singing with Mum or Dad- they would often sing spontaneously around the house. The milkman and baker would whistle as they made their deliveries. My brothers and I would often sing and whistle too, in retrospect, we were so lucky having these contented people around us. I grew up thinking that if you are happy, then you create music!

The delight at Christmas- peering out from behind the curtains into a snowy street- listening to the Silver Band playing under the light of the lamp-post. Then we kids would go from door to door, ‘carol singing’.

Later we joined school and church choirs, always making music the simple way. There was never any money to be able to afford a piano, but music was bubbling up inside me-

it just needed an outlet.

There are many routes that a person can take to become an accomplished musician and guitarist. Perhaps the most difficult of these is to attempt teaching yourself. It is almost a contradiction in terms... where the teacher knows as little as you do! Using books, records, performing and watching others perform, I learned to play and write classical and fingerstyle music for the guitar- song writing too- simply by doing it! I encountered two guitar teachers along the way, but more about this later. Having chosen the route of self tuition many years ago, I know that the satisfaction of overcoming so many obstacles ’in my own way’ has resulted in my music being quite diverse and difficult to slot into any single style. Many guitarists are constrained by the methods- the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of their learning ‘institution’.

I don’t have sacred rules in terms of guitar techniques-

if the idea is expedient and it produces good music- I will use it!

This may be wrongly construed as hard headed,

but I see it as explorative…

I strive to be original in everything I do with the guitar!

Listen to my music… it is different.

 Initially,  I had one or two classical guitar lessons with a teacher Mr. Higgins, in my home town of Oxford, England. I’d been given a cheap guitar and a plectrum- the music of such as Buddy Holly was very popular then, but it didn’t take me too long to realize the many advantages of playing the guitar with my fingers, and after a year or two I began playing and singing at folk clubs around Oxford. I also started writing instrumentals and songs.

In the early seventies, after moving to live in South Africa, I recorded an LP record, ‘Clive Charles Davies, Guitar’ playing my own instrumentals- a mixture of folk and classical guitar influences. As a result of this I was introduced to the classical guitar teacher Fritz Buss in Johannesburg- he was impressed with my ‘Loosely saddled Mare’ and other compositions. For about a year he helped me to hone my tone playing and refine my classical techniques, but in doing so I lost my musical direction- tossed between Classical and Fingerstyle guitar. I continued to write solo classical guitar pieces, even a duet, ‘The Holly Tree’, but for most of the nineteen eighties my music was in limbo and I played little, though I still taught the guitar.

A re-entry into the South African folk music scene in the nineties, brought the solution to my dilemma. My songwriting suddenly took off- and I found myself playing at folk festivals around South Africa, also performing a one man show of my songs and instrumentals, ‘Waiting for the Moon’ at the Grahamstown festival (South Africa’s ‘Edinburgh festival’). I later recorded a tape and CD of this show. During this period- my sort of musical renaissance- I wrote songs prolifically- had many guitar pupils, and composed amongst others, my instrumental ‘A Questionable Waltz’, which illustrates the fusing of classical and fingerstyle guitar styles in my compositions.

Jazz harmonies then began to move me in another musical direction, not pure jazz though, just jazzy influences.

‘Julie’s Wedding’ a CD which I recorded in 2004, showcases these guitar styles happily co-existing within my repertoire.
Never having copied other players note for note from recordings as many guitarists do… this for me would be onerous and boring work, instead I love to listen to classical and fingerstyle guitarists, and aspects of their playing remain and develop in my mind. But I have always obstinately tried to be original- to create my own ideas- however long it took. I briefly encountered the brilliant concert guitarist NarcisoYepes in the early seventies, his advice to me was, ‘Practice as if you are going to live forever…!’ This typically Spanish advice has remained with me. I delight in exploring the guitars idiosyncrasy’s by simply playing the guitar- learning by trial and error as I play- which is a drawn out process- but a labour of love that has allowed my own style to slowly evolve.

Over the years features of my style have clarified, including judicious use of open strings (trebles too) for resonance, convenience and dissonance, and also many novel right hand techniques, all of which I use in my compositions.

 

 

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