Guitar Teaching

I’ve done a lot of guitar teaching over the years – private lessons mainly in electric guitar, group lessons in schools, that sort of thing. I enjoy it. I believe that it is a good and important thing to.

I live in Aberdare, about 20 miles NW of Cardiff. When there was a proper music shop in Aberdare I had lots of enquiries for lessons. We haven’t had a local music shop for some years so no new students for a long time. However, I’ve always had the option to deliver guitar teaching at a family address in Cardiff and recently I decided to take up this option.

So if you live in or near Cardiff and believe you yourself or your children could benefit I would be delighted.

There are lots of good guitar players – not so many real inspirational teachers. I am a qualified teacher with my own tried and tested teaching methods, strategies and materials. Students of all ages have enjoyed the lessons and made good progress.

I am registered with RGT – Registry of Guitar Tutors – and have a current CRB police check for working with children and vulnerable persons. My teaching covers a range of styles and genres, electric and acoustic, plectrum and fingerstyle; jazz, blues, rock, classical.

If you’d like to know more please visit my teaching website


Gigs wanted

There has been some rescheduling. The proper album recording has been delayed until later in the year.

Before then I would like to get some informal pre-view gigs in – to thoroughly roadtest the songs – so that I am well honed and slick by the time the album is officially released.

I’ve done a fair few open mics but only a couple of single set gigs in the Small Symphonies format. This doesn’t mean that I won’t be giving my best in these preview gigs but there may be teething troubles. I’m hoping to have projected images in the background for some songs…never done that before. That said, anybody who has seen any of the other hundreds of gigs will know that I soldier on through adversity and  deliver the goods.

These pre-view gigs can be free of charge to any good cause;  private bookings  at a very preferential rate.

What is a good cause? Humanist, Environmental, Socialist. That sort of thing…I know, typical bloody Guardian Reader hippy.

A gig can be at a normal venue: club, pub or community centre; or at your home. I don’t take up very much room and I don’t have to be loud so even the smallest performance space could be viable.

To promote this phase of the project I’ve organised a Demo set of songs on my SoundCloud (see above ). These are Work in Progress recordings from last year – they’re not perfect. There is also a rough cut of a video which is in process of production by Welsh Icons. That should give you the flavour.

I would stress it is NOT EASY LISTENING. Lots of people have felt uplifted by my songs but party music it ain’t. There may be disturbing images in the back projections. Strike that – if Norris has anything to do with the visuals there will be disturbing images aplenty.

If you or your organisation are interested please Private Message me through Facebook.

my lady saw me weep

my lady saw me weep 2.1 (c) 2010 written and performed by Cameron Pyke, this recording (c) 15 Sept 2010 by Cameron Pyke & Ambisonix, remastered by Ambisonix.

my lady saw me weep 2.0 (c) 2010 written and performed by Cameron Pyke, this recording (c) 15 Sept 2010 by Cameron Pyke & Ambisonix.

Work in Progress, complete with mistakes and issues as one take, no edits or overdubs.

22 October 2010

This piece has been ‘up’ for some time now without any comment on my part. It’s doing quite well on the stats – second highest performer – my thanks to everyone who’s brought this about.

It’s a pretty little tune.  I think I can say that fairly safely without compromising my modesty – at least the public face of it. Hey, nobody does this sort of thing without a grossly inflated ego.

The title is an inversion of ‘I Saw My Lady Weep’ by John Dowland. It’s not entirely serious,  not really a pastiche …and, let’s face it, not fit to be compared with the Dowland.  Maybe it conjures up Tudor ladies tripping some stately moves round their handbags. However, the harmony is  a ragbag of clunky triads and jazz chords.  Add to this some quasi-Flamenco razzing and you’ve got a real mongrel. But it hangs together!

On a scale of moderate self harm to full slitting of the wrists how suicidal does it seem? Nah, not really.

There are words. It was a song once. I played a recording to some people. Once. It was so ‘orrible I decided to amputate the tune from the words. But being a frugal sort and not averse to a bit of affectation I kept the words with the tune. You’ve heard of Mendelsohn’s Songs Without Words? This a Song What is Not Meant to be Sung But Has Got Words Anyway. You may appreciate the conceit even if the label needs working on.

The words are published as a separate post. Feel free to have a look. It’s lament on middle age graced by maybe one snatch of grim humour. I make no apologies. The likes of Roger Waters have got very rich bleating on in much the same vein.

And yet it’s a pretty tune. This reminds me of when I used to (several lifetimes ago) sell fine art reproductions – packaged in a rather dubious format.  I really shouldn’t be owning up to this, serious artist and all that.  It paid the rent.

Anyway, Kandinsky pictures sold like hot cakes. Well, they would. They’re… PRETTY!

Certain influential Russians didn’t like Kandinsky because he was individualistic and bourgeois. The Nazis exhibited and then burnt (Arts Council take note) some of his work because it was degenerate.  I cannot honestly admit to being moved by any profound political message emanating from a Kandinsky picture. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen an original. Personally I find about as much controversy in a Kandinsky picture as an episode of Sesame Street. That doesn’t mean it’s not great art.

Conversely, I heard a customer say “Oh, I love that Guernica…have you got a Guernica? What about a nice big Guernica for the dining room wall?…so relaxing…”  Not for me to tell her that Guernica was a snapshot of genocide in progress.  And for that reason I would never have  had a Guernica on the stall. Shame, missed a sale there.

another country 2010

another country (c) 1993, 2009, 2010 written and performed by Cameron Pyke, this recording (c) 15 Sept 2010 by Cameron Pyke & Ambisonix.

Recordings on this WordPress so far are work in progress, complete with cock-ups and problems, recorded in one take, voice and guitar, no overdubs.  I always welcome advice on technical or artistic issues. If  you really love, or really hate something, please comment.  I may not agree with you but I’ll be very grateful for the input.  You could visit the small symphonies soundcloud and leave a timed comment right next to the bit that bothers/delights you.

You can read the words and listen to a previous version and there are notes about the development of the song on these posts.

This version reverts to some of the feel of the song when it was performed back in 1993 by my London band The Intrepid Box. The three piece rock band version was faster but at the same time wistful and atmospheric.  Last year’s recording was plain bonkers. I was puzzled at the time why I felt it should be that frenetic, considering the subject matter.

The texture of this new arrangement flicks back and fore between fairly conventional fingerpicking and razzing. ‘Razz’ is the word I use to describe a technique borrowed from Flamenco. I’m sure I don’t do it right, therefore it would be presumptious of me to call it ‘rasgueado’.

I’m a huge admirer of Flamenco but I have no ambitions to play it.

I am still working on the trick of switching from razz to rest stroke, which calls for a shift of RH position and the stumbling scale  at the beginning of the instrumental section is a clear example of this not happening.

the holy grail and recording with crap gear

I play a nylon strung guitar, one of the gentlest instruments known to man, but I want a sound a mile wide with the groans and grunts of tectonic plates grinding against each other in the subterranean depths and heavenly curtains of harmonics overhead, a Northern Lights in sound. 

Although it may be asking the physically impossible, I want to separate the registers. I’d like bass and treble parts to sound like they’re played on different instruments. At extremes, I want the bass delivered by a Rickenbacker with a Badass bridge and lead by Roy Buchanan’s crusty old Tele. Continue reading

a giglet, and reflections from the Land of Song

On the first Tuesday of September I got up and played at an open mic night – first time for about five years.

The Cynon Valley is well provided with open mic opportunities – there’s at least three per month in different venues. The one I played at was in the Coliseum,  Aberdare.

Just a bit of background. This is South Wales.  This is the “Land of Song”. Is it really? Well, yes it is. Why? Continue reading