Another great session with Al Park,

This last Wednesday I made the trip to Byron Bay for another session with AL. I was running late as I had to drop three of my instruments into local luthier, Stuart Newman's, workshop where he is going to weave his musical magic.

My new Cort 12-string guitar will be having a nice pick-up added (name to follow!), which will give me considerably more scope for performance. Awesome! Stuart will also be working on my little Tanglewood mandolin - a good, clean-sounding mando with a bright, warm, wooden tone. He'll be giving the mandolin a set-up, lowering the nut and adjusting the bridge position, etc., which should make the instrument a little easier to play.

Finally, my new mid-range Yamaha Pacifica electric guitar will be having a few problems in the neck sorted out. All the frets on the fretboard will be scraped back to a precise and even level, and then each fret will be filed or "dressed" with a diamond file, giving each fret the required shape and feel.

As I was leaving Stuart's workshop another bloke arrived and it was Australian musician, Pete Murray and his son, coming to pick up his guitar!

So, back to Al's where we get into the medieval sounding - Sword in the Stone. We used some deep synth pads with lots of tonic notes, fourths and fifths - no thirds or sevenths - in the chords, giving the piece a very medieval-sounding feel. The drama within the piece was beginning to build nicely. We were trying to continue this idea through to the end, when Al played a more jazzy inversion of the same chords - instead of playing a neutral "power" chords, he now played a series of minor and major seven chords over the same progression. This was a great transitional idea and brought a real sense of lightness and "everything's gonna be alright" to the piece. The piece then resolved back into the more menacing 1,5,8 chords at the end!

We finished off the day's work by adding a lovely series of bubbling harp runs over 2 - 3 octaves. The harp enters at the same point as the new, jazzier chords. The effect is very pleasing!


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