Recently I released the full version of Trail Mix, a suite of original pieces for seven string classical guitar. The fourth movement was the first piece I wrote specifically on and for the seven string. It’s a nice, melodic piece of music that developed itself out of the two opening chords. 5000 Miles of Dirt is the title of that movement which was inspired by a walk in the woods behind my mother-in-law’s house in Germany, on a short trip to Europe in 2007. It was November, no snow yet, relatively warm. I had walked my old, well-explored trails from when I still lived in Germany. But I took one wrong turn and then got lost. This was late afternoon and the sun sets early in the Swabian Alps in late Fall. After losing myself deeper and deeper I encountered a power line and decided I should follow it back to civilization. It was a successful strategy, except that power lines don’t usually follow a road or trail and this one mostly went straight across muddy fields. I eventually found my way back to the house – two hours late and with very dirty boots.
Surprisingly, I was able to find the mediocre recording I made of the fourth movement years ago. Often my classical guitar skills are lagging just a bit behind the music I compose. This commercial release contains numerous corrections, much more practical page turns, and two versions of each piece: one in just standard notation the second one standard notation with added tablature. While I am not a proponent for tablature per se, I think it makes sense to record fingerings that way.
I freely admit that many, if not most, of my earlier writings for classical guitar are simplistic, juvenile and banal. On the other hand one has to start somehow somewhere, and I am glad that I held on to all of this material and didn’t put it in the garbage disposal of creative outbursts. As of this writing (February 2017) the first of the Pulvermann Empires is just about 40 years old – reason enough to publish the entire four part series.
One of the stand-out properties of my 40+ year music career has always been a deep interest in music that is used in science fiction movies (in other words: sounds mysterious, ominous, and ambiguous.) I can’t remember where that name Pulvermann came from – I don’t think I ever knew. But as you can tell by the front cover of The Pulvermann Empires, it could have something to do with a base on the Moon? The British SciFi series UFO from the early 70s was one of my favorites – and I suspect their moon base had an influence. So had the music of that same TV series (especially the ingenious creepy soundtrack during the ending credits), early Pink Floyd and countless other space sounds that hit my ears.
Obviously a classical guitar is not the first choice to produce such music. But it was all I had in my first few years. And while I liked to play Bach and Bossa Nova on my cheap guitar, I had little knowledge to write anything in these styles – I tried, and most of that did end up in the trash.
One of the reasons I am glad to have held on to all of this early music is because it often shows how early certain musical ideas – melodic fragments, chord voicings and progressions – pop up. Of course, you could say this about pretty much any artist’s work.
So here is The Pulvermann Empires, all four parts of it.