Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Such A Thing As Nails


There are so many subtleties involved in dancing tango. Often, we learn lessons from contemplation of methods of control in other art forms.

Keith writes about working with and observing a concert guitarist in recording sessions.

I am fortunate to spend much of my time recording an exceptional concert guitarist who to me is also an exceptional composer and arranger. We (Ioana and her sister Simona with their songs and some wonderful musicians) are most of the way through recording the first Soana CD.

Ioana Gandrabur is a consummate Artist. (And yes - she also dances tango).

Well, every time we begin a session and I punch record, I get to listen to a wonderful musician playing REALLY interesting music. I love acoustic instruments and a guitar in Oana's hands is a beautiful thing.

But I want to tell you about her nails.

Ioana Gandrabur
Ioana Gandrabur

She tunes and sits ready to play as I carefully place the sensitive mics where they should be to capture her. Less than an inch makes a big difference (like in the shoulder position of a dancer). We get her headphone mix of the other instruments so she likes it; then start recording.

When she's warmed-up, we pause recording to sit together and listen to what we're getting as a way of zeroing-in.

Here is the nails part:

Oana will often say to me after a moment of hearing what the recording of the guitar sounds like, "Give me a minute to do my nails." She'll pull out her packet of graduated papers with which she finely adjusts her nail edges. She is looking for just the right touch attack for each string she will play with each finger.

She works her way through the different grades of paper in her particular order sculpting her way to achieving the perfect state for each nail.

(No one listening to her would have thought there was anything to be improved; but Oana knows sound like you wouldn't believe and how to get the best).

When she picks up her guitar again, a full, rich sound charges out from her instrument - sounding cleaner and stronger and making your ears perk up. It's kind of magical when you hear the transformation.

A subtle, intricate, simple thing making a big difference.

Of course she plays every day ... her nails are always in perfect shape. And yet - a little update caress from her special filing papers, and so much more is all-of-a-sudden there.

Makes one ponder the adjustments we can make in different ways to really get into the tango zone with another person. Something else calling for acute attention to subtle details for optimum execution.

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