Vancouver Open Guitar Circle 2

Date or timeframe: 29-11-2009
Address: 438 West Pender Street
City: Vancouver
Country: Canada
Category(-ies): / / / / /

1pm to 3pm

Today of the Open Guitar Circle Vancouver 2 was held, directed by Curt Golden.

The work was done in an old heritage building in a “bad” part of downtown Vancouver, an art studio used by one of the participants. The place was okay, although the noise of traffic interfered. GC team arrived one hour earlier to set up the place. Ten people took part of the Circle, one of them totally new to the guitar.

We began a few minutes after 1pm. Two unexpected participants came and Sotirios and Pablo proceeded to NST-tune their guitars.

We sat in the Circle. Curt instructed participants to be aware of the soles of our feet on the ground, our sitting bones on the chairs, our spine extending up, our breathing. Then “chose a note, when ready began to play it”. This was a good beginning, it sounded musical to my ears, there was care and attention in the way everyone played.

We moved into circulating notes to the right, to the left, using our ears to match the way the other person passed the note to us, “as if someone outside the room, could hear as one instrument being played”.

Notes in C major pentatonic were distributed. We circulated basic form to the right, then with (-1) retrograde movement, 2 octaves up with return. Then C minor pentatonic was introduced, and we alternated circulating both scales up and down 2 octaves. A third scale was then introduced. The first part of the meeting was completed with a free circulation.

10-minute break.

We sat in different places this time. Curt distributed triad chords in the higher strings, which we circulated. The first-time guitar player struggled to make the chords sound, then strap and guitar position was adjusted and sound improved. Basic Form Circulation of the chords, to he right and then left, beginning to play our triad when the third note of the previous person’ triad sounded. Then the same, but beginning to play as soon as we noticed the previous player moving his hand (TTA Zither technique).

Free Circulation to the right. Then completion with notes at unison after Curt signs (except one that played itself).

Personal comments:

I was quite tired during the Circle, last weeks have been very hard, and this affected my awareness in a tangible way. While we were playing one of the free Circulations, remember myself noticing the absence of music in the notes perceived. Then began to count the notes being played, and everything changed instantly. It was an amazing change, from nothing to everything, there was Music.

It was also good that the GC pals had time to visit my family, Melina commented that after we returned from the Circle we brought a very good energy to our home. It was so good for the kids.


-Pablo Mandel


Curt Golden

With GC experience:
Brock Pytel
Sotirios Papavasilliou
Greg Meredith
Pablo Mandel

In previous Open Circle:
Henri Giovanetti
Mónica Álvarez
Sylvia Child

Frederick Brummer
David Scherk
Ezequiel Sasky

From Curt’s diary:
“I was up early; certainly early for Sunday. I picked Greg up at 8am and we hit the road for Vancouver. It is a little under 3 hours door to door, but the border is the proverbial x-factor, so we need to allow for potential delays should there be a lot of traffic backed up at immigration. As it turned out, no delays this morning. A couple of cars in the line, and we were through in 5 minutes. This meant we arrived at Pablo’s place early enough to go out and grab a late breakfast before heading to the circle. Sotirios was already there. We piled into his van, which was also loaded with chairs, and went to a nearby restaurant for a quick bite, and then on to the studio for the circle.

Pablo’s report of the day is posted on the Guitar Circle and NST page on Facebook.

I concur with his description of events. The facility was less than ideal, but perfectly workable. A better than anticipated turnout. High note for me was having Brock turn up. It has been too long, and his presence in the circle was very helpful.

For myself, these circles, with participants at this level, are pretty labor-intensive. More or less, very little takes on a life of its own, but depends on the circle leader along with the “shills” (the more experienced players sitting in the circle: Pablo, Sotiros, Greg and Brock, in this case), to keep the thing moving. I saw a couple of things about preparing participants that I will communicate to Pablo. My sense is that the local experienced players need to work with the first-timers for an hour or so before the full circle, dealing with tuning and the most rudimentary details of technique. This worked very well in the early Seattle Circle open circles. I also see that for those who may become regular participants in these circles, it would be a good idea to get them together in between scheduled circles, to look at matters of basic technique.

After the circle, we returned to Pablo’s place. Greg and I packed our stuff in my car, and then we chilled out with the family for about 30 minutes, including coffee and patries!, before hitting the road once again. No difficulties on the drive. The border crossing took about 30 minutes this time – no trouble, simple traffic volume. Back in Seattle a little after 7:30. Dropped Greg off and headed to the local pub for a beer and a meal. Very tired.”

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