“Ten Questions With…” is a semi-regular series in which I ask a notable acoustic guitarist ten questions about their process.
Michelle Qureshi is a musician/composer living and working in Indiana. Acoustic
guitar is often at the center of her music, but as she is a multi-instrumentalist, her music explores a variety of sounds and textures. Classically trained on the guitar, she has a beautiful, accessible, melodic style, often using two partial capos and alternate tunings. She places a high value on improvisation, often producing gorgeous pieces on the fly, but also composes emotionally moving structured pieces. She has released twelve albums, two EPs, and a handful of singles. She, like me, is a Gemini.
- Who or what made you first take an interest in the acoustic guitar?
- The Beatles! They made me excited about music in general, since I was a little kid.
- Who are among your most admired guitarists?
- I admire, Sharon Isbin, Jason Vieaux, Pat Metheny, Michael Hedges, Tommy Emmanuel and Ralph Towner.
- What is your favorite acoustic guitar album?
- “John Holmquist: Las Folias de Espana.” This album let me hear solo guitar in a way I never had before; great inspiration from the man I studied classical guitar with at college.
- What three acoustic guitarists do you think show through the most as influences in your playing?
- Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges, and Pat Metheny.
- How much time do you spend time practicing daily?
- It varies; some days not at all, and other days maybe off and on for up to four hours.
- What tuning do you use most often, or do you use various tunings somewhat equally?
- After standard tuning, I tend to love DGDF#BD at the moment, but I’m always experimenting with other tunings and capo positions.
- When writing, are you expressing specific or general experiences and feelings?
- When writing, do you employ the aid of technology in the process?
- Do you use a click track when you record?
- In the studio, what aspect is the most challenging for you?: tuning, mic placement, timing, accuracy, feel, or dynamics?
- Mic placement and recording levels for acoustic instruments, mixing for virtual instruments.
Tom wrote and performed the score for a short film entitled ‘The Fix,’ which will be making the festival rounds this summer and fall. The short synopsis of the film provided by the production team says “To say Girl is down on her luck is an understatement. She struggles with debt, health, career, her landlord, and hasn’t had a hot shower in two months. She cannot catch a break… until she does. And what she does with it is a sad and relevant commentary about how women see themselves.”
In Gramophone’s June 2017 issue, Kate Molleson reports on how the ‘classical’ music label is proving outdated for many of today’s creative artists and speaks to several musicians for whom the whole notion of genre is entirely irrelevant. Generic labels have always been more widely used by listeners, retailers and record companies than by musicians themselves (no musician wants to be put in a box!), and the artistic integrity of the experimentation and intermingling of musical traditions by many of today’s artists leaves all memories of ‘crossover’ far behind.
As Molleson says: ‘I’m not talking about crossover or fusion. Naff appropriation has been part of the music industry for centuries – plenty of Romantic composers plonked folksy songs into their music, but for the most part they plundered material out of published anthologies from the safety of their armchairs, and the complicating contours were smoothed out, prettified, made polite and assimilated into an acceptable language of formal composition. Porous boundaries between genres are only interesting when respect for and integrity of both genres is upheld.’
In the course of the article, Molleson speaks to composer Anna Meredith, conductor Ilan Volkov, violinist Pekka Kuusisto, and harpist Rhodri and violinist Angharad Davies. Below is some of their latest work, but there are many, many musicians and composers worth investigating, so I’ve added a few more…
Tom’s new holiday collection “I Heard It Was Christmas Day” is available in select Whole Foods outlets nationwide. The list price is $9.99.
Heartfelt thanks to Steve Romeis at One Source Distribution, and the Whole Foods team in Austin for allowing us in to the Whole Foods family.
Happy holidays to all!
October 7, 2016–January 16, 2017
The Met Fifth Avenue
The greatest French follower of Caravaggio (1571–1610), Valentin de Boulogne (1591–1632) was also one of the outstanding artists in 17th-century Europe. In the years following Caravaggio’s death, he emerged as one of the most original protagonists of the new, naturalistic painting. Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio will be the first monographic exhibition devoted to this artist who is little known because his career was short-lived—he died at age 41—and his works are so rare. Around 60 paintings by Valentin survive, and this exhibition will bring together 45 of them, with works coming from Rome, Vienna, Munich, Madrid, London, and Paris. Exceptionally, the Musée du Louvre, which possesses the most important and extensive body of Valentin’s works, will lend all of its paintings by the artist.
July 24, 2016
At 77, Harold Budd’s career has taken him from bebop to avant-garde minimalism to the lush, atmospheric soundscapes he’s become famous for. Critics call Budd “the godfather of ambient music,” an honorific he rejects. “My reaction is very visceral and immediate,” Budd tells Kurt Andersen. “Maybe it’s just being called something — anything — that annoys the hell out of me.” But the label he absolutely cannot abide: “I used to go into record stores — when there was such a thing — and complain, ‘Get me out of New Age!’”
Whether releasing sadness or sending shivers down our spines, the songs in our ‘emotional toolbox’ can transform daily life … if we learn how to use them
Music is so much a part of almost all our lives that it seems peculiar to stop and ask what it might be for. It just appears straightforwardly to benefit us in ways that are too diverse and ineffable to start to take apart; this might be one arena where we keep the dread hand of the theorists away. Musicians themselves have tended to reinforce such an approach, rarely venturing to supply an additional prose commentary around what their chords are already communicating.
Canadian born, Argentine raised, American by choice – photographer Julian Escardo has provided all the images for Tom’s distinctive album covers. Like the music, his precise and formally composed pieces hint at the deeper, hidden poetry of underlying spirit and energy that the surface only implies. More of his work can be seen here.