Cesco Emmanuel

guitarist/songwriter/composer

Category: Music

LRSM

Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music, London. It’s the equivalent of a BA (Music). At least from a performance point of view.

That’s where my head is at nowadays, at least till April 2017, when the exam happens.

I have to do a recital – 40 minutes of music from various time periods (I chose pieces by Dowland, Bach, Barrios, Villa Lobos and Reinhardt), then write an 1,800 word essay on the pieces I chose, the little intricacies and then last but not least I get to sight-read a piece I have never seen before.

I’ll get five minutes to look it over and away I go.

That last part scares the living daylights out of me, but I’ve been working on these pieces for almost two years and I’m almost ready for the exam.

So, come April 2017, here goes everything.

Other than that there’s a new Kobo Town album – ‘Where the Galleons Sank’ coming out in February in Canada and in the Fall in Europe. So tours will follow.

Stay tuned everybody!

2017 is going to be a great year for music.

So Merry Christmas!

See you all in 2017.

A Night of Guitar 2

 

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So I haven’t been blogging so much on this site because I’ve been really crazy super busy trying to get this show ready for next week Saturday, Nov 12th at Queen’s Hall.

There’s been a lot of planning that went into this show, and I must say, one thing that felt great from the start was the vibe that was ever present among all the guitarists – Dean Williams, Theron Shaw, Graham Newling, David Cockburn, John Hussain and myself.

Special guests for this show are Flamenco extraordinary Stefan Roach and young tenor Kyle Richardson.

So, what’s different with this show as opposed to last year’s show?

Well, for one the venue is different, it’s at Queen’s Hall now. It’s a Saturday night versus a Sunday evening. It’s seven guitarists instead of five, and that means a wider repertoire.

Of course the challenge was working out a proper timeline for everyone. A bigger challenge was selling a show like this so close to Christmas because it’s not really a Christmas show although we are doing a tribute to Christmas. But we are doing pieces from different eras and genres, a few duets and a number of group medleys.

I’m really excited about this year’s program and the lineup. We all bring something different to the table, we’re so different as guitarists, but we are working so well together and it’s coming out in how we’re sounding together as a group.

So, I know.

I know it’s going to be a great show and I hope you can make it to the concert.

See you there Saturday, November 12th at Queen’s Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

My latest work – A Spanner in the works

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I haven’t blogged in a while, reason being, I’ve been very busy musically and so without further ado.

May I present to you, my latest album – ‘A Spanner in the works’.

You can have a listen here.https://soundcloud.com/cescoemmanuel/sets/a-spanner-in-the-works-1

I hope you will like my music and share it around, feel free sign up for my mailing list at www.cescoemmanuelmusic.com
. That way you can find out about new music and any shows directly from me, you’ll get the scoop before the rest of the world does.

I’ve been working really hard on finishing this album, it’s a culmination of five years of recording and ‘stockpiling’ for want of a better word, ideas I had for a long while. Some songs are older than that, like ‘The Battle Within’ is an old Brothers Grimm song, one of the first ones I ever wrote, back in 1992.
‘The Illusion of a dream’ is a solo acoustic song that I wrote back in 1996, it’s being performed in a band format for the first time on this record , so it’s good to go back to old material sometimes and see what kind of new feel can be given to it.

It always amazes me how a song takes on a life of its’ own. My music can be a bit quirky and unusual at times, but it’s totally me and how I write. I guess every musician/singer/songwriter/composer has their own unique way of doing things and it comes out in the songs themselves.

You may hear an influence or two in my songs, and I guess no man (or musician) is an island, we are all a product of our listening environment.

So, my dear friend and listener, I do hope you will like my new album and that would sing up for my mailing list to get all the latest news from me.

Till then, happy listening.

My New Official Music site

So I’ve been spending the last few months developing a very straight-up, simple website that will allow two things – you, my friend and listener to sign up for my mailing list, which will entitle you to free downloads, insights on new music and all sort of cool stuff.

It will also enable you to keep up to date with what’s happening with me musically and you’ll be the first to know when new music is coming out.

I hope you’ll sign up for my mailing list.

It’s very easy, just click on this link here and you’ll be asked to give your email address to receive free music.

And that’s it, we’re connected.

Hope to see you on my new official music site.

Cheers.

Almost on the home stretch

Finally.

Things are starting to take shape. The new album is almost finished. I have a few tweaks and edits to do to  and just two more songs to record vocals, drums and bass.

I’m hoping to get two old bandmates of mine from my Brothers Grimm era to come play on those tracks. One is actually the first song I ever wrote with those guys – ‘The Battle Within’, so I’m hoping it can all work out. It will be good for memory sake to have my old brothers play on this record.

I’m aiming for a early summer release, fingers and toes crossed.

Some of these songs I’ve had for over a decade.

My last album was four years ago, hard to believe.

Side One: Journey Within was a solo acoustic, bare bones album. This new one has a few tunes with just me and my guitar, but I also wanted a fuller sound, so I got a couple of drummers and bass players I always liked to play on this album.

Still got to organize art work and where I’ll be releasing the record, most likely online on CD Baby and iTunes.

The new album will be called ‘A Spanner in the works’

Stay tuned.

You can only put off things for so long

You can never stop learning.

Life is a series of adapting to new ways of doing things. With that in mind, I bought a few online music courses, all with the aim of making me a better musician.  I had thought about them for a while and I finally bit the bullet.

Hopefully I will see the results from dedication and consistency.

The trick is making the time to do these music courses, fit them in somewhere between practicing and cooking.

Fitting them in.

That’s the key (pun intended).

I wonder if every musician has this conundrum – how to practice managing time, in addition to playing in time.

This year is all about new beginnings and trying new ideas to make me a better musician.

 

 

My boys

For the past seven years, I’ve been teaching on a monday evening at my old high school. Some terms I have a great group of kids, other times, well, not so much.

Every term leading up to Christmas, there’s a school concert (that runs on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening) and my guitar troupe has to play one song during the show.

This year, I had a group of seven students and I thought we were ready, but even up to the day of the first concert we were sounding terrible.

What annoyed me was that we spent an entire ten weeks learning this song, but at the end of it, only two boys knew the song well. The group as a whole sounded lost and messy.

It was bad, really bad.

What happened next truly amazed me – those guys spent the next three evenings relentlessly practicing that song until it was pretty coherent. It wasn’t perfect and there were a few of the boys who missed a number of chords but ‘faked it’ well.

Each performance came off really well and we got a hearty round of applause each time.

While I am not advocating cramming a piece for a concert, what I am testifying to here is that hard work and perseverance will overcome any obstacle.

I must admit, I was very surprised by my guitar troupe, I was ready to pull the plug on their song Friday evening, I was so upset.

But they proved me wrong.

And for that, I am truly humbled, surprised and grateful to them.

Painstakingly slow

I’m working on a few classical and electric techniques that have stumped me for years. I mean years, decades even. But then, I also realized that perhaps like so many other guitarists that I have not really practiced these techniques properly. And I mean really, really practiced them. Here’s what I’ve learnt about practicing properly: –

  • Find out what’s the proper RH (Right Hand) and LH (Left hand) fingering, practice this technique very, very slowly till it’s mentally understood
  • Dissect the passage slowly until the flaw is discovered and rectified
  • Hear the passage properly in my head
  • Find metronome speed where it’s borderline comfortable but can become messy, stick with this speed until it’s smooth and passage becomes like second nature
  • THEN increase metronome speed

Understanding this has taken me decades. In fact I would go as far as to say that after 28 years of playing guitar, I think I am finally starting to understand ‘HOW TO’ practice.

How embarrassing, but better late than never I suppose.

Now, the real test is being patient with myself while I practice properly.

That’s the trick, isn’t it?

Corporate

In a rather strange turn of events, I’ve been hired to play a few corporate gigs, doing classical material. I’ve worked out a set of 35 pieces, some don’t sound too great, but it’s a set nonetheless.

I’m not a fan of corporate gigs, the pay is decent and in some cases you do get fed, but the audience couldn’t care less for music. Oh sure, some may spare a few seconds to say they ‘liked’ the music after the performance, but that’s about it.

To me, corporate gigs feel as if I’ve begging people to listen to me, and they don’t. That’s just the cold fact.

The only positive in playing these sort of shows is that I can get to practice my classical repertoire and get better at performing solo in front of people.

Strange. Whenever I play in a band (most recently with Kobo Town) I’m not nervous, even when I do solo acoustic gigs I’m ok. But with a classical guitar, all by myself, I freeze up.

So, maybe these gigs where nobody pays me any attention, maybe they’re a good thing.

For getting better at classical guitar.

Nothing else.

You only know when you try

So it’s been a few weeks since October 18th, when I staged my first concert – A night of Guitar. It was a success for all intents and purposes. But now that the show is over, I can say that I almost cancelled it. You see, two weeks before the show, I had sold a measley 38 tickets, only the last week did ticket sales pick up, so much so that there were over 400 people in the church.

Most people said they enjoyed the show, the sound was the only sticky point.

I made a few mistakes, even blanked out for a few bars in my first piece, but I continued on, just a few people noticed.

But that’s not the point. The point is to try, to always try. Don’t just dream, try it, fail, fall, get up, dust yourself off, start again. Yes it’s embarrassing, who cares. Keep going.

And I’m saying this for myself as much as anyone else.

You never know until you try.

I’m spending more time on my technique and practicing everyday now. I’m thinking of what else I can do to better myself as a guitarist and musician. I’m thinking of new musical experiences for next year.

I still have an album to finish, but it’s got to be close to perfect.

More music of the horizon.

Will write again soon with more updates…

I promise