Shaking a Stick
at musical convention


Progression: What is your philosophy of music?
Cides: "I think the correct question should be, “What’s your philosophy of life?” I don’t think you can apply a different philosophy to music than the one you would apply to life, to compose, to write, or even to making an omelet. Passion is the vital element that always gets me into trouble……really! (laughs). This is not a world that easily accommodates passionate people. Being passionate and saying what you think and feel is a problem in such a structured world. If you record a song, then you leave your name and you tell everyone who you are. That’s the way it should be when you listen to a song. Just like a musician has to understand his or her capacity of honesty, audiences should train their understanding of this capacity for a musician’s sincerity when listening to a song. This is something that is very possible to achieve."

Progression: You mention on your web-site the works of Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Llama, to name a few. What about these individuals inspires or influences you, the man and the musician?
Cides: “When I created my web-page, I tried to look at it objectively and wondered what interest this site might hold and what I might share with the world. There are things currently happening in our world that are really transcendental – things that deserve and merit attention, observation and that are much more significant than my own page. For that reason, I put a series of links to the organizations and people that are mentioned under the title: “These links are of REAL interest.” Hopefully the links will capture some attention and some people will take the time to get to these sites. From this point of view, the internet is based on a “voyeuristic” structure – you look into a site as if you were looking into someone’s house. It’s like opening a door of a room and taking a long look. Then I thought of an idea – the internet should be watching you too. Currently, on my web-page, you will find my face looking right at you and winking an eye. Now I can see you too!"

"The influence these people have had on me is more of a general influence -- it’s not some specific thing that has influenced me -- it is more the fact these individuals dedicated their lives to a certain course and never strayed from it. If you observe well, you will note that each one of these people had something in common. They lived their lives helping other people.”

"I don’t believe it is possible to help other people if you are not honest about it, and in music, honesty, I think, is the main element. You cannot be honest if you do not believe in passion and you cannot teach passion. If someone wants to ask, “What is passion?’ the answer would be, “If you have to ask this question, then it is because you do not know passion."

A Chapman Stick primer


The Chapman Stick is a musical instrument invented by Emmett Chapman in the early 1970s, designed to facilitate a two-handed tapping technique developed on guitar. Stick Enterprises was founded in 1974 to Manufacture and distribute the Stick and its accessories.

The Stick is simple in design, has a wider fretboard and is longer in both size and natural sustain than an electric guitar. Both hands act independently to produce rich bass, guitar. piano and percussive sounds by tapping or touching the strings to the frets with various tensions, speed and intimacy. It is very comparable to a keyboard instrument in that it accommodates a full two-handed approach. This independence can lead to a mastery of simultaneous bass, chords, melody lines and percussive accompaniment.

With eight, 10 or 12 strings and made with various hardwoods to more exotic woods, polycarbonate resin, graphite epoxy and other high-tech composites, the Stick and its family of tunings are continually being refined. Many new features have been added as well as a variety of related tapping instruments.

Currently, Stick Enterprises offers various Stick models, including the original 10-string Stick, the 12-strings Grand Stick, the 10-Strings Grand Stick and NS/Stick which is an eight-string bass/Stick hybrid co-created by Emmett Chapman and Ned Steinberger. There also is the Stick made of bamboo and the Alto Stick, which moves the bass range up into guitar territory and gives the player easy access to high melody in the violin register.

The outputs of the Stick (separate bass and melody) ofer a wide range of amplification possibilities. The stereo pickups, one for each set of live strings, use standard, double-coil hum-bucking technology. No fancy technology is used, just a volume pot for each pickup. Individual bass and guitar amps can be used, or for a Stick with MIDI capabilities, a keyboard amp might he a good choice for the melody side; one can also combine both sides through a mixing board or two-channel amplifier, etc., and all very personal choices.

Popular artists who have used the Chapman Stick on their recordings and in live performance include Tony Levin with Peter Gabriel and King Crimson, Kitty Hawk, Kajagoogoo, John Paul Jones, Blue Man Group, Pink Floyd, Anderson-Brudford- Wakeman-Howe (Yes hybrid), Bruce Cockburn, Greg Howard, Sean Malone of Gordian Knot, John Myung of Dream Theater and Aaron Wolf of Darktown Saints.

For more information on the Stick including discography, instructionaI tools, up-coming seminars, Stick events and news, visit www.stickenterprises. com
© Progression • Winter 2006
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see Guillermo Cides video concert in France