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The Stick Center

Guillermo Cides

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Guillermo Cides

Part of a continuing series of articles on the Chapman Stick and the artists who play them.
Created and produced by Andy Long.



Since I began writing this series of articles on Stick players some months ago, my knowledge of the instrument and it's exponents has, understandably, grown considerably.
I now get e-mails from all around the world, keeping me informed of the activities of Stickistas: One such e-mail that recently grabbed my attention was from Guillermo Cides.
Cides has been another of the great Stick pioneers over the last ten years or so and has performed with some great names, including Roger Hodgson, Fish and Rick Wakeman.
He is also an established teacher, originally from Argentina and now working in Spain. His latest venture, and the subject of the said e-mail, is the establishment of the 'Stick Center' as a training resource for Stickistas.
I am thankful to David Sancho of Stick Center for acting as a translator for this interview. Because of the language issue I decided to present this feature as a straight question and answer item, exactly as it took place, with just a few linguistic corrections

Andy Long

Andy Long : Tell me about your new Stick Center In Spain. Where is it located?  
GC : The Stick Center is a virtual idea. This means that it's actions happen in different places and ways. These places may be Music Schools, Concerts, Seminars in selected places. Informative meetings for musicians who wish to take a look and know about The Stick and/or the tapping technique.
The Stick Center is a place for making music, editing CDs and promoting artists, being a place for them to meet. As with any virtual idea, it is possible to transport it to any place necessary.
Now it is in Spain. Some time ago it was in Argentina (perhaps the country where The Stick acquired it's most popularity due to the diffusion made by artists by means of TV and Newspapers).
I consider that music is kind of an opportunity, and due to this, the idea to meet musicians is not necessarily and exclusively for teaching.
To teach something very new is an idea that implies the use of a power. My objective is not to be a music "demonstrator" but a music "artist". Regarding my 15 years of experience in concerts around different countries, I just can say I don't know more than others.
I just knew before. Information is just a matter of time, not quantity, and it is on this concept that The Stick Center is working its actions.
The Stick Center has representatives in several Spanish cities who try to promote their activities by mean of artistic actions, getting personally in contact with the interested musicians, who get into artists later so the cycle starts again.
This is an idea I proposed to Emmett some time ago: to organise Stick Centers in different places across the world, with musicians who speak each country's language, and are linked to every other Stick Center, sharing information about techniques, CDs, books and artists. A network. This is still an open project for whoever wants it.

AL : What sort of training do you offer there? 
GC : The first "training" Stick Center was always implemented to be directed to the audience. When I started giving my Stick concerts, the first question to me was: Concerts of what?
That also was the question from some promoters. Artistic actions always begin at the attempt to convince others that your art is possible. Musicians get trained to be musicians, but the audience have also to be trained to be an audience.
The second "training" will be to attempt to get the musicians in contact with each other. This is something that doesn't always happen.
The third "training" will attempt to get the musician to discover ways of expression by means of his/her instrument, helped by the Stick Center.
This is not just technique itself. Particularly in The Stick I have seen everything one can imagine about techniques and compositions!
No one has the answer, that means: everybody has it, and it is possible to share this answer, to analyse it and to practice it in a seminar or a private meeting.
The idea of playing in front of the audience, what is learned, is based upon the fact that many techniques we learn are fine-tuned when musicians play their songs for the audience.
The fourth "training" is on an individual basis. Each musician is different from others regarding his/her needs. Being in contact with us will help to answer his/her questions, person to person or by mail.
This instruction is not just directed to Stickistas. There is a phase for non-Stickistas, it is for everyone who wants to be sure that The Stick is the instrument they need.
I believe that not everybody has to play the Stick and most musicians do not have the possibility to meet a Stick before making up their minds. For this reason we have created a series of encounters with the Center's instruments to facilitate the road to the future Stickistas.

AL : I believe that you first started this idea of a Stick Center in Argentina, how did it all begin?
GC :
When I got my first Stick in my hands, I knew nothing about it. I didn't know about Emmett nor had CDs to understand what to do with this instrument: No instructors were in Argentina, so my learning was just self-instruction, at the best Pavlov style: trial and error.
I gave my first concert a year and a half later. The idea to form a Stick Center in Argentina was born from the necessity to share some doubts and questions I had, with other musicians, so I had to show many of them about the existence of The Stick.
The best way I found was making music with The Stick. Then it grew up rapidly. I myself recorded my CDs (I have three actually), I started my tours.
Then The Ensamble de Stickistas was born (Stickistas was a name in Spanish I chose for the ensemble10 years ago, many Stick Players use it nowadays) in with which we gave concerts in different ways. We played at theaters, pubs, shows, including with John Wetton (ex Asia, King Crimson...) and Fish (ex Marillion).

I remember the official Ensamble de Stickistas presentation in Buenos Aires... . It was at a theater, where the Stickistas were distributed round the audience while one of them played on the stage. Then the next Stickista appeared at the back of the audience, and then a duo at the lateral, and then a trio in the corner...It was fantastic. We also presented The Stick Center in Spain this way.

AL :  How can our readers keep in touch with the work of the new Stick Center?
GC : An option is our web page, of course. It is Another is our mailing list, if they could send us an e-mail we will include them.
On a daily basis we update our website, there you can find many mp3's from many artists and my CDs'. We are inviting the whole world's Stickistas to send us their works, photographs and news to include in our website and promote their works.
We also wait for the mail of musicians who do not touch the Chapman Stick, but wish to be informed about our activities, new CDs, new mp3, etc.

AL :  You have worked with some of the great names in progressive rock - Fish, Wakeman, Wetton and others. Is progressive rock your first love?
GC : Not specially. I came from a part of the rock, although this verb was transforming for me. For some reason, the progressive music world has found in my CDs some of their codes. But usually my concerts go from one place to another. From -for example- The Spanish Guitar Festival, The U-Zona Reggae Festival, or Jazz festivals, added to the concerts I gave with Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Roger Hodgson, Wakeman or others. This is kind of an issue to CDs shops because they do not know where to include my CDs! Especially now that I released my last CD which is a Tribute to Bach interpreted totally with Stick.


AL :  How did you begin to work with these great artists?
GC :  Well, many of them received my works from the promoters. For example, when Roger Hodgson went to Buenos Aires, the idea was proposed to him to open his concerts with a musician playing a strange 10 stringed instrument. After the show, Roger said he enjoyed my performance and he asked me to join his tour for 8 countries. It was an excellent experience for me to play every day for 5000 people.
I met Fish at Sheffield, when I was invited by the Classic RocSociety to open Fish's presentation of his CD "Sunsets on Empires". I met him again some years later in Buenos Aires.
Peter Hammill was listening to my first album "El Mundo Interior de los Planetas" on the plane. When his promoter told me that, I ran to his hotel. "The Stickman!!..."-he exclaimed.
Some years ago I was working with the Guitar Craft of Robert Fripp. It was an interesting experience to know their personal points of view about the music.
All of them are very charismatic musicians who understand my attempts to make something different.






AL :  Tell me about the effects you use. Looping seems to be an integral part of your sound and you use the e-bow?
GC :  My concert sound has different parts. I work from what I call "Acoustic Stick", it is the pure sound from the instrument, no processing. I also work with two Trace Elliot bass systems, one for the guitar section of the Stick and the other for the bass section. My processors are just simple multi-effects.
Loops are also part of my work, but just part of it. I utilise loops as a way to make songs. I don't make "ambience" generally but I attempt make songs with a loop format. On my CD "Primitivo" you will find a Bach song in a looped version.

I like to create extra-sharp sounds, and use my E-bow sometimes to obtain long sounds. Generally, my intention is that the effects serve the music and not the opposite.

MP3 Tema Completo.
Concierto en directo, abriendo el show de Jethro Tull en Argentina




AL :  Your latest CD is an interpretation of the work of Bach, played entirely on Stick. Why did you choose to record this tribute?
GC :  At first it is a protest CD, like in the sixties. I was living in Holland when I decided to do this work. I was very tired because of the pressure I felt from the attitude of some people to the music, say producers or the competitive environment in which musicians seem to flow into in some moment. At that time I decided that my contribution this Great Confusion should be a tribute CD to the Beginning of much of our music. And this was Bach.
This composer always attracted me not only because of his compositional greatness, but also for the curious history of his life: Full of work and dedication to both music and his study of Gematry (the study of the mathematical relationship of the musical notes).
I am not a classical musician, because of this it is just a tribute CD which is not to be performed in a live concert, at least not for now. For this I would need a symphonic orchestra in order to interpret, for example, the Brandenburg Concertos.
Any way, this tribute filled me with pleasure while I was recording. So many people ask me how I obtained the violin sounds. I don't use MIDI sounds.
This particular violin sound was based in a specific way of vibrato, then a smooth distortion and finally a volume pedal. The funny thing I did to obtain a more realistic sound was that first I recorded a melodic viola line in a channel: Then in an adjacent channel I recorded the sound generated by a woodspoon, (yes, a wood spoon) being rasped against the strings in rhythm with the melody.
This provided a similar sensation to that produced by the violin bow. As you see, it was better using ingenuity than merely expensive processors...

AL :
  Apart from the establishment of the new Center, what are your immediate plans for the future.
GC :  Someone asked me once: How do you imagine your future with The Stick? My answer was I am just living my future. This was what I imagined I would do when imagining my future. My days go fast in the middle of Stick concerts: Rehearsal with the Ensamble de Stickistas Españoles (with which we already started to play), the organisation of our next seminar; new tests for a future CD; and finishing my book. (Which will be edited by the Center). Lastly feeding my horse in the country where I live!

Andy Long is our correspondent in the U.K. and the author of numerous articles in Global Bass for a number of issues. Andy will be continuing over 2002 with a series of interesting and provocative interviews with some of the UK's best and brightest bass players.
Check out his official website at Third Bass
Andy's CD Spiral with 3rd Day Rising is now available through BSO at:
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Copyright © 2002 Global Bass Online

Guillermo Cides official Web Page

The Stick Center thanks Andy Long for this interview.
Traducción:Matias Betti.

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