A new year, a new website, and a new blog

First, a few words about the blog…

My first blog, Pristine Madness, started in 2009, and I intended it to be a place for me to write about whatever struck my fancy. It will continue to serve that purpose, but as you can see from the last post there, I haven’t been a very good blogger. And I’m not sure the wide range of things I like to write about were of interest to anyone but me. I did write about guitar-related things on occasion—most notably my post about the relationship between Segovia’s transcription of Bach’s Chaconne and Busoni’s piano transcription (something I hope to revisit and expand upon here)—but I’ve decided to create a place where my writings about guitar performance, pedagogy, and practice are gathered amongst like-minded pixels.

I also decided it was time to redesign my website so that information about my various activities would be available in one place. I had some great initial design help—anything that’s pleasing on the site is a result of this—but I did a lot on my own. (I take responsibility for anything that seems awkward, poorly executed, or doesn’t work.) I build websites like a bad, self-taught guitar player might try to learn a Bach fugue by ear. It’s trial and error and experimentation all the way.

It’s taken a long time and could take longer still, but I’ve decided to follow the advice I often give my students, as articulated by Voltaire: “Don’t let the better be the enemy of the good.” Voltaire’s original French is, “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien,” and is often translated as “Don’t let the perfect (or ‘best’) be the enemy of the good.” I much prefer my version. When dealing with creative endeavors, paralysis by absolutes is of no help.

The new site launches today, along with this blog. There will likely be changes, modifications, or little fixes in the future, but here it is. So, what’s different?

I’m offering a number of digital products (free and paid) though Gumroad. Gumroad is great. You can download MP3s, articles, and scores without leaving the website. When you hit a “Buy” or “Get” button, a secure overlay will pop up. Enter your information and you can download your item right away. There’s no being whisked away to PayPal or waiting for an email before you can download something (although an email will be sent so you’ll have a record of your purchase or free download). Gumroad requires that sites using their overlay be secure, and you’ll notice that the address of christopherberg.com begins with https rather than http, and you’ll see a little lock icon in your browser’s title bar, indicating the site is secure.

Gumroad’s overlay only works for single items. If you plan on buying more than one item in a transaction, go to my gallery page on Gumroad where you can gather up multiple items. (Gumroad also has a free app for the iPhone on which you can download, read, and play any of your Gumroad products, but it’s not required.)

Here’s what’s available through Gumroad now:

  • MP3s of music from The Pilgrim Forest. You can buy either the complete album or individual pieces.
  • Scores of some of the pieces from The Pilgrim Forest. There will be more as time goes by.
  • PDFs of various articles and study sheets.
  • Scores of various public domain works. These usually will contain light editing done by me and are the versions I prefer to use in my studio. Many of these are also in The Classical Guitar Companion. I’m starting off with one short piece (or exercise) each by Tárrega, Sor, and Giuliani.
  • All future versions and updates are free. Didn’t I tell you Gumroad was great?

The first printing of my latest book, The Classical Guitar Companion (2013), which was hard copy only, sold out quickly. I have spent the last several years adding material and using the book in my studio at the University of South Carolina School of Music. I originally thought that I'd publish this myself and have it available in several formats, but have decided against this. Many guitarists have written to me asking how they can buy a copy of the book, and in 2018 I will be exploring ways to make it commercially available. The latest news about The Classical Guitar Companion will be posted as a guitar whisper here, and on my website first.

I’ve prepared Leanpub versions of some materials. Leanpub is also great, but is better for works that are primarily text-based. There are Leanpub versions of two of my articles available today: The Virtuoso Teacher and Mental Strategies to Improve Sight-Reading, Memorization, and Performance. My Fingerboard Harmony Primer will follow soon. Leanpub gives you three formats: PDF, EPUB, and MOBI, so you can read them in iBooks, Kindle, or any e-reader, in addition to your desktop computer. Leanpub is a good choice if you prefer to read on a Kindle or other e-reading device. With Leanpub, you can also participate in discussions with the author and other readers about works you’re interested in, and, like Gumroad, you’ll be notified of updates, which are free.

Finally, back to The Guitar Whisperer Blog. There are a number of topics I plan to explore, and you can get a taste of what I’m interested in from the essays on my teaching philosophy and my creative endeavors on my site. The Guitar Whisperer Blog is the space I’ve reserved for expanding on those ideas, writing about topics that didn’t make it into Mastering Guitar Technique or Giuliani Revisited (a kind of “author’s cut”), discussing new scores from The Pilgrim Forest as they’re released, and announcing new editions of various pedagogical works.

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