The career of classical guitarist and educator Lily Afshar can be summed up by the phrase "the world is her oyster". Born in Tehran, Iran, she emigrated to the United States in 1977 and now lives in Memphis, Tennessee, where she serves as the head of the guitar department of the University of Memphis. In July, 2006, her fourth album, Hemispheres
(Archer Records), was released and the following month found her giving master classes at the Tehran Conservatory of Music and solo recitals at one of Tehran's premier concert venues, Vahdat Hall.
Four years after her arrival in the United States, Afshar received a Bachelor of Music in Guitar Performance (cum laude
) from Boston Conservatory. Subsequently, she earned a Master of Music in Guitar Performance (Dean's list) from the New England Conservatory of Music (1984) and a Doctor of Music in Guitar Performance from Florida State University in 1989.
She received Diplomas of Merit (1987, 1988, 1991) from the Accademia Musicale Chigiana
in Siena, Italy, and studied at both the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, and the Aspen Music Festival and School in Aspen, Colorado. In 1986, she was one of 12 international guitarists selected to participate in the Andrés Segovia master class at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles). Segovia predicted, "She will be a beautiful celebrity."
Her concert itinerary is even more global, having performed in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, at venues such as Wigmore Hall (London), CRR Concert Hall (Istanbul, Turkey), the Grand Teton Music Festival (Jackson Hole, Wyoming), the Aspen Music Festival (Aspen, Colorado), the Banff School of Fine Arts (Banff, Alberta, Canada), the Menton Music Festival (Menton, France) the American Academy in Rome (Rome, Italy), and Vahdat Hall (Tehran, Iran).
In 1989, Afshar was appointed the Head of the Guitar Program at the University of Memphis (Memphis, Tennessee) and in 2000 received the University's Eminent Faculty Award. Her tenure with the University of Memphis continues through today.
Awards and recognition include (partial list): the Orville H. Gibson Award for Best Female Classical Guitarist (2000); the Tennessee Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship Award in music (1998); receiving the Tenth (1995), Eleventh (1996), and Twelfth (1997) Annual "Premier Guitarist" award from the Memphis Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc.; having been chosen as Artistic Ambassador to Africa by the United States Information Agency (1995); the National Endowment for the Arts Recording Grant Award (1993); Top Prize in the Guitar Foundation of America International Competition (1988); Grand Prize in the Aspen Music Festival Guitar Competition (1986); and, First Prizes in both the Music Teachers' National Association (1984) and the American String Teachers' Association Guitar Competition (1983).
1994 saw the release of her first CD, 24 Caprichos de Goya, Op. 195
(Summit Records), featuring music written by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and the publication of a related three-part article in Guitar Review
magazine (GR 79-81). Five years later, Afshar recorded A Jug of Wine and Thou
(Summit Records, 1999), a mixed program ranging from the contemporary classic "Koyunbaba, Op. 19" by Carlo Domeniconi to five traditional Persian ballads transcribed for the guitar by Afshar (available in standard notation from Mel Bay Publications, Inc.). Her next recording, Possession
(Archer Records, 2002), includes three world premieres and three pieces written for her. Afshar's latest CD, Hemispheres
(Archer Records, 2006), also includes three world premieres (plus one U.S. premiere) and three pieces written for her (plus two dedicated to her), and continues her interest in introducing Persian music to Western audiences.
But, presenting Lily Afshar through a summary of her curriculum vitae
, and the above is a very brief summary of the 13-page document, is like describing a 1964 Ferrari 250GT Lusso by saying it's a car with four wheels and an engine. Lists alone, even of accomplishments, do not tell the tale.
The Lily Afshar story is a case study of an artist's pursuit of excellence.
The interview below, which was conducted by telephone on September 22 and 27, 2006, will, hopefully, provide a flesh and blood glimpse into the challenges and triumphs that earmark Lily Afshar's career to-date.
For those unfamiliar with Hemispheres
, Archer Records and Lily Afshar have provided two tracks from the CD that will stream to your computer by clicking the links below. Please note, however, that both pieces have been down-sampled during the conversion from CD to MP3 format and the resulting stream is something less than CD quality. Hemispheres
deserves a listen to the original CD. While familiarity with "Gozaar" will help the interview discussion of the piece and Afshar's use of "fretlets" to achieve its quarter tones, the original CD recording is superb and represents a true collaboration among Lily Afshar, Ward Archer (recording engineer) Reza Vali (composer) and Thomas Humphrey (builder of Afshar's 1992 Millennium guitar).
* * *You're introduced to the classical guitar at the age of 10. Love at first sight?
Yes, it sure was. I had been exposed to steel string guitar before that because one of my sisters played it, but the steel string didn't make me fall in love with it. It was the classical guitar that I fell in love with, which I first heard at my cousin's house. My father got a classical guitar for me the next day. I took private lessons for awhile, then decided to attend evening classes at the Tehran Conservatory of Music where Western as well as Persian instruments were taught. After graduating from high school in 1977 you emigrate from Iran to the United States. What led you to Boston? Lily Afshar:
I had a sister who was attending Harvard and she knew Boston. But the part of the story that you may not have is this: I didn't know that you could pursue guitar studies at college. I didn't know that such a thing existed. I thought one had to study other things, such as art, and maybe take guitar lessons on the side.
So, I enrolled in a basic studies program at Boston University. But I didn't stay there even two weeks. I knew that what I really wanted to do was study guitar and Boston University didn't offer lessons. By accident, I went into the Boston Conservatory one day, looked at their catalog, and saw that they offered guitar. I auditioned and was accepted. Before then I really didn't know that guitar was something you could study in college. That was something you couldn't do in Iran. Later, I became the first guitarist to receive a scholarship to the Boston Conservatory. After Boston Conservatory, you attend the New England Conservatory of Music where you receive a master's degree in guitar performance. You then pursue master classes and competitions. Are these important components in the training of a classical guitarist? Lily Afshar:
Yes, it's very important to play in the master classes of different artists and play at competitions. That way, people hear you - it's the best way to get exposure. Many times, master classes and competitions go hand-in-hand. For example, the 1986 Aspen Music Festival combined master classes and competitions. Each of the artists, such as Oscar Ghiglia, Eliot Fisk, and Robert Guthrie, conducting master classes had a competition among his students and each of those winners then competed against each other. I won the Grand Prize.
Around that time, master classes were my summer. I would go to Banff, in Canada, then I would go to Aspen, and then to the Accademia Musicale Chigiana
in Siena, Italy. See, I couldn't go back to Iran so I spent my time studying and performing at master classes and festivals. Oscar Ghiglia was a great teacher and I'd follow him around - Banff, Aspen, Siena. Your guitar of choice is the Thomas Humphrey Millennium and I understand your first Millennium had a name. Lily Afshar:
Yes, I was introduced to Thomas Humphrey guitars by Bruce Holzman, whom I studied under in the Florida State doctoral program. My first Millennium was a 1986 spruce-top from one of the first batches of Millenniums.
In 1984, I gave a concert in New Orleans and a guitarist asked me, "What do you call your guitar? Does it have a name?" I said, "Well, it's like my baby." Later, somebody gave me a plaque inscribed with Bambina
, which is Spanish for baby girl, and I put it on the back of the 1986 Millennium's headstock. One of my students has Bambina
now. The plaque is still there.
I now play a 1992 cedar-top Humphrey Millennium. I've had two other Millenniums but people have bought them from me at concerts after falling in love with those guitars. But the '92 is my favorite and this one I'm not selling. My '86 was a spruce-top and I wanted a darker, more Spanish sound, so since then I've used the cedar-tops. There's a photograph from the 1986 Segovia master class that shows Segovia holding Bambina. Did he see the plaque or comment on any of the guitar's unique design features?
|Lily Afshar (left) watches Segovia with her Millennium at the 1986 master class. Photo by Mark Westling, courtesy of Michael Chapdelaine.</FONT>|
No. At that time he was 94-years-old and had lost some of his peripheral vision. You could see from his concerts in those years that when he had to shift up the neck he would pause, then shift. He used my guitar to play an F chord up the neck but didn't notice the plaque or the guitar's design features. Was the 1986 master class the first time you met Segovia? Lily Afshar:
I had met him backstage after a concert in Boston years before, just to shake his hand and get his autograph, but the master class was the first time I sat next to him and played for him. A few memories from the Segovia master class... Lily Afshar:
The 1986 Segovia master class at the University of Southern California was July 16-26. Hundreds of guitarists that wanted to participate had submitted tapes as part of the selection process. 12 were chosen. Each night, all 12 of us would be on stage and one-by-one, eight or so would sit in front of Segovia and perform. We had to play pieces from the Segovia repertoire, that was one thing that was understood, with his fingering and interpretation. Basically, we had to play everything the way he played it.
One of the pieces I played was "Sevilla". In the middle section, the slow section, he stopped me and said, "Where are you from?" Quickly I started thinking, should I say Iran or Persia? Iran had been through the revolution and had the hostage thing, and maybe didn't have such a good name at the moment. So, I was thinking Persia sounds better and he's older and maybe he was more used to the name Persia than Iran. Such a simple question and so many thoughts were going through my mind. [Laughs
And then I said Persia. He paused and said, "Yes, I can see you have the flamenco spirit and the Persian blood in you." That was a compliment and everybody clapped. I was relieved because I didn't know what he was thinking.
When I was about to play the "Suite in A Minor" by Ponce, as soon as he saw the music, the edition that I brought that credited Miguel Abloniz, Segovia said, "This guy's a thief." According to Segovia, what Ablones had done was listen to Segovia's recording, transcribe it, then publish it as Abalones' edition. That was all news to me. But luckily, he then winked at me and let me play.
As to playing for Segovia, for me, I wasn't scared or anything. A lot of people were. I wasn't for two reasons. One, I was brought up listening to Segovia. My goal was always to play as well as he did. It felt like I was seeing my old friend when I sat next to him, or like he was my grandfather. It felt like family, like I had grown up with this man. As a little child in Iran I had all of his records. Those two weeks between Boston University and Boston Conservatory, when I didn't know what was going to happen, what did I do? I would listen to his recordings and that's what kept me going.
The second reason was that I had studied with Ghiglia who had studied with Segovia and I knew what kind of things Segovia liked and what kind of musicianship he looked for, so I knew what was important, like the singing of the music, which Ghiglia had taught me to do. I felt well equipped to study with Segovia because I knew what he liked and I was prepared. So, a lot of the things he said to me weren't shocking. And then he would switch among three languages in the lessons. All of a sudden, from English he'd start speaking Spanish, but since I was tri-lingual I could switch too and that didn't bother me either. Many other people were like, "What did he say?"
You have to remember, too, that we were in front of cameras and an audience of 500 people, maybe more. We were performing. And you didn't know what he was going to say next and sometimes he would mumble his words so it wasn't always easy to understand what he had said. But still, I felt better equipped than some of the other people because of the reasons I mentioned. In 1989, you become the first woman in the world to receive a doctorate in classical guitar performance. What was the subject of your doctoral dissertation? Lily Afshar:
Oh, this is a great topic. I love talking about this.
I have always been in love with art. Before I got into guitar I took art classes in Iran; I would go to painting classes. So, fast forward from when I was like 9-years-old in Iran to when I went to Boston in 1977. One day I was in Briggs & Briggs, this music shop in Cambridge, and I was looking through their guitar music and found a volume of Castelnuovo-Tedesco's 24 Caprichos de Goya
. The name Goya really caught my attention because I knew about Goya. So I bought one volume of this guitar music and wondered what Goya had to do with the guitar. I looked at the music and it seemed really hard - I was just a freshman. So I put it aside. I was buying music and records all the time, I was so thirsty for everything. I had just come from Iran and they had everything I wanted here in the States. It was like a feast. I spent all my money on it.
Then fast forward again, to 1988, when I started thinking about the topic for my doctoral treatise. I thought about the 24 Caprichos de Goya
and wondered what they were about. Here I am, getting my doctorate, and I'd never heard anyone play these pieces and I didn't know anything about them. Getting a doctorate, I thought I should know about everything related to guitar. So, I went and opened the volume again after all those years. After some research, I found that each of the guitar pieces corresponded to a picture by Goya from his Los Caprichos
series. I dug into it more and more and found that only one article had been written about the 24 Caprichos de Goya
, in a German guitar magazine many years ago.
I decided this was my dissertation topic. I could combine my two loves, art and music, and explore the relationship between Goya's pictures and Castelnuovo-Tedesco's music.
I became like a detective because no one had really written about this work. I contacted Castelnuovo-Tedesco's son, Lorenzo, who used to live in California, and asked him if he could tell me anything about these pieces or his father when he was writing them, because they were dedicated to Lorenzo. He sent me a copy of the manuscript in Castelnuovo-Tedesco's handwriting, beautiful handwriting, and he answered some other questions.
Then I also went to Italy and played the Caprichos
for Ghiglia, and another year I returned to Italy and played them all for Angelo Gilardino who was the editor of these works. Castelnuovo-Tedesco had given him the music and said, "Here, publish these." So, I had first hand information from Gilardino.
See, Segovia was going to record them. In fact, he had encouraged Castelnuovo-Tedesco to write them, telling him they'll be the most monumental pieces in guitar history. But Segovia never got around to recording them because they needed editing since Castelnuovo-Tedesco basically wrote for the piano and some things possible on the piano are impossible to play on the guitar. In fact, Segovia never even performed them.
Over the years, some people have played one or two of them here and there, like José Tomas in Spain who played two of them, but nobody played all 24.
So, I spent years researching, writing, and learning the pieces. They were the most difficult pieces I had ever played. What did receiving a doctorate in classical guitar performance entail?
At Florida State University you had to present a written dissertation and meet the performance requirements. The dissertation for someone in performance wasn't exactly the same as say for someone seeking a PhD in musicology. In the performance program the dissertation, actually, it was called a treatise, was usually 125-150 pages long, so shorter than it might be for other doctoral programs, but the mechanics were the same - it was reviewed by a faculty committee before whom you have to appear and defend what you'd written. And there were five required performances: two solo recitals, one with an orchestra, one of chamber music, and a lecture-performance recital, which I did based on my treatise. I showed slides of Goya's Caprichos
, discussed them, and then played the corresponding piece by Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Writing a doctoral dissertation or treatise in the United States is like an exercise in English to the nth degree. Was that a hurdle? Lily Afshar:
As a child I went to an international school in Tehran where my teachers were American or British. We read Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Coleridge, everything in English. So, I had been speaking and reading English since my childhood. I came to the U.S. already speaking fluent English. My school in Tehran was very advanced. We had classes in philosophy and psychology, in fact, I was advanced a year in college thanks to my education in Tehran. The day after the successful defense of your treatise you receive a job offer from the University of Memphis? Lily Afshar:
The guitar position at the University of Memphis came up during my last semester at Florida State, while I was writing my doctoral treatise and preparing its defense. I applied for the position, along with 50 or 60 other applicants. The selection process came in four steps: the submission of a curriculum vitae
; the submission of performances on cassettes; a telephone interview, and then a final selection process that took place in Memphis the day after the defense of my treatise. For the final selection process I flew to Memphis, performed a concert, taught students, and had more interviews. At the end of the day I was told, informally, that the job offer would be made and received the formal offer a few days later.What did you think of Memphis? Lily Afshar:
First of all, I thought it was much more exciting than Tallahassee. [Laughs
] I was really happy to be there. Basically, my life in Tallahassee was practicing the guitar. I practiced 10 hours a day. I didn't do anything else. You can ask anybody there, you can ask Bruce Holzman, he'll tell you.
: I did. According to Bruce Holzman, "Lily Afshar was one of the, if not the, hardest working students I've ever known. 10 hours a day is not exaggeration."]
In Memphis, I had real museums, which I really liked. And the music... The first time I went to Beale Street I thought I had entered another country. I still feel that way when I go there. It's so different - blues, jazz, the people - how people are just in the streets playing music. It's a different atmosphere than anything else I have ever seen.
Memphis has a lot of soul. A kind of soul that Boston didn't have and Tallahassee didn't have. There's a video clip of you playing part of "Lily's Blues" by jazz and R&B guitarist "Flying Calvin" Newborn. Did you meet him on Beale Street? Lily Afshar:
Yes. I told him I'd love to have some pieces by him to play and he wrote a whole suite (five pieces) for me. He loved classical guitar and my playing and he just wanted to write for me. I inspired him. [Laughs
] Things like this happen here in Memphis.
I love all kinds of music but I didn't know much about blues until I came to Memphis. That was a whole new ballgame for me. New doors opened up. I met a lot of blues musicians and I like the music. I play some myself. I have a slide, and Gibson Guitar gave me a steel-string acoustic made in their Montana factory. When I want some fun, relaxing time, I'll play the blues. I even played with a band once, a Memphis band called Cooley's House, and wrote my own solo that I played with the slide. It was great. I wore a mini-skirt, which I can never do with the classical guitar. [Laughs
] You also met Sam Samudio, better known as Sam the Sham, in Memphis. In fact you appear on his 2000 album, Ballads and Troubadours.Lily Afshar:
He lives in Memphis and has been a big fan and friend. He was recording a new CD with ballads that called for classical-style guitar so he called and asked me to play on his CD. I think I played on two of them. In September you performed on stage at the Gibson Lounge in Memphis with a ballet troupe. How did that come about? Lily Afshar:
At first, the choreographer, Joseph Jeffries, wanted to present a ballet piece to music by Bach, but then he got hold of my CD, A Jug of Wine and Thou
, and he fell in love with the four movement "Koyunbaba". He said the music kept drawing him to it. While I was in Iran last August, he choreographed the piece to the music on my CD, which I recorded in 1999, so when I came back to Memphis I had to play "Koyunbaba" exactly the way I had recorded it in '99, which was a little difficult since I had changed the way I played it since then.
|Lily Afshar performs "Koyunbaba" for a ballet choreographed by Joseph Jeffries titled "A Jug of Wine and Thou".</FONT>|
The performance was a wonderful experience. They put me on a platform next to the stage, the same height as the stage, and the 12 or 13 members of the ballet troupe danced as I played the four movements. Jeffries named the choreography "A Jug of Wine and Thou" after the title of my CD.
See, that's one of the good things about being in Memphis, there are so many things going on. Anything can happen here. Remember, we did this performance on Beale Street at the Gibson Lounge. You teach guitar at the University of Memphis from the undergraduate through doctoral level. What's the current state of academic interest in the classical guitar? Lily Afshar:
It's growing. Every semester I teach between 10 and 15 guitar majors and I have an assistant who teaches the non-majors. Our classes are full, always - we have to tell people "our classes are full, wait one more year". So the interest is high. Next year I have a student coming from Poland for the doctoral program. I've got a lot of action going on here. You've also conducted a large number of master classes since 1989 throughout the United States and several other countries, including master classes in Tehran starting in 2001. Was that the first time you'd been back to Iran since 1977?
|Lily Afshar performing at Tehran's Vahdat Hall, August, 2006</FONT>|
Yes. I was invited by the Ministry of Culture to go there to perform and teach. Guitar is very popular in Iran. The level of playing varies widely among both teachers and students. There's a lot of interest and a lot of talent there, but having taught and performed in Iran since 2001, I have to say that there's a lack of good editions of music, editions with good fingerings. I ended up re-fingering everybody's music in the lessons so I've decided just to take my own editions with me. People also rely on recordings a lot to get interpretation ideas instead of developing their own because they're not being taught how to think about that aspect of performance. They just say, "Oh, so-and-so plays it this fast, so I'm going to play it this fast," and their interpretation of the piece becomes imitative. Is the number of women interested in guitar studies growing? Lily Afshar:
They are interested, I have a lot of women in my classes in Iran, a lot, but the thing is, they have to seriously pursue it in college if they want to perform at a professional level, and that means a lot of sacrifices have to be made. I've seen, with my own eyes, a lot of women I've studied with give up because of that.
It seems to me that women have to be even stronger when they play guitar because, to me, it's a male dominated society. There are more men playing the guitar than women. Maybe women just need more and stronger guts to play this instrument. If you're a woman guitarist you stand out in the crowd. There aren't that many women guitarists at the high, international level - only a handful.
The only reason for this I can think of is what I went through. All during my years of study, I felt a resistant general attitude. I think you just have to be strong and fight it or push it aside. What do you tell your students when they ask about career opportunities as a professional classical guitarist? Lily Afshar:
I tell them straight up, you have have to win competitions. You have to perform a lot. I tell them what I did when I was a student in Boston before I got my master degree. I paid $50 to rent a hall in Cambridge and gave my first concert outside of school. You have to use your own initiative. I didn't wait for someone to tell me, hey, you have to go play concerts, hey, you have to enter competitions. I did things on my own initiative. That's what I tell my students - you have to go out and do things on your own. We're basically a solo instrument so we've got to make our own path. You served as an artistic ambassador to Africa?
Yes. In 1995, I won a competition held in Chicago for the Artistic Ambassador Program. You had to play American music for the competition since if you were selected you were supposed to play American music in places that hadn't been exposed to it, which was the whole point of the Program. So, I played some new music by American composers. Right after the competition performance, I was interviewed by a woman from the organization who asked me if I had any preferences as to where I'd like to be sent. I said, "Listen, I speak five languages and I've been to many parts of the world, but I'm very adventurous, so send me somewhere nobody else wants to go."
They sent me to West Africa for a month.
I went to countries such as Chad, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso, some of the poorest countries in Africa, and performed three kinds of concerts. Those for the general public, for Africans, were in large auditoriums. People would show up late and you could hear the shuffle of their shoes as they found a seat. During a show in Chad, that was being videoed by a television station, I felt something on stage to my right. You know, we look mostly to the left, toward the fretboard, but I felt something moving on stage to my right. I looked over and there was someone on stage dancing. It was an Iranian living in Chad who was so excited to see me. I was playing a Persian ballad at the moment and he was so inspired that he jumped on stage and started dancing. I really wanted to watch him dance but I had to pay attention to what I was doing since it was being filmed.
There's audience participation at African concerts. They start clapping in the middle of a piece if they like it. When I played Latin American pieces that were quite rhythmic they'd start clapping along with the music. It was something new for me, a new cultural difference, and fun.
Then there were the formal concerts at the residences of U.S. ambassadors. I would see the guest list before the performance and they included ambassadors from different countries, like Japan, China, Russia and others. At those concerts I would change my program so it would be very international. For example, if I saw that the Russian ambassador was coming I'd add a Russian piece.
The third type of concerts were in American cultural centers for music teachers or others involved in the arts and I would play a different kind of program for those performances as well.Favorite concert venues?
|Lily Afshar backstage at Wigmore Hall</FONT>|
Wigmore Hall in London, and not just because it's beautiful. When I played there, I felt the spirits of everybody else who had ever performed in Wigmore Hall. And the wooden stage - I felt like all the sounds and the spirits of its past were coming out. I gave a concert there last year. It's my favorite venue in the world.
And Vahdat Hall in Tehran, where I performed last summer. It's a beautiful venue that can seat over 1,300. I was the first solo guitarist allowed to perform there and it was an amazing experience.
Then there's the Carnegie Recital Hall where I played many years ago. That would have been 1986. Your performance at the Carnegie Recital Hall was a challenge, wasn't it? Lily Afshar:
Absolutely. Ten days before the concert, just before a performance at Florida State University, the callous on the index finger of my left hand split open and I had to get four stitches, which meant I had to cancel the FSU concert. The problem was, I had been practicing a great deal and had put together a crazy program that was just too much wear and tear on my finger. I learned a lesson about programming from that. I'm very careful about my programming now. I've seen a photograph of you after a concert with a glove on your right hand.
|Lily Afshar with fans following her concert at Vahdat Hall</FONT>|
The problem is that some people at a concert are very excited and shake hands too hard. The right hand of a guitarist is very delicate, especially after a concert. So, to protect my hand I wear a glove. I usually wear it after the performance when I meet people from the audience and shake hands and sign autographs and CDs. But sometimes I wear it before a performance. One time in England someone shook my hand so hard right before the recital that it hurt during the whole program. I decided I'm not going to shake hands before I have to play. Your first CD, 24 Caprichos de Goya [Summit Records], is released in 1994, five years after receiving your doctorate and there's a space of three to five years between each of your four CDs. You take time assembling your recorded programs. Lily Afshar:
I do. I would love to release one CD a year, but there are a few reasons that doesn't happen. First, I have a full-time teaching job. Second, I have to find a good program. A lot of time I'm waiting for composers to write for me or to finish their pieces. Then, once you get the pieces, you have to live with them for awhile. I'll then record the music and send it to the composer for his or her opinion, and we'll go back and forth like that fine tuning things. Next thing you know, two or three years have passed. But, that's alright because once the CD is out I can't take it back, can't change anything. You have to live with it so it's worthwhile to prepare as well as possible. I'd rather take my time and do a good job.
I think my programming is very important. I could sit down and play what everyone else has played 100,000 times before and record a CD every year, but I'm looking for something different, something new, something that has meaning for me and that contributes to the guitar world.