Tag Archives: pedal steel guitar

Dual Preoccupations

Bacchus from The Animation Workshop on Vimeo.

The coniunctio happens in the underworld, it happens in the dark when there is no light shining any more. When you are completely out and consciousness is gone, then something is born or generated; in the deepest depression, in the deepest desolation, the new personality is born. When you are at the end of your tether, that is the moment when the coniunctio, the coincidence of opposites, takes place (Mary-Louise von Franz).


Mary Halvorson and my friend Susan Alcorn, the latter among a handful of pedal steel guitarists playing experimental jazz.

A Brief Schema of the Reformation of the Contemporary Dark Egregore (2018) Stephen Calhoun 36x36a

A Brief Schema of the Reformation of the Contemporary Dark Egregore (2018) Stephen Calhoun 36x36a

A track was created and dedicated to Ms. Alcorn, in 2011, on the Kamelmauz (my) recording Poor City.

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Full Circle

Not my brightest idea: configuring an 8 string pedal steel guitar to a straight pentatonic tuning. Think of it this way: one can finger pick pentatonic patterns vertically, but once you move to another fret you move to a different pentatonic scale, and, although there are some horizontal moves one can make, having the ability to raise or lower each string becomes useless. I’ll tell more over on nogutsnoglorystudios soon.

My two month old 40+ year old Fender 400 pedal steel guitar draws a big circle, because I bought one in 1972, but it never arrived. Got a Sho-Bud instead; short story actually, sold it to a pawn shop in Portsmouth, NH in 1976.

37 years later it finally arrived. Via eBay. I’ve got a weird Open E semi-E9/pentatonic tuning, and have been running it through Guitar Rig 3. Got Native Instruments Komplete too, so whether I will mostly practice or mostly be subversive by writing Reaktor and Absynth patches for it…remains…to…be see—oh…subversive.

Thank goodness for Native Instruments. I run the lap and pedal steels through their Guitar Rig Mobile I/O, about the size of a deck of cards. Plugs into a MacBook. Then into their amp and effect simulator Guitar Rig 3, then into DSP-Quatroa a nifty recorder/editor from Italy. Finally I can plug all sorts of effects in, and use any of the guitars as a sound source for NI Absynth, Reaktor, Massive.

The tip I’m headed toward is completely unholy: think malian ambient psychedelic deep ends. Susan Alcorn meets Tinawarin by way of Pauline Oliveros and Robert Rich. …except, I’m just gonna dive in without learning how to really play first!

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