Tag Archives: Relaxing guitar music

New single out today

My first classical guitar release for 7 years. Felt good after the year we’ve all had to return to and re-work a very old theme of mine. Magnificent cover art by my football buddy and superb photographer Tom Bown

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Relaxing Acoustic guitar instrumentals Streaming on Spotify

Vid by Sam Howe

https://open.spotify.com/artist/6LRyvnHdJmpdsYtrldBHfa?si=57y5zFogT4-5TRlXaqbvVg

It’s brilliant to have this many monthly listeners, thank you

Latest Offers – Island of Anywhere by Mike Howe

October Featured Album: Get $2 OFF at checkout when you use coupon code “OCTOBER”
listen and buy: https://www.realmusic.com/artists/mike-howe/island-anywhere
Enjoy clips of every song on the album in the order they appear.

 

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When Mike Met Michael for an Interview…

For those of you who may be interested, the editor of the excellent Ambient Visions website, Michael Foster, very kindly asked me to do an interview about my latest album release, and here it is…

Heading West by Mike Howe

 

A Love Song….

Photo: Mike Alexander
Photo: Mike Alexander

This is a simple song about those times in your life when it feels like someone who is very dear to you is always close, inside you almost, no matter where you are…..

The Music of a Landscape – Part II

This song is dedicated to the Earth, the “Pale Blue Dot”…

Inspirational places….

Photo: Mike Alexander
Photo: Mike Alexander

This is the place, according to Welsh legend, where the red dragon of the Celts fought with the white dragon of the Anglo-Saxons.  Both fell into the lake, but only the red dragon emerged, and this is why the red dragon is the national emblem of Wales and appears on the national flag.  But that’s only a story, albeit a nice one.  I have written the management plan for this place and this will hopefully help to conserve the wonderful wildlife and the cultural landscape for the future.  And it in turn has inspired some of my music.

A 6000 year old submerged forest that reappears from time to time

Although it is rarely seen, the remnants of a past forested landscape, where there is now sea and beach, is a very interesting feature and teaches us about past sea level rise and our recent glacial history, and makes sense of some of the archaeological remains we find around our coastline in West Wales.

At the end of the last glaciation the sea level was much lower than it is today because so much water was still locked up in the ice sheets to the north of Britain.  As the climate warmed forests became established on land that had been tundra for thousands of years, and this forest extended far out beyond where sea level is today.  Gradually as temperatures rose, the sea ice to the south of the arctic circle melted and sea levels rose, submerging much of the coastal forests.

In some places this action was very rapid and sand covered and then preserved the remains.  After heavy storms and at very low tides, peat or the stumps of these forest trees may be seen at places along the Welsh coast, particularly, in Pembrokeshire, at Newgale and Freshwater West.

Photo: Mike Alexander
Photo: Mike Alexander – The remains of a Scots pine trunk on the beach

The remains of animals and Mesolithic tools have been found in these deposits.  These include an Auroch, which is an ancient cow and is the ancestor of all modern cows, a pig, a roe deer, a red deer antler and a brown bear jaw.

At Lydstep Haven, a pair of broken flint microliths were found by the neck vertebrae of a pig.  This pig may have been injured, but not caught by its Mesolithic hunters and subsequently died in the forest.  A tree trunk fell on its remains, preserving it, and the microliths in situ.  This find has been dated to about 6000 BC.

Geraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales ) noted the uncovered submerged forest, during his tour of Wales in AD 1188.

‘We then passed over Newgale sands at which place a very remarkable circumstance occurred.  The sandy shores of south Wales laid bare by the extraordinary violence of a storm, the surface of the earth, which had been covered for many ages, reappeared, and discovered the trunk of trees cut off, standing in the very sea itself, the strokes of the hatchet appearing as if made only yesterday.  The soil was very black and the wood-like ebony.  This looked like a grove cut down, perhaps at the time of the deluge, or not long after.’

We cannot be sure whether the marks he saw were made by a stone axe.  It is certainly possible, since stone axes were in use before the forests were submerged between about 6000 and 5000 BC.

He made these observations 800 years ago and similar observations are the basis for medieval traditions about the Cantref Gwaelodd – ‘the lost lands of Wales.’

This is what the beautiful coastline looks like today….

Photo: Mike Alexander
Photo: Mike Alexander

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Harry Potter and my guitar

So I’m sure you’re dying to know how I came by the acoustic guitar that I composed and recorded my first album “Time Stands Still” with aren’t you?  If you are reading this blog on my website it’s the guitar on the background image.  For the benefit of those of you who are not reading this on my website it’s this one here…guitar-small-image1.jpg

So at the time I’m mid thirties (I know what you’re thinking and you’d be correct), I’d been working hard, I’d got a young family and I’m thinking, I need something for me, you know, I need to spoil myself a bit, and what I’d really like, after all these years of thrift and making do, is a really nice, expensive guitar.  Not the budget, cheapo types I’ve been playing all my life, but something really special, one that’s gonna play like a dream and make me sound amazing 🙂

At around this time I get an invitation from my friend Arlene, who lives in Edinburgh (quite a long way north of where I live as it happens) to accompany her on an evening at Stirling Castle, hosted by none other than J K Rowling (I’m sure I don’t need to tell you who she is) and Warner Bros (the film people who made all the Harry Potter films) for a charity event to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres in Scotland.  Arlene has done a huge amount of incredible work over the years to help people and to help charities and she had worked really hard to help make this event happen.

The castle was to be transformed into Harry Potters school Hogwarts for a Halloween charity ball and there’d be loads of special guests and magic and food and drink and stuff.  Well how could I refuse?

So I thought that I’d kill two birds with one stone, attend the exciting charity event with one of my best friends, and buy myself a new, superdy duperdy, expensive acoustic guitar in one of Edinburgh’s finest music stores.

Now I know you want to hear all about what happened when I went to buy the guitar but I suppose I’d better tell you about the Harry Potter charity ball as well?  It was pretty amazing.  They did transform the castle into Hogwarts (wasted on me a bit, at the time I hadn’t read the book or seen the film, I know, I know, shocking) and we were greeted on arrival by witches, wizards and magicians, some breathing fire, while the music was supplied by pipers and flute players.  My super friend Arlene introduced me to J K Rowling (they’re friends you know) but because I’m a plonker I didn’t realise who she was at the time (she’s not introduced to people as “JK” obviously), which I suppose was lucky because I didn’t get nervous, and I definitely would have done had I known.

And, just like Hogwarts, burning torches decorated the castle’s Great Hall, where a four-course dinner was served, before a charity auction was hosted by Ian Hislop (Stephen Fry couldn’t make it apparently).  Thankfully the auction raised tonnes of cash for the charities and I got a little overwhelmed by the size of the bids, amazed at how much money some people have got, but at least they were spending it on the right things that night, which was good.  I also got a bit drunk.

Anyway as it happens I had quite a bit of cash left over for the evening despite my best efforts to spend it all the day before on an expensive new guitar.  I visited loads of music shops and tried the most expensive guitars they had, but I couldn’t get past this little cheap, relatively poor quality runt of a guitar that I’d tried quite early on because I liked the look of it, and when I played it, even though the action was terrible, I fell in love with its tone and sound quality.  I desperately wanted to ignore it and find one that was at least 3 times the price, but I just couldn’t find a truly expensive guitar that I liked as much.  And so, after exhausting myself with the whole sorry episode, I bought the cheap runty acoustic guitar and resigned myself to being useless at proper shopping.

So I took it home and, after straightening the neck and improving the action, absolutely loved it.  The tone inspired me to start composing music for the first time in my life, another incredible revelation which I’ll write about someday, and I kept composing until, many years later (and that’s another story), I released my first album played exclusively on that guitar – “Time Stands Still”.  Despite my harsh words, the guitar is actually a very lovely maple wood Art & Lutherie from Canada and although it was cheap, I do love it.

And so what did I learn from this (apart from the fact that Halloween parties in Scottish castles made to look like Hogwarts are ace)?  The best things aren’t necessarily the most expensive, or best looking, or most well made, they can be the things that we connect with and love on a level that we may not understand but are lucky enough to recognise when they come our way.  And so I’m grateful to my friend Arlene and to Harry Potter for inadvertently helping me to learn a valuable lesson and setting me off on a road I had no idea I was about to go down, but am so happy that I did.

Here’s one of the first tunes I ever wrote on this guitar…if you want you can buy it from the link above, it’s only 79p or 99 cents!

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