Archive for Wednesday, September 30, 1992

MICHAEL HEDGES MERGES BODYSPIRIT

September 30, 1992

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Michael Hedges believes that a sound body and a sound mind can make some pretty creative sounds.

"I'm working on my body a lot,'' said Hedges, the popular composer and guitarist, who makes a return visit Sunday to Lawrence. "I find it gives me a lot more energy, particularly for the tours, which are getting more and more demanding. So I've been doing some martial arts and Chinese exercise regimens to get ready. . . . They help me get into my music. I find when I get an energy flow through my body, I get the music flowing as well.''

Hedges, whose concerts prove to be big draws in Lawrence, will perform at 8 p.m. Sunday at Liberty Hall, 642 Mass. He combines various forms of acoustic guitar, including the expanded harp guitar, with a sensibility that draws from his training in classical music with his love of pop. His album "Aerial Boudaries'' was nominated for a Grammy, and his latest album, "Taproot,'' combines expert playing with a fondness for mythology.

HE WAS BORN in Enid, Okla., and he began playing the piano at the age of 4. His musical expertice expanded to the cello, clarinet, flute and, of course, the guitar. Bartok and the Beatles proved to be among his biggest influences.

"I got really into rock music in my teens, and I played in a lot of rock bands,'' Hedges said in a recent telephone interview from his home in Northern California. "I got really excited by the Beatles, just when rock 'n' roll was becoming a multimedia event.

"Then in junior high school, I found some other things to play. I played in a jazz band, and you had to play in the concert band as well. That expanded my sense of harmony, and I started writing original music for the jazz band. Then I went to the Interlochen (National Music) Camp in Michigan, and I was exposed to Bartok and other composers 20th century composers, and I was completely blown away. Bartok's music expanded my ideas of harmony.''

HEDGES STUDIED at Phillips University in Oklahoma and at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore; he delved into classical guitar, flute, electronic music and composition. He moved to California in 1980 to explore further the realm of electronic music.

He recently expanded his repertoire by adding the harp guitar, which brings five bass strings to the usual guitar configuration.

"It enables me to play a base line,'' he said. "I think it add a lyrical quality to my playing.''

After his tour, Hedges said, he will begin work on a new album in his studio, built in the woods next to his home. As he adds more and more instrumentation to his music, going beyond the sound of the acoustic guitar, he finds he draws more and more heavily on his classical music background.

"It's influenced me, but only so that I've expanded what I can do,'' he said. "In my new album, the music I'm writing will draw on orchestra sounds. I'm playing a lot of instruments and the synthesizer on it.''

As for his songs, which draw heavily on his interest in mythologist Joseph Campbell, he finds they provide a great way to let off steam.

"They're an emotional outlet,'' he said. "I put a lot of emotional energy into the music, and I've got quite a bit of intellect going into the as well. I think I get a lot of therapy out of them, too.''

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