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MP3 Jeffrey Briggs - Ethnology of the Heart

A live concert of flamenco, Latin American, and classical guitar solos recorded in the beautiful acoustic environment of Barnes Hall, at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

18 MP3 Songs in this album (69:14) !
Related styles: WORLD: Flamenco, LATIN: Latin Folk

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I grew up in Ithaca, New York under the shadow of Cornell University. My father taught there, and my sisters and I went there. It was the beacon of cultural power and prestige in Ithaca.

I studied English and anthropology there, not music. My private obsession with the guitar eventually led to Hollywood shows and TV soundtracks, neither of which hold much panache in the halls of ivy. So when I was given the opportunity to return to Cornell as a guitarist, I had more than a few trepidations.

When I got on the plane to New York I began to have a panic attack. Who was I to think I knew how to play guitar? True, I had studied with the great flamenco guitarist Juan Serrano, but that was the extent of my instruction. What about my technical flaws, at which knowledgeable critics and university-trained guitarists would certainly smile condescendingly?

At the Port Authority bus station I hastily pulled my guitar from its case - and discovered I could still play, sort of. Before the performance I lay on my back backstage and assured myself that it wouldn’t matter in a hundred years.

They say playing your hometown is always the hardest venue. My mother and several guitar friends were in attendance, and I resolved to do my best for their sake.

But as a performer you learn that the nervous energy of stagefright is your best friend if you can only stop your hands from shaking, since the energy required to overcome the physiological effects results in a higher intensity of expression than if one were totally relaxed.

It is this energy that infuses the recording and makes me proud of it, whatever its flaws.

The great advantage of being an independent, self-styled musician is that you gravitate to what you really like, and when you play music you love, love comes through to the listener. What, after all, is music but a sonic means to communicate with limitless intimacy the experience of being human, alive, aware, sensitive, and vulnerable?

Each of these pieces touches my core. Classical, flamenco, Latin American, they express an anthropology of culturally-induced emotions that unlocks what is universal in all of us.

Jeffrey Briggs

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