Tuning the air - 2004-2011

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2009 Tuning the Air Promotional Video:

Tuning the Air History

On December 11-12, 2004, a weekend workshop took place at Seattle Circle’s studio, located on the third floor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Ballard. It was not a music-related seminar, but a number of members of the Seattle Guitar Circle were taking part.

The workshop culminated on Sunday night with a feast. Food for 20 people was cooked at my apartment and shuttled over. From time to time during the meal, the seminar director would call for music. That was our cue. Jaxie Binder, Taylor Sherman, Travis Metcalf, Bob Williams and I would rise, leave the room, collect our guitars, briefly discuss and come up with a 2 or 3 piece “setlist”. We entered the room, took our place and played. This happened 3 times during the evening.

The third time we were called upon to play, we chose for our final selection Eye of the Needle, which is also known as Guitar Craft Theme III, and is within the repertoire of anyone who has been involved with Guitar Craft for a period of time.

We entered, and performed our first selection. When it came time for Eye of the Needle, we spread out and surrounded the audience – to the extent that 5 players can “surround” a banquet table set up for 20 diners. The effect was immediate and profound. Of course, the composition has that quality and effect for anyone who can enter into it, but there was something in this presentation that seemed to bring the music alive in a very particular way. Collecting ourselves outside of the room after the performance, we had the very clear sense that something momentous had just occurred.

It had been a busy weekend, and my computer had been off as part of the seminar. My journal for that weekend, very brief and written in the wee hours of Monday morning, reflects a recognition of the significance of the moment:

I will also never forget looking up as five of us “surrounded” an audience of 15 people and saying to myself, “hey look! A Guitar Craft Circle!” It was just for a moment, but it was as real as real can be.

Writing about it nearly 7 years after the fact, I honestly cannot recall whose idea it was to present Eye of the Needle in this way; and that seems just as well. I also don’t remember whether we made the decision out in the hall before the performance, or if it was a spontaneous impulse that came up in the moment. It set in motion a line of exploration and inquiry that brought 10 players together in February of 2005 to test the viability of formal performance in this format, and in the following April Tuning the Air was debuted.

Curt Golden – September 15, 2011


Tuning the Air History
Show Number Zero

On December 15, 2011, the final performance of Tuning the Air was presented – the 225th show since the inception of the production. Looking back on “Performance Number Zero”; on February 21, 2005, we did a “one time only” test of the feasibility of performance in the circle. The room we occupied at Trinity Church in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle was set up to feel like a living room, with floor lamps for lighting, and a mountain of pillows and cushions on the floor for our audience. The audience was largely made up of friends and family. We simply billed it as An Evening of Music for Large Guitar Ensemble.

Performing that evening were:

Jaxie Binder
Andrew Boscardin
Chris Gibson
Curt Golden
Dean Jensen
Greg Meredith
Travis Metcalf
Taylor Sherman
Howard Snyder
Bob Williams

Here is the setlist for Tuning the Air #0. Where it indicates “shift”, certain players would get up and move to different seats in a highly choreographed maneuver, in order to be in a better position to play particular pieces of music. This harkened back to the very first guitar circle performance which took place in the ballroom of the mansion at Claymont Court near Charles Town, WV, on March 30, 1985. Tuning the Air Producer Frank Sheldon had been in the audience for that performance, and was much impressed with this simple and elegant gesture, which he felt demonstrated a level of intentionality and attention to detail in every aspect of the show.

Music for Large Guitar Ensemble
February 21, 2005
Seattle, WA, USA

Circulation in C Major
Voices of Ancient Children (Curt, Travis, Chris)
Not My Sharona


Where Is The Nurse?
Growing Circle


Lylli in Africa (Greg Meredith)
How Many Times? (The Extended Wilsons)
Corelli Giga


Where It Goes
One of a Thousand Regrets
Prelude XXII in G Minor
Eye of the Needle
49 Notes

It was some time after this show, when the commitment was made to pursue this project for an extended run, that we arrived at the name, “Tuning the Air”. During the naming process, founding producer Frank Sheldon presented us with an ultimatum: to find and agree upon the right name for the production, or else it would default to “Guitar-O-Sphere”.



tuning the air history

The final performance of Tuning the Air took place on Thursday December 15, 2011.

Here is how we got there:

2005: Feb 21, first trial run, “An Evening of Music for Large Guitar Ensemble”
2005: Apr 11-Dec 26, TTA 1-38, 38 Mondays (without fail - see below) at Trinity Church.
2006: Mar 06-Dec 18, TTA 39-80, 42 Mondays at Trinity Church.
2007: Feb 19-Jul 2, TTA 81-100, 20 Mondays at Trinity Church.
2007: Sep 10-Oct 8, TTA 101-105, 5 Mondays at Trinity Church
2007: Oct 15-Dec 15, TTA 106-115, 10 Mondays at Capitol Hill Arts Center
2008: Apr 4-Jul 21, TTA 116-130, 15 Mondays at Fremont Abbey Arts Center (Café)
2008: Sep 18-Dec 11, TTA 131-141, 11 Thursdays at Fremont Abbey (Café)
2009: Feb 5-Jun 25, TTA 142-162, 21 Thursdays at Fremont Abbey (Café)
2009: Sep 24-Dec 17, TTA 163-173, 11 Thursdays at Fremont Abbey (Great Hall)
2010: Apr 15-Jul 1, TTA 174-185, 12 Thursdays at Fremont Abbey (Great Hall)
2010: Oct 7-Dec 16, TTA 186-195, 10 Thursdays at Fremont Abbey (Great Hall)
2011: Feb 10-Jun 30, TTA 196-215, 15 Thursdays at Fremont Abbey (Great Hall)
2011: Oct 6-Dec 15, TTA 216-225, 10 Thursdays at Fremont Abbey (Great Hall)


Performing “every week, without fail” was an explicit part of our mission. There were a couple of exceptions:

  • Our one and only ever canceled show was Dec 18, 2008, due to snow (in Seattle!)
  • When we moved the show to Thursdays, we made the decision not to schedule performances on Thanksgiving.
  • On Oct 29, 2009, Tuning the Air gave up its scheduled performance in order to host and perform with Robert Fripp and the Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists, in the Great Hall at Fremont Abbey Arts Center.


Tuning the Air History
Company Members Past and Present

Over the 7-year run of Tuning the Air many people contributed. Some were there from the beginning. Others were with us for a period of time, and then moved on. Some were involved full-time. Others were on call, for when we need them the most. Players. Dancers. Lighting. Sound. Staging. House. Management. Direction. Every one essential. Of the 10 guitarists who performed in show #0, 7 were still with the company and performed in show #225, the final performance of Tuning the Air.

  1. Mary Beth Abel
  2. Igor Abuladze
  3. Micah Arvey
  4. Sandra Bain Cushman
  5. Igor Bekker
  6. Ian Bessler
  7. Jaxie Binder
  8. Andrew Boscardin
  9. Andy Boyd
  10. Jim Breslin
  11. Robin Brezinski
  12. Tobin Buttram
  13. Charles Corley
  14. Sruti Desai
  15. Trey Donovan
  16. Christina Florkowski
  17. Darlene Franz
  18. Tony Geballe
  19. Carl Germain
  20. Chris Gibson
  21. Meleah Gibson
  22. Hank Hadeed
  23. Dean Jensen
  24. David Lavallee
  25. Gene Lee
  26. Andrew McNutt
  27. Greg Meredith
  28. Stani Meredith
  29. Travis Metcalf
  30. JT Milhoan
  31. Aimee Page
  32. Joel Palmer
  33. Ingrid Pape-Sheldon
  34. Elisabeth Perrin
  35. Bill Rieflin
  36. Frank Sheldon
  37. Taylor Sherman
  38. Howard Snyder
  39. Diana Snyder-Garcia
  40. Rob Taylor-Manning
  41. Steve Turnidge
  42. Miles Weishampel
  43. Zachariah Weissman
  44. Ryan Wik
  45. Bob Williams

Tuning the air history

These are the pieces that were performed:

  1. 49 Notes (Golden)
  2. Aquarela do Brasil (Barroso)
  3. Asturias (Lams)
  4. B Minor Fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier (JS Bach)
  5. B Minor Prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier (JS Bach)
  6. Batrachomyomachy (Geballe)
  7. Blockhead (Richards)
  8. Bloed Spoed (Williams/Binder)
  9. The Bus Artist (Abuladze/Metcalf)
  10. Butterfly (Gibson)
  11. Candor (Guitar Craft Circle of Seattle)
  12. Chacarera (Moreya/Lams/Richards)
  13. Chanson de Mardi Gras
  14. Chiara (Lams)
  15. The Children’s Hour (Ives)
  16. Children’s Song #1 (Corea)
  17. Children’s Song #3 - Space Circus (Corea)
  18. A Connecticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur (Gavin)
  19. Cultivating the Beat (Williams)
  20. A Day In The Life (Lennon/McCartney)
  21. Deserted (Gibson)
  22. Driving Force (Fripp)
  23. Eleanor Rigby (Lennon/McCartney)
  24. Eve 
  25. Eye of the Needle - Guitar Craft Theme III (Fripp)
  26. Fallout
  27. five five FIVE (Zappa)
  28. Fragments of Skylab (Russino)
  29. Geographical Fugue (Toch)
  30. Giga (Corelli)
  31. Gnossienne (Satie)
  32. Growing Circle (Marcon)
  33. Hanging Gardens, Hanging Man
  34. How Many Times? (Williams/Binder)
  35. I Am The Walrus (Lennon/McCartney)
  36. I Will (Lennon/McCartney)
  37. Ikada-Jima (Gibson)
  38. Ikada-Jima Improv – Circulation w/Koto
  39. Ikada-Jima Improv – Circulation w/Koto w/dance
  40. In My Room (Wilson)
  41. Invocation - Guitar Craft Theme I (Fripp)
  42. Invocation (Rieflin)
  43. Kashmir Led Zeppelin Mashup including I'm Gonna Crawl, Kashmir, Friends, Ten Years Gone, Rain Song (Page/Plant/Bonham/Jones)
  44. King for a Day (Jensen)
  45. La Rueda (Pietrafesa)
  46. Labrynth
  47. Lament (Geballe)
  48. Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part II (Fripp)
  49. Little Gangsters (Abuladze)
  50. Little Red Truck (Germain)
  51. Long Ago Today (Abuladze/Metcalf)
  52. Lost Pedro III – Return to Paradise (Gibson/Metcalf/Snyder)
  53. Lullaby (Solaris Project) (Abuladze/Metcalf)
  54. Lylli in Africa (Meredith)
  55. Mad World (Orzabal)
  56. Mars Effect (Williams/Binder/Bernardini)
  57. Melrose Avenue (Moreya/Lams/Richards)
  58. Mevlevi Greeting (Guitar Craft Circle of Seattle)
  59. Music for a Found Harmonium (Jeffes)
  60. My Precious Dream (Binder)
  61. Neptune (Holtz, arranged by Sherman)
  62. Ninth Guitar E
  63. Not My Sharona (Geballe)
  64. Odd Socks
  65. One of a Thousand Regrets (Golden)
  66. Onyx (Abuladze)
  67. Oroborus (Gibson/Meredith/Metcalf/Snyder)
  68. Peace Piece (Evans)
  69. Pipeline (Carmen/Spickard)
  70. Prayer of Gratitude 22 (Gurdjieff/de Hartmann)
  71. Prelude XXII in G Minor (Shostakovich)
  72. San Justino (Kabusacki)
  73. San Justino w/dance
  74. Scorched Air (Williams)
  75. Sigh and a Kiss (Williams)
  76. Sleep Dirt (Zappa)
  77. Slow Burn
  78. Space Zombies! From Outer Space! w/Joel Palmer (Peacock)
  79. Tango Apasionato (Piazzolla)
  80. Thrak (Fripp)
  81. Tico Tico no Fubá (Abreu)
  82. Trapiche (including the Cloud of Unknowing) (Golden)
  83. Trapiche w/dance
  84. Twilight (Williams)
  85. Two-Part Invention #4 (JS Bach)
  86. Two-Part Invention #8 (JS Bach)
  87. Vashon Ferry
  88. Violin Partita Number 3 in E Major (Bach)
  89. Voices of Ancient Children (Kabusacki/Nuñez)
  90. Voices of Ancient Children w/dance
  91. Vrooom (Belew/Bruford/Fripp/Gunn/Levin/Mastelotto)
  92. Wedgewood Blue (Abuladze/Metcalf/Gibson)
  93. Where Is The Nurse? (Geballe)
  94. Where It Goes, We Go (Faide/Ball)
  95. The Wig Maker (Gibson/Metcalf/Snyder)


tuning the air promotional poster - designed and created by roberto duce

tuning the air promotional poster - designed and created by roberto duce