Guitarist and composer Lawrence Blatt explores the parallels between the patterns of music and nature.

Produced by Grammy Award-winning guitarist and Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman, Lawrence Blatt’s latest album, Longitudes and Latitudes, is taking over the world - literally. This 15-track collection was written over the course of the artist’s world travels over the past decade and includes the exact latitude and longitude of every locale where each song was penned.

This may be the first time in history where an artist, such as guitarist and composer Lawrence Blatt, has created an album featuring song titles that reflect where each song was written. The geographically-themed work of art taps into a literal and metaphorical journey of nature and life, and invites listeners to adventure with him as he explores the beauty of the parallel between sound and travel.

AXS spoke with Lawrence Blatt about his latest piece of work, his music and what inspires him.

AXS: Tell me about your musical history?

Lawrence Blatt: I have lived in many places and each location has had a unique and significant influence on my life and on my music. From the age of seven, I had an inner longing to play the violin. After several months of pleading with my parents, they agreed to let me play and found a fantastic teacher, named Albert Burt. Mr. Burt, as I was instructed to call him, was at least 80 years old, dressed in disheveled tattered clothes and always traveled with both a violin and a viola. He would come to our apartment for my weekly one-hour lesson and would stay two to three hours or until my parents kicked him out. He would hand write all music from memory on staff paper and he built within me a strong sense of musical logic with his explanation of scales and chord theory. I did not know it at the time, but he was building the foundation of my musical landscape.

Later, it was in Colorado, I started working with Laurence Juber and Brian Gore. It completely transformed my approach to playing and I was introduced to open tunings and playing with the use of my bare fingertips. This approach now predominates my playing.

AXS: What went in to making Longitudes and Latitudes?

Lawrence Blatt: I have been traveling all around the world for at least 10 years. About five years ago, I started writing songs that were inspired by the places that I was visiting and often met local musicians whose styles further influenced my writing. This album is a departure from many of my other finger-style acoustic albums because on Longitudes and Latitudes I also play electric guitar as well as synthesizer. The album is more rhythmic compared to my previous releases and it is geared towards ensemble rather than solo performances. I am so grateful to the other musicians who play on the album including Premik Russell Tubbs on woodwinds, Kelly Park on piano, Sam Bevan on bass, Jeff Oster on Horns and Jeff Haynes on percussions.

AXS: Tell me what you’ve discovered about the parallels of music and nature?

Lawrence Blatt: Several years ago, I began to explore the relationship between music, math, science and nature.  At the basic level, musical writing is nothing more than a series of math equations. In western music we focus on the octave scale which produces a series of eight notes moving from low to high tones in prescribed intervals. As I contemplated music and numbers, I became interested in the work of the twelfth century Italian mathematician named Leonardo Bonacci who formulated the Fibonacci sequence. I began to utilize Fibonacci numbers in my music compositions. My 2008 release entitled Fibonacci’s Dreampurposely utilized Fibonacci ratios for note intervals and time signatures. Later, I became interested in the relationship between light and sound which, at their essence are both forms of movable waves or vibrations. The frequency of reflective light or wavelength determines the color we perceive and the wavelength of air vibrating at a given frequency determines the tone or note we hear when the vibrating air reaches our eardrum.  My 2010 album entitled The Color of Sunshine examined the relationship between different colors of light to similar frequencies of sound, with each composition inspired by a different color in the light spectrum. The other natural concept I have applied to my music is based on the theory of emergence. According to this scientific theory, complex patterns of behavior can emerge from simple rules. My 2014 album entitled EmergenceI utilized the concept of simple rules creating complexity applied to music. For my new release Longitudes and Latitudes, I applied my learning from my previous albums to create the album’s distinctive sound.

AXS: What’s next for you?

Lawrence Blatt: I am working on a very exciting project now. About a year ago, I got together with some of my closest musician friends to form a new band. We call ourselves FLOW and the band includes Fiona Joy on piano, me on various guitars, Jeff Oster on horns and Will Ackerman (Founder of Windham Hill records) on guitar.  We are now recording our first album and plan to tour in 2017.  We are very excited about what we have created and we feel our sound is unique and refreshing

 

Each track of Longitudes and Latitudes was placed in a specific order to take the listener on a journey around the globe. You can download Lawrence Blatt’s album at iTunes, as well as Amazon. You can also create a Lawrence Blatt radio station on Pandora and select his tracks for playlists on Spotify.