By likemindblog

John Francis (4)

JOHN FRANCIS is an American guitarist and composer. He is best known for his use of extended-range classical guitars and his eclectic compositional style. He enjoys writing and performing  in many styles and often blends the different elements together.  From the simplest melody and rhythm to the most complex harmony and counterpoint, he believes that music has the ability to communicate, even without words.  John tries to express something genuine with each of his compositions

John says that as a kid:  “I used to sleep so soundly, that on one morning I woke up, taped to the wall. It seems my next three older siblings, Linda, Bill & Jeff, had a field day with an entire roll of wide masking tape. When I opened my eyes, Linda, the truly gifted artist in the family, was drawing faces on the bottom of my toes and giggling about it. It seems they had as much fun pulling the tape off. Ooouch!

I was one of the earliest, and youngest Elvis impersonators in 1964, at five years old. I was decked out with glitter, a cardboard guitar and flanked by two really young “Go Go Dancers” in one of several garage productions we put on for the neighborhood. I lip-synched and wiggled to Elvis’ version of “Tutti Frutti.” We, also, did old Mad Magazine Skits, including the burping song and sold Kool Aid and Popcorn.

My next attempt of a guitar consisted of an old tennis racket with a cigar box to serve as a soundbox. My uncle Tommy Gallo, gave me some nylon John Francis 8strings for it. He was a classical guitarist. Funny, at the time, everyone refered to him as just a school teacher. I was too young to appreciate this and never had the opportunity to hear him play. He was married to my father’s twin sister, Barbara.

My first functional Instrument consisted of a couple of coat hangers and whatever I could get away with beating on. My bunk-bed mattress seemed to draw the least complaints. My brother, Bill, and I shared a small room with these little beds side by side. He would lead me through the classics like The Surfer Joe’s “Wipe Out,” Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick.”

So John, you’ve come a long way since those early days in Kansas City, Missouri.  You have composed and arranged music in styles ranging from Baroque to Blues, from Celtic to Rock, from Jazz to eclectic World Music, you have championed some unusual multi-stringed instruments and you have revived the Wichita Guitar Society. That is great!

I want to thank you for doing this article, I know how busy you are.  I enjoyed very much talking to you and also think you’ve got quite a sense of  humour.  So let us begin!

No. 1)  What is music to and for you?

Music is more than just another form of expression, it has the ability to communicate feelings and  emotions very effectively, touching people  across many different cultures in similar ways. It is truly the universal language. Even our animal brothers and sisters respond to it.

No. 2) What inspires you?

John Francis 1Inspiration can come from anywhere, life events, people and relationships, a book, a movie. I may just be goofing around in an unusual tuning which leads to some different chord voicings. This triggers a  certain mood and a melody develops. The piece may write itself, but often times it goes through a few variations before it is complete. I may head into an upbeat jazz version, but in the end feel a more somber approach is needed.

No. 3)  When you are playing, creating (not performing) for yourself, where does it take you?  Where does your mind (spirit) travel?

I try to capture the moment of creation, if that is possible. Whether, it is my own music or that of another I try to imagine what the composer was thinking or going through at the time. I may visualize a very sad set of circumstances, children playing, resting on the beech under a beautiful sunset.

No. 4)  Do you think music, visual art and health are related and if so, how do you see that?

Yes, I think that each field influences the other. They often go hand in hand. Not just film, or theater, but paintings can inspire music. Take the “24 Caprichos de Goya” by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, for example. There have been advanced studies in the psychology of  music and art, as well. There are now a wide range of interdisciplinary courses and degree programs. The use of music has become quite common in the medical field, and not just when you are getting your teeth drilled. Patients have even been brought out of comas.You can become a Certified Music Practitioner (CMP). It is all very exciting!

No. 5)  How do you feel when you are playing?

Music has the ability to change a person from the inside. It is always rewarding when one is able to express something that could not be put into words

No. 6)  When do you do your best work?  (under what conditions)

That is a very difficult question. If you are talking about practicing andJohn Francis 2 developing technique then it usually best done when I am rested and my mind is fresh. Regarding composition, I might be more comfortable after a good night’s sleep, but stress may inspire me to try something else, to hear things differently. It certainly helps with the blues, but whenever I work I try to find a calm place.

No. 7)  Do you identify with your music and if so, on what level?

Yes, on a very personal level. Much of my music came about as a result of joys and hardships. Some pieces have been written to explore a particular mode or technique, but I try to put my heart into everything I write.

No. 8)  Does playing help you connect with your higher self, whatever that may be for you?

Yes, music allows us to commune with our spirit and, likewise, to reach the spirit within others. It has the power to lift people from despair to a safe place, even plants respond to it.

No. 9)  Some people seem to think school kills creativity, how do you feel about that?

John Francis 7I feel that it s always best to learn the rules before you go about breaking them. I can understand that a regimented curriculum can be very stifling, especially if students are not  being engaged, but there are also challenges that we may never encounter, otherwise. It is important to be presented with practical answers as to why things are done a certain way, but often teachers are just blindly following tradition and great discoveries are lost or delayed. Whatever line a person is in, a little guidance is helpful, but at some point the student needs to be allowed to spread their wings and to soar in their own direction.

John, I want to thank you for a most interesting interview.  You are a wonderful and highly creative person and I wish you the best in all your endeavours.  Until we work together again, keep well, my friend!


John has many interesting links which are well worth checking out.

John Francis 6

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Filed in: MUSIC • Friday, July 9th, 2010


Michele is certainly right about your sense of humor… One could not read this article and not feel better for having read it. Found it interesting you said you “attempt” to depict color with sound and Michele plays music with a brush.. Andante is much more than attempt…. Andante is beautiful. Had never heard of the CMP program. Looking it up I found this in The New Social Worker Online. “In social work, we often use words to reach people, but sometimes words aren’t needed, and the pure sound of music may take us far beyond what words can express.” Thank you for the opportunity to experience your beautiful music and the rich learning experience of your article… Cecelia
.-= Cecelia Gay´s last blog ..The Lonely Road =-.


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My name is Michele Andree. I am an artist, I paint musicians in action. I think I’m a musician at heart, my instrument being… a brush, so I play…brush and I paint… music.
I love jazz. I call it freedom music. It promotes special values. I love intelligent people and good conversations.

Some people ask me how music relates to art. Personally I find they go hand in hand. Music is what turns me on to painting. It makes me see colours