Eclectic Modern Mathematical Compositions for the Acoustic Guitar
Diving into the deeper catalog of Lawrence Blatt, Fibonacci’s Dream is instrumental acoustic guitar wonderment and beauty, reflective of the Windham Hill universe. Blatt is a multiple award-winning solo artist renowned for his compositions for finger-style guitar, so versatile he can have two or even more different things going on in the music even when he is playing solo guitar. His handmade guitars have a beautiful sound, and he explains in the liner notes which guitars were used and how he tuned them. On some tunes Blatt adds other sounds like bass, mandolin, ukulele or percussion.
Blatt also has a degree in microbiology, which reflects his love of mathematics and science. All of the music heard on this album is naturally built on a mathematical foundation, Blatt consciously explores the relationships of the numbers in music, he applies math structures and sequences to his compositions by utilizing numerical ratios in his chord patterns, repeated phrases and tonal intervals. In the Fibonacci sequence each number is the sum of the two preceding ones, starting from 0 and 1. That is, 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144...
The Fibonacci series is a pattern that appears frequently in nature, such as branching in trees, the curves of a nautilus shell, the formation of petals on a sunflower, the arrangement of leaves on a stem, an uncurling fern, and the arrangement of a pine cone's bracts. Fibonacci numbers, commonly denoted Fn, appear unexpectedly often in mathematics. Leonardo of Pisa, later known as Fibonacci, published a pivotal book, "Liber Abaci" (Book of Calculation) in 1202, when he was 32, and is considered to be the greatest mathematician of the middle ages. He discovered the "Golden Ratio" that appears everywhere in the natural world and introduced Europeans to the Arabic numerals that are used today.
The first track opens with the pure and simple guitar, played with panache and grace, a little fancy flourish, a rainbow of finger picking with harmonics, “Bern 'The Bear'” (1:38). The bear is a symbol of Bern, Switzerland, and is featured in their coat of arms and shield, which was a black bear in a white shield, standing upright. According to the local history, in 1191, Duke Berthold V of Zähringen vowed to choose as namesake the first animal his hunt met in the wooded forest that was to be chopped down for building this new city. Today, the city is known for the activities on its Aare River, which surrounds it on three sides.
Una Vida refers to people who want to live their “One Life” to the absolute fullest and to their highest potential, and celebrates the influence of the Latin culture on California life, “Una Vida (One Life)” (4:17) has the bold Iberian beat, adventurous and bright guitar, sparkled by tiny chimes and some minimal hand percussion to make it snap. “In A Heartbeat” (2:00) continues with a positive message and emotional resonance, reminding us of how quickly beautiful things can come and go, two hearts glowing and then forming into one.
The title track, “Fibonacci's Dream” (3:52), illustrates how closely math is tied to music, the logic and patterns found in music might be considered to be related to mathematics, and is a real pleasure to listen to. Here is a delightful animated version:
Exploring the connections between order and nature, and the relationship between math and music from a little different angle, the musings are colorful, accessible, melodic, and experimental. Hidden within this garden of acoustic guitar glory is a bit of electronic spice. “I Remember When” (2:18) is a soothing, graceful daydream, easy as a breeze. The pace changes, the rhythms, emotions and sounds of “I'm Leaving Now” (2:48) utilizing a structure and a style often not seen in an impressionistic, cinematic and intricate simultaneous rhythm and lead picking as well as some full-bodied strumming. This track pushes the boundary of how to capture the lives of the unseen, ultimately elevating this modern citole story into a lyrical meditation on themes of family and home, loneliness and love.
Blatt is well traveled, and has lived in California and Indiana, among other places. Inspired by the 1981 Indiana University basketball team, “Five Nights” (3:10) with five melody lines that represent the five players on the Hoosier team. “Just Before Dawn” (3:41) is a superb track, a positive atmosphere which stands head-and-shoulders above the richly rewarded guitar reveries of these times. Progressing from the original melody and phrasing of "Under the Sun" heard on his first album, Out of the Woodwork (2007), with a little more jazzy feeling, “A Little More Sunshine” (3:08).
Glass bottom boats tour the reefs and shipwrecks of the area, and scuba diving and snorkeling are popular in the clear water. Lover's Cove, to the east of Avalon, and Descanso Beach, are popular places to dive. Located about 29 mi (47 km) south-southwest of Long Beach, California, there is a romantic destination named Santa Catalina Island, after Saint Catherine. “Catalina” (2:56) starts out with one guitar and then brings in layers to create a rich tapestry that captures the island retreat vibe.
Reminiscent of the family's Eastern European heritage, ”Song For Chava” (2:58) is a gift for Blatt's daughter's thirteenth birthday. This track features a full complement of guitar, bass, various hand percussion accents, and weaves a luscious circular gambol.
With just a hint of rain on leaves and hand percussion, the guitar has a story to tell of the importance of the world's rain forests and how quickly they are disappearing, due to deforestation and pollution: “La Selva (The Rainforest)” (2:06). These jewels of the Earth are home to millions of species of plants, insects, microorganisms, and are an abundant source of natural medicines, many of which are still undiscovered.
The closer, “Move Um Out” (2:47) has a complicated combination of tempos and emotions, which illustrate a "hurry up and wait" flow, crashing energy layered with abrupt halts, a reflection on the turmoil in the world today and the senselessness of war.
If you like listening to the finger style guitar of Leo Kottke, Laurence Juber, Michael Hedges, John Renbourn, and the like, you are going to celebrate this showcase of musical styles and mathematical musings. He often plays in open tunings with a single guitar used to create the rhythm, bass and lead melody. Blatt has won multiple ZMR Music Awards, Independent Music Awards and Peace Song Awards.
Blatt graduated from Indiana University, where he studied music and microbiology. Moving to Los Angeles, he acquired a masters and a Ph.D. in science, which is reflected in many of his recordings. He spent five years living in Boulder, CO, where he studied guitar with Laurence Juber; Pierre Bensusan and Brian Gore have also been his teachers along the way. Blatt moved to San Francisco in 2001, and still resides in the Bay area.
This is his second album, Fibonacci's Dream (2008), and reached number two on the New Age Reporter chart. In 2006, he self-released his debut album, Out of the Woodwork, on his newly-established LMB Music label. It earned him a designation as Best New Artist by the trade publication New Age Reporter. His third album, The Color of Sunshine, was released on May 5, 2009, followed by the highly-popular albums Emergence and Longitudes and Latitudes; these later three releases were all produced by renowned guitarist Will Ackerman at Imaginary Road Studios.
In 2015, he decided to invite a unique group of friends - including Ackerman - to compose and record live together, and FLOW was born. FLOW is a four-piece ensemble comprised of Ackerman, Blatt, and two of today's most-acclaimed independent artists, Fiona Joy Hawkins and Jeff Oster. FLOW is an anagram of the group's names Fiona Joy Hawkins (Australian Pianist/Vocalist), Lawrence Blatt (acoustic guitarist), Jeff Oster (Flugelhorn master) and Will Ackerman. Lawrence's LMB Music has released two award-winning albums by FLOW, the self-titled debut Flow (2016) and Promise (2019).