Amazon.com talks to Bruce E. Arnold – An interview conducted via e-mail
This is an interview done between Bruce and Amazon.com via e-mail during December 1998
Amazon.com: Where are you from? How–if at all–has your sense of place colored your writing?
B.A.: I am originally from Sioux Falls South Dakota, and I think that being from there has colored my writing in a few ways. First, its a type of place that its not exactly the intellectual center of the universe, (though of course there are very smart people that come from there) but people tend not to use a lot of big fancy words to describe something. They speak in very simple language and try to make themselves understood. And I think you’ll see in my books that I’m not trying to show people how much I know, I’m trying to teach them something. I’m sensitive to the fact that everybody comes from a different background, so you can’t start throwing around difficult words and phrases and things that only a limited number of people would understand–so all the actual writing in my books is very simple, and I’ve made it so that hopefully even a little kid could understand it.
Amazon.com: When and why did you begin writing? When did you first consider yourself a writer?
BA: Basically I started writing because there were no books available to teach the things that I wanted to teach, or there were mistakes in those books and they were incomplete regarding what I felt students needed to know. I also felt an obligation to write these things, you see, I found out a lot of these things through my teachers and my own study, and as I have bought them to people I have found that they work. But this not the type of information that you can readily find just anywhere out there. I have not found any books that teach the way that mine do, that draw on my years of teaching and my desire to communicate the right information.
Amazon.com: Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way? What books have most influenced your life?
BA: My students have been the people who have most influenced my writing, because the books that I write are for them; the things that I find weak in them are the reasons I write the books. As far as what has influenced my life–as far as music books, there is a complete list of those on my website, under “further investigations.” And there is also a list on there of other books that have influenced me, as far as other aspects of my life are concerned.
Amazon.com: What music, if any, most inspires you to write? What do you like to listen to while writing?
BA: Music doesn’t really influence my book writing. It does influence my music writing. My tastes are very wide-ranging. I love everything from Heavy Metal to Baroque music to Jazz. I don’t listen to music while I am writing, I find it too distracting to try to write about music while there is music on.
Amazon.com: What are you reading now? What CD is currently in your stereo?
BA: The Book I’m reading is, Viennese Harmonic Theory from Albrechtsberger to Schenker and Schoenberg. The CD I’m listening to is “UnBlocked” The Music of Eastern Europe
Amazon.com: What are you working on?
BA: Currently Iim working on two new books which will be companions to my Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume One. These books will cover funk rhythms. They take the progressions found in the chord workbooks and show how to play them in the funk style. These exercises are available on the Muse-Eek Website so that people can play along with it as they are learning them.
Amazon.com: Use this space to write about whatever you wish.
BA: Just from surfing around the Internet and looking at books that are available either on the net or in stores, it upsets me to see so many books that seem to be more about having a glossy cover and being entertaining, rather than about teaching the right things that will help somebody to become a great musician. The Internet is a free-for-all; anyone can write the most wrong-headed stuff about the ways you should be playing over a tune, or giving completely incorrect information about how a progression is put together. And unfortunately for someone sitting in the middle of nowhere, who doesn’t have a good teacher, they take these things as being the truth, and it can really hurt them in the long run. And that is what bothers me the most, when people are misled; particularly because it happened to me–I was such a fanatic, when I was learning to play, I would get hold of some piece of information and go into my room and practice till my fingers bled, and then would find out years later that not only was the information wrong, but practicing it for so long had really damaged me, and I had to learn how not to do what I had been doing, and then to learn the right way, starting from square one, which is a really painful process.