Saturday, February 4, 2012

A refusal to tune

It's amazing how many musicians I meet that refuse to tune their instruments prior to a "jam session".  Many a time I've been roomed with a trio where a brothered string instrumentalist is in complete drop-tuning by a full step, often with their E dropped to a C to make those oh-so-tricky Barre Chords easier to play.  Honestly, after a few months of practice I was able to get those thumb-heel pain-inducing chords to resonate with ease and comfort but I guess a lot of guys never could get past that hump, just like the ongoing 60's joke was to avoid the dreaded F chord (painfully and graphically described below)

A guy looking like he's having a hard time with.. F

Sometimes I guess we all have a hard time with just maintaining an F.  Seems like the universe is speeding downhill with no breaks, engine going full-steam as in the iconic song, Locomotive Breath.  You know what, though?  That's okay.  It's my opinion that sometimes you need Life to go that fast, seemingly out-of-control.

Nice I got to sing with her at the Larimer Lounge in Denver.. actually this song too.

Still, such discipline of tuning a guitar makes harmony a lot easier for everyone else, and ultimately for yourself.  Sometimes we have to tune ourselves to get into the harmony of the "whole"; with the larger picture as it were.  I'm not saying conforming is the right answer!  You don't have to be part of the machine.. and yet you do, whether you want to or not.  In a Buddhist frame, everything is the machine.  You're part of it.  You are it, and it is you..  Deep stuff.  When I joined the USAF I realized this by my own philosophy.  I held my ground throughout all of it.  "..even a song from the Beatles!  It armoured me girl!  You can't take those things away!"  A good sense of humor helped keep me sane during that ridiculous basic-training.  I don't think some minds survived the "reprogramming", but I suspect those weak-minded fools didn't have much by way of code to begin with:

5 input $name
10  print $name
20 goto 10

Going along with the picture to create your own bit in the rhythm of Life is pretty neet.  You can even change it up, make the song change if you're good enough (or loud enough).  Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.  Case-in-point Obama's election.  People thought that since we got some sort of potential underdog African-American working-class Alexander Hamilton, but like him, we got instead a controversial and unwanted Whiskey Tax and several other taxes we weren't keen on, and the economy still is tanking (taking a slight uprise from the Christmas season CNN-Zombie-News is thriving on suggesting huge up-turns). 

I find it easier changing the "song" in smaller groups.  When there's more than 10 or so, my charisma doesn't kick-in enough and it requires a different level that is hella draining.  According to AD&D, therefore, my Charisma must be around 17 or on a very good day, 18 (if I'm wearing my Flash Gordon boots of DeLorentes Motorcycling CHR+1) [yes, I have these].  I do find maintaining charisma during a 12-hour period of crew to be a bit draining and people seem to thrive on it, but my enthusiasm makes people happy and I'm a genuine sort, so it's just fine.  Interestingly, I've almost never used my Charisma to control or manipulate people for evil, but then again, I'm Neutral Good, so there's that then.

So, during a tricky bit of the song, some lazy-ass musician decides to come in all Syd Barrett-style with a detuned or untuned guitar and that complicated F chord sounds inharmonious for all the wrong reasons (ie. not artistic technique ala Fraklin Zappa)  It's just laziness.  Lame.  I'm not saying a musician needs to be rigid in their discipline!  They'd be a MIDI machine otherwise!  There needs to be a balance though.  At least tune your guitar, or at least request everyone else tune to you, not just show-up as I've seen so many times and start whamming away all crazy-ass without rhythm in drop-C and your G-string is all bunched-up in A# for some odd-reason so your F chord sounds like an F-U chord all Chaotic-Neutral-style (or as I'd like to say of redheads, Chaotic-Chaotic, completely outside the chart).

So tune your guitars and have a little discipline.  Remember when you were 8?  If you're gonna play a game of say, hide-and-seek, it's best you suddenly don't run in a circle waving your arms throwing tennis balls.  This makes you a re'tard.  Now if you decide to dress-up as a Ninja for hide-and-seek, or IT the Clown, well, now we're talkin'!!!


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