Timing is everything, well time is anyway.
I thought this suitable because I needed a subject and this is one.
It a cliché because it’s true.
Whether in humor, a silly punch line or witty comment delivered at the right time for a laugh.
Or in music, when the spacing of the notes flow and feels right.
A song you can sing or let reverberate around in your head space radio, and carry with you through out the day.
The melody or lyric, sounded in just such a literal time space that is music, so as to elicit interest or give personal concepts meaning, validation and vigor.
Or perhaps in life in general, a word of encouragement or insight gained from reading or study, shared at the right time can make a difference.
In all of these instances time is involved.
To provide encouragement or offer insight, we need information of just such a sort, which requires reading and observation at some level.
To make music sound musical, practice is obviously involved.
Humor seems to arise as if from nowhere, but it too is built on past experience and thought processes even if one does not write jokes as a practice.
All involve time.
PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE
I recently began to try and play some music I had committed to memory years ago.
I remembered I knew it then, but but now? This particular music fell out of practice as other interests encroached upon the time and energy that was devoted to music.
Some times that was other music, too often it was not.
Presently irritated, frustrated and somewhat despondent about the loss of my ability to just start playing these pieces again, believing, once I had learned it, it was mine forever.
I thought I would not forget something I spent a considerable amount of time to memorize.
This is not the case.
I have forgotten more than I know!
Someone once told me, referring to B.B. King and myself in the same thought no less, that “he had forgotten more than I’d ever know about the guitar!”
As I was a brash young guitarist amped up to make it as a musician, it seemed to this person a pertinent point to make.
Not really knowing his motivation for saying such a thing, other than some confluence of events that equated all of us in that instant in his mind.
The statement stuck with me.
However the lesson it now intones has more significance.
If you don’t use it you lose it.
It is easy to remember the concepts involved in music, reading it, fingering on the guitar or keyboard, how it sounds, or is supposed to.
But if it is not actively engaged with regularly, it will suffer want, which can of course lead to discouragement.
Which can lead to ‘why bother’ which has been a go to preference too many times, leading to a lessening of interest in keeping that particular music and the necessary skills to play it, alive.
Revisiting some of the more complex music I once pursued and reorienting myself toward it has proven a challenge to maintain enthusiasm and take the time and energy to hear it come from my hands again. But it has also been one accepted gladly, as I am still having a go at it.
I choose to struggle with this at present because I can see where having this once again as a part of my skill set can contribute to a more involving musical future.
Despite possibly being seen as a resting on my laurels kind of affair, it is in fact a jumping off point. To not only maintain the status quo, but to advance it as well.
To stay active on ones instrument of choice is a good thing.
Even if it is currently only to maintain flexibility and prove that the feasibility to make advancement remains intact.
Music and Media
The particular pieces I am reacquainting myself with are from 2 very different musical era’s and obviously, 2 different people. One is by Fernando Sor (1778-1839) a classical guitar composer, which title appealed to the idealist in me “Fantasy Op.7” It is also in an unusual time signature 6/8, for some one like me accustomed to 4/4 rock n roll. In fact when I first undertook to learn this piece I ignored the time signature all together, primarily focusing on the notes and fingering. Despite this blatant ignorance of an instrumental part of the music and barely knowing how to read music,
I some how managed to make it sound like music.
The other piece is from a guitar master named Guy Van Duser who has the brilliance to arrange music from stride piano players to the guitar. In this case a tune called “Snowy Morning Blues” by James P. Johnson sometimes referred to as the “father of stride piano” This title also appealed to me. Again I had learned the music but due to lack of practice it was no longer available as a part of my repertoire of pieces I could play competently. But I wanted to once again.
Insight and Innovation
I have discovered in reorienting myself with this part of my musical past and the musical past in general that my abilities have also changed.
I can not stretch my fingers like I used to.
The fingering suggested by the music in some parts of the arrangement required a deeper dive into the music notation and not just follow the tablature as presented.
Because the guitar is structured in such a way, alternate positions are available on the guitar to play the music in more than one position on the instrument.
For example: Near the end of Sor’s Fantasy Op. 7. There is a pedal G note part The G gets played continuously through out several bars, at one point the score suggests a D note on the B string and a B note on the E string this is a 5 fret stretch. Trés Difficile (very difficult for me)
The same notes can be played at the 12th fret and still allow the pedal G note to sound.
Given my current abilities, this is a useful work around.
In Guy Van Duser’ “Snowy Morning Blues” arrangement a similar stretch was asked of my fingers. This time it was a 4 fret stretch but one that could be accomplished by another fingering.
It has an open A string as the bass, B on the G string, and C on the B string. An A note is to follow the B on the G string as is and open G string after that.
By fingering the A note on the D string and the C note on the G string and the B note on the open string the same combination can be effected and my hand isn’t quite so overextended. See the tablature below.
As a result with the careful study of the notation, a work around presented itself and I felt a sense of accomplishment in applying myself to the task and gained a deeper connection with the music and my abilities as a result.
So this would suggest, with a little digging and will power, alternatives to certain difficulties can be overcome and further develop musical skill.
It is a struggle some times to go deeper but by doing so even at a seemingly microscopic level, improvement can be made and we can become more invigorated by investing in the process rather than giving up because a certain challenge has presented itself.