Before Fall

I feel more comfortable posting all my daily explorations here, rather than inundating people on social sites.

Studying guitar intensely. Each piece requires figuring out fingering for unfamiliar chord patterns, and new contortions for holding down the strings in a way that results in a clear sound (coming from piano muffled and off-key does not cut it). Sometimes half bars as few as two notes combine with single fingers nearby on two other strings below or to the right. When you’re learning these pieces you have to look at what you’re doing, get familiar with how the chords move along the fingerboard, figure out how they function with arpeggio patterns, timing, and the character of the piece as it starts to reveal itself. I’m trying to throw out the images on youtube and in classical guitar books of playing with the neck 50 feet in the air, the idea of a guitar being flat on a non-flat torso, and wearing pants so I can spread out in a manly way, with one damn foot on a stool. I practice on a small, slightly less than 3/4 length classical nylon-string guitar – something I can hold comfortably on a couch low to the ground, propped up on my crossed left leg, to see everything, not be overwhelmed by the size of instrument, and not killing my fingers in the process – I tend to practice 1-2 hours a day, so I save my steel string acoustic for after I learn a piece well enough on nylon strings.

One thing that is good about choosing an era of music – I am going for Renaissance, as I know the sounds of this period well from my youth, and want to get a lute to play that music – is that you get well-versed on certain popular chord structures, flourishes, and rhythms. I think it helps to get one style down before moving on to another style – and guitar has soooo many.

The other thing that has focused me is that my previous musical training is in classical music, I read music, and therefore starting from a point that’s more familiar makes the task of learning an instrument as complex as the guitar less daunting – particularly if, like me, you’re teaching yourself.

If I can record a couple of things by Christmas time, and create videos for them, all this effort will have been well worthwhile. Must keep my nose to the grindstone. This will be a big accomplishment for me, and set me up for the next phase of my visual work.

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