Saturday, October 2, 2010

I have a notion about learning music organically. It goes like this: I am not going to play guitar like Eric Clapton or Jimmy Hendrix, and I will never pick a banjo like Earl Scruggs. I won't play in a band and have to know a bunch of standard pieces. There are plenty of people who can do that. If I want to hear something that sounds like BB King. I am perfectly content to put on a BB King song and listen to it. I will never play like that, and frankly, it seems silly to me, at this point to try. I don't have ambitions to be recognized for my skill or mastery of the instrument. It is too late for that. So, what I will do is make a joyful noise. I get a lot a pleasure out of discovering the instrument organically. Just being with it in the way I am with a woods on a hike. I am looking, discovering, listening. I don't feel a need to know the botany, or the biology, or be able to name off every plant and species. I just want to see a frog or a deer or a dragon fly. With my banjo and my guitars, I like finding new sounds, new combinations of sounds. New rhythms. As a furniture maker, I am never very interested in making something that is manufactured and mass produced. What is the point? Machines and production lines make that stuff better than I ever will. If I make something, I want to make something I have not seen before. If I make sounds on instruments, I am amused, occasionally, when I come across a familiar riff, but my interest lies in the noises I have not heard that morning on the radio, or on my cd. I am, after a good deal of time messing around by myself, getting ready to take some lessons. I want to go further with it. But I am leery about learning how to play a particular style of music. It seems like, with the banjo for instance, you are encouraged to pick a form right off the bat. Claw hammer or three finger bluegrass. Well, I like bluegrass and mountain music, but I don't like either one so much I want to peg myself there. I like avaunt guard stuff, and classical and rock and roll banjo. What if I want to three finger pick a few bars, then claw hammer it, then strum it? Yea, I know, It's a little crazy. Here is the thing though. I don't have to play fast, or meet some deadline, or hold up anything. I am not going anywhere. I don't have to memorize anything. I can't anyway. (those brain cells went by the way side long ago) So all I am really going to do is sit and improvise stuff. Why not give myself permission to learn as if I found a banjo in the woods and just discovered it organically - and see what I come up with? I have always felt that in this world, it you can't be original, be authentic. And so it makes sense to me to attempt to learn music organically and develop an authentic style. My question is, can I find a teacher who can help me progress along the lines that are natural to me, and lead to my own unique expression of music? That would be a cool thing. Why be like the people who can already do the standards and classics. They seem to be doing that very well. I seen no need to improve that. So, stay tuned. I'll let you know, over the next ten years or so how it's going.

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