“Yeah, well you’re too busy anyway, just skip the class this week, shouldn’t you be doing…”
This is what Kevin tells himself, how he “takes the easy way out” from playing guitar: time.
It’s universal. Most people I ask why they can’t play guitar as they wish say time.
“The guitar just doesn’t make sense to my brain. I feel lost every time I play. Luckily I actually am good at rote memorization so through sheer determination I have copied and memorized a lot of other people’s stuff. But I don’t have a clue what I’m doing and feel like I’m faking it. I feel so lost in what I’m doing and it feels like my fingers won’t always do what I tell them. I have way too many books and videos and lessons that I don’t know where to start.”
Somehow, Mark found himself in a rut. Now, Mark is no beginner. He describes himself like this: “I’ve been playing guitar for 15 years, minus the 3 years I gave it up out of frustration. I know people that have been playing for 5 years that could play circles around me.” [Read more…]
One of my pet peeves is this silly notion that anyone can play guitar. Not without the right tools, they can’t. And, almost by default, the tools beginners get to start having a go at it are faulty, or incomplete at best. So, I pick up my guitar, start playing, figure out a couple of easy things and then… SLAM. I run into a dead end. Rightfully, I feel cheated. I feel insecure, and probably stupid: “Anyone can play guitar? Well, not me… there must be something wrong with me if everybody else is doing it: I just can’t seem to get it”. [Read more…]
Probably ever since it was invented in its current incarnation, with its current standard tuning as corner-stone of note layout on the fretboard, people have struggled to come to terms with the guitar.
The ways in which people have attempted this can be best understood if categorized into intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic, in this context means intrinsic to the instrument itself, to the guitar. Extrinsic means additional constructs, external references to handle the guitar by analogy and aren’t worth a second thought. [Read more…]
You cannot create experience. You must undergo it. —Albert Camus
This was my mistake. I once wrote an awful little book on guitar theory, you see, failing to understand that the gap between concept and experience is as vast a void as whatever lies inside the skull of many a politician. It’s a great book, mind you, in terms of the concepts in it, and I don’t just say so myself. But somewhere between it having been written, as books are, from the point of the author’s experience and how hard it is to grasp concepts in the abstract, I failed.
“It’s very clear, as long as I persist with it.” Said one reader. That’s fantastic… but. What Rodney said to me implies he needs to apply pressure on himself to do it. As long as he’s disciplined, that’s fantastic. But high-pressure systems such as these are bound to break down sooner rather than later. Moreover, that requisite discipline does not exactly make for a joyous experience. I had failed. [Read more…]
Language fits over experience like a straight-jacket. —William Golding
The guitar, like any instrument, has its own intrinsic limitations that define its musical character. Though challenging, this is the stuff that makes it interesting to play guitar. It’s like chess. Or language. Or mathematics. It’s like stringing sentences together. [Read more…]
Where all think alike, no one thinks very much. —Walter Lipman
The hardest strategy to change is a winning strategy. In physiological terms, the structure in charge of all strategy is the brain. And the brain is built to optimize. When it deems it has won, it is loth to change anything: this would entail coming up with a new path, and that means using the energy it is built to conserve. [Read more…]
Ken, a budding Addict, sent me an email today:
I have a question: I’m a tad bit confused on scales. I wonder if you could answer a question for me to help me clear up my confusion. Using the Pentatonic scale in a key such as A, Do I use the same pattern for all the chords in the key of A? Do I use the pattern while playing A, D, and E7? or do I have to move this pattern while playing each chord? The same goes for other keys? [Read more…]
The fretboard is confusing because it’s like a house of mirrors. Literally. It’s symmetry that folds on itself in intricate patterns. If all you see is the patterns, and compare by analogy, you’ll be dizzy in no time.
If, however, you break the underlying code, and code there is, it makes instant sense.
To get there, however, means to dig deep, several layers of abstracion down the rabbit hole. And in order to make true sense of that system, one must proceed in fully systematic fashion, making every step meaningful to the senses and to the brain. Otherwise, it’s pure mathematics. And this is all about making music!
It’s actually a bit like fractal geometry, where a simple algorithm (I so wish the spelling were algorhythm) defines structure at every level, and every level is connected structurally to that same principle.
Sign up below to receive an invite to Fretboard Addicts and get started unbundling the fractal. Welcome to the quagmire!
(Image via math.stackexchange.com)