One thing I said en passant to a friend these days kept hammering in my head: "nobody respects me as a guitar player". The friend in question was the bass player in a band in which I played keyboards.
Even though I am not teh keyboard shredder -- in particular, my left-right hand independence is terrible because I have no piano background, which always makes me shy when playing keyboards to someone who knows piano -- I can usually hold my own and learn whatever tunes the band wants to play, and I'm fairly creative at improvising (a treat I've come to realize is rarer than should be, at least in rock circles). So, I never had major problems playing keyboards with anybody.
On guitar, however, things seem to be different, because everything seems to be measured on "speed". Yes, I know it's childish and ridiculous, but that's how it goes in the guitar world. In the end, it's one of the things that turned me off from guitar. I can't do the blazing fast guitar solos, and I can't be bothered to the hours of boring scale practice necessary to attain that speed. (I realize that in indie/punk/etc circles speed on guitar is as passé as a citrus green suit with shoulder pads, but still a "good guitarist" is always one who can do "complicated/crazy stuff", so it's just the same thing on a smaller scale).
But I do like to play guitar. So I thought, why do I neglect it then? Why do I only look for keyboard playing gigs? I came to the conclusion that even I don't respect myself as a guitarist.
To shake that feeling, I realized I needed to do something about it. I decided to pick my favorite guitar solo (maybe "favorite" is too much, but one of the all-time favorites, definitely) and learn it. And I did.
So now I know that I can play the kind of thing that really interests me on guitar if I really want to. I had a simple theory I formulated when learning those fancy keyboard solos when playing in bands, which has proven true again on the guitar: it's not in your fingers, it's in your head. I could only play the fast sequences of that solo after I could think them through -- mentalize the series of notes, each of them individually, as fast as they went by in the song. Once you can do that, the fingers just follow.
Another conclusion: the frets of my guitar are borked. This instrument will celebrate its 10th anniversary with me this year, and it was second-hand already. It's so beat up that refretting isn't worth it and I would never get a decent price selling it (plus, I'd like to keep it as my "first official guitar"). I'll see if I buy a new guitar by the end of the year, or early 2007.
The long missing chorus
I came up with a chorus melody for a song that I wrote when I was 16 years old and that was left unfinished to this day, complete except for a chorus melody and lyrics, the latter missing because the former was on the critical path. I had already given up on the song, to the point that I had reused a riff from it in a later one (which is coincidentally also unfinished to this day... and is now farther from completion as the riff finds its way back to the original song).
It came to me while walking on my way to the supermarket, humming stuff like I do sometimes, while trying to do this discreetly enough so that it doesn't look like I'm talking to myself (even though I'm not sure if I succeed at that -- at least now I try; in my teenage years I'm pretty sure I looked like those crazies on the streets... maybe they are composers as well!?) For whatever reason, I remembered this old song and started humming it. When I got to the missing part, I just kept humming and it seemed to complete itself. Gotta love when that happens.
As my mind flipped channels to focus on what was missing in the fridge, I simply forgot about the thing altogether. Came back home, had dinner, and a while later I was browsing around and read this: "a series of thoughts clicked into place". I immediately went: "OMG! The chorus! What was it like!?!?" I hurried up to the guitar to try to remember it, but no game. I could only remember the general feeling of it. So I wrote something else that tried to capture the essence but it didn't had that little magical thing that melodies that come to your had all at once have.
Then, the next day, out of nowhere, the melody comes back to my head. Just like that. I picked whatever was closer at the moment to record it before I'd forget it again: the digital camera -- shot a movie of myself whistling the melody. Now I have both sequences, the chorus I came up with on the way to the market, and the variation I wrote yesterday. I may end up using both. Now, all I need is lyrics for it.
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