Friday, March 5, 2010

An Enormous Waste of Time

I haven't been able to add to this online journal since last week. And since I'm trying to remain consistent with my self-imposed rules, I can't write about anything serious today. Although the subject of today's entry - music - is deathly serious, my treatment of it this past week has not been so.

Aside from the usual inconveniences of a real job, I've been sucked into the musical world, on at least two simultaneous fronts, and perhaps more.

The first facet of this particular excursion crystallized out of a trip back to Indiana. While helping a friend of my brother's move shit, we discovered an acoustic guitar. My brother, who is an excellent base player, noodled with it for a bit. As he was doing so, I expressed my regret at never having learned guitar. My brother's friend, upon hearing this, suggested that I borrow the guitar for a month. If, at the end of that time, I could play the guitar, I could keep it.

We've not yet completely determined what "play" means in playing a guitar, but I've got to assume it has to be more than mere monkey strumming. In other words, I can't just learn three chords and find an appropriate cadre of songs to ape. And so, I'm learning all the chords right now, putting in at least an hour an evening. My left hands hurts quite a bit once I'm done.

It should be known that I do come from a musical family. All of us, at one point or another, were trained on some kind of instrument, and, when the stars and planets are properly aligned, we four brothers can produce some pretty spectacular and dense harmonies with our not entirely terrible voices.

The weird thing about learning the guitar for me is, having a very brief and futile set of lessons on the piano, I visualize notes and chords on a keyboard, rather than a guitar tab. Thus, learning a new chord is not unlike translating a phrase from English into Spanish, and then into French and back again.

The second facet of this excursion involves looking for songs on the internet - and fooling around with the websites lastfm and pandora. Both are interesting and frustrating in their own way. I think, in a little experiment I'm doing, that I'm slowly forcing pandora into a narrow little world of indecision, trying to figure out what my personal tastes are, as I refuse to identify what songs I like, but am quite liberal in choosing songs I don't like. That's really not that different from the real world actually. When people ask my what kind of music I like, I'll often tell them it's easier to list what I don't like.

As to lastfm, I'm just using it more to explore genres than anything else. For some strange reason, I seem temporarilly drawn to psychobilly. If I do (rarely) find a song I like, I head over to youtube to see what else the group has to offer. This search strategy is actually only slightly better than the random search for CDs I use at my local library, which, as you might guess, has pretty dismal success results. Nevertheless, it is all an enormous waste of time.

In closing, here are two little ditties that I can comedy dance to in a dorky robot fashion. You might want to loosen up a bit and, when you are alone at least, with no one watching, try them out.
(The first link, by the way, is Yellow Magic Orchestra's electric-chunky synthopop version of Martin Denny's Firecracker. Denny, godfather of exotica music, based his version on the traditional japanese song "Sayonara". Denny also performed a song called "Quiet Village", portions of which were used as an intro to the theme song of Peewee Herman's Tv show "Peewee's Playhouse". Funny how things are connected).


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