Thermomixed Up, Part 7: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

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9 Responses

  1. Will H. says:

    Unfortunately, my greatest pass at fame as a musician was in turning down the slot to play on the Tupac tribute album from Cleopatra.

    I’m into P-90’s.
    The old ones, of course.Report

  2. Teacher says:

    My musical experience with the guitar was in my last year of high school and then through college.  I got a Harmonica while in vacation (with the book “The Klutz Book for Harmonica”) and taught myself basic riffs and patterns.  Of course it’s not much of a solo instrument in the style I was learning (which was to riff within a chord pattern) so I looked for the easiest group of guitars to play with:

    My church folk choir.

    Oddly the director hated me, and the rest of the group thought it was so clever that a high school kid wanted to add such a bluezy sound to the group.  That evolved into me joining the music group in college and eventually learning guitar.

    Of course this is how I learned:

    1. Lay down music for a song I wanted to play on the floor.  Sit crosslegged with guitar in lap.
    2. Strum until I hit a chord I didn’t know
    3. “Tony, how do you play an E7?”
    4. Go to step 2

    There was a period of 5 years where Tony and I did not speak.  Nominally it was due to a fight over a woman.  I suspect it was more about the guitar.

    The high point though of my music life was when I was a head liner at some folk clubs in Second Life.  I’d plug a mixing board into the computer, connect to a stream and then play a virtual solo concert.  It was a lot of fun and for a while I even had a friend come over to join me so we’d have two voices, a mix of guitar, singing, and penny whistle while we worked through sets of our favorite tunes.  Somewhere I still have the MP3’s of the shows on the occasions I recorded them…..


    • Will H. in reply to Teacher says:

      My most lasting experience with the harmonica was after the cat had a litter of kittens. The kittens would all come running whenever I started in on the harmonica.
      I don’t have that cat any more, but I still have a couple of the kittens (now 12 years old).
      I trained them to come when I whistle by using that harmonica.Report

  3. BlaiseP says:

    A good deal of my callow youth was spent with my skinny ass on a piano bench, behind a wretched spinet piano, the middle three octaves of which never stayed in tune. My mother had a nasty little spring-driven timer to ensure I did my 30 minutes of daily practice. How we fought about that timer! It screws up my counting, Mom! That tick-tick-tick timer was the making of me as a keyboard player: now I can count time against the most bizarre time signature.

    When our family returned to the USA from Africa, I’d never even heard the Beatles. Popular music and movies were the tools of the Devil. I’d grown up with church music, Debussy, Ravel, Beethoven, some Bach and the John Thompson Red Books. Nothing could have prepared me for the 70s. I initially drifted into odd corners of music, the sweetness of  Bread and the Stylistics, Motown, Eno and Roxy, . I soldiered on, in front of that horrible spinet, sneaking into church to play the Steinway.

    I heard an interview with Larry Fast on WNEW, and wrote him a letter on my father’s Selectric typewriter, asking him for advice on purchasing a synthesizer. He kindly wrote back, a thick envelope full with photocopies, important information about the early synthesizers. I took my paper route money and bought my first Mini-Moog. I began to hang out in music stores, learning to play the early polyphonic synthesizers. Nobody I knew listened to what I liked. To a very large extent, that’s true to this day.Report

    • David Ryan in reply to BlaiseP says:

      (Probably because of my comfort with math/relationships) I was a precocious music theory student. But I never picked up keyboard skills, and this was a handicap. Just as I was leaving the music department they were getting their first Macintosh/synth combo. You could play lines one-handed and it would transcribe. Too late for me, but also probably lucky for me too.  I really was much happier studying photography.

      I also had a paper route. I bought fishing gear for myself and lavish (for a 12 year old)  gifts for my family. It was great. This last Summer, my daughter worked (very hard) with me at our Sailing Montauk venture, made enough to buy herself an iPod Touch and still has a thick stack of bill in her dress. My heart nearly burst with pride.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to David Ryan says:

        Ecch, you could pick it up in a heartbeat.   Well, not a heartbeat, but a few weeks anyway.   I figure it this way:  everyone can carry a tune.  Most people don’t know how to unload it properly.

        Learn to play the scales, starting with E because you’re something of a guitar player anyway.  Progress to the other primary keys of the guitar, G, B, D and A.  You’ll probably want to learn the key of B flat too, horn players.   It will take a bit of doing, learning the Black ‘n White notes for each scale but your ear will immediately tell you where you’re wrong.   Miles Davis once said every wrong note is a half-step from a right one.   Don’t start with the C scale, it’s a bad move for a keyboard player, no other instruments play in C naturally and keyboards only fit into an arrangement as an accompanist anyway.

        Then, as with typing, quit looking at the keys.  It’s the only way you’ll learn to read music effectively.   Any of several dozen good MIDI programs will show you what you’re playing on the staff.Report

        • David Ryan in reply to BlaiseP says:

          My list of music gadgets not yet purchases for more or less the same reasons I don’t have a meat-slicer:

          A steel stringed acustic guitar; 6 string, 12 string or both, with electric out for microphone-free recording

          A nylon string classical guitar, also with with electric out for microphone-free recording

          A keyboard with piano-like touch that will interface with a computer

          A small synthetic drum kit

          An electric upright bass

          A guiroReport