Sunday, June 24, 2007

First Love!

It is said that Man was able to recognize music long before he started to recognize words. Strangely though, even today, modern language lacks an adequate definition for the word 'Music'.

I am not going to prevail on the definition of music, the interested audience should read Steven Mithen's - 'The Singing Neanderthals' - which contains beautifully lucid explanations of the importance of music in human intellectual development.

No - this blog is dedicated to my first Guitar. I have always wanted to learn to play Guitar - but conditions back in Bombay for a Science student were - to put it mildly - not conducive to art and music. It is a heart wrenching tragedy of modern day India - that in order for people to get jobs and have a secure future, music or art is not an option. Being from an academic town, my parents strongly opposed me learning anything, that could possibly distract me from my studies. Nothing, I say nothing affects the sanctity of the holy mantra of the Indian education system - "By heart and vomit!" Duh!

It is true that India has produced world class musicians and each year Bombay itself produces more movies than any other similar industry in the world. But for some reason, music still remains to be looked upon more as a hobby than a career.

Seven years and as many time zones later, I got my chance to learn what I want - when I want - the way I want. No supervision - no constraints. And so it happened that in the summer of '07 - I decided that the time had finally come for me to learn Guitar!

I went with my instructor to a local music shop to buy me an instrument. I was relieved, for in all honesty, I could not tell a good guitar from a bad one. We were interested in 3 fender guitars that the shop was offering on sale. My instructor said - they were awesome for the price and great learning instruments. I played all of them and then asked my instructor to judge them. He said - "They are all good. But go for the one that feels best for you." No help - absolutely - I looked in desperation at the choice I was facing - not sure which one to choose. There was a cut-away model which sounded very sweet - and a black beauty - which was more mellow - but a beauty none the less. In desperation I looked around - and asked the waiting store guy - if there was some other instrument in the same price range that I could look at.

He recommended his favorite beginner guitar - they are made by 'Art & Lutheire' - a small company based in Canada. Even from a distance I could tell - this was a very pretty instrument. But the moment I touched it - I fell in love. A&L Guitars are finished with lacquer - which gives them a completely natural feel when you hold them. I was expecting the sound to be as warm as the close grained brown color of the top - I was not disappointed.......

I played it for a while and then gave it to my instructor - wildly hoping and threatening him - that he better not say anything against this beauty - for my heart was set on the piece. To my relief my instructor's judgment conformed with mine and we had an agreement.

The model I bought is an A&L CEDAR - six string acoustic. The guitar cost me 200USD, which I think was real steal. Ever since then, I find myself spending every moment of my free time practicing on this marvel. I found a wealth of information when I researched online. It turns out the close grained CEDAR top is an ideal modern choice for Guitar tops since the grain pattern allows flexibility across the grain - resulting in a fuller sound and puts firm resistance in the direction of the grain - thus easily sustaining string pressure.CEDAR wood also has the virtue of maturing with age - meaning - the sound of the Guitar improves over time. Unlike SPRUCE, CEDAR gives a more mellow, warm and richer tone.

Playing the instrument is a most sensual experience. When my instructor asked me - How do you feel, I replied, "I feel like I'm holding a woman!" The store manager burst out laughing, his head shaking..... he must be thinking - Now thats a lover!

But no jokes, lift this delicate piece and hold it on your lap - the curve fits in perfectly - much like a womans waist - as if it always belonged there. You press it against your body with the plucking hand and run the left down its smooth neck. You caress the strings and let go...... Playing it is like making love....... Its divine.

Not unlike love making, music has the power to heal. In fact, my real motivation to learn Guitar was to harness a more subtle way of expression than writing or poetry. Musician or not I implore you to listen to the open strings of a well tuned Guitar in quick succession - theres no way the sound won't influence you. It feels almost as if the strings don't just resonate in the sound box - but also in your heart.

Learn a Music instrument - it changes your LIFE!


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