Clamour

Transubstantiation

Posted in guitar, music, Uncategorized by clamour on September 2, 2009

Yesterday I traded my steel string acoustic for an ’80s nylon stringed Yamaha classical guitar.

I hardly played the acoustic anyway because even after having the action adjusted a couple of months ago it was like playing one of those as-seen-on-TV wire egg slicers.  It sounded muddy and totally unforgiving. It had a weird separation between the lacquer of the neck and the body that made me nervous about its body integrity but didn’t really affect the sound.

It was a present from my mom on my 16th birthday.  It was the guitar I spent twelve hours a day playing during high school summers.  Then in my twenties it was the heavy, delicate thing I resented dragging around from house to house when I moved because it represented a part of my life that I was still mourning a little.

I feel liberated that I was able to let go.  Fourteen years is long enough to own a guitar that I didn’t really like that much. I like it when I can be practical and not buy into the idea that guitars are a sacred extension of the body.  Or a woman’s body, the other metaphor I see floating around that grosses me out.  There are so many silly cliches about mystical connections with musical instruments.  I think the mystique contributes to the idea that there is a right type of person (male) to play the guitar and one right type of feeling about it (all-consuming, reverential.)  I like thinking about guitars as tools for making noise.  Everyone has the ability to use a tool.  This thinking is new to me because I used to buy into the mystique wholeheartedly.  It was a big part of thinking I couldn’t play music any more much less own the term “musician.”

I have never liked classical guitar music at all and am still a little surprised that I own one.  I’m taking a community college class to learn sight reading and fingerstyle playing and thought that the nylon strings would make it easier to practice playing fingerstyle without tearing the fingertips off my right hand, which were blistered and bleeding after one class on the steel string acoustic.  The nylon strings make it easy to play for as long as I want to, kind of like an electric guitar.  I practiced sight reading this morning and I can feel the new connections prickling in my brain.  I love that feeling.  I also like the way the guitar looks small and unthreatening and a little blank; I can’t tell just by looking what kind of sound will come out of it.  It’s full of possibilities.

The guitar shop dudeliness was more muted than last time around.  It sucked a little but not badly enough to get upset about.

Next week I’m going down to Santa Cruz to play with my friend who is an amazing keyboard player with a ridiculously cool homemade electric/acoustic church organ set up in his house.  I’m going to send him one of the songs I’ve written to play together.  I feel a little nervous, like I always do when I open up to someone.  I’m going to bring my electric guitar and play loud because he lives in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors to annoy.

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