Monday, December 10, 2007
A Little Knowledge ...
A little knowledge, they say, is a dangerous thing. And yet, sometimes, a little knowledge is certainly better than none.
I have, for the last few years, been paying more attention to learning how to play the guitar than I did in the previous three decades when the cased instrument leaned on the wall next to the file cabinet gathering dust.
I can't claim to have learned much -- I can do a few simple tunes -- but I did realize yesterday that I have picked up some things.
In my collection of sheet music, there are songs I got along the way that I couldn't play when I got them. I didn't have the wherewithal to even know what the chords looked like without a chord book, much less be able to get my fingers to go where they were supposed to go.
I can play a version of "Hey, Jude," which song I love enough to have named a dog after it.
And while "Layla" -- another dog song -- has a fairly simple chord progression, the best-sounding version of it I have is in the key of Dm, and I could never manage that with the cowboy chords (those being the ones you need to play the songs by a singing cowboy like Gene Autry, mostly first-position fingerings.)
Barre chords are both harder and easier -- harder to do on a classical guitar physically, but once you learn them, you can move up or down the neck and make other chords using the same shape, owing to that nice little musical progression thing -- an A-minor moved up a couple frets makes a B-minor, moved down, a G-minor.
So when I look at the Derek and the Dominos song "Layla," (actually Eric Clapton and Duane Allman doing the guitars) and see that there's a D-sharp-minor, a C-sharp, and some B-flats and C-sharp-minors, I actually know where those are and can form them.
I realize there are nine-year-old kids who can play better than I, but it's a revelation to me anyhow, given as how I never thought I'd live to see the day I could do that ...