Patterns on the Subject of the Guitar

I’ve finally have a handle on a few things guitar related. Again, I’ve teaching myself the instrument. The result: I can play a few classical pieces at the level of a third grade Spanish language lesson, like programming a hello world set of commands or a simple calculator with basic operators. I can play the notes but not the music, which is the goal. I also have a handle on some Celtic rhythms and styles, like reels.

The handles are specific to 1) Travis picking and 2) strumming, all of which demand not just the fingering and wristing of patterns but learning to hear them in relation to the body parts.

I’m pressing on the notion of 8 beats per bar as a common grammar. In strumming, certain beats of the eight beat bar are simply silenced, while in Travis picking, the same thing can happen, but syncopated. Over and over and over again until things start to hurt.

The common grammar can explain different styles of music and the role of the instrument in music: in classical guitar and modern rock, the guitar is central, and the player is a “guitar hero.” In strumming, generally speaking, we have the guitar player as “role player.” The classic guitar player as Romantic hero.