Guide by the Perplexed — More Inconvenience


“It seems I am choosing words that will stand,
and you are in them,
but if I blunder, it doesn’t matter —
I must persist in my errors.

(Boris Pasternak, “For Anna Akmatova,” translated by Robert Lowell in “Imitations”)

The bond between finger and fret is of a piece with that between rubber and road; each is the juncture of a dawning — whether of music or locomotion.

A flaw in the premise that fretboard insight underpins superior guitarmanship raises its head: It’s the inconvenient comparison of guitar playing with race car driving. I invent this implausible analogy, before you do, in order to prick it.

Must I handle my guitar like Sharon Isbin for my rendition of “Bird on the Wire”? Or my car like Danica Patrick for my commute to Flatonia? The obvious answer is, No; mine is, It would be nice. Never let the obvious be enemy of the egregious.

So let’s proceed.

The flaw with Octave-of-Preceding (OOP) treated in previous chapters is that the adjacencies engender unisons, not octaves, as follows:

6-5A == 5-0A (6-0E —> 5-0A is a Perfect Fifth, or 7 semis)
5-5D == 4-0D (5-0A —> 4-0D ditto)
4-5G == 3-0G (4-0D —> 3-0G ditto)
3-4B == 2-0B (3-0G —> 2-0B is a Major Third, or 4 semis)
2-5E == 1-0E (2-0B —> 1-0E is a Perfect Fifth, or 7 semis — again)

That an earlier issue of the Guide misspoke itself vis-à-vis OOP is of little consequence. Renaming it to “Unison-of-Preceding” would make for not only a blurtive acronym but also unmusicological consistency. Try to find in the literature, for example, a retainable explication of the Major Third anomaly in guitar tuning.

There you have it. Time to take a modal dive — coming next.

(c) 2019 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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