I’m wondering why I woke up, yet again, in the middle of the night. Too many thoughts running around in my waking hours that when I did fall asleep, these seemingly unrelenting train of thought kept chugging on its tracks even when I am unconscious, that I had to get up and make use of the temporary solitude night always brings.
Partly, maybe, because Tony and I were chatting on Facebook and it always involves music and art, something I have always loved with those short online conversations we have been doing. Maybe, it was because my love affair with my 7-year-old Bandilla 12-string guitar is really coming to an end.
And it was heartbreaking.
All the wood that made the grade to be of musical quality. The craftsmanship it took to build the body from different species of trees. The sound it makes. The long sustained notes filling the air and lingering there like the trail end of a good perfume. The harmony of 6 strings, augmented by 6 more strings to create an ensemble of unified sound cleanly coming off from the fretboard of mahogany. The brass frets cleanly separating pitch and notes while the fingers press hard against the wood. It’s has always amazed me how something so organic, so Earthly could produce music that has been a part of humanity’s triumphs and frustrations, the love and decadence, the loneliness and joy. Truly, something you can be proud of as a human – the invention of the guitar. Or any musical instrument, for that matter. But the acoustic guitar is my own selfish indulgence.
And my own 12-string inevitable demise is one of those things that’s hard to get over.
You see, when I choose my guitar, I go for the feel. The grip of my hand on the neck. The embrace that will keep its body close to mine. The tonality of the wood itself. The sustain. You got to have sustain when you strike the strings lovingly and the sound just lifts up and stays there. Like a memory of a loved one.
Choosing and the purchase of a musical instrument is one thing. Playing it is an entirely different appreciation. Because then you will have to change the strings when you bought it. But to change the strings, you have to be sure you have it tuned. I like tuning my own guitar. Not with an electronic tuner, but by ear, or if a piano is available, but that is rare, so I go for the pipe tuner. And you listen to the songs you want to play, and try to play along. if it felt good, then you have a guitar. Choose the strings you know fit your playing and singing style.
And you make music.
All the skill. The art. The wood. The steel. The influences. The practice. The preparation. You play in harmony with your guitar and it’s like you wrote that favorite song you are now singing.
And that is going to be your feeling every time you pick up that wonderful instrument and sing the songs you want to sing. Play, however mediocre your guitar playing is, it doesn’t matter. All it matters is the song that resonates.
Hey! It’s me playing and singing!
And you and your guitar just made all those woodcutting, hours of painstaking hard work from luthier shop, and the patience of learning the chords makes it all worthwhile. And you keep playing and singing songs as long as the harmony you have with your instrument is alive, there in your heart.
But it is heartbreaking.
To see and feel that what used to make good music is at an end. The bridge just wont keep forever. Once it is broken, it will never be the same again. Obviously I’ve tried various ways of keeping the guitar in its form, but the initial break taught me to accept the fact that we will never make music like we used to.
And I am heartbroken.
And I don’t have the heart to throw away a part of me. A part of Big Momma Earth tha grew from the soil and once held its own ecological balance of life forms in its branches and leaves.
Dale Custodio sent me a link for a documentary, Musicwood and while I enjoyed a very interesting look on trees and the guitar industry, It made me feel a lot worse seeing my guitar not being able to make good music anymore.
The worst part is, I have been thinking about the cacophony that has appeared at my workplace , somewhat blindsided me, or maybe it was not me alone who feel this kind of noise, but it is me who heard it like a badly tuned tuba.
I loved that team.
Heck. we made good music with Photoshop and After Effects and Metra and Final Cut Pro.
Man, we were rocking! A group of individuals, from different ways of life, of different skill sets and training, creating beautiful graphics for the news. I still think we are the rock stars of that tv network. The things these kids can make with a computer, it has always amazed me that I could be part of that symphony. It like magic, really.
But even wizards lose their touch.
And an acoustic guitar loses its spirit at the first break. It will not sound the same.
I can do so much to do repairs and think of my own solutions, but in the end, it will not sound the way it used to. A more expensive set of strings is never the answer for a guitar with a broken bridge. because the cracks are on the inside. I had it repaired by a very qualified and skillful guitar tech, but all the same . . . .
It will not sound the way it used to.
So I have to let it go. maybe I’ll look around for a new guitar, but not just now. it’s not like your dog died, so you replace it with another that looks like the last one.
I’ll keep her remains. Probably take down the strings this weekend. But tomorrow, I go out and see if there’s another place I could play good music. Maybe a group of people I could be harmonious with again.
But until then, I am heartbroken.