Raised by Badgers

Not antisocial; selectively gregarious.

Heads Up

Just to let y’all know, comment moderation is enabled by default. If you make a comment and don’t see it right away, please be patient; it may take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours for me to get to it.

If this turns out to be too big a hassle for people, I may disable comment moderation, but for now I’m letting it stand. If nothing else, it should discourage the inevitable spammers.

Learning Music

Here’s a template for a conversation so common it would be hard to say how many times I’ve participated in it.

“I don’t play anything, but I want to learn [insert name of specific musical instrument here].”

Um. OK.  Chances are you really want to learn how to make music, using [specific instrument] as your preferred tool.

“Unfortunately, I’m tone deaf.”

You almost certainly are not. Very few people are. You just don’t recognize the different tones that make up any given piece of music, or you do recognize them at some intuitive level but you don’t know what they’re called and what the relationships between them are. That’s because nobody ever showed you in a way that you could make any sense of. That’s a limitation you can overcome, ideally with some help.

“But it’s all so technical!”

Yes and no.

Yes, it can mutate into a mind-bendingly technical exercise, and *cough* some people *cough* <avoids  mirror> can turn a discussion of the simplest ditties into hours of eye-glazing quasi-intellectual wankery. But that’s just for giggles; we don’t have to do it.

Because no, the basic concepts, while technical, aren’t all that technical.

Can you count to four? Congratulations; that’s the main tool you’ll need for grasping the basics of rhythm.

Can you count to six? Cool; you’ve got the prerequisite knowledge for getting into some pretty hairy rhythms.

Can you count to eight? Excellent; the diatonic scale (think ‘Do-re-mi’, or more Anglo-phonetically ‘Doe-ray-me’) and all its variations are yours to master.  Seriously: If you can sing the Do-re-mi song, you’re halfway there.

Let’s take this all the way over the top: Can you count to thirteen? Beautiful. Now we’re getting into jazz and classical territory.

“But I couldn’t possibly learn to make sense of all those lines and squiggles!”

If you’re dyslexic to the point of de facto disability, then we’ve just taken a giant leap beyond my zone of competence and I’d refer you to a professional specialist. (But see below.)

Otherwise, if you’re reading this, you can read English. If you can read English you can read music, because musical notation, in its essential structure and grammar, is an order of magnitude simpler than English.

Also, the ability to read music is not a prerequisite for learning to make music, any more than the ability to read human language is required before one can make up, embellish, tell, or repeat stories. (Reference: Any random 3-year-old human.) I still emphasize reading music because it makes so many great things so much more accessible, but you don’t have to know it from the get-go.

Don’t get me started on tablature, though. That’s a big red button labeled ‘RANT!’. (Executive summary of rant: Tablature, as a tool, is potentially useful within a narrow range of applications. Beyond that range, it’s evil.)

What goes here

The content of this blog will consist mostly of posts that would make people’s eyes glaze over and/or earn a ‘TL;DR’ tag if I posted them on the Book of Faces. Topics will most likely fall into one or more of these categories, in no particular order of probability:

  • Music: Particularly DIY music on acoustic instruments. I play a pretty fair cross-section of those, and a few electric ones into the bargain, and am quick to recommend that anyone with the slightest inclination learn to play at least one.
  • Photography: Analog and digital. Given the choice and the time, I prefer the former, but the latter is also a legitimate art form and is far more convenient. (Provided our technological infrastructure remains intact. That’s another axe I like to grind occasionally.)
  • Guns: I own them. I shoot them. I review them. I have strong opinions regarding any legislation or regulation that touches on my right to do all of the above. I do not, as a rule, spend a great deal of time or energy expressing those opinions, and I see little point in debating them with people who disagree.
  • Knives: Arguably humanity’s second-oldest tool after the hammer. Notice I said tool. Yes, they can be used as weapons, but I very much dislike the idea of doing so. Remember what the first category of post in this list was? Yeah. I’m really attached to my fingers, and would prefer to remain so. Secondly, as a knifemaker friend of mine once said: The ‘winner’ of a knife fight is the one who dies second. That having been said, it’s fascinating that such a simple theme as the knife gives rise to virtually infinite variations.
  • Current events and social trends: Infrequently, and with due caution. Both of these slop over too easily into politics (and religion, assuming for the sake of argument that there’s a clearly defined difference). Of course I have political opinions, but because they don’t reduce to a convenient set of slogans I seldom express them outside the metaphorical voting booth.
  • Crafts and skills: Everything from computer programming to flintknapping; basically, whatever catches my eye. That covers a lot of territory, thanks to a notorious (lack of) attention span.
  • Outdoor activities: Especially sailing, rowing, kayaking, and cycling.
  • Critters: In general. The world is full of ’em.
  • Cats: After all, this is the internet.

Finally, anything else that occurs to me and seems worth posting is likely to wind up here.

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