Zugschwang - "a compulsion to move"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Virtuoso (not)

Musically, I was late bloomer.

Drunken Master

If memory serves me right, the first time I held a guitar was sometime in 1994-1995. I was in my 3rd-4th year in college, during a drinking session in one of my classmate's house. My friends would take turns playing the guitar, mostly Eraserhead's tunes. Boy-o-boy, How I envied them.

I waited until everybody had a higher alcohol to conciousness ratio before attempting to pick up/play the guitar. I didn't want to be ridiculed by the 'masters'. Picked up the guitar and I tried to play the open "D" major chord that I've memorized during the earlier strumfest. I heard a voice, "you are one fret off, Do it on the 2nd fret".

Aha ! Rex was still half-concious as he intermittently tutored me that night, half of the time the alcohol took him to La-la land. That was my first guitar lesson. I felt like the Jacky Chan of guitar having a drunkard as my mentor.

Beggar Man : You want me to teach you GUITAR ? (points to red nose)
Senorito_ako : Yes, Please master teach me
Beggar Man : Alright, but you have to do what I say
Senorito_ako : Yes master, anything...

The kid

I was a fast and eager learner. In 6 months time, I was strumming as well as the next guy, I was one of 'em, that was it I knew as much as they did (which wasn't much come to think of it).

After graduation, In my first work, I met a forklift operator who knew how to transpose a song from 1 key to another. He told me about 'Family of chords'. He couldn't explain it to me (or didn't want to) but he knew when to play a Major chord to a Minor one. I was intrigued.

On my 2nd work, in an IT company, I was introduced to this wonderful thing called the Internet search engine (Yahoo, Alta Vista). Yep, my 2nd mentor was the Internet. There I found out why the chord shapes are shaped as such and the basics of western music theory.

It was during that time that I got really obsessed with the guitar. I played 2 hours/day on weekdays and 7 hours/day on a weekend. I have to admit that it did help that I had good finger motor skills.

I was hungry for influences as well, I wanted to know the who's who of guitar. From Robert Johnson,Yngwie, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, John Mclaughlin to John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and almost everything in between. Name it and I've immeresed myself into their music. It was a serious hobby, I even took lessons at RJ in Robinson's galleria.

The lessons did help. It overhauled my whole playing technique. I did lose 'the feel' in exchange for better technique.

Back in manila. Despite getting some invites to form a band, I gracefully refused.. not because I didn't want to but because commuting is difficult enough add to that I've to drag a guitar plus accessories.

Cold Turkey

After watching, John Petrucci's (Rock discipline) and Paul Gilbert's (Terrifying guitar) instructional videos, instead of getting inspired the opposite occured... I was floored. I knew then that what they can do with the guitar I will almost never come near at (FYI, neither will Santana and Clapton). I didn't touch the guitar for a month, then it became half a year and then 2 years.

I wanted out and was planning to leave all of my guitar stuff in Manila. But my wife insisted that we bring them over to wellington. She said to me playing guitar was a part of my identity, part of who I am.

Then and Now..

It recently occured to me what the root of my musical frustration stems from. I'm was never a frustrated musician but rather a frustrated virtuoso (wannabe syndrome). I have come to terms with my shortcomings and limits. Nowadays I just try to enjoy playing simple tunes with my trio (currently).

What a waste though, where/when will I get to wear my leather pants and spandex tops now ?

Who knows spinal tap ? Raise your hand ! :P



  • At 3:26 AM, Blogger Jovs said…

    In the bedroom, Vin! LOL...joke lang, pagalitan pa ako ni mama sass.

  • At 9:38 AM, Blogger Senorito<- Ako said…

    Nah.. I've a different sent of costumes for that... hint... call me Officer Vin :P~~

  • At 3:54 AM, Anonymous Toe said…

    Buti nga ikaw, you're a late bloomer, and then you became frustrated. Me, I've been playing the piano since I was 4 and actually finished music in college. And only then did I realize that I'll never be a virtuoso. But still, learning and playing music still helps your over-all being and best of all, your soul.

  • At 5:08 AM, Blogger Char said…

    Oo naman alam ko yung spinal tap!!! Pare, this is SPINAL TAP!!!!!

  • At 5:10 AM, Blogger Char said…

    Oo naman alam ko yung spinal tap!!! Pare, this is SPINAL TAP!!!!!

  • At 1:34 PM, Blogger Senorito<- Ako said…

    toe -> Wow, a music major... I bet you read music scores like you do newspapers. :) I takes me 30 mins to read 1 line of music. :P Oh well.. good thing my income don't depend on it.

    Char -> Hehehehe.... you need to watch tap atleast 2x to get it. :) Probably saw it 5x na... some people read LOTR annually. Well it's spinal tap for me.

  • At 4:23 PM, Anonymous Major Tom said…

    Oh I think I had that same syndrome before, becoming obessessed at becoming a guitar virtuoso. But I just gave up on it eventually. It just infuriates me that I can't be Slash ever even if I tried my darnest...

  • At 7:57 PM, Blogger ipanema said…

    I can only strum a few chords...lol. It's my eldest who plays.

  • At 8:37 PM, Blogger Senor Enrique said…

    I think the problem here is that we tend to compare ourselves with the best of the best instead of comparing ourselves to where we were before and appreciate our progress. Not all of us can ever become a Mozart, so to speak, but let us not become an embittered Selieri, either.

    I finally learned to play the piano at a very late stage of life yet the joy it gave me was overwhelming. I was happy enough that I learned to play. As for becoming a virtuoso -- maybe in the next life.

    Just keep playing, S.A. and enjoy every minute of it. Count yourself fortunate for having learned your instrument well.

  • At 3:20 AM, Anonymous Joy said…

    Hey, remember this from The Desiderata?

    "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter. For always, there will be greater and lesser person than yourself."

    I can feel your passion while reading this post. You are a virtuoso in your own way. What matters most is the joy you find in playing your guitar.

    But who the hell are those hot guys in the picture?? Everybody here seems to have known them. Goodlord, I think I'm missing something big!

  • At 3:10 PM, Blogger Senorito<- Ako said…

    Major Tom -> Hahahaha... every waking hour is spent on thinking how to improve this and that and whatnot..

    Senor Enrique -> I'm not the 'competitive' type of person... but I do try to learn as much as I can on a particular interest with zealot like gusto ! :)

    Joy -> Those guys are not really a band.. more like comedy actors of a 'mock band' :) It's a good watch really. I had to see it 2x to get it.
    First time watching... I hated it. One of the few things that I didn't 'get' immediately.

    They've a country music mockumentary named 'A mighty wind' :)

  • At 1:15 AM, Blogger Sidney said…

    “The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.”
    -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe-

    Enjoy what you are doing at your own level.

  • At 8:08 PM, Blogger Citizen of the World said…

    Kumusta po? You havent blogged in a while. :-(

  • At 5:30 AM, Anonymous Joy said…

    Hi Vin,

    Just checkin out if you have some updates. You must be very busy.

    Wishing you and loved ones a happy Christmas. Cheers!

  • At 10:01 PM, Blogger Senor Enrique said…

    Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones, S.A.!

  • At 11:20 PM, Anonymous tutubi said…

    o yes I know spinal :)

    looks like we're almost of the same age :)

    i too know how to play the guitar but not really good at it.

    I can do many things but not really did well in most of them :(


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