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Monday, March 25, 2013
It’s funny what you remember.
Until last February, I had not read music since I was a kid, laboring over my clarinet lessons. I gave up the clarinet for the electric bass about 1972 and never looked back.
Since then, I have worked from memory, instinct, yelled-out chord names, often misheard (the letters “G,” “B,” “D,” “C” and “E” all sound remarkably alike), occasional chord charts and numbers.
Yes, numbers: as every guitar player knows, 1, 4, 5, which refers to the position of notes in a generic scale, is the numerical formula for thousands of rock and pop tunes.
Then a year ago, I bought an old clarinet and some sheet music. I don’t know why.
But it was stunning how my fingers knew just where to go as I stared at all those dots again. Forty years!
Perhaps we forget last what we learned first (though I sure don’t remember many of those state capitals I memorized back in the third grade. Or was it the fifth?).
My second revelation was that it’s nice to be told exactly what to play sometimes, by a master who wrote it all down, note by note.
In a way, it’s even easier — though I do wish they’d lay off all those sharps and flats.
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