alternate tuning

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    Something in the day lead me to a poem rather than an essay. I’m less confident in my poetry, but it is what I have to offer.

    Alternate Tuning

    I’m confused.

    I don’t understand.

    I’ve played guitar a long time.

    But tonight, I’m trying something new.


    I press the string against the neck for a

    G, but the note that sounds is B.

    My fingers go where they have always gone,

    Only to find notes they don’t know:

    My guitar has learned a foreign language.


    My hands know the chords in English, I guess —

    But my instrument now converses in

    Farsi, French, Urdu — Arabic?

    I am a beginner again,

    Trying to recognize an old friend

    Who has reinvented himself.


    I recognize the shape,

    The way the curve fits under my arm,

    But I don’t understand what he is saying.

    I stumble through the dictionary

    Of chord shapes, looking for something

    I recognize: a meaningful translation,


    Looking for a way to not feel so stupid.

    I could retune the strings back to the notes I know,

    We could go back to the same old chords,

    But I think I would always hear

    The trace of an accent in the strings.


    So I try again, forcing my

    Fingers to find the notes in new

    Places, to let my guitar lead

    Me to a new melody.

    Peace,
    Milton

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    5 COMMENTS

    1. Wow- what a great way to share where you are. This is very evocative, and I really enjoyed it, and in a small way, resonated with it (I don’t have a musical bone in my body, but the imagery still rang true).

      I love the idea of an instrument with an accent!

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    2. Morning commute today: “And if the band you’re in/starts playing different tunes…” Pink Floyd. How appropriate and synchronicit-ish and all that.

      I have a high-mileage little ebay special at home currently tuned something like E B E B G#(broken string). Keith Richards used something like that to get what he called “happy accidents”.

      I can relate. Or hum along, whatever!

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