December Pieces Of My Mind #2

A guitar on its own won’t get you very far. This gear belongs to Dango of the Truckfighters.

  • I wonder how many people call in a repair person or even buy a new dishwasher because they don’t know to refill the machine with salt and rinse aid.
  • The expression “I stood there dancing” is a contradiction in terms.
  • My daughter thinks I have a funny way of choosing movies to watch. I never go to a streaming site and check what’s on at the moment. I’m completely driven by my watch list at IMDB, and I will move down it until I find a film that’s available.
  • December 16 was my seventeenth anniversary as a blogger! Thousands of entries…
  • Since 1986, we’ve found one Bronze Age hoard in the Lakes Mälaren and Hjälmaren area of Sweden. It consists of three objects. The new Kaliska I hoard from NW Poland is 124 objects, many of which were made by Scandinavian craftspeople.
  • Movie: Druk / Another Round (2020). Four high school teachers have a shared mid-life crisis and start experimenting with staying drunk all day at work. Things eventually fall apart. Grade: OK. Probably makes more sense if alcohol has been a big thing to you at some point.
  • Cooked pea soup with onions, salted pork, marjoram, optional cloves. Rundkvist ladies happy.
  • I don’t like eating pig’s trotters. But a sound principle that I have followed unwaveringly throughout my life is this. Only ever marry women who really like eating pig’s trotters.
  • We lived in the US from ’76 to ’78 pretty much because my dad was in Mad Men ten years after Mad Men. He got a job at an actual advertising agency on actual Madison Avenue, Young & Rubicam.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

14 thoughts on “December Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. That gear is nothing compared to what Eddie van Halen used to do. He would buy a brand new guitar, tear it to bits and rebuild it with all kinds of different stuff. And he would paint the body in fancy abstract designs while he was doing it, I guess maybe to show off that he had rebuilt the thing, or maybe he just wanted better looking guitars. A lot of the solid body guitars look pretty shit to me. He once gave a very long TV interview in which he explained and demonstrated all of the things he would do to a guitar and what he would feed the sound through to get the sounds that he wanted, and it was mind boggling. He was a hyperactive little bugger and couldn’t stop fiddling with things to try to get new sounds and effects – a pioneer in rock music, really. If you compare his playing to Angus Young of AC/DC, it’s no contest – Eddie was better, no question, although they both had their own styles. They hated the sight of each other, BTW, but now I’m just gossiping.

    Andrés Segovia said that the classical guitar (to which you could add the Flamenco guitar, although the two are built very differently internally and from different woods, and the face of the Flamenco guitar is protected by ‘scratch plates’ (not a good description – you don’t scratch it, you thump it with the end of your finger – the purpose of the protective plate is to prevent you from thumping a hole through the face of the guitar, or just cracking the wood with repeated thumping – I shouldn’t say thump, I should say “golpé”, but I don’t know how many people would know what that means, and the protective plate should be called a “golpeador”)) and the modern electric guitar, with all of its bits and pieces, distortion and special effects, are not the same instrument, they are two completely different instruments. No, not completely different – they both have six strings (except for Keith Richards, who only strings his guitars with five strings), and they have frets in the same positions on the finger board – things like that. But they are really very different in many other ways, enough to say they belong in different classes of instrument.

    I used to think Segovia was wrong about that (he was prejudiced against “those noisy Gypsies” and I disagree with him about a lot of things), but I have come around to thinking that, not only was he right, but to that you should add that the steel stringed acoustic guitar is a different instrument to classical and Flamenco guitars as well, because in the former the neck is much narrower and, as with electric guitars, the player curls his hand around the neck so that his/her/zi/zher/xyk/goo thumb sticks up above the upper side of the neck. You can’t do that with a classical or Flamenco guitar and you shouldn’t try because the neck is too wide, and because it is incorrect technique – the thumb should be pressed against the back of the neck, and invisible to someone viewing it from the front of the guitar. (Segovia also said that at first he learned to play from Flamenco guitarists, but that they “taught me to play the wrong way” – well, no – they were teaching him to play Flamenco, not classical music. Some Flamenco guitarists can play classical music well, but I would guess that most can’t, and I have never seen a classical guitarist who can play Flamenco properly, if I exclude the occasional unusual person like Pepe Romero, who can play both because he has been trained in both, and changes his technique and uses a different instrument to suit what he is playing – but he is one of the “Romero Dynasty”, one of a long line of classical and Flamenco guitarists.” I definitely exclude arrogant pricks like Julian Bream who says things like “This is *my* way of playing a rasgueado.” Well, Mr Bream, you can call it whatever you like, but that is not any kind of rasgueado, and you have just ripped off all of your fingernails in the process.)

    I have tried to learn to play the guitar part of the Fleetwood Mac song “Rhiannon” the way that Lindsey Buckingham played it, and I can get most of it, but what I can’t get is that he played the bass F note on the sixth string by pressing his thumb on the string at the first fret, while his other fingers were playing other notes on the treble strings at the same time. I just can’t do that, at least not very well, because the neck of my guitar is too wide to accommodate it, and I won’t do it because it is poor technique. And it is actually unnecessary – you can just play an F power chord at the first position, and because you are finger picking rather than using a plectrum, you can just miss out the strings you don’t want to sound. Why Buckingham did not play it that way I have no idea, but he never had any formal tuition in music, so maybe it just never occurred to him, or maybe it was just a habit he developed. A lot of rock guitarists play notes on the sixth string with their thumbs. I shouldn’t say a lot – some do, that I have noticed. For a classical or Flamenco guitarist that is just wrong wrong wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For many playing notes on the low string with the thumb is easier. No reason not to do it either except tradition. I once saw Al DiMeola in concert: one classical guitar the whole time, every note played with a pick. O tempora! O mores! There was a time when it was considered wrong to use one’s thumbs when playing a keyboard.


      1. But Al Di Meola was not playing classical music, was he? You don’t play classical guitar with a pick, and I hope no one ever does. He must have been playing jazz, surely, and improvised jazz. Then there are no rules, and if you can play something amazing, go for it. Hell, Django Reinhardt played with only the index and middle fingers on his left (fingerboard) hand because his ring and little fingers had been so badly injured in a fire that they were unusable, and he was brilliant enough to invent what was called “gypsy jazz” (he was half Romani and grew up living in Romani encampments, hence the fire).

        But if you play classical, and if you play Flamenco, there are rules about technique that must be followed. Paco de Lucia extended the repertoire and introduced new elements into Flamenco, and ended up with something that most people were willing to call New Flamenco and regard that as the modern standard.

        But even when Paco was playing in his collaborations with John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola and Larry Coryell, although he extended the repertoire of Flamenco to encompass elements of jazz, and although he learned how to improvise (a process he definitely did not enjoy – he said it made his head and his back ache), he adhered strictly to what is now regarded as correct Flamenco technique.

        I’m drawing a distinction between repertoire and style on the one hand, to include improvisation, and playing technique on the other. If you stray away from correct Flamenco technique, then what you play will not sound like Flamenco, it will sound like something else, just like classical guitar played with a pick would not sound like authentic classical music.

        The bare bones of Flamenco are a man or woman, a guitar strung with nylon (originally animal gut) strings, and his/her fingers. And nothing else except palmas (people clapping the rhythm) and the dancers stamping the rhythm. And the technique must be correct, and the style must be within one of the Flamenco compas, or it is not Flamenco. Maybe it’s great, like Paco playing with Di Meola and McLaughlin, but it’s not Flamenco. The first time I heard one of their recordings as a trio I was thrilled, it was so brilliant I couldn’t get over it, but I knew that it was not Flamenco.


      2. Yep, I took you as saying that, because I think you know pretty much everything guitar except for a lot about Flamenco, because that is just so alien, deep and completely different to anything else that it frankly has taken me a very long time to get to where I am, I mean just studying it, not playing it, and unless you love it, it’s just not worth the effort to learn all of this weird, alien mixed Arabic/Gypsy/Castilian folk music (and maybe other influences because of the geographical position it is in) that all coalesced into Flamenco. And once you know enough about it, then you can start the painful discipline of learning to play it.

        And it is painful. This didn’t occur to me until my online teacher talked about it: when you pluck the strings, you are using muscles on the inside of your forearm. You can go through the motions of doing it and you can feel those muscles in your forearm move. But when you play rasgueados, you are flicking your fingers outwards and playing the strings with the outside of your fingernails, so you are using muscles on the *outside* of your forearm, which are not developed when you first start to play rasgueados, so you have to practise them over and over to strengthen the muscles you need to play them, and that is as physically painful as strengthening any muscle to the level that you need to. It’s tiring, and it hurts, but you have to respect the tradition and the intangible cultural heritage and do it the right way, because otherwise you are fucking with the national culture of someone else’s country, and that’s not a good thing to do, on ethical grounds.


  2. I’ve never been a fan of guitar effect pedals – even back in my teenage punk years, I had a Boss Overdrive, nothing more. (Well, an amplifier too, of course.) And I started to question the need for pedals even then.

    Nowadays, I don’t even need an amplifier… OK, I have an electric guitar that I sometimes play without amplifier, but mostly I stick to my steel acoustic ones with built-in microphones. Sound great without amplification, sound great over a PA system as well. And I like that the playing becomes a bit more “al dente” than for an electric guitar, you have to use a bit more force for those standard licks…

    So I disagree, a guitar on its own can get you quite far. It’s all in your fingers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Guitar effects are genre specific, though. No matter what’s in your fingers, you can’t play doom metal on a miked nylon acoustic without effects. It’s like playing brass band jazz on ukuleles and Jew’s harps.


      1. I really like “played in the style of”, probably because it lets one focus on the actual music, as opposed to sound, effects, etc. One example are songs played in the style of someone else, e.g.

        There are many “A as if it were written by B” videos on YouTube. Most of them are good.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Another example: Iron Maiden on classical guitar:

        Of course, apart from the drums, they have three guitars (for the last 20 years or so), bass, and vocals, so one can’t do a one-to-one transcription. But this guy does a good job. Everything he plays is somewhere in the original song.

        Once he came out with his version of an Iron Maiden song only a day or two after it had been released.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Of course it will not sound the same – but it’s perfectly possible to play heavy music on acoustic instruments without losing the heaviness.

        For example, I’ve once arranged Slayer’s “South of Heaven” for acoustic 12-string, violin and cow drum, and I can guarantee that it did NOT sound weak in comparison to the original. Of course, you have to play it in a proper way, attacking the strings harder than you would for an electric with an array of effect pedals. And no, it will not sound like an electric with effects – but it can still sound heavy, even heavier. (A 12-string can sound pretty distorted in itself, depending on how you play it.)

        In a group that I used to be in, with similar instrumentation (including a second violin, vocals and percussion), we sometimes played “Iron man” as an encore. And it was as no less heavy than the Sabbath original. (According to us, AND the audience.)

        Of course, I wouldn’t dream of calling the result of the two examples above “metal”; it became something else, but it worked. (And my fingers bled.)

        So, to be precise, it’s not ALL in your fingers – it’s in your attitude as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve owned dishwashers for over forty years now. None of them has ever needed salt and rinse aid. Have I just been lucky? Should I have called a repair guy? Is this a Swedish thing?

    You can stand there and dance. The idea is that you are staying in one place while dancing. A 1960s go go dancer would stand and dance. I was too young for club life in the 1960s, but a friend of mine wanted a go go dancer at her wedding, so she hired one to stand and dance. She didn’t have a gilded cage, but she stayed on her platform. You can also sit there and dance, just move your feet and arms in time to the music. Wasn’t there some kind of numa numa dance that went viral ages ago? It involved some guy dancing while sitting in his chair. Mind you, dancing isn’t something I can do, because I can’t follow musical rhythm.

    The pea soup sounds good. The Romans thought that a good pea soup would keep the strix from eating you from the inside out.

    Definitely go for women who like to eat pig’s feet. Bessie Smith was famous for her rendition of Gimme a Pig Foot and a Bottle of Beer. What a woman! Pig’s feet can be frustrating since there are all those little bones, and some people are grossed out by the collagen textures. I and my unindicted co-conspirator are both big fans of pig’s feet. We made our usual cassoulet for Christmas, and pig’s feet played a prominent role.

    Liked by 1 person

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