Friday, January 30, 2009


Music: not-unlike witchcraft

Music is a mystery to me. People devote their lives to it. Students write dissertations and spend years researching it. Livings are made by people who perform it. Every culture has it. It exists as an entity, not a concept or idea. I'm also fascinated by it. I've been around music and musical things for a large part of my life. From the ages of 10 to 17 I participated in musical theatre regularly as well as band and choir. Somehow I managed to make it through 7 years of music without actually learning anything about it.

Since I started practicing the guitar I've started to learn about music. I mean really learn about it. I don't want to just know a few chords and have that be that -- I want to understand how music comes together. I want understand why one group of five notes sounds good together while another group of fives notes doesn't. I want to understand what it means to play a "perfect fifth" and to be able to know what notes are complimentary. I want to understand what the frequencies are doing, how the air is moving and how everything interacts, creating the sounds we become so obsessed with.

I'm always impressed by people who understand music. To some people it comes naturally. There are people who can play it and read it and understand it and hear a tone and tell me what note it is and if it's flat or sharp. I can't do that; I've never been able to do that. If I hear a note I can't tell if it's a C or an E#. If it's played around other notes I can begin to get an idea. Maybe. On a good day. Music is such an integral part of our culture -- of every culture -- that it feels criminal to not understand it.

I know it's impossible to become an expert in music by reading a book or two. It takes years and years of practice and lessons and experience to be able to understand music on such a level.

I need to learn the language

I'm not hoping to become a professor of music, just somewhat knowledgeable. When it comes to music I feel like a toddler looking at a college chemistry. There's information there -- I know there's information in those pages -- I just can't read or understand it. And I want to.


Becky said...

I have felt that way as well. I even took a class in college on basic music stuff (like how to tell what key something is in) but sadly it didn't stick with me and I'm still pretty clueless. Although, while I too can't tell you if a note is a C or E#, I do know that E# would actually be an F. That's about all I know.

Tim said...

Wouldn't an E# be an F♭?

Alisha said...

F flat would in turn be E

there is not a half step between E and F
Also, there is not a half step between B and C so a B# is a C and a C flat (which is more common to see than one would think) is a B.

The way it's written also depends on the key.