Ravenna Flamenco


el arte de la guitarra

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How Do I Work This?

posted in practice on august 1st, 2006

I have an admission to make: I have no idea how to start this thing off. True, I do feel a bit better having gotten that off my chest, but here I am, still, at square one. Here – look at this:

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Yes, astute reader, that is The Talking Heads (Once in a Lifetime). And for reasons I can’t even begin to explain (to either one of us, really), it captures something about my pursuit of flamenco – and about my deciding to write about it. Here’s how it is: I’ve reached a point in my playing where I’m beginning to play for and with other flamenco enthusiasts. But, unlike the rock and blues I’ve grown up with – and played in turn – I have no idea how this is all really supposed to work. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve listened; I’ve studied. I know how the notes fit together. But there’s something more to flamenco than just fitting notes together.

In fact, it’s foreign territory in as many ways as you might care to describe it. Personally, I would value, at this point in my musicianship, an account of how one finds flamenco as a westerner (and by this I mean one steeped in western music – i.e. jazz, rock, pop, country [if you’re into that sort of thing]) – particularly as a westerner in the US. So this is what I propose here: a running account of my transition from playing alone at home (with myself, as it were) to working with – perhaps one day performing with – other flamencos. Do I have any idea where this pursuit will lead? No, not a one. But if you’re willing to follow along, I’ll share it with you.

Wait: Andy, you ask, what does any of this have to do with The Talking Heads? I could probably answer that – a little deconstruction here, a bit of psychoanalysis there, but where’s the fun in that? There’s perhaps something elegant in the juxtaposition, in the dissonance, a bit of non sequitur for your morning. Like explaining a good joke, I don’t want to kill that.

I might, however, be clearer in the future.

A.

tags: philosophy, personal
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