tonight i am tuning my guitar. that’s my goal, and the goal underlying that is that i want to better myself as a musician, and the goal underlying that is that i want to be a better person, and the goal underlying that is that i’ll feel better, and the goal underlying that is that the better i feel, the better i will be able to offer my gift to the world. and my gift is the same as everyone else’s gift when it comes down to it: to let our light shine.
so tonight i am tuning my guitar. tonight i am dealing with the ridiculous yet firm belief that i cannot actually do it. that it is a physical and mental and emotional impossibility in my current state of human being to tune a guitar. tonight i have gone through (not all the way, we’re still going) so many depths of awareness and “stories of my life” that it’s mind-boggling. so many “separate” struggles encompassed so eloquently in this one task. and this one task, as i am finding out, represents that i have built a dream on a shitty foundation, and have spent half of my lifetime setting myself up for humiliation and ridicule (not that it would actually come from anybody...but i fear it all the same) and stunting any kind of musical growth with this childish ball and chain of “i’ve never had any sort of musical training or lessons...i don’t know shit about music theory....i don’t even have my strings memorized,” like that’s a good thing... and not even that it’s a good thing but more the only thing i've got.
it’s like, oh it’s totally like that person’s name that you can’t remember (ever) and it’s super embarrassing and they can never know, and no matter what kinds of interactions you have, you can’t really get anywhere because you’ve got this big deep dark secret you’re trying desperately to hide... and you just can’t really pay attention. i am beyond embarrassed about the fact that i if you put me on stage with an out of tune guitar i will panic, and truly not be able to fix the problem. chances are better that i will instead inherently fall back on the “hey everybody, look what i can do despite the fact that i’m a moron. isn’t it cute?”
so, the story goes: i panicked because the battery in my pick-up died, therefore disabling my tuner (that i thank god for every day). totally panicked. and then made a stand to calmly began the journey. i believed for so long that it was waste of time to actually learn how to tune when we have machines to rely on now, to precise degrees. i wanted to record damn it! i wanted it to sound good! now! and only when it became quite clear that really the only way i was going to be able to record (or even move in that direction, and therefore get closer to that ultimate goal of feeling good and letting my light shine...) was to calm the fuck down, take some deep breaths and begin baby talking myself through it. i’m a smart person. i make music. i rely on notes to illustrate my stories. i can’t sing off key if i try (unless i’m terrified... or dive off knowingly into uncharted waters... but my voice will close off as soon as i realize the blunder--SAVE THE DIGNITY!!!) anyway, point being that i know a good note when i hear one!!!!!!! it’s my language. and yet i have a firm voice in my head that’s been telling me for fourteen years that i can’t tune a guitar.
the notes are there. and i swam through an infinite ocean of ways to find them. and what i came up with was a big complex system of checks and balances. i tune my ukulele (that’s a whole other story....) by chords. i play a chord until it sounds right, then check other chords and adjust until everyone is happy. good? good. and then i thought it mighty brilliant (and supportive...as that’s been my word for the last few days) to use my voice as the bridge between notes from the strings. i know what i want to hear next but then just can’t decipher if what i do hear is too high or too low (“there’s supposed to be a bridge around here somewhere....we must be too far north.....or too far south.” yeah, “some guide.” :) so i would sing the note i felt (with more than just ears) needed to come next and then adjust the string to it. right? switching my reliance to the thing i desire to feel most strongly about? i consciously checked back in with the quick 5th/7th fret run through, and though not perfect, it came out reasonably enough. and another lesson, again, to step back and go by the whole, instead of the micro lens difference between two things (especially when even this is a system among many components).
go by what you know. i know when a whole chord doesn’t sound right and even i can admit that i’ve got an inkling about which string it is, and if not at least a little gut feeling about the only two directional choices available, a newfound willingness to at least try one of them, knowing that if it isn’t right, then, well, i go the other. and back and forth and back and forth ‘til the cows come home if i have to, ‘cause it’s there. it’s there. it’s just a matter of stopping at the right place and time.
newfound guitar tuner