Rhythm, Harmony, Melody: The Musical Score of Life

Deutsch: Plektrum an Gitarre English: Plectrum...
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Over the weekend, I had a reunion with the me of long ago. Having my room mate from 1966-68 bring his guitar to Goose Creek last week end, I realized how music had been the air we breathed back then. It came so naturally.

And so it was both sad to realize how much we’d forgotten and encouraging to discover we could still find the right key eventually, know when a certain cord of “Here, There, and Everywhere” wasn’t exactly right, and ultimately get it right. Ah, the feeling of finding the lost chord!

Even though I’d recovered my ability to use my left hand for guitar playing after last year’s surgery, I frankly had not really picked the guitar up much to take advantage of skills and pleasures I might use again. It had been so many years since I last played that I had put the strings on the wrong pegs on my 40 year old classical. Mike had put his guitar aside too for the past 25 years, and only recently poured his energies back into music with much enthusiasm and joy.

So after a few days filled with music, I think about the bitter and the sweet of struggling my way up the learning curve.  I never learned guitar beyond playing by ear and with a flat pick. My hands are pretty lousy at best, and then I probably have right hand surgery coming up this fall that would wipe clean for months any skills my ear or fingers might gain before then. And I really ought to get a steel string standard guitar, and case, and tuner, and….

We played some music here at the house Saturday night with a small group of folks. It certainly was not a performance–just a chance to have fun in a forgiving atmosphere with verse fragments of a lot of songs we half remembered. “Country Roads!” somebody would call out, and from deep memory would arise the chords, the lyrics, the melodies and the memories of gathered lives lived across the planet, brought together by the music of our youth.

Here are a couple of bookmarks my roomie shared with me I’ll be coming back to, and that you might enjoy and use in your own musical renaissance. It’s NOT too late! So should I spring for the iPhone Ultimate Guitar Tool now?

Ultimate Guitar Tabs: let’s you change the key, the tempo, etc. Pretty nifty.


Tommy Immanuel Beatles Medley: OMG. How is it possible to get so much music out of two hands and five strings!

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. There is nothing like good friends, good memories, good music, good drinks, good food, all together, on a good night, is there, Fred??

    I hope you have many more of such !!


    (yes, i am still reading your website), after how many years??!!