Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Two Flies, a Businessman, and a Drum


The E string can also be “played” by pressing it with a finger of the left hand against a fret anywhere along the neck, or against the wood between frets. I achieved the best results while holding down the other strings with my right hand. Pressing the string against the third fret just above the sound hole, I can make it sound like the buzzing of an obnoxious fly. And pressing it against the same fret, but ever so slightly toward the sound hole, I can make it sound like two flies. The buzzing of the second fly is a little higher in pitch than the buzzing of the first. It also reminds me of bees buzzing in the distance on a warm spring day, when, although you might not see them, there are so many of the creatures active that the air itself seems to hum.

Do flies and bees buzz at different pitches because they are stronger and weaker, younger and older, and move their wings at different speeds? Do they hear themselves buzzing? What happens to the sound of a human voice when it enters a cloud of gnats? What happens to the gnats?

Meanwhile, I should have known: the E string speaks a different language when the other strings are held down. It’s more sensible, like a businessman in a dark-gray suit. It wants its shoes shined. It needs a glass of lemonade.

With the strings held in place, the back of the guitar makes a fairly expressive drum. As soon as I tried it, the fingers knew what to do. Popping, thumping, dragging, whisking — after twenty minutes, it was all I could do to get them to stop. With a little practice, I’ll be able to mimic a horse’s gallop, and the sound of a door being shut followed by footsteps dying away. Don’t leave, the guitar will say, grieving to the last beat of its heart.


Update:
In the Forum: the that that broke the camel’s back.

6 comments:

brian (baj) salchert said...

This isn't the place for this, but in an e-mail to me Neil said the cover design om my chapbook was done by someone else.

You and that guitar appear to be extensions of each other.

William Michaelian said...

And yet it seems innocent enough when it’s sitting there in the corner.

That’s odd about your chapbook. Did Neil say who did it?

brian (baj) salchert said...

No he didn't. There's a good chance he may not know.

Wish the revving melody which keeps welling up from my un/sub conscious were as innocent. It may be simply a manifestation of my anxieties, but it seems like a demon from hell. I can block it out with other thoughts or other melodies, but eventually there it is: a background of sound that messes with my breathing/ to say nothing of my sanity. Makes me wonder how someone like Franz Schubert could write over 600 songs without going bonkers.

William Michaelian said...

That’s probably why he wrote them — to keep from going bonkers. Maybe you should try writing it down or recording it somehow. Unless for some reason you don’t want to give in to its demands.

Chrees said...

So two flies, a businessman, and a drum walk into a bar...

I'm waiting for "I'm beat" to factor in the punchline...

William Michaelian said...

That’s what the businessman says right after the swat team arrives.