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Strumming in Rainy Arizona

After a long boring plane trip Monday afternoon, Sara's parents met us at the airport, fed us some snacks, then sent us off to sleep.

Wednesday and Thursday night we went with Sara's dad to a couple music events: the weekly Encanto Park meeting on Wednesday, and then an open mic at "Fiddler's Dream" on Thursday. As expected, performances were a little uneven, but some were very good, and most were fun regardless.

I have a so-so ear: I've practiced just enough to get myself to the point where I can understand a simple melody (where by "understand", I mean, not necessarily know what all the notes are--that would take perfect pitch--but at least know them all relative to each other). But anything more complicated is hit-or-miss, and I can rarely get chord progressions.

So part of the fun with performers doing simpler stuff is that if I'm lucky sometimes I can get to the point where I could pretty much transcribe the whole song--chords, melody, rhythm. There were a couple songs like that last night.

Also, I realize I must be slow, but I'd never really noticed before how this whole "strumming" thing works. Some of the guitarists at least had a very straightforward procedure: you move your arm up and down with an unchanging regular rhythm--with each up or down stroke corresponding to roughly to an eighth note in a 4/4 measure--and create different rhythms by your choice of what you do on each stroke. Assuming that's all you do (and for one or two people at the open mic it was), the only choices you have to make are the chord to fret with your left hand, and which strokes to strum on or not to emphasize.

The weather has been a little colder than I've gotten used to in previous years (highs in the low sixties), and today (Friday), to add insult to injury, it's been drizzling all afternoon. Oh well.