I am interning at the Design Department of IIT Guwahati these days. It so happens that one of the MDes students here (Lets call her X) happens to be good friends with a girl from the MDes of my college, lets call her Y. X casually mentioned to Y over phone some days back that someone named Denny from DA-IICT is interning with her. and Y replied back enthusiastically, “Denny George? Oh he is such a good guitarist”
The reaction of both the girls was really funny and new for me. I come from an all boys school and I am not used to girls shrieking out my name in excitement. The rest of the conversation was very flatterring but not relevant to this post.
After X left I thought ‘Guitarist? Really?’ I dont even put that in my CV as a hobby. OK I do but that is more out of a desperation to fill something in my CV in the hobby section. What I mean is if someone asks me my hobby, knowing how to play a guitar is not something that comes out of my mouth as easily as saying, say for instance Goat.
When I started learning the guitar it was mostly because I needed Noise to accompany me when I wanted to sing. I remember I started singing very early in life and yet the first time I ever sang in public was in college. I have always been shy of singing in public. As a kid I used to sing in the bathroom as I filled the bucket with water for bathing. The noise caused by which helped me muzzle my own voice. My first music instrument was hence a Steel Bucket! As I grew older I got my second musical instrument, an Activa. I know its stupid but let me explain it to you. When you have a long stretch of straight land between your house and tution center and when your scooterrete accelerates to a speed of 70kmph (I swear I am not flaunting), the noise of the vehicle and the the fast wind passing across your ears almost cups your ears and isolates you aurally from your surrounding, I could let go of my inhibitions and sing really loudly and unabashed then.
Once in college I had no Activa and I shared the bathroom with an entire wing of 20 boys. Well not shared in the conventional sense of the word but still not private enough for me to sing comforably. In hindsight I realize that I was singing all through my childhood in bathrrom and on my activa but there was a time period of one year in my life in my first year of college when I could not sing at all. This was when I picked up the guitar. I was not exposed to western music or the concept of band or solo performers who sang with a guitar till then. When I saw someone singing with a guitar for the first time I was awed by the amazing capability of a guitar to create noise loud enough in corelation to the way you strummed it. So thats why I picked up the guitar. To add noise in the air so I could sing without shame.
I think that is the reason I could never really get to figuring out the chords of a song by just listening to it. Every time I wanted to sing a song in the college hostel the immediate next step was to search for the chords on the internet and strum them regardless of how they sounded. I have been at times asked by other better guitarists to tune my guitar while I was singing. Dont get me wrong though. I am not an idiot who strums anything just to sing. I do have a sense of scales and pitch.
Off lately I have stopped singing and now I use the guitar to sing for me. I like to play over other songs in my free time. By this I don’t really mean I am trying to cover Stairway to heaven or November rain. Its simply just improvised playing over blues backing track. So DO I know how to play the guitar, Yes. But Can I show you something by playing? No.
If you hand me a guitar and ask me to play something I wont know what to do with it. Unless I remember the chords I cant sing to it and without a backing track, a slow improvised blues solo might come off as nothing but random notes floating in mid air.
I have heard people compare guitar to sex and it always sounded pretentious but now it makes sense.
Do you know how to do it? Yes
Can you show it? Fuck you. No!
Because regardless of how the relationship started it has moved on to becoming something intimate and I would rather not do it for others because I know they wont get it. Its not their fault. Its just how it is.