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Crossing the Musical Generation Gap

Twice now, in the past year, I have packed my Martin acoustic guitar, headed over to two different friends houses where, in each house, there was a 14 year old guitar player. In one case it was a 14 year old girl, the other a 14 year old boy. The girl was still wearing braces, the boy was about 6 feet, a thick head of long hair, curly at the ends and very sultry looking. One house housed, in addition to the teenager, a Fender Stratocaster, in the other house, in addition to the teenager, was an Ibanez electric guitar.

I discovered early on in the attempt to jam with a person more than 40 years my junior, that the Generation Gap was a very large gap. There I was playing nice open chords in the key of G or D and there were my jamming partners playing grungy power chords on out of tune guitars and playing them loudly! I would listen for a while and when they ran out of momentum (only for the moment!) I would suggest they play something a bit more melodic and then I would try to follow along and provide some type of rhythmic accompaniment. This would draw a type of blank stare, one that had an edge of teenage angst associated with it. But, because in each case there was a parent present, they would attempt to cooperate and eventually, within a few minutes, the momentum would once again die down and there was an awkward silence.

Eventually I would put my own guitar down realizing that this was not going to work out. And, little by little the respective teens would start playing stuff they had practiced really well and felt comfortable with and I would offer my compliments on fine guitar playing. In each of the two cases a few minutes of commonality would pop out. In one case I asked the young lady with her Strat, to play a few simple chores, Am, F, D and G.

I showed her the sequence, I started it out on my guitar, she picked up the rhythm, and when she seemed to fall into the groove I took off playing the lead to Apache, one of my favorite guitar instrumentals from the early 1960s. Funnily, after about 90 seconds of sounding really good together, she could not maintain her interest or concentration and lapsed into a power chord sequence from a Green Day tune. With the young man and his Ibanez electric, the moment came when, after watching him wince in pain at this attempt to play together, I asked if I could show him some of my original songs on my Martin.

He and his friend readily agreed and I took a few minutes to retune the guitar to dadgad tuning. He said he had heard of it but was not quite sure what it was. So, I proceeded to play the two instrumental tunes I had written and in the end, there was a few minutes of genuine musical appreciation. We had crossed the gap and appreciated each other for the music.

And even later that evening, this fine young man made several references to dadgad tuning and I'm sure it's something he will fool around with on his own. If the opportunity presents itself to make music, and to make music with someone across the chasm of musical tastes, I highly recommend working at bridging this gap. Musical appreciation can definitely bring the generations together.

Ken Hassman is the owner of the back-of-book indexing service, Hassman Indexing Services, dedicated to providing high quality academic/scholarly indexing, medical indexing, trade book indexing, textbook indexing, encyclopedia indexing, journal indexing, and embedded indexing.

New York Music

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