La grande expérience

The French word ‘expérience’ means both ‘experience’ and ‘experiment,’ and I am quite fond of the overlap of meanings, because sometimes great experiements are totally also great experiences, and the other way around, non? Mais oui! If you’re thinking that I might be using this introduction to talk about the possible discovery of the Higgs particle you are mistaken, however – although if its discovery holds true then that is surely one of the great discoveries of the decade.

I was tempted to write ‘of our age’ – a term more lyrical and also a lot more vague. And whose age, anyway? Mine or yours? Mine is 33 right now, but rising steadily (and hopefully continuing to rise for a long looong time). And aaaanyway. The grande expérience of the title is not, by comparison, all that grande. It just feels a bit like one, since it entails deconnecting and reconnecting a lot of familiar habits and movements and brain-hand-coordination shortcuts and well-worn tracks.

If you’ve met me – and if you pay attention to these things (which not everyone does, and if you don’t, fair enough) – you might have noticed that I am very definitely and rather strongly left-handed. I did, however, and for reasons I cannot recall, learn to play the guitar the ‘right’ way around, and while I have no problems learning all sorts of chords, playing more intricate rhythms is oh-so-frustrating and challenging and feels impossible … and as skills progress that divergence of fluidity and adaptability becomes ever more apparent.

This is where the experiment comes in… .

I’ve maintained for years that I really only need one guitar, and certainly only one six-string guitar, and if at all then I would, once my skills are advanced enough, maybe, possibly, eventually acquire a twelve-string. But not a second six string, no sir.

Well, let’s relativise that to … one guitar … for each hand, ok?

I invested some of the money I made selling things on paypal (my collection of Status Quo CDs is apparently now making someone in Arizona very happy, I am pleased to say) in the cheapest-yet-decent left-handed guitar I could find*, and it just arrived – and its certainly okay for the purpose I acquired it for – trying to see whether or not I have the diligence, patience, and skill to essential re-train both my hands into doing the opposite of what they’re used to doing, and whether the (hopefully) added agility regarding rhythms offsets the loss of chord changing swiftness and ease. I expect it to be a rather frustrating experience, really … but I’ll see how it goes! And if I end up realizing that I’d rather stick to what I am used to … then that’s a fair enough outcome, as well. If you never try, you never know! I’ll keep you posted! :-)

* I also invested about a tenner into a flute, because how hard can it be? Small children learn to play it. And a krix. Actually, I initially only wanted to buy a krix. Ooops? For science!


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