Friday, February 05, 2016

Pentatonics 'Til The Cows Come Home

The most memorable exchange I overheard during this concert occurred just after Animals As Leaders had finished their set. Some college kid was asked what he thought. "That stuff doesn't impress me," he said. Really? "Nah, man. It's all pentatonics. I could do that shit 'til the cows come home."

"I know, right?"
I was amused. If you're pressed for time, skip to 1:19 to see why.



To be fair to the kid, it smelled to me like he was smoking some primo grade skunk.

Learning a few (well . . . five, no?) pentatonic forms can be a mighty heady experience, to be sure. Even a thick-fingered mid-life noob like myself notices a certain change in receptiveness to the guitar solos of old. The razzle-dazzle factor does indeed subside, just a tad. Take this tasty riff from Blue Öyster Cult, for instance:



Just to be clear: I am not claiming I'm capable of repeating, let alone cooking up my own "Buck Dharma" riff. But I'm recognizing these as possibilities within reach. And there is something disillusioning about that.

Buck got there first, of course, and deserves all the kudos for it -- and for inspiring God only knows how many kids in suburban basements. Bansai, Oshō!

Also: cowbell.

The blessed flip side to my predicament is recognizing the impossible and gaining newfound appreciation for the likes of Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson -- Alex Lifeson (of course) -- people with technique I can't begin to emulate. To say nothing of countless Blues artists living and deceased, and the performers who have honed their own distinctive sound. So, bansai, jōza!

2 comments:

quareidfaciam said...

I don’t know much about music, but I know that ‘Godzilla’ is going to be in my head for a while now.

Darrell Reimer said...

"Hummability" is one edge that Buck enjoys over Tosin.