open strings

did you ever get so deep into practicing something that you forget about the basics that are not only valid, but pretty wonderful and important to use? i suspect a lot of guitar players have that happening, especially because learning about position playing and movable forms, whether melodic or harmonic, is so critical in understanding the instrument. if we back up a bit from that, however, and remember the joy of the sound of the guitar, the ringing out of open strings, there is new magic to be found. remember what you love about the tone, the wood, the feel of the open strings next to the fingered notes. combine that with the newness of climbing to new heights up the neck. side by side, there's a note way up high on the fretboard right there next to an open string singing low. the right hand might be temporarily confused, but then it joins in with the excitement of newness all over again. choose a constant bass note and try some different scales on top of it using open strings wherever they can fit in. maybe you learned a D major scale as a beginner using open strings in the first position, but when you hear that against a G bass note, it becomes a G lydian with all of its beauty and angst and sophistication and, in fact, reasons for learning those basic scales in the first place. maybe we learn one thing on top of another our whole lives; building on some foundation, discarding what we don't need, adding cool new things to our stash, sometimes trying to fit too many notes where they don't belong, sometimes trusting the basics and remembering how well our instincts guide us if we let go and listen.

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