In Which, I Finally Find a Topic Upon Which to Expound

It’s been a long night tonight. This is the fourth blog post that I’ve started so far. There are some things that are just too private or too controversial to write about in this venue. My aim with this blog is to entertain and perhaps to educate. It is not to preach my personal beliefs, be they philosophical or political.

Given the dominance of political topics in the news, it is hard to think about anything else. I have racked my brain for something else to write about. When you take sports (I don’t know anything about sports), religion, and politics off the table, there isn’t much left.

I’m passionate about music and computer science. I’m passionate about space exploration and writing fiction. With the possible exception of music, I’ve written a lot about the other three topics in this blog. I need to broaden my purview.

I’ve been a string man most of my life. After a brief encounter with the Tonette, a recorder like instrument that was used to teach us the rudiments of music in the third grade, I spent the bulk of my time learning to play violin, teaching myself to play guitar, and later in life, learning to play electric and standup bass, mandolin, and Celtic harp.

There was another brief flirtation with the trombone my freshman and sophomore years in high school, but other than that, I’ve played strings.

I played classical music when I was learning the violin. The I returned to the instrument in recent years it was to learn to play Irish and Scottish music and the instrument was rebranded a fiddle. It was also around this time that I started playing the mandolin.

For those that aren’t intimately familiar with the mandolin, it is kind of like a violin with frets. It also sports doubled strings so, instead of four strings, it sports eight. They are tuned in pairs though. The bottom two strings are tuned to G, the next pair are tuned to D, the third pair are tuned to A, and the highest pair are tuned to E.

This makes it easier for me to take what I know about the violin and transfer it to the mandolin. The strings are plucked instead of bowed but I have spent the better part of fifty years plucking the strings of a guitar so it is second nature.

The thing I like most about the mandolin is its portability. Guitars and harps are big instruments. Violins are messy by virtue of the rosin on the bow. Mandolins are a perfect size to sit and pick on the couch while having a conversation. I can imagine that is part of why they are so popular in music that was born on the front porches of mountain homesteads.

I like electric stringed instruments as well, not to mention keyboards. I consider keyboards stringed instruments even when they are electronic because they were inspired by the piano. I taught myself just enough keyboards to be able to play accompaniment on one if there isn’t a guitar or mandolin available.

I have focused on instruments tonight. That doesn’t say a whole lot about the styles of music that I like. Truth be told, there are only a very few kinds of music that I’m not terribly fond of. I will save that topic for another night.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.