Thursday, June 18, 2015

Saving Me For Last

27 Dollar Wednesday
I got an earlier start last night, although the clock seems to go into overdrive as soon as the sun goes down and as I aim towards an early start to playing.
I walked into the Quarter, even though I had 11 dollars on me.
I had blown off the idea of buying a new harmonica (no pun intended) as I had been able to play around the missing notes Tuesday night, and there were only a couple of times when they were conspicuously missing; when there were tourists listening. At those times I feigned to have just blown the notes out that instant, and said something like: "Damn, I just blew a note out; there goes 12 bucks down the drain!"
This was only a subtly "skeeze" towards someone throwing me a 12 dollar tip and saying: "Here, get yourself a new one."
I am actually becoming a better musician on the harmonica by dint of having to know exactly where the missing notes lie in the scale, which is basically teaching me the notes on the thing in a backhanded way. I have actually gotten to the missing notes through an ascending melody, and then made the decision whether to jump over them and play something on the very high notes; or to reverse direction and try to hear a descending melody in my head.
A note on that (excuse the pun again):
John Patton*, who plays classical guitar in the Quarter, and who used to play the French horn with the San Francisco Symphony said to me once that, to him, the true test of a harmonica player is what he does with the very highest notes.
I can see his point; the highest notes are the most unforgiving; kind of like; if a singer is a little bit "shaky" she is made into a contra-alto and not a soprano, nor even a mezzo soprano, because those notes need to be crystal clear, and you can get away with a little more, the lower you go. In fact, in tuning a piano "perfectly," the very lowest notes are flattened a hair (the very highest notes are sharpened a hair, too; but I shouldn't mention that here because it contradicts what I am trying to say -it's microscopic, anyway).
This is perhaps why Tanya Huang is prone to incorporate huge upward intervals in her melodies on the violin, which put them in a range which showcases her perfect pitch, like a gemstone in an illuminated glass case (or like a really high note that is right on pitch).
Tanya, Dorise and bodyguard guy
The highest notes are the attention grabbers, and bending them requires a whole different approach, and more practice.
*John Patton plays classical music which is compelling enough that I can stand there and listen to him, delaying myself from arriving at my own spot by at least an half hour.
I remember one such occasion when I stopped to listen to him and he was complaining that he had only made 23 dollars after about 3 hours of playing. I finally said: "Well, I had better get to my spot and start playing," which I did.
I broke the guitar out and started to play the Eagles song, "Best Of My Love," and was thrown a 20 dollar bill before the end of the second verse. I thought about John at that point, and how unfair the world is...
Then I thought about how the latest Lady Gaga CD is almost 20 bucks, while you can find the complete Brandenburg Concertos by J.S. Bach for under 7 bucks; and I plodded on with my Eagles and Elton John songs. Who am I to judge the world?
I made about 27 bucks last night, along with free drinks and an offer of food, which I turned down due to food allergy issues.
Most of the money came from one guy who sat and talked and listened for over an hour. In fact about 23 of the 27 came from him. I guess that is my hustle -the one guy who sits and talks and listens for an hour.
He is very often on the last day of his vacation, I have noticed; saving me for last, perhaps LOL!

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