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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

What I Thought as I Strummed My Guitar from the Norwegian Fjords to a Desert Oasis

The rhythm of time itself is our great master as we sit poised to play

I have just returned from a week in Dubai and Egypt and am back in London. Before that I was in Norway, as far north as the Arctic Circle. Two more different climates and landscapes are hard to imagine. The sloping green precipices of the Norwegian fjords rise out of the deep lakes. Cascades of water freeze to ice, consigned to stillness by a sudden drop in temperature. The spruce and maple trees populate immense stretches, scrubbed clean by frequent rain, and reaching for the sun when the brilliantly blue sky smiles upon them. While I was there the temperature varied alarmingly: from a pleasant spring day while the sun was out to a bitter cold wind under the passing clouds.

Contrast this with Arabia. Less than 48 hours after leaving the hand-carved beauty of Norway I found myself in the sweltering heat of Dubai, a city reared from the desert sand dunes. The moment I left the city all I could see was sand and yellow rocks and the shimmering white heat rising to the sky. No road save the one I was on, nor signs of human habitation were visible for miles and miles. If heat has a sound then it is here you will hear it - in the desert - for it is a silence quite unlike other silences.

It was only recently that I realised fully that all the mountains in the world, and the sand in the deserts, and the fjords in Norway, and all the valleys shallow and deep were formed over millions and millions of years. Every year mountains change by a few inches, sands multiply or reduce by tiny amounts, as do all the fjords and valleys. Our natural landscape is in a constant state of change, so slow that no human can perceive it in one lifetime.

Landscapes’ changes through time are the perfect counterpoint to living life-forms for they too are in a constant state of evolution. Over the past millions of years we have changed and become what we are now. Time has shaped our wonderful planet, and time has developed our amazing brains. Just as surely over the next millions of years we shall change in ways we can barely imagine; so much so that if we came face to face with them, we would not recognise our own descendants as human beings like us.

So what has all this to do with guitar playing, or any-instrument-playing? Everything and nothing at all - both are true! A couple of hours pleasantly spent strumming the guitar sat in the shadow of a fjord or on the edge of an oasis are not even a pin-prick in the time span which has brought us to where we are now. On the other hand, the rhythm of time itself is our great master as we sit poised to play. In music we don’t need to think of time as a near infinity, for we can learn to play a musical instrument to a most pleasing standard in a fraction of a lifetime. The changes will be barely perceptible from day to day, but within a few years they will be obvious. And if we can keep this up over a whole lifetime, and learn from time’s own diligence and patience, we too can construct something special and unique - in our own music-making.

Read more:
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins

London, 16 May 2012

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=1302 .
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