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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

From Cambridge to a Chinese wedding feast in Kuala Lumpur

My first day in Malaysia shows me what we all have in common

The echoes of the last chords of the last concert this past Tuesday of my Magical Mystery Guitar Tour are still ringing somewhere around Cambridge and yet I already find myself in Kuala Lumpur today Sunday. I play here tonight. I arrived last night from London and was driven by my hosts Simon and Evelyn Cheong from the airport directly to supper at the Imperial China restaurant in Malaysia’s capital city. A greater contrast is hard to imagine between two cities, and it is impossible not to note the differences. It is more difficult to see the similarities, yet that has interested me equally.

Let me set the scene for you. The restaurant is very large, easily holding three hundred people on one floor level. On the occasion of my arrival this Saturday night one section was heaving with people and another was not. We were sat in the quieter area. To reach it we walked past the crowded tables. Now in Europe the noise of a busy restaurant most resembles a baritone monotone punctured by the staccato screeches of feminine interjections and laughter, while in Kuala Lumpur’s Imperial China restaurant it sounded like a huge flock of birds twittering excitedly as they fly in circles under the setting sun!

I was fed well and plentifully while conversing agreeably with my vivacious hosts and companions and being attended to by respectfully hovering waiters and waitresses. At the far end of the crowded section there was a stage area for karaoke. I gained the impression that this was a collective gathering and I was right for it was the wedding feast which culminated a day of marriage celebrations. At several times a loud cry of ”yum sing” almost shook the windows. Mind you, not your ordinary cry of yum sing, more like a shout-at-the-top-of-your-voice-and-hold-that-note-as-long-as-you-can type of cry, with yum rhyming with rum as in yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum sing. It is the Cantonese equivalent of “cheers” or “bottoms up”.

So there am I a Spanish Englishman watching a Cantonese wedding celebration in Malaysia to American music such as Moon River and the theme music from Casablanca while eating delicious Chinese food. If this is globalization long may it continue.

A Hindu proverb came to mind while getting stuck into a delicious dish of cod fish and rice Chinese style:
“There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.”

The peak of the mountain in this case is marriage and the happiness of a couple wishing to spend their lives together. How they do so will depend on the path they choose for there are many to choose from. As for the excited babble of that happy crowd: the revellers may sound like baritone bulls in Spain or a flock of birds in Kuala Lumpur, but the human emotions they express as they walk the path are the same.

And so what has all this to do with guitar playing? Nothing and everything, it’s up to you. The mountain itself represents the beauty of music and the guitar in particular. You choose the path you take to express the music, and the path to acquire a good guitar technique. Take no notice of the person telling everyone that his or her path is wrong and that there is only way. There is not only one way, there are many ways.

There are different ways of playing music, and there are different techniques of playing the guitar. They can all cause listeners and players alike to climb that mountain path like an excited crowd of baritone bulls or reach the summit by flying overhead like a flock of birds. And who is to tell us which way is best? We all form part of the rich tapestry of human diversity, and what’s more we have, or should have, a completely free will as to which path to choose.

2nd December 2012, Kuala Lumpur

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=1775 .
© 2017.

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