classical music

Dystonia and Dropped Beats

I’m in a band.  Well, five, actually. It’s why my house looks like a dump, because either I’m working or rehearsing or gigging or charting out songs in preparation for rehearsing and gigging.

I play bass. I own five or six. Most of them are four-string basses, but one is a five-string and one is a six-string.

I don’t play the six-string much. It takes a whole shift into a different mental groove to play the six-string. The six-string I have is a 36” inch, and the frets are far apart. I don’t have giant hands, so playing some of the chords is a real stretch, literally.

I like the sound of it, but because it’s a 36” inch, it’s also hard to do my slap hit.

So, basically, the six-string doesn’t get played that much.

classical musicI actually like the five-string best because of the high B string that gives me the capability to play different kinds of music, including classical.

I have dystonia, which is a condition where, in my case, my middle finger thinks it’s my index finger, and I can’t move the two fingers independently. Most of the time I can’t use my middle finger at all for playing.

I’ve had to adapt and figure out a different way to play, which has boiled down to just using my thumb and index finger.

This means that I can’t play at all like I used to, when I was on the road and played professionally. I just don’t have that capability, because that middle finger doesn’t cooperate.

I’ve had a few times lately where I regained use of the middle finger during a rehearsal. It was after I had worked out and had a huge dopamine surge. I don’t know if there was actually a connection between the dopamine surge and the functionality of that finger. But still, it was like before, when I could play rapid sixteenth notes without a thought, and the fingers alternated strings like they are supposed to.

My left hand and fingers work just fine. I can play the chords like normal. Thank God. If I had a finger crap out on me on my left hand, I think I’d have to give up playing completely. How can you make a chord without all the fingers working?!

I do a lot of work to chart out songs in preparation for playing. It’s time consuming. I do have software that helps me, though.

band musicBecause my musical roots are based in reading sheet music, I’m reading oriented rather than listening oriented. I can hear a song but struggle with hearing where the changes happen.

If I have a song charted out with bars and measures, I can see where the changes happen and I can play the song.

I also don’t skip bars or beats. Some of the musicians in the bands I play with chronically drop whole bars or multiple bars. Since I know that, I’m always on alert. If the vocalist or lead guitar or whoever skips beats and measures, I skip them to. It wreaks havoc with the song, but I just roll with it.