There’s no such thing as an “easy” instrument


Any instrument can be “easy,” if you have low standards. During the middle ages, fiddles used to be considered idiot’s instruments that any fool could make a noise on, too. Until people started pushing it — hey, what if you slide your hand up and back along the neck? You can reach way more notes that way. Hey, what if you do this and that with the bow? It can sound way better if you do it that way. How about wobbling your finger back and forth — that’s great, too! Sounds like you’re singing!

Add together a few of these innovations, and over time the instrument becomes much more beautiful to listen to … and nearly impossible to play.

So here we are, 400 years later, and the violin has gone from something that any no-talent in a bar could scrape out a tune on to something so brutally difficult that you shouldn’t even bother if you didn’t start in the womb. With this fellow’s style of playing the ukulele, that instrument also goes from “any idiot can play one” to “start now, and maybe in ten years, you’ll be passable.” The “campanella” technique he uses is quite complex, and he apparently stated that it completely sacrificed ease of execution on the altar of sounding great. And the ukulele takes one giant step from “toy” to “yeah, good luck with that.”

Like xkcd said, our brains have one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit them. Wait long enough, and people will dig a universe out of everything. (Also heavily implied in this comic is the fact that humans will disagree over anything.)

Feeling a bit better. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need an electric that I can play quietly on, without fear of being overheard, and whenever I want. Period. I’ll get one viola-scale, but either I can use headphones or I don’t play. I don’t want quiet (although I do like it) nearly as much as I want privacy.