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Musicians on the road

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Do you travel with an instrument? What are others thoughts on travellers with instruments?
25 months ago, June 13th 2012 No: 1 Msg: #157588  
B Posts: 848
I have just bought a mandolin for something different and because trying to take a 1937 vintage tenor sax on to remote islands is just..ridiculous. A saxophone is a terrible instrument for travellers, we are way too loud and unlike a guitar cannot be strummed quietly in the background.

Just wondering who travels with an instrument and if so what?

Also curious as to people who have experiences good or bad about people turning up at hostels etc with instruments and jamming. Does it annoy you?
(I mean within reason, not ACDC at 4am!) Reply to this

25 months ago, June 13th 2012 No: 2 Msg: #157595  
B Posts: 9,682
Great topic Cindy!

I've stayed at a couple of places where people have travelled with a guitar - and it's helped create a nice social environment with other guests getting involved. Reply to this

25 months ago, June 14th 2012 No: 3 Msg: #157617  
I dont carry any intrument, nor do I play one.

Does it annoy you?


Not usually. There was one time it did though. When I was 22, I was in Sicily, where I met a Germany guy whom I hung out with for a while. I soon got a bit crowded by him, because he kept writing songs about me and recording them on cassette. I didnt think I knew him well enough or for long enough to deserve to have such love songs written about me. When I got home, he showed up on my doorstep a few months later on his bike, that he cyclyed all the way from Germany on. He had visited my parents 100KM away to find me, and then got my address from them and cycled the 100KM to my place, where he continued to strum away and write songs. I am not sure why I let him stay with me, but he was harmless enough as far as I could see, appart from the songs with my name in them, that didnt reflect anything about the real me. One day I went out for around 5 hours. When I came back, there was a song recorded about me and him and how we are going to have lots of children and live on a farm bringing them up strong and healthy. I am definately more a city type, and he did not seem to realise this.

One time, he went off travelling in Ireland after visiting me, and was kicked in the face, while playing his guitar and singing in a city square, so looks like I am not the only one who was irritated by his singing and playing. My parents at least loved him, and even let him camp beside their house, when he couldnt find me. He used to send them postcards often. My father was highly amused by the postcards, because they contained sentences with lines of songs in them(thankfully no song lines with me in them), and were pretty funny to somebody who was not suffering from the over exposure to this guy, that I started to feel after a while. I told my parents I wanted to avoid him because he was getting a bit much, and would they stop telling him where I am all the time. My father agreed, but only as long as he can keep sending the postcards.

''Annoying as it was at the time, it's a great 'war story' nonetheless ^^''

[Edited: 2012 Jun 14 14:49 - Mell:49612 ]
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25 months ago, June 15th 2012 No: 4 Msg: #157641  
hehe very funny mel! although probably not for you

I havent carried an instrument but my fil is a professional violinist/fiddler so he ALWAYS carries it with him. If we go out for dinner, if they are picking me up at a hotel, if we are wandering around markets he has it with him and at the drop of a hat he will pull it out and play for anyone...he loves it! Personally, i have found it a bit embarrassing as he so obviously wants people to stop and ask him about it and then play for them...sort of nice but sort of attention seeking. So on that front, i would not want someone i'm with to be bringing along an instrument.

But similar to youve mentioned, ive stayed at campsites in italy and people had guitars and it was pretty lovely to sit around and drink in the evening and have some music and maybe sing along. So maybe it just depends on when it is brought out to play and if its a relaxed casual environment, go for it! Reply to this

25 months ago, June 15th 2012 No: 5 Msg: #157645  
B Posts: 848
Mel that is hilarious! Although i can understand why you eventually got sick of it. While it is often flattering to have songs written about you..there is a limit!. In my other life where I was married to a shady underworld figure some incidents went down in the late 1980s and I must say I was shocked and a bit upset that a person who was close to me at the time and new the inside story, not the media reports, wrote a song about me and the ''incidents'' and proceeded to bring out an album 20 years later and appear on the morning show singing that song without telling me...she all but came out and gave my name while being interviewed about her album. I wouldve been none the wiser until my phone started ringing non stop with people saying....um i just heard a song on the morning show..is that about you?

Tam LOL @ your FIL. I have friends who do the same. On a plane between gigs during the 80s a fellow horn player who had managed to fit his alto into the overhead luggage area pulled it out and proceeded to ''treat'' the entire plane to a 37000ft jam session...unfortunately, it was a midnight horror flight so not appreciated by many passengers.....or his fellow bandmates.

I think guitars are probably the most traveller friendly instrument but hey..every one has one and I like to be a little different. Damn Eddie Vedder with that song Rise!

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25 months ago, June 16th 2012 No: 6 Msg: #157669  
Cindy,

Wow, I love the mandolin....can't wait to hear you play it.

I'm trying to picture you getting on and off of one of those little prop planes or small boat taking you to one of those small out of the way islands that you love to visit.....dragging your dive gear and your sax.... laughing now. Ok, the mandolin might work out better.

Mel's stalker story is entertaining but my question.... why did your parents tell him where to find you? curious.

But--- back to the question at hand..... I have a friend who frequently travels with a ukulele. It is a happy little instrument and everyone seems to enjoy it when he plays.

Since I'm a music fan I don't care what kind of instrument you play as long as you play.
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25 months ago, June 16th 2012 No: 7 Msg: #157673  

I think guitars are probably the most traveller friendly instrument...


Id have guessed, that something like a harmonica would be more a travellers instrument. It cant be easy finding someplace to put a guitar all the time, and providing some security for it in case it is stolen. I shared a hostel room with a guy and his guitar and some other backpackers in Paris for a few nights. The guitar guy used to take his guitar to bed with him every night, to prevent it being stolen. The beds were not all that big, so he had to sleep on his side all night, with an arm around the guitar. One evening he wanted to go to the Eifel Tower, and asked us if we think the guitar would be safe in the dorm room. I expressed shock that he would sleep with it, and then want to go out without it. Somebody else asked how much money it is worth. He decided to lug the guitar to the Eifel Tower with him, afterall.

...why did your parents tell him where to find you? curious.


People can be incredibly insensitive, when it is not they themselves who are being harassed. Parents are no exception to this. Reply to this

25 months ago, June 16th 2012 No: 8 Msg: #157678  

A harmonica is a great idea. Although it is a tough instrument to play.
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25 months ago, June 17th 2012 No: 9 Msg: #157689  
I've traveled with a violin - but always as part of an ensemble. Short of playing in the airport terminal I can't say I ever had any 'organic' travel music moments with it.

I don't mind folks traveling with instruments - although overhead compartments get crowded quick. I was once on a flight that must have been transporting an full Russian orchestra and man am I ever glad I boarded before they did!

As for people who want to play - so long as they realize that there are limits. Do I mind you jamming for a few songs when things are lively and social? No - of course not. Music can be great to bring people together. Do I mind you playing the same rifts endlessly while you try to LEARN a song in a common area all while not seeming to grasp that idea that playing one song repeatedly on a guitar doesn't make you Mr. Cooler-Than-Life? Yes. Yes I do mind that. And I will give you dirty looks. Reply to this

25 months ago, June 17th 2012 No: 10 Msg: #157697  
B Posts: 840
I stayed once in a hotel in Lucerne and woke up to a full orchestra (that's how it sounded to me) in the morning. I thought the guy playing cello was right beside my room while others on same floor were playing the violin and other strings. I skipped breakfast just to listen

Back home, I bought ukeleles for my 2 grandchildren. Let's just say I don't allow them to travel with them Reply to this

25 months ago, June 17th 2012 No: 11 Msg: #157716  

In response to: Msg #157697

Laughing about that one! Maybe they need ukelele lessons for their birthday. Reply to this

25 months ago, June 18th 2012 No: 12 Msg: #157745  
Great story mel I have travelled with a ukelele before and people are generally very accepting and encourage you to play etc... not sure about the sax lol Reply to this

25 months ago, June 18th 2012 No: 13 Msg: #157762  
B Posts: 848
Yes..saxophones are .. near on impossible to travel with. Merry Jo I actually have once had to drag both my alto and my vintage tenor AND my dive gear across Australia on my way to PNG - never again!. I mentioned to a friend I was having a night stop over in Sydney before heading to Cairns to get to PNG and a friend who was doing a bit of recording asked if I would mind spending an hour in the studio with them in exchange for a bed for the night. After managing to get everything on the plane (and getting slugged mega dollars excess baggage) I then had to find someone I had never met before who was picking me up from airport..a lot of txt msgs where are you? what do you look like? can you see the Avis sign?..no..ok then walk out the front and play something loudly so I can find you....you have no idea how much of a dick I felt playing Baker Street - although the person picking me up did find me but not before i made $7.60 because people thought i was busking LOL!.
I left the saxes in Sydney and luckily got them bought across while I was in PNG thanks to another band on tour.
I guess I dont so much want to run up to anyone with an instrument and try and organise an impromptu jam session (or the lets all sit around and learn a song thing Stephanie - I hate that too!) more for my own personal sitting on an island staring out to sea playing something type travelling with an instrument. Charlie I find whenever I do have a sax with me (as in around and about in Aus) people do come up and ask if I could play something...only problem is...there are not a whole lot of songs around that anyone would recognise that are predominantly sax..were one of those lead instruments that get our short shining moment under the spotlight before those damn lead guitarists step in again :-) Reply to this

25 months ago, June 18th 2012 No: 14 Msg: #157767  
.....those dang guitarists!

Hey Cindy-- at least you know if you are ever down and out that you play well enough to earn money for coffee!

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25 months ago, June 18th 2012 No: 15 Msg: #157780  

25 months ago, June 24th 2012 No: 16 Msg: #157980  

As for people who want to play - so long as they realize that there are limits. Do I mind you jamming for a few songs when things are lively and social? No - of course not. Music can be great to bring people together. Do I mind you playing the same rifts endlessly while you try to LEARN a song in a common area all while not seeming to grasp that idea that playing one song repeatedly on a guitar doesn't make you Mr. Cooler-Than-Life? Yes. Yes I do mind that. And I will give you dirty looks.



Oh yes, there are limits and it is soooo annoying when people don't consider that. We had an Irish guy in the adjoined bungalow to us in the Perhentian islands in Malaysia (really thin walls) who just strummed the same chords on his guitar, sitting on the balcony, singing the same line over and over and over. He did this for hours on end. I couldn't resist a comment when we went out of a 'don't give up your day job mate'.

Luckily the next day we moved bungalows, if we had stayed in that one next to Mr Guitar Strummer, it wouldn't have been pretty! Reply to this

25 months ago, June 24th 2012 No: 17 Msg: #157991  

From time to time there does seem to be a shortage of common sense and courtesy. Reply to this

25 months ago, June 26th 2012 No: 18 Msg: #158052  
Cindy,

Any instrument played badly is an instrument of torture for unwilling listeners. Perhaps the most dangerous is a banjo, but a mandolin can be pretty onerous also. I own and sometimes travel with a guitar called a "Silent Guitar" by Yamaha, it has great tone through ear buds but is very quiet otherwise.

I travel a little with a mandolin. But I'm careful - a good mandolin played in traditional style with a hard pick is amazingly loud. I use light strings to reduce the inherent volume and I also us light picks. I often strum it softly, more like a guitar than a mandolin. If you learn all the basic 2 finger cords, and a few harder ones you can follow a guitar player fairly easily adding a really different tone to the mix. I think a mandolin is a great choice because they are uncommon amongst travelers and would be a great addition to any guitar circle. Don't be afraid to break some rules - a real mando player will tell you it is taboo to use a capo. Which is bogus, they work great and early on they extend your playing tremendously. Get a banjo capo for a mandolin, they fit well.

I was amazed to find guitars being toted around by Argentinian travelers in Patagonia. And they had a great time sitting by the fire at night eating lamb and singing Beatles tunes. Wish I'd had a mando then, for sure.

Music, art in general, will save the world, it is in the process of saving the world. Do your part and enjoy. Reply to this

25 months ago, June 26th 2012 No: 19 Msg: #158069  

In response to: Msg #158052

Music, art in general, will save the world, it is in the process of saving the world



Well-- now that is well said and worth pondering. Reply to this

25 months ago, June 30th 2012 No: 20 Msg: #158194  
B Posts: 848
Thank you Bill (and everyone else!) I do totally understand now about the loudness of a mando. As a sax player I also understand the torment of someone learning to play an instrument and the poor people who have to listen to it..at the moment my kids and giant. Oh well the kids survived the saxophone and their fathers fiddle and drums so im sure they will survive the mando. Ive got a great teacher who is not afraid of smacking my hands and letting me use capos and at this stage im really just getting to know stringed from wind instruments so I wont be taking it with me next month. Im not really sure why the mando, I kind of like being different...i know it wouldve been easier to start with a guitar but life wasnt meant to be easy . I find a lot of dive centres have guitars around so as most of my travel atm is to dive islands I thought the mando might be a reasonable choice. Although i do have to stop listening to copperhead road because ive got two damned speeding fines this week thanks to that song. Thank you for the advice..and I will be looking for light strings.

My teacher agreed with your comment that a mando could be onerous lol Reply to this

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