Thursday, April 2, 2009

Gee Seven

A bit uninspired finishing my essay on one aspect of transgender studies, namely the discussion of Gender Identity Disorder (GID). The essay situates GID in a body of knowledge, or a discourse that stratifies various transgender identities. At the same time, it's influence and effect on transgender (or transsexual, in this instance) empowerment is paradoxical - GID empowers and at the same time subjugates trans-identified individuals. And surprisingly, that's the end of the my argument. Well, you can't squeeze water from a rock. I will wait for a new day to work on the essay again.

I feel very tired and jaded. Most teenagers will claim that too. But seriously, it almost half a year now I have moved out and live a "married life", sans children. Dietary habits, daily commuting, new administrative responsibilities and all these changes have disoriented me. Being relatively street dumb, as opposed to street smart, and at the same time, having grown up privileged enough to be sheltered, I find it a great challenge to adjust to all these. What can I say, it's from one well to another for this frog.

I guess it is all a matter of looking at things from another perspective.

When I first had music lessons (the Electone, electric organ) in late 1990. The second chord I learnt was 'G7' (of course, the first being 'C' chord). 'G7' consists of G, B and F.

'G7' was taught alongside chords 'C' and 'F', and I had, for a few months, thought that it was as basic as the other two chords. In that sense, I could not imagine that a 'G' chord actually exists. 'G' chord consists of G, B and D.

It was also at that period of time when I saw my dad playing the organ and keyboards, like he did most of the time being the natural musician that he is, and he played a different kind of 'G7', which consisted G, B, D and F. And yes, it blew my mind.

Not too long after that, I realised that 'G7' came from the chord 'G'. Having often played and doodled in the 'C' major key signature, and also getting the weekly lessons for the next decade, I discovered many other ways to play 'G7'. It could be played in the first and second inversions of G, and just add that seven, which is F. The first inversion is B, D, F and G; the second inversion is D, F, G and B.

Despite having its four notes jumbled and juggled, the chord remains a 'G7' (or some might call it 'G add 7'. And even though it constitutes the same chord, technically, each variation gives a different sound and different feel, hence a different effect. At the same time, some 'G7's can be played with the B or D or even G, with each variation again giving that different effect.

With more doodling, I realised I could add an A to 'G7' and get that 'plus 9' effect. Sounds great on the keyboard (G, B, D, F and A). The D could be augmented too, to become a D# (G, B, D#, F). Or that a suspended 4 can be added (G, C, D and F). These are just a few of many possibilities. Still, the chord 'G7' serves as transition to the next chord (in most cases).

I believe the idea of the chord like 'G7', it having so many possibilities and effects, is very much similar to how we look at things or how we choose to look/interpret. We might see the same thing, but interpret it differently; and we might get different experiences, but they all link to a similar phenomenon. And these two possibilities/paradoxes may also exist at the same time.

Music is not philosophy, but how one sees music constitutes a certain philosophy. Music captures what cannot be succinctly or simplistically described. It can be both hopeless and hopeful, sad and happy, at the same time. A progression of major chords might technically signify a "happy"-sounding tune, but it can create more sadness and pathos than a progression with a minor chord or two.

Almost 19 years on, I am still fascinated by the chord, and music in general. Music helps me not only to see things differently, but also develop various interpretations.

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