Saturday, September 23, 2006

Master Rose Appraises My Ukulele

Previously in this space, we read about my first encounter with Ukulele Master Rose.

Two weeks later, Master Rose glowered impassively as we reviewed my homework. He still wore his lei of skulls and brandished his fierce-looking Kamaka ukulele. We sat seiza on black mats in the Ukulele Dojo upstairs at McCabe's. Koa wood incense burned, and the silence of the room made me feel the more conspicuous as I awkwardly strummed through "Let's Misbehave."

A long impenetrable silence followed. I have gotten used to these.

Finally, Master Rose said, "Give me your instrument."

Ukie gulped and squirmed in my hands. I stroked his neck and blew on him to calm him down, then handed him to Master Rose.

The master took Ukie in his enormous hands, flipped him around, and began a fandango of strumming, turning keys, fine-tuning the instrument. His voice seemed to eminate from the floor itself as he spoke of tempering the instrument, the importance of tuning the strings to one another. His face wore a quizzical expression as he strummed and tuned, strummed and tuned, strummed and tuned. Finally, he lay the instrument on the floor between us and we both sat in silence, our gazes falling to the floor.

An hour passed.

Then he said, "This is a cheap instrument."

Ukie gazed up at me with a desperate expression. It was an expression you might see on a pet. It is an expression that can be translated something like, "Please don't take me to the pound." I wanted to smile and tell Ukie everything would be okay, but I had to attend to the Master.

"This is a Mahalo. It is. Imprecise." His index finger slid along Ukie's neck, and with its elongated nail he tugged at the whiny C-string. "Your instrument cannot tune to itself. Its intonation. Is weak."

Ukie shuddered. We all sat in silence.

Another hour passed as we sat in zazen. Then an attendant brought us tea. In a quiet that seemed to wrap the room up in wool, our shlurping was the only sound.

1 comment:

Wingtiphsu said...

Mind what you have learned. Save you it can.