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It's a mute point.....

Posted by thetexan on Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wanna know what the most irritating noise in the world is?  Your mind is replaying that scene from "Dumb and Dumber" isn't it.  Close.  But that isn't nearly the most irritating!  No, the most irritating noise in the world is the cacophonous high pitched warble of your wife yelling at you to stop playing the banjo while mixed with the cackle of Oprah as she giggles nauseatingly with her audience on a television cranked up to high volume to drown out your important banjo practice!

Wives are notorious for not understanding the importance of banjo practice.

Last week my wife offered to stuff a sock in the strings to deaden the sound.  I immediately made the same counter-offer targeting her sound hole instead!

And on it goes.  The never-ending battle for decibel supremacy.  Her and her Oprah.  Me and my very important banjo!  Only in the interest of ensuring properly cooked meals have I relented and agreed to make some token effort to reduce my contribution to the "noise pollution" as she puts it.  Noise.  NOISE!  Someday she will eat those words when she watches me on the Grand Ole Opry.  Until then I have promised to play more softly.

And so, I have just recently resorted to using a bridge mute. 

That is a clever little device that attaches to the bridge and muffles the noise the banjo makes.  It also has the added surprise of tampering with the tuning of the strings.  But, of course, that doesn't matter because it reduces the sound of the strings so much you can't hear what you are doing anyway.  But the consolation is that I can now enjoy Oprah more than I ever imagined.  Did you know that most women would rather have a candle-light dinner at home than go out to eat.  I wish I had known that five thousand dollars ago!

I tried mutes in the past but was never really satisfied.  The most successful method of deadening the strings, I discovered, was to put a towel in the pot.  It did a wonderful job of  reducing the sound and kept the strings in tune.  And since it was inside the pot it never fell off the bridge. 

So my practice time has increased.  My wife no longer reminds me of the "Is it live or is it Memorex" commercials and Oprah has become my friend.  And I have gotten much better at the banjo. 

I played a concert the other night with the group in front of a crowd of nursing home residents who had clearly exceeded their bedtime.  They were cordial but most of them had ominous looks on their faces as I took to the stage to perform something called 'bluegrass'.  My banjo bore no resemblence to the piano they were used to and as they began to open the hymnals that were scattered around I realized I was in trouble.

Nothing that a rousing high-speed rendition of Foggy Mountain Breakdown wouldn't cure.  I figured, what the heck, it will either kill em or get em dancing.  In either case they would remember the night ole Dave came to town!

I took to the microphone, yelled 'one, two, three, four...' and dug into the first measures of Earl's classic.   It was precisely then that a strange sensation fell over me.  My right hand was picking.  I knew it was.  I could see my fingers moving.  Only, nothing was happening.  No sound!  Approximately 15 milliseconds after the first nauseating sensation I had another.  The entire previous weeks episodes with my wife and Oprah raced by in my mind.  Including the night before when I stuffed a towel into my banjo!  There I was in front of 150 elderly, wide-eyed, perplexed senior citizens staring in wonderment at this thing called 'bluegrass' as I calculated how I would gracefully extract the towel left in my resonator and continue as if nothing had happened.  Thinking quickly, as I began removing the resonator, I turned the excercise into a show and tell about how banjos are made.  That put the remaining residents who were not already asleep at their tables into a comatose head-drooping state making the entire concert, pardon the pun, a mute point!

And so, as I mentioned earlier, I use bridge mutes now, almost exclusively.  My wife no longer yells at me and I'm now a subscriber to Oprah Magazine.  Whether I'm getting any better, I don't know. I can't tell because I can't hear myself anymore.  I guess, when I think about it, it doesn't really matter. My priorities have changed, because now Oprah has me thinking I need to get more in touch with my feminine side.


6 comments on “It's a mute point.....”

Guy Says:
Wednesday, August 12, 2009 @4:08:00 AM


Banjov1 Says:
Wednesday, August 12, 2009 @12:00:45 PM

Oprah and banjos... Can't beat that!

Great Post


banjotom2 Says:
Thursday, September 17, 2009 @9:31:05 AM

The Grand Ole Opry.....

The Grand Old Oprah!...


JMalmsteen Says:
Saturday, November 26, 2011 @3:29:21 AM

The secret is to start to play something even more noxious than the banjo- the fiddle! My husband hates the fiddle so much that he is thrilled when I pick up the banjo instead.

five-string fever Says:
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 @11:21:06 AM

I need to get some "perspective hanging" bagpipes!

five-string fever Says:
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 @11:30:12 AM

"perspective changing"

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