I will dive right into the topic; you can read all my previous articles and access my lessons on www.caglayanyildiz.com.
I wish to share my rather boring ideas on “paraphernalia” in this article, rather than the usual music theory-practice lessons I have been writing for years. I made it sound complicated by calling them “paraphernalia”, what I mean are the instruments themselves, and all the side products from effect processors to music software.
Musicians are all somewhat crazy. They are obsessive. One of their main obsessions are musical paraphernalia. That is why online or printed music publications and portals like this one, tons of books, many internet forums, many reviews on paraphernalia, their modifications, advertisements, the “best of the year” competitions, questionnaires, product comparisons are all filled to the brim with the musicians unique setups. Paraphernalia is a strong industrial branch, and it has its firm grip on its target audience just like all industrial branches do.
The ads are borderline pornographic. Paraphernalia is presented as an object of pleasure. It is almost like the only meaning of life is staring back at you on that page. You think you will be happy when you possess these instruments, photographed professionally in incredible angles with gorgeous lightning while you drool (and your fingers sweat) just by looking at them. You end up believing that this “instrument” is a portal that will teleport your music, technique, expressions and sounds to another level. We have great hopes for the 59th version of the instrument whose 58th version we own and are rather dissatisfied with. Since our role models, the musicians we admire use this “paraphernalia”, we are convinced that we will have great results if we use that particular brand. We even end up getting our own “signature paraphernalia” crafted after painstaking research and a money spending spree when the mass-produced paraphernalia is no longer enough.
When we get together with musicians who use the same and similar paraphernalia, we end up speaking in secret and coded languages—just like Elvish or Tolkien’s Entish—and cause anyone who cannot join in the conversation to leave or squirm in pain while they try to leave.
However, as we all know (and act as we don’t) paraphernalia are just tools. While we are on the topic of tools, I think I can convey what I am trying to say if I compare paraphernalia to a car on a journey.
A car is a “tool” that takes us from point A to point B; but it is also a power symbol, a toy, a fetish object and a spectacle for some. It is true that some cars take us from point A to point B more comfortably, faster, safer or in a more fun fashion. However, what matters is where the points are located; it is “the journey taken”. Things that matter the most are where the journey takes the traveller, how, what we live during these travels, what we experience with those we travel with and how we make people looking at the photos of our trips feel…
I will try to explain with with a couple of examples: There are trips taken from luxurious living quarters to super expensive entertainment venues with expensive 4×4 off-road vehicles; these trips are even taken daily because no other means of entertainment are known. These vehicles have ads in car magazines in which they are portrayed while climbing steep hills like a wild mountain goat, victoriously swimming through swamps or with a single tire bravely dangling from a cliff of thousands of meters. Yes, these vehicles can really take on these rough terrains without much effort. However; if the lifestyles of the people who own them aren’t brave enough for such an adventure, or limited to not even bothering with such things, these “tools” will never touch a steep hill, or muddy swamps or cliffs in their days. The story they tell is limited to trips taken to the “elite” living spaces, “elite” work places and “elite” entertainment venues. These stories are boring, infertile and suffocating for all (even those who live this lifestyle or those who aspire to). There are no mountain breezes in between the sentences of this story; no mud splashing around, and no smell of valley flowers. The “tool” exists (suffers) far away from its “purpose”. I think this is a really sad situation, not fitting to the real 4×4 owner…
The complete opposite of this example are relaxed journeys taken with shabby, fixer-upper “tools” or vehicles that end up being pleasurable, adventurous and somewhat uncomfortable, but the relaxes nature of the journey masks this slight discomfort. What matters here is the “spirit of the journey”. There is the ease of getting into motion with a single “Let’s go.” There is the comfort of saying “It doesn’t matter if we get into trouble, we will find a way to get out of it.” There is music coming from the bad sound system, reflecting on the mood of the day; its meaning, importance and fun. There are picnic stoves, barbecues and teapots. There could be a thermos and sandwiches involved. Depending on the capacity of the vehicle, there could be blankets, sleeping bags, tents or inflatable beds. There is a “family” in the vehicle, or “best friends” or a peaceful solitude. The journey taken and the story lived is simple, sincere, pleasurable (or not so pleasurable in a fun way) and direct. The “tool” or the vehicle isn’t paid any heed to, it is ultimately just a “tool”. It is what is available at hand, and you go where it is able to take you. If it cannot climb the hills like a mountain goat, then you get as close to the hills as possible. This is better than being stuck in the vicious circle in the city with the poor 4×4. The problems possibly caused by the “vehicle” itself, the way these problems are solved (in this or that way) or not solved are all parts of the “journey”.
There might be many variations in-between the range of these two examples. Without the “spirit of the journey”, our shabby vehicle might go through an even worse vicious circle in its boring and suffocating lifespan compared to the 4×4. Our 4×4, on the other hand, becomes a tool of its intended purpose with the “spirit of the journey”, and it travels to places the shabby vehicle is unable to and does so safely in comfort and pleasure. Of course, if you are a dedicated traveller, you can get a truck modified for the 1/4th price of a 4×4 in a way that it could travel the world, learn a bit about engine maintenance etc. and get on the road. You can step on grounds threaded by only a few before you, live and shoot your own documentary. There are endless choices and variations among these examples, and endless journeys.
Ultimately, a “tool” will always be a “tool” and what will always matter is the “journey”. Speaking for myself, I am interested in my friends who share the photos of their interesting “journeys” on their social networks instead of those who share the photos of their “tools”.
I am quickly leaving the crime scene (through a “tool” of my own making) after mumbling something about “What can I say, I hope I didn’t ruin this edition’s lesson because I had this idea about tools. However, adventurous travellers can take a look at my previous lessons on www.caglayanyildiz.com for more.