Journey to the Sixth Dimension

According to String Theory, all objects in the universe are made up of hypothetical vibrating filaments (strings) and membranes of energy. Strings vibrate in a multi-dimensional spacetime. The vibration of the string in different dimensions determines whether it appears to be matter, light, or gravity to us in our 3 dimensional perception. 

Let’s consider another multi-dimensional problem: Sight reading musical notation and guitar. We have a notation system that is designed for the right hand position on a piano, which runs in a single linear (left/right) dimension. The guitar’s fretboard is not linear or one-dimensional, and you use both hands to play a note, so there are ambiguities that confound the guitarist’s ability to sight read.

However, many guitarists do sight read from standard notation (not tablature). They mentally transform a notation system designed for a one dimensional keyboard to the note positions on a two dimensional fretboard, where the same note can appear multiple times in different places. From my research, there are 3 components: Fretboard knowledge, notation knowledge, and repetition of basic exercises. I have always approached the sight reading problem by figuring out the notes ahead of time, while concurrently figuring out the best position to play them based on what comes next. This has the disadvantage of taking a long time, but the advantage is that by the time I am finished, I have essentially memorized the piece of music. It does not qualify as “on-the-fly” sight reading.

After recently taking on a challenge that required me to learn a huge amount of music from notation in a small amount of time, the next step in my musical evolution is to improve in my sight reading; being able to play from notation after two or three passes without having to go through a major decoding exercise first.

Wish me luck as I journey into the 6th dimension.