Joshua “Salt” Salazar
3 December 2009
Humble Roots (written by Josh as a High School paper)
My fingers flew across the strings at an almost inhuman speed as the audience looked on in awed silence. Most guitarists would be immersed in full concentration while trying to play such a technical piece. After all, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee isn’t just any piece; it’s a myriad of notes assaulting the listeners ears with, if played correctly, frightening precision. However, my mind was elsewhere. In my own imagination, I wasn’t standing in the middle of our high school’s less than magnificent gym, playing in front of a relatively small crowd numbered in the hundreds.
Instead, I was back in my youth, back in the days of simplicity (musically speaking, anyway).
It was a warm Summer evening at my grandparents’ home. I was seven, I think; I’m not quite certain on my exact age at the time. I do remember that I was (and, I must admit, still am) obsessed with video games, so much so that I had brought my Nintendo with me to entertain myself. I remember sitting in front of my grandparents’ television, immersed in a virtual world of monsters, complex worlds, and for some reason, coins. Lots and lots of coins. I never really understood why Mario was so obsessed with coins.
Anyway, there I sat in the darkened living room. It was in the evening; roughly around six
o’clock, I’d say. The TV was turned up far too loud (why do kids feel the need to have the TV loud, anyway?), and I was pressing buttons on my controller as if doing so would ensure financial stability in life. The sounds from the game filled the room (at ear-shattering decibels) with their bleep-bloop quality. Oddly enough, I apparently had not turned the television up loudly enough, because from another room in the house, I began to hear music. At first I was annoyed (How dare someone make sounds louder than the almighty Nintendo!), and reached to turn the volume up.
At that moment, something struck me. I didn’t know it at the time, but that something was called a lyric.
“There is a house…” came the melodious voice. I froze. “…in New Orleans,” the voice
continued. I relaxed my reach toward the volume button. “They caaaaaall the riiiiiising sun!” I couldn’t take it any more. I had to find the source of this wondrous sound. I paused my video game (even in my awestruck state, I couldn’t just let Mario die, could I?) and made my way toward the music.
Finding the sound was like some twisted form of the hotter-colder game (you know, the one where you have to find a hidden object, and your insanely cruel companion tells you you’re warmer if you get close, ice-cold if you’re far away, or completely opposite of those just to mess with you). I rambled through the hallway, not entirely sure if I was heading in the proper direction. Eventually I decided I was, as the sound grew richer with every step. I happened upon the room in question. It turned out to be the office. There sat Grandpa Wayne in the office chair with his old nylon-stringed folk guitar. Soft natural evening light filtered through the shade on the window. On a table next to him lay a binder, which I would discover a couple years later contained every song he had ever played.
“Hello, Josh,” he greeted me with a smile. I just stood there (likely with a rather dumb look on my face). After a few moments, he spoke again, “Do you like the guitar, Josh?” I could only nod. He continued to play his song, House of the Rising Sun, a song which I still remember how to play to this day.
I observed this display of music in amazed silence. At that point, I didn’t know that people could make music! I thought music only came out of the speakers on the radio or TV! At that point, that’s all I had heard. This new display of talent was simply astounding to me, and I wanted to learn more.
Apparently, my grandpa is also a mind reader. “Would you like to learn how to play the guitar, Josh?” he inquired with that sweet grandpa-talking-to-his-grandson voice. Once again, I nodded. He smiled. “Well then,” he said joyfully, “Come on over here, and I’ll teach you.” I couldn’t get over to him fast enough.
He positioned the guitar in my lap, helping to support it (I was so young that the guitar was much too big and heavy for me). Positioning my fingers in a very specific shape, he said, “This is an A minor. Go ahead, strum the guitar.” I did as I was told, and the sound it made was the most beautiful thing I had heard in my (so far) short life. He then moved my fingers, retaining the same shape, but in a different place. “And this,” he informed me, “is an E, Notice anything about them?”
I finally summoned my voice back to my throat, and answered quietly, “They’re the same
“Well, not quite,” he said, “But it is in the same shape. The same pattern. Remember that. All guitar playing is based on patterns.”
And so, a decade later, as I flawlessly executed the patterns I had ingrained in my muscle
memory which were necessary to play Flight, I fondly remembered that very first step in my journey as a musician. Later on after the show was over, someone asked me, “How did you get that good?”
“Lots of practice,” I said confidently, “and a little inspiration to get you started.”
Josh has opened his own sound production studio, link below.
The pictures below are links to Josh’s you-tube videos.
Click on the picture and enjoy.