The lift people….?

The first time I visited Italy I travelled around a few cities in the north, stopping at youth hostels, looking around and basically wondering what I was searching for. Art galleries, museums, culture etc. What I usually ended up doing, there and on other holidays, was staying in at the hostels, talking to other tourists, and drinking wine.

At one time, I think it was in Verona, I was sitting by the edge of a river alone, almost certainly with those same questions in my head (why am I here? What am I looking for? What do other people do?), a man came down the steps to join me. He spoke English, with an Italian accent.

He did most of the talking, and explained that I looked so obviously English. Most Europeans understand this, I think. We have a look. (Badly dressed? I speak for myself, of course.)

He had lived in England, and Germany, and he was Italian. But he had really good memories of his time in England, and he spoke English very well.

Then he told me his theory. That English people were lift people. Italian’s were definitely on the ground floor. Close to the earth, simple, straightforward. German’s were on the second floor. No connection to the ground. Head in the air, filled with ideas, but fashion? Healthy food?… Not their strong point. But English (British?) people didn’t belong on any particular floor. They travelled between them. They could be like Italians, or Germans, or whatever. They were able to adapt.

Of course whenever I tell this story it’s pointed out to me that I like the theory because it makes us sound cool. And this Italian guy obviously meant it as a compliment. But it could mean that we just mimic others. That we’re not stable. That we avoid ourselves. That we are, in fact, adrift.

From the point of view of Flamenco guitar, it is true that I avoid having a ‘style’, or set of fixed techniques. That I like the idea to be able to change, and be anything I want at any fixed moment. Of course, it means whatever I do never sounds quite right, but I’ll come back to that.

So 2 videos of the same piece. An intro to a soleares by Sabicas, called Aires De Puerto Real. One, as I usually play, and the other in a more traditional position. I’m searching for the right sound, and wondering if I change position, can I find that sound easier. And if I play a lot in the traditional position, as many have done in the past, will it affect the position I normally play in. Of course there are so many options to try….

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