May 26, 2018

Fretless Surfing

Some months back, San Diego's Jim Cahill brought up an interesting way to describe matting...he characterized it as "fretless surfing."

Not being a stand up bass player, or a violinist, I can only surmise what the freedom tinged with challenge playing a fretless string instrument would be like. And yet, I instantly related to mat surfing in those terms.

The most obvious analogy to a fretless instrument would be a "finless" surfcraft, which of course would include matting. But there's something deeper to this idea as it pertains to mats, which I can't really put my finger on.

Additionally, mat surfing is devoid of the ''fret'' associated with conventional surfing, in terms of competing for "good" waves in a crowd. So it works on that level to.

I wish I had more to say, but I don't. Please share your thoughts in the comment section, and maybe we can round out this concept.


misterdirk said...

I can relate to that. Even though there are no frets, and the tones are made on a sort of sliding continuum, there are natural nodes of harmony in the medium, special points where you're in trim and attuned.

tuskedbeast said...

It's also in the tune you play. Fretted surfers are all hammering away at Johnny B Good, or more like it, parts of the riff. Endlessly, as if there was nothing else. Mat surfers are sliding through the changes liquidly like Jaco, whole melodies and the silence between the notes, too.

thekraftpack said...

Makes sense...slipsliding in between.

Anonymous said...

That is an amazing metaphor.
I see the mat as far more adaptable than my surfboards or paddle boards. So, it's not confined by swell or tide or wind. Fretless.
It makes sloppy, wind blown crap a ton of fun. Conditions that would suck on a surfboard are a blast on the mat.
When it's glassy, I can find a spot away from the pack and milk the best out of what is there. The mat is unconfined. Fretless.
Plus, when it's good, the mat makes it really good. The feeling of speed is unsurpassed.
My surfboards and paddleboards really need certain conditions to be fun. I have had mediocre days on my surfboard.
I have never had a mediocre day on the mat. It's liberating. Fretless.
I live in a place not blessed with consistent conditions, so in the past, there were lots of days I would drive to the beach, take one look, and drive home.
These days, I grab the mat and know that conditions are irrelevant. The mat will provide. Unconstrained. Fretless.

Bagpipes guy said...

I feel as though when I ride a mat I am playing a three "freted" instrument. Manipulating air throughout each chamber to play/ride the perfect note/line.

Unknown said...

It's a continuum--how hard you squeeze, how much contact your fins have, hand position, weight... and like any riff, it changes constantly. But there are harmonics that make it "right". And when it's right---oh, wow!
It always seems unexpected to me.