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How do you approach playing the guitar?

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by DeadCircuits, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. DeadCircuits

    DeadCircuits Strat-Talker

    275
    Aug 25, 2016
    GB
    I'm a fan of Alan Moore (the comic author behind Watchmen and V for Vendetta). He views creativity as magic, he describes the process as similar to pulling a rabbit out of a hat. You start with an idea, which you turn into something tangible. Be it a record or just the temporary flow of soundwaves in the air during a performance. I have found it quite revolutionary to view playing the guitar in these terms.

    When I play the guitar I like to think of it as translating what I am thinking and feeling into sound via the guitar so that other people can connect with it on a deeper level than if I'd just said "I'm frustrated" or "I'm upset" or whatever. Often I will close my eyes and play to the images that come into my mind. I will try to create a soundscape that reflects this image.

    Its hard to explain but I think when you view the guitar as this kind of bridge between the personal subjective world and the shared physical world and you place as much value on what occurs within as without you often find that there is a spring of creativity that you almost channel rather than consciously produce. I'm not saying that the guitar is some kind of supernatural tool, but if you give some weight to it as a means to express whats going on inside you get some beautiful stuff.

    I have never been one for technical playing. Obviously you need some level of skill in order to tap into your creativity, but showy guitar playing doesn't convey much to me, no where near as much as Gilmour can convey with a single note. If you give the art of playing guitar a quasi spiritual reverence it is far more of an experience than just going through the motions.

    Well thats my ramble out of the way. What is your philosophy and approach to guitar playing.
     
  2. Mouse

    Mouse The Knees of Rock Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    49
    Apr 25, 2012
    New Jersey
    I typically approach the guitar from the side. If I go at him head on he'll see me and try to run! ;)

    I don't know...I guess I'm not that deep about it. I play what makes me smile that day. Sometimes it's a cover, sometimes it's an improv, sometimes it's my own riffing. I don't view the guitar as some sort of spiritual bridge to anything. It's a piece of wood with strings that distracts me from the pressure cooker of everyday life.
     
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  3. DeadCircuits

    DeadCircuits Strat-Talker

    275
    Aug 25, 2016
    GB
    Yeah I think I perhaps mispoke when I said I view the guitar as something spiritual. A more accurate thing to say would be that a certain creative mindset can be akin to something spiritual. The guitar is not a requisite for that.

    Of course I have my just playing for the sake of it days too. Or just playing cause I feel like I ought to practise. The times that my playing really shines though is when I go to that proverbial place.
     
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  5. heltershelton

    heltershelton ROCKIN FOREVER Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 5, 2013
    Not Florida
    i try my best not to think at all and just do, if that makes any sense.
     
  6. Mouse

    Mouse The Knees of Rock Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    49
    Apr 25, 2012
    New Jersey
    Please don't correct yourself on my account. If that's what it means to you then by all means preach it. I keyed on that because I've read that quite a bit from folks around here and I just never had that sort of connection with the guitar despite my pleas for divine intervention.

    I guess we all get into the "zone" from time to time but I've never viewed that as anything other than my synapses all firing in synch for a change. :D
     
  7. davidKOS

    davidKOS Obsessed Musician Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    California
    I agree about the spiritual aspects, the magic, all of that about making music. Particularly in the light of so much of the image of rock as "the devil's music", the rock guitarist as wasted and sex-crazed, etc., things which do not always fit with a spiritual model.

    However I am convinced a spiritual outlook alone does not make great art, you need technique to achieve one's vision.

    Very few guitar players have been as technically proficient AND spiritually oriented as John McLaughlin. Obviously the two aspects are not mutually exclusive.



    http://www.johnmclaughlin.com/2010/...-mclaughlin-musical-and-spiritual-connection/

    http://www.westword.com/music/guita...ns-spiritual-path-has-been-a-long-one-5110782

    ""There are certain things, like when I began my spiritual quest, you could say, at the end of the '60s," he points out. "Coming out of the whole hippie period with meditation and yoga, and really getting deep into that in the '70s. The Mahavishnu Orchestra was about that. That was a great band in those days. In a way, that kind of spirituality was much more overt than it is today.""

    " McLaughlin says, the key to playing well is just getting out of the way. "It becomes very simple in music, because if you're thinking, you're not playing," McLaughlin concludes. "Playing is really not thinking. There's no way you can do two things at the same time, at least not for me, anyway. If I'm playing, I'm really not thinking. I should not be thinking if I'm playing. So this is all a question of practice and discipline and getting out of the way. That's really the secret.""

    ......................................

    Frankly, I am always bothered when someone makes a statement like "I have never been one for technical playing."

    That's like saying "I've never been much for good cuisine" or "I've never been much for good doctors" or "I like the graphic novels with mediocre drawing".

    Why are musicians with technical skill instantly put down because they have chops? But that's a debate for another thread.....

    I have also played music with Persian, Turkish and Indian musicians that have strong spiritual aspects to their music. They also believe in lots of practice so one has the technique needed to transcend the physical and make pure music from one's emotions.

    "I like to think of it as translating what I am thinking and feeling into sound via the guitar"

    This is also the goal of the great jazz improvisers - guys that practice for years in the "woodshed" so they can spontaneously create music in the moment.

    I just do not see how lacking technique helps in this process.

    I approach the guitar just as I would a violin or piano - it is capable of playing anything. I am the one that has to learn how to make this happen.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  8. DeadCircuits

    DeadCircuits Strat-Talker

    275
    Aug 25, 2016
    GB
    Yeah I dont necessarily see it as anything more than stuff going on in my brain. But it feels profound so I use lofty language to describe it haha
     
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  9. AncientAx

    AncientAx Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    57
    Nov 24, 2010
    Maryland
    I sneak up on it very carefully and grab it before it runs away screaming " Get away from me you hack !"
     
  10. DeadCircuits

    DeadCircuits Strat-Talker

    275
    Aug 25, 2016
    GB
    Awesome response thank you.

    I absolutely agree that technique is very important. My comments were more pointed towards people who seem purely technically oriented, who play as a show of skill rather than touching on something deeper.

    Not that fast virtuoso playing isn't good or you can't do it just for that sake, but in my opinion it lacks something.
     
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  11. heltershelton

    heltershelton ROCKIN FOREVER Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 5, 2013
    Not Florida
    i think everything has its place, and, like anything else, needs balance.
     
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  12. Mouse

    Mouse The Knees of Rock Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    49
    Apr 25, 2012
    New Jersey
    I don't want this thread to devolve into this tired discussion again but how do you know it didn't touch something deeper to the person playing all those notes? What moves them won't necessarily move you and vice versa. One could also argue that sparse playing lacks something as well...like notes. ;)

    People who drive a Volkswagen Beatle don't drive fast. Why? Because they can't.
     
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  13. davidKOS

    davidKOS Obsessed Musician Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    California

    Well, playing fast just to show off is an athletic skill, not a musical one.

    And granted, a lot of so-called "virtuoso guitar" music is not that musical. But that's the fault of the composer, not the player per se.

    "Not that fast virtuoso playing isn't good or you can't do it just for that sake, but in my opinion it lacks something"

    Some of the most passionate "does not lack ANYTHING" music I have heard has come from players like McLaughlin, Steve Howe, Jaco, Paco de Lucia, and many other players that are fast virtuosos. However the musical compositions called for such playing.

    Also some emotions need velocity to express the musical idea.
     
  14. DeadCircuits

    DeadCircuits Strat-Talker

    275
    Aug 25, 2016
    GB
    Yeah you're right I am projecting how I feel when I hear something onto how I think someone must feel when they play it. I should probably not make such presumptions.

    If playing super fast whiz kid technical stuff does it for you then that's cool. I was wrong to bash it
     
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  15. DogBoy13

    DogBoy13 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 23, 2015
    Subversion Central
    Of course the guitar is something spiritual. And not. It's whatever we project of ourselves onto it .
    It's a lot of things. How I approach it is as a tool for exploration , a means of expression, a way to bridge that inner (spiritual, if you want, because "inner" almost always defaults to "spiritual" in Chihuahua Galaxy ) somethingorother to this outer somethingorother. Music itself is magic. Making music is a more complex alchemy that brings in intellect, chance,
    the opportunities and restrictions of a given instrument or medium , and ... some other stuff . I don't do much
    "magical" instantaneous improvisation. My best "improv" lasted a year and I got one piece of music out of it .
    ("what a day that was" ) . Playing guitar is more mechanical than spiritual, but there's no shortage of beauty
    and wonder -of- it -all , upon reflecting like this.
     
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  16. davidKOS

    davidKOS Obsessed Musician Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    California
    Exactly, guys! It's all about balance. Yin needs yang....slow needs fast....passion needs reason....yes, balance.


    Correct - one can get in trouble making presumptions.

    And I mean this in a kindly way, not as an insult - if NOT being able to play fast passages when needed does it for you, then that's cool too.

    But I would not be content as a musician.
     
  17. dogletnoir

    dogletnoir Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 1, 2013
    northeastern usa
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  18. heltershelton

    heltershelton ROCKIN FOREVER Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 5, 2013
    Not Florida
    will we EVER be? sadly i have to say, for myself, anyway.....no.
     
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  19. davidKOS

    davidKOS Obsessed Musician Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    California

    Interesting you mention Fripp.

    Check this out:

    https://rodolphepilaert63.files.wor...-fripp-from-crimson-king-to-crafty-master.pdf

    "In 1973 Fripp said, “I’m not really interested in music. Music is just a means of creating a magical state.” (Crowe 1973, 22) What he meant (I think) by this was that the outer forms of music, its styles, history, structure, even aesthetics – the stuff of the academic approach to music – were not the point for him. The point was the “magical state” that the practice of music could put one in. Seen from this vantage point, the actual notes and rhythms, the timbral surface, the sounds in themselves, hardly make any difference; it is the attitude and receptivity of the participants that matter"
     
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  20. davidKOS

    davidKOS Obsessed Musician Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    California
    But that is also part of the spiritual journey, it's about the process, the getting there. The goal is immaterial, it's the path that matters and how you walk the path.
     
  21. dogletnoir

    dogletnoir Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 1, 2013
    northeastern usa
    Yes, yes, and yes again!
     
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