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Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by johnny k, Feb 13, 2018.
I do play way over what i can do, it fails 9 times out of 10, but that time which works feel good !
As a workng sideman, usually way under.
90% of the stuff I get hired to do is “baby food”.
Sorry if that sounds arrogant.
Most of the gigs I get require me to play simple, low volume, lowest commom denominator tunes.
I find reasons to justify it.
The audiences do enjoy it, and most of my co-conspirators are nice, well-intentioned people.
About four of the twenty five different acts that hire me actually have game.
The rest, not so much.
Funny that you posted this today. I just had a session with my classical instructor on Monday. Like always, I worked my butt off all week since the last session and was ready to show off a bit. I went to play the piece that we have been working on and when I missed a note he shut me down. It was one note, but he gave me the speech that my biggest flaw was that I try to play "above my comprehension". He is correct in that my music theory knowledge is a little weak, but then I am not trying to become a classical guitarist either. His point was that I studied the piece and memorized more than understood and that was why I missed that note.
Those sessions are just brutal, but I do think that is true for many...we do tend to play beyond our comprehension. Sort of like watching a infant that barely learned to walk yet tries to run only to make it a few steps before crashing. Of course for those few strides that the child does make, they are all smiles and laughing...much like my guitar play.
I think that was a little harsh myself for one note even top pros do that at times, it is different if you make the same mistake over at the same place, then i would say you are and need to slow it down and learn the changes right and then proceed.
As for myself i never know what is over or under some things which are suppose to be fairly basic i can struggle with at times, and some hard parts i can play better alot depends on the the day as well.
But i never really worry much if i cant do it some days as mentioned above maybe 99% of folk just like the simple stuff for easy relaxing listening and dont care how complex something is to play.
I guess when you play a piece, what ever that is, you re not allowed to mess up. i was thinking more of a improvised thing and landing on the beat.
I always play over my capacity. It's my style, man.
But, seriously, I think you have to push yourself or you'll never get any better.
I play under. My ideal performance involves being aware of everything and focusing and reacting to the audience. Actual playing ability is far less important.
The simpler I play, the better I can perform.
Ego is complex, it drives achievement, but needs to be checked.
Occasionally, I'll see a great player with little understanding of the bigger picture and no desire to engage with the audience, and they are so focused on themselves and showing what they can do that they do a disservice to the song or miss golden opportunities to connect during a performance.
Your playing needs to be simple and rehearsed enough that your decision-making resources are available in real time during the show for interaction.
The key to a successful performance is focusing on the audience, which in turn creates more of a universal desire for them to enter into your world.
You've got these virtuosic guitar giants with almost an all-male, guitar-playing following, where their stagework is nearly non-existent.
If they upped their game, the females would come, and more males are gonna go wherever the females go, unless it's a pop show, etc.
When my game is up, I tend to compartmentalize moments during the show where I will briefly withdraw from the overall strategy to focus on guitar, try something crazy, if I've built up that foundation with the audience to allow for that.
You can get away with murder if the crowd likes you, and that's what you want, their trust in your reality. You have to prove that they are more important to you than you are to yourself first.
There is a lot of psychology that seems counterintuitive.
Qualifying for audience approval through guitar ability is a losing strategy, because audiences are less concerned with that than they are with your ability to have a conversation with them through your performance. It's give and take.
Even worse are the guitarists that are not too concerned about audience approval, it's difficult for them to make a living or keep a consistent following. The same attitude that holds the audience in contempt relegates them to a corner where they are miserable backing up an artist they don't even like.
Then you have the rare player who can roll with the punches and get along with everybody, play songs that are way beneath their skill level, and everyone has a great time. I love those guitarists!
Guitarists can be quite contrary and antisocial people. Motivations should be questioned, self-inventory is tough. I have a lot to learn, that's all I know.
You can do a lot better for yourself if you get to the venue early and talk to everybody than you would spending the same amount of time practicing guitar.
Once you've established a solid frame for the show, the stage is yours.
With the band, under. I do try to write songs that include interesting parts, but ‘don’t step on the vocals’.
At home I try for over, but I guess it’s more ‘up to’...
I’ve been playing above my skill level for the last 15 years. It’s working ok so far
Very few styles of music are rocket surgery. Or call for flashy pyrotechnics. Spare and laughably simple often translate very well to a group setting.
When I listen to solos they often sound too wheedly without much of a story to tell. Then I listen to something like Pink Floyd and think, “now that’s a solo”! So I’ve taken that to heart. I play slower, more melodically, with a buildup to any faster sections, with an overall arc and story in mind. It’s easier in terms of finger chops but harder musically.
wisdom from Ol '55!
My son's high school orchestra always scored really high at regional and state competitions, against some of the top HS orchestras in the area. They often came in first or second. He mentioned one time that part of his strategy was playing pieces that were slightly less difficult than what most others were playing, but playing it really well, and capturing all of the nuances that make it more musical. Apparently there are six graded levels of school orchestra music arrangements, and most schools would play the most difficult level six pieces in an effort to impress the judges, but would mess up here or there. My son's orchestra would play level 5 pieces, or even some level 4, but would absolutely nail it, so got great scores.
In a similar way, I try to encourage our cover band to do the same, thinking the audience will not know the difference between an easy three cowboy chord song and a really complex song with difficult instrumental parts, key changes, challenging rhythms, etc. We do mix in some harder songs to keep things interesting for us though. The songs that seem to go over best are the basic three chorders with simple solos, so our strategy seems to work.
90% below my ability.
The other 10% ... sheer terror.
*In regard to what @Milspec mentioned about his lesson - it's classical guitar. Regardless whether or not he wants to actually be a 'concert' guitarist, intense and often brutal critique is what you pay for and what you want. One note is a big deal and no, the pros (professional, concert level classical guitarists) do not make those mistakes.
It's hard to play above your capacity. That's what practice is for. You keep getting better with practice so you reach for something challenging again. In a closed or friendly setting you can just say, "I've been working on this", and with the focus you have when performing without the distractions of home you may nail it. Every new song I try to learn is above my capacity in some way until it isn't any more.
in 1968, I had been playing "Lead" guitar in a surf/rock 'n' roll band that split due to college. I real good (stuck on himself, great frontman) singer insisted I could play "lead" in his country band. Got a few pointers form another "lead" guitarist and learned some 2-string fills, steel-type licks, Luther Perkins licks etc. Never worked out - I didn't have the "feel". Played for several months and I found a pretty good country picker to take my place. We all remained friends.
I would probably be looking for a new teacher right away if I got a speech like that from my teacher... he will shut me down sometimes but if he said I was playing above my comprehension I'd be miffed. Cause I'm playing what he asked me to play, and it sounds like that's what you were doing too.
Not that I try to hide where I am with music theory though, he knows where I'm at and has no problem with me working on something I don't fully comprehend if it's good practice, AFAICT that's about good physical practice even if you're not ready to fully understand the theory or apply it without memorization.
I am constantly pushing the envelope, but as a hack, I'm always playing beyond my capacity regardless ... to the distress of everyone who is listening.
When I'm playing a show, I keep it simple and within my skill set. Otherwise, I always try to challenge myself and keep growing. Otherwise there's not much point to it.
One of my struggles is to play within my capacity at gigs; especially so since at gigs I'm at about 80% of home capacity. I play well enough to do okay with that 80%; if I would stay within capacity I'd pick up another 5% just by being more relaxed and not trying so hard.