A musicians musings on music making:
Focus on preparation, relax in execution.
Practice in front of a mirror.
Your body should feel good while you play. Relaxed, in control, and tension only in the right places (your core supports everything, and everything in your body is connected).
Tap your foot
If you count while you play, the structure of the music will unfold in your mind in the most beautiful way. You will develop rhythmic awareness, and that will lead to rhythmic freedom.. meaning you can play anything, anywhere, and it will feel good and sound “right.” To experience complete musical liberation, you have to count, and then stop counting and feel.
Always go to the source of the music. The original score, the original composer, the original recording. Once you’ve learned the fundamental thing, then find/listen to other interpretations, preferably by the greats.
Relax into the time, into the groove. Feel the pulse in your gut and in your chest/heart.
Imagine holding a credit card between your chin and your collarbone.
Steal from the best.
Consistency is Key.
Triads are the building blocks of tonal music. Their power is not something we created. It comes from the natural world, and is simply something we discovered. It is the physics of sound waves, our 12 tone, tonal system, and how that uncovers tendency tones that affect us and pull our ears, mind, and heart. At its core, I & V. The ebb and flow of Tension and Release. And at the core of that, moving constantly from a place of tension and dissonance to a place of stability and consonance.
However, without structuring time with form (applying rhythm and adhering to a pulse while creating cadence patterns of tension and release), triads and the tendency’s of musical tones power is greatly diminished or even stripped entirely. Musicians sculpt time with sounds. Therefore, form, structure, and the pulse of time are essential (and inevitable) to creating music with movement, music that sucks us in and is constantly pulling us into the next moment. With these tools we create a sense of inevitability, we create expectations. Music that has been masterfully crafted rips us from our thinking minds own neurotic stories into the present moment, into ourselves and into the world, creates expectations and then satisfies, and defies them. mmm.
There is a whole world in each note.
Related to that, context changes things.
Listen to how composers and improvisers contextualize their ideas.
The Space is where we leave our thinking mind behind, and are fully present and open. Focus your attention on your breathing, watch yourself breath, follow the mechanism. You can’t be in your thinking mind and watch your breathing. Breath will take you to the space. -Kenny Werner
Exhale through fills.
Shoulders down and back.
You can’t force things. When you push, it may work for a short time, but eventually it will fall apart. You must relax into the space, and start from where you are.
Don’t practice ten songs in one session, practice one song for a whole session. Different tempos, time signatures, different keys, different grooves, different textures... explore different ideas through one platform, and go much much deeper into the music.
When we run out of ideas, we end our solo, when we all run out of ideas, we end the song. What happens if we don’t end the song?
Slow down. Breathe.
Do you trust me?
When body and mind are one, are connected, you freely tap into the Tao, you become the muse.
Healthy practice must train both body and mind.
What grooves more, legato or staccato? If everything is legato there is no accent pattern, no articulated shape or contour, no groove. In truth it is always a mix, but maybe the most important thing is the space, not just the spaces where you don’t play, but how you shape the space, how you sculpt time.
In a trio, there are 9 configurations/ensembles/orchestration possibilities:
0... 1, 2, 3, 1+2, 1+3, 2+3, 1+2+3.
Mistakes are our best friends and guides. They show us clear as day where to focus our attention and practice.
What we think we need, and what we need are often not the same. Often what we want, our desires, cloud what is needed. Awareness has to be raised to get to the heart of it.
A light touch touches the heart.
You must be relaxed to have a light touch, and the resulting sound is the sweetest thing. Not just because of dynamics or force, but because a light touch = a light heart coming only from a relaxed place. Once we relax, become present, we can bring our whole being into what we are doing.
We practice technique (techne in Greek is “art”), craft, so when we get to the performance we can simply let go.
What is my role as a part of the ensemble? What role does my instrument play in realizing the music? How do I best fulfill my role?
You hate it, until you realize you are it. Then you hate it more. Then you love it.
“Start and end your solo with clear ideas the listener can hear. Involving the listener in your playing is your responsibility as a soloist.” - Cannonball
If it doesn’t feel good while you’re playing, something is wrong. Your body and the music should feel good.
Playing softer = Control
Shit or get off the pot. at its core it’s about impermanence and appreciating life.. making the most of your time, because nothing is guaranteed. It tells us, rather comically, that avoidance gets you nowhere fast. Face your situation, face your truth, and do the damn thing, or quit wasting your time and do something else.
Smoke em if you got em. Irony. Make the most of your life, (seize the opportunities while they are there to be seized, because nothing in life is a guarantee)...by giving yourself cancer (; P)
Half time. All 8th notes in 4/4 become 16th notes in 2/2. -Hal Galper
Accompany yourself. Play rhythm, sing the heads. The two working together will force you to stay relaxed. This alone works on nearly all aspects of playing. Ear, time, singing, phrasing, rhythm guitar, etc...
Chord tones, in Forward Motion !
Say what you mean, or don’t say anything at all.
What do I play? Listen
Avoid shortsightedness. Keep an eye on the big picture.