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Author Topic: Solo consciousness  (Read 6050 times)

Offline davecan

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Solo consciousness
« on: May 20, 2008, 08:40:02 AM »
When you solo how much conscious thinking do you do?  
i.e.-
are you concentrating on picking the right scale/mode/arpeggio?
- or -
do you just "let it rip" and try to allow the creative side to take over completely?
- or -
something in between?

It seems to me that, while it's extremely important to put the time in learning and woodshedding scales, when actually performing one should strive to enter a "zone" (much like an athlete) where instinct takes over and thought is minimal.  Of course, it's an instinct that's been nurtured and groomed by the woodshedding.  But I also think it's important to "practice" being creative, if that makes any sense.  

"through discipline comes freedom"  Buddha

Anyone have any thoughts on this?


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Solo consciousness

Offline Paul Marossy

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2008, 09:17:59 AM »
quote:
When you solo how much conscious thinking do you do?
i.e.-
are you concentrating on picking the right scale/mode/arpeggio?
- or -
do you just "let it rip" and try to allow the creative side to take over completely?
- or -
something in between?


I do all of the above, but I think I lean more towards the "let it rip" creative side more often than not.

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Solo consciousness

Offline simonlock

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2008, 10:11:05 AM »
The conscious mind is pretty slow and isn't going to be able to keep up with the changes. Sometimes when it's a completely new progression or scale you have to use it but like you said woodshedding takes care of things like that. I'm actually researching this at the moment so it's funny you asked this question. I've been experimenting with turning the conscious mind off and letting feel and music come from somewhere else that has a lot higher capacity.

Alas, in order to get our building blocks we have to struggle with our conscious minds which are lazy, slow, egotistical and not very quick witted. But the more you force information in the more settles in the subconscious to be used later.

Rock on Dave

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Solo consciousness

Offline prjacobs

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2008, 11:56:05 AM »
I'll take column C, "something in between." The most important part of a solo takes place between our ears.  The more we know, the more choices we can make.  As Simon says, (couldn't resist), we need a foundation of practice.  Not just mindless repetition, but practice with understanding of melody, harmony, rhythm, etc.  We should all be developing our theory and our chops at the same time.  Well, I should qualify that.  If we want to be virtuosic players, we need the foundation. Even if the style is more basic, practice builds the base to work from. Though our conscious minds can't possibly keep up when we're actually playing a solo, our flashes of inspiration will be informed by the conscious work we've done in preparing. Different styles will inform our solos.  Maybe it's about singing slow notes.  Maybe it about an old time rock and roll feel... Whatever.  Sometime, we just want to have some cool licks on tap to get the crowd's attention.  Music is one of those things where the work pays off proportionately.  If we've done the work, we'll have the confidence to get out there and be big dogs.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 11:58:35 AM by prjacobs »
 

Solo consciousness

Offline bno

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2008, 12:04:30 PM »
I don't recall the exact quote but I believe it was Miles who said something to the effect that you learn all your scales and arpeggios and then forget all that "stuff" and play.  You have to perform from someplace other than your head.  Sure, you need a big bag of licks and tricks and technique and need to know the music and have a deep well of experience and etc..., but in the end, spontinaity rules.  

{edit: Paul and I must have been typing at the same time.  Just like music, we are expressing the same idea with different perspectives.  When I think solo, I think improvisation and improvisation is a spontaneous expression of your collected experiences.}
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 12:09:16 PM by bno »
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Solo consciousness

Offline mojotron

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2008, 12:22:07 PM »
I practice runs and variations on those runs - some of that involves arpeggios, some involves intrecate picking... but I practice with the idea that I'm going to follow the next idea that comes out. Sometimes that is following the chords into a new key or perhaps staying the in the blues scale...

So, what happens when I actually do a solo it ends up being a bit like down-hill sking - where you are not going to be able to stop and you have to leaverage all of your technique/practice to ride the hill. Same thing with soloing/improvising - you ride the music around you; taking yourself into more interesting terrane and faster speeds.

But, it all starts with practicing exactly how you intend to play.
 

Solo consciousness

Offline Lwinn171

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2008, 12:30:09 PM »
Yeah, I think that's Miles who said that. Not sure, but I remember being told that at a young age, and taking it to heart. I rehearse solo's (all parts, actually), pretty thoroughly. When playing live, the conscious mind is turned off (unless for some reason I can't find the zone). I allow myself to deviate, sometimes, from the written parts. Often, if I'm really in a good place (in my head), I'm not thinking about the mechanics of playing at all. This actually touches on a very important aspect of my playing. It's the main reason I love playing, especially live. For some reason, the adrenaline and endorphine rush (brought on by the mild panic I always feel just before performing) helps get me there. By song 2 I'm usually settled in. By song four, or so, I am pretty much in the fabled zone. That's on an average or better night. Sometimes I don't get there, and just have to chug through. Only musicians can discern the difference between the two, for the most part.

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Solo consciousness

Offline Paul Marossy

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2008, 12:44:03 PM »
Allan Holdsworth, who I consider the king of improvising guitarists, said he has three modes:

1. Choosing something he wants to practice, like working out odd fingered chord shapes and things to play over them
2. Just noodling around "almost completely brain dead"
3. Trying to incorporate the things he does in #1 into his improvisational playing.

He says it takes about two years for what he practices to unconsciously show up in his playing.

And then you have guys like Scott Henderson, who knows his stuff and can improvise his butt off - but he has more of an "you can play this scale or arpeggio over this or that chord". And what Henderson does is also very cool and different.

I have found that keeping a positive mental attitude and not having too many expectations helps me the most. It's when I feel like my tone stinks and/or I am not up to par is when I don't do too well. [B)] Sometimes just accepting where I am at the moment will do wonders for me as well.

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« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 12:49:00 PM by Paul Marossy »

Solo consciousness

Offline doombilly

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2008, 12:45:40 PM »
"let it rip" and try to allow the creative side to take over completely?
<<
However, my solos are pretty bad. But I like not knowing 1) what I am going to do or B) what the heck I just did.
:))

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Solo consciousness

Offline David Tomkins

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2008, 01:36:36 PM »
i'm always thinking and worrying, so i usually fluff something up.  i wish i could relax a bit more.

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Solo consciousness

Offline prjacobs

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2008, 02:25:55 PM »
Yes, we're all saying the same things... When Miles says you learn all your scales and arpeggios, then forget about that "stuff" and play, he's really saying: Do the work, build the foundation and then go for it.  If you can't play well, you can't solo well.  When Alan Holdsworth just noodles around, he's bringing a lifetime of study to his noodling.  
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Solo consciousness

Offline Paul Marossy

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2008, 02:54:19 PM »
quote:
When Alan Holdsworth just noodles around, he's bringing a lifetime of study to his noodling.


Yeah, he's been playing longer than I have been alive (at least 40 years). [:0]

quote:
If you're shooting blanks, you ain't gonna kill anything.....



Yep, good point! [8D]

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Solo consciousness

Offline loumt123

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2008, 04:29:06 PM »
I always check the key of the piece and do a quick look for triggers...ii V I's key changes, etc. When you know where a song is going, you don't have to think so much.
 

Solo consciousness

Offline prjacobs

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2008, 05:34:05 PM »
quote:
Originally posted by Paul Marossy

quote:
When Alan Holdsworth just noodles around, he's bringing a lifetime of study to his noodling.


Yeah, he's been playing longer than I have been alive (at least 40 years). [:0]

quote:
If you're shooting blanks, you ain't gonna kill anything.....



Yep, good point! [8D
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Hey Paul,
I too have been playing longer than you've been alive![:)] Pretty scary... In fact, I have socks in my drawer that are older than you!

But seriously... I think that's it's important to lay the groundwork and than bring your heart, soul and musicality to our solos.  Practice at home.  Feel it and enjoy it on stage.  I know it's easier said than done, but at least with hard work, we give ourselves the best chance.
Lou, as we all continue the learning process, we discover more and more "triggers," as you put it.
 

Solo consciousness

Offline Paul Marossy

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Solo consciousness
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2008, 05:39:17 PM »