May 9, 2009

The Adrenaline Of Guitar

Imagine that someone came to me and asked "what is in your opinion the most important guitar lesson on the site of GuitArticles? which of ALL of the lessons should a student pay the most attention to, and think about on a daily basis?". My answer would be THIS guitar lesson. This is not a how to, a step-by-step, nor does it even feature some sort of example by way of video, audio, or tab. No, it is just so important that it can not be summed up so easily with a multi-media file, or me saying "put your 1st finger here, and play this".

This article in particular can be summarized by one word. ATTITUDE. When I say attitude, I'm not talking about feeling "bad ass", or metal or anything like that. Even soulful, gentle, emotional music has attitude. When I say attitude, I'm talking about what you feel inside when you play music on any instrument, or what you can potentially feel inside.

The shear thrill and energy that you get from playing the guitar shapes your decisions in phrasing, note choices, timing, feel, and most importantly - how you produce the notes or chords.

If you've ever seen my videos when I'm improvising, you will notice that there are times when I get quote, unquote - medieval with the notes. In other words, the feeling of immediate alignment causes me to snap the hell out of the strings. Not break them, snap them with so much emotion that I have inside that it can only come out through my hands.

This feeling is similar in intensity to the feeling that you get when you are really angry, but in a good way, and chances are my best playing comes forth after I have been frustrated for a very long time. Its a valve - its a release, and anyone (and many do) can use it in the form of guitar. It doesn't matter whether you consider yourself artistic, creative, beginner, intermediate, advanced, or "skilled" on the guitar, we all are people and we all carry the same emotions - USE THEM.

Intensity is more important than technique or theory. Period. Intensity can even come in the form of playing something quietly or gently, because this requires a focus that is on the same plateau as playing something ridiculously hard and loud.

You should also come to realize that this kind of control of expression over your playing does not happen right away, and it certainly doesn't happen in the first few years of playing guitar. No, first you must create some things for yourself that only you may like, AND a guitar player has to develop a decent sense of coordination and skill. It doesn't take much, but the better you get, the more ideas you can express (because you'll know how to express them), and you will have broadened your mental and physical palette to be able to play with. When I say play - I mean experiment. It would be kind of hard to write these words if there were only two letters in the alphabet - get it?

Below is a video of me jamming over one of my favorite songs. This is not a form of self promotion at all, because I actually consider this to be my worst jam yet (there are lots of mistakes). The point is, pay close attention to how much energy I put into my playing. It is at times intense, because I'm all their - mistakes included. If you listen closely, you can hear just the guitar strings over all of the noise.

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