Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I have a confession to make

I haven't picked up the guitar for a couple of months now. Aside from things at the Daily News getting more and more hectic all the time (I'm blogging over there a ton, too), and the summer's searing heat screwing with my lunchtime practices, I find myself drawn to other pursuits, mostly all the computer-related stuff (as chronicled in This Old Mac and This Old PC).

I've been planning, in my mind, where I want to go with the guitar, and I've been collecting music that I want to incorporate into my solo repertoire. I can imagine, in my mind, how I want it to sound, the approach I want to take (it becomes more rock, less jazz), but none of this involves picking up the box and playing it. I lug around a laptop computer, not a guitar bag.

I think part of this is that I have some long-standing barriers in my playing that I have to break through, and while planning and collecting music for the tunes I want to play, actually getting one of those tunes under my fingers, the whole way through, is what I have to do. Even if it's one tune. I get frustrated: I can't sit down and play a half-hour set of tunes. But I've got to build them up, one at a time. And at this point, I can't really expect to come up with the arrangements on the fly. I'll have to either use a pre-written arrangement or (preferably) come up with my own and stick to it. And even knowing just one tune all the way through in some kind of solo rendition would be huge at this point. Of course that means really knowing that tune. The whole melody and all the chords, along with a good idea theoretically what's going on so I can take it into other keys. Hell, at this point one tune, one key is enough.

I'm thinking that if I make the goals small enough, they won't be so insurmountable that I never even try to achieve them.

Hell, if I can write 200 blog posts, I can learn a couple of tunes. (See, I'm already up to two.)


Matt said...

I've really enjoyed reading your blog. It's great to read about guitar-related topics from someone who can write.

I've been in the same place jazz guitar-wise for a couple of years.

I got a little distracted by flat-picking for a couple of years and started teaching again full-time last year.

I've got three or four standards that I play chord-melody from memory. When I was more dedicated I had 3 or 4 more. But since I quit consciously working them up, I just have the few that I always go back to.

Take it easy.

Anonymous said...

I really feel ya when it comes to breaking through barriers. I'm going through the same type of situation.

I've been a rock and blues guitarist for years but I always knew there were sounds in my head I wasn't sure why they didn't come out.

I realized if I wanted to express more chromatic jazzy lines that I'd have to learn some standards.

Well they all seemed so challenging. I was going the chord/melody route but then just started working with learning melodies. That helped
a lot with my phrasing.

On a side note:

I was about five feet from Kurt Rosenwinkel when he played in Philadelphia. His music is so powerful that I felt like I was inside of it...i could feel each change but it was his lines that really jumped out at me. He didn't even need a rhythm section to define the harmonic structure. It was incredible for what he was playing over too.

So good luck my friend.