Everything that has ever been played on your musical instrument is under your fingers. All you have to do is find it.
Easier said than done, right? So what is it, anyway? What makes an artist ‘something special’. You can always pick one out. They play a couple of notes and – Bam! You instantly know who it is, don’t you? It’s like a fingerprint.
It’s not in the notes they play – they’ve got the same twelve notes as everyone else. The sound isn’t that much different. So what is it?
Well, here it is, friends, the Magic Secret of the Ages that will transform you into a musical genius. Are you ready? (you’re probably not going to like it though).
It’s about what you play or don’t play and (especially) when you play it.
Yep, That’s it. That’s all anybody’s ever had. Endless scales or speed or noodling can’t give you that, neither can any kind of gear or special effect. It’s the Special Sauce. It can’t exactly be taught, just kinda pointed at. It’s not just copying licks. It’s really, really all up to you.
Told you that you wouldn’t like it!
There’s a saying in stand-up comedy that applies, ‘It’s all in the timing’, that special moment when you do that special thing. It doesn’t have to be fast. It doesn’t have to be slow. It has to be RIGHT.
Getting ‘it’ exactly right takes a good deal of thought. You’re no longer ‘dinking around’, hoping for the magic. You’re making the magic. You’re crafting the spells. You’re writing the spellbook!
The best advice I ever got on the subject was from a drummer (!). I was coming in too soon for a solo and falling apart. He said ‘Wait for it, wait until the hammer falls. Wait.’
Eventually I figured it out what ‘wait’ meant. He was telling me not to jump the gun, to listen, not just to blast in. Maybe there’s already something else really good going on. Pay attention. Let the downbeat come. Wait for your moment. Play what is needed really well and then get out of the way.
Sometimes it’s hard to hold back. You’ll want to play more, more more, faster, faster, faster. By the time it’s over, it’s too late. You’ll wanna stop and think. Relax. Maybe do nothing at all (what you don’t play can be just as profound as what you do play).
THREE STEPS TO FINDING YOUR VOICE
As you can imagine, figuring all this out is nothing but thankless hard work. You have to ‘Climb The Mountain’. It takes sacrifice and dedication if you really wanna get there (and who doesn’t). Here it is in three “easy” steps:
Step One: Listen to and understand and remember everything anybody’s ever done well with your instrument.
Step Two: Master the mechanics of playing. Get yourself and your limitations out of the way. Make only the sounds you want to make,.
Step Three: Know what you want. Reach down inside yourself and ask the question ‘what do I want to say, and when?’
If you get all this right, and you play at exactly the right moment, in exactly the right way, it won’t matter whether it’s a flurry of notes or only one. What you do will be profound. I guarantee it. You’ll no longer just be a musician, you’ll be Music itself.
© 2014 Leo Bidne