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> Learning Not To Play . .
post Apr 27 2012, 09:14 PM
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I know my topic sounds funny, but here's my dilemma. I have been playing for awhile and more of a Rythyn guitarist - up till recently I was the only guitarist, whether its acoustic or electric, so I am usually filling that void. Now I am playing more with another guitarist (they are either an acoustic or another electric), and I can't break the mindset that I always need to be playing something. I am not very good at coming up with interesting licks or embellishments spontaneoulsy so I find myself going back to playing chords again, or playing parts that don't mess well with the other guitar. These are somewhat impromptu performances, so its not something I can completely plan out ahead of time with the other guitarist who is just playing chords - We usually do one runthorugh before we play.

I need to learn to not play at times, and not sure where to start.

Anybody have thoughts or ideas about this

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The Uncreator
post Apr 27 2012, 11:10 PM
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"The notes I play on the piano are as good as anyone can play them. The silence between them, now that is where the art lies"

Forgot who said this, and its a serious paraphrase, but I think you need to develop a feel for the atmosphere of what your playing. Tension, relaxation, excitement, power, all these things are really hard to teach as its a compositional thing, as opposed to a strict technique.

Listen to as music as you can, and ask yourself why is this good, when this instrument doesnt play here, or does this here, why is it good?

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Todd Simpson
post Apr 28 2012, 01:06 AM
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Sounds easy right? Just don't play as much, consider the notes your note playing, etc But it can be harder than it sounds. Just try backing off a bit and letting the groove/song happen and pick where you think playing would help it.
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Ben Higgins
post Apr 28 2012, 09:33 AM
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When you say you're playing with another guitarist, is that in a band setting ?

Maybe you should get together with the other player separate from the band and try to plan more of what you'll do. I think that not having enough preparation is unfair on you if you're expected to perform live.
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post Apr 28 2012, 09:48 AM
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I try to think of rests as just another note, probably the most important one - if there were no rests then every piece of music that had ever been played would still be playing right? Space is important because it enables the listener to take time to appreciate the colour and quality of other notes, even to distinguish between them.
I was talking to Ben about this recently - you just don't get taught this kind of stuff from books and are expected to work it out as you go, despite it being a massive part of music.
What I try to do is play the rests, really feel the space I put into a groove. It sounds weird but when I leave a space I try and inject it full of emotion. I have found that since I started paying attention to this and really 'playing the space' my music has become far more personal and emotive.

Hope this helps,


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post Apr 29 2012, 09:52 PM
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QUOTE (The Uncreator @ Apr 27 2012, 03:10 PM) *
"The notes I play on the piano are as good as anyone can play them. The silence between them, now that is where the art lies"

Sounds like Bill Evans perhaps?

But back to the point....

There are a ton of things that could help, but the biggest help for me was to simply ALWAYS practice with a metronome! My guitar-hero, Scott Pemberton, was the one to tell me to use one "...not because you have bad timing, you actually have excellent's about LISTENING to what is going on around you....for example" and he went on to tell me the things I was doing wrong that I wasn't hearing because I wasn't trained to always listen to what's going on around me. So true. Best tip ever!

Other than that, things I like to see/hear when I'm playing with another guitarist....

-Stay away from the same part of the neck!! Don't play the same chord, or if you need to, do a much different voicing to get different tone. Maybe omit the root?

-Mix it up... is the song "busy" with rhythm textures, or funky-clav riffs? Mix it up, and do the opposite...I used to have a bad habit of playing too many notes/rhythms in my funk bands, when the rest of the band it. It felt natural, sounded "ok" (at best) because I was in time and playing a decent rhythm riff, but until I stepped up with better players I didn't know that I was "overcrowding" the sound!! Help keep the band and the sound in "balance"!!

-Hands off preparation. What I mean is (doesn't work on stage/live, but can help in pre-rehearsal and arranging your parts) to actually sit your guitar down and listen to the music. What do you hear? What is missing? What is needed? Play that. With a guitar in hand, it is TOO EASY to fall into old habits and routines. Don't play what you can/already what you "hear" inside your head and your heart.

Hope that helps!


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