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> What Is "playing With Feeling ?"
Ben Higgins
post Jan 24 2015, 12:14 PM
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You see it on Youtube videos all the time. If that video features anybody displaying technical proficiency, chances are you'll get the typical comments about 'not playing with feeling' or 'no soul'.

Sometimes, those opinions may be true. Sometimes it is just a load of meaningless noodling. But if it is, the answer to that is who cares ? Does this need to affect you ? For every mindless noodler there's a Gilmour you can go and listen to so just don't worry about it. It all balances itself out.

But what about when the 'no feeling' accusations are not justified ? This will come down again to personal interpretation but let's look at it..

When most people are saying 'no feeling, no soul' type things, do they really know what they're saying ? Are they saying that only slow guitar playing contains feeling ? If so, what is that feeling exactly ? Is it sadness ? Love ? Anger ? What is it ? Most people can't tell you. Do slow, Dave Gilmour style string bends with a touch of vibrato denote what feeling is ? Is it that or nothing ? If we do anything other than that type of playing are we automatically NOT playing with feeling ?

Let's be honest, when most people talk about 'feeling' or 'soul' they're talking about playing slowly. I know some of you here will have other examples but let's not mess around here, that's what these people mean because (let's look at the evidence) they only bring this old cliche out on the videos featuring people who are.... wait for it, playing technical or fast stuff. I'm not saying some of these examples dispute that accusation but they also don't automatically deserve it either.

So, in many people's logic, slow = feeling and fast and / or technical = no feeling.

Well, I don't know about you but I can think of many times in life where chaotic, busy, intense, difficult, dangerous times come with completely charged emotions. Do you disagree ? Just because something happens quickly it doesn't mean that it didn't contain emotional content.

How about when we lash out suddenly in anger ? You could be simmering about something and then something tips you over the edge in the blink of an eye. You go from contained to uncontrolled outburst faster than any guitar run.

We all know, and I mean we know this, right ? We don't need to discuss this part do we ? We know that emotions can appear and disappear incredibly quickly. You can get a spark of intense excitement, fear, love, jealousy completely out of nowhere.

So why is it that we assume busy music cannot contain emotional content in any way ?

I look at it this way... if a composer has put as much of his attention and his/herself into the piece then that piece will need exactly what it needs, when it needs it. So if a fast run appears then maybe it's coexistent with a build up of emotional tension elsewhere in the piece. Maybe it's anger. Maybe it's rapturous ecstasy. Maybe it's some sort of intense rush that really does fill the veins of the performer with a lot of feeling indeed...

Surely it's not about the arrangement of notes, but whether the performer is present in the performance. Are their fingers moving with mechanical, workmanlike ease and just doing their job like every other day or are their veins buzzing with adrenaline and they feel the super fast runs and arpeggios are exactly what they need to be feeling at that moment ?

Hell, are you telling me that somebody performing Mozart or Chopin doesn't feel the rush, the beauty, the emotion of the music ?

Whether music contains feeling or not comes down to the performer at that moment. And even if the performer plays with all the heart in the world, the music itself may still not move you. You may just not like that type of music. So 'feeling' or 'soul' is a very personal experience that we, as listeners, cannot pretend to discern with 100% accuracy. The soul of the performer is not the soul of the listener. Sometimes one or both is there. Sometimes it's not. What do we know ? All we should know is that is has nothing to do with how many notes there are and how fast it's played.

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Jan 24 2015, 12:14 PM


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klasaine
post Jan 24 2015, 05:36 PM
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And the opposite is true as well.
You see a ton of (mostly) singers 'emoting' - rapturous ad-libs on the long, held and many times high notes of the melody. Pop singers doing the national anthem or their Star Search/The Voice/America or Britain's Got Talent auditions and performances are a great place to witness vocal gymnastics that most people will regard as an 'emotional' or 'soulful' rendition. 90% of it all just completely sucks. Personally, I taste bile in the back of my throat when I hear that crap ... especially since most of the time there's a ton of terrible and/or out of tune note choices in the coloratura crap they put on there.

Or, how about modern 'blues' guitar players. Big slow bends with major guitar face ... don't even start me! *(This should all be great fodder for you Jason).

Quincy Jones has the best quote regarding all that unnecessary and unmusical crap ... "I think he/she over-souled it".

Conversely I heard 'Crazy Train' last night at a bar. Randy Rhoads definitely had soul! And I don't think anyone argues that John Coltrane had anything but soul. If you 'feel' fast - then fast has soul.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jan 24 2015, 05:50 PM


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Todd Simpson
post Jan 24 2015, 07:19 PM
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Great question!! Sadly the answer seems to be, in many cases, as was mentioned, "Big slow bends with guitar face". Or, playing fewer notes.

I really do believe it's possible to play with "feeling" even at warp speed. However, not every listener has the ears to hear it.

Being able to "convey feeling" seems to be the most important thing IMHO smile.gif That is to say bringing out emotion on the part of the listener using any means necessary smile.gif The Malcom X approach to "Feeling"! smile.gif

Todd


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Ben Higgins
post Jan 24 2015, 08:46 PM
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Great posts, guys.. I totally hear you both !



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Bogdan Radovic
post Jan 25 2015, 12:12 AM
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I hear you Ben and this is something I have noticed as well. I think that it has become a sort of cliche how some people react to some sort of technical "superiority". In a way it must be related to some extent to "sour grapes" and how our minds mechanisms protect ourselves. I don't think music and guitar techniques should have specific requirements when it comes to speed, some people talk slowly and some are always in a rush and do everything fast. It is always funny to me that people use that kind of rationalizations because in the end it comes down as a sort of insult? smile.gif "Nah - I'm a melodic blues guy." (in translation - I can't do that but I don't want to admit that I would love to be able to do it)

Often slow equals melodic/feeling and fast playing equals pure technique or guitar sports? smile.gif
If we look at it like that, we are essentially all blues players when we start playing the guitar?
Then, if we practice a lot, we just lose our soul and become shredders? smile.gif

Musicians should just relax and focus on what they really want to achieve and practice towards that goal. I think feeling comes out of that - playing what you love and what you want. You can usually see when the person is into something and when he isn't. Take for example young bands performing on stage. You can usually spot on the stage a band member who is really into it and you can also spot the one who is the least into it. Those who are having fun are ones really enjoying being there and playing music, while others could still enjoy music might not be into the specific genre/songs the band is playing so they are not investing their 100% in the performance .This is what is cool about music, there is that x-factor of "energy". I had a lot of band rehearsals where we played amazingly well and with that special atmosphere and energy and some really "dull" and 2D rehearsals. Even though we all pretty much played the same notes and songs "technically correct", the moment wasn't right.

p.s. Saying to a musician that he doesn't have a soul/feeling is a very mean thing to say sad.gif


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Ben Higgins
post Jan 25 2015, 11:17 AM
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QUOTE (Bogdan Radovic @ Jan 24 2015, 11:12 PM) *
I hear you Ben and this is something I have noticed as well. I think that it has become a sort of cliche how some people react to some sort of technical "superiority". In a way it must be related to some extent to "sour grapes" and how our minds mechanisms protect ourselves. I don't think music and guitar techniques should have specific requirements when it comes to speed, some people talk slowly and some are always in a rush and do everything fast. It is always funny to me that people use that kind of rationalizations because in the end it comes down as a sort of insult? smile.gif "Nah - I'm a melodic blues guy." (in translation - I can't do that but I don't want to admit that I would love to be able to do it)

Often slow equals melodic/feeling and fast playing equals pure technique or guitar sports? smile.gif
If we look at it like that, we are essentially all blues players when we start playing the guitar?
Then, if we practice a lot, we just lose our soul and become shredders? smile.gif

Musicians should just relax and focus on what they really want to achieve and practice towards that goal. I think feeling comes out of that - playing what you love and what you want. You can usually see when the person is into something and when he isn't. Take for example young bands performing on stage. You can usually spot on the stage a band member who is really into it and you can also spot the one who is the least into it. Those who are having fun are ones really enjoying being there and playing music, while others could still enjoy music might not be into the specific genre/songs the band is playing so they are not investing their 100% in the performance .This is what is cool about music, there is that x-factor of "energy". I had a lot of band rehearsals where we played amazingly well and with that special atmosphere and energy and some really "dull" and 2D rehearsals. Even though we all pretty much played the same notes and songs "technically correct", the moment wasn't right.

p.s. Saying to a musician that he doesn't have a soul/feeling is a very mean thing to say sad.gif


Excellent, everyone should read this this !

'Sour grapes' is definitely a part of it.... the old lions threatened by the younger ones. Got to assert themselves by mocking anything that's more than what they can do.

Often slow equals melodic/feeling and fast playing equals pure technique or guitar sports? smile.gif
If we look at it like that, we are essentially all blues players when we start playing the guitar?


And this, exactly. Let's say everybody listened to those critiques and decided that those people with the 'no soul' comments were worth listening to. Should they all start playing exactly like that ? Wouldn't that mean everybody plays guitar in a slow, emotive, bluesy way because that's the only way that's approved of ?

Rubbish, all of it ! tongue.gif


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klasaine
post Jan 25 2015, 05:39 PM
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It comes down to authenticity.
Don't say it if you don't mean it. Easy.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jan 25 2015, 05:40 PM


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Ben Higgins
post Jan 25 2015, 06:46 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Jan 25 2015, 04:39 PM) *
It comes down to authenticity.
Don't say it if you don't mean it. Easy.


That post was way too fast.

I don't think you meant it tongue.gif


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klasaine
post Jan 25 2015, 06:51 PM
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It's like when you know/feel something or someone is just a perfect copycat of something or someone else.
You may not be able to articulate it but you just know something is 'off'.
Lack of authenticity. X factor. 'It'. Whatever you wanna call it.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jan 25 2015, 06:52 PM


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Todd Simpson
post Jan 25 2015, 08:33 PM
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WELL SAID BOGDAN!!! I couldn't agree more smile.gif More often than not, this does seem to be the case. Which goes back to tearing folks down. Never a good way to pull oneself up smile.gif

QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Jan 25 2015, 06:17 AM) *
Excellent, everyone should read this this !

'Sour grapes' is definitely a part of it.... the old lions threatened by the younger ones. Got to assert themselves by mocking anything that's more than what they can do.

Often slow equals melodic/feeling and fast playing equals pure technique or guitar sports? smile.gif
If we look at it like that, we are essentially all blues players when we start playing the guitar?


And this, exactly. Let's say everybody listened to those critiques and decided that those people with the 'no soul' comments were worth listening to. Should they all start playing exactly like that ? Wouldn't that mean everybody plays guitar in a slow, emotive, bluesy way because that's the only way that's approved of ?

Rubbish, all of it ! tongue.gif


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Bogdan Radovic
post Jan 25 2015, 09:21 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Jan 25 2015, 06:51 PM) *
It's like when you know/feel something or someone is just a perfect copycat of something or someone else.
You may not be able to articulate it but you just know something is 'off'.
Lack of authenticity. X factor. 'It'. Whatever you wanna call it.


But we could have a guitarist playing in a cover band and truly enjoying himself?
He is fully into it, he is doing the thing he loves in the world the most - playing guitar and songs by his favorite band(s).
He gives his 110% in every note he plays. We can't really label him as player without feeling or soul in this case? smile.gif


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klasaine
post Jan 26 2015, 03:42 PM
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QUOTE (Bogdan Radovic @ Jan 25 2015, 12:21 PM) *
But we could have a guitarist playing in a cover band and truly enjoying himself?
He is fully into it, he is doing the thing he loves in the world the most - playing guitar and songs by his favorite band(s).
He gives his 110% in every note he plays. We can't really label him as player without feeling or soul in this case? smile.gif


Excellent point but that's a completely different situation and I don't think it's what we're talking about here. Copying is the aesthetic in that case.
In general no one, musicians or non-musicians alike, would describe a guy or gal in cover band as having or not having soul or feeling. Everyone knows your experiencing a 'product' at that point. That's not a judgement at all (I've played in cover bands since I was 15 years old). It's just not a quality one way or the other that one generally associates with 'cover bands'.

*IMO you will be a much better 'copier' when you understand how and why a player does what they do. Rather than just blindly parroting parts or licks. That understanding will also transfer to your own music.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jan 26 2015, 03:58 PM


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