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stuck in the left hemisphere

 
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Skon



Joined: 01 Apr 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 7:15 am    Post subject: stuck in the left hemisphere Reply with quote

So, pulling improvised phrases and such out of nothing is likely a right brained activity, right?
Yet the act of playing a guitar, and using knowledge of scales and technique would be left brain territory.

Here's my trouble. See, when I'm not doing anything to do with playing guitar...say showering, or working (on the off chance that I have a job at the time!), something repetitive and mundane, I have creative diarrhea, and I have so many ideas that sound amazing in my head....not just a single instrument solo, but whole songs even.

The minute I pick up the guitar, I lose it all. None of it comes through...just...poof, gone in an instant, never to return. Even just a few hours ago.....after listening to a John Scofield album for an hour, I got up to get something to eat, and as I was doing that all these Scofield-ish phrases kept jumping out at me and I could imitate in my mind the way he plays for that brief moment. When I picked up the guitar, it was so dead. I ended up practicing atonal sweeping for half an hour because I couldn't get a single melody going.

So....what I'm getting at is, that what I think is happening is a critical left/right brain conflict, since my approach to playing is so technique oriented, and thats all I can think about when I play, which makes it impossible to make any kind of decent improvising work very well. Or so the left/right brain theory would suggest, anyway.

Is there any way to practice NOT thinking? Any method to remove my awareness from the fact that I'm playing a guitar? I haven't seen that particular issue addressed.....I have in other arts like drawing, but never in music..yet it really should apply to this as well.
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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One idea is to transcribe a lot. Train your ear. When you know how to play something without touching the guitar, there's no clutter and your ideas are 'pure'.
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guest-Dave
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sympathize. Have the same problem, myself. It's very frustrating and I gave up playing about twenty years ago because of it. Just recently started playing and am actually starting to improve on my jazz playing. What's helped me is getting some transcriptions (I got some Joe Pass) and playing them or sometimes just reading them and going over the ideas in my head. It has helped me formulate ideas of my own. I like the idea of transcribing, mentioned above, but I, personally, just don't have the time.
Another thing would be to just play along with recordings. You'll pick up ideas from them and maybe infuse your own ideas. If you get something good, a lick or a riff, write it down and practice it in all the keys.

Dave
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Christian
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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a thought - when you here lots of ideas popping into your head, why don't you try singing them into a dictaphone? Then you can work out fingering/transcriptions for them at your leisure without forgetting what they are...

Of course, it limits what you can do slightly, in that your vocal abilities are probably a fair way behind what you can achieve on the guitar in terms of speed and articulation and so on. But if you start in this direction your ears and confidence to use your voice will improve rapidly, I suspect.

So I'd start simple. People I think would be good to start work on would be guys like Stan Getz and Charlie Christian...

Personally I sing all my lines as I play them. It seems to help somehow.
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theox



Joined: 27 Feb 2005
Posts: 41
Location: Finland

PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Christian wrote:
Personally I sing all my lines as I play them. It seems to help somehow.


Christian wrote:
Personally I sing all my lines as I play them. It seems to help somehow.


Yep. Singing is amost exclusively a right hemisphere activity, in my view. I've been thinking about this subject since I first read this post and I've noticed how I've neglected simple exercises I've set myself to do, like taking just one chord and making different rhythms and grooves with it. That's creativity. Or take three notes and make melodies/rhythms with them. That's creativity. You can't rely on your 'left brain patterns' when you simplify and/or restrict things like this.

I'm sure Christian is right about most of what he says about singing, since it's a pure emotional thing. And I'm sure it's very hard, first of all most people are insecure about singing (so do it while driving or something) and as he said, the voice isn't so well trained. But these are things that will develop.

Damn I wish I'd listen to myself once in awhile. I sang my lines last winter for about a week or so and felt it was very good to do but for some reason I dropped it.

So... Singing, one chord strumming, three-note melodies (over static harmony?). What else?

One thing the left hemisphere is good at is seeking knowledge. It's often so hungry for it that it leaves good stuff behind just to find the next fix. I lost my beautiful girlfriend for this. There's lots of things I need to work on on the guitar, basic things that I've neglected because I have my mind set too far ahead of me. But ok, I've also learned a lot but I think it's very important to have a balance in the scale. So I'm thinking to organize my practice schedules into left and right hemisphere activities.

Hey have you thought about painting. I thought about this today. I learned to paint a few summers ago and noticed how many things I thought I knew how they looked. Like an eye for example. How does most people draw an eye. Well you know. An oval shape with the dot in the middle. Have you looked at an eye recently? It has a very complex shape and is very difficult to paint as it REALLY looks like. Most of us just have ready-made pictures of stuff in our minds that makes us blind to what we REALLY see. I think this applies to all situations.

Enough rambling.

Any thoughts are welcome.

Oscar
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Skon



Joined: 01 Apr 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've heard the bit about singing the lines before....I think I read it in "a jazz improvisation primer" on the web somewhere.
I must admit though, I'm so uncomfortable with the voice. Maybe I'll try it sometime though...

The main thing I wonder is, how to get into that trancelike state where you forget that what you're holding is called a guitar, and that you don't put names to things like scales or chords, and where I'm not thinking about what techniques I'm using. It's like I need to learn how not to think, but that's not so easy.
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2005 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ive entered into that trance state skon was talking about before and have a good many times since i did the first time. its something you never forget and for me it was the greatest feeling ive ever experienced. it felt like every note i played was alive and there were no longer frets or strings just pitches.
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larone
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2005 8:06 am    Post subject: ARGH THE PAIN!!!! Reply with quote

We all know the pain you're feeling. I couldn't be bothered to read all the replies so i may repeat myself, but here goes:
The dictaphone is a good one ( sing your ideas and figure them out later)
Also as far as geting out of thinking to much, one thing i've done is to get a chord/groove to play over and then all you do is pick a starting note and an ending note. In between is just rhythmical ideas not scales or arps bla bla bla. All you have is a direction A > B. You can always explain stuff with theory but direction, phrasing and tone is what i think is the be all and end all of playing.
Hope you're going off soon!!

Larone
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2005 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Has anyone read Kenny Werner's book Effortless Mastery? I got it from my teacher to read today and it seems to deal with a lot of the subjects discussed here.
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Christian
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PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2005 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Skon - it sounds to me like you're asking the right questions. That's the main thing!
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furiousb
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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes i have read effortless mastery, i read it for school. It's a really cool book but some parts are really out there.
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Hugh Buchanan



Joined: 30 May 2005
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2005 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've got the same problem. I carry a small tape recorder so that I can perserve the inspiration.

There are two books I'm aware of which deal with the problem of right-brain supression by the left side. I suggest you read "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" and "Tennis, the Inner Game". The author of the drawing book is an art teacher. She discovered that she couldn't draw while she was talking. Speech is a left brain activity. She says that the left brain doesn't trust the right side and is reluctant to relinquish control. She says that only one side can be in control at a given time. There are exercises in the book which encourage and stimulate the right side. Maybe you can figure out how to apply the principles to guitar.

The tennis book teaches you how to stop talking to yourself while playing. Perhaps there is a musical application.
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theox



Joined: 27 Feb 2005
Posts: 41
Location: Finland

PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2005 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hugh Buchanan wrote:
The tennis book teaches you how to stop talking to yourself while playing. Perhaps there is a musical application.


I sure hope there is! Laughing
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