This week at The Pub is turning into a music week. And that’s okay!
The current issue of Guitar Player magazine ran a flashback column from 1985 written by bluegrass guitarist Tony Rice. It was the first column in a series Rice would write about musicianship, about music being more than playing the notes correctly in a piece. Rice wrote:
For example, Doc Watson and Dan Crary could both play the exact same notes of the same tune, and yet sound totally different. Why? To answer that, first one has to know something about their equipment, their technique, and their musical goals—what each of them is trying to say.
It boils down to this: Music is a language, a form of communication. You can read it, you can write it, and you can tell your life story with it if you want to. Its technical aspects are just means to an end.
This should be an encouragement to us musicians still struggling to learn our way around a fretboard or a keyboard. We spend a lot of time and effort to get each note just right, to make it sound just like we hear it on the record. Well…on the iPod, anyway. And we should strive to learn to play the notes right, and stretch ourselves to learn new techniques correctly. But we seem to spend lots and lots of time and sweat and aggravation to be able to play pieces almost right. Then it’s easy for anxiety to get the better of us because we aren’t playing it exactly right. Anxiety causes tension. Tension does not make us better musicians.
I think it would be beneficial for us to relax a little bit and listen to just what it is we are playing. Maybe we aren’t playing it exactly like the artists we are trying to emulate…but is it something worthwhile, anyway? Sit back and enjoy the moment with whatever it is you are doing now. And remember…you do have something worthwhile to say. Don’t be afraid to contribute your verse to the Great Composition. I’d love to hear it!