Playing it Safe

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write to ultimately be at internal peace — Abraham Maslow.

When I sit around with other musicians who love the craft, love to create sound, love to share what they create with others I find they seem to exude pleasure when they are in the groove.  I have found many other musicians look for solis in the note the phrase, the measure.   We search for perfection in tone, we try again and again to ‘get it right’.

There’s a way of playing safe, there’s a way of using tricks and there’s the way I like to play, which is living dangerously, where you’re going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you haven’t created before. — Dave Brubeck.

Sometimes when I find a new phrase, I play it over and over, using it every possible way I can envision, it appears in song after song until it becomes part of my vocabulary and I can draw from it as a thought rather than a mechanical collection of notes.  The phrases are the root of the language expressed by any musician.  We all have ’em, we all use ’em.  With out ’em we do not have much to say.  Yet, we are always on the hunt for a new phrase.

There is something profound about improvised music on a guitar.  It is part of who we are as a human; delivering imperfect expressions of our emotions without saying a word.  On the other hand, who actually communicates perfectly with words?

Consider the message found in a raised eyebrow, the waving of our hand, the simple movement of someone walking towards you or away from you as they smile and show a little attitude in their strut.  Do not all these things communicate a message?   Is it a clear message?  Do we know the exact meaning of the message?

The guitar is notable for the capability of coaxing tone and emotion out of the strings.  Guitar players move their hands with grace and nimbly dance across the frets to send a message.  Aggression, peace, sadness, happiness can be expressed in how the strings and frets are touched, how the string is pushed with pick to achieve the desired tone.  In my experience, the hands are talking.  Music begins to communicate when we give our hands the freedom to create.  Players step into the zone — smiles appear everywhere, feet begin to tap.

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