Sunday, February 8, 2009

The difference in hearing....

I'm having an interesting experience at the moment picking takes out a trio session I did almost a year ago.
When I recorded this I was just about to head overseas to attend the Banff Jazz workshops and (to put it midly) was feeling pretty dis-enchanted with "jazz", and wasn't really able to fully enjoy playing with guys I love to make music with.
At the time, after the session was done, my thought process was something like: "well that wasn't a very good session, it was good to do, but that's one that'll just live on the hard-drive for the rest of time".
Now I'm listening to the sessions to put together a release for Ronny Ferella's new label: "Downstream"; I actually like the music(!)
So what this really confirms for me is that judging while playing is just not possible. Objectivity is damn unlikely at the best of times, let alone while 'in the moment' of music making. In this case, it seems my negative thinking (luckily) didn't result in totally unusable music (contrary to my impressions immediately following the session), and in some cases it may have actually (dare I say) added a certain 'fire' to my playing.
Here's the crux of my point though: if you're not judging your playing while creating, it allows you to move to that 'outside' place, where you are more of an observer of the music that someone in it. When you are stuck in the details: "oh that line was no good", "why can't I play in time?", "why is the drummer doing that?", you can't really put something together in the larger sense.
Douglas Hofstadter, in his books "I am a Strange Loop" and "Godel, Escher, Bach" (both great reads if you've got the balls to take them on), talks about how intelligent beings such as ourselves are designed to comprehend the world on the macro level. We don't worry about the micro-details. We don't need to; how complex compounds are interacting when they lubricate our car engine, we worry about having enough oil in the car. We don't think about the vitamins and proteins being carried through our blood-stream, we think about the concept of being fit and healthy. He goes on to say that when engineers/fitness specialists etc are developing new products/techniques, they are doing so with only moderate reference to the most micro level. They are mainly concerned with a slightly more macro view of things, although this view might be more micro-oriented than average person.
Further still, and this really is my point, Hofstadter says meaning is really created and perceived at the higher-up levels, where we see the interaction of large symbols, not at micro level where we 'can't see the forest for the trees'.
So......being stuck in moment-to-moment 'micro', judgmental thinking while playing is the exact opposite of how humans create and perceive meaning! Getting to that higher-plain of listening is where we should all be aiming if we want to maximise our, and the groups, creative potential.

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