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what do you feel when you play?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Oceans, Feb 16, 2001.

  1. Oceans


    Jan 19, 2001
    When i play i get this feeling of freedom and peace...that´s different from the feeling i get from listen to somebody else music, that´s more like joy and in some cases admiration, what do you guys think?
  2. Oceans


    Jan 19, 2001
    maybe you´re totally rigth, but the problem is that I the music I play is complete related to the way that I feel...i don´t know is that wrong,
    but that´s what i do,...

    i gonna try to follow your advise anyway..THANKS.
  3. Start playing more whole notes and half notes, Man. And for God's skake, avoid eights, triplets, and sixteenths at all cost. And don't play any ghost notes, you can't get paid for those!
  4. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    When things are really happening, I tend to forget about things like nailing a harmonic on the tonic or how close the piano player is getting to me octaves or how the blister on my index finger is throbbing. Things become automatic and I'm left with pure emotion, that is, mine mixed with the other people playing. That's pretty much why I play.
  5. I couldn't disagree more!

    To me, in most cases, the emotion of the music is the paramount concern. Of course, correct notes, rhythm etc. are very important, but I'll take a greatly spririted , emotionally charged performance (even with some technical errors) over a note perfect performance that doesn't say anything emotionally. After all, music is about conveying mood and emotion - it shouldn't be so much about impressing people with your technical prowess. The fact is that "Joe Lunchpail" doesn't notice a fraction of the technical subtleties that you are concerning yourself with - he will notice whether or not the music does something for him on the inside.

    How this relates to the original poster's question is a little different. Oceans seems to be only experience the same emotion(s) each time. I encourage you to try to find a greater variety of emotions in the music unless of course you're playing stuff that's all relatively the same!
  6. ED, I would never presume to disagree with you but it seems you are missing a point here. PLaying bass is all about bringing the music and musicians together and the best feeling is when it all hits, the swing is happening, the changes are going on and the soloist is digging in for another chorus and everyone is in the same "space" playing as one. In order for that to happen "hearing" what's going on is a major function. Admittedly I have a different perspective because I play music because I love it, and make a little loose change, I'm not trying to make a living in the competition of the Big Apple. For your sake and sanity I would hope that there is still some enjoyment in plying your craft.
  7. Oceans--you got it bro that's one of the reasons to play music, creating and experiencing those moments are the heart of music. Those moments for yourself, other musicians and the audience are the real jewels of music. No other art form allows several individuals to collectivly create those moments and still allow the audience to join in. Keep playing and keep an open heart
  8. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    Depends on whether I'm concentrating on sight-reading a part, listening for upcoming changes in an unfamiliar tune... or, just am unconsciously grooving on whatever is flowing.

    Electric bass just isn't quite the organic being that the Double Bass is... personally, I *become* the bass. Just jump right into it and we are one.

    At least that's when I'm "on" <g>.
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Amen. Those are better words than I had for it.
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This is closer to my personal experience - plus things like - I wish that cowbell wasn't so loud, hope the trumpeter makes that high note, why didn't everybody tune up?, is my G string slightly out of tune?, got to add some variation to that tumbao, isn't the overall volume creeping up?, shall I change the tone controls on my amp for the next tune, what parts do I still need to look at in the next few songs and which can I remember ?, what was that scale to use over that part of the sequence? .....etc etc.

    I think Ed's point is that usually there are so many things about the music to think about, there isn't time for other feelings - although you might realise that you had them after the gig, when somebody asks you. My personal view is also that if you aren't thinking about things like this then the music is either so dull or so lacking in any real "challenge" that it's time to move onto something else!
  11. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    If I understand the direction, if not the letter, of Ed's post, it is a warning not to let feelings, whatever they are, become a goal in themselves.
    That is not the same as saying a player should play without emotion. And even there, forced to choose, I'm not going to sacrifice accuracy for interpretation. Positive feelings flow from playing to the best of our abilities.
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Maybe I'm wrong here, but I think the key phrase in Ed's post is "paying attention to what you're hearing", which is in my opinion the most important aspect of playing (in a jazz setting at least; I feel that it's the most important aspect of ALL playing as well, but I don't care to defend that opinion in a semantic discussion with orchestra players...). My two cents, for what it's worth:

    The time to "think" is in the woodshed while practicing. Playing is a time for one thing, and one thing only - reacting to what you hear. Not to sound too "new age" about it, but "playing" is a FLOW of sound and ideas, and if you are "thinking" about anything other than becoming a part of the cumulative flow of music happening at any given moment, you are getting in your own way. "Feelings" while playing are fine, but I find that if I am succesfully in the flow of the music, I "feel" good - so good, in fact, that I'm not aware of "feeling" anything specific other than being immersed in the moment with no time to think or feel. If I'm not in the flow, I "feel" like I'm missing the bus, and need to get back into the flow. The flow is all about reacting to the sound on an instinctual intuitive level that is pre-cognitive (some argue that it is post-cognitive, but this is again semantics). You can only play to the level of your ability, which is in large part determined by the amount of things you have mastered through practice up to the time in which you are playing. This being the case, thinking about what isn't right about what you are doing, or what you would like to have done better is a waste of time. That's stuff to assess later, when you listen to (actual or remembered) playback. When you are playing, you can only do what you can do, so just do it and save the judgements for later.

    Bruce, I must most emphatically disagree with the statement that if you aren't "thinking about things like... (your volume, varying your rhythm, the tone of your G string, etc...) then the music is not challenging enough". When I am really in the flow, there are no words, no conscious ideas, no sights (I play with my eyes closed when I'm not reading or looking for a cue, which with a tight band rarely needs to be visual in my experience), etc... only sound and time. To that I would add that I've never played a perfect version of "C Jam Blues", and I doubt I ever will, so the challenge of the moment is to make whatever it is you're playing as organic and natural as possible. Later you can worry about whether you need to be playing different or more challenging material.

    After all my bitching about semantic arguments, I hope I'm not laying one on you. If so.....my bad. Perhaps the "feeling of peace"cited by the original poster is also simply another way to describe what it's like to be completely in a moment? (Sigh....) Semantics can be a HUGE pain in the *ss sometimes.......
  13. The original question is kind of a naive one. The cat says he feels freedom and peace. That might fly in high school, but then it's a lotta BS. Here's the kind of feelings I have: when I play Body and Soul, I'm feeling Body and Soul; when I'm playing Groovin' High, I'm feeling Groovin' High; if I'm playing the fourth movement of Beethoven's 9th, I'm feeling scared to death, seriously I'm feeling the Ode to Joy. There's no time for freedom and peace, and that's also when mistakes start creeping in; little mistakes like, "sh*t, the rest of the band's in the bridge, where the hell am I?"

    I'll also bet that anyone feeling lovey with himself (freedom and peace) is probably not tight with the rest of the band. Be a thinking bassist, be in the moment and aware of everything going on around you, reacting. How can anyone feel freedom and peace with with all that going down?
  14. michael


    Mar 10, 2000
    I don't think I could put into words what I am feeling when I am playing. I know that after playing I am very tired and exhausted, leading me to think that something must have been happening when I was playing. I also know that not playing (like leaving the instrument for months or years) leaves me with a deep spiritual void, a loss of connection with the divine.
  15. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Of course, I'm a novice here and probably not qualified to comment on this, but being in the moment, reacting to the other musicians, and /thinking/, to me, seem to be different things.

    For me thinking is like, 'Where are my keys? How do I get the chart off the floor and back on to my stand?'

    When I'm performing (note: not practicing. This part of my mind is very involved in practice sessions), the thinking section of my mind chills. Of course, its always ready to jump in and help the rest me figure out where the bridge is. When I'm performing, I'm listening to the other people playing, and those other people are affecting what I play. If there's a horn player standing in front of me wailing it doesn't take the key finding, chart retreiving part of my brain to tell me hammer the root on one like there's no tomorrow! It just happens!

    When I'm improvising, I'm not worried about making mistakes. Mistakes happen, perhaps to me a lot more than you guys, but they happen to everybody. The great thing about improvising is that when you make a mistake, that mistake is incorporated into what you played. It's there, it isn't leaving, and the best thing you can do is flow with it. So when you're improvising, you have the freedom to mess up. You have the freedom say what you want to say, within reason. Maybe a good rule for this is, 'say what you need to, but let everyone else say what they need to.'

    So you are free, and being free to make wonderful music with other people is a peaceful thing. It's wonderful to be able to get with a group of people and not be in conflict with them, isn't it?

    I'm not trying to start a flame here. Actually I'm trying to douse one. As michael said, it's impossible to put into words what we feel when we play. So, I don't think the original poster was too far off when he mentioned freedom and peace in association with making music.
  16. If you're free to make mistakes, you're also free to get fired, or at least free to not be asked back.

    I don't think thinking is at all at odds with being in the moment and reacting. Here are some examples of the thinking (thinking may be passing thoughts): relative major; turnaround; tonic; here comes the bridge; horn player f*cked up ended his solo at the end of the bridge, this suck-*ss string picker thinks we're at the top; this guy really sucks I should lay back; ooh, check out the way that broad's strokin' her fine sexy legs in those black stockings while talkin' to that schmuck, nice legs, I dig the heals, maybe she'll catch me checkin' her out; the drummer keeps rushing the tempo, I'll drag a little; where are those legs?. Those examples all come just from Friday night's gig while playing Autumn Leaves. Another example of thinking is using taste and discretion, knowing when to drop a fill and when not too. Maybe you hear the sax player's doing a thing, do you compliment it with something or do you opt out because you justs did something before that and you wantt to be tasteful?
  17. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Mingus was talking about his drummer, Dannie Richmond, during an interview with Nesuhi Ertegun... (I'm paraphrasing, here)

    "Dannie told me he wanted to play like Max Roach. He would try to play something, but his sticks would slip and he'd mess up. So I told him, 'If you make a mistake, it don't matter as long as it swings.' So now he's got Max and mistakes."


    I make mistakes, and I fix them. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't dwell upon the negative while I am playing.

    David, it kind of sounds like you don't like playing with the other people in that particular group very much...

    And if I were a bandleader, I wouldn't fire a bass player for missing a change or playing a bad solo on one tune. I would fire them for being more interested in someone in the audience than the music being played.
  18. You know, I have to say, in some ways I don't envy what you Jazz cats have to do at work. It seems you have to spend an awful lot of time thinking about WHAT you are going to play all the time, which has got to take away from the amount of energy you can put toward capturing the emotion of the particular piece of music.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to imply you guys are apt to play with less emotion, I just think you do actually have so many other things to take care of just figuring out what notes to play, it has got to make it harder at times to just sit back and really work on the desired emotion.

    In the classical scene, we just play the notes that are in front of us - nothing more, nothing less. Those choices are not an issue, and apart from obvious technical things like intonation, rhythm and general technical accuracy, the rest of our time is more easily devoted to phrasing and interpreting the emotions in the music.

    It was said before by someone above, that hopefully we have taken care of most technical concerns in our practice sessions, so by the time we are playing a performance all those other things are second nature and hopefully you can devote the bulk of your energy on the emotional aspects of the music.

    If I am having to think too much about technical issues while I am playing, I feel I'm probably not as prepared as I should be. I think that if you are spending the bulk of your time concerning yourself with technical issues, you are doing the music a great diservice. Sure, those things things are extremely important, but IMO they should be a given, so that we are free to spend the bulk of our energy on capturing the emotion of the particular piece of music.

    Bruce said "My personal view is also that if you aren't thinking about things like this then the music is either so dull or so lacking in any real "challenge" that it's time to move onto something else!". My view is that by the time you are in a performance setting, ideally you don't have to think about things like this so that you can focus on what's really important - the emotion in the music.

    I take my challenges from trying to make every 'little' bass part the best gem of music I can. One of my favourite bits of music is an aria from Puccini's Turandot, "Signor ascolta", which only has maybe two or three notes for the bass in the in the whole aria. They are nothing technically, but what separates the sheep from the goats is how the player approaches these 'little' pizzicati - some guys just say "Oh, that's boring" and just whack them off like they don't mean anything. To me, those few notes are each like little gems that perfectly accent the mood of the whole aria, and I play each one of them with all the feeling I have.

    I guess that's why I'm glad I don't have to be an 'on-the-spot' composer like you Jazz guys. I think I'd really miss the time I could afford to spend on the emotional side of things, because I know, I'd be spending way too much time just trying to decide what notes to play in the first place. I really admire the guys that can improvise AND convey so much emotion at the same time. At least in my classical world, a lot of the time I can at least get much of the emotional side in since I've had all of my note decisions made for me.
  19. I got a call at about 6:00 Friday night from the cat talking about he needs a bassist for a gig a 9:00. Someone else referred him to me, I never heard of the cat or the other cats in the band. It was cool enough though, I made a quick $75 on what would've otherwise been a night making $0. And there were a lot of hot chicks to oggle at. There's ways to mask checkin' out the chicks while you're playing. Besides, if the bandleader sees me it doesn't make a difference as long as what I'm playing burns. The women probably make me play better anyway. Maybe I'm lucky I'm married.
  20. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Maybe you should sell drugs instead of playing the bass. You might get to check out more chicks that way, and you'd make a lot more money.

    Originally posted by David

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