Owning an instrument is useless without cultivating a relationship with it. This blog really appealed to me because it encourages players to literally engage in deep play with their gear…to explore and think about the equipment they already have in new ways. Kind of the antitheses to “The one with the most guitars wins!” philosophy.
Play With Your Instruments and Toys – Learn Them Inside and Out
courtesy of Loren Weisman http://www.braingrenademusic.com
Many artists strive to get the best gear, the top equipment and the most stuff that they can possibly cram onto stage or into the studio. Whether it’s that drum or this toy or that additional instrument, many musicians today have too much stuff, and most of them don’t even know how to use half of what they have. So play with your toys. Mess around with buttons, sounds, tunings, setups, etc. You may know the basic sounds, but what else can you do to find out even more about your gear?
In some ways, when you purchase a certain effect or instrument, it’s like you have purchased a kitchen’s worth of supplies and food. When you only use a certain configuration or a certain set up, it’s the same as only using one kind of food from that kitchen. I have a favorite food, but I also like variety and I like to know what all my options are before I prepare or order what I want to eat. Why not apply the same ideas to your gear?
Play with your gear, change the settings, do the unusual to get out of the usual mode. You never know what you may discover. Take a little time to experiment each day with your gear and/or instrument to find out what might inspire something new and different.
Missing a string or not missing it at all.
This goes for tuning, setting up, and practicing. Guitarists? Have you ever worked on your songs with one string missing? How would you rephrase the chord or substitute for that chord if you are missing a string? How does it make you approach your soloing in a different way? Do you find yourself creating or finding new licks from having that string missing?
Why not try it over the period of six weeks where each week you remove a different string? Run through your tunes, your practicing and improvisation to see what happens. You may find you’re more prepared and able to continue playing during performances even if you break a string.
Write it down
Don’t spend time worrying about losing your settings and the ones you like the most. Write them down. List where you have knobs turned to or settings placed at. You can take pictures if that helps as well. Then write down the different settings you discover while playing with your toys. Keep a little diary of different settings and their effects, what you like, what you don’t like. Jot down both the good and the bad. Alyssa, a good friend of mine has a quote I like on the topic too. “Sometimes what doesn’t work is more helpful than what does. It’s so easy to skip over the discord, but, even though it’s not pleasing, it can turn into something beneficial and, ultimately, beautiful.” It will help you learn how to find and remember the sounds you like as well as help you learn what you don’t like and how not to avoid it.
It really is simple. Play with your food. Don’t just settle for the sounds you know. Take chances, take time and add some effort to learn the full array of the gear you have. Understand how you can change sounds and how those sounds can change your playing. From turning knobs, to taking away a string, to removing a drum to anything and everything in between, research, listen and think of different ways you can express yourself. You already invested the money in the gear. Invest the time to know it inside and out.
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