I was playing with my blues trio in a local bar the other night, and thought, hey, what am I thinking? I was playing a solo in A, and was "worrying" a few notes in the 5th-8th fret area. "Worrying" is a great term for when you are not really going anywhere in a solo, for a bit. You just kind of enjoy the sounds of the notes, and how cool it is if you change left hand pressure, use bends and slides, and using syncopated picking patterns (these are what come to mind when I think of "worrying" in blues). It was only natural that my mind would sort of be in neutral, as I was just kind of locked into the notes and rhythms I was playing. Then, I thought of the threads in this forum about thinking/not thinking. I wasn't thinking about every single note that I was playing, but I knew what they were and their rhythmic placement. I didn't have to perform any kind of mental operations to play this stuff, as I could just sit back and observe. After a few seconds or so, I felt that I had just about milked the phrase that I was using. I could have gone up to some higher notes, or down to lower notes. Either way would give me some forward motion, as if I am telling the listening to pay attention because I am moving into doing something that I haven't done yet in this solo. But that was the easy way to go, very, very obvious. So, I decided to stick with the notes that I had. In order to create some more variety and sense of motion, I started playing around more with my basic notes. I thought it would create an open, airy texture if I held back from playing a note in a certain phrase, and replacing it with a rest. This is a tried and true method for creating syncopation and rhythmic vitality. Once I had done that, I decided to stabilize again. This suggested two ways of playing the material: in version 1, I play in a rhythmically regular style; in version 2, I play in a syncopated style. This gives me two more things to work with, version 1 and version 2. While I was doing this stuff, I wasn't thinking of the note names, although I knew exactly what they were, in the same way that I know my sisters even when they are not referred to by name. Rhythmically, I wasn't thinking of the different beats and subdivisions. Instead, I was thinking about the two versions mentioned above. I often use things like this to mess with the listener. For example, I might play thing: Ver 1, Ver 2, Ver 1, Ver 1, Ver 2, Ver 1, Ver 2, Ver 2, Ver 2, Ver 2, Ver 2, Ver 2. As you can see, I am toying with the listener. Actually, I really don't know much about listeners, so I usually nominate myself as the listener. Now, after doing this kind of stuff for a while, I eventually realize that I am about to overstay my welcome, so I'll want to come out of this vibe/groove/pattern in either a very smooth way or a big, dramatic way. When I come out of this section, I often have to prepare for it by moving the fingers and/or notes to certain positions on the fingerboard. For example, if I want to use a whole-step bend, I have to set my position so that my thumb can serve as an anchor of support for the bend. I am also thinking of some other things. I remember when Itzhak Perlman was on the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. After his performance, Johnny Carson asked Perlman what he thought about while playing. He said it was pretty loose, such as what he will have for dinner the next evening. I also thought about how the thinking aspect of improvisation is sometimes of great concern to some improvisers. Well, pretty uneventful, bland stuff. But I wanted to give a report on what my brain, such as it is, was doing during that solo. Meh.