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what to do when you suck

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by ndcaster, Aug 26, 2016.

  1. Syd Lennon

    Syd Lennon TDPRI Member

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    I used to get flustered or at least mentally fatigued all the time when it came to writing/recording or performing music. Those sluggish days were more frequent than the dialed-in days, until my friend, who's a visual artist, went on a long monologue about the 'emptiness is form' mantra. It was actually very enlightening, and easily translatable to music. You need to spend a lot of time thinking about what it really means and why it's so important to art, especially music. Nothingness is what distinguishes the somethingness. Drums are so effective at giving a song form because there is a wealth of empty space between each beat.
    At first I would refer to that mantra if I was slumping, but I've realized life flows more smoothly in most musical settings if it's always approached with that mantra. Incorporating it into a jazz band setting not only makes the music really expressive, it makes it a breeze to play, even if you're having a bad day. There's obviously a limit to how much emptiness you can add, but for the most part you can fill less than half, or even more, of the bars that are yours and still sound good. It's hard to drop certain habits, like where the stops and starts are of your internal musical phrasing, but to play nothing takes no skill, you just got to force yourself to stop when you normally would have continued, or wait when you normally would have started, and then pick it up a few beats later. Treat the rests like the notes and vice versa. Flip the whole thing inside-out and make it like a photo negative. Not playing as many notes as you would have improves the odds of a good performance by the numbers alone. Committing to less is also useful if you get a brain cramp and the key or chords escape you momentarily. During those times I deconstruct everything to 3/5 of a pentatonic, take a breather, and let the song come back to me. That's another big part of a good performance: staying calm. Anything you can do to clear your head helps (playing music takes a lot of brain power and overthinking what's going on is overloading a processor that's already close to max capacity). Music is 50% mental and the rest is in your head. Briefly oversimplify the whole thing if needed. During a show, feeling cool and confident has so much to do with acting that way; playing it off even if you're having a rough go, making the audience and your band believe you're all good by your body language. It certainly does spiral out of hand quickly if you feed the self-critical/self-conscious thoughts.
     
  2. callasabra

    callasabra Tele-Afflicted

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    Not that I have any room to advise here, but I often will pick the notes of the chords and throw on copious amounts of delay, or will find a real simple 3-4 note phrase and play it in different positions.

    If the song is a fast tempo I will alternate between quickly patterns and letting notes ring (usually the root notes) on the treble strings.

    It is not uncommon for me to "suck" or to be the "weakest link".
     
  3. callasabra

    callasabra Tele-Afflicted

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    Also, I really like how Clapton and David Gilmour could make slow simple phrases sound amazing. Less is so much more at times.
    Sure 'Layla' had some quick runs but 'Wonderful Tonight' had some good licks too.
     
  4. Journeyman22

    Journeyman22 Tele-Meister

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    Yeah, I believe Merle said/sang "When songs aren't hitting home" It inspires me to play and practice more.
     
  5. jaybones

    jaybones Friend of Leo's

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    As I say to my GF, swallow. ;)

    Seriously, when I start getting out of the pocket playing, I pause, take a deep breath (or more), swallow and start back again in very safe and simple licks until I get the groove back.

    Doesn't do any good to know you're not hitting the pocket and trying to force it. Take a slight rest and start over again. If you try too hard you'll get frustrated and suck worse.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
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  6. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Keep playing that note until it fits.
     
  7. xafinity

    xafinity Friend of Leo's

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    ndcaster, please don't think Im making light of your misfortune but this might bring a smile on a bad day.
    It goes on a little longer than my attention span but its amusing.
    this guy is nuts

     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
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  8. DucksEliminated

    DucksEliminated Tele-Meister

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    I've made a habit of learning the melody to most songs that have a solo in them. When all else fails I fall back on it. It's always fits the song, and you can tweak the melody as you go to make it interesting.

    If your feeling the grove you can ways throw some improve in.
     
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  9. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

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    While That's always true, what do you do when things are flying by up tempo and with lots of chords?

     
  10. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    You do what Tommy Flanagan does from about 3:33: start comping! lol
     
  11. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    "rhythm guitar solo" ain't a bad way to go when you feel dry -- at least it keeps the pulse and gives the drummer something
     
  12. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Poster Extraordinaire

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    You can't play the same solo every time because you aren't the same person every day.
    Some days your golden, some days you suck, that's the human condition.
    A pro learns how to get by on off days, the good days take care of themselves.
     
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  13. 1300 E Valencia

    1300 E Valencia Friend of Leo's

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    You were flustered, but not by anything musical. The peripheral junk got in the way, distracting you and making you rush to fix things and be "in a hurry". For me, it's bring late, stuck in traffic, last minute phone calls and other stuff as I'm walking out the door, etc. I try to start earlier. Easy to say, harder to do.
     
  14. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

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    A buddy of mine (bass player) was telling me over lunch (a couple of months ago) about his gig coming up this nite. It was a bar gig near a music festival. He was not nuts about it cause everyone was gonna be drunk at the start of it. His wife was working and he had to get the baby sitter all set up himself. He told me he was leaving at 3pm to head out for the gig. The gig wasn't starting till 10pm and it was only 30 minutes away. I asked why he was leaving so early. He told me he had to get his head right. Not necessarily for the gig (it was just a blues gig and he's a jazz bassist), but just to clear his head of the chaos going on.

    I told him he's lucky to have the opportunity to allow him to get to a gig 5+ hours early.
     
  15. Steve 78

    Steve 78 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Yeah this is the thing that struck me about the original post. I've done a few gigs and recording sessions where I have set up the recording (mikes, pre-amps, DAW, etc) and then played. I think in every case I have sucked. The headspace you need to be in to set up a recording (or other technical task) and to play are polar opposites (at least, for me).

    So one important part of this is your pre-gig routine. For me to be in the right space I need to arrive at least an hour before playing just to get the vibe of the room and relax after unpacking, etc.
     
  16. heltershelton

    heltershelton Tele-Afflicted

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    I'll have my drink in hand and just give cold stares at my guitar from across the room and say out loud, "this could be you in my hand but you wanted to suck so now you just sit over there and think about that for awhile".

    i plagarized this from my friend Scott. he actually said this.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
  17. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

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    You can't always be good, nobody on any job has only good days. As our german world championship scorer Mario Götze (who faced hard times after shooting the winning goal against Argentinia) said: "Sometimes you're the dog and sometimes you're the tree." The safe trick bag can be a helper and – if possible – to put yourself in a state of mind of concentration and dedication. But on the day you described Murphy's law seemed to be getting the upper hand. Sometimes it helps to just breath deeply once and tell yourself: "Yes, I can".
     
  18. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I always found that when i really sucked in my opinion it was becuase I was hanging on too tight and not letting hands do the work, I even find that when i practice if i cant get into it ,it's becuse i cant let go and let me be creative, I try to catch myself and If I do then I relax and get it right ,I hope.


    I try for consistency but not consistantly bad, some days you are creative and some days not . I get that but I try to relax before I perform that way I can feel the music as I play and try not to allow nerves to get in the way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
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  19. AndrewG

    AndrewG Friend of Leo's

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    My band makes me sing sometimes-I hate singing and I can guarantee a couple of times a year I'll be cruising confidently up to the next verse when my brain decides to unwire itself and I totally forget what comes next. Luckily most of the time a synapse sparks reluctantly into life just in time and the relief felt is palpable. Otherwise I just sing the previous verse again and pray nobody notices...
     
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  20. Phelonious Ponk

    Phelonious Ponk Tele-Afflicted

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    This.

    P
     
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