Saturday, 15 September 2012
"Anyone can learn what Louis Armstrong knows about music in a few weeks. Nobody could learn to play like him in a thousand years."
— Benny Green
Let's get one thing straight, music theory is important. If you can understand when some one tells you it's a "one six four five", what they mean, then your going to have a lot more fun than scrabbling around the fretboard for the first 16 bars.
However, there is an important lesson, that needs no music theory or faintest knowledge of an instrument, that I learnt the hard way.
I grew up around instruments, guitar, piano, drums etc were around our house like furniture, I just thought everyone grew up like this until I noticed my friends houses just had sofa's & chairs. Then I hit those strange teenage years and became, to not put too finer point on it, a narrow minded arsehole. At 16 all I would listen to was The Jam and all I wanted to do was play guitar just like Paul Weller. And no matter how hard I tried, practised and sweated, I could never get it, there was always something getting in the way. After playing in bands for a few years, I grew tired of this and one night I gave up.
Sod it, I thought, I'm going to just stop playing guitar altogether. I conveniently did this about an hour before I was due to play at a huge gig, along with a handful of other bands on the bill. I just got up and played how I wanted to play, I had nothing to lose as this was the end of it all anyway. As I came off stage, two members of another band came up to me and complimented my guitar work. I was shocked, I never had another musician say anything about my guitar playing before. Even stranger was the feeling that I actually enjoyed playing that night, more than I'd ever done before. I decided to carry on and in my own way.
It wasn't until many years later I began to understand what had happened. That I'd been fighting against myself, suppressing my own musical voice had stifled me. I needed to let go and be Paul Moss, no one else.
Now we all have our influences, and it's a natural part of being a musician. "I really like that lick, I'm going to use it" is something that is common to "Oasis doing Weller doing Lennon doing Elvis", but making it your own, that's the creative part.
This video is called "The Lick" and on the face of it is just a collection of musicians playing the same lick. However, everyone has their own take and subtle variation on it. The more I watch this video the more I understand about music and life.
By the way a "One Six Four Five" in Bb would be Bb, Gm, Eb,F. Just don't forget to make it your own!