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Re: Tactics for Circumventing Musical Ruts



Hi all,

This is probably the most challenging thing for an
artist to do. Because it involves risk and a certain
discipline . . . usually. However, it is probably also
a little easier for musicians in general and maybe 
even guitarists in particular.

The way I see it there are basically two ways to go

1. Disrupt. Place limits. Close down options. Restrict 
yourself to an "underexplored" area of your current 
work or a technique or "roots" area of that work. Turn 
off favorite effects. Play only on one (or two) strings 
or tune all of the strings to the same note. If you use 
a pick, play with your fingers, if you play with your fingers 
use a pick. Limit yourself to playing in a single mode.
Write a song with only one chord. Write a song in a 
foreign language. Set boundaries. This is probably the 
easier of the two options.

2. Open options up. Try something totally new. Pick 
up a new instrument and schedule a gig to play it in 
public in a week or two (or a month or a year). Learn 
to play (and hopefully appreciate) a musical style you 
currently HATE. Play with other musicians who play a 
different musical style than you would ordinarily feel 
comfortable or competent at. And (of course), my 
personal favorite: play with people who are much better 
than you. There's no better way of getting a good kick 
in the pants than playing and hanging out (and picking 
the brains of) your betters. This is risky and will
demand discipline but it's always a sure bet.

I know it currently may not be very PC in some circles
to look at art/music making in such a "hierarchical" fashion
and acknowledge that there actually are "betters" in art.
But most of us know it's really true and behave very 
much accordingly -- even if we sometimes say otherwise.
Heck, one of the greatest benefits of going to "Loopfest"
type gatherings is the vast array of experience present
that can be learned from. It's like a crash course for me
every time I go. Plus seeing so many performers -- good, 
bad, indifferent, and (as often as not) even great -- is a 
wonderful opportunity to meet, talk to and get your creative
butt kicked really thoroughly. 

Best,

tEd  kiLLiAn

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