Topic: An Essay on Speed
As I have said in interviews before, I dont practice to be fast. I have come from the shred 80's and twice caught tendinitis and that curbed my speed ambitions (I used to be heavy into Satriani (SWTA) and Eric Johnson (Ah Via Musicom). Today, the lower part of my left hand wrist is still somewhat numb from damage caused. I can play fast bursts if needed, but I'm far from technical any more. I also do not practice much as my teaching schedule takes up so much of my time, that at the end of the day the last thing I want to do is play guitar some more. Its a casualty of teaching 6 days a week.
I get more of a thrill ride by helping others and seeing where they go as a result, and myself sitting down with an acoustic and playing or writing some acoustic tunes.
But because of this, I have also "heard" fast music and playing differently, and this is the challenge/question that I want to pose to you today:
When you play or hear speed licks, what/why are they there?
One could argue that it's simply a matter of expression. It's like a voice, but I wonder how much of the time that is true.
What about the idea that to many the expectation of having speed is a part of being "good"?
What about "I play this so people think Im good", it sort of establishes our credentials to be up there or taken seriously, do we play fast because subconsciously we believe we are expected to?
What about our choice of licks or reasons we apply them? Do they speak to us, or do they speak to others?
As you can see I'm talking about our motivations, for playing something, and in this case it's to evaluate and ask tough questions about speed. Do we play so that others think we are good? rather than play because this is what the song, or solo needed?
Can we take a song and NOT play fast and come up with something meaningful?
I understand these are some tough man-in-the-mirror questions, but what if the answer to these questions, is an inhibitor to the music inside? Would it not be worth addressing?
Since I cannot play quickly very well anymore, (especially by todays standards , it's forced me to hear and listen to what others play differently. My father, when I was growing up used to call fast playing "Guitar acrobatics", his point being was that it said less to him than hearing melody. I thought he was crazy and just being an "old guy" back then, but is there any truth to this?
In closing I am going to share a recent find, that made me think about what we do when we play. This may not be you're first thought of a guitar hero, but in listening to him, I learned a lot, and its made me think more about what I say, than speed...are we missing out on something?
Also, listen to some Opeth, and the leads these guys play...the music sounds more genuine to me than most things that I hear now days.
I welcome your thoughts and comments.
Last edited by Instructor (06-12-10 14:39:49)
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