Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Further thoughts on recording

Recording is like looking in the mirror. By simply looking (or in this case, listening) we can make instant adjustments and improvements. When I talk to students about recording, I encourage them to really experiment with how they feel. There are three basic mental states I like to play around with when the recording light is on - trying, carelessness, and relaxed observing.

Trying is what most people gravitate towards - especially when recording or performing. We try to control everything. When events don't go as we like, we try harder to control the outcome. This is a fearful and stressful way to play. Many teachers would tell you to avoid that, but my advice is to try as hard as you can for a few run throughs - really feel the trying and stress completely. Let yourself get upset. By embracing it and letting it be (as opposed to avoiding it), it will have less effect on us for the following run throughs.

The second way is the way most people are never told to play - carelessly. As you record, let yourself play as carelessly as possible. Make mistakes, move freely without a care in the world - really go for it and enjoy the feeling. Imagine that you are playing it perfectly. Remember being a kid and making a mess with joy? That's the state we want. Don't focus on the notes - focus on the feeling of total freedom of motion. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but doing this frees up the body and mind and reminds us how good it feels to simply move without judgement.

Finally, we've warmed up and you want to allow yourself to play with a state of relaxed observation. Move the hands as you want, but just observe and listen to the guitar. Remember the freedom of motion from your "careless" playing, but now aim for accuracy. If you miss, keep the mental state relaxed - like in the careless playing. Stay open. If you notice that you start to try hard again, that's fine - let yourself try - embrace it as before. Let the trying be there and then go back to relaxed, open observing. Keep observing your mental states as you do this and notice how your playing changes accordingly. Focus more on how you feel than on the notes. When you feel well, the notes will take care of themselves.

The most important thing I can say is to make friends with your enemies. In other words - let the trying and carelessness that you don't like be allowed. Don't fight them off. Welcome them and smile at them. As you let them be, you'll start to go beyond them. This is the joy of recording - we study how we feel as we play. When we feel well, we play well - as within, so without.


Paul said...

Hi, yet again, and I've now caught up with all your blogs. Thanks a lot for them, they're really excellent.
Just one practical question: do you have an opinion on the relative merits of the edirol you recommend and the zoom h4n ??

Very best regards, Paul.

kevin r gallagher said...

hi paul - thanks for all the comments. I don't know the Zoom. I trust Roland and tend to go with their products. I've had a lot of their equipment over the years and it's never given me a problem.



Saei_Classical Guitar said...

hi man. i see your bar teqnique lesson and it was great thanks alot. i wait for your other nice posts and lessons