Gooey's P-log Blog

Personal accountability to make sure I'm not doing absolutely nothing.

log 3: On Dedication to Craft / States of Practice

February 28, 2022 — ~gooey

I have been thinking quite heavily about dedication to craft (or (my) lack thereof) recently: what it means to be an actually competent improviser; what it means to be healthily obsessed with your work, in hopes that it isn't so; whether its possible to have any inkling of original thought in a music where everything has been done a thousand times over, or whether its better to shamelessly steal conceptual material, and expand upon it.

Speaking of stealing concepts, I recently heard a great bassist talking about different interdependent, overlapping states of practice that we have to tap into, to make sure that all parts of our complex machine (being a musician who doesn't suck) are well-oiled and working as intended. From what I gathered, everything could be boiled down to 3 states: Training, Research, and Performance (just fucking playing).

Training is the state of practice that focuses on conditioning the body toward consistent and relable execution of technical material. Think scales and arpeggios, etudes, sound exercises and timbre exploration, etc.

Research is the state of practice where we solve our personal musical problems, as well as deepen our knowledge and understanding of music through intellectual means: analysis and theory, active listening and transcribing, journaling and mind maps, etc. THIS is where most of the stealing can occur, and comes as an endless refresh of boundless potential. It can occur at any time, on or away from an instrument, and usually has lots of stopping and starting. Yeah baby!

Performance is the state where we engage in music-making in real time, with whatever skills and knowledge are available to us at the point of departure (see: Andrew Hill, 1965). This one is hard to pin down, but it can be thought of as making oneself available to accessing generative, reponsive, and subvertive qualities within ourselves. This helps to eliminate the disconnect that occurs in ability once one leaves the practice room and gets on the bandstand.

tags: Practice, 2022