somewhere near Broken Hill
Welcome to this space of ideas around the practice of guitar playing (and other things) Ren Walters.
Bit of an introduction here; It is still difficult for me to get my brain around where this (virtual, digital) space exists. I have been told that our digital information (reduced to or describable in code) is stored on a disk drive (storage device capable of registering digitised information; strings of patterns of zero’s and one’s) and
managed by a server (‘a server is a program that operates as a socket listener’ Wiki quote) that can receive and disseminate digitised information. This disk drive physically exists in a country somewhere, and you and I can access it anytime we like depending upon protocols and permissions etc.
This description may be inaccurate but it is close enough. Even when I’ve had experts explain the machinations in detail I still struggle to really comprehend what it is and how it all works. But then I think the same about radio, the old landline telephone and even my 1989 Toyota. Electricity befuddles me, the phenomenal world befuddles, its all miraculous!
Anyway, this space in-tuition began its life as a place for me to dump a simple paper I had written, ‘Aspects of Guitar Improvisation’ (written as a compendium of ideas for improvisation students at the Victorian College of the Arts where I was teaching in the mid 1990’s) so; I didn’t need to repeat the same info to students, would save paper and be able to be read online. We could then discuss how that information related to them and devise practical activities to address their issues of concern.
I am expanding the content here by including other papers, and writing about things that are attracting my attention currently, in a ‘blog style’ and open for readers comments. I will also post some material arising from the ‘FREE PLAY’ class I have been taking at the VCA since 2013.
I was originally offering ‘lessons’ through this site and part of the original text I had on this page stated the following;
The participant is required to bring a willingness to change, to risk, to play, to invest.
You may remember what you just played.
You may know what you’re about to play.
Yet, you can only BE
in a single moment
a single sound
a single listening.
It seems reasonable to me, that at any given instant (as brief a duration of time as comprehensible) I occupy a particular set of external and internal conditions (or do they occupy me!?) that are unique to that instant, were different before that instant, and will be different after it. I experience a stream of these instants as a continuum. I can be drinking a cup of tea, raising the cup to my mouth, sipping, swallowing, and as I am doing this I’m also planning my class. Apparently I can do two things at once!
There are people who have devoted their lives to this kind of inquiry and I’m not one of them, but I do enjoy speculating on such things at times. Maybe we can appear to be doing two things simultaneously but are we giving full attention to each activity? Is one of these activities partly ‘mechanised’, an habitual behaviour where we are not required to be fully attentive in order for this activity to function? Or, perhaps there is a very rapid switching between attention on one thing and then on the other, so fast we are not completely aware of it because we don’t have the capacity to do three things at once, also being the observer watching this flashing between, or do we !?
But my interest here is in ‘being’ at a moment in time, not necessarily how many things we can do at once. It is also about pragmatism. Perhaps it is possible to ‘suspend’ being from or outside of time, so the body occupies earthly time and ‘the something else of us’, the ‘not the body’ of us, hovers in another dimension. But for the purposes of music; listening and playing, if indeed it is a lived reality that I can only ‘be’ in a single moment , am I present to that reality? Or, am I taken up with what has happened in past moments or what will happen in future moments?
 a ‘moment’ is open to conjecture, is it a nano-second, is it an immeasurable quantity short or long, is it a contraction or an expansion of time? From a big-bang, universal perspective our human lives are incalculably brief.
After being away from concerted guitar study for some time I have restarted by investigating this subject of presence to the moment of playing the instrument. I take up the subject on my first web-log. Ren Walters.
Links to academic research material here: