limitation/ habit/ point of resistance

Within the flow of playing the instrument there comes a point where the desire to take the sound flow somewhere is obstructed by a technical/physical/or mental(?) inability to enact.

So, I play one note on each adjacent string (6,5,4) ascending in pitch (using all down strokes with pick). At the end of this sequence I wish to play two extra notes on the string I land on now breaking the ‘one note per string’ (1nps) sequence and beginning a 3nps sequence over the remaining strings (4,3,2,1). I wish to use alternate picking for this new 3nps sequence (particularly whilst crossing strings). I have experienced an awkwardness at the point of changeover from downstroke picking only (on 1nps sequence) to alternate picking (on 3nps) at fast tempo.

There is an issue because I have been accustomed to utilising 1nps ideas as separate from a musical flow wherein there is no predominant “technique”, patterning, sequencing being employed. The mental and physical habit, whilst formed through repetitively attempting a foreign movement towards familiarity, impedes an improvisational flow because of its isolation, its specificity at its beginning and end points, in the sequence’s relation to what comes before and after in a continuum of improvisational music making.

This point of resistance is overcome by focussing on the ‘musicality’ of the solution that enables continuousness. This again seems to require isolating the point of resistance and attempting solutions until the mental/physical ‘technique’ is discovered and fluidity attained. The ‘isolation’ of this point of resistance might be better taken up within a musical flow, i.e have this point of resistance as a challenge regularly attempted within improvising. This is a conscious introduction of the “sticking point” so you come at and leave this situation differently within an improvisational flow.

Ultimately though, a range of different material should be attempted to connect with. As in the example above, the 1nps sequence connecting to an alternate picking 3nps sequence might instead connect to a 3 note chord, to a 2nps sequence, to a 4nps/ 3nps sequence where only the first note of each string is picked and the rest are legato. The combinations are of course infinite. At this stage one’s practice can be just that; within improvisational flow, either seeking out points of technical/mental resistance, or constantly seeking untried combinations or connections between hitherto discrete material.

I have used an example where transitioning of right hand articulation is examined for sticking points, points of resistance against the application of a mental/physical continuum. There are of course numerous facets of performance that can be scrutinised in the same way. But more broadly, this is an analysis of one’s ability to engage in improvisational, musical flow, whereby a desired sound/mode of attack/effect/etc. is achievable from any location within a continuum. What is discovered in this analysis process can then become source material for focussed practice, remembering that repetition of only one form of connection will again create another point of resistance/habit although more developed than before. Employing flexibility and variation may appear to take longer to see results but will be most effective in terms of gaining the freedom of choice.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *