Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - December 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Exponential Math * Chaos = Creativity

 This occurred to me a few weeks ago.  You *can* formalize the process of creativity!

 Music is a series of events quantified by time, and multiple pitches.  We have 12 notes to choose from, but in multiple registers, and in multiple combinations.  Which can overlap in that many more combinations, and on different rhythmic increments, groupings and beats.

 Additionally there is what comes before, and after a said instance.  How fast or slow the series occurs, and how it relates to the underlying pulse of the music.

 Numerically, that is an incomprehensible number of combinations.  Music theory attempts to qualify these moments in generalized terms, in order to bring a sense of form to the perception of "music".   But it cannot possible quantify exactly the value of each iteration.  An ordinate system of trans-human complexity would be required, and it would be meaningless to us as mere humans - like looking at GPS numbers and knowing a location is a rock on the side of Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina somewhere.  It is scaled beyond what is pragmatic.


 In the process of creating music one wrestles with the bounds of what is going on with that complexity. Combinations of choices that are compounded by other choices, until the creator has to decide to either stop where a greater comprehension fails, or to trudge on into the chaotic unknown.

 At that point there is experimentation, trying things that one doesn't consciously know where it leads.  Chaos.

 Blending that manipulation of awareness of the edge of the possible mathematical combinations, is where new things emerge.  Understanding this premise is important, because everyone tends to fall somewhere on a scale between trying to full understand every aspect, and throwing caution to the wind and hoping things work out.

 Different musical artists lie on that scale in different places, and there is no right or wrong, of course.  Being unaware that this is going on, and being "out of place" within that scale is where problems occur.  Being in the right place results in productivity, the wrong aggravation or perhaps "artistically conflicted" results.

 But it's all letting about math that leads to beyond-human-comprehension and trying to steer the resulting chaos into some sort of order that is "creating".

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Misha Mansoor on the Reality of Superlatives

 In this interview Misha Mansoor of band Periphery discusses the notion of "what is the best (guitar)", and how it doesn't make sense to get into that mindset.

 I'm always asked "who is the best, what is the best", etc..  Same answer: there is no "best", only what you like.   Learning not only what you like, but why you like it is part of the experience of the lost art of music appreciation. 

 What I like about Mansoor's answer is that he references the precept that it takes time, and it's something each person has to do as individuals as part of the process.  Even if I though I knew what/who was "the best", me simply telling you the answer wouldn't give you any knew information.  In fact, it would do the reverse: it would make you try to evaluate what you do relative to what is in your experience an abstraction.

 I might be able to elaborate on my answer very specifically.  But at some juncture there would be a breakdown between my explanation and your comprehension.   Because of one of two things: either I would use a reference or term that you previously were not aware of, or if it stayed within your sphere of comprehension, there would have to be something I weight more heavily than you.  Because otherwise, you would have already come to the same conclusion!

 Hence, as a music teacher I can help someone gain the mental tools to more concisely grasp the above abstraction, but it's not as easy as just giving one answer.   As Mansoor alludes, because music is such a vast and tenuous thing, seeking precise, empirical parameters is a fallacy.

 You can have complete and strong beliefs regarding what/who you like in something that is art, but that is not the same as knowing what/who is "the best".   It's art, not basketball.

 At 38:08: