Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - March 2017

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Jeff Beck and J79 Exhaust Actuators

 You can't be exactly someone else.  Literally, figuratively or musically.

 Music is beguiling and deceptive.  People get into it usually because they're more inspired by it than anything else.  It holds a multitude of prospects.  Then reality seeps in, and it becomes obvious that like anything else, it takes skill and talent in varying proportions.  Effort.  Focus.

 Which is why everyone should learn to play an instrument.  Nothing else requires these things so resolutely without apology.

 As a teacher what I see is that inspiration waxing and waning constantly, unnecessarily so.  Unnecessary because there is an unending supply of things to be inspired by in music.

 The problem at hand: allowing inspiration to be subjugated by converting it to "accomplishing".  You can be inspired by something or someone, without having to do exactly what it is.  Maybe you don't have to do anything at all; this is perhaps the default for a larger portion of the population, since people in general seem content to never learn an instrument, or a craft?  Inspiration alone is it's own reward.  It's just about all you need.

 Modern Life - bombardment of endless information, without collation, destroys inspiration.  My theory is that part of being inspired falls into another personal theory of mine, that chaotic behavior is captivating because it exceeds our computational ability as humans. We can see just enough to see we don't see it all. Inspiration is derived from witnessing someone do something that at the outset may have seemed impossible: musically or otherwise.  You want to collate, organize what you have before you.  You can't if it's just a flood. You have to start the process of reduction from a flood to mere chaos. 

 From the non-tangible perspective, a piece of music inspires in that it is a creation where one knows there would be a void if it did not exist.  It's not just another item. In turn, the potential for other such presently unknown voids is contemplated.  Possibility arises, the nature of which again exceeds human comprehension.  Maybe there is more  like "this"?

 A person endeavors to embrace the root of that inspiration.  Upon finding out playing an instrument requires some effort, their inspiration is tempered.  It risks becoming mutilated by the thought of never being able to get on top of the entire thing, whether it's a musical concept, phrase, musician, or whatever provides the inspiration. 

 Which is a mistake.  It's non-logical thinking.  It's a side effect of bad human programming.  You were never going to accomplish conquering the Musical Inspiration.  It's anti-Zen. 

 The beauty of music is that it is the pursuit that molds the outcome.  You never reach the end.  What you do along the way is "you".  The inspiration leads you on.  You don't let advanced musicianship intimidate you, because that is just the tool.  You're trying to learn to use a tool someone else has "built", not to rebuild the tool itself.  You're not trying to conquer the gestalt of the musician.  You're just trying to gain an understanding of that which inspires you.  Because if you can do that, you can maintain inspiration going forward to other things, and that is what is called "growth".  That's all being a human is about.

 As an example, myself: I like watching videos of professionals repairing things.  A favorite is a channel by AgentJayZ on YouTube, who is a "gas turbine technician".  He works on jet engines, "neat things" IMO.  I don't watch it because I want to work on jet engines - no thank you, at least not in this life - but because it's inspiring to discover all of the thought processes that have gone into designing jet engines. 

 I don't watch it thinking "man, there is too much here to know!  I can't learn all of this!"  I don't care about that, I'm intellectually selfish: I want the interesting bits!   I can't work on a jet engine.  But after watching 100+ of his videos I can identify variable stator vanes, bypass air ducts, oil routing on a J79 engine.  Inspiration allowed that, it's very powerful.  I wasn't thinking "if I watch this I can be a jet engine designer!".  It was just interesting, and I know more now than I did before.

 I hear "never" a lot in lessons.  Usually after finding out what is involved in doing exactly what a Musical Hero did.  "I'll never be able to play as fast as Eddie VanHalen!" - well, maybe not.  Probably not.  But Eddie VanHalen is more than just his speed.  He's a human that has put his own time in allowing being inspired towards leading him somewhere.  It led to becoming famous as "Eddie VanHalen", not "Jimmy Page II" or "Z.Z. Top Again, but Faster". 

 I've watched jet engines being torn down and reassembled in various stages. Not that basic knowledge isn't a prerequisite; you should know what a torque wrench is, just as on guitar you should know what a bar chord is.  I can't repair an Orenda Type 14 jet engine, but the next time I visit the Udvar-Hazy/Smithsonian museum I can appreciate the jet engines I'm looking at that much more. 

 You don't try to learn a Hendrix solo because you're going to be Jimi Hendrix.  You learn it so that when you hear someone else play something influenced by him (visiting the museum), you can identify what you're hearing (examining the fuel routing on a Jumo 004 engine at said museum, a pull start system???). 

 In turn hopefully you get inspired.  You learn something!  Most importantly, you continue the process.  It's self replenishing.  It's not a chore, it's fun.