Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - All Information is NOT Online Somewhere

Saturday, January 13, 2018

All Information is NOT Online Somewhere

 Lately I've encountered a problem that I believe is brought about by the ubiquity of information seemingly available on the Internet. It's a watershed moment in human history, and I think from a human-centric standpoint will be the most defining factor in the human race from now forward. 

 And while I'm prone to say "A.I." at the drop of a non-existent hat, I'm not referring to artificial intelligence. 
 This is a rather obtuse post relative to "being a musician" or "learning how to play guitar", but it's already affecting people and in turn altering my teaching process.  That aside, it's also somewhat disturbing to consider from a Big Picture viewpoint.

 It's a premise that did not exist 30 years ago.  It may have reared it's head 20 years earlier than now, but it really started gaining traction a mere 5-7 years ago.  It's such a profound thing that I think it escapes most serious discussion; it's a sentence/statement that is said aloud very flippantly, with jaded tedium. 

 A statement that was laughable and implausible within most people's lifetimes who are reading this.  There was a period of mild scrutiny, curious amusement regarding the thought for a few years.  Then, maybe 5 years ago or so, it was just merely accepted as being "truth", truth within popular pragmatic reason:

"All information is online somewhere". 

No.  It isn't. 

If anyone wants to debate me on this I'll do so on the basis of, oh, I don't know, a $100 at least of a bet that I will win.  I throw that out there because I'm kind of at a breaking point relative to a Certain Population Demographic that has grown up on that statement being the literal basis of their existence.

 (....I'll get to how this relates to guitar playing, patience...)

 "Oh Chip, nobody really believes that, fully". 

 No, not 100%.  The problem is, it doesn't matter if you think every last bit of info humans have come up with or recorded is online - if you behave like that is the case.

 Learning the terminology of music is one utilization music theory.  Which is to say memorizing vocabulary words doesn't mean you know what they mean, but you can at least recognize them.  That alone is a good step forward, but consider learning grammar doesn't mean you can construct a sentence with the vocabulary words that conveys any information.  The street was painted with cats; horizontally the endeavor was colored.  The form isn't the point.

 Lately students have wanted music terminology to completely explain and recreate the process that a Famous Artist has used to make a Famous Piece of Music. 

 Music is not Ikea furniture or a plastic model kit.  It can almost be misconstrued as what used to be called a "paint by numbers" kit (look it up on the Net, all information is there).  It is not instructions. 

 On a very, very basic level one can describe the ingredients.  But it's not cooking.  You're not going to make pad Thai with music "theory".  You can make something that resembles bland baroque classical music, if you're deaf but studious - but that doesn't fit the description of any of the people I've ever taught.

 At some point the student MUST try to integrate the information I give them, or the fabulous Internet, with the experience of playing and listening.  You're not going to be able to go online and get the exact instructions on How To Be Jimmy Page.  It doesn't work that way. 

 So, I'm getting a lot of students that are saying they are "confused" at a particular point in their development.  This is not new, and this is just part of learning to play music.  BUT, there is now a new aspect: saying "I'm confused", and then reciting something relevant or not from the Internet, in regards to what is an abstract question:

 "Why did Page play that F?"

 I can explain why it works; in a semi-heretical manner.  Why he decided to do it is never, ever going to be online.

 I realize that for younger and younger people, that notion that something can't be fully explained by information online is literally creating cognitive dissonance in people.  It's also wrecking the creative process, because in turn people have given up: "everything has been done, and it's online".

 No, it only seems that way.  You have to try.

 You have to continue based on being amused by the serendipitous result.  That is being a human.  You can encourage a good result, but it's not guaranteed.  Most importantly, it wasn't guaranteed by any of the humans making music you like; it was only increased in likelihood of a good outcome. 

 The impetus of decisions in music are not online.  They are in the music itself.  Every great song
has it's own internal rules.  Learn the vocabulary, experience it and take notes.  Just learning the vocabulary isn't a substitute for experiencing or taking notes.

  And those last two things are nowhere to be found online. 

 Experience. Take note.





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