Reading an interview with Stephan Grappelli today made me realize how much ive been obsessed with finding out why the some of the great players played as good as they did, or to be more specific, what they're personal approach and thoughts were to playing the guitar. Especially when it comes to improvisation.

Stephane said that Django Reinhardt never practiced and made a mistake about once a year, and also that every time he was being asked about he his playing he just said "i dont know".
Now i know he grew up with music all around him and playing from when he was a kid on(which is a common thing around most really good players), but it is said by many good resources that even then he could outplay mostly anybody he ever played with at that stage. Also i know that he was illiterate most of his life and didn't know chord names and anything like that.

I've been always listening to music with joy and intensity all my life but i started to play guitar with 19 and im 21 now, try to take this somewhat seriously though.

Im sure playing instruments all your life must be a very vital influence and a mind and ear shaping experience, that playing music just becomes natural to you. but im just wondering, i mean there must still be a certain way one thinks when improvising over anything, or over something new they've just heard.
Is there a state of just playing with a free mind not knowing what comes next but at the same time hearing it? After playing most of your life is the ear so deeply rooted in the intervalic structure of the instrument and the music that the fingers move by instinct?
I've come across something likes this a few times in the past 4 months, each time when playing blues. But these moments only last for maybe one song and then it stops and i rejoin "reality"

Some people i meet say, it's not about thinking, just play. Although when just improvising on the spot without it being a track i really know or a blues 70% of the time im just noodling. On the other hand when i sit down and take a bit of time and compose something i can create some good sounding parts fairly quickly, also partly also because of feeling safe i guess i relax. This makes composing quite fun to me. And in essence i dont even expect or "need" anything more than working on my compositions and making good songs out of them.
But the more i progress and hear certain kinds of music i hadn't heard before this feeling of this "mystical" ability to be able to do everything you want to do in the moment, on the spot and together with other people is just like a craving i get. Being able to play endless streams of melody full of feelings.

I dont know where this is gonna lead me but this is constantly on my mind.
By the way im not talking about Django Reinhardt in specific.
Last edited by Ignore at Dec 23, 2012,
The thing about Django is that he was a freak, regardless of his disability he was one of those rare once in a generation talents with an incredible gift for music.

The rest of us have to work long and hard over many years to develop even a fraction of the musical instincts a guy like Django had. "Just play" is never really the solution, the goal is always simply to be able to play the music that's in your head, and inevitably that requires your music knowledge, musical ear and familiarity with the intervallic and individual note sounds around the fretboard to be at a high level. When those skills aren't good enough is when we stutter and falter and generally stumble around the fretboard - these skills are far more important than technical skills when it comes to improvising.
Actually called Mark!

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there are lots of django haters around these parts :<

listen to jaco pastorius, he was very similar

it's all about being able to hear music, break it down, interpret it (at least on a personal/subconscious level), and use that to aid your ear, mind, and personal technique in playing what you hear in your head. some people just have it differently, just like any other artform or field.

experiment with your learning. learn theory if you want to learn theory. try and learn to play a new genre if it seems fun to you. if you ever have a feeling that you're missing a piece of the big picture, just do that. cumulatively, it'll all add up, and you might not ever be a django, but your influences and style will sculpt itself into your mind, and at some point, everything you play will at the very least be you, whether it's virtuosic or not.
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