#1
Especially improvising leads. What goes through your mind while you play?

There are several reasons I am asking this. Part curiosity, part scientific, part - it's a long story.

What do I think?

On a bad day, I think a lot of distracting useless stuff and try to focus on what I'm doing thinking chords, scales, what to do next, nothing with any confidence.

On a good day, I don't think I just play. I mean I must think of something but like dreams we never remember I have no clue what. In fact I have no idea what I'm doing at all, I just play and later I don't know what I did or how to recreate it again. I can't play most of my solos again. I do not know how or what I played in the first place. Just blanked out or tranced or self-hypnotized.

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I read some Harvard research study that claims music is a separate and completely independent mode of thinking (as compared with left/right brain emotional/rational)

I would guess there is quite a lot of math involved in music; that you hardly ever notice consciously. Yet somewhere, your subconscious mind is doing some heavy number crunching on it's own.

I'd be curious what others think about while playing....
#2
i think of anything but playing. when i'm thinking about what i'm playing because i don't know the song or whatever i'm not really having a good time.

last night, drunk on stage, not thinking about what i was playing and not even looking at what i was playing and where my fingers were on the fretboard. pure awesomeness
I'M A COWBOY
#3
Coming up to a solo, I am usually thinking 'How the hell does the solo go on this?' Gigging is an odd one and the mind can wander all over. I remember, at one of my first gigs thinking, 'Blimey, that girl's skirt is so short, I wonder how she keeps her kekkies covered.' And then I realised I was playing pretty good.
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#4
Hmm... interesting and I thought I was being an oddball. I usually think about anything that happened. To me, in the news or whatever but the music. Going in the zone so they say but should I know what's going on? Can I do it again?

'Fraid not, it's all spontaneous and why it's important to record everything, to catch the moments. What I'm thinking probably lays out the storyline for the music.

I guess the real question is what mood are you in?
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#5
Boobs.


Srsly. I think about them when I'm improvising. At work. When I'm eating.
I even dream about them when I'm sleeping.

Most of the stuff I write is warm and soft. I have no idea why.
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#6
Quote by OldRocker
Hmm... interesting and I thought I was being an oddball. I usually think about anything that happened. To me, in the news or whatever but the music. Going in the zone so they say but should I know what's going on? Can I do it again?

'Fraid not, it's all spontaneous and why it's important to record everything, to catch the moments. What I'm thinking probably lays out the storyline for the music.

I guess the real question is what mood are you in?



I disagree with the zone thing.

The zone is just a state of hyper concentration, and you can work on getting in it.

To me it happened spontaneous as well, but by playing a lot of guitar, I can get hyper focused within 30 minutes.

I think it has to do with how conscious you are about ur playing. Gotta listen well, and have a somewhat discipline to playing in a passive sense; ie. Don't play while chatting or watching tv or stuff.

Off course if I have stuff on my mind it might be harder or maybe impossible, but you can push urself into it.

It shares a lot of things with mediation.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Dec 20, 2009,
#7
Food, but that's what I always think about.

There's probably a lot going on in my head when I write/play/improvise, but truth be told I wouldn't be able to list all my thoughts. A lot of it is just stuff that comes to me when I play. I guess it's the whole "learn it and forget it" thing.
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        L.
#8
Seriously, it depends..

Sometimes I'll just like zone out and belt the song out, not really paying attention to anything except seeing if there's any hot chicks around or something, sometimes not even that, I just zone out and do my thing.
..and still have people come out to me telling me we're awesome and stuff, and I can't even remember what songs we played until someone reminds me, since we just choose stuff on the spot and when I kinda zone out, I just like randomly drop a song name sometimes it's something we haven't rehearsed, and we just do it.
These are basically when I do my best.

Other times, I'll actually be thinking about what the hell the next line of lyrics is, or what chords are coming up, or what keys to press (when on keys) and it's so much harder when I do it this way.
If I mess up, it'll always be while I'm thinking about what's coming up.
#9
Quote by xxdarrenxx
I disagree with the zone thing.

The zone is just a state of hyper concentration, and you can work on getting in it.

To me it happened spontaneous as well, but by playing a lot of guitar, I can get hyper focused within 30 minutes.

I think it has to do with how conscious you are about ur playing. Gotta listen well, and have a somewhat discipline to playing in a passive sense; ie. Don't play while chatting or watching tv or stuff.

Off course if I have stuff on my mind it might be harder or maybe impossible, but you can push urself into it.

It shares a lot of things with mediation.


You're quite right Darren. I need that 30 minutes and I'm in. I don't have control what goes through my mind but I think the music dictates it. Evoking moods I'd say.
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#10
Well, most of the time when I'm improvising it's like a mix of analytical and artistic. Like I'm thinking about note choice, rhythm, triads and chords, and all that good stuff. I'm thinking about what I could do next. But then at the same time I still don't really know. I kinda let myself go so that I just play whatever comes out, even if it's not one of the things I was thinking about doing. Of course I never really remember the specifics, I just kinda remember the feel I was shooting for, and maybe an odd lick here or there.


whenever I'm not thinking about anything, or thinking about something else entirely, it just ends up being mindless scale wankery.
#12
Quote by The4thHorsemen
Well, most of the time when I'm improvising it's like a mix of analytical and artistic. Like I'm thinking about note choice, rhythm, triads and chords, and all that good stuff. I'm thinking about what I could do next. But then at the same time I still don't really know. I kinda let myself go so that I just play whatever comes out, even if it's not one of the things I was thinking about doing. Of course I never really remember the specifics, I just kinda remember the feel I was shooting for, and maybe an odd lick here or there.


whenever I'm not thinking about anything, or thinking about something else entirely, it just ends up being mindless scale wankery.


Thinking about notes, triads, and chords is like thinking about theory and to me it gets in the way. I think shapes that gives me major and minor sounds and if you ask me what chords I'm playing I'll have to stop and think.

I have my share of scale wankery but that's where discoveries are made.
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#13
It usually depends what happend during the day. For the most part, I seem to think about girls. That's unwritten #4 of how playing better.
Skip the username, call me Billy
#14
Quote by OldRocker
Thinking about notes, triads, and chords is like thinking about theory and to me it gets in the way. I think shapes that gives me major and minor sounds and if you ask me what chords I'm playing I'll have to stop and think.

I have my share of scale wankery but that's where discoveries are made.


I agree, while practising and trying out new stuff yo can think, but I think it's a natural process overtime that you will eventually get to a point of non thinking.

Same with talking/writing I guess

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#15
Quote by xxdarrenxx
I disagree with the zone thing.

The zone is just a state of hyper concentration, and you can work on getting in it.

To me it happened spontaneous as well, but by playing a lot of guitar, I can get hyper focused within 30 minutes.

I think it has to do with how conscious you are about ur playing. Gotta listen well, and have a somewhat discipline to playing in a passive sense; ie. Don't play while chatting or watching tv or stuff.

Off course if I have stuff on my mind it might be harder or maybe impossible, but you can push urself into it.

It shares a lot of things with mediation.


I have ADHD, diagnosed a few years back. So I lived most my life without knowing I had it.

Hyperfocus is one of those paradoxical signs of ADHD. And yes, I used to play guitar to get into that state (I still do today) regularly. It would happen spontaneous and for other things as well, but playing was the most consistent and reliable method.

There were times in the past I had zero concentration ability for anything else but playing guitar. It is like meditation. I use "self-hypnosis" but it's not zoning out. There must be intense concentration involving physical coordination, knowledge of music theory, kinetic memory, etc ; all combined to produce those results. Perhaps I am focusing so much I lose track of myself - which as I understand meditation seeks to produce a similar state.

That is very interesting.

And thanks to everyone for taking time to post.

#16
Quote by OldRocker
Thinking about notes, triads, and chords is like thinking about theory and to me it gets in the way. I think shapes that gives me major and minor sounds and if you ask me what chords I'm playing I'll have to stop and think.

I have my share of scale wankery but that's where discoveries are made.



well, it is thinking about theory, but the kind of stuff I'm thinking about is just second nature now. I'm not really thinking note names and calculating, it's more like relating the notes to the tonic or to chord tones using intervals, and the average chord and triad shapes, etc. I'm usually aware which chord of the key I'm playing, like IV or iii, and what extensions, but I'm not really aware of the exact chord I'm playing unless I think for half a second.
#17
Quote by The4thHorsemen
well, it is thinking about theory, but the kind of stuff I'm thinking about is just second nature now. I'm not really thinking note names and calculating, it's more like relating the notes to the tonic or to chord tones using intervals, and the average chord and triad shapes, etc. I'm usually aware which chord of the key I'm playing, like IV or iii, and what extensions, but I'm not really aware of the exact chord I'm playing unless I think for half a second.


That's what it is, relationships (intervals) of the notes. That's why I cannot tell you what they are, only my ears can. I don't worry about what notes sounded right or not, it just happens and you learn from it.

Just like learning a second language, sooner or later you'll pronounce it right.
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#18
I think about whatever comes into my mind. The times when I think about playing are the times I'm not playing well.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#19
If I'm playing, as in properly playing a song to somebody, I just watch myself play it. Hopefully I'll have learnt the song properly.
Call me Batman.
#20
i dont just think about one thing xDD
but, its mostly my girlfriend or getting a blow job from adrina lima[nice]
#21
When I'm playing music, I tend to listen & react rather than to "think". The mind is active, but it's focused.
shred is gaudy music
#22
Quote by J.A.M
If I'm playing, as in properly playing a song to somebody, I just watch myself play it. Hopefully I'll have learnt the song properly.


It's one thing to pay tribute and another to play your guitar. If it sounds good then no problem.
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#23
Quote by GuitarMunky
When I'm playing music, I tend to listen & react rather than to "think". The mind is active, but it's focused.



Same.

I do not think from a theoretical aspect at all;

ie. C chord comes up I can play notes C, E, G etc.

It's more of a reaction, and I think this comes from when you play a lot of guitar, and very focused, you gain the ability to link the frets to their corresponding sounds in ur head in relation to what is played on the backing track.

Basically like speech.

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