#1
Not sure how to exactly pose the question-- other than how close to the edge of your technical ability do you play while performing (practice is a different issue)? I know this is likely a dynamic process-- like 60% of the time I could play it in my sleep, 35% I need to be very focused, and 5% of the time I need to reach for it -- meaning that about 95% of the time I am not in any risk zone (or near the edge).

Also, I realize that there are band dynamics that can affect this, and that if there is a weak member, it might not be as smart to play at the edge of ones ability.

Just curious what people's thoughts are on this. I know there are many musicians who play cover material well below their skill level. Conversely, there are jazz virtuousos who push the boundaries of improv every time they play the same song. Style of music also affects this, as most guitar music isn't written to be technical tour de force.

How much cushion or margins do you give yourself?
#2
I've worked my way closer to my full potential over time. I also like a challenge and the rush it gives me when I play something difficult. If we are talking original songs, if I can't play it then it usually doesn't get written
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#3
well live im never past 70% if im not comfortable playing it i wont do it live
unless its an improv or solo then i push it as far as i can which can and bad sometimes breaking string on a bend then having it hit a guy bad
#4
i dont play live but i will be soon and i prefer to stay in my comfort zone
#5
If there's only one bit of a song where I'm at the edge of my ability, I'll play it. As long as I don't feel like I have to struggle through an extended period of time during the song.
Quote by guitar-guy01
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#7
Live I'll always stay in the comfort zone, and I think players who don't stay mostly in their comfort zone often just come out sounding sloppy, even if they're actually a reasonable player.

But there's no doubt that we should all always be doing our best to expand our comfort zones.
#8
In the band I currently am in, all solos are improvised (mainly because I can't be arsed to write anything down but anyway ) and whether or not I play "on the edge" depends on how the rest of the gig has gone. For the first couple of songs I play something I know is nice but also something I've practiced a billion times, something sure, then if the crowd has taken us well and we haven't screwed up majorly or anything, I start pushing my limits in the solos. It usually ends up well because I'm already in the perfect mood and having a huge adrenaline rush, but if I try to do it to spice up a boring or just plain bad performance, I just fail miserably..

Sorry, wall of text. Tl;dr, I play on the edge of my ability if the performace is already great.
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"Maybe one day we'll wake up and this will all just be a dream"
#9
I never play stuff beyong maybe 50% live, just so I can play it and not think about it and put on a good show.
#10
I really don't like straight improv onstage. I prefer rehearsing my parts note for note, solo's, rhythm parts, licks, etc. I like to be able to just breeze through a set. It's a very professional approach. I do have extended guitar solos and extra licks for each of our songs. Depending on the crowd, as a band, we'll agree to augment or diminish certain parts of the songs with additional material. We all cue each other in while we're performing when we decide these things. That kind of awareness I have to maintain keeps me on my toes onstage, so I just make sure my parts are rehearsed. I do try to utilize as much of my technical ability onstage as I possibly can. I'll play fingerstyle, clean, distorted, make use of effects, etc.. I don't play "speedstyle" guitar, my guitar parts are relatively simple.
#11
I improvise most of the solos live. I'd say I play at 70-80% of my ability onstage. I push myself harder playing live, I like that. Like someone said it sounds sloppy sometimes but there's always 10 minutes that really shine out and I do get credit for. The greatest solo I ever played was during live improvising. I have the recording of it and I still can't figure out how i did it.

If I had more time for practice I would write the solos down and play the same thing all the time. I do agree you should play at 50-60% onstage.
#12
when i write songs i tend to give every1 else harder parts than myself, particularly in the area of memorizing because i suck at memorizing parts that aren't like simple and repetetive. but then i usually throw in 1 or 2 parts where my playing is pushed more to the edge, like a funky melodic slap part (im the bassist btw). im also the lead vocalist, and i almost always give myself the craziest vocal parts i can think of because i try to sound like my favorite singers, who use techniques like screaming, falsetto, belting, trilling, vibrato, spoken words, etc. the hardest bass parts usually come in at the easiest singing parts so i don't have as much trouble multitasking, but occassionally there's a part where i need to shred and do some crazy-coordinated singing and pray i don't **** up.

i even have 1 song where the bass and lead guitar and cello and piano are like dual shredding, and me and the guitarist are singing to. its kinda hard to explain, like he plays the chord progression for 2 measures while i shred and he's singing the first word to a sentence and there's some crazy piano work, then we switch and im playing the chords on the high octave of the bass and our celloist is playing the root notes and the guitarist is shredding and im singing (our celloist and pianist are the same person, then we also have a violinist/pianist who in this song is just playing the root notes of the chord progression on his violin) and we switch back and forth like that while the trombone is doing some jazzy improv the entire time. and when the bass is shredding the drums match it, there isn't like a simple bass line with shredding drums or a shredding bass with a simple beat, i always make them match up.

so yeah, depends on the song and part of the song, but i usually force the rest of my band to play the best they can cuz i write some crazy shit :p
#13
Quote by filtersweep
Not sure how to exactly pose the question-- other than how close to the edge of your technical ability do you play while performing (practice is a different issue)? I know this is likely a dynamic process-- like 60% of the time I could play it in my sleep, 35% I need to be very focused, and 5% of the time I need to reach for it -- meaning that about 95% of the time I am not in any risk zone (or near the edge).

Also, I realize that there are band dynamics that can affect this, and that if there is a weak member, it might not be as smart to play at the edge of ones ability.

Just curious what people's thoughts are on this. I know there are many musicians who play cover material well below their skill level. Conversely, there are jazz virtuousos who push the boundaries of improv every time they play the same song. Style of music also affects this, as most guitar music isn't written to be technical tour de force.

How much cushion or margins do you give yourself?


^ I try not to over-think it. Just play.
shred is gaudy music
#14
Quote by GuitarMunky
^ I try not to over-think it. Just play.



Jesus.

This exactly. I just get down with the get down.
There may be times when it is impossible to prevent injustice, but there should never be a time when we fail to protest it.


Take a trip down the Scenic River


Call me Charlie.
#15
It isn't like I think about this in real time as I play. This entire question arose from watching two very different bands--- one set of highly technical musicians who were entirely focused on their instruments, and the other focused on the audience (and put on such a show that it was as if they were not even playing anything).

Regardless of whether or not you think about it at all, all playing occurs relative to a comfort level.

Quote by GuitarMunky
^ I try not to over-think it. Just play.
#16
I wouldn't try to play anything over your head live. If you can't consistently play something during practice I wouldn't even consider playing it in front of a crowd in a live performance atmosphere.

Practice is the place to try to expand your abilities and push your limits, not during a performance.
#17
Only on one of my bands songs. But if i don't practice thrash/speed/death rhythm like every day my rhythm gets incredibly rusty and its very hard to play my songs. But if I ever perform live, I'm always very warmed up and everything is relatively easy.
#18
I think it really also depends on the gig. If you're getting paid it should stay reasonable, but if it's a basement show for friends you might as well go for it.
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#19
tbh, I try and play 100% to my abilities live to give the people what they paid for. We've improvised entire sets nearly for paying shows and gotten a great response

Like Munky said, you just play. If you arent comfortable playing certain things then don't play them, and if you have to second guess yourself too much maybe you should keep practicing before you start playing shows. I see too many people rush into playing shows, you want to be ready before you charge someone money to see you perform
Last edited by Peaceful Rocker at Sep 12, 2010,
#20
I play in a pretty explosive improv type band, and we rarely play the same songs for more than a month. So we play fairly blind at times. And we'll play sometimes 3 completely different type shows a month (full Dixie, full jazz combo, straight free jazz, ever changin burlesqie show, fusion group, and much more).

So each gig is basically a free challenge to me. I hate playing the same music over and over...and would rather challenge myself to play on my heels rather than rehearse endlessly.

To top it off, a lot of the improv stuff is also following charts for the main tune. Actually I just joined a regularly working full big band that doesn't rehearse, we only read and improv...on the spot, live. The ONLY rehearsals we do are "reading nights" where we pass out full arrangements of tunes that we will never play live and ONLY run through them once or twice to keep our reading chops up!

EVERY gig I play to my full edge-potential.
#21
You obviously shouldn't play stuff that's over your head, but I personally like to challenge myself. I like to jam a lot with my band mates to get tight, but I don't like rehearsing everything until I can do it in my sleep. I want it to be an active, organic process. I like to force myself to come up with basslines and what not while I'm on stage.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#22
It depends. In an audition or exam situation (im a music major in college and aspire to be a professional musician) I would not (for the most part) even consider approaching my limits. In a performance situation, it depends but in a jam-type part of a song, I will usually not compromise my musical ideas to pander to my technical limitation. If I'm playing a break, short solo (like from a verse to a chorus) or backing someone up I usually keep things relaxed, controled and do not approach the limits of my musicianship. In an extended solo type situation (like playing with a jazz group or just taking a really long solo with a rock group) I will go as far as I need to to adequatly serve the music (which, at some point usually involves approaching the limits of my technique). In lessons and classes, again I try to take bigger risks as I can both get critique from a professonal on what I'm doing and because I view them as a labroatory-type situation to explore my playing and learn, and I think I'd do myself a disservice educationally to keep things safe in that sort of situation.