Case Study: Claptonites vs MalmsteenersSo who is not familiar with this classic debate? On one side, the Claptonites: "So much feel, because it's simple and not very complicated!" (aka Less Technique = more Feelz). On the other side, the Malmsteeners: "No, so much feel because fast, exciting and epic!" (aka More Technique = more Feelz). Polar opposites one might say at first look – however at the basis, both sides are saying the same thing, namely that Feelz are directly dependent on and a direct result of Technique. So by siding with either one of those two camps, you basically say that "Feelings are Technique," even though you can't quite agree with the rest wether it should be more or less. So far, so good.
Where it gets very absurd now, is when we hear the same camps explain how "Music has nothing to do with Technique, it's all Feelz" – resulting in a musical community where "Music has nothing to do with Technique, it's only Feelings – because Technique is all Feelings, after all!." Which doesn't exactly make sense. None, actually – which is what I meant in the opening paragraph, when I spoke about people coming up with "weird explanations."
So you might say now that all of this might be a (not so) mildly entertaining read so far, but what does that have to do with anything? Well, a lot with a lot actually. Fact is, that when you start out or even when you are far along your musical journey (wherever that might be), you probably wanna always take "the next right steps" – which you probably always want to go in some directions of "more skills" and "more feelz." Given that the "right steps" might not always be apparent, you might start to look for advice and references in some musical community - where you'll be confronted with this total nonsense. And wherever you're gonna go, you probably will end up loosing in some way – either you will start stagnating (since the less you do, the better you feel), or you will start overwhelming yourself (since for feeling good you'd have needed more technique like ten minutes ago).
Now obviously, not everyone falls into either of those trappings, so the whole issue probably isn't totally dominating everything – however, speaking from experience (including myself and other musicians I've met), falling into either category doesn't really seem to be an uncommon thing, and addressing it here I believe has more benefits than just continuing to ignore it.
ConclusionSo what do I have to say about the whole thing now? Well, since Feelz are a personal thing, I'd assume there isn't "THE ONE SOLUTION," fitting for everyone out there. However, by coming up with some differentiations and limitations, I think we can make some general assumptions, which should work for most people. I'd suggest the following:
1. Stop being either a Claptonite or a Malmsteener (not because of their music of course, but because of the whole politicized nonsense around it), and just assume that your feelings will come from music, for which you (among other things) need some form of Technique. Doesn't really have to be much more complicated than that.
Or in short, switch from
Technique → Feelingsto
Technique → Music → FeelingsThen you still have the Technique, but don't have to be emotionally bound by it.
2. Try finding something you can pull off now about which you can feel good – but requires some degree of practicing to get done. That in my experience balances things out nicely (ideal would be probably some form of performance).
That is, if you are interested in testing this thing out.
And again, I don't see a "right" or "wrong" way to feel here, but rather a very weird construct of assumptions that have gotten thrown around to the disadvantage of everyone, which to me seem relatively easy to fix. And at the end of the day, you can still like your Clapton and Malmsteen, regardless of their Technique – so it's all good, really.
About the Author:
David Sertl is a composer and guitarist based in Vienna, Austria. He also runs David's Music Guild, the Youtube channel telling you everything you (n)ever wanted to know about music. For more information you can visit his website.