When I was a kid, boy did I love magic. I practiced sleight of hand card and coin moves for hours in front of a mirror. Many of the most stressful moments in my childhood were the dropping of quarters in the middle of english or social studies class when there’d be a hiccup in a sleight of hand move behind my desk! 🙂
I used to go down to this shop in the city “Lou Tannens” https://www.tannens.com/shop/featured.php and watch the older magicians demo their new tricks and ideas on each other. My mother kept telling me I couldn’t be a magician and it was horrible to hear. In retrospect magicians are much like musicians – they do gigs, sell information products (sometimes buying a routine in booklet form can cost $15) or sometimes a gizmo that is the trick itself (product).
In any case, as a jazz / blues improvising type guitar player, the greater “fabric” of the music is kind of an ongoing “weave” of musical groove and feel. If you are playing in a jazz band, (or any other type of jam situation) the “content” is the 32 bar (give or take) tune, and most of the music you then hear is the “process” of improvising. Many other types of music (classical, rock & roll Broadway, and yes – fingerstyle guitar) are more “set”. The content is completely rehearsed, polished and planned. It is more like “a bag of tricks”, if you will.
Both approaches to music are valid and limitless. Funny, on tour I saw that I have these arrangements – particularly the Stevie Wonder medley, and the improviser voice in my head would say “oh man, not this same old stuff again?”
I used the analogy of David Copperfield to understand why I am playing these set arrangements to explain to myself and other jazz musicians what I am doing. Sure, I am in the moment and present as I play the songs, but it’s like the last big David Copperfield trick of the night – where he vanishes, appears, dies, comes back to life, etc. Think of the rehearsal, the planning, staging, etc. that goes into that! It has to be set, not improvised – in order to work. In fact it is “orchestrated”!
Many fans have asked me for written out versions of my “musical magic tricks”, since posting Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and “I Wish” on youtube. I have just finished the PDFs for all you guitar players to learn, and plan to post them within the week.
More tricks for your guitar bag are coming!
See you soon!