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Expression and Tone

There won’t be any tabliture for this lesson, as its more intuitiave than anything else. There comes a point with guitar playing where you’ve learned all the techniques there are, you’ve even learned to combine them. There comes a point with music theory where you understand music as a whole, and you can hold your own in any style of music you so choose to play.

There is a point in life however that, not unlike music – defines and shapes your life, who you are. You’re individuality becomes it’s own, not like anyone elses. You’ve learned what you wanted to do, now theres but one task left, and that is to do what you’ve thought up. It’s the hardest step you ever take, but on that first step you realize theres only one thing that can possibly stop you from anything you want to acheive or do with your life. And that, is yourself.

Fear often wells up on people, and freezes them, it causes people – even the most self assure and confident of us all – to falter on a simple task, that when any given day may approach, is simple as that.

It’s the added thought of knowing that the action you’re about to make really matters because when everyones watching, what they see is what they think of you. Your skill level isn’t measured by what you’ve thougth about and practiced – it’s measured by actions. What you can do when it comes down to the wire, it shows what your made of. What people can see of your playing and hear of your playing is what they measure you by. No one can possibly know everythign there is to know about you.

Were that possible, – we’d all be amzing guitarists. It all comes down to skill, and the application of that skill.

How this fits into being a guitarist is quite simple. How you feel about yourself, is how you play. If you feel good about yourself, you’ll feel good about your playing. Self conciousness isn’t a bad thing, but second guessing yourself is. Most of us hear a great player and think – I could never do that, he’s a pro, I"m just a garage band guy. Funny thing there is this: 99.99999% of them said the same thing when they were in your position. Some of them try harder than others do, and thats how you can tell, by the actions they make.

Playings like Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and a million others, have a natrual passion and self confidence in their ability, and thats a marvelous thing. The style of expression chosen by an artist is the outlet for their creativity. Often times we get discouraged thinking we can never acheive that kind of life, our skills and are desires just aren’t that strong. We sit there and wonder how can they do it how can they make new music constantly, how can they continue to discover new things when they’ve already covered so much? Then it hits us that each artist has acheived that, and when we think about how many artists there are we’re amazed at how much variety is made of the same stuff.

Eventually if you’re serious about music you cast aside everything else long enough to find your own style, you’ll study many, and not know how you’ll turn out, the expression of what you’re trying to become slowly becomes more and more defined.

At this moment something occurs to you. Your not conciously thinking about music, you’re thinking about feeling – the expression of what your doing, not so much the actual act of playing music itself. At this instant you’ve broken away from your previous way of life. You’ve taken that leap of faith across a gorge deep as your fear of selfconciousness. At this moment, you’ve confronted your self, accepted what you are, and this all factors into your music.

After jumping this bridge a few times you’ll come to understand that it’s the act of jumping is what it’s actually about – flying through the air with out looking back, focused on what you want to achive and thers nothing that can stop you because you know the only thing that can stop you is yourself, and you’ve already put yourself in your place, no silly little cliff can do that for you.

You’ll run through everythign you knew, and suddenly, it’s so much more magical, those silly metronome exercises, all those ours sequencing music on paper or on a computer, allll the practice, alll the tears,the disapointments, the small victories, the good times with your band mates family or freinds – it all boils down to one thing. Wheather or not you’re acctually willing to do what your thinking or not. You can hear what you want to play, you know how you want to look on stage, it’s all locked away in your brain.

With this fire inside, you – this understanding of your past, and your willingness to step towards the future – your present unlocks itself – all you have to conciously decide to do is move forward.

All of your troubles will slowly turn to strengths, if you had trouble with scales, the moment you decide to understand them is the moment they’ll become apearent to you, in as many ways as you wish to use them.

If keeping time was your problem – the moment you decide to stay in time, and not repeat the same mistakes twice in a row- thats the moment you become the meter master.

The more and more you step forward, the more you gain. And as you step forward you’ll slowly or rapidly realize it isn’t -how- you play the guitar that defines you as a player, it’s the act of doing it that defines you as a player. You will natraully develope a sense of expression, with out having to strive for it any longer. You’ll continually be on top of the world, no matter what point of the world you’re on.

Where I’m going with all of this rabling is pretty simple. And I can’t say it’s the same for everyone, but the same basic principles apply to anyone who wants to express themselves.

Everything has it’s own attitude, the way two leaves hang on the same tree isn’t exactly the same, and the way to eagles soar isn’t the same. There’s only one thign that remains constant through out this entire thing. NO matter the skill level, or the conditions of your life, your expression is yours and yours alone, and what you are at that point in your life is how you will express your self.

Do not try to be something your not. If you wish to be something else then simple BE IT – don’t try to act like it. You must change to truly express yourself in such a way, those who try to sound like another may have good intentions, but in the long run will fail.

Simply be, do not be ashamed if you are not what ou wish to be at every waking moment, there is no shame in life unless you put it there. Simply change to be what you wish to be, do not -try- to change, simply do it.

Now – since you’ve learned the way you express yourself really isn’t a concious choice, lets talk about the "what" as apposed to the "how".

How one expresses themselves is our asigned value, there are those who’s expression is rock solid, and those as light and carefree as a feather floating in a summer brezze. But thats only what they seem to be – it’s how they live, and it’s of their own choice, but not a concious effort.

But what are they? What sets us appart physically? The way our guitar looks? The way our fingers move? – Partly yes, thats it.

However, as music is concerned, especially to the guitarist, it’s how we sound. There are a variety of ways any one person can express themselves given the same things to work with.

Assume everyone on the planet has a Marshall JCM 2000 TSL 100 Watt guitar amplifier head, and two 1960 A and B cabs. – A "marshall stack". Now lets assume everyone has a Fender American Standard Stratocaster. And thats IT. There is no more variety. – the way this can sound is limited by what it is in physical nature. But no matter how similar the sound, you’ll always be able to distinguish one player from another – based on how they play.

Physically, the sound they make is made of the same thing, but the sound made by each person is radically differnt, no matter how similar they may be in playing style. Everyone is different.

Now, being realistic, everyone has a different guitar, and no two guitars are the exact same. Combine the natrual amount of randomness with the equipment and with the players and you have what we call LIFE. Two stones chipped from the mountain are not the same, even if they look like. Identical twins, rhythm and lead guitarists, eggs in a carton.

Everything is different. Your tone is what you use to express yourself with, your tone is you. When you yawn, you do it your own way, and your face moves its own way based on how you tell it to – how you express your yawn. Just as an A minor arpeggio is swept, it can be done many many ways, but it’s still just an A minor arpeggio, and it always will be, nothing can ever change that. Just like no one can change the fact that when we’re sleepy we yawn.

Because everyone and everything are so similar, it’s the little things that set us apart, we’re all cut from the same basic intent and design, but none of us are exactly like anyone else.

In conclusion. Don’t worry about how you sound, you’ll always sound like you, no matter what you sound like. It’s you who decides what that sound is – don’t worry about how limited you may feel, because if you feel unlimited, you will be limitless. Simply be what you wish to be, and let that being be made of what you desire it to be made of. If you are not as you wish – change to what you do wish, and leave what you once were behind. You can always revert – it comes natrually, but true progress is earned day in and day out. No one is perfect, and no one is the same. Knowing this as I’ve explained it now – go and make music. Draw in what ever influances you wish, use what ever motiveation you like. Remember, when you’ve acheived familiarity with your technique, and you’ve memorized the map of your 12 notes on your fret board, and you know you can go anywhere, then it’s just a matter of going where you want to go, and how you want to do it.

"What" and "How" are all you need to know. These two are what will accomplish your goals.

"When" – Now! – Anytime, when ever you want!!! When you do something is of little consiquence. If you simply dont’ do anything you’ll never know when the right time was. By practicing and repeating "What" and "how" – "when" will reveal itself to you, – when IT is ready too ^_~

"Why"? – Why not. You can sit and think about it or do it. That should be reason enough to do anything. I’m not saying to rob a bank or become a prostitute or anything like that – but it’s rather simple. You’re alive to live, how you live and what you live by are all you can control. When you live isn’t an element you can control, and to some degree when you die is also beyond your control. Don’t dwell on why you’re alive, or why you’re doing what your doing, or how you’re doing it. Only accept the fact that if you do nothing, nothing will be done.

If you wonder why you play the guitar, then you never really played it at all. You just put your fingers on it and strapped it on, or sat it in your lap. Don’t let "why" be a factor – the "when" often decides the "why" and the "why" is always directly related to the "how" – and the "how" is "what" you are doing – so dont’ let "what" you are, or are doing, effect "when" you do it – because "how" it’s done is "why" it’s done.

I’m sure that was a little confusing, but if you read it enough and apply what you’ve learned it’s not going to be terribly difficult to understand.

Remember kiddies, music is just what life sounds like. Nothing more. And nothing less.

Take care – I’m off like a prom-dress… Again!!!

— Tachi

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