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Re[2]: What would loopers do without power?

This whole proficiency discussion has been extremely fascinating to follow, and it's been one of those things where I feel like each viewpoint expressed is outlining at least a few valid considerations.  Realistically I feel like there's just no way to categorize better or worse or more artistic.  It's a total question of your own comfort zone.  Until very recently, I wouldn't have even thought of going on stage if I wasn't bringing a guitar or some percussion with me, since those are the two things I consider myself legitimately "proficient" with. (But like a whole lot of people on this list, I do dabble with a multitude of other instruments).  Actually, it's due largely to reading and occasionally participating in this forum (and checking out all of the unbelievable music y'all are making) that I've really been inspired to let go of everything and just play around with stuff.  Some of that has had good results, some . . . not so much.  My point in all this is that Everyone probably feels differently about how comfortable they'd be on a foreign instrument.  To use tow "big name" examples:  I bet Keller Williams wouldn't have any issue at all dragging a euphonium on stage just to see what kind of racket he could make, but I'd bet Kid Beyond won't be hauling out a guitar on tour anytime soon.  Does that make Kid less adventurous or less artistic or less of a musician?  Not really.  He just has his niche and he's so damn good at it that he probably doesn't feel terribly inclined to change it up.  As for the side discussion of "cliches" that we have on a given instrument, I think those go beyond the instrument, they're just licks we like, which is why we learned them in the first place, and I suspect most of us, on a given instrument, try on first impulse to recreate them.  (The very first thing I did when I purchased a fiddle recently was start trying to play your basic John Lee Hooker blues riff, as an example).  Yes, muscle memory plays a role, but I think your musical personality (of which your licks are a part) is going to come through on whatever instrument, or at least you'll try to force it to at first, and from thence comes all the beautiful mistakes that make up the glorious racket of free musical landscapes.  Anyway, I guess my tow cents is just that if people really enjoy their "main instrument" and want to continue using it, they should, but if you wanna do tightrope walks with something you found in a thrift store yesterday that you have no idea how to tune, that's excellent as well; there's room for both.  Many apologies for the rant.  Happy looping,
Original E-mail
From: Rick Walker <looppool@cruzio.com>
Date: 07/24/2008 09:38 PM
To: "LOOPERS DELIGHT (posting)" <Loopers-Delight@loopers-delight.com>
Subject: Re: What would loopers do without power?

Travis said,
"I'm not saying you'll transfer the cliches from the old instrument to the
new one, but for any instrument there are things that are easy to do, and
those are the things that will become the new cliches.  They'll just sound
different from the ones you've been foisting off on your audience with the
old instrument.  When people change tunings on a guitar, for instance, they
often carry over the same muscle movements and if those movements don't
sound "bad" in the new tuning, they keep them in the their "new" playing,
sometimes unintentionally."

I hear what you are saying, Travis, but there is also something to be said
taking on brand new things precisely because you have limited skills on

What I mean is that frequently when given incredible restraints in our
a very creative musician will figure out all kinds of new things to do based
on that limitation.

As an example,  for weight reasons,  I recently embarked on a long tour with
only my looper and my pitchshifter.
I was forced to leave my distortion pedal and my multi-effects unit (with
modulations, delays and reverbs)

I had to live with a dry sound and it forced me into making  a lot of
musical choices that I might now necessarily make.
I think, in the long run, that it really helped my musicianship to have to
contend with this limitation (my own personal one
as I had really grown to love my distortion and multi-effects pedal).

Additionally,   a while ago I did a duet gig with Henry Kaiser at the
Luggage Store Experimental Series.
Henry asked if was comfortable doing the gig without not only my loopers (my
faithful companions of the last
13 years)  but also without any amplfication, whatsoever.

I'd never done this in such a setting (free improvisation) and I certainly
had done something like this in over 13 years
in any musical context.

It was great, though,  because I really had to recontextualize my playing to
accomodate not only the
loss of sophistication in sound design , but also, physically to be able to
play everything that I play
at a volume equal too, or less than,  the acoustic guitar that Henry brought

I had to get really creative and I had to step outside of the box of my own
musical comfort zone.

I wasn't always comfortable doing it, but it really changed my head around
and I think some cool
things resulted (you might have to ask Henry and the audience for their take
on it, but it seemed to go over okay).

And lastly,  one can never underestimate the power of inspiration in music,
that can be created by shifting to a new instrument,

One could sit back and be cynical about Per Boysen leaving his instrument of
main expertise, the electric guitar to start playing Alto Flute for,
surely,  for a couple of years at least, the sophistication of his playing
on flute couldn't match the sophistication of his electric guitar playing,
but I've played with Per a few times (and listened to him concertize)
several times during this process and he has been on fire
with creativity and just sheer love for what he's doing.

It really translates into his performance and the music he makes and I, for
one,  am actually glad that he made that switch.

Of course,   one of the true tricks of the master at anything is to
continually recreate the 'Beginner's Mind'  that the Buddhist Meditation
refer to:    that quality of excitement and inspiration when we are new to
any experience (from being on a honeymoon to getting a cool new
stompbox pedal or looper).   An uninspired or uncreative musician can really
get into ruts in their playing (and at my age, I've noticed dozens
of contemporary musicians that I have known have completely quit playing
because they couldn't get past that hump of overfamiliarity with what
they are doing.

  A master, on the other hand,   has the ability to continually reinvent
themselves, I feel.
It's why I can go see Bill Frissel everytime he plays here in Santa Cruz
while on tour.................it's always a fresh experience.
He can even play in what I consider to be cliched styles of playing and make
them fresh because he's so good at being
creative and so good at recontexualizing different genres with his playing.

So,  if sticking to one thing floats your boat and makes you inspired to
play the best music you can...............more power to you.
But, as a wise man once said:  "the truth is one but the paths are many".

And not to be too trite (lol, or cliched)   'the proofs in the pudding',
no matter what path a musician takes.