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Welcome to EvO:R Entertainment
  •  The EvO:R-Pedia Musicians Tips Section

    Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.

    A couple months ago I became very unhappy with my guitar solos and later my creative process as a whole. I was never happy with anything that I did, plus I really felt as if I was loosing my creative edge.

    To see what I could do to gain some of this back I posted a message to a couple networking groups that I moderate. After the overwhelming response I thought it would be a great idea to post a number of them in this section so it could be helpful to others in this same situation.

    If you are having issues with your creative process, this might be helpful as we start with my original post and the responses that followed.

    Note: Because I am taking actual repsonses I did not spell check anyone, so please no emails from editors and school teachers, please

    From: "Charlie Harrelson
    Date: Wed Jan 1, 2003 8:57 am
    Subject: The creative process.. My question

    As many of you are aware, I have been in a huge creative funk with my lead solo's on guitar. Seems as if I'm sleep walking and not discovering new areas of excitement.

    I did complete two new songs this month, one with Southern logic and Autocad, and another one with Fragile Fear and they are both worthy tunes, but my inner voice says "it could have been better, more creative, more out of the box"...

    If you did not know me musicically you could hear one of my new solo's and say "wow, that was great" but the inner me says "man have I fooled you"...I'm soloing on impulse power and neeed a boost!

    I don't write much music so I haven't tested the waters on that end yet. So my question to all those guitar minds out there is this.

    What can I do to regain my chops, or to loss this voice in my head that says "It ain't good enough"....?


    One thing to really keep hold of is something that you wrote here yourself about this:

    " If you did not know me musicically you could hear one of my new solo's and say "wow, that was great" but the inner me says "man have I fooled you"...I'm soloing on impulse power and neeed a boost!

    The line between an inspired line and a stock riff is pretty thin sometimes, and the line between a great new idea and a poorly executed new idea is often non-existant.

    Remember, any creative process is really our own construct having no reality beyond ourselves. Each person has many many creative processes that are called upon to create new art. The key is to develop as many as possible, linking them together in as many ways as possible, and to know enough to understand what ways of thinking musically come natural and which don't-- so we can develop those that don't until they do.

    Here are some suggestions.
  •  Do not listen to any music from a genre you've already heard.

  •  Do you listen to Bossa Novas? If not than go buy some Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66, or obscure compliations of the folk traditions in Brazil, or Esquivel, Joyce, etc. If you hate that kind of music than even better! Listen for what makes it tick, and dig out the melodies and how they relate to the groove.

  •  Don't play any line on your guitar that doesn't start off with you singing it-- even if you can't sing. If you know Brazilian music then try Bali, or Senegal, or Bulgaria or something.

  •  Don't listen to guitarists, and start thinking about other ways of putting music together. Here is an example. Trombone is a lot like a fretless bass or if they made them fretless guitar, but with one string and seven "positions (which would be frets). The seven "stopped" notes if it were a guitar are like their pedal tones, the rest are pinch harmonics. The 'bonist lips tighten or loosen to produce a "partial" from the overtone series which is the same as our 12th, 9th, 7th 5th and so on harmonics They can get really good articluation of the high harmonics thus they can play a surprising wide range, depending on their technique and their horn and mouthpiece. Limit yourself to one string for a little while and think interms of the overtone series to produce a wider range of notes and see if new ideas come out of that.

  •  Listen to John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins, these two giants of music have two very different approaches to playing, but their personalities and skill level are so strong that they are bound to inspire.

    Here are some more names of jazz guys worth checking out: Gerry Mulligan with Chet Baker, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Paul Desmond, Cannonball Adderly, Jimmy Rainy, Johnny Smith, Pat Martino (the last there are guitarists). Listening to new people, especially new great soloists will definately inspire you.

    Remember, inspiration is meant to take you to a new place creatively. You can't really expect true growth without embracing new and different, even if new is really old. I used to tell students when I taught to listen to music that they hated and find out what specifically they hate, and what they might find in it that is decent, and think about how they'd play over it.

    One last idea, very guitar specific. Most guitarists practice their scales three or two notes to a string, drop that and try strick two notes to a string on major/minor/diatonic modes (requiring many position shifts), as well as single string playing. Use specific ascending/descending patterns. I've been fooling around with ascending in a minor 6th arpeggio but decending a minor seventh arpeggio. Practice the scales giving emphasis to the patterns you don't use for me it would be root on third finger and slide into notes that don't fall well in that position.

    Another thing is to play the scales with each finger getting the root, but make sure you can tag the entire chromatic scale as you go. You'll find phrasing in each fingering that will open up new ideas. Look into alternative octave divisions like in the Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. Revist or vist the augmented/diminished ideas of Pat Martino, or his minor substituiton system. Also, sharp all 11th's for a while if you don't do that, or play eight note scales like the bebop scale system or if you think of your standard 7 note scales as tetrachords that are almost always a perfect fifth apart, play them as tetrachords a sharp 4th apart-- this is called the augmented forth principle in a harmony system called "axis correlation", it is a system that allows you to resolve any chord in any key and create a unique scale for each situation, especially those that seem to defy standard harmony. I think it is based on George Russel's Lydian Chromatic system.

    Finally, remember music is speaking or singing. Don't play what you won't sing, and think of new ways of speaking musically. Compare Brando's manner of speaking to Jack Nicholas' or even Nick Cage's. Each deliver their lines in a different manner. You don't have to be "you" when you playing. Paul Desmond thought of Audrey Hepburn when he was playing, Miles sometimes though about the way Sinatra delivered a line, Trane used ideas he heard in Indian music. All of these start with the attitude behind the music moreso than the notes themselves. Stuttern when playing, talk faster than you should so it sounds scattered and nervous, or calm and measured. Michael Dorn decided that his approach to Worf on Star Trek would reflect the character's arrogance in the way he spoke. He listened to the way people spoke and chose to speak the opposite, he trys to emphasis words like "the" and "a" in his sentences as if they were more important then the nouns and verbs. "The Romulan Cargo Ship is turning to Fire Captain." Think of how many ways that could be said, by Spock or Worf or Kirk or Bones or Scotty or Naomi Campbell. Then take each phrase you play on the guitar and play it as if spoken buy any of these characters. These "acting" ideas work in music because music is about communication and your personality is always being presented in you music. The key is to remember that you can put on new ones for the artistic situation you're in.

    I hopes these ideas help. But remember, that voice bitching about it not being good enough is not always being fair; separate the emotional component and really assess intellectually if you're growing musically and if you're honestly seeking new ways to express yourself or new things to express. Logic will shut that voice up if it is wrong.
    Lou Lasher

    Find something that moves you emotionally, THAT will spark the creative process. Write a tune for your daughter, or your wife, or your parents, whatever. Once you let go of the brain-process, and let the emotional process take over, the notes will flow like rainwater down a mountain. TRUST ME ON THIS.
    Joel Pirard

    daniel sent me a post you wrote on the evor yahoo groups. what do u do to get out of a funk ? there are many times i feel uninspired. there have been prolonged periods of writer's block, no inspiration, or very little at times. i think for me, sometimes it has to deal with psychological issues. are things fine in your life ? are you happy ? are you just as inspired by the rest of the things in your life. Sometimes, i become very afraid that the music in me has died for good at times. i say 'oh no, i wont be able to write anymore... but i always do, it takes a while.

    sometime i listen to old cds that got me into music. look at some olf magazines i have from back then, read some of the old interviews with bands or people that i admire or those who helped influence me and years back. i listen to the old stuff and look at videos etc... although i dont think ill EVER be able to recapture the magic i did when i was 13...i still try and try to remember what it was like. the idea, foundations and ideals of why i started this. when you look at music today and the scene and biz, how can one not become uninspired ? you have to seek your inspiration back out my friend...it wont come knocking.

    if your too uninspired to even seek your inspiration...thats when its time to maybe take a break and concentrate on other things in your life, but i dont feel that is the case, simply because you have spoken to many people about this and that you seem to care very much.

    try not to trap yourself into any "one thing" musically. dont pain yourself into a corner, which i dont believe you do! youve worked with alot of people, but dont be afraid to experiment a bit on weird things.

    change your guitar tone. if you play without effects, start using some delay etc...if you play with them, play without. change things around a little bit. i have been there and its very difficult to get out of i know. it feels like the death of the inner musician within.

    sometimes, and this might not be the case with you...i have to sit down for some time and listen to something very sad over and over to bring about the emotions. sometimes you just have to grieve a little to bring the emotions back to the surface.

    The creative process has 100% to do with your state of mind.... If you have been feeling musically bored and uninspired it's probably because you are concentrating on some NOT fun things..... it's a matter of priorities.

    One way to stimulate yourself is to switch styles for awhile: the mellow meditation disk that I did was amazing in that it stimulated all of these extremely rocked out tunes as well as opening a whole bag of possibilities... I was just too caught up in what I thought I was supposed to sound like....or wondering why I play music in the first place instead of just grooving with it because it makes me feel GREAT to play it. happy new year.......Roberto
    Roberto Luz

    "Caught up in what I was suppose to sound like." That has got to be the most enlightened thing I've heard all year (not this year, SINCE IT'S ONLY BEEN A COUPLE DAYS... Very Perceptive Roberto!

    I had to do a similar thing with the collab I'm doing with Jeza, I worked it too hard and ran out of creative idea's, so I broke off and did something totally different for a while, now the idea's begin to flow again.
    Neal Allen-SouthernLogic
  •  End

  • Charlie Harrelson is the founder of EvO:R and solo guitarist TL2.
    He manages a multi-million dollar audio/video business, maintains 7 websites, provides guitar tracks for many artists that need something extra in their mix, records his own music, is a father of 2, and maintains a 10 acre back yard that needed to be cut weekly during the rainy summer and still has time to loaf around!

    Catch his latest CD release TWO today! It is available exclusively from Peacework Music Network.
    Plus, be on the lookout for a couple Tracks Across America CD compilations featuring the guitar work of TL2 along with a number of members of the EvO:R organization.


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