Playing from the heart

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Over the weekend I participated in a benefit for a local musician who had some tragic things happen to him. Anyway, the benefit started early afternoon, they had us and 11 other bands there, of which I saw 6 of them before having to leave for another gig that night.

So, watching the other bands play, I came to the conclusion that a only a very small percentage of individual musicians really played from the heart. They were the ones that did the most for me personally. I just can't relate to someone being up there and not really investing their heart in it. Most guys played from their heads. Not talking about just drummers, everyone. They were too cool to shed inhibitions and really go for it. Hey, they sounded OK, but there was a huge difference between the head players and the heart players. To the point where I'm thinking..."Why are you even up there if you're not going to go the full distance?" I don't get it.

Listening to POV's.... from women especially.....women zero in on the emotional content of a person's playing, not the technical aspect per se. A person who clearly is playing from the heart beats the technically better, but emotionally distant player, every day of the week in the eyes of most women I talk to. I think there is a lot to glean from women's perspective. They are unimpressed by the technical mastery if the emotional content is lackluster. If however the emotional content is unmistakeable...that's the yardstick most women I know use to judge a musician.

What I'm saying is music is an emotional expression, not a step by step exercise. I really differentiate between those 2 types of players now more than ever before. Like a lot of the guitarists were like...OK I got my cool look together, I am playing the right notes, I am killing it. Where I'm thinking, OK, you got your cool look together, you are playing the right notes, but I remain unmoved.

Play from your heart or step aside and let someone else do it, that's what I'm talking about. Kinda black and white. Give me some grays.
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
An epileptic seizure?

To me that T shirt depicts a high level of emotion, a good thing for a musician.
 

bigiainw

Gold Member
Playing from the heart for me only really works properly when a player has the technical ability to do so. A level of ability will stop your playing from the heart from sounding like a train wreck!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Good point. I am referring to players that can get around their instrument, but don't put their heart into it.
 
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audiotech

Guest
In my opinion, feel has as much to do with the sound as the sound itself. Without feel, a person is just banging drums.

Dennis
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I recently saw a local musician who is very highly regarded around these parts. And has a resume of playing with various blues greats as long as your arm. Besides just blues, he has a fair amount of jazz knowledge and can pull out some really clever and interesting riffs. But I noticed that every time he did something clever, he would glance up to see if anyone noticed. He was covering for the house folks at a blues jam so the room was full of musicians. At one point a sax player he had brought with him was soloing and he and the bass player (who he normally plays with) did this clever little rhythmic hitch together. I turned to a guitarist friend next to me and said that that stunt totally handcuffed the sax player who was soloing. If you know it's coming and it's arranged, you can play against it. But when it happens out of the blue, it may totally clash with what you were going to do. And now you have no idea if it's going to happen again so you simplify your phrasing and what you're doing so it doesn't mess you up. Throughout the night I noticed that no matter what else was going on, this guy was in his own world.

Later in the night a young kid who really does exude joy in his playing, and very little ego was playing at the same time I was. I've played behind him before and he is one of those folks who can really work with dynamics. One glance (you could hear it coming) from him and I cracked the snare for a break down. Mr. Big Name is still playing all kinds of clever jazz substitution chords as the soloist is trying to milk emotion from simple lines. I crack another breakdown and the bass player catches on. But within a couple of bars Mr. Big Stuff is egging him on with more "hey, how about this?" substitutions. Now, that kind of stuff can be just the spice to pick something up when it's really rolling, but not in a quiet section of a slow blues. It's about context and musicality. Having the knowledge and technical facility is important to be able to do things that contribute to the music. But not to barf all over the place where it doesn't serve the music.

Amazing that this guy has spent years playing with some real old school 'less is more' delta players, and doesn't let the music breathe.

It's not about how amazing you are. It's about how amazing the music you play is.
 

ocdrums

Senior Member
Can you tell if someone is "playing from the heart" if you are not looking at them? Or, is it all in the look? The volume? What?
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Can you tell if someone is "playing from the heart" if you are not looking at them? Or, is it all in the look? The volume? What?
Put on this clip and look away from the computer. http://youtu.be/w444TYEisug If you don't feel the first soloist, something's dead. Now watch and see the joy and feeling that pours out of him when playing. This is playing from the heart. And taking one of the best guitarists on the planet to school doing so.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
So, watching the other bands play, I came to the conclusion that a only a very small percentage of individual musicians really played from the heart. They were the ones that did the most for me personally. I just can't relate to someone being up there and not really investing their heart in it. Most guys played from their heads. Not talking about just drummers, everyone. They were too cool to shed inhibitions and really go for it. Hey, they sounded OK, but there was a huge difference between the head players and the heart players.
How about David Garibaldi? No one looks more "from the head" yet 1) he always sounds great and 2) despite his Easter Island statuesque expression in an interview he said he was smiling on the inside.

Some people are incredibly passionate but they aren't demonstrative, preferring the sound to do the talking. Some players are incredibly demonstrative and not passionate about playing - Moonie never touched drums between Who commitments.

The least impactful players aren't good enough to wow you with their sound but too shy to get out of themselves and into the fray.


Listening to POV's.... from women especially.....women zero in on the emotional content of a person's playing, not the technical aspect per se. A person who clearly is playing from the heart beats the technically better, but emotionally distant player, every day of the week in the eyes of most women I talk to. I think there is a lot to glean from women's perspective. They are unimpressed by the technical mastery if the emotional content is lackluster. If however the emotional content is unmistakeable...that's the yardstick most women I know use to judge a musician.
"The wisdom of innocence"? Barring major talent and music nerds, people generally are more interested in musicians who at least seem to be making an effort to communicate - who actually behave as though we are present and we matter. In terms of impact, a player who is lost in his fretboard has a helluva lot of ground to make up to compete with a player who is natural, relaxed and connected to the overall atmosphere of the powow.

But I definitely wouldn't use women as a yardstick for good taste in music :)
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Larry, I have to refer back to your own classic point about not letting emotion get the best of you. From my perspective, it's a balancing act. You need to live in the moment and play with passion, but you can't get so drunk from it that you go over the edge and lose control.
 

Souljacker

Silver Member
Is this expression wise? Because a drummer could have a stony, expressionless face on him but is in reality just concentrating hard to deliver some quality stuff that could still end up connecting with people.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The players I'm referring to can get around their instrument. They just aren't plumbing the depths of themselves or these songs. It's not like they have to look emotional while playing from an emotionally deep place, I'm not saying that at all. Garibaldi is a great example of that.

I'll try and put a finer point on it. It's not the emotion that the player puts into their instrument, it's the emotion that flows out of their instrument that is the criteria I judge a performance on.

I used to have too much going in, not enough coming out. I pretty much got past that, with the help of my trusty recorder.

An analogy would be someone reading you a story monotone vs someone reading you a story with varying degrees of emotional intensity, depending on what part of the story they are in. As for the shy players, I'm betting they wish they weren't shy. I don't think being shy is a goal of musicians. The goal of musicians, IMO, is to communicate human emotions through their instrument, using songs as a vehicle. The ones who aren't there yet, like the shy ones, I get. The ones who know their instrument enough to express emotion.... but don't....are the ones I am referring to. Hey, maybe they can't because of their personality. Maybe they're too bunged up to let go. If that's the case then I think they should do accounting or something. I like seeing someone up there who is communicating, who is unafraid of expressing an emotion other than cool, rather than someone just standing there and playing the right notes. There's a world of difference in my mind. It's the difference between good and great.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
Playing from the heart for me only really works properly when a player has the technical ability to do so. A level of ability will stop your playing from the heart from sounding like a train wreck!
totally disagree

I have some students who don't have the most technical ability in the world.....but when they play piece from the heart and give it all they have out of the pure love of playing it sounds amazing to me

even if what they are playing is not how it was intended to be played
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I was just thinking the other day why so really great musicians from great bands make really terrible solo albums.

I think it comes from the lack of heart of the hired guns who usually round out such an album. There is just no vibe much of the time. Vibe, heart, it's important.
 

dmacc

Platinum Member
totally disagree

I have some students who don't have the most technical ability in the world.....but when they play piece from the heart and give it all they have out of the pure love of playing it sounds amazing to me

even if what they are playing is not how it was intended to be played
For sure!

Art Blakey was not technically astute but was a freight train.

If this isn't heart - you have no pulse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtG9CnMtzZk
 

toddmc

Gold Member
Larry, I have to refer back to your own classic point about not letting emotion get the best of you. From my perspective, it's a balancing act. You need to live in the moment and play with passion, but you can't get so drunk from it that you go over the edge and lose control.
From a metal perspective I agree with 8Mile that drummers should be as emotionally demonstrative as possible while still maintaining control. It may seem shallow and image-conscious but I've always enjoyed the performance more when the drummer is really "getting into it" as opposed to a technically proficient player who dances around the kit but remains expressionless.
 
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