Some could argue that everything they play gets their best emotional attention, but I think we can all agree there are certain tunes that are obviously:
- technically challenging (total chops-busters)
- harmonically challenging (chord changes from hell!)
- filled with time and tempo challenges (4 different time signatures and quarter note = 400!)
While this kind of stuff can be real attention-grabbers, the stuff that really gets my attention is more focused on being emotionally challenging; playing that not only requires the player to truly be in the moment, but also playing that really imparts that emotional element to the listener.
Now, that doesn’t mean the tune has to be an open ballad with wide open spaces, allowing the soloist to evoke strong memorable lines, swells and runs. It really could be any tune at any tempo; any dynamic level. It’s really up to the player.
The tune could be a slow ballad, but it could also be a slammin’ funk tune, or an intense rock tune, or a subtle country piece, or really anything. Again, it’s up to the player.
But no matter what kind of tune it is, it’s one in which it’s very apparent when that emotional challenge has been met.
The older I get, this just becomes more important to me.
I’ve always been more focused on Feel than other elements of music, but the older I get this appreciation for the Musicality of a a piece just grows stronger. It will always be impressive to see a real chops player perfectly executing a difficult piece or line or solo, but the excitement quickly diminishes (no pun intended ;)) if there’s no emotional, musical, elements taking center stage.
Practicing or Playing?
I rarely practice scales, chord changes, interval exercises, etc… If I pick up my guitar, it’s because I’m going to play a tune. I’ll play 5 or 6 tunes, put the guitar down and that’s it. But during those tunes I would be enjoying the piece and my focus would be on playing in a way so that the listener could really enjoy the music and feel what a wonderful tune it is. I might not always hit the mark, but it’s really my only approach.
As with any thing in the world of art, it’s all subjective. What will evoke feelings in one listener could often leave another one yawning. Or what could be blazingly impressive and inspiring to one listener could leave another one flat. Thankfully it will always be that way. That’s what keeps this all interesting.
Having chops and a deep knowledge of harmony and theory is awesome, but I’ll choose Feel and the Emotional Value every time.