So-er, Are You Experienced?

This a serious rant…

The gift of mistakes

We all make mistakes. And the good thing about making mistakes is that you can learn from your mistakes. When you make them you have the chance to learn something new. An undiscovered new path. Mistakes help me to improve, to get better. They are like a teacher. Even after playing guitar for over 35 years. Even after using the computer as a recording tool for over 27 years. Even after using Reason since 2001, Ableton Live since 2002, Cubase since 1989 and so on.

A mistake is an opportunity. A gift.

On the internet there are many gurus wanting to help me. Wanting to help me to mix better. To play better guitar. To learn stuff about sound I don’t know. And although there are some very experienced people out there my guess is there are a lot more gurus who simply lack a great deal of experience. They are simply selling the same myths over and over again. Cause they’ve read it somewhere on the web. And they are not interested in helping me either, a lot of them are only interested in making money.

And what sometimes happens is when I admire someone a little too much that I take for granted what he or she has to say. It is not what I have experienced, so it’s tricky stuff to start believing it myself. I am not saying you should never read or listen to other people’s opinions, tricks, tips and stuff like that. But try to find your own path by trusting your own instincts and by allowing yourself to make mistakes. The stuff that really works for you will resonate deep inside of you.

The audio world is full of myths. Higher numbers makes most people believe something is better. Great audio myth stories can be found at head-fi.org/t/486598/testing-audiophile-claims-and-myths

I have often stated that I love guitar amp simulator plugins. A lot of people don’t eat that. Even when I ask them to do a listening test online. It feels as if they are scared for reality. Ignoring to experience it themselves. They ignore finding their own truth by believing the story of others. Something they have read and continue believing it.

This week I learned that The Legend sounds just as nice as a real Minimoog Model D but adds a few extra things a real analog Minimoog can’t do.

At first I wasn’t sure that this plugins sounds better than the real deal, but when a Reason user compared it to his true analog Moog Sub 37 I couldn’t ignore that The Legend sounded so much better than hardware, than a true analog Moog synth. Check:

Beyond mistakes

But what sounds better is relative. When Hendrix started overdriving his guitar some people thought it sounded awful, some people still do. But the cool thing about art (and therefore also music) is that there ain’t no right or wrong way in creating. Some people hate voices which are a bit out of tune but I am sure Keith Richards, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits don’t give a flying fuck about that. They want to sound human. Other creators (most of them these days) are very much into artificial voices, Kanye and Frank Ocean for example. They use Auto-Tune to correct what they consider as a mistake: a human voice that drifts a bit out of tune.

If I play a C# over a C major chord some might call it a mistake. But Miles Davis wouldn’t call it a mistake or a wrong note. C# is just a note. It might make you jump from C# to C, or maybe you want to take a different road. You can do anything starting from C#. It takes a lot of experience to be able to adapt to any notes and chords. To be a free player. To be able to see all notes and chords as opportunities. To go beyond mistakes and use your experience to go into different directions.

I have studied music theory, so I can solo over complex chord changes. There’s a lot of theory going on in my brain, modal thinking for example. But there’s a drawback to that theory: it can limit my creativity. Theory is like a safety net. But to get to the next level I need to accept that there are no wrong notes. That there are no wrong chords. That music, even when improvised, is never a mistake. There’s only an opportunity to take. We do that to experience the music which lives inside of us. And therefore there really aren’t any mistakes.


Also published on Medium.

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