Inspiration from bad things

Discussion about guitar playing from a diverse group of people with different tastes and levels of experience.
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Kopfschmerzen
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Inspiration from bad things

Post by Kopfschmerzen » February 1st, 2011, 9:34 am

Hi everyone!

My life's not that easy these days. I'm not complaining :) But I have a question regarding that. When I'm happy, my practice goes perfectly. When I'm sad I can't concentrate on playing, bad thoughts keep running in my head. A friend of mine says it's possible to get inspiration from negative stuff the same way as from positive. Sounds logical, blues works that way :) But I can't yet implement the idea myself. I don't know if it's lack of repertoire or the concept itself can't be applied to daily exercises, but anyway... Does it work for you? How did you get to this? Sounds weird, but... any tips how to start?

Thanks!

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Alan Green
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Alan Green » February 1st, 2011, 9:54 am

Hmmm.

Conversation between me and a student at the start of a scheduled lesson in school. Last summer, I think.

Me: Alright?

Him: My Grandfather died last weekend

Me (trying not to look like I was panicking): I'm really sorry to hear that. Let's play some music to remember him by

Him: Good idea

And we just played. And his mood lifted a little. So it's possible to get something good out of something bad, I think you've just go approach it head on. It might not work every time. I guess I hope I don't get to find out.
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s1120
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by s1120 » February 1st, 2011, 9:55 am

Ive going through some low points myself, and Im realy still a begener on the guitar... I find I cant focis on pratice at all.... but if I just pick the guitar up, and start messing around playing stuff, I come up with lots of cool stuff!!! Just the other day messing with some basic blues scales, I got a few things out that ALMOST but not quite sounded like a solo.... for me thats a breakthrough!! :D
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jason brann

Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by jason brann » February 3rd, 2011, 1:02 pm

play how you feel

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kent_eh
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by kent_eh » February 3rd, 2011, 1:16 pm

jason brann wrote:play how you feel
badly??

I can do that!
I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep

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Kopfschmerzen
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Kopfschmerzen » February 4th, 2011, 2:18 am

That all sounds like turning the mood into playing, whether I tried to turn it into practicing! Not a bad idea anyway, but I feel a great lack of repertoire and improvising abilities to come out with music. Years of work ahead, yeah! 8)

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Brian Krashpad
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Brian Krashpad » February 12th, 2011, 3:37 am

Bad feelings or life experiences can certainly interfere with practices and the more humdrum aspects of playing. But conversely, they can be downright inspirational when it comes to songwriting. A year or so ago a younger friend of mine died in a plane crash. It was doubly sad because he was a single guy who had no kids, but who had a young nephew he loved like a son, and the nephew also died in the crash.

So I was sitting at my desk at work before the memorial/funeral service, getting sadder and sadder, until I couldn't function work-wise. I grabbed a pencil and paper and wrote an entire song in under an hour. And it's one of my better ones. The song is in our current set and if we ever get round to it, will be on our next album.

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Apache
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Apache » February 13th, 2011, 7:07 am

Ermm if I've had a bad day and the guitar stuff isn't happening, I tend to forget about practice / learning and just play a couple of songs that I like and are straightforward.

That usually helps, sometimes once I've done that I might go back to the things I should be working on, other times I'll call it a day..

Playing is meant to be fun, and you don't have to practice the more difficult things every day.

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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Bish » February 14th, 2011, 11:58 am

Not to relate guitar playing to "bad things" but...

I had a very low time in my life approx 10 years ago and I found myself relating to it with writing lyrics.

I kept hearing melodies in my head but being a drummer couldn't write it out.

I got back into guitar and was able to put my feelings down into music along with the lyrics.

From that time until recently I was having a very up segment of years and wrote about the good things.

I had another very low time occur over the past year and was writing about that.

Good or bad, writing music to correlate to the experiences is a powerful driving force.
Bish

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Ignar Hillström
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Ignar Hillström » February 18th, 2011, 5:11 am

IMHO inspiration can often come from bad things, but it's best to keep your distance initially. While you're still dealing with it there's a good chance you'll miss the right perspective and end up writing about how sorry you feel for yourself and such overdramatic garbage. If you're talking not about 'bad things happening/feeling blue' but an actual depressive episode then it's most likely not even garbage will come out. Art history is filled with people who drew inspiration from sadness and madness but the best works tend to be from those who worked after such periods ended and they had the energy, perspective and drive to really channel experience into music.
Not a bad idea anyway, but I feel a great lack of repertoire and improvising abilities to come out with music.
That goes for most of us. No experience can make you a great poet if you never learned to speak or write. Same with music, you need the basic techniques and understanding to channel emotion into something less generic then walking a pentatonic scale up and down over a prefab backing. :)
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Kopfschmerzen
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Kopfschmerzen » February 22nd, 2011, 3:43 am

Wow, perfect post!
Ignar Hillstrøm wrote:IMHO inspiration can often come from bad things, but it's best to keep your distance initially. While you're still dealing with it there's a good chance you'll miss the right perspective and end up writing about how sorry you feel for yourself and such overdramatic garbage.
That's true. 90% of 'sad' songs are about 'Poor me! My baby left me! Help me somebody!'. I'm not saying it's bad (I know many songs of that type that I love), but it's ubiquitous and kinda selfish.
Art history is filled with people who drew inspiration from sadness and madness but the best works tend to be from those who worked after such periods ended and they had the energy, perspective and drive to really channel experience into music.
Brilliant! I mean, being in that situation I start to come with lyrics for a future song, but I was afraid that when I'm out of the problem I can loose that feeling. You say that I can not loose but strengthen it afterwards. Thanks, that makes much sense!
That goes for most of us. No experience can make you a great poet if you never learned to speak or write. Same with music, you need the basic techniques and understanding to channel emotion into something less generic then walking a pentatonic scale up and down over a prefab backing. :)
Again, thanks for the idea! I never thought of it this way. I'm not sure I'll come out with something significant, but I assume all that situation as a good chance to dive into songwriting. I have something to say, will have even more, so maybe my internal dam will finally break.

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kent_eh
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by kent_eh » February 22nd, 2011, 10:59 am

Ignar Hillstrøm wrote:Art history is filled with people who drew inspiration from sadness and madness...
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep

jason brann

Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by jason brann » February 22nd, 2011, 11:26 am

Ignar Hillstrøm wrote:Art history is filled with people who drew inspiration from sadness and madness but the best works tend to be from those who worked after such periods ended and they had the energy, perspective and drive to really channel experience into music.
history disagrees: robert johnson, willie johnson, pet sounds, layla and other assorted love songs, tears in heaven, all things must pass, blood on the tracks, nirvana, etc etc etc
people don't forget how to write because other stuff's happening to them.

jason brann

Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by jason brann » February 22nd, 2011, 11:29 am

kent_eh wrote:
Ignar Hillstrøm wrote:Art history is filled with people who drew inspiration from sadness and madness...
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
for anyone who doesn't know, that came to coleridge in an opium dream, and when a person knocked on his door, he went to answer it and forgot the rest when he came back to it.
stuff like that happens to me all the time.

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Ignar Hillström
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Ignar Hillström » February 25th, 2011, 3:02 am

Kopfschmerzen: good luck with it! 8)
history disagrees: robert johnson, willie johnson, pet sounds, layla and other assorted love songs, tears in heaven, all things must pass, blood on the tracks, nirvana, etc etc etc
people don't forget how to write because other stuff's happening to them.
They tend to do, actually. Which is why there is usually a nice little gap between an event and the song that goes with it. For example, Clapton stated that he fell in love with Pattie Boyd in the late sixties, yet layla didnt came out a couple of years later. Tears in Heaven took him more then half a year for a rough version. This is also why Brian Wilson didnt write for decades as it was flat-out impossible for him during his illness etc. Mentioning the old blues guys and Nirvana is a bit silly, as if they were constantly 24/7 cruisin' Depression Lane for all their lives. Reality tends to be far less cartoonish. :wink:

One of the reasons could be that whentroubles hit, people have a tendency to become depressed to some degree, with some of the most common symptoms being a complete lack of concentration and focus, very little energy and a reduced desire to do anything that one usually does. Most people find writing good songs a lot easier when they actually can concentrate, have loads of energy and have a burning drive to write music. But true, the image of the Lonesome Artist struggling through his Deepest Emotions to come up with a Great Work of Art is cute, highly romantic and very popular. But while these kind of things might occassionally happen, the vast majority of people, artists and non-artists alike, simply have much better ability for anything when they didn't just lost someone twelve seconds before.
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