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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: MathOfInsects] #2966834 01/04/19 09:13 PM
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My blank moments are usually in songs involving 2 or more key changes, and momentarily loosing track of which key is current. This NYE though, while playing LH bass and RH piano in a trio with a sax player, a former “Airmen of Note” member sat in during the last hour on flugelhorn. I became so engrossed in his skill playing totally on the fly that my RH drew several blanks, even though LH did not - which made no sense at all.


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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: nursers] #2966838 01/04/19 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted By: nursers
Originally Posted By: kelp
Centipede's Dilemma. Cool!

When it happens to me it's usually, "Oh crap. The bridge is coming up. What are the bridge chords? Seriously, why can't I think of them? It's only four bars away!" I've learned that if I let go and give in to instinct I'll get it right about half the time.


THIS - happens to me all the damn time.


That's because you are thinking about the bridge. Thinking kills you. Don't think and the hands will know what to do.


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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: CEB] #2966848 01/04/19 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted By: CEB
That's because you are thinking about the bridge. Thinking kills you. Don't think and the hands will know what to do.


Indeed! This has happened to me many times on guitar, playing along on stage and then my brain starts asking "what is/are the chord(s) in the bridge/chorus?"

When I have simply followed CEBs dictum above, it would all work out,and I could literally just watch my hands go to the right place at the right time (a creepy mini-out-of-body experience, indeed).

Interestingly, I find this "rely on your hands" doesn't work as well for me on keyboards.

Why?
One possibility of course is my decades more experience playing guitar has resulted in stronger muscle memory for guitar vs keys.

However, I have been wondering if some of the difference could be due to inherent differences in the instruments. There is more tactile feedback from a stringed instrument (different hand placement on the neck, string tension, etc.). In contrast, on keys my fingers just feel all jammed together in slightly different arrangements (especially when you start throwing in 7ths and 9ths, etc.).

Thus, I don't always instinctively trust my hand can feel the difference between some chord clusters.

Anyway, I wonder if anyone else has had this thought about stringed instruments vs. keys.

Last edited by roygBiv; 01/04/19 09:48 PM.
Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: roygBiv] #2966868 01/04/19 10:50 PM
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Low energy days or when I'm just tired are usually when my brain farts happen, I don't think it's uncommon at all. Most times finger muscle memory takes over and I get back on track but yah sometimes the easy songs you've played so many times throw you for an inexplicable loop.


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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: Joe Muscara] #2966869 01/04/19 10:58 PM
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Running down the thread, it seems it's definitely not drugs but we might need a "This is your brain covering Journey" PSA. (Yeah yeah, my latest band did Separate Ways. I swear I draw the line at Air Supply. And Nickelback, but does that really ever need to be mentioned?)

More seriously, there's the saying you don't practice a song until you can play it, you practice it until you cannot possibly play it wrong. I'm not sure how long that takes but I'll let you know when I get there.

-Z-

Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: EscapeRocks] #2966871 01/04/19 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted By: EscapeRocks
How many others has this happened to?

Last weekend, we go to start a song. One that I've played thousands of times. I even rehearsed in in my daily practice time the night before.

Drummer does his soft count in, my hands go to the proper position, and I play the first chord, then nothing....


Pfff...this is nothing. I've done a lot worse! I started out as a piano performance major, so we were suppose to perform on weekly basis. I was obsessed with this particular piece. I knew it so well, that I could almost play it backwards! I get on the stage...bow...adjust the piano bench and then I go completely blank with about 250 music majors and staff watching me.
My friend back stage saw I was in trouble, so he brings me the sheet music. Once I played the first few bars, it all came back to me. I'm pretty sure those strong spotlights had something to do with it. I had practiced on that stage before but without the stage lighting. The thing with academic solo performance is that you can't hide behind the guitarist or drummer for a few bars. You can't improvise either, because you're suppose to be playinig an exact piece/arrangement.

Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: Joe Muscara] #2966916 01/05/19 05:24 AM
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OMG, a well-known phenomena when performing songs that you think you know inside out. In these days when bands have automated setlists and rehearse the life out of songs so that they don't need to use dots on stage, I should imagine it is even more likely!

Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: EscapeRocks] #2966921 01/05/19 07:55 AM
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This happens to me at times, probably due to stress and to many activities ongoing at the same time. There are so many things to rmember, bank pins, passwords to forums, names of the kids friends and parents...its a brain overload.


Originally Posted By: EscapeRocks
How many others has this happened to?

Last weekend, we go to start a song. One that I've played thousands of times. I even rehearsed in in my daily practice time the night before.

Drummer does his soft count in, my hands go to the proper position, and I play the first chord, then nothing.
I don't know where to go for a few measures, then it all comes back.

(Luckily it wasn't a piano only intro....)

Once the synapses fired, I was back on track the rest of the song.

UGH... My guitarist and Bassist laughed at me afterwards saying I had a deer in the headlights look smile

So, what causes this? I've had clams, and played wrong notes, but I've never gone totally blank on a song section before.

Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: fjzingo] #2966939 01/05/19 10:04 AM
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For me, a couple of times, it's been the intro to Deep Purple's Perfect Strangers. I don't know why, but now and then I ended up just doing a vague chord sequence that meandered back to the D!

I felt better after seeing Don Airey fluff it too at the London O2 a while back!

Last edited by RobP2; 01/05/19 10:04 AM.

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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: EscapeRocks] #2966946 01/05/19 11:13 AM
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This is 1 reason I play 99% original songs.

Nobody Really Knows if my brain fart mistake on the music is a screwup or an interesting part of the song.

Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: Sam CA] #2966953 01/05/19 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted By: Sam CA
Pfff...this is nothing. I've done a lot worse! I started out as a piano performance major, so we were suppose to perform on weekly basis. I was obsessed with this particular piece. I knew it so well, that I could almost play it backwards! I get on the stage...bow...adjust the piano bench and then I go completely blank with about 250 music majors and staff watching me. . .The thing with academic solo performance is that you can't hide behind the guitarist or drummer for a few bars. You can't improvise either, because you're suppose to be playinig an exact piece/arrangement.


The stuff of nightmares.


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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: CEB] #2966972 01/05/19 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted By: J. Dan
In other words, when I was on autopilot, no problem. But if I actually thought about the part, I would blank out.


Originally Posted By: CEB
Thinking kills you. Don't think and the hands will know what to do.


Agreed.

When I learn a song it's by chords but once I internalize it it's just automatic muscle memory, or autopilot as J. Dan puts it. Case in point, I just learned Jamiroquai's 'Virtual Insanity" two weeks ago; at first it was all by chords but by now I couldn't tell you offhand what a single one of those chords is.

When I first started playing out at gigs because of nerves I'd look at my fingers and second guess the chords I was about to play and it totally killed me because of some insecurity paralysis.

The more I gig, the better I am telling that part of my brain to shut up and just trust my fingers. My live playing has improved immeasurably as I have learned to do this.


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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: nursers] #2967008 01/05/19 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted By: nursers
Originally Posted By: kelp
Centipede's Dilemma. Cool!

When it happens to me it's usually, "Oh crap. The bridge is coming up. What are the bridge chords? Seriously, why can't I think of them? It's only four bars away!" I've learned that if I let go and give in to instinct I'll get it right about half the time.


THIS - happens to me all the damn time.


Sometimes it happens when I practice Hanon; the crash-n-burn ain't pretty, but at least it happens in the privacy of my home. I've had a few 'stellar' moments on stage, though. Like many of you here, the brain freeze has happened on ballads.

Then there was the recent New Years Day bowling incident. Though I hadn't bowled in a few years, then routine came back quickly; the approach, walk-up and release felt the same as ever. That is until sometime late in the third game. I picked the ball, held it up....Yep, brain lock; forgot how to bowl. I moved forward and lopsidedly rolled the ball into the left gutter. Then on the second roll I picked the spare, the brain lock long gone. At least it happened this time while bowling, vs during the intro to "Open Arms" cry


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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: Iconoclast] #2967013 01/05/19 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted By: Iconoclast
I don't think it's just age. I've been that kind of a player all my life. I was never great at reading music and I think I just muscle-learned most of what I play.

As I've gotten older I've gotten more disciplined about reading music and it's weird because I have this affliction differently depending on whether I learned a song by ear or if I used the written music or charts.

I fly airplanes for a living and when I've had time off I sometimes sit back down in the cockpit and don't recognize anything...Then I find those first couple switches in the preflight procedure and suddenly it's all familiar like I never left.


like You have touched on some important points.
I play with a former big airline pilot btw... not that that is relevant.

Yes, learning a song multiple ways... ( reading, ear, hand memory , even intellectual approach via theory, eg "oh this is a simple 1 6 2 5 " ) has to have something to do with it.
Even the melody versus the chords. You can learn the chords with the melody in the background, or learn the melody very well.
This is a very germane to the topic.... HOW DO WE LEARN Repertoire.
I think music teachers should have interesting ideas on this topic. It has to be directly related to brain function.


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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: I-missRichardTee] #2967019 01/05/19 05:50 PM
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I experienced what for me was the worst brain fart on a gig ever.
Sometimes getting “into a groove” can be disastrous. I decided to get “creative” and added a subtle reggae “ bubble” to Tighten Up (“Hi, I’m Archie Bell and these are the Drells”) and forgot that I was covering horns.
Dead air, blank stare, nowhere to hide. Painful, very painful. Utterly destroyed by missing a seven note horn break.

Last edited by zukskywalker; 01/05/19 05:50 PM.
Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: zukskywalker] #2967020 01/05/19 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted By: zukskywalker
I experienced what for me was the worst brain fart on a gig ever.
Sometimes getting “into a groove” can be disastrous. I decided to get “creative” and added a subtle reggae “ bubble” to Tighten Up (“Hi, I’m Archie Bell and these are the Drells”) and forgot that I was covering horns.
Dead air, blank stare, nowhere to hide. Painful, very painful. Utterly destroyed by missing a seven note horn break.


I did that on the fill for Shining Star. I brain-farted and thought it was a double chorus before the fill. I know that song and fill backward and forward. Band stops, complete silence, eyes my way. Not a rock in sight to climb under. I picked it up halfway through, but somehow that made it worse, since it was even more obvious I’d missed the beginning.


"
Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: Joe Muscara] #2967023 01/05/19 06:41 PM
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Once in a while, but not often for tunes I've played a dozen times. Piano-only intros can be a real gotcha, particularly if I'm rushed into starting (which is understandable if you're trying to keep a floor going), but passed the 4th time through live, I'm pretty much going to just play it.

i can remember once going brain-dead in the middle "piano solo" of American Girl. But that was drugs. I don't really smoke up any more, and never when I'm playing. Some people do it all the time, for some it loosens them up and they play better, but I fall apart. Drummer handed me his THC vape, and suddenly the chords to American Girl just drifted away. I saw the bridge coming up 4 for bars: panicked, 3 bars: no better, 2, 1. I'm on top of it playing the tremolo in some foreign key, and before I knew it, it was over. At that point, the bass player and I usually do a gag where we switch instruments, I play the bass solo -> end, and I didn't even bother doing the switcheroo. It was a lame gig anyway, and we just wanted to be done, we weren't up for schtick.


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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: EricBarker] #2967029 01/05/19 07:12 PM
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I have nights where this seems to happen every other song, mostly when I haven't had enough rest. I just look at my bandmates and say, "Hope you guys are digging these chord substitutions"....when it's happening, the more I try to make it stop the worse it gets...

Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: GregC] #2967037 01/05/19 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted By: GregC
This is 1 reason I play 99% original songs.

Nobody Really Knows if my brain fart mistake on the music is a screwup or an interesting part of the song.

Unless your fans know the words to your songs better than you do --- i used to play in an original band and it was almost a standing joke that i'd forget the first verse to one of my songs until someone in the audience would start singing it.

- Jimbo


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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: area51recording] #2967039 01/05/19 07:51 PM
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I've been in bands previously where people have lost it when someone has a brain fart.
The first rule I insist on these days is that everyone just points and laughs at the perpetrator, then we get on with the gig like nothing happened.
Makes life a lot easier.

Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: JimboKeys] #2967042 01/05/19 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted By: JimboKeys
Originally Posted By: GregC
This is 1 reason I play 99% original songs.

Nobody Really Knows if my brain fart mistake on the music is a screwup or an interesting part of the song.

Unless your fans know the words to your songs better than you do --- i used to play in an original band and it was almost a standing joke that i'd forget the first verse to one of my songs until someone in the audience would start singing it.

- Jimbo


I almost forgot. Most new songs have lyrics and a vocal. Go figure.

I am locked in on instrumentals for almost 2 years. If I could find
a vocalist for my stuff, it would be equal to a winning Lotto ticket.

Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: GregC] #2967072 01/05/19 09:59 PM
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Yeah, it happens. My worst experience in recent memory was spacing out on the instrumental break in the middle of Home At Last. I was supposed to play the horn lines and synth solo, but was so lost I played almost none of it. Usually if I miss an entry or play a wrong note I can get back on track, but not that time.

Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: Bobby Simons] #2967099 01/05/19 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted By: Bobby Simons

The stuff of nightmares.


Yeah pretty embarrassing...but I'm glad they have those mandatory stage performance as part of the courses. The only way to learn is to do it.

Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: Sam CA] #2967102 01/05/19 11:29 PM
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This scenario is similar but not the same precisely, if I may.

I had to play a group of songs I was not familiar with the previous week. That puts a huge responsibility on my shoulders, esp if I count on others, and they falter.
I am the boss man, as the keyboard player.. I falter, we are going down.
This was my first Gospel gig of my career ( if I already mentioned this, go to a jewish korean restaurant called So Sue Me )
I had to write out half assed charts and a few accurate ones. But when pressure is upon you.. you have to visualize or is it audio-ize that all important intro, which sets up the things we take for granted... tempo, rhythmic feel. You have to know it deeply enough, that reading it is still necessary but so is having a piece of the piece in your mind. If your mind is blank at that opening intro, EVEN looking at the written notes can leave you high and dry... why? Because you did not HEAR it in your musical mind.

It is easy to slip up in these cases.. this is related to brain drop outs.
I think we learn music in multiple ways, and the more ways we learn a piece, the deeper it goes.
Sometimes just the intellectual theory part can be your life saver. Some times not.

Last edited by I-missRichardTee; 01/05/19 11:31 PM.

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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: I-missRichardTee] #2967148 01/06/19 05:16 AM
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Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee
This scenario is similar but not the same precisely, if I may...


I'm sure there are deep studies on the subject that are way beyond this thread and possibly entire forum. What we're talking here falls under a general brain freeze category that musicians experience regardless of how it happens. It could be due to stage fright, spotlights, ringtones... etc. From the performer's perspective it's a shitty moment especially when you are the main voice. Besides every single person is different. I could be blank and sheet music totally rescue me. You could be blank and sheet music do nothing for you. You can't categorize any of this. There are tons of variables.

Just from a musician's perspective the most important thing for me was how to handle the situation and how to prepare differently to avoid the whole thing if possible. Over time you develop some techniques and get better at it. From that moment on for all academic performances, I took my sheet music with me. Most of the time I would only take the first page with me just in case. For pop/rock music, I've never had this brain freeze experience. That whole classical atmosphere has a different effect. Even a small cough sounds like a bomb on the stage.


Last edited by Sam CA; 01/06/19 05:18 AM.
Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: Sam CA] #2967151 01/06/19 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted By: Sam CA
Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee
This scenario is similar but not the same precisely, if I may...


Just from a musician's perspective the most important thing for me was how to handle the situation and how to prepare differently to avoid the whole thing if possible. Over time you develop some techniques and get better at it. From that moment on for all academic performances, I took my sheet music with me. Most of the time I would only take the first page with me just in case. For pop/rock music, I've never had this brain freeze experience. That whole classical atmosphere has a different effect. Even a small cough sounds like a bomb on the stage.


Believe it or not, or like it or not, you are making my point... It is how we prepare ourselves as we study music. And that can include music we assume we know very well.


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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: CEB] #2967171 01/06/19 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted By: CEB
Age. Happens more when playing genres that you are not into. Very Common for me is not remembering what song title corresponds to which tune.


Can't use age for my excuse. When I was 19 at one gig I just couldn't remember the piano intro to Elton John's "Bite Your Lip" even though we'd been playing it for some time. I just had a brain-freeze. That was the only time for that song and it may have been perfectionistic pressure on myself. Haven't had any brain-freezes in recent memory and I'm 60 now.


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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: Sam CA] #2967176 01/06/19 11:41 AM
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[/quote]
That whole classical atmosphere has a different effect. Even a small cough sounds like a bomb on the stage.
[/quote]

Imagine working on a piece for a year for a competition.
Then waiting an hour for your turn on stage and finally get up there. Just as you're ready to play, the local news team runs down the aisle with camera lights on you. You look at the judges like whats going on? Someone decided this is a good time to cover this event for the news. So I was told by a judge to play at the flashiest part for the camera and in front of hundreds of audience. Ok done. They leave.
I start the piece and when I got to that spot, I had a memory lapse. I wasn't gonna win this competion as there where some heavy hitters there, but this was beyond inappropriate.

Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: re Pete] #2967210 01/06/19 01:55 PM
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Had to get the chords out to play don't stop me now last month. Hadn't played out in a while and totally forgot it. The band is usually a "boom boom boom" song after song with minimal pauses between songs so it led to some awkward silence. Managed fine, but when the band came in I totally forgot the B section. No one noticed except me.


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Re: Brain Freeze at a Gig [Re: N4dr0j] #2967227 01/06/19 02:37 PM
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Happened to me at last night's gig. Playing a song I must have done hundreds of times that has a distinctive 2-bar part that repeats. We start the song and I'm blank. I got it on the 2nd time through.

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