Jump to content
Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Seeking thoughts on perfectionism....


no such girl

Recommended Posts

So. I'm a perfectionist. And sometimes I think it actually hinders my learning. So I'm seeking some of your thoughts on perfectionism.

 

I work on something until it's "perfect." Sometimes i think this is a good thing, but it does slow me down a bit. I'm working through a technique book and will spend days on what you all would find the easiest of lines.

 

So is it a good thing that I'm taking my time and learning everything thoroughly? (Sounds like a stupid question, doesn't it?) Or am I holding myself back from ever advancing beyond "beginner" status?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 29
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Learning the basic forms is good - no harm done there.

 

I play jams a lot & people often play well-known numbers with their own twist & it's sometimes not possible to fit the recognised bassline in there, so you've got to play it like you feel it.

 

Don't be afraid to experiment - I did a very fast version of 'Tore Down' the other night & found the bass line from 'Killing Floor' worked at that speed.

 

G.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the World will know Peace": Jimi Hendrix

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=738517&content=music

The Geoff - blame Caevan!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Depends what you mean by perfect. I don't really believe things can ever be: there is always something to refine/change. Yes, if it means taking the time to get the notes and phrasing right but what about the dynamics, expression etc?

 

But yeah, if you mean learning a line or exercise it's worth focussing on the details and getting them 'right'. But more important to play with passion and belief.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm working through a technique book and will spend days on what you all would find the easiest of lines.

 

........ Or am I holding myself back from ever advancing beyond "beginner" status?

 

IMHO, way better than rehearsing one line until it bleeds is to break it down into smaller, but more frequent, time units. But relax: you are not holding yourself back, as these building blocks are way important.

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, there are some things that you can practice all your life and there is always going to be room for improvement...two octave scales in all the keys might be one of those.

 

There are also bass lines which are relatively easy, such as Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett (Duck Dunn played this one), which you could learn to play and you could play along with the recording or with other people and it would give you satisfaction and confidence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As with most things, I think it's more a question of why rather than what. There can be more than one reason to do almost anything. What your reason for seeking "perfection"?

 

I believe that sometimes, it's better to have the courage to just get up & slop it out rather than wait until you think you're ready. Of course, sometimes it's not, but it's up to the individual to learn which is right at what time.

 

After reaching a certain level of skill, playing "well" is a subjective thing. Play to suit yourself.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Music is an artform.

 

Your version of perfect will be different to mine.

 

Ergo, perfection may be stived for but can never be attained.....

 

What exactly are you trying to get perfect? How will you know when it is perfect? Did the original artist spend hours/days getting it right or did they come up with it on the fly and think, I like that, keep it in?

Feel the groove internally within your own creativity. - fingertalkin

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'ts not supposed to be perfect, it's supposed to be art. ;)

 

While I admire your pursuit of such a goal and the dedication it requires, I say just relax a bit and play the music.

And, as stated above have some fun, dammit. :D

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perfect is a relative concept as stated above.

 

To me though there are things that I now take for granted when playing that actually took a long time to develop. It is good to drill scales, chords, arppegios, study rhythm and make the connections from mind - hands - ears. Its good to know where the notes are without having to think about it and to have a trick bag of licks to use.

 

When I reflect on it I suppose a lot of these things have become like a reflex action for me and some of the time when I jam or play music can just happen. I enjoy this feeling so I would say that your pursuit of perfection is a great idea!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No such thing as musical "perfection." For one thing, while you may feel you've played something perfectly, you have no control over whether the listener heard it perfectly. Believe me, after you play once in a bar, you come to understand how a lot of folks in the crowd really aren't listening to you at all. They are talking, drinking, eating, and hearing the whole band at once. It would be the rare audience member indeed who comes up to you, the bassist, afterwards and says "wow, you played that line perfectly."

 

Also, take any bass line you like on a record and then try to find the same band playing the same song live. There will be an excellent chance the bassist's recorded line is different from his or her "live" line. Which one is perfect?

 

 

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

It would be the rare audience member indeed who comes up to you, the bassist, afterwards and says "wow, you played that line perfectly."

...

 

Although you will definitely hear "That's not how the bass line goes in that song." Usually from another bass player.

 

To which the reply should always be:

"Well it does when I play it" quickly followed by "Are you not gigging tonight then?"

 

Feel the groove internally within your own creativity. - fingertalkin

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perfection is something that's going to continually elude you throughout your musical career. Because your notion of perfection is going to continually shift. As you continue to get better, your concept of "perfect" will change as you begin to recognize more of the nuances in your technique: touch, attack, muting, alternate fingerings and tone.

 

It's probably better to think of your musical progress as a series of plateaus. As you grow as a musician, you should continually think about where you are with your technique and how you would like to progress. You may get stuck in some cases. This is natural, but you may want to try that much harder when you recognize that you've hit one of these plateaus.

Obligatory Social Media Link

"My concern is, and I have to, uh, check with my accountant, that this might bump me into a higher, uh, tax..."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To which the reply should always be:

"Well it does when I play it" quickly followed by "Are you not gigging tonight then?"

 

:laugh:

 

A few years ago I watched a documentary about the musicians in the Philadelphia Orchestra and what music meant to them. I'll never forget the lead violinist--typically one of the most important and talented members of the entire orchestra--commenting that some nights he felt as if he could barely put two notes together coherently and that he was often convinced he was an incompetent musician.

 

And you're worried about being perfect?

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

It would be the rare audience member indeed who comes up to you, the bassist, afterwards and says "wow, you played that line perfectly."

...

 

I love this.... I will use it....

 

Although you will definitely hear "That's not how the bass line goes in that song." Usually from another bass player.

 

To which the reply should always be:

"Well it does when I play it" quickly followed by "Are you not gigging tonight then?"

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perfectionism DOES work for some people.... say, Eric Johnson. Or Steely Dan.

 

I don't think you can achieve perfection, but that doesn't mean you have to settle for mediocrity, either. You can be excellent without being perfect! Yes, sometimes you just have to go for it and take chances.

The fact that drunks in a bar don't appreciate your artistry doesn't mean you shouldn't take pride in your work!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the beginner is better served learning lots of material and getting out and playing in a group of similarly talented musicians. Whether or not you're actually gigging. Then you'll learn about playing with other people (who aren't perfect, or even trying to be) Once you have experience then you can work on perfection.

Feel the groove internally within your own creativity. - fingertalkin

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

and don't let the strive for perfection lead to frustration and discouragement. There's a reason it's called 'playing' music...

 

Listening to some bands who sound great then listen to them live- often they sound mediocre at best live. The rest are often aided by a score of studio-like effects and things.

 

 

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind"- George Orwell
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the opposite side to perfection, there are blessings in being a newbie. I remember when I first took the bass after many years on guitar, I created a chordal piece, with chords tapped in the high octave and bass tapped low on the low strings. Then I learned to play bass properly, but I think that in the first few days my creativity was maximum. Figuring out new stuff boosts invention.
-- Michele Costabile (http://proxybar.net)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's true: we work on polishing up the stuff we already know, but once in a while you have to go into uncharted territory.

Which is one reason why guitarists like to play in different tunings, where your standard fingerings don't work that well, if at all; it's sort of like learning a new instrument, but you still have the muscle skills.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know a guy that wants to be perfect...he's been playing in his basement for the last 15 years. In that time he's played about 3 gigs and had to be forced to do them because he felt he was imperfect. I've been fortunate enough to play about 100 gigs in my 8 years of playing. None of them have been perfect. But each one was a blessing and an experience. Unfortunately, my basement-dwelling friend will never know that feeling as he's too afraid to mess up. There's a saying that goes, "Everyone dies, but not everyone lives." I relate it to that. We are all going to screw up sometimes, but you can't let that keep you from experiencing your instrument. Most casual bar patrons and fans are oblivious to mistakes; the only ones who will notice are other musicians, who will most likely feel your pain. There's no shame in messing up; there is shame in never getting out of the basement.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it depends on what you're trying to perfect. if it's technique (picking/plucking, slap, muting, resonating, runs, scales, 'knowing' your instrument top to bottom (including amp and bass settings for a particular 'sound')), then no, that time isn't wasted at all. If, on the other hand, you're trying to perfect duplicating particular basslines so you can replicate them note-for-note, that may be taking the long way around.

 

I play in a cover-band. Many of the songs we do I've never heard the studio version of, so I make up a bassline that seems right to me and the other members of the band. I'm usually shocked when I hear the original version of the song and realize that my version is very different from the original. I think to myself 'Oh, that's wrong', because the line I play is what I'm used to and what I hear when my band plays. I never took bass lessons, never picked up a technique book, never did the things a 'proper' bass player is supposed to do, but learned by playing with other people. Of course, it's been, like, 37 years of playing with other people, but still...

 

Technique and exercise can never be over-studied, but you have to rely on your ears, your mind and your feelings to make a song your own. Perfection is strictly a personal thing - when you feel it, you'll know it. Just don't get hung up on the opinion of others. Trust your feelings, trust your judgement and trust your ear.

Play. Just play.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

trust your ear.

 

Well. Yes and No.

 

I think there are plenty of examples where what people think they are hearing, and what everyone else is hearing are two completely different things. I've even been in bands where people are completely deluded. I may even be one of them ;)

 

You only have to look at YouTube or X-Factor's got Talent to see that.

 

I think having no formal training at all is a very bad thing. You need some sort of feedback as to how you are progressing. A teacher or mentor can do that in a positve manner. Auditioning for a band is another.

Feel the groove internally within your own creativity. - fingertalkin

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree. I usually have several things on the go at the same time and try to pay a visit to uncharted territory at every practise session. If it's polishing up I just try to improve it a little; if it's something new, just a few measures with notes,timing and any other performance detail correct (even if it is at a slow tempo). Muscle skills develop over time, in the meantime you need to avoid rsi. When you learn to play an instrument you're developing several skills all at the same time so aim to improve but be prepared for periods where your playing doesn't get any better (it happens to all of us!). I've had a varied experience of playing live, some slip ups early on but learn from them (you don't make that mistake again!). Remember, perfectionism is for those who never do anything...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

not being a schooled player, i find my best session tracks come off the top of my head just due to living in the moment.

for my band tracks though, being prepared is essential.

i agree competence is a key ingredient if you have the head and the chops to go w/ it.

B
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...