Directed Listening

Here’s a listening exercise:

Take a recording of yourself and a recording of someone else; someone whose playing you like, maybe.

As you listen to the recordings, focus on some aspect.

Think of your listening as filtering out everything else to bring into focus a particular thing.

For example, you could focus on:

  • Use of space
  • Melodic content
  • Rhythmic interest
  • Magic moments
  • Overall shape
  • Blagging
  • Accents
  • Tone
  • Excitement
  • Balance
  • Interaction
  • The ends of phrases

And so on.

Having done that, what ideas does that throw up?

You’re looking for ideas that you can apply to what you do.

The listening could be just you.

Or you might listen along with a teacher or someone else so that you get another perspective, more ideas, more insight.

You could even make the comparison between yourself and, say, a dancer, poet, sculptor, whatever.

If you do it, please share any ideas/insights. 

Also, please share any ideas of things to focus on for this exercise.


Comments on Directed Listening

  1. Mike Outram says:

    Sounds like you got tons of ideas :)

    Have you tried taking a tune/line you know really well and displacing it every way you can? Move it by a triplet, backwards and forwards. Two triplets, etc. Or you could move things by a rhythmic value. E.g., moving by ‘1’ would mean 1 triplet or 1 semiquaver, so you can morph a triplet rhythm into a semiquaver one, and vice versa. Don’t think that makes much sense, so I’ll do something on that soon :)

    Re Pat: He does a similar thing on All The Things from that record with a line over A-7b5 D7b9, displacing it a few ways.

    And the skippiness of it, yes, he’s really good at crossing the strings with the pick. A good exercise for that is to sequence arpeggios; a bit like doing thirds but with a triad. I’m sure there’s a youtube vid of Pat warming up where he does lots of arpeggio stuff. Check out his right hand to see how he manages to cross the strings so well. And check out Paul Gilbert ;)

    Thanks for sharing, Jesse.

  2. Jesse Molins says:

    I compared myself to Pat Metheney (wish i hadn’t ha ha!). The tune is Solar off question and answer.
    Main points i noticed:
    Pat plays a lot of syncopated phrases compared to me. Sometimes only playing on the ands. I never did this in my solo.
    Pats phrases start and end in a much less predictable way than mine. I often seem to start a phrase on 1 or the and of 1.
    Pat has a lick he uses a lot on this one. something like this C B Bb Gb. Though he uses a similar pattern a lot it doesnt sound lame – i think its because he displaced the rhythm a lot. I too have licks that repeat but without as much rythmic interest.
    Melodically Pat makes larger jumps – i can hear him playing arpeggios/chord tones but he makes larger interval jumps and they sound smooth. A lot of mine are played stepwise and are therefore more predictable.
    Oh well back to the woodshed.

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