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Emotional       Personal meaning        Expression of life        Playing habits       Thoughtless        The Other        Staying in the zone         Spiritual


My playing is "purely emotional.  I can switch on automatic and play, but it sounds terrible, I've got to be wound up, in the right mood."       -Jeff beck       

"Suddenly you feel a certain mood and you just give vent to it...   It's the spontaneity onstage that’s important, because how I feel now, I've never felt before and I'll never feel again."        -John McLaughlin

"You can't really pre-plan true playing.  It's dependant on the individual musician and the surrender of his or her experience, knowledge and technique to the mood of inspiration."        -John McLaughlin

You have to be in the right state of mind, but I don't know what that state is, "even after you've played something.... you still don't realize what it was that made you play like that."      -Jeff Beck

“B.B. King doesn’t seem like a guitarist to me, he seems to cry and play the blues…I don’t even hear a guitar, I just hear this cry.”       -Carlos Santana

Personal meaning

"I can't play unless it means something.  I surround my self with players that are in the same frame of mind and feeling."    -Larry Carlton

"Why make music if it's not a personal involvement?... Even if it's one note, it's that important."    -Larry Carlton

"You have to "throw yourself into the music and not be distanced from it."    -Vernon Reid

"I try to get to my center, to what I'm really feeling.  Guitar playing is a sort of feeling analysis that tries to strip away all the crap."     -Vernon Reid

"You can get jaded a lot easier as you get older.  A lot of the fire is gone, so you have to stop and take a breather, even when your onstage, you can do it."     -Eric Clapton

“I put on a record and if it hits me, my face contorts and I start crying…  If I can’t cry to something that is moving, I’m not going to cry onstage…  A lot of musicians become very callous and after a while they can’t feel pain.  That’s not what music is about.”    -Carlos Santana

When B.B. King plays “I could see that he’d make a certain face and then hit the note…  I figured he would go back somewhere in time to a certain place or somewhere inside himself and then hit the note.”    -Carlos Santana

"I’ve been involved in yoga and meditation and everything like that, I still am.  But a state of receptivity is…a state of awareness.  I want the music to come form the deepest possible point in me so that I speak from my soul.  It's a magical dream when that happens.  When your inspired you can do anything."    -John  McLaughlin

“Music becomes like an empty glass, and whatever you put inside is the consciousness.  If you play country…or whatever, that’s just the shell.  It’s how you feel, what you put inside the music that’s really significant.”     -Carlos Santana  


Expression of life

“It's all about the portrayal of the feelings and the soul in a medium other than words...  You can say heart-break or jubilation, but you can also set it up in music to make people actually feel it without ever saying anything about it.  That’s the grace of music, that’s the blessing.”       -Duane Allman

"Tragedy is part of everybody’s life.  But it's more or less inspiring because it's a natural part of life.  If you took the pain of life away, you'd take away more or less everything."    -John McLaughlin

"The blues is more than a structure it's a feeling...  It's a matter of expressing the blues in ones life."  If you listen "to Muddy Waters or Lonnie Johnson all the time; your listening to their lives.  The only things you can draw from them are things that resonate in your life...  Is the music an expression of your state of being, or is it something you’re just taking on."    -Vernon Reid

"Most people who like us like the spirit of the music.  We're dealing with more of a life approach, as opposed to just more notes, yet another chorus."      -Pat Methany

"When I hear a great musician, I can feel his life and his elegance inside the music."      -John McLaughlin

Playing habits

I preach  "economy.  There’s a certain construction that's based upon the feeling controlling the technique.  I think that has to be the case.  If you really want to do something tricky, just do it once... it has to be an expression of feeling."        -Eric Clapton

Letting technique overcome feeling can be a problem.   "Pretty soon 'I'm playing all habits.'  I'm doing these things because I practiced them so much.  My fingers do them and I'm not even there.  Finnaly I get bored with my playing and I change myself somehow... You want to be able to absorb the technique and let the musicality be the thing
that comes forth."    -Jerry  Garcia

"You have to use what you have, but hope for inspiration."     -John McLaughlin

"There are players who don't really hear everything they're playing.  They're just letting their fingers do the work without letting their head or their feelings get involved."            -Pat Methany

To get back to the essence again "you just have to stop, really.  It's like doing anything over and over again.  It becomes meaningless… I find that if I ban myself from playing for about a week, when I pick it up again I have an idea.”    -Eric Clapton

The new guys have "their razor-clean playing, but it's like a clock.  It's about as musical as a metronome.  It's easy to play like a machine, and when a guy gets to playing like a machine it's frightening.  You've lost all the feeling in it.  We can appreciate how hard he practiced, but what is lacking is that the guy is not saying anything.  And that’s what music is all about."    -Les Paul

Technical skill won't block the divine inspiration "when the artist is wholly integrated in himself.  I'm alive.  I have an intellect, a heart, a physical side and I want to integrate all three to be whole.  You may emphasize one more than another, but that is normal because you have to live life in order to integrate yourself."     -John McLaughlin


I try to make myself ignorant and go only by sound and feeling.  When things are going right, it feels like the music is happening because you finally got out of the way."           -Jim Hall

"I don't think about anything when I play.  I think about how lucky I am to be playing music; I think about anything but what I'm playing."      -Pat Methany

"I spend almost all of my energy now as a player getting to the point where I can let go of my thoughts, and that’s absolutely the most difficult part of being an improviser."  
        -Pat Methany

"If I can get out of the way, if I can be pure enough, selfless, generous, loving and caring enough to just abandon... my silly notions of what I think I am..., then the music can really use me.  Therein is my true fulfillment.  That’s when the music starts to happen... it's selfish to impose yourself on the music."      -John McLaughlin

“If you remove your mind, you can…scare yourself.  You just have to go inside yourself.  If you spend your whole time thinking about what your going to say, it’s gone.”           -Carlos Santana

“When you close your eyes…and you start removing your surroundings…you remove your mind out of the way.  To me the heart is always in tune with the time and the melody.  But if you start to think about ‘I wonder what key he is playing in? spend so much time calculating and fabricating and criticizing that by the time you get to the song they’ve finished already.  But if you just feel, it’s the most natural thing to do.  If you just feel, you can create.”      -Carlos Santana

John played a brilliant solo on 'Honey Pie.'  "It was one of them where you close your eyes and just happen to hit all the right notes."     -George Harrison

The Other

"As soon as I pick the guitar up, I'll have that, like, presence.  It just comes out of me."      -Yngwie Malmsteen

"Something inside of you that is uncontrolled wishes to express itself and that's where you begin…  Then the minute you start to polish it and hone it, it's gone again.  I need to let the thing express itself without controlling it.  It's that outside influence and self conscious approach to your playing that actually ends up destroying it."        -Eric Clapton

Sometimes I perform and I feel inspired before I even hit the stage.  I feel a presence of love in me, and I feel the wonder and awe of life."      -John McLaughlin  

“Once you feel forgiven for whatever things we do as monkeys, imagination comes back."   -Carlos Santana    
Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge

When you are clean, then you are not blocking the flow of creativity your playing becomes like a telephone.  Your just monitoring what wants to come through you.  You become a pure channel.  The most beautiful music goes beyond the musicians who played it...Sometimes you tap into it…It’s like putting a leash on your mind and all the things it brings, and making them work for you... The things that hold you back are “your mind, self doubt, insecurity, deception, ego.  Those are the things that block pure creativity.”       -Carlos Santana

Staying in the zone 

"The biggest thing to me is keeping a feeling, regardless of what you play.  So many cats lose their feeling at various times and it causes them to build up and drop down, and you can feel it."       -Wes Montgomery

"Every once in a while they start going like a wave, they get into each other within their personalities." but then... you can hear it start to go away.  Then it starts getting together again.  It's like a wave coming in and out."       -Jimi  Hendrix

When I get into the zone "it comes from outside as much as inside.  I'm very influenced by the band.  If everyone is playing really well, you can't help being inspired by that, and that drives you on.  You get to what seems like a peak.  But suddenly you start thinking about what a great time your having, and then it's gone.  Or...hit a wrong note, and it's all over…  But if you can get to that, you can get back up there in the space of a few can just fly."  
  -Eric Clapton

"Techniques for injecting any human quality are only valid at the moment they arrive."        -John Mclaughlin  

"Musicians have a vocabulary of modes, scales and ragas and must learn the color of each one in relation to their own hearts."      -John Mclaughlin  

Turn the volume up "loud...  Then you start finding some nice interesting things."    -Jeff Beck       


"I feel music needs the content of a consciousness that is an ascendant attitude.  This is so difficult to put into words, because as soon as I say something, it's not that.  What I just said implies you have to be religious, which is not true."  "I'm talking about consciousness and a mutual acknowledgement of God,  the creator of us, the creator of music, and the one who's given us the capacity to realize these gifts.  It's part of the divine plan.  I hate to sound holier-than-thou, because religious judgment is nonsense."       -John McLaughlin

"Spiritual and artistic levels are the same, there’s no difference."       -John McLaughlin

"Music is my voice to God.  I pray and God listens to me, and I try to listen to God."        -John McLaughlin

"My utter longing for His presence pushes me forward.  I have to give everything to that.  What I'm doing is basically a musical prayer.  I don't think of it as playing this line or that line, of coarse that happens, but basically the only thing I live for is this presence of God."        -John McLaughlin    

“When I walk out onstage, I want inspiration to take everything I have, everything that is me.  I want to be at His own disposal."      -John McLaughlin

"I don't mean that technical considerations are irrelevant.  I have to practice.  I have to do my best.  If I didn't, then how is it going to happen?"      -John McLaughlin

   "I'll be working till I die, because everyday I'm given strength and power to work and to be in harmony with the evolution taking place inside of me."     -John McLaughlin

"At the same time, everything I have is at the disposal of the divine grace, which is manifested in the form of true inspiration, which gives the possibility of complete artistic and spiritual liberation in musical form."     -John McLaughlin

"If onstage I can manifest spiritual liberation, then the music will be full of it, and I believe whoever can identify with the music will enjoy the same experience."     -John McLaughlin

“I become like a child who doesn’t know anything, except that I’m crying for spiritual values.”      -Carlos Santana