MORE ON TRAGEDY
There's a cliche that pain births the greatest art. It sounds like total bullshit, but it really is true. For me, of the greatest things to come from my own pain is learning how to play (or at least come close to playing) like a black musician. And, as we all know, black musicians are:
and 2. Familiar with adversity.
Whatever your politics are, I think we can all agree that even today black people get the shitty end of the deal. Louis CK nailed it by blaming this oppression to "2,000 years in unchecked prosperity." There is an Institution that continues to enable this. Perhaps not in the same frequency, but it's still there whether you like it or not.
This is not to say I have lived the black experience. I haven't, and I never will. Why? Because I'm not black. Duh.
Anyway, being able to relate and understand their phrasing and how it sprouts from pain is probably the greatest gift tragedy has ever given me. Somewhere down the line, it just "clicked" and music was a completely different game altogether.
I don't know if it's their phrasing that emulates a bogged-down cry, or if its the timbre in most black voices that innately sound darker, or anything else. I've stopped calculating it and simply call it "black."
The way I play now is completely different from 6 years ago. 6 years ago, all I cared about was how dope a chord progression was or how retarded I could push a basic song like "Jingle Bells" into 7/4 tango time.
Now all I care about is phrasing. Phrasing and conviction. Phrasing, and conviction, and sincerity. That's black music. That's the blues.
So, to you musicians out there who want to play more authentic/in-pocket/believable/soulful, allow tragedy into your lives and try to relate to it without making a gimmick out of it. You won't notice it immediately, but your playing will indefinitely change. Oh, and listen to tons of black artists. This is a good start
. Trust me.