"The Zone"

posted on #1
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Know the place? Been there recently? We're talking about that space you get to when the music flows through you and (as far as you know) there is no conscious thought. Some people say "in the groove" but it's much more than just good rhythm. For some it's common, others fleeting, some have not been there yet but may know of it's existence.

Are there any tricks, thoughts, emotions, types of music etc. that can take you there when you want? I may as well give my limited experience...fleeting, but becoming more common. The only thing I know is to not try to "own it". Let it flow through you. The moment you consciously try to own it (aren't I great!), it will disappear. My guess is that it's not your conscious brain at work, but the conscious brain can instantly shut it off.

Your thoughts/experiences?
Edited by Wade on 08-07-2017 13:51
posted on #2
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Your sentence at the end "My guess is that it's not your conscious brain at work, but the conscious brain can instantly shut it off." Reminds me of the state of dreaming. It reminds me of a wake-dream condition ;o)
Friedrich Nietzsche: "Ohne Musik wäre das Leben ein Irrtum."
posted on #3
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Another great topic Wade, you have been on a roll lately :)
Yes, it's a dream like condition, I do occasionally get this feeling. For that to happen, the backing track has to be some sort of "trance" repetitive thing, to be in the right key where I don't have to think too much about it, and my guitar sound has to be nice and fat, and then I might get into that "zone" state. I would leave the backing track on repeat, and go for it... I have an example which is #101194 , that one is a classic one for me, I just dive into that and get lost. When I "wake up" I find that my mouth is open and I am just about to drool on my Strat :D :D :D . It's a great feeling, and many times I wish I had recorded it - but then the moment is gone and you can't replicate it...
posted on #4
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Wade wrote:
Know the place? Been there recently? We're talking about that space you get to when the music flows through you and (as far as you know) there is no conscious thought. .........................
Are there any tricks, thoughts, emotions, types of music etc. that can take you there when you want?
......................................
Your thoughts/experiences?


Very interesting thread, Wade!
My opinion to your query may sound disenchanting although it isn't meant to be:
I think if there really is somebody who doesn't know what you describe, we have found the one who did not yet find a moment of happiness in music.
But the point is:
A jug has to be empty to be filled with a good wind.
And the mind has to be empty & free to be kissed by a muse.
If you even start to think of startegies, how to persuade the muse, you will not even scent the odour of her breath, when she tickles your ear.
We have to relax, to sustain tension; else we break apart.
Edited by will_C on 09-07-2017 12:16
Life is.
posted on #5
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true words will_C ;o)
Friedrich Nietzsche: "Ohne Musik wäre das Leben ein Irrtum."
posted on #6
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We are all at different levels and on different journeys. Becoming proficient at your instrument takes time, practice and a determination to push beyond weak harmonies, mis-fingerings, sloppy rhythms, etc. Will C is absolutely right about being open and free, yet that's pretty difficult if you haven't got to a level where playing the instrument is second nature.

When we learn how to drive we have no coordination for the task and have to think about every turn of the wheel and how hard we press the pedals. After some time those things become automatic and require little/no concentration...it's like they happen automatically. I guess the same is true for video game boffins. Not sure about the rest of you, yet my experience is that being one with an instrument and having everything second nature/automatic is much more difficult.

TeeGee has indicated that for him simple repeated trance like music can inspire him to let go. There is a good hint in there which may help some. If you're taking on something that is very difficult or beyond your comfort zone then it may require mostly conscious effort (not in the zone).
Edited by Wade on 09-07-2017 14:56
posted on #7
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Yes Wade, it may be pretty difficult to come to an enthusiastic level if you struggle with the handling of your instrument. But the "zone" exists in every level.
I think now it is more than 30 years ago, when I saw a TV documentary about Holger Czukai, the bassist and electronic freak of CAN, a quite famous German, so called: "undergroud band" (just an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ds9CyVupaU).
Holger was confronted to the "rumour", that in regard of his skills he was regarded as a very poor bassist.
And Holger agreed and said: "Yes, my bass-skills are poor, but if you are able to express yourself with just one note and if you are happy with it, then you've reached what you're aiming for, don't you?"
Edited by will_C on 09-07-2017 15:45
Life is.
posted on #8
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Once again agreeing with Will C. The message still seems to be to play within your comfort zone at whatever your technical level might be. If a player is continually pushing it's not happening. You can hear players at any level of technical expertise who make what they play sound difficult...they are literally making it difficult for themselves. Then there are those who make it sound easy. Often it's the very experienced player who sounds like they are just cruising. A good example here of a guitarist who makes it sound easy is FrankieJ. It's certainly not necessary to be a top technical player to be in the zone, but it seems to happen more for payers who are not in "striving mode". The instrument becomes an extension of themselves that gives pure expression.

The point of this forum topic is to share what we can. That can be a philosophical statement (as per Will C) or more at a personal level based on an individual's experience (as TeeGee has done). I'm hoping to hear a variety of instances, methods and experiences.
posted on #9
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Another great topic, Wade.

For me, I suppose have two 'zones'. There's the one, as you mention, where, for whatever reason, you're just on it and, quite literally, cannot put a note wrong. It just happens. For me, it's very rare when it happens, but when you (and, even more rarely, the whole band) are 'on song', it's an amazing place to be and a high no money can buy.

Then there's my other 'zone'... It's one I drift in and out of without any conscious effort nor can I enter it willingly... It's often visible in my videos, for example, where I adopt what I can only describe as a '10-yard stare'! I genuinely look bored off my face but I'm not - I guess it's some kind of concentration - but other band members think I'm ignoring them. I'm actually listening and concentrating but the by-product is that I turn into some kind of rhythmic zombie. It lasts about 10-20 seconds at a time before I snap out of it (usually realising that I should be paying attention to something somewhere). I'll drift in and out of this state many times during a song.

And as for drum solos... Well, I hate drum solos but that's a different issue. But when I have to do them (i.e. during the obligatory 'round the band' stuff) my 'zone' goes into overdrive and, whilst the arms and legs are flailing, my facial expression is one of looking like I'm staring at a particularly interesting piece of string whilst having the 'best bits' of a dictionary whispered to me by a chronically depressed sloth.
Edited by mpointon on 10-07-2017 12:11
posted on #10
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when I get so I'm not even looking at where my fingers are.... I'm usually "in the zone" this is normally when I'm flying on muscle memory and very little forethought, in other words when I am thinking it and playing it at an unconscious level. when I do attempt something a bit difficult, I let my forebrain map it (reherse) then let muscle memory take over when I actually do a take.
posted on #11
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My response to this thread is this...I read a book by Victor Wooton called the music lesson. It is a story/lesson that can equate to...the zone is all around us, we need to discover a way to tap into it. That is what I got from it. If nothing else, it was a quick enjoyable read. After this I think I will read it again. Enjoy!
posted on #12
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Nice topic for magical moments. I agree with what I read about awaken dream sensation which is very close to a meditation state. Losing control but being aware in the same time.
In those moments I feel like an eagle jumping from a cliff and then I try to dance in the wind, and then I fall ! :)
But I'm still alive…
The more you learn, the less you know !
posted on #13
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Music is magic! Neil Young when he records vocals only does 1 or 2 takes.he says if you cant take the song to the zone...more takes only makes the performance contrived and less magical. I have heard musicians here whom I admire..you can tell they are magicians even if they dont know it. Personaly I am not a proficient musician but as a lyricist I write 'in the zone'. I choose which songs to sing to when 'I can hear what the song is about' Many great tunes I pass on simply cause I dont get in the zone.
posted on #14
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Great topic! I seem to find the "zone" when I really feel the emotion of a song. So if the song is say about loss, I find the zone if I can re-feel the emotions related to a particular loss that I've experienced in my life. If the song is a love song, I find the zone if I immerse myself in the love that I have for certain people in my life. The one thing that immediately snaps me out of the zone is if I "try" to sing the song. As my voice coach says, "Feel the emotion, then tell the story on pitch"<3
posted on #15
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In the zone with for song ideas or parts can happen with my bass in or out of my hand. When it comes to playing a part and letting it fly with the bass in my hand I just really have to connect with what I am doing emotional and to my physical capabilities. I have to teeter on the edge of almost shutting down and experienceing the song, and not thinking about playing the song. I don't get there as much as I like, but when I do it is sublime.

Great thread. I wish I had a tip on how to get there all the time. I'm not there unfortunately.
Live, laugh, bass
posted on #16
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The space your talking about is a space filled with pain. But when you are inside you can't see or feel the pain anymore. But only your personal pain in your soul gets you there.
Don't know if it's a good idea to visit that room. Because you have to pay a price. You need to suffer.
The happiest songs were written with a bleeding heart.
But in this room you'll heal for some hours. Good to know how to find the key to the door.
:)
Edited by Neronick on 27-07-2017 08:46
Was born in an analog world.
posted on #17
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" it's very rare when it happens, but when you (and, even more rarely, the whole band) are 'on song', it's an amazing place to be and a high no money can buy" -mpointon

I very much agree with this. For me it's an euphoric feeling.


" many times I wish I had recorded it - but then the moment is gone and you can't replicate it..." - TeeGee

Perhaps no truer words have ever been written .

Many times I've sat down played along with something just to warm up or see if I can find a groove and it just happens... everything feels seamless , fluent, spot on ,perfect timing , no off notes, euphoric and I didn't record it... then you hit record do 20 takes and never come close to that first pass. . Knowing this I've tried to get in the habit of recording everything even if it's mindless noodling ...but it seems harder to find the zone when you know you're trying to capture it. Such an elusive creature at times.
Edited by MM3 on 30-07-2017 05:21
posted on #18
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MM3 wrote:
" it's very rare when it happens, but when you (and, even more rarely, the whole band) are 'on song', it's an amazing place to be and a high no money can buy" -mpointon

I very much agree with this. For me it's an euphoric feeling.


" many times I wish I had recorded it - but then the moment is gone and you can't replicate it..." - TeeGee

Perhaps no truer words have ever been written .

Many times I've sat down played along with something just to warm up or see if I can find a groove and it just happens... everything feels seamless , fluent, spot on ,perfect timing , no off notes, euphoric and I didn't record it... then you hit record do 20 takes and never come close to that first pass. . Knowing this I've tried to get in the habit of recording everything even if it's mindless noodling ...but it seems harder to find the zone when you know you're trying to capture it. Such an elusive creature at times.



As I develop my own skills..(Still in the process)..I think this is a great topic. I find myself listening more (Lately) to what the other musicians are doing, and I'm still in the phase of trying different ideas, and melodic patterns. Really makes me regret the fact I quit playing for so long, and really never played along with such talented people as those here. I'm still under construction..but I think I am moving in the right direction. Envious of the talent here. :) But yeah..I think I found the zone a time or two.
posted on #19
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Hey Mark I think that was a no parking Zone you found!
Wheelin' that big brown truck away! You didn't want to finish work that day any way!
Edited by GemmyF on 07-09-2017 22:45
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