SES­SION Shenani­gans

The stu­dio gui­tarist’s guide to hap­pi­ness and per­sonal ful­fil­ment. W – WTF?

Guitar Techniques - - INTRO - For more info on Mitch go to: www.mitch­dal­ton.co.uk

Here’s a thing. You ded­i­cate your life to the im­pos­si­ble quest for mu­si­cal per­fec­tion. You put in the hours. You mem­o­rise scales and arpeg­gios. You ob­sess over gui­tar, amp, string gauges and plec­trum thick­ness. You sweat over a melt­ing metronome un­til you can give a pass­able im­per­son­ation of a cat with time, groove and feel.

And then. This hap­pens. You turn up to the TV date, the movie ses­sion, the con­cert. And you can’t play. Zilch. Your worst night­mare is made real. You and your Fender ap­pear to have met be­fore, but not re­cently. Those lit­tle black squig­gles on the page are clearly writ­ten in Ara­maic. The MD ex­hibits symp­toms of acute ap­pen­dici­tis when he hears your first at­tempt where the mu­sic states: ‘Solo – taste­ful over­drive with light cho­rus and de­lay’. Your fin­gers move. But some­one else is work­ing them. And that some­one doesn’t play gui­tar for a liv­ing. In short, WTF?

If I were to sug­gest that most of this is about ego­tism and lit­tle to do with mu­si­cal abil­ity, it’s likely you’ll raise an eye­brow and reprise vo­cally the sub­ject of this ar­ti­cle. But read on and re­serve judge­ment.

The day starts promis­ingly, even if it’s the wrong side of 7am. The cof­fee hasn’t run out and the milk isn’t off. Sadly, that is as good as it’s go­ing to get to­day. Two and a half hours later, your 45-minute trip into Lon­don is com­pleted. Your Zen-like state is di­min­ished fur­ther when your al­lo­cated park­ing space has been gifted to one of the singers. You at­tempt to find the last pay and dis­play space in south­ern Eng­land. Af­ter what seems like an eter­nity you scram­ble on­stage with 10 min­utes to set up. You have been pro­vided with so lit­tle space that even Hou­dini would be pushed for wrig­gle room. Us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of diplo­macy and barely con­cealed threats to turn round and go home, a messy com­pro­mise with the vi­ola sec­tion is reached. Four gui­tars, two amps, ped­als etc are shoe­horned into po­si­tion. But with­out a power sup­ply. Those over stretched chaps from sound have for­got­ten you. At the mo­ment that the MD’s ba­ton drops onto the first beat of bar one, elec­tric­ity cour­ses through and... Oh, Je­sus! Where is that aw­ful hum com­ing from? You sound about a quar­ter tone out of tune as a re­sult. That’ll be the earth loops, the RF off the mu­sic stand lights and the end­less runs of ca­bles. You can’t see the con­duc­tor through the raised pi­ano lid, you can’t hear a thing through the in-ear mon­i­tor and you can’t move for fear of wip­ing out the £50K fid­dle be­long­ing to the young lady sit­ting next to you. No need to make mat­ters worse. She hates you al­ready. Af­ter all, she’s a con­cert artiste and you are an over­paid oik mak­ing a racket.

What fol­lows does not come close to you ‘giv­ing of your best’. And why should it? You never stood a chance. Most of this has noth­ing to do with you. So. You do you what you can and drag your­self back home, ex­pung­ing the hor­ror of the day from your mind.

Next day you turn up on an­other date and play like a cross be­tween Pa­ganini and Pete Town­shend. You’re a ge­nius. And are told so by any num­ber of gush­ing ad­mir­ers. Only you aren’t, of course. Same strings, dif­fer­ent day. All else is ego­tism, one way or t’other. Ig­nore both states of mind and keep go­ing?

WTF? Or, ‘Where’s the food?’ in David Cameron-speak. Prob­a­bly.

you do what you can and drag your­self back home, ex­pung­ing the hor­rors of the day from your mind

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