Things To Do When You Pick Up A Guitar

 

or otherwise prepare to play musick
or make some other kind of Art

 

This is a lot to take in, & that’s the point. It’s worth making your way through the entire routine once or twice, as best you can, at home, as part of your practice. Areas of further research may then suggest themselves, or certain steps may remain in your mind for later application in a more public set & setting.

Regardless, this is meant to be fun…

(1)

Take three conscious breaths. (Not one, not two or four… but three shall be the number… Just kidding, take as many as you want. But I’d suggest at least three for starters.)

(2)

Listen to the room. Or to wherever it is that you are. Listen internally as well as externally—ie if your superego monkeymind chatters endlessly, tune in for a moment. If you hear faerie melodies in your head at all times, tune in for a moment. If you think in colors, or smell them—tune in. Listen to your body. & also listen to what the people around you are saying. Listen to what they’re doing. The sparkle of cutlery, the growl of the espresso machine. Traffic. Sirens. Thunder. DJ. Rain.

(3)

Wish happiness & the root of all happiness (&/or freedom from suffering & from the root of all suffering) to any & everyone, anyeverywhere&when, who is was or will be affected by the music you are about to play. Including your self(s).

(4)

Consider your intent. (3), above, may cover it. But maybe you have in mind something else more-or-less specific. An image, a symbol, a rune, a name, a mantra. The raising of consciousness, yours &/or that of the audience (if any). Energy of some kind sent to some particular place, or sent to address some specific situation: This screaming punk improv is directed toward the prevention of the Dakota Pipe Line, this chance-composition to save the bees. This high-intensity linear riff-jam is going straight to the aid of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, that the 2016 American presidential election may be declared null & void. This lengthy breath-based piece to Free Tibet. & this one to put out the fires in Big Sur.

Or maybe you wish to be a conduit, a channel, a “pure filter for the expression of the patterns of your concerns”,* or for the concerns of The Universe or The Beam or your Holy Guardian Angel or your True Will at this series of ‘points’ in ‘time’.

Say so, if only under your breath.

(5)

Tune, if so inclined.

(6)

Dowse for ambient energies. I typically use a pendulum. In simplest form, I ask to be shown a sense of the prevailing yin-ness or yang-ness of the room. A strong clockwise swing suggests lots of yang. A slight counter-clockwise swing suggests near-balance weighted slightly to yin. I may then ask what flavor of energy might best be projected into this environment (our observations limited for now to the yin/yang continuum). Read resulting spin in like fashion.

There are many more nuanced vibrations one might wish to project. But working with a dowsing chart, let alone several, or even visualizing one while about to begin a performance on a stage in front of people, is more than most of us are going to want to deal with. If you’re playing by your self at home—what some folks call ‘practicing’—& you feel like taking the time, then hey go for it. Alternately, in the case of a performance, this work can be done in advance, remotely, from home. (If you feel like taking the time.)

Here’s a quick intro to pendulum dowsing. Sig Lonegren’s Spiritual Dowsing is an excellent deep read on the topic. Or you may want to examine Bruce Macmanaway’s book on Healing.

Really, tho—there’s not much variation from occasion to occasion for what it is I’m wanting to project. Joy, happiness, health… Things like that. I try to keep an open window in my mind in case something else comes up that feels right, & the homework part of that is being familiar with an array of energies. The Futhark is a decent place to start, or if you’re feeling more Afrocentric you might look into the “Ashanti-Adinkra-Cloth Symbols” which I saw projected on a screen behind Milford Graves during a talk at Bennington College in fall 2016. Most cultural backgrounds are likely to include some equivalent symbolic system, from the I Ching to the Mayan Calendar. Keep in mind, symbols are also living things.

Depending how it feels on stage or wherever you are, you may also want to do some clearing of negative or unhealthy energies. Percussion can be useful in this regard, or you may continue with your dowsing tool—request assistance in clearing unhelpful energies; expect a counter-clockwise spin which will continue until the energy is cleared or until you decide: good enough! Generally speaking tho you’re looking for a loud & abrupt noise. The squeaks & squonks that lurch out of Jimi’s amps during his introductory stage patter (“I see that we meet again!”) (or the intro to “Purple Haze” for that matter), the gnarly guitar tones & “come on”s that open Janis/Big Brother’s “Piece Of My Heart”, Kurt’s scream at the beginning of a Nirvana show, the snare crack that opens “Like A Rolling Stone” (so larger than life in the memory as its purpose outgrows its material manifestation).

(7)

You may also want to ask for healing (reiki or other correct energies) to come through your music to whoever hears or feels it. Reiki in particular is a healing energy which “can do no harm”. You may nonetheless wish to specify: “As much as they want, need, (&/or) are comfortable with”, as too much of a good thing, is a thing.

This is a form of “laying on hands”. But with soundwaves. You can visualize hands if you want, tho, reaching out into the room or into the world or beyond. Or you can visualize energy beaming out the headstock of your guitar, or from the tips of your drumsticks, or perhaps even from the tips of your fingers.

(8)

Look around at the people in front of you, if any, or the animals, plants, air molecules. Try to get a feel for them without passing judgement or drawing any major conclusions. If any of them seem to be looking back, make eye contact & smile with genuine, not performed, warmth—orgones flowing outwardly :)

(If you have to perform warmth for now, that’s fine, provided you have the intent to achieve actual warmth at some future point… Fake it til you make it?)

(9)

Touch base with senses that are not ‘hearing’: taste, touch, smell, sight, other.

(10)

Visualize your chakras, starting with the root & working your way up to your crown: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white. Or maybe try their (more-or-less) complementary colors: turquoise, lavender, white, rose, peach, moonlight, springtime green. (Bonus: do this & step (9) again after you start playing, but slowerly.)

(11)

Turn on the reiki channel, if it isn’t on already. Send it through your instrument, or through your eyes, &/or anywhere else energy is coming out of, like your mouth.

(12)

Project joy &/or love into the silences. Unless you prefer something else—see (3) & (4) above. Reiki (chi, or ‘spirit energy’) is good here too.

(13)

Designate a direction of motion, a focus point. Where, &/or who, is this music/art/energy going to? This may be external or internal or astral or otherwise & may change as playing evolves. & as in (3) & (4) or in the case of reiki, you may choose to trust that the energy will go where it is needed.

(14)

Take three more conscious breaths, breathing in yang & expelling yin.

 

(I know this all seems like a lot to do while you’re setting up your gear. Trust me, it gets easier & quicker the more you do it! Anyway… Ready?)

1-2-3-4!

 

 

* This quote comes from Selah Saterstrom by way of Christian Peet.

Photo by Joe Mabel

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Urban legend 5-Track is currently singing songs & cooking dinner in Tangletown, Seattle, when not playing bass for PEG and BEYOND CAPTAIN ORCA! and MKB ULTRA and all, guitar for ARGAN BAND and WALKING FACES and ASTROL WATERS and whatnot, broadcasting reiki-like vibrations by way of strings, & wood & mostly tube-driven amplification, making musick to sleep to (SLEARP), telling fortunes by guitar & aspiring to do all the above with love or at least compassion. Non-dude. Anything he says is just, like, his opinion.
http://cosmicprimitive.com