Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy

Technically Correct vs. Spiritually Correct (Music)

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Yesterday I spent the greater part of the day tackling making my first Youtube videos. As soon as I post them, I will of course embed or link them here.

It took longer than suspected. I’m sure any video buff could have told me that, but I am a musician so I thought – “Hey, I’ll just play guitar and that’s that”.

Oh yeah? The sound on the camera sucked so I tried using a mini disc mic into the camera directly. Better, but not great.

“But wait”, I thought. “I can record like I am making a real record right?” So that’s what I did – I used a good condenser mic, Digital Performer and the cam was separate.

So I got a great mono sound (wasn’t sure if the file would get too big using stereo) and synced it up using Imovie (which is cool, but it is a dog and slow).

I recorded / videotaped 2 of my new acoustic tunes – “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder, and “Machine Gun”, a bluegrassy fast flatpicking original that could be on “The Dukes of Hazzard”. Or, be a perfect soundtrack to Don Knotts getting a chicken bone stuck in his throat at a barbecue!! 🙂

So I went on Youtube a few minutes ago, never having looked at uploading, and I was drawn to other guitarists playing Tuck Andress’ version of “I Wish”.

I had no idea that he did this tune when I decided to learn it. Great Wwarped minds think alike, I suppose.

Tuck is the ultimate “squeeze it onto a guitar” kind of player. His arrangement is actually truer to Stevie’s version.

(Tuck’s live version had not-so-great sound so as far as I am concerned I still have yet to hear him play it. I am sure it is awesome)

What I noticed was that several people played little arrangements that were “technically correct”. I have had great mentor / teachers – Mike Longo, Alvin Queen, Lonnie Smith, Bennie Wallace – and they have across the board told me “f— being technical. Give me dirt, give me feel, play with some balls! I wantt to be entertained. Music is NOT something you get a grade in.”

I can remember playing at a classical guitar lesson 20 years ago so correct and ice cold that my classical guitar teacher, Pat O’Brien grabbed the guitar and threatened to hit me, and throw me out of his studio if I didn’t start playing music. He told me “I have had enough of your New York melodrama. Play the f—-n guitar or get out!”

Whoa! More than one would bargain for at a guitar lesson. But did I learn? Yes. Was it pleasant? No!

Same thing studying counterpoint with Mike Longo, but he was gentler. There’s always a technically correct answer to a musical problem, but there is also always a solution that will make you smile, tickle you and surprise you – the spiritually correct, or intuitive answer. He’d correct my counerpoint and show me!

That’s the genius of a great composer!

So in my little world I have poured everything I’ve got into telling the best story I can with these two guitar pieces, and I know in time they’ll get technically better. There is dirt, there are mistakes.

But what does perfection really mean? That we pass a test? That we get the approval of someone “higher up” than us? That we don’t screw up? That we get a degree or pass a jury? That we make money?

Or that we give some soul, some great feeling to the listener. our fellow man, and those in our life?

I like the last choice best, and I am eager to find truly correct solutions everywhere, not just music. Music is the ultimate life microcosm – and lessons learned here apply everywhere else.

Farewell until tomorrow!


Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

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