Songwriting

“The Notes are Right Under Your Fingers”

“Let me tell you something, brother. The notes are right underneath your fingers, baby. You just gotta take the time out to play the right notes; that’s life. Ray Charles, from Jamie Foxx’s interview on the Tim Ferriss podcast.  

I was talking to a friend about guitar practice. A few years ago we had the same guitar teacher, who talked about learning the habits of comfort and security. That teacher took us slowly and methodically through each piece of music, carefully building a kind of scaffolding around the work to imagine it before even picking up the guitar.  

I gained a lot working with him. And looking back, I think I experienced more anxiety than security in that work. (Don’t blame the teacher, it was my anxiety). 

The Ray Charles quote above strikes me more as something said out of comfort and security: The notes are right underneath your fingers, baby.  You just gotta take the time out to play the right notes. 

It strikes me that taking the time out to play the right notes doesn’t have to do with simply playing slowly. I know from experience it’s possible to play slowly and still feel rushed and anxious. Just as it’s possible to play blazingly fast, and feel like there’s all the time in the world. The notes are right underneath your fingers, baby.   

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