Dan Gould

Question for you Musicians

25 posts in this topic

Been watching a lot of jazz video the past couple of weeks, and I gotta say, its kind of disconcerting to see someone blowing a chorus with their eyes open. I'm so used to seeing guys with eyes shut, its kind of weird to see Sonny Stitt staring ...

So, which is it? I always presumed you were more in touch with the moment and your muse with eyes shut, but then I've seen more than a couple of guys with eyes open ....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends. Mostly open these days, as the abilty/discipline/whatever to focus from within has become greater, but occasionally it's necessary.

Note - eyes open in no way automatically means that you're looking at something. I've had my eyes open and not really been looking at anything. It's just that it's a more "natural" state, for me, anyway, usually, to let your eyes remain open than it is to close them. The name of the game is focus, and that ideally comes entirely from within, and by any means necessary.

Of course, if there's a game on TV while I'm playing, that goes all to hell... :g

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course, if there's a game on TV while I'm playing, that goes all to hell... :g

and then you multi-task in a way few other people ever do.

:g

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When the Pistons were playing the Lakers in the Finals last year, the second game in LA was on TV whilst Organissimo was playing. I was calling out simple tunes and on total autopilot for that whole game! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When the Pistons were playing the Lakers in the Finals last year, the second game in LA was on TV whilst Organissimo was playing.  I was calling out simple tunes and on total autopilot for that whole game! :)

Didn't think you guys KNEW any simple tunes. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Hey guys, blues in G... 1...2...3..."

6 minutes later...

"Shuffle in F"

6 minutes later

"Minor blues in C"

:g

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me the reason to close my eyes is to remove the visual stimulation and place more emphasis on the ears as the primary information-gatherers. If I don't have to read music I prefer to close my eyes, and to me it more readily opens channels of communication with the other musicians. If I do have my eyes open I tend to "be in a stare" and not look at anything or anyone in particular.

Of course there are also the times when playing in a crowded club that the eyes must remain open basically to avoid collisions of trombone slide and humans/beverages (I've pegged a few waitresses and knocked a few drinks over in my day, and (I'll admit) not all by accident). I think that I should just get some of that police tape and create a safety zone around me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing Joe and I did years ago was run a rehearsal with blindfolds on. It was our drummer's idea (not Randy... this was before the Randissimo) and it was really interesting.

We need to do that again. It really makes you concentrate on your ears. The eyes can get in the way sometimes (also true for modern recording... looking at a computer screen while mixing can be misleading).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If my eyes aren't open, I can't duck the tomatoes.

Seriously, I do play with open eyes when not soloing in order to pick up visual cues (fours, out chorus, bass solo, lay out...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, in my case, there's a third option: eyes open, but blind to the world. (Not looking, not focusing, not paying attention; just happen to have eyelids physically open, but eyes are non-functional.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since most of my work is solo, I'm generally looking at the guitar. If I close my eyes, I'll zone out and loose my concentration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A better question is: Shoes on, or off?

When I pracice at home my piano is on hardwood and I try to keep it clean for my better half. But I realize that when barefoot I don't play as well. I think because I like to kick the beat on the floor or the piano itself when I am with a band or performing solo. Though I am a terrible dancer.

Eyes usually open, but glazed. Closed on stage when the lights are blinding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lately I've going the barefoot route, I was told to loose the running shoes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eyes totally open, but if the music starts getting intense, I start biting my bottom lip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, I used to be a drummer. . . . I kept my eyes open and watched the dancers (assuming there were dancers, there were 90% of the time). I sort of fed on their participation. And watching people dancing is calming and pleasing (I was usually pretty nervous at the beginning of any gig).

And in rehearsals in one band that represented more than half my experience I always watched the pick hand of the guitarist that wrote most of the material and felt he was the boss. He was a stickler for perfection and he had these intricate arrangements with stop time breaks etc. that sort of nettled me. . . (I wanted to GROOVE). By watching this pick hand I somehow was cued in more as to where the song was and was going.

I know few drummers who play a lot with eyes closed!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me the reason to close my eyes is to remove the visual stimulation and place more emphasis on the ears as the primary information-gatherers. If I don't have to read music I prefer to close my eyes, and to me it more readily opens channels of communication with the other musicians. If I do have my eyes open I tend to "be in a stare" and not look at anything or anyone in particular.

Of course there are also the times when playing in a crowded club that the eyes must remain open basically to avoid collisions of trombone slide and humans/beverages (I've pegged a few waitresses and knocked a few drinks over in my day, and (I'll admit) not all by accident). I think that I should just get some of that police tape and create a safety zone around me.

Yeah Free....as a fellow dinosaur rider, I can relate. Years ago I was on a club gig when a lady decided to leave the stage area. Somehow I managed to hook her knitted shawl with my water key (no, it is not a spit valve thank you very much!). It happened so quickly that when I had time to react, my outer slide was out of my hands and down to 5th position, moving fast. I opened my eyes only to meet her glare (a "how fucking dare you snag my shawl" sort of glare).

Luckily I retrieved the outer slide intact and undamaged.

Yes, we trombonists have to occasionally keep the peepers open.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do play with open eyes when not soloing in order to pick up visual cues (fours, out chorus, bass solo, lay out...)

Also helpful when driving home from the gig. B-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i'm a drummer but i don't gig (when O when). however when i practice with eyes closed i sometimes seem to get a little more imaginative yet tasteful (more economic?), enhanced spatial reasoning or something. less distracted by reflected flourescent sparkle sparkle on the hardware and cymbals, i don't know. seems to be about building a sonic environment independent of the physical environment.

denying the lust of the eyes . . .

OH gee haven't hit that drum in a while, i'll hit!

AH that crash looks lonely. BRTJSHSHSHHHHHHH

blah blah blah

how sad, i'm slowly maturing i guess.

Edited by joeface

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last weekend I was playing with my fly open. Does that count? :o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Years ago I was on a club gig when a lady decided to leave the stage area. Somehow I managed to hook her knitted shawl with my water key (no, it is not a spit valve thank you very much!). It happened so quickly that when I had time to react, my outer slide was out of my hands and down to 5th position, moving fast. I opened my eyes only to meet her glare (a "how fucking dare you snag my shawl" sort of glare).

Luckily I retrieved the outer slide intact and undamaged.

:blink: Wow...all I remember from playing as a kid in band is that no one trusted us enough to sit in front of us. They thought we would purposely try to knock their heads with our slides. Okay, we would, but they didn't really know that...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mostly eyes open. I just see the inside of my eyes when they're shut. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just see the inside of my eyes when they're shut. :P

All of us see more. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I keep em open, in fact I have a bad habit of staring at one spot, to the left of me with my head turned. No reason, there's nothing over there, I just stare. Good times. But yea, communication works better for me with eyes open.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like to close my eyes when I play, but as previously related, sightlessly improvising a passionate solo with a trombone is like holding a mace and a machete on separate strings and spinning until you're dizzy, and then some. It can get embarassing.

And, as I like to play with my bell real close to the mic, I too often find myself eating it, and for half an hour I've been distorted and blisteringly loud. That too is embarassing.

Doesn't stop me, though.

Andrew Austin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.