View Full Version : Gig journals

08-03-2002, 01:55 AM
When I was teaching at Berklee in the early '70's, Pat Metheny was on
the faculty for a while. I had the good fortune to have some
interesting talks with him. At one point he mentioned keeping a gig
journal. I think he actually got the idea from Gary Burton.

The idea is to sit down after every gig and write about it, trying to
learn from it what went well and what didn't.

I'd kept a personal journal for many years, but only recently have I
started to keep a separate gig journal.

I've published two exerpts from that journal on www.ibreathemusic.com.

Anybody else keep a gig journal? Any ideas, suggestions, comments?

How to roll blunts (http://howtorollablunt.net/)

The Bash
08-03-2002, 06:58 AM
Actually I think itís a great idea. I borrowed it from Steve Vai. I wished Iíd started doing it sooner. I think it allows one to put things into perspective.
Some nights are bliss: Bands good, crowds responsive, you play well etc.
Some nights: Bands off, or your off but crowd thinks your great.
Some nights: Bands great, your great, Crowds Lame etc.
And thousands over variables.
I learned some things. If your not playing well, its not the worlds end and who really cares besides me. Likewise if you play great who really cares, besides me.
And what about the second example: I bite, but people are having fun. Iím still taking them from point A to point B (Well, Iím sure the Beer donít hurt.) helping them forget work, there problems, fears etc. if only for a little bit. There response, kind, etc. And for years I hated that. I wanted to scream: Iím sucking tonight! Wake up!
I learned I was selfish.
I still donít like off nights (but there gonna happen). But Iíve since learned to at least roll through them. Funny thing is once you give up caring about the ďI Suck ThingĒ you start playing better.
I learned (at least on a mental level) Iím not important. The music is all that matters.
A journal also takes the edge off bad situations. Once you learn to laugh at yourself. Consider yourself human. The playing and the joy that comes with it is so much easier to obtain.
Anyway, you can get lots of other things out of it to: Note places that need work, spots in the songlist needs work, type of crowd in certain towns etc.
But it was the put myself in perspective thing that helped me most.

08-03-2002, 02:38 PM
Nice reply. Sounds like you've matured as a player and the journal helped.

Steve Vai may have got the journal idea from me when he was my student at Berklee. I remember at the end of the first semester I tried to diplomatically suggest he study with someone else because he didn't seem to be learning much from me. I liked Steve personally, but he never did what I told him, or so it seemed to me. But he said he was learning a lot, so he stayed with me another semester. He has immense curiosity and openness, so I'm sure he learned a lot.

You make a good point about the journal helping you get past the bad nights. There have been several psychological studies that indicate that people who write about the bad stuff get over it quicker. I know that works for me.

Since I tend to publish a lot, either in magazines or on the web, I know I sometimes avoid, semi-unconsciously, some of the uncomfortable details. Like on the last gig, I was playing "A Foggy Day" and I could see -- and feel -- that a couple of people were listening closely, and every time I came to what should have been a Bbma7 chord, for some reason I went to Bbmin6, which I use for the next chord. To me it was really sour. There were ways I could have pulled out of it, making it sound like an inspired reharmonization, but since I was playing the rest of the chords pretty straight, to me it sounded like a clam, and for some reason I hit it several choruses in a row. Maybe that made it alright. Anyway, may writing about it helped.
WEED BUBBLERS (http://bubblers.net/)

The Bash
08-03-2002, 10:41 PM
Maybe another take on the Gig journal is the act of recording. Iíve found recording practices, gigs etc. extremely interesting in that what or how you hear as your playing isnít always the same perception you may receive as your listening back.
Iíve found sometimes things that I wasnít so happy with I actually thought worked well on playback (for gigs it helps placing some distance between the recording and the observation, I think the same goes for songwriting as well). Likewise some things I thought were happening at the time I later wasnít so pleased with.
The tape doesnít lie. But it donít necessarily tell the whole truth either.
There are variables. From quality of recording to the situation itself.
Which brings me to the video tape.
Which brings me to a personal example. Which Iíll try to keep as short as possible.
Iíve a few of my own songs pulled from live recordings (nothing high tech) in mp3 format on my computer. My stepson is always blasting them when heís online. So I get a regular daily does of myself. And I tend to be overly self critical. As is the case with one tune where the solo isnít bad (far as notes/choice etc.) but I feel the phrasing was rushed and needed more breath etc. (It was live.) That use to bum me everytime it came on.
I recently viewed the video it was taken from. Interesting perspective occurred. We were heading a very large show (lots of bands, lots of people and occupying the prime slot). When I view the tape the adrenaline in the room was high (lots of people jamming front of the stage.) The songís pretty aggressive and there was a nice commutative thing between band and crowd happening.
My point is maybe what I played wasnít the greatest thing I could have played from a musical (or sit back and listen standpoint) but maybe, just maybe it was the perfect thing to play at the time.
I guess this raises to me an interesting point regarding performing: When you perform (like it or not) your now an entertainer in which communication with the audience becomes a variable factor. Each time you perform a song it may still be the same song but the variables will have changed.
In this particular situation by 1)writing things down (which I agree does wonders on overcoming bad things) 2)having a recording 3)having a video. I get three perspectives of the same situation.

08-03-2002, 11:07 PM
Hi there,

VERY interesting thread. I really agree. I like the gig-journal idea. See, I do have a good memory even for slight details, so I do keep a gig-journal in my head, which of course isnt quite the same as writing one down, but I keep remembering little details that count.
And I agree, sometimes, when you listen back to live recordings, you may feel bummed cuz it might sound rushed or stiff or whatever.
But if you see photos or a video, you might notice that maybe the adrenaline level was high or whatever.
I saw that during the show with Perpetuum Overdose ( example )... I mean, Iīm fine with my playing on the live-recording, but I know that many parts sound different from the rehearsals etc, cuz I was up on stage, haedbanging, running around, communicating with people.
Of course I played different than I would have in the studio or during a rehearsal. ( Although I am moving a lot in the rehearsal room too )
Sometimes you need to have the visual impression to appreciate the altered playing. You do have players like Eric Johnson who really donīt move a lot during a show... quite introverted.
Then you have guys like Vai, Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde etc. They still play really good live ( although Vai doesnīt think of himself as a good live-player ), but they also run around, pose, communicate with the people in the crowd and the band, they actually do perform not only with their hands but with their whole bodies.
So there might be a wrong note or some noise or whatever. But when you watch it while being in the crowd, you really donīt notice or care that much... at least I think so.
I have seen pics and heard a recording of the Perpetuum show, they also made a video which I yet have to see... I am eager to see that, especially because of the reasons in this thread
Warm regards

08-09-2002, 12:00 PM
In addition to a gig journal, I keep a regular journal. Among other things, I type up excerpts in there from books and articles.

On other threads on this board I've posted a couple of these (one by Menuhin on memory and one by Ron Carter on hand stringth and dexterity).

There are those who remember everything they read; I'm not one of them. But I don't want it to just flow through my head like water through a seive, so journaling helps. I have MS word files of journals going back to 1972. Word makes it easy to search them. When I saw that thread on strength, I immediately thought of the Ron Carter excerpt (I'd shown it to my students many times over the years). By searching for "carter, ron" in Word, I was able to find it in 10 seconds.

Whether in a "journal", or in some organized file syste, I highly recommend note-taking.

Live sex (http://livesexwebshows.com/)