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guitar-learning jazz psychology music theory bill frisell

Guitar learning diary: As I learn to play the guitar, I realised that I might be able to make musical associations without mental awareness. It’s probably because I am not familiar enough with the language of music to surface musical feelings to a conscious level. For example, yesterday, I tried to play some dominant 9 chords in a book. I was learning the fingering so I wasn’t attending to the sounds of the chords. It’s all mechanical at this stage. If you ask me to imagine a C9 chord, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I don’t know how to use a 9 chord in a musical context.

However, today, when I listened to the My Buffalo Girl track on Bill Frisell’s Good Dog, Happy Man album, I noticed that he played an interesting chord that sounded dissonant but musical at the same time. I looked it up in the Bill Frisell: An Anthology songbook, and what do you know? It’s a dominant 9 chord!

This happened to me before. I was interested in Miles Davis' So What, so I tried to play a couple of bars of Miles' solo. It was mostly an exercise to learn the Dorian mode. Then, for no apparent reason, I thought about Bill Frisell’s Monroe (again, from the Good Dog, Happy Man album) and tried to play it. It took me a while to discover that Monroe is in Dorian mode!

I am not sure if these are all coincidental, but I suspect that an interesting psychological phenomenon is in the play.