While teaching a guitar workshop this past weekend, I was reminded of a key factor in the performance of music: the connection between groove and memory.
In order to teach “Tractor Pull”, one of my busier tunes, it was necessary to slow the music down and break it into small, digestible sections.
This repeatedly caused me to forget what came next in the tune.
(The students found this highly amusing.)
In order to remember what happened next in a passage, I had to go back and play it at its actual tempo, observe what I was doing, and then bring that information back to the slower tempo for the students to take in.
The truth is, I did not know exactly where and when things happened in the music until I got back “in it”, at its full running speed.
I think this is because my neuro-muscular recognition of what to do next was held within with the rhythm and tempo of the music.
I call this the groove cloud.
The groove (rhythm and tempo taken together) constitutes essential, identifying information about a piece of music, alongside its melody and harmonic structure.
The groove is the music’s syntax. Its sequence of events. Its code.
In groove-oriented tunes like “Tractor Pull”, my memory of how to play the music is stored in my groove cloud.
Depending on the type of tune you are performing, the groove may be the core vessel of information about everything in the music.
Are you in touch with the elements of a tune that make up its groove?
Have you made the groove your first and last reference point when performing the tune?
If you can’t remember something, go to your groove cloud.
You may find it has “saved” everything.