pat metheny listening playing homonculus

Pat Metheny Discusses His Homunculus

jazz guitar improvisation jazz guitar legends miscellaneous Apr 04, 2022

Here's an interview snippet with the man himself, Pat Metheny, legendary jazz guitarist. 

Lots of students of jazz guitar ask the question (to myself and other instructors): "All these scales, exercises and chord progressions are well and good ... but what do you *think* about while improvising?!?"

I'll let Metheny do the talking here:


Well, for me, playing at its best is a lot like talking with somebody that you know really well, that you feel very comfortable with, and you sort of forget about time and space and everything. You're just kind of inside the ideas that you have. You're really living each moment in a very particular way that's very unique to what the process of playing is all about.

For me, honestly, I can say that when I'm playing really good, I'm not really thinking about anything. I'm just listening. In fact, more and more as time has gone on, I realize that playing is really more about listening than it is about playing. Now what I mean by that is that if I play one note and then I really hear how that note fits with what everybody else is playing, then there's a person inside me, who's a fan of music, who's a listener. Then I just kind of ask the listener, "Okay, if you were listening to this, which you are, what would you like to hear next?" And then I play that.

So really it becomes the listening part of you that's the leader of the melodic phrase or whatever. So really, I'm just kind of listening. I mean, that's the best thing I could say is that I'm trying to really hear the whole sound of the band and just kind of participate in it.


And here's a quick YouTube (live stream) with yours truly discussing this subject further:


I hope you've enjoyed the Metheny interview and my thoughts on jazz improv. See you soon on the website :)


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