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Experiential Exploration

Experiential Exploration is learning through discovery. Experimentation is ultimately at the heart of all sonic production. To create our own style over time, we experiment. There are myriad ways to go about this. Our experiences always shape our views and the meanings we derive from them. Experiential style building means that everything we experience shapes our style. Our choices and actions determine our trajectory. And, the path weaves and dips and peaks and plateaus. There is very little that is linear about it, save that we are getting better; learning, expanding.

New styles will emerge. They always have. Existing styles emerged through experimentation. There are many variables to how styles develop, including cultural, mental, emotional, physical, and social [even economic].

For any given set of tones, we work the materials in our own way, in our own order, at our own speed. Even if we are learning a song or a solo, we can use the materials of that song or solo to be inventive.

For any and everything we do, we explore and invent. We make stuff up with whatever it is we are working on. The materials of music are equally available to all of us. Everyone shares the same level of access. Some folks find making up stuff to be an effortless organic process, while others can struggle with it. No matter how much ease & access we may currently have this type of exploration, as we invest in it, the process can deepen & we can learn to enjoy it with enduring vitality. Over time, it can become as central to our musical life as playing other folk's music. And, when playing other folk's music, it becomes more meaningful [much like an actor that knows themselves, therefore they can play a role that much better].

The method [this word is typically used for graded lesson systems; we use it to describe the manner in which we are learning] is to explore the materials of music, using the guitar, with minimal stylistic limitations. It is impossible to be totally free of existing styles because just the physical act of playing resonates as known things. Yet, by framing our studies in this way, we are seeking to explore sound and the guitar in the purest sense possible [with the least interference].

Experiential Exploration is to discover our path through experimenting with sound, rather than studying and playing only what has been done on recordings [which could be called 'guitar store learning' - song learning should a part of a larger learning framework!]. We seek to train beyond [exhaustion] what it takes to play any given tune, and don't try to play things that are so far above our current playing ability [accuracy/tempo/feel] that it creates an imbalance in our learning system; possibly even leading to us quitting. Challenging ourselves in a sensible way leads to steady improvement.

The method is to build style [our sonic signature] over time by giving ourselves space and a path for its unfolding. The element of surprise - we surprise ourselves! - is a piece of the picture which can keep things fresh and interesting.

Style can mean a lot of things. How an artist represents her or himself – whether in image, import, lyrics, and/or musical expression, among many other things – is their style. For learning to play guitar, we come to understand commonly accepted styles by what types of chord voicings, rhythm, melodic ideas, tone, and presentation are employed. We often build our style through known styles, yet we can explore in a manner which is somewhat free of stylistic boundaries. Even when we do this, there are still, of course, commonalities and shared tonal devices. Through this process, we can actually discover how stylistic idioms come about.

The method is to learn these common stylistic devices, while maintaining a free exploratory approach simultaneously.

We honor all styles, methods, and all of our ancestors, while using experiential exploration as a core practice.