Chick Corea’s CHEAP BUT GOOD ADVICE FOR PLAYING MUSIC IN A GROUP.
A typewritten handout was provided to students and faculty of the Berklee College of Music for a performance and Q&A by the legendary pianist/keyboardist Chick Corea, on April 22, 1985.
Corea told an “energetic and musically sophisticated crowd of aspiring jazz and rock musicians” that what matters most in their own musical pursuits is knowing the “certainty of what you like, and how that fits into things,” according to a review article of the same date in the Christian Science Monitor, dateline BOSTON.
“We have the freedom,” he explains, “the inalienable right to do things as [we] see fit, to do them artistically, musically.” Technique, he insists, is not the most important matter: “You all know how to get a technique together — you just get it together.” The crucial thing, he explains, is to “decide what technique to get together, and when.” — from Rushworth M. Kidder, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor (April 22, 1985).
The full list of “cheap but good advice” is as follows:
1. Play only what you hear.
2. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
3. Don’t let your fingers and limbs wander — place them intentionally.
4. Don’t improvise on endlessly — play something with intention, develop it or not, but then end off, take a break.
5. Leave space — create space — intentionally create places where you don’t play.
6. Make your sound blend. Listen to your sound and adjust it to the rest of the band and the room.
7. If you play more than one instrument at a time — like a drum kit or multiple keyboards — make sure that they are balanced with one another.
8. Don’t make any of your music mechanically or just through patterns of habit. Create each sound, phrase, and piece with choice — deliberately.
9. Guide your choice of what to play by what you like-not by what someone else will think.
10. Use contrast and balance the elements: high/low, fast/slow, loud/soft, tense/relaxed, dense/sparse.
11. Play to make the other musicians sound good. Play things that will make the overall music sound good.
12. Play with a relaxed body. Always release whatever tension you create.
13. Create space — begin, develop, and end phrases with intention.
14. Never beat or pound your instrument — play it easily and gracefully.
15. Create space — then place something in it.
16. Use mimicry sparsely — mostly create phrases that contrast with and develop the phrases of the other players.