Jazz Guitarist Bill Frisell on Memorizing, Letting Go of the Intellectual Stuff and Just Playing


“After all the intellectual stuff gets out of the way, then you just play. I mean, that’s the state I like to be – or hope to be in – when I’m really playing. I’m not thinking about any technical… it’s just coming out and there’s not… no thought so much really but sometimes it takes a while, learning a new song, it takes a while for it to sink down deep enough for it to come out that way. That’s probably why a lot of the songs I play I’ve been playing them for a long time and… they feel like they’re part of my blood stream a little bit I guess.”

– Bill Frisell

There are so many things that we have memorized, things we long ago let go of ‘the intellectual stuff’ – tying our shoes, brushing our teeth, using cutlery, and on and on. It wasn’t always this way. Repetition leads to familiarity and thoughtful repetition leads to mastery. I know the delight when I’ve taken enough slow time with a piece of music that it enters into me.

We can’t master everything. But we can master some things!

What do you value so much that you want to persist so much that it becomes part of your blood stream? That you play a long time, long enough to sink down deep? It takes a while, as Bill says…then you just play.

(From Bill Frisell Solos DVD)

You can see Bill perform here.

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