Now Les Paul is well known for the Gibson Guitar bearing his name – the one that Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page plays – and also Guns & Roses Slash.
He was less well known as the pioneer of modern multitrack recording and also sound on sound, his records released before the mid 50s rock n roll era would feature many layered guitar tracks and many layers of his then wife Mary Ford’s vocals.
Now I first discovered Les Paul in the pate 1980s –
- one late night back from the pub,
- made a cup of coffee,
- turned the TV on,
- gulped some coffee… and then spat it out
And this was just the introduction to the playing of Les – The Wizard Of Waukesha.
But it was towards the end of the documentary about Les Paul, where Les said ” If There is such a Thing as Heaven on Earth, then it is when I am playing guitar up on stage ” which stayed with me all these years. This seemed to suggest No thought, just Music – except how could this be?
In 2008 NeuroScientist Charles Limb, stumbled upon the start of the answer from a scientific standpoint., though he didn’t seem 100% convinced by his findings at that time..
Though by 2012, Charles is explaining to a small panel how it is that improvisers seem to be able to shut down ” The inner critic” the social centre of the brain – what he refers to as the pre-frontal cortex. This is still the early days of a neuroscience behind what is sometimes called the flow state, getting into the groove – and this is something I believe that can be internalised, that can be learned – this is something I have come to call Moving the Mind Dial To Music – and there are specific techniques of what I call Priming Your Musical Mind that can help You get there.
Here’s Charles Limb’s 2012 brief discussion with a panel on his findings from back in 2008, explaining the neuroscience behind not just creativity, I believe but also Flow and connecting to the Music You play at a very deep level – I believe this goes way beyond creative improvisation – whether Jazz, Hip Hop or any other genre..
And here’s the end of the Les Paul documentary – his ” If There is a heaven… ” quote is around 7 minutes and 35
And the start of the documentary, that I first got to see years ago … though it’s only in the last few years I have started to connect the dots between what might seem like Poetic expression and NeuroScience catching up.