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Zen Guitar Paperback – March 24, 1998
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About the Author
Philip Toshio Sudo (1959–2002) was the eldest son of Japanese-American parents. He attended Macalester College in St. Paul Minnesota, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a Liberal Arts degree. He then went on to Columbia University, where he received his Master’s Degree in journalism. He is the author of Zen Guitar, Zen 24/7, Zen Sex, and The Book of Six Strings.
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Top Customer Reviews
Even if you're a conventional player, this book is great for redefining your approach to music so every note you play and how you play it and when you play it has meaning and emotional content. It's how you can escape that masturbatory competition of trying to be the world's fastest shredder to actually making a statement with your music that is a creative expression of who you are. This book is the path to becoming a master in your own right, not the master your ego thinks you should be, but the master your soul needs to be.
Zen Guitar is one of a handful of books regarding the intersection of music and spirituality that have come to my attention in recent years. As a music student who is sometimes in need of a refresher amidst the chaos of my curriculum, books that tackle the "why?" aspect of music-making - books that seek to expose the truth behind why we do what we do as musicians - have been of interest to me. To this end, Zen Guitar does not disappoint. The book contains no technical exercises, chord charts, or arpeggios, simply because it is not that type of book. Rather, this is more of an analysis of the type of mindset one must cultivate to become more in tune with their inner voice. Nearly everything the author says is backed up in supplemental anecdotes/quotes that come from various well-known musicians of all instruments and idioms, including such contrasting musical acts as George Harrison and Miles Davis.
It is, by all counts, a good starter text for books of its kind. I gave it only four stars because I thought it could offer some more specific examples on how to cultivate the type of mindset that the book speaks of; anyone who has experience practicing meditation or mindfulness exercises will see exactly what the author is trying to go for here, as what he is promoting is essentially a meditative, focused & full state when you make music - he leaves us on our own when it comes to finding this state. Some of us may already naturally embody some of the traits Sudo describes in the book, but to abide by all of them without much direct guidance is a quest indeed.
A really great book in a similar vein to this one is Victor Wooten's The Music Lesson, which also deals with philosophical concepts relating to the connection between ourselves and Music - in his instance, through an extended allegory. Because I read Wooten's book first and practiced meditation for a number of months prior to reading this title, I didn't feel like I read anything particularly groundbreaking; but, I will definitely keep it around as a handy reference. I think some of the connections between the author's native Japanese culture and our own are valuable, and there's a nifty glossary of specifically Zen-Guitar terms in the back. So in closing, a great book to devour if this is the first of its kind you've encountered; if not, a good book to have in your collection for reference as needed.
When I hit my next slump (and it will come), I plan on rereading this book.
As a guitar teacher, I have asked my students to read Zen Guitar, so they can have a different approach to guitar playing, an alternative to the objective-oriented western style of playing guitar. Zen Guitar teaches one to be humble towards the instrument and life in general.
Thank you Zen Guitar and Philip Sudo.