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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.
Top customer reviews
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.
You should get this book if: You have any interest in playing guitar, or a guitar player of any level with an open mind and a positive attitude about music and guitar playing. This book is packed with great quotes and perspective to help you form or reinforce your perspective.
You should NOT get this book if: You are looking for a technical book with music theory, sheet music, or exercises etc.
In summary, I have really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone with a positive attitude about music or playing guitar.
It is a great combination of Zen principles, and quotes from the greats of music and simple enough to really not only help a person refine their music, but also refine their life.
Well written and laid out, this paperback is a must have for a guitar enthusiast, musician, or human, as there are practical applications for life in general.