Understanding Level 4
Level 4 is going from a "Three Dimensional" perspective through a "Four Dimensional" perspective. What does that mean?
Check it out below.
A level 4 player understand the rules and theory to a degree that he/she is able to see outside of them. These rules can and are broken, when applicable, within the moment with little to no immediate thought needed. Styles move beyond pop, country, rock, etc, and include more complex genres, though players can of course still play typical genres - even rock and metal. A Level 4 player understands the deepest structure of chords and seemingly infinite options can be accessed and used with ease. Music is colored with depth and unpredictability. He/she is a master at their craft. Thinking and operating is outside the rules and lines. They are known for their unique voice and have a long track record for using it.
They have spent years exploring, and now seemingly mastering the 10 or so "elements" of music, as laid out in Victor Wooten's book, "The Music Lesson." These include groove, articulation, technique, emotion and feel, dynamics, rhythm and tempo, tone, phrasing, listening, etc.
A Level 4 player has learned to integrate all the previous levels (including the earlier basic levels) and now stands outside with a purview of them all. He/she is able to access all types of emotions and styles to present depth in his/her playing. Musicians here can be playful, bizzare, accurate, dynamic, intense, and everywhere in between.
There are 2 broad types of a Level 4 player. You can still be a Level 4 player, and not know all the official western "theory and rules." These players are known more for their legacy of work and cultural influence, rather than their scholarly achievements/knowledge. You can still be a virtuoso and not know the language and "rules" as much as would be expected.
The biggest part of going from level 3 to level 4 is understanding the fundamentals to such an applicable and capable degree that those rules (time signatures/key signatures, etc) are easily stretched, manipulated, and colored outside the typical scales and keys. Styles like jazz and bossa nova are possible, and any chord needed can be built and used, and multiple options possible. Being "in a key" is often no longer completely valid or necessary, as level 4 styles flex and move inside and outside of keys and basic major/minor melodies and scales.
A Level 4 player can approach any situation from seemingly infinite ways. They are hardly predictable. While they may use "formulas" to create, they're not limited by them.
What typically separates a Level 3 and a Level 4 player is that a Level 4 player not only has the experience and years behind them to stand on, the accomplishments and portfolio of work behind them, but now stands with a purview to look back on. A Level 4 player needs to be a master at their craft, but not all Level 4 players need to look the same. Some musicians earn Level 4 status simply by default of their life of accomplishments and influence, even if they don't know all the technical jargon and theory.
A Level 4 player is usually either in their "power years" (representing a person's 40's and 50's) carving new paths, or beyond it. You are or have been a leader, influencer, trend setter, or teacher on some level. You have perspective and purview. At the highest levels, you are the wise sage, the guru, the master, the legend, etc.
You're more than welcome to add to this list, agree or disagree, but just for fun, here is a short list that comes to mind of common modern examples, in my opinion: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, John Mayer, Jacob Collier, Dave Grohl, *insert any great guitar virtuoso here, Chris Martin, Freddie Mercury, Brian Wilson, Jimi Hendrix. This list deserves to be added to.
Your experience level includes 10,000+ hours
Got ideas for this "Levels" Philosophy? Shoot me a message and let's chat! I'm constantly wrestling with it and adapting it as time goes by.