The Probabilist Shred Theory – The Miles Davis Variation

Yesterday’s note about the world record of speed on a guitar neck, and a tweet quoting Miles Davis inspired me this little theory. As it has been a while since my last Murphyzic Law, I am quite happy to bring this one out!

This post is proudly made under the Complete Bullshit License.

Shred? It’s all Miles Davis fault!

Miles Davis Postulate

Why play all these notes when it’s just sufficient to play the most beautiful ones?

Ok… This is not an actual postulate but Murphy Laws are not actual laws either so I can be sloppy on this one!! Yet I have a desperately Cartesian state of mind, and I even am a probabilist when I get bored. So if I rely on Miles Davis quote then I could spread the news that you have to play the most beautiful notes to make music!

That rings a bell my friends! Way back in the past when I was a high school student, I used to have arguments with my French literature teachers!  Not that I was a bad student, I wasn’t! No… I was the kind of student who always tries to work less though I was aiming the higher scores!

  • Young man… There is no mystery in the fact that you didn’t make any mistake on a 5 lines essay!! 
  • But that’s your fault prof… You’re always telling me that I probably know  Parsimony well! Fact is… I’ve never heard of Parsimony before! I have to admit I liked her a lot since the day I met her!
  • Young man… If you stay the way you are, I can predict that one day you’ll write on a blog!!
  • Oh shit!
  • 2 points penalty because of the trash language! Thanks to you I have now to start a negative notation system!
  • Oh shit!

Yeah! You’re right! The first sentence of this weird, and slightly fictional dialogue is the only one that matters. It matters because it is the base of the following analogy…

The Probabilist Shred Theory

If playing as less notes as possible increases the probability of not making mistakes (I know I could have said this another way but I am a complex dude sometimes)… Then playing a few notes decreases the probability of playing beautiful notesYou’re still following me? Maybe I’m just writing for Google since the second line of this post?

So, to increase the chances of playing beautiful notes you must play more notes. I’m suspecting that there is only one reader left, and that’s just because you think this post means something!

  • A normal listener can’t stand a 12 minutes tune without thinking about jumping off the window!
  • Our minds unfortunately adopted the radio format as the acceptable format for a tune i.e. 3 minutes tune at 120 bpm.
  • It requires a lot of vocabulary, and endurance to throw a 3 minutes interesting solo at 120 bpm… I mean every once in a while  during  the guitar solo part of the concert, you can see people ripping off their fingers, and stucking them in their ears to make the torture stop!!

Considering all these facts, it is mandatory to shorten the tunes to reach a 2 minutes format, and to increase the tempo around 180 bpm or 200 bpm! Then  you will find the sufficient speed, and quantity of notes to play the most beautiful notes without killing your audience. Speaking about killing the audience, I am now sure that I am  just writing these last lines to end the post!

The perfect balance is to diminish the tune to its essential part: a 20 seconds solo at 340 bpm… This should be sufficient enough to maximize the probability of playing beautiful notes!

So, Miles Davis is responsible for Shred… This conclusion can’t be challenged!


About Sem

I am the founder of Muzicosphere (that also exists in a French version). In 2011, I also created Guitar Fail, the Guitar LOL place to be. And before that I created GAS a GoGo, a gear giveaways blog in French.


  1. A augmenter le BPM et le nombre de notes, on s’approche du bruit blanc, qui devrait être en toute logique le maximum d’information, alors qu’il équivaut à… une information nulle.

  2. puisque je suis à l’origine du tweet coupable, puis je me permettre d’émettre une théorie contraire (ou complémentaire):
    avec peu de notes tu as plus de chances de faire la mauvaise. en effet la note que tu joue est esseulée, unique et omniprésente. donc si tu ne joue pas la note la plus belle, tu bousille ton effet. alors que jouer plein de notes limite le nombre de fausse notes, car sur le tas, il y en aura bien des bonnes.
    quand Miles Davis jouait un mi sur un Ré mineur, il introduisait la neuvième qui allait permettre de créer une ambiance permettant la suite des notes sur la gamme en ajoutant une notion d’espace élargi.
    (j’adore commencer un solo par la 9ème)
    cette note si tu la rate te fous en l’air tout ton discours.
    si tu veux réussir ton solo, il faut jouer peu de notes, mais surtout les plus belles.
    licence Complete Bullshit certifiée.

  3. je plussoie! c’est ce qui fait toute la différence entre BB King qui joue très peu de notes mais les bonnes et …………. (mettez le nom d’un autre guitariste que vous n’aimez pas eg. Gary Moore)

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