Sunday, September 19, 2010

Instrumental Behavior

An instrumental behavior is any behavior or action that is done to satisfy a motive. Everyone experiences and engages in instrumental behaviors every single day. For example, going to class everyday is an instrumental behavior for someone who is motivated to get a good grade in their class. Preparing food is the instrumental behavior of someone who plans on eating. Working is the instrumental behavior for someone who needs money. Instrumental behaviors are not necessarily behaviors which are short-lived or over quickly. These actions depend on three facets: duration, frequency, and intensity. For example, the duration of a student going to college for a degree may be four years, the frequency of their behavior may be five times a week, and the intensity of their behavior depends on how much actual motivation they have. Someone who wants to continue their education may have more intensity towards their studies than someone who wants to finish school and get a job as soon as possible. There are countless examples of instrumental behaviors, and I will share one of my more entertaining examples from the weekend.

I play guitar, and my band had a show to play Saturday night. In order to satisfy my motives of (1) knowing the music and (2) getting my guitar to sound the way I wanted it to, there were several instrumental behaviors I had to undergo. I had to be attentive during rehearsals, and practice during my free time to memorize all the music. After I memorized the music, I brought two guitars, two amplifiers and several effects to the show. After I got the sound I was satisfied with, I showed up extra early for a soundcheck, to make sure my sound sounded the right way to the audience. The duration of my behavior, which was specifically to prepare for one particular show was several days, which lasted from the latest practice, in which the details for the show were finalized, to the actual show. The frequency of my behavior was twice - the practice and the soundcheck. The reason that the duration was several days and the frequency was only twice was that duration deals specifically with the amount of it takes until the motive was satisfied, and frequency deals with how many actual times the behavior was enacted - the band only played twice during those several days. My intensity was very high, because I spent a lot of time and put in a lot of effort in order to obtain the exact end result I was hoping for. To me, in terms of my motives, these were all instrumental behaviors which I needed to perform in order to attain my goals.

Many guitar players have the same mindset, and take many steps to ensure they get the sound they want. In this video, guitar legend Steve Vai gives a tour of his live guitar setup for an upcoming tour. Keep in mind that during this video his guitar preferences, his effects pedals, and his amplifiers all take part in his instrumental behavior. His motive is to get his guitar to sound just the way he likes while he's playing concerts, and the instrumental behavior here can be seen as he carefully monitors and tweaks every aspect of his live guitar setup, in order to get his desired sound. The video demonstrates the intensity of instrumental behavior (getting a desired sound) much better than it shows the duration (how much time he spent preparing prior to the video) or frequency (how often he practices to get the sound he wants), but I feel the clip does a good job in portraying one guitar player's instrumental behavior before going on tour.


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