"Let me noodle it"

Mark A. Mandel Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Thu Jan 25 19:26:50 UTC 2001

Gregory {Greg} Downing <gd2 at IS2.NYU.EDU> writes:

Hence one hears "to noodle (around) with" = to mess around with, informally
experiment with, tinker with, i.e., I've always assumed (note the
disclaimer), using one's *head* to do so. In more specialized usage, people
often use "to noodle" in application to musical playing that the user of the
verb views as aimless or unmusical, if perhaps highly skillful in technical,
mechanical ways. E.g.: "He can really play guitar, but his solos are nothing
but noodling." (Synonym: to wank, which we all know from elsewhere.)

In my experience, noodling on the guitar ... well, as I write this I
perceive an analogy to doodling with a pen or pencil, and the rhyme may
have affected the sound and/or the meaning. You're playing with familiar
structures, not giving the activity your concentration but not necessarily
totally on automatic either. You're sort of poking around, doing things
partly at random, and maybe seeing what will come up or suggest itself. It
can be part of a creative process, or it can be just time-filling. At the
monthly housefilks* I attend, if person A is playing a guitar softly during
conversation or a break between songs, person B may ask "Have you got
something?", and A reply "No, I'm just noodling". In other words, No, I'm
not preparing to sing, I'm not playing to claim the floor; I'm just
occupying my fingers and a small portion of my mind with this instrument
while waiting for something to happen.

* see http://www.massfilc.org/

-- Mark A. Mandel
   FIJAGH! Now, *filking*, on the other hand...

More information about the Ads-l mailing list