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Cultivation Through Music
Embodied in “cultivation through music” are key elements of the artistic journey: technical skill, self-discovery, refinement, risk. There is little doubt the vast majority of creative effort has combined these elements in some fashion. The unspoken challenge though is being open to the possibilities while dealing with the practical. With limitless time and resources, cultivating rice paddies in the Sahara desert or me brokering world peace through my awesome soloing are indeed possible – but realistically can all ground be truly fertile? On this there are undoubtedly many perspectives but maybe that is just it – in the realm of artistic endeavour, perhaps perspective (willingness to look at adversity differently) determines whether the ground can be cultivated as much as any other element.
Any Which Way
That moment when we truly connect with our higher creative spirit and profound words/music/thoughts flow quickly can be exhilarating but why is so elusive and often fleeting. It’s easy to blame distraction but why then when we are sometimes surrounded by a myriad of “white noise” inputs does this clarity of thought happen. I have often times tried to examine the prevailing conditions when this happens and duplicate them in future. Unfortunately, individual results vary (widely). I’m convinced the creative process does not work on a schedule. That said, maybe the Boy Scouts have the answer – “Be Prepared” because you never know when creativity will happen to you.
Money does indeed make the modern world go ’round. Heck, in business school was there any other “-ism” other than capitalism. But is it everything – I think we can all agree no. If you subscribe to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, money is disproportionately important in meeting our basic needs: food, water, shelter, safety all improve dramatically with access to money. It is when you get to the higher level needs that money’s importance becomes questionable. We can all identify situations where the wealthy are unhappy and the “un-wealthy” joyous. But why is that. I think it speaks to an internal fulfillment need once basic needs are satisfied. Once satisfied, more basic need fulfillment (bigger house, faster car, more extravagant lifestyle) just does not seem to cut it. In the immortal line of Mary Poppins “enough is as good as a feast”. And therein may be the challenge, recognize when you have enough and re-direct your energy to more fulfilling endeavours.
Have to love a Mary Poppins quote !
Thanks Paul – will try to work supercalifragilisticexpialidocious into a future post 😉
What is a Few Minutes?
Time – the one thing we all have the same amount of. Each day brings 24 hours to every one – it’s how you use that time that determines how efficient or effective you were that day. Or so go the time management gurus. The approach seems most effective in driving out “commoditized” work product (the deliverable, the litany of daily obligations) but does it work for cultivating creativity. Scheduling creative moments may quash creative moments but don’t make space for creative time and none will likely happen – a dilemma worthy of Pink Floyd. Until that album of answers arrives however, we will have to be content with making creative time part of our routine. Done right, maybe we’ll feel naked without it.
Identify, Don’t Compare
As I prepare for my company’s mid-year review cycle, I find this daily dose more apropos than ever. Scrutinizing performance, measuring people against one another is a built-in part of corporate life but does it consistently get results. Some current management thinking would suggest it demoralizes more than it helps. Recognition rarely seems to get as much airplay as criticism. No where is this more true than the Internet. I started to learn how to play guitar a few years ago and found YouTube a wonderful source of quick lessons on technique and songs. What shocked me were the highly critical comments posted under many of the videos. Really?!? The poster is putting out knowledge for free general consumption. Take what you need out it and be thankful. If you don’t value it, shut up and move on. It really is that simple. To do otherwise questions whether the creative spirit is being advanced by the criticism. The Internet could benefit from ocassionally listening to their Moms – if you don’t have anything good to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.
Disposable Music & Musicians
Disposable Music & Musicians – the near constant refrain from us older listeners about today’s popular music. Guaranteed, the same was said about our popular music by the generation before. But is there something different happening today – I’m not sure. Technological influence and corporate interests have existed in the past but they seem more pervasive today. On the other hand, if you listen to Dan Hill, he argues that some of the best pop music ever created is being created today. Again, I’m not sure. Time and place often have as much to do with a song “classic-ness” as the song itself. “Da Da Da” was a hit in the 80’s because we were young then and open to this take on the new wave sound. Not sure it would fly on its own today but it’s the amusing soundtrack to a car company’s commercials – it’s now classic if you will. A little while ago I watched “It Might Get Loud” – a documentary-type movie featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White. All of them are celebrated musicians in their own right but when Jimmy Page launched into the beginning of “Whole Lotta Love” midway through the movie and the other guys just stopped and stared in amazement, it hit home – there really is no expiry date on a good song.
What is a good song? Or is it the person? Or is it what the listeners have turned the performance into over the years? Funny because if you were to put Jerry Lee Lewis in front of Jimmy Page he wouldn’t give a shit and he influenced the world with his piano work. It is all about point of view and who’s view it is from. I bet if you put Jimmy Page in front of Jerry Lee Lewis you would see the same look as Jack and the Edge had at Page. The influence of the whole package is greater then just the single performance. Led Zep is over hipped and therefor so is their influence. Those boys stole the ideas just like everyone else how they presented those stolen ideas is a whole different chat and therefor brings up the “good song” expiry date. Thoughts?
As we debated last night, a good song is a subjective evaluation based on personal experiences/preferences, time and place, experience with the artist, experience with the aura, if any, around the artist and genre. Snippets of movie soundtracks have moved me as much as symphonies. Jerry Lee Lewis may well be amazed how different electrified blues became under Jimmy Page’s influence and who knows what ideas Jimmy may have “nicked” from 50’s rock ‘n’ rollers. As for Led Zep being over-hyped, I hope our unanimous Canadian view (nope, no way eh!) will lead you on the path to righteousness.
Isn’t the Canadian path way to righteousness through AC/DC? Just an FYI Jimmy Page didn’t “electrified” blues it was Muddy Waters. Jimmy came close to 15 years later.
Ahh the true path to Canadian righteousness is Rush but I’m sure that will be a topic of much discussion. Sorry if my words did not convey my meaning, I know Jimmy did not electrify the blues, he just took it in his own direction.
Could not agree more. As I remind my kids nearly everyday, we are lucky here in Canada. Much of what we take for granted (clean water, safety, rule of law) does not exist in other places. Part of that luckiness is the ability and freedom to create/cultivate musically. Last night’s “Making a Record” class was no exception. While the raw material captured will need massaging (next week’s class), I unexpectedly got into the “capture the energy” headspace that the players were trying to create. I opened the door last night and I’m deeply curious about where it will lead to.
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In line with my comments above under the Lucky title, last night’s recording session was a bit a letting go for me. In pseudo-out-of -body mode, I’m watching myself step through the door and letting go. I’m fascinated to see where I end up creatively.
I Choose Peace
Part of today’s posting credit goes to my daughter who rather than go to bed is sitting with me in our kitchen eating blueberries and providing current commentary to my otherwise “old person” analysis. Choosing peace seems like the natural and easy decision – to choose otherwise won’t make you a lot of friends but it may get you a high-ranking job in certain governments. The challenge is whether this ideal is or should be achievable all the time. Practically we know it can’t but I would also argue it shouldn’t. Much of the human experience is relative – if there was no bad, could we truly appreciate the good. Could the moon seem romantic if the Earth knew no pain (as a good friend of mine once wrote). We need this relativism to understand happiness. And maybe that’s the point, the sooner we understand the relativistic dynamic of the human experience, the sooner we can make choices about our reactions to it.
Gotta love them kids!
Ok trying this – below is a link to a peaceful sound I uploaded to Soundcloud – let’s see if this works.
Yep. It worked! Is that you taking a leak?:)
Loss happens to us all. Our reactions to loss may differ greatly depending on our own circumstances. I would love to say I’ll be strong in every situation but I’m not confident that will be true (is anyone really?). To grow from loss I suppose is the silver lining but again I’m not confident that can always happen. On the positive side, if growth occurs after loss, it will likely make one stronger and more capable of navigating future loss. Taken to an extreme, seeking loss for the growth potential crosses into the dangerous/irrational/crazy – let’s not do that. Maybe then the lesson here is when faced with loss the best strategy is to focus on managing and then growing from the loss where possible. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade as they say – just make sure to add vodka to mine, thanks.
Drugs and Alcohol
Like all “enhancers”, misuse is fraught with disaster. I have been “fortunate-enough” to see the effects of misuse and wise-enough not to take that path. It is odd though that despite the negative view, drug and alcohol use has often been identified as a catalyst for creativity in popular culture. I read Keith Richards book, Life, recently and if I get his story right, all his best songwriting took place while he and the boys were continuously baked. It may be a matter of timing, but as they sobered up, they seemed to become less relevant to then-current music. Not sure it’s a formula for success (may just be a function of youth) but it would seem many bands go through this cycle. Having made the choice otherwise, I’ll have to find my musical catalyst elsewhere – perhaps maybe in the music itself … hmmm.
Don’t Forget to Look Around
Headed out with the kids to a bunch of local fairs today (must be Fair Day here in Canada) and took in the sight, sounds and smells of the summer. The level of food truck innovation is astounding – butter chicken gnocchi, sriracha schnitzel, mexicala poutine – I will of course pay dearly tormorrow for all the sampling but mmm that schnitzel was tasty. Got caught off-guard by a Balinese dancing demo – the traditional Balinese music reminded me of a little blues segment I stumbled upon that I’d like to work into something. It really pays to keep your head up and look around (also ran into some people I had not seen in years).
I uploaded a snippet of the Balinese music and my blues segment below – check it out.
No Man Is An Island
But sometimes it can be nice. The popular Myers-Briggs personality test, among other things, sorts us into introverts (those that get their energy from inside) and extroverts (those that get their energy from the external). Depending on where we get our energy, being an island can be the exact tonic we need to cultivate our creativity. The varying degrees of this is probably evidence that most of fall into some blend of introvertism/extrovertism. Timing may play a part. After spending some alone time with something I’ve been working on, I recently reached out to a classmate to share ideas – felt good.
Shared some family time around a fire. Posting the sound of putting out the fire
It’s the goal we’ve all been guided to achieve. Independance and self-sufficiency are the holy grail of adulthood. Living in your parents basement at 35 is rarely celebrated unless you’re in a Jack Black movie. So why do we need others? Is it a failure to achieve the stated goal? We’re we around in the 16th century, it has been written that “a learned man” could know everything there was to know. Of course we know now that that is simply impossible. So maybe the real trick today is knowing when to involve others and when to dig deeper into ourselves. As a musician, I’m not sure where that line lies for me but I recognize finding it is essential to reaching my full creative potential.
Posting the beginnings of the Dar-licious sample pack.
Hey Dave – what courses are you running now and next term?
Hey Bud! Check out the Conestoga website and search audio arts how to make a record. Let catch up soon!
Love to catch up Dave – just trying to fit it into the schedule. On another note, thanks in part to you, we are the proud owners of a new iMac. Its running OS X El Capitan and I’m using the preloaded GarageBand app. Of course I’m having latency issues (trying to record live instruments) – do you know the fix for this (and don’t say get another DAW 😉
give me a text or call and lets catch up!
Sent you an email to get your 411 – please check it.
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