Changing Musicians

Don't get me wrong. I love what I do. I love being a musician. I love the journey, the work, the hard life lessons I've picked up along the way, the discipline, the experience of performance, and the humbling shame of total failure.

Even if I haven't made millions off of a dope banger with insane synths and a beat that will shake the bloc, I have grown to deeply appreciate the opportunities I get as a musician.

However, I've noticed something disturbing about the community that claims to be so liberal, so willing to change, so open, so welcoming, so joyous that any style of music is welcome in its ranks.

There's something seriously wrong with most musicians I meet.

It's not that some of them are sociopaths. It's not that some don't know the meaning of the word "tact." It's not even that some claim to rule the true scientific community with conspiracy theories about government implants in your Big Mac.

The real problem then? 

There is an inherent stupidity in the way we handle our art. 

We sign record deals and then complain about what we signed. We invest huge sums of money in physical merch that we know the majority of the music consuming public doesn't utilize anymore. We book tours without adequate funding. We refuse to make smart financial decisions about our own lives, as if the only means to pursue our music is a self-destructive artistically pure path,

It's been the same narcissistic and unrealistic dream for the past 60 years. 

While the rest of the world has moved forward in communication, education, and nearly every aspect of our daily lives, we musicians refuse to consider alternative means to our goals, as if the purity of a $50,000 session at a studio is the only means to realize our artistic vision.

If we want to be treated better and our work appreciated more, we need to realize that people's consumption of music has changed. Our market has changed. Our world has changed.

We also can't do it all ourselves. That's arrogant and foolish.  Wake up and collaborate. The more people with talent we involve, the better the whole experience.

It's time we stop being so self-centered and consider that we might be wrong. That we might not know it all. And that maybe there are other ways to be a working musician than the examples of a generation whose rules no longer apply to our world.

Good hunting.

The secret to writing "inspired" music

For a long time, I thought of composers as these lofty beings, in touch with the innermost struggles of the human soul. I thought they heard bone chilling chords in their nightmares and heart-wrenching melodies in the most heated moments of passion. I thought that orchestration ideas sounded in every footstep they took on their daily walks. And I always linked those developments to emotion. Struggle. Passion. Inspiration. Otherworldly callings from the infinite depths of music.

I assumed it was a magical experience to write music.

And as someone who claimed to be a musician, someone who long ago dabbled in the creation of riffs and poorly constructed MIDI ideas, I felt frustrated when I did not feel those moments arise while writing music. 

I thought for some reason I had failed. 

I thought I was no good.

Years later, I've realized something that I never heard once from my composer mentors who always discussed the abstract and emotional in music. That music is in fact a blend of two elements, both parts equal and necessary and incomplete without the other.

Passion and intellect. 

Emotional music will all sound the same without new and complex techniques, while disjunct and advanced techniques will mean nothing without emotional connection. 

It is neither one, nor the other. It is neither a sole night of inspired composing, nor an endless week of drudging through hundreds of ideas. One begets the other. When one is lacking or absent, turn to the other. Write what you feel when what you know sounds terrible, and write what you know when what you feel is nothing but the product of emo trash.

But most importantly? Do it every day. Miring through the bad will bring out the good until decades from now, you create nothing but good. After all, my high school guitar teacher told me to throw away my first fifty ideas. I swore I never would.

Years later, I realize I have. And I have no regrets.