Sunday, June 27, 2010

Conclusion

Conclusion

Words cannot express how I feel. The long ramblings of a blog do music a disservice, for music is more profound than words. To be caught up in the description and discussions of what music is and what it does and how we make it is to be caught up in something other than music. To talk and discuss is to spend time when we are not involved in music (or not as involved as we could be). “There is always something better I can be doing with my time and that thing is to wake up more.” –Keith Jarrett. Even the most profound words do not come close to evoking the kind of ecstasy that music does when it speaks to us. How much worse for our reputation is talking than playing? So much more. Now I want to bring my thoughts into action, for that which is understood needs not be discussed.

I’m putting this blog on hold. Just as I am putting Lakeside Circus, the Double Drummer Group, my solo piano work and my free improvisations on hold. I doubt anyone will protest much at my deciding to do so. I have had the time to think over my decisions and now it’s time to decide. I’m putting everything on hold, except for the thing that really matters – music. Patience in learning will do great things for the future, but right now I’m in the present moment and I intend to stay here. Listening to music will be my safety guard from the fall I took into corruption and the exhausting ‘creative cult’ that I almost fell a victim to. Listening to music will be my doorway into a higher awareness of beauty. My reputation is irrelevant. My ability is irrelevant. My approach is irrelevant. All that matters now is music – my music. Flexibility has been embraced and contemplation has been prohibited (perhaps just temporarily, as I am quite fond of contemplation). From here on in I intend to make some permanent changes and that means making the same choices day by day and moment by moment.

Sometimes I wonder how many readers I actually have here. I know of some people that read it and some of those have (at times) made me think twice about posting here, mainly Hannaford and Feda. I’d hate to sound as pathetic as I think I sound to those people, let alone the people that read that I’m not aware of. But I guess that’s what a blog is about; putting it out there just for the hell of it. It’s irrelevant what my readers think. It’s irrelevant to me what my readers have learnt or enjoyed from this blog. The entire thing is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is my music and my relationship to it. Sounds like something a Christian would say about Jesus right? Well, music should be more intense that religion. Music is beyond words. I know where I stand. I know what I’ve learnt. Now is the time for a new chapter. A new chapter, written beyond this blog...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Listening To Music

Musicians should be able to listen to an entire album with complete devout attention to the sound for the entire album. How else can we expect to play a whole set of improvised (or just interactive) music and actually respond to everything that happens? I can’t really do this without thinking about something else or making a cup of coffee. Concentration is something that takes a long time to develop. Some music can just be background shit. I don’t we need to always devout our entire attention to what’s playing on the radio or CD player. I think that some music should be given attention, but I also think music should command your attention by kind of forcing you into listening to it. Sometimes we hear shit that is just so bland that we can’t really listen to it. When I’m going to a live gig I like to devote as much as I can to listening to the music. I think that doing all this is a good way to open up to how deep music actually is. Sonically speaking, pop music is really quite stunning (John Mayers ‘Continuum’ anyone?) and has a lot in it. Anyways, I’m just saying. I like listening really intensely. I think the more I can do that the better music will be. Farts sound better as well. They offer even more comic relief when you’re fully aware of the depth of the soundwaves. Over and out.

The Meaning of Music (part two)

How profound is a life in music? How much more profound is a successful career in music than any other kind of career? There are amazing musicians that have done a lot, but they aren’t changing the world. There are scientists, philosophers and politicians that are changing the world (or already have). There are people that have not done amazing things, but lived a life of meaning (such as the American Dream). But how important is that to the meaning of life? What actually is a ‘high’ life and how far can we go with profundity? How often should we contemplate these kinds of questions? When and where is the time and place for these kinds of discussions and at what point does it become pointless? The imagination of a man, in all its brilliance (or even genius) is nothing without the realisation of these dreams. How does one bring their ambitions into reality? How do we reconcile that we are all limited by the opportunities we have and that we all have a place in the world that is always dwarfed by someone else?

I think that the most profound thing that I can do is in music. I dream of making original music that is beautiful and transfixing. That conclusion in itself gives reason for me to stop contemplating all together and just work on realising that dream. Is there a point at which we decide and conclude? How does a concrete conclusion leave flexibility for failure? I think perhaps as usual I will conclude with the answer that it’s all about balance. That’s the only real answer that really kind of makes real sense – balance. I think I balance over towards the thinking side of the spectrum more than I like to admit. I think I think too much about thinking. Doing, as plain and simple as that is, is actually something I could do a lot more of. Well I guess I’m in Blog world at the moment so I might as well enjoy it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Scene

I hate hype. I find it hard to really hear what a musician is actually doing when there’s all this pent up press and talk about them going on. Most of the time, when everyone raves about a musician to me I usually have a harsher judgment of them when forming my opinions. I guess this is just because I’m jealous that everyone is talking about them and not me. But what is cool about hype? What has it got to do with music? A musician walks up on stage with all this confidence and plays this shit and everyone loves it and then walks around the club like they own the place. Am I the only one that is actually listening here? It’s understandable though, I got all bubbly inside when Mr. Mitchell said he had checked out my Myspace tracks. What would you expect I’d do if everyone kissed my ass as much as they kiss Tinky Tinky’s? Plus, the more hype there is about you the more gigs you get (not to say that’s the only way of getting gigs).

I guess everyone has their pride in their craft, and they have worked for that confidence. It’s the only place they actually can be confident in a world full of so many uncertainties. So why not soak it for all it’s worth? I guess I can be a bit cynical. It’s all just what I like and what I don’t. I’m still going to kiss the ass of the musicians I like. But maybe I should be a little more subtle about it. I want to promote the music that I like, but still have people make up their own minds. Press is all about promotion – not reality or forming opinions (at least not for the musicians). Also, an understanding of how appreciating music and not liking it can work with forming your opinion is important. When last at Bennett’s Lane, James Greening said to me about the Drub gig that he could enjoy listening to it but not want to do it and that it’s taken him a long time to get to that point. If it takes a heavy cat like Greening a long time to learn appreciation, what hope do little dipshits like me have? Making music, from my point of view, is about making music. NOT about creating a cult or generating respect from anyone. Only the heaviest cats actually seem to be able to do this in music today.

The Meaning of Music

Music takes many forms for many reasons. We need to decide what music we are going to make and for what reason. I think that for pretty much every musician, there is always more than one kind of music for them and more than one reason to play music. Knowing when to play what music is important, especially for a creative or avant-garde musician. Music can be alienating and music can be intellectual. There is a time to make music that is artistic and intellectual (and maybe perhaps a little self indulgent) and there is a time to play with the audience in mind. Music can be enjoyable to the player and enjoyable to the audience. Music can be a product, a science, a philosophy, a form of psychology and of course music can be art.

To me there is something especially attractive about jazz music – and I mean the swinging/American songbook/improvisation kind of jazz. Jazz is intellectual and complex. Jazz requires thought and discipline. Jazz is also popular and accessible. Jazz is so compressed that I find listening to large amounts of it tunes my ears to the fine details of music (and sound). This makes my experience of other kinds of music that are maybe not as ‘fine’ in their timbre (such as rock and metal) so much more enjoyable. Jazz performance is unlike any other kind of music. Jazz harmony, as I stand with it now, is the most complex form of harmony. I beg someone to contest this point. Maybe serial (or post-serial) harmony is more complex, but does harmony become more complex by analysing it in more ways? Jazz harmony has as many functional parameters as any other and is athletically more complex than anything I’ve come across to date, if I may speak so generally. This is not to mention jazz melody.

My approach now is to have a core foundation of what my music is. For me this is the jazz piano trio that plays jazz in a more or less traditional (but personnel) style. The trio is what inspired me to play music in the first place. Jazz is the music that is my reason for playing music. The lesser pressing needs for musical expression will sit to the side of the piano trio. These projects as I stand today are: solo piano improvisation, a 7 or 8 piece ensemble (with piano trio plus horns) that plays fully composed ‘hybrid’ music, improvising duos and a commercial band that I am yet to invest in. I understand now that the opportunity to make ‘high art’ is a rare one, and is for a reason. Being a musician is a career and a career involves many different tasks.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Passion

I reserve the right to get angry. I reserve the right to speak passionately about music. I am within my rights to speak hard to my fellow musicians in the name of making the music better. Where did all the passion go anyway? What happened to loving music outwardly and being vocal about love and passion? Where did the energy go? My music is real and my music will bite your fucking face off. This music should be loud. This music should be irresistible. This music should be a privilege to play and every moment we’re in it we should cherish it. I reserve the right to shout about it. I reserve the right to shut the entire thing down if it’s not to my standard. This is our name. What does our name say about us? What does our music say? Are we plastic pussy-assed dipshits? Or are we going to grab this shit by the throat and fuck it ‘till it’s dead? It was like this - in the beginning. Where did all the passion go? How could you forget something like this? How can anything so pure become so corrupt? I reserve the right to drag this shit up again. I am within my rights get angry. I am within my rights to speak passionately.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Graph


The horizontal axis represents complexity with 1 being the most complex and 30 being the least. The vertical represents popularity with 1 being the least popular and 40 being the most.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Patience in Youth

Patience in Youth

I’m gonna be frank for a second. I have a lot of ideas. I really think that there is some good shit transpiring in my brain and I think there could be some great shit coming out. Lakeside Circus is a really cool band. I think there’s a lot of potential in it. I listen to shit loads of CDs and get loads of compositional ideas. I want to make music. I want to make interesting, creative, exciting instrumental music. It’s a bit of a hard one to actually work with though. To think all these things is pretty easy. To actually carry something out like this takes work and persistence.

I want to make real music - music that has nothing to do with regulations or the scene or anything like that. I want to make art and art is the only truth in music. I hear bands that have just done their shit. I just hear their shit, the final product, and I wonder how the fuck they do it. I spend hours on end trying to work out how they do it. I think analysis is a really big thing. I’m into the kind of analysis that builds up to really interesting shit. Like how Eminem has each verse of a song get longer as the song unfolds so that by the time the final chorus comes it’s a release. The same thing happens in metal. I like how Slipknot can write a song like “Disasterpeices” with pretty much just 3 or 4 notes, but when the orchestration is considered there are no two bars the same in the entire song. I like it how in the 1950’s jazz musicians played heads with horns harmonised in unison, then Human Feel write songs like “After the Fact” in 2007 and use the same idea with all these other aspects incorporated as well. Unity in something like that is beyond me. Composers like Tim Berne are doing some really complex shit these days and yet they sound so smooth and logical. I like music that has a vibe or an energy. I want to make music that gets into your bones and shakes up shit.

Being patient is the biggest part of actually going about putting these ideas into practice. Me, being youthful and rebellious and the fucking restless fuck that I am, want to do these things real quick and end up making second-rate versions of good shit. To actually play music and play an instrument with mastery and ease takes a lot of practice. We all know that. Taking the time to really go through it all with a fine comb takes a lot of fine comb time. Somehow I need to learn to suppress my urge to do shit and actually focus on learning it all properly. End of composing rage. You can all go home now.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Music Making (part two)

Being a musician really is a hard thing to be. We, as young students, see amazing musicians create brilliant music. We for some reason think we can do the same and decide to create music of our own. What we’ve heard is so magnificent that we have to break down the music making process into smaller parts. We spend years contemplating and working on music making, always asking how did these greats do it? I sometimes think that if I just do this, this, this, this and this I will make great music. But really how can we ever measure up? I think it’s a process. I think clear goals are a necessary. I think finding yourself has as much to do with expelling corruption as discovering reality. How do musicians discover reality? Or do they create their own? I have experienced music making in a corrupted way and discovering that I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on came as quite a shock. Respected musicians of the world who speak of the music making process always do so from a long way down the path, back towards the kids like me who may just be starting out. This is what can create the confusion between what is necessary and what is possible.

I’m done with having heroes. Heroes will never live up to your expectations and you will never live up to the amazing things they have done. I think the answer to that question is to just do the best you can. Making the best music that I can, and actually making it, has always been my fundamental working attitude. I was compromising the quality of my music in order to make it. But now I think that I shouldn’t make music unless it is the best music that I can make. This (perhaps ironically) means that I will not make music any time soon. There has to be a standard and that standard has to be high. I know I’m all for being on my own journey, but how does my music actually stack up?

I am always changing. I have always had pride in my wiliness to be open to new things and explore the possibilities. But now I think is the time for a clear goal. Music isn’t as simple as one two three. But I have no doubt that I am meant to be in music. That’s not meant to be a cute cry of passion. There is nothing pretty about my love of music. I don’t think there is anything in me that is different to any other musician. Plenty of people want it more than me. Plenty of people work harder than me. Plenty of people have it better than me. All I know is that I have a voice that needs to be heard. I feel that voice is a good large number of hard yards away, but I know it’s there. I’m just crawling from the womb and I want to be reading Shakespeare. Patience and persistence is the name of the game now.