At the end of tonight’s concert, I felt better about my improvisation, I recalled last week and my struggle with punctuation. This evening I was paying attention, building melodies, layering the phrases and punctuating the phrases with bursts of articulated arpeggios and runs. The level of tips and tapping feet suggest I was communicating. I suspect the inner struggle is not visible; I just sound like a guitarist playing contemporary jazz. However, on the inside, I was all over the place, thinking and listening, shaping, evaluating, and adjusting both the melody and the tone of the guitar, trying to stay connected to the grove.
So, how do I judge good presentation from mediocre presentation? I have talked about punctuation and the impact of silence vs. sound, but there is more. I employ a few tools (metrics and measuring devices) to help me form an objective opinion about the quality of songs created and recorded. When considering if an individual song is ready for my next CD, I look at the work from four areas: validity, vehicle, content, and integration.
Validity. Why was the song created, why was the CD assembled? Is the music authentic, truthful? Does the music reflect my approach, my phrasing, my chord patterns, and my rhythmic choices?
Vehicle. Does the song have rhythm and tempo suitable for the melody? Do the parts blend well? Is the phrasing suitable? Is there a balance between silence and sound? Is the song delivery a discernible form?
Content. Does the song engage the listener? Does the song communicate my worldview? Is the message of each song positive? Is it intellectually challenging?
Integration. Is there a consistency between the message content and the platform used to present the message?
Working from these basic ideas, each song is assessed, Joy listens and others listen to provide ideas and opinions, and then lastly, I decide — using the four principles of validity, vehicle, and proper integration of content and vehicle. Does this really help me to write better songs and assemble better CD’s?
Yes, it does.