For me, the process of creating music is instinctive. It is difficult to explain how or even why it happens. When I am working on new songs, the analytical side of my mind is carefully listening to the rhythm, tone, attack, and decay of each chord. On the other hand, my intuitive ear commits to the outcome and I become quite focused after a while.
An Olympic runner Eric Liddell said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” I think it is similar with me. I find it surprising how many different chord arrangements and melodies are available with eight tones in a given scale. Constructing simple songs that communicate my feelings to others is intriguing and extremely satisfying for me. The suspense of defining how the rhythm section will come together and how the lead will find its place within the chord arrangement repeatedly brings me back to the studio. Being an improvisational musician is an endless quest for a new sound, a new phrase. I create music out of a primal need to express feelings and to see if something truly new emerges.
To be a self-taught musician brings me an advantage for the way I choose to play. To be sure, I have learned from others, and have shared my meager skill with others from time to time. Nevertheless, I do not have formal training in the craft. I suspect some of my playing is a little rough around the edges because of my informal approach. I create songs that play well within the western traditions for chord changes but I use phrasing and timing that sets my music apart from others. My chords are a blend of traditional structures and self constructed (as I tend to make up many of my chords). All of this is part of the quest to find the perfect ‘song’.
Does my art communicate? Others tell me it does, but I have more questions than answers on that issue. I think my music can express emotions that transcend language. However, I leave it to others to confirm if it actually accomplished the goal.
I think often about the utility of art. As my understanding has grown, I spend much more time looking, analyzing, and learning about Art. As a musician, I am conscious of what makes my music different from others, and what makes it similar to others. I have found a meaningful way to express how I am feeling, a simple way to reveal a bit of my inner soul. I have learned from observing and listening that Art becomes not just about me but also about the people who take the time to listen. We are in it together.
“A painter paints his pictures on canvas. Nevertheless, musicians paint their pictures on silence. We provide the music, and you provide the silence.” – Leopold Stokowski (British born American conductor known for advocating classical music. 1882-1977)