Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The secret ingredient

What makes music tick? What makes a song really angry, or sad, or happy?

I was listening to some old school metal the other day. I liked both the bands on my mp3 player. They were both superstars, and very good musicians, to boot. But try as one band might, they just sounded wimpy. Sure, they had the heavy guitars. The disturbing lyrics. But they sounded like an angry poodle, compared to the Doberman roar of their comparison band.

So what's the secret ingredient? It's not the settings on the gear. It's not the lyrics.
It's not the singer. What could it be? I'm not quite sure. I was reading a very strange book yesterday, and it mentioned how Mozart "went beyond the notes."

Hmmm...A new thought, but an interesting one. If notes played are the end result, the chain of events traced back might look like this:

The notes emanating from the amplifier come from the notes played on the guitar, which in turn come from our hands, which receive a jumbled signal from our brain. After all, very few of us can play exactly what's in our head. But where does the brainwave come from? Perhaps we could say the feeling creates the brainwave.

Pausing here, we have a viable explanation for why it matters so much to feel the emotion we wish to get across. A piece of music played without intense meaning becomes listless, and quite frankly, boring.

But to wax very zennish....Where does the feeling come from? Perhaps we should think about that, and try to play from that space.

Pondering all of this, it's clear to me what a small world 12 notes encompass. If I play from that 12 note wide world, I might just be limiting myself. But if I go back a few steps, and play from there, my inspiration is infinite. (or actually, in the case of my mind, quite finite!)

Now, a few observations to get you back to reality after reading this post. While walking in to the grocery store, I saw something incredible in the parking lot.

Did you know that Volvo slapped a label on one of their standard looking cars that says: "Police Interceptor?" That must be to catch all the grannies fleeing from the feds.

Whew, I'm tellin' you...Now what are you reading this for? Go practice!

But wait! I have a "commercial" I made. Check it out at:

No comments: