Thursday, October 14, 2010

Don't cut Pablo off in traffic...


Went on a mini-vacation with my Mom and Bros, and took a day trip to the National Gallery of Art. Holy smokes! I really appreciated it this time. There's these buildings filled with priceless art, and we get to look at it for free! The gift shop was having a sale on prints of the art, and I picked up Picasso's The Tragedy for two bucks. Now that's a deal! My mom first pointed the painting out, and it's been a favorite ever since. It is profound.

The print is sitting in my teaching studio now, and has evolved into quite a lesson. Check it out:

Here's the painting:

Take a close look at it. Note how deep it is, and you can tell that the people are in a very bad place. It's lovely! OK, sure, not that they're in pain, but how powerful and alive a painting can be.

How is this? Sure, sure, I know there's technical reasons. My students have actually been teaching me a lot. According to them, blue means sorrow, and bare feet mean discomfort. I applaud the young cultured folks! Rock on!

The cool thing is - it was conveyed even before I knew this stuff. That feeling jumps right out of the painting.

So, I've come up with a nifty songwriting challenge. (But not limited to the songwriting medium, other artists!) Write the sonic brother to that painting!

How? Far be it for ME to say how Picasso works, but this is what I've been lecturing on for hours about:

Put a lot of intention behind the note. Let's check out driving. If someone cuts you off, you'll honk angrily at them. Store that sound in your mind. (I poked myself in the eye today pointing to my head - my finger hit my hat, and slipped off the brim, into my eye. Ouch.) Next, picture seeing your buddy on the road, and you honk friendly-like. Store that sound. Now compare. How is it that the exact same note, with exact same tone, sounds completely different?

It's that intention! (Sure, sure, and context, and how long you lean on the horn, etc. But for all you excessively literal folks, I'd like to say - go take a hike.)

Now that the excessively literal folks are off looking for the nearest hiking trail, we'll get back to our example.

Think of your voice. You can say "Hi!" if you've just won the lottery, or "Hi!" if you're ready to rip someone's face off. The word is the same, but the intention behind it makes the space between the lines read very differently.

Now - playing music. Feel a feeling, and pour that into each and every note you play. Don't worry so much about mechanics. Do you think "huh, I wonder how I have to tense my throat to sound angry?" Nope! You just yell!

Play what you feel right now. Then, be an actor, and play whatever feeling you choose. It's way cool, because not only can we express ourselves, but we can tell stories.

See if you can write the counterpart to The Tragedy. Send it to me, I'd love to hear it!

Rock on!

- Josh


AkasaWolfSong said...

I can see why your Mom thinks you Rock, Josh...

I love the way your mind works!

Great Print and an even Greater Post!

Blessings Brother!

Gheff said...

deez iz ze greatest! :D