Thursday, December 2, 2010

The color of music

Ain't green, yo!

Comrades! I hope y'all had a happy Thanksgiving! Ah yes, that strange American tradition where we are thankful, eat cranberry sauce shaped like a can, and then get up way too early to buy stuff.

Well, call me a comrade, 'cause I didn't do any of those things! OK, OK, so I WAS grateful, and let me tell you, I had a lot to be grateful for! One of those things was all the nice comments I got on my last post. Thank y'all! Very kind. I so appreciate it!

It's that time of year where money is flying through the air, usually at shiny trinkets that sometimes we need, and sometimes we don't. People are shopping for music gear in earnest, which brings me to...the point of this ramble!

What's the color of music? It ain't green, yo!

I was talking to a client of mine, and he's setting up a neat little beat production studio in his basement. He was getting burned out on how much everything cost. I invented a lecture on the spot - actually, to be fair, it's been cooking for a little while.

Us musicians are living in a great time to be creative. Sure, we can spend thousands of dollars on gear (I have), but most of the time, we don't need to. Yes, yes, call me a socialist! My students already do.

But check it out: Gear is a capturing device. It's a giant fishnet, if you will, trolling the waters to catch the fish of creativity. We can buy the latest recording gizmo, or high-end stompbox to give us that "SRV tone - guaranteed!" The gear, however, never creates musical ideas. Sure, it can spark them, but those ideas always flow one way - from our hearts to the world.

Music catalogs would have us believe otherwise. And to be fair, if I'm paying someone big bucks to master a record, I want to use decent mikes to record it, make sure my guitar plays good, etc.

Again, though, all of these are capturing devices - not creativity itself. So, what?

Stop letting money, or lack of it, get in your way. As strange as it sounds, I've seen both get in the way. BB King learned on a wire of sorts.

Have you seen that video of the band in NYC that got their instruments stolen, so they played their song on their iPhones?

Amazing! I'm personally working on a "Charlie Bit Me" remix with the app of the same name and some loops provided. "OW CHAALIE!"

Try recording a weird reverb sound by putting your guitar amp in the bathroom, or an empty room with lots of reflective surfaces (reflective to sound, that is.)

Got the DJ app on your phone? It's cool!

I had a student one time who worked construction, and he got himself a kiddie guitar from Walmart and rocked out on that. He loved it!

Don't want to pay ten or twelve bucks for a slide? Use a deep-well socket wrench. You think the delta bluesmen paid a week's wages for a slide? Huh!

A pencil and rubber bands make a great capo, too.

Come on - don't you realize what the gear manufactures are? They're not gonna help you stick it to the man - they are the man!

Music can't be silenced. When the slaves drums were taken away, they built banjos. As a side note, I'd like to shoot the guy who took the drums away - a.) because he was a meanie, and b.) because now look what he did. Banjos got imported.

So get crackin', and create music with what you already have. I bet it sounds awesome! And when you've got a tune, send it to me. I'd love to hear it!

- Josh

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