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The pressure of being original

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  1. jazzacast55
    Member

    Hey Guys,

    I've been writing for my band since around Nov/Dec of 2010 and have played and composed more all of last year.
    I'm starting to think about recording and what I really want to say musically with my compositions and I'm having the hardest time with the worry of everything being original.
    I think there is this and always has been a big push in jazz to find yourself and be original, I feel after so long I'm getting closer to that, I've had to stop listening to alot of modern jazz especially guitarist as I feel like all the modern guys were being such a strong influence that I forgot about ME! without even thinking I would dial in a sound and play similar things to guys like Kurt and all the others.
    Basically what I'm getting at is the worry of originality is almost crippling me as I'll write something or improvise and record it and think "nah that sound like so and so or the tune is to simple, it's not jazz enough" , I feel like I've become an enemy to my self sabotaging anything I do.
    I can get through it but it takes a lot of work and at the moment I don't even care if it's not that original, I think I put so much pressure on myself to create original music and have a unique voice on guitar, it's just killing me.
    I think I fear someone after hearing band composition and my playing is a remark like "oh it sound great, it sound a lot like so and so or you sound heaps like that guy" which I don't care about but the pressure you feel being a jazz musician makes me fear it I think??
    I wondering if anyone else has had similar feelings or thought about there playing or compositions as more then ever now that I'm looking to record all this stuff has been hitting me.
    I'm also learning about dealing with musicians that are right for your sound as a band, I have a band member who is great, amazing but what I'm hearing is a different sound that he doesn't play like so I'm thinking about having to break it to him that I am looking to go with a different sound having to deal with that is an issue too. Thanks for reading, getting this out there really helps and helps me from feeling like I'm going crazy! hahah, I look forward to hearing your response and thoughts.

  2. natjanoff
    Member

    Jazzcast,

    I hear you bro! I would try and just enjoy the process, let go of this idea about oh my god am I original enough am I not and just
    ( I know this may sound cheesy ) follow your heart or intuition. Create something thats going to bring you joy and fulfillment and I'm
    sure it will bring others the same.

    I also would go with whoever will give you the sound you want, don't record with people just cause their your friend. You know Kurt said
    a lot of great stuff in one of these threads. BELIEF IN SELF you know. The answers are inside of you.

    Man I got into jazz because I just LOVED TO IMPROVISE!!!!! It is just so much fun, then I started experimenting with writing music that
    I thought would be fun to play over and create melodies that I liked. Everyone will always way in with their JUDGEMENT, sometimes people
    really have something to say to you thats worthwhile and when they do it won't come across negative. It will be something that if you ponder
    could be useful.

    I think being original or bringing out YOUR ORIGINALITY has everything to do with not being afraid to do whatever it is that you like with
    music, gear, writing , improvising etc....

    All the best.

    Nat Janoff

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  3. natjanoff
    Member

    I hope the above post can be helpful to anyone.

    Peace,

    NJ

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  4. jorgemg1984
    Member

    I always remember Hancock's "Speak like a child" - it says everything to me. I use to have a lot of your worries when I improvised... in essence just be yourself and speak the truth without worring much about what everyone else thinks (that's what childrens do right?)! And of course is important being original but don't obsess over it, it might have the opposite effect - just the fact you're worried with it means you must be in the good path but don't let it stand in the way of your music.

  5. jazzacast55
    Member

    wow, thanks guys, thank you Nat and jorgemg, your words seriously mean a lot and have hit home for me. Thank you again!

  6. sweetdeat
    Member

    For the longest time I think I worried about ever having an overdrive pedal with a delay pedal on a jazz gig and being compared to Kurt or anyone else. That's just the wrong psychology about the music. It's about what you are hearing. Period.

    If you hear it...play it...and don't apologize for it.

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  7. jbroad
    Member

    you definitely sound like you're on the right path to finding your thing. most serious musicians go through a period of being influenced by other musicians but there comes a point where you have to not listen to them for a while. i remember wayne krantz saying that he went through that phase and basically removed himself from the scene and just locked himself away and shed his music. i was definitely influenced by people like pat metheny, scofield, and kurt and listened to them a lot before i moved out to NYC. when i got here every young guitar player was trying to sound like kurt- same gear, same kinds of tunes, same kinds of lines, etc... that turned my shit around fast! i had to stop listening to kurt for a while and find my own thing (which i am still doing- haha). just keep on doing what you're doing. maybe don't listen to any jazz for a while. check out some classical music or music from another country or... no music at all.

  8. TruthHertz
    Member

    What we practice is a microcosm of what we play, what we play is a reflection of who we are. To do this honestly takes practice. How much time do you spend reflecting on what you are? ' drawing the meaning of the notes you've played and projecting them into the future? What is there to you and your music that is beyond the notes you play when you have a guitar in your hands? How much of your idea of what you love in music is something more than listening to someone else?
    There's a lot of love for other peoples' music in who we are-that's your identity and that's a flavour that pervades your creative process. When you find something you love even more, it could be as unassuming as a diad, or a way you feel time, or a use of space, or the way you communicate with a fellow musician, that, is a sound of you. That's what you must protect when you practice.
    Don't pressure yourself to be "original." That's yet another concept that comes from outside of yourself. It's as foreign as transcribing, learning, assimilating and learning to play like Kurt. Those are his shoes, he walks his stride in them, why would you want them on your feet other than to be him? It's a conscious decision to search for yourself when people expect to hear the familiar language of others in your notes. It's a difficult decision to seek your love for your own way of hearing when your own love of others is what you've been listened to.
    Maybe write one song, for yourself, that sounds like you. Maybe it's 17 seconds long. Maybe it takes 3 months to write. Maybe you have to write 22 versions of another eighth note piece with "hip" changes and an odd time feel. Maybe only you can hear the you. That's your opus.
    It's not a matter of being original, not sounding like someone else, but becoming easy with the obvious, after you find it.
    Forgive me if I state the obvious here; or if I'm not saying anything at all...
    David

  9. jseaberry
    Member

    I agree with TruthHertz. I have done some writing for a group I play in that has been described as "jazz as if Darth Vader wrote it"..... but I don't think about that or about being original; I just try to find something I like, and it just comes out that way. If it is in you and nobody else, it will be "original".


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