The state of a Musicians relationship with Music

(22 posts)
  1. Basile865
    Member

    Throughout everyones career as musicians here or quest to become better musicians - have you ever found yourself dis-enchanted in general?

    Its more then hitting a rut. 90% of the music I come into contact with doesn't captivate me anymore. From time to time if I'm watching a movie I'll pause it and rewind it to find out what was going on harmonically in the music but thats about all the inspiration I've found lately. I listen to mostly Rosenwinkel, Holdsworth, Herring for guitarists. Its almost like the deeper I get into more complex instrumental music - the more I'm removing myself from the music circle I once belonged to. Its a bit of a catch 22. If you want to gig and make money - you have to play watered down music, usually rock/pop and R&B covers and I refuse to do it anymore. I've gone to the point of no return basically.

    Its like the world doesn't have the energy to sit down and really listen to superior music anymore. I even read an article that Holdsworth was thinking about stopping touring all together and getting a regular job. A voice as important and progressive as that having to put up with that. It kills me. Obviously musicians of that caliber aren't in it for the money - its a calling. But people need to make a living! Is it our job as musicians to educate the listener into taking the time to receive this music better? Or is this basically just musician's music? I cant really listen to this music with anyone I know because its not accessible enough for them. It sounds like a bunch of notes and busy to the average listener.

    My past few months of musical relationship has been flipped upside down. If a musician isn't pushing the envelope harmonically I cannot listen to it. I used to be a huge blues fan - Hendrix, SRV, Derek Trucks, and now I cant even listen to any of that anymore. Its sad in a way but it doesnt work anymore. Classical/Symphonic music is the only other genre I can appreciate these days.

    Have you Kurt, or anyone here ever hit a rut where you felt dis-enchanted by the whole scene? How can one shake this and move forward? I've tried taking time away and listening to totally different music - but even that hasnt worked.

    The more I learn about the mechanics of music and harmony - the less mystery and magic there is to me in a way. Some of the last magic I know of is John Williams type stuff.

  2. fakejake
    Member

    ..lol whats 'superior' ? is kurt's music superior to a 3 chord dylan song? i don't think so....


  3. jazzacast55
    Member

    "is this basically just musician's music?"

    This has been on my mind for a while, I do feel that jazz these day is music for musicians to a point, festivals are a little different, people will go who aren't musicians to check out jazz and will appreciate it at the time.
    I have done gigs doing some of my compositions and people dig it, I feel jazz is at it's best live.
    Weather or not jazz being music for musicians is a good thing or a bad thing I'm not sure, there are a lot of musicians to support each other right? and if you think about it, who cares who listens to it, does it matter?
    I do kinda feel that it is a lot more of a competition these days, I mean we are playing a form of music that is basically not of this generation if you think about it, it all comes from the 40s,50s,60 etc so today if you can play over tunes and play the language then your killing, it feels sometimes that it's more important to play jazz then to worry about who's gonna listen to it.

    It's weird, I feel more people ask these big questions about jazz then asking, why is the sky blue, whats past all of the stars in space or how can we stop poverty or cancer.
    Jazz is just a form of music, and it's a fucker so if you don't like it then move on, find the music you like.

  4. jorgemg1984
    Member

    This is very interesting actually; I find most pop / rock music these days unbearable (but some made in the past is excellent). I actually think if every children had ear training classes when they are young (learning to hear as they learn to read) all that terrible pop music would just vanish.

    I also mostly listen to jazz and classical. Occasionally some bossa and good pop / rock like Radiohead.

  5. aramaya
    Member

    charles ives was an insurance salesman. this allowed him to write the music he heard, because he wasn't dependent upon music to make his living.

  6. Basile865
    Member

    Thanks guys for the input.

    I guess I should touch on the "superior" word. Its kind of funny - I was talking to a friend once - who was very into grateful dead - and it was in a sense a similar conversation. I said something along the lines of - in my musical growth I think the final frontier and most superior music is Jazz and Classical. And he was like well ya dont have to be a snob about it! Haha - it was all fine because we were friends. I didn't even come close to meaning it in a bad or mean way - I guess what I meant was it paints with the most colors. If Blues paints with blue, black, and red, then jazz paints with blue, black, red, green, white, yellow, orange etc. And then classical paints with even more. It takes a lot more time to hone the skills to have those tools in your arsenal, and to compose with it.

    My biggest problem with music these days is when I hear a group really trying hard to sound like something thats already been done. It becomes a gimmick to me. A side show. Take the rock group Jet for example. They basically sound like the rolling stones and AC/DC. Yes it can be fun to a degree - but theres no depth there because they're taking a recipe thats already been done and just making it for the hell of it. Now obviously one could make this argument about almost every band in history sounding like its predecessors - but its obvious who puts in the work to pull from many many sources including their own brain/heart rather then 2.

    Another example is the Tedeschi Trucks band these days. What an amazing group of people and musicians. I've met many of them and theyre wonderful people. The only thing is these days they're doing covers and trying very hard to emulate old soul records. You can't out do the originals! (my opinion of course) Let them be and let me hear YOU and your creativity. I loved Derek when he was blending indian classical with his slide work. That was really something fresh. Now he's taken a back seat with soloing - focused more on songwriting and less guitar oriented music. It was an interesting move because this was after his time with clapton - and his fan base has grown a lot I'd say from the earlier days when I'd see him in smaller clubs. The move was made to be more marketable and ultimately make a better living. Can one blame him for this? No. But even Derek who I really loved for a while I can't listen to anymore because of that blues vocabulary. Its not that its less valid as an art, but when people listen to him now they hear someone emulating an old sound. It reminds them of an old smokey blues club or something.

    Naturally as musicians the further we go down the road we get to a point where we say to ourselves "if I could just combine artist A, B and C - then that would really be something. I've done it, Kurt has done it, Derek, etc. But what I really respect about Kurt is that he's taken those things, and if 50 percent of his style is made up of that, then the other 50 percent is made by pure personal exploration and real thought on how to move even more forward. I feel like a lot of musicans, including myself from time to time, get too focused on the A, B, and C recipe, rather then the ABC PLUS largely your own exploration, experiments and your own sound.

    I was a blues player for a long time. And for a while there I stopped growing. I was happy to just play and write songs. But eventually I realized that there was only so far you could go with that vocabulary. I needed better tools to paint more vividly, and jazz and classical are that.

    I guess what I'm saying with this superior music comment - some musicians grab one little slice of sound - and then only use that for the rest of their life. If a musician paints with the ENTIRE full spectrum - thats when you're painting is more accurate so to speak.

  7. Basile865
    Member

    I should also note that a lot of todays music is more of an art form that combines some music, a lot of image, and overall flashyness. Is jazz and classical more superior music then lady gaga? Of course. But lady gaga wants to be a celebrity - some kind of wow factor - not a musician. Although she may call herself that. Sorry if I offend people - I doubt it on this forum - but thats the truth in my opinion.

    I also wanted to say that I think a lot of people dont get this music because it takes effort. The first time I heard holdsworth I didnt get it. Over the years of listening to jazz my ear opened up more and suddenly Holdsworth's creativity hit me and now I've gone too far. Older music I used to listen to is funny to me at its lack of exploration of harmony. I hate that I'm sounding like a cliche jazz snob. Its not my intention at all. I'm just basically saying I'm in a place now where the fraction of music in the world today that I can listen to and actually be impressed with is shrinking day by day. Its almost cool but it kind of sucks. That old saying ignorance is bliss comes to mind.

  8. patfarlow
    Member

    Jazz will popular again once the youth "rediscovers" it. Its a cycle man, supply demand. Untill then, it will be studied and appreciated overwhelmingly by musicians .

  9. fakejake
    Member

    to pick up on your painting metaphor: you said its more accurate to use the full spectrum. I tend to disagree. I don't think b+w photography is less accurate than color photography. I don't think there are really less degrees of freedom of expression even if you use less complex forms and styles.
    Some music may be less complex in a formal sense, but that doesn't mean it is less expressive in any way.

  10. Anny Mouse
    Member

    I'd have to agree with Jake there.. Also Basile, I think you just have to ride out your emotions on this and see how you feel day to day. I'm currently burnt out on standards right now too... I was playing a vi-iv-i-v progression in the key of C on an acoustic guitar last night for an hour and a half because it sounded so beautiful to me. Check out some of Bill Frisell's work and what he does with really simple chord progressions. So inspiring.

    Maybe you just have to branch out more from Kurt and Allan into some other territory or different players. Find another guitar player you really dig and that might inspire you to pick up the guitar and approach it in a new way. I know that's how I keep going sometimes. Also, try not to judge and analyze so much maybe. Pat Metheny said in a lesson once "it's much more difficult to play a great melody in a solo than play really fast stuff". I agree.

    Also, when I feel like this it helps to get outside and exercise. Go for a walk and be in nature for a bit. At the very least you'll reflect in a clearer way.

  11. smoke
    Member

    The more I learn about the mechanics of music and harmony - the less mystery and magic there is to me in a way

    I am the exact opposite. The more I learn about music, the more mysterious it becomes. There is no more powerful form of human expression, in my opinion. If there is no magic in that for you beyond just a few players, I am not sure what to say. I find myself moved daily by all kinds of music because I appreciate that magical quality in it. I don't over-analyze things. I just accept them and allow myself to be impacted by it. Actually allow isn't the correct word because it just happens.

    In the practice room is a bit of a different story. But that doesn't mean I am not moved in the practice room, but it is a different kind of awe. Maybe one born out of how cleverly someone handles a set of changes, how a particular voicings fits on the guitar, etc. But I am always in awe.

    I am not playing armchair head shrink, but have you checked out how your feel about life in general? How is your overall mental health? Physical health? Balance is as good a mantra as any, and better than most.

  12. Basile865
    Member

    Fakejake I think thats an excellent point - the black and white photography vs. color. I completely agree with that.

    AnnyMouse - the exercise thing - I started running a mile every night for the past month for this very reason. Mental health and cleaning so to speak. Great points.

    I wanted to also note - I just came back from grabbing lunch and naturally you encounter music. While on the streets I encountered rap - which I hate to be cliche - but I honestly hate rap. I've heard more thoughtfully done hip hop from talib kwali, common, and some others - but the majority I find to be mindless, angry, pack of dogs kind of mentality, negative and violent - it kills me. It actually makes me an angry person whenever I encounter it.

    The other music I ran into. Bob Marley. I love Bob Marley. I'm not one of those people that love it because he promoted smoking weed. I went through a huge Bob Marley phase growing up simply because I loved his music. And still do. It wasn't complex - and largely not guitar oriented except for that kind of ska "chick" upstroke. But that music has a certain spirit with it. What also blows my mind is that it is the only genre I know of thats completely synonymous with the artist. Bob Marley = Reggae and vice versa. If I hear another artist try to be Reggae it sounds like a gimmick. A futile effort. Some come closer then others - but its largely all under that umbrella of Bob Marley. Such a strange thing to me.

    Maybe what I'm getting at here all along is that artists don't do their own thing enough - whether it be complex or not. I like the originals. I love motown - I love the temptations music and they did their own thing. Marvin Gaye same thing.

    The state of music today in America is a weird thing. It feels like a large portion of touring acts are original bands who are too old really but are still doing it to play their hits and people love them. Then you have other bands trying to sound like them, or you have acts that are purely more of an entertainment wow factor but not musical.

    The only thing I've been exposed to that is original and happening now (atleast local to myself) is the indie scene. There are a lot of acts that are not afraid to explore their sound and not adhere to any cookie cutout shape. There are interesting musics coming out of it here and there and its small enough that its not arena sized commercialism - but again - it doesn't captivate me musically with the inventiveness and exploration that jazz does.

    Whats also strange though is how much people dont know about jazz. Jazz to them just means one thing. And obviously thats like saying Rock. We all know there are a million different types of Rock out there. People are so quick to write off Jazz and I dont get it. I largely think because Jazz takes an active listener and 90% of people want something quickly accessible to unwind in their car ride to and from work. So naturally people gravitate towards radio ready pop. Radio ready pop to me is defined as simple, predictable, polished fragments. You basically dont have to pay attention to "get it"

    Theres a big problem with that I feel. As jazz lovers are we content to be a part of a "secret society"? We're in the club and you're not type thing? I know I'm not.

    In fact its funny - with Wayne Krantz on the mind from that other article posted on the forum - his latest album I have has a track called "its no fun not to like pop" How true is that.

    Thats why I return to the thought/question is Jazz music such as Kurt's or Holdsworth's a musicians music?

  13. Basile865
    Member

    @smoke

    I think you make great points as well. To be very honest life is very tough right now. Money is tighter then ever in my life - and I am searching for answers. I'm a happy person in general but I'm also in survival mode. Without question this has an impact on my relationship with music. It hurts because what I once enjoyed I dont allow myself to anymore. Maybe thats why I'm evaluating music through an analytical lense.

    Overall, in terms of the new music that is being created today - and in the future - I want to see that it has taken in what the past has offered - and from there moving forward with new inventions - new thoughtful uses of harmony, and patterns. I want to see music make progress.

    And trust me - I dont want to seem that I'm saying it has to be complex. Funny enough the majority of my favorite Rosenwinkel music is actually some of his most simple. But it has gravity because the thought was put into it. Whispers of Love has so much spirit. His song "Recognized" off Under it All is absolutely plain beautiful. That stuff speaks to me.

  14. Basile865
    Member

    I should also touch on - being from the south I've been exposed to a lot of black Gospel music. In fact I used to play in groups a lot doing that because I could make good money - even though I stood out like a sore thumb everywhere I went being a "white boy"

    For a bit that music was fascinating because it incorporated new rhythms, harmonies, and styles that I was previously unexposed to. Funny enough there is a whole school of guitar playing in this tiny genre that is under the radar to most people. It pulls from jazz/blues a good bit but it has its own thing going on. Some players of note are Eric Walls, Spanky Alford, Jubu among many others. But then that became old as well. The musicians I know from those circles are ridiculously guilty of "group think" where they only pull from within that circle and whats considered hot sounds just like everything else. As a joke to myself I went in playing completely in that headspace one day just to see what would happen - borrowing heavily from those players - and sure enough - my playing was considered great. That was when I tapped out and left that world.

    That has shaped me into being even more sensitive to not sound too much like anybody. Its a turn off now. Again thats why I've become disenchanted because the more you listen to things the more they sound the same

  15. I think the primary responsibility of the musician is to himself.Let me clarify,if a musician is not playing first and foremost for himself,out of sheer joy,he is bound to get in a rut.When music goes,in the words of Mike Stern,from being an exercise to becoming a language than you're in for a the ride of your life.If you're not enjoying what you're doing good chance no one else will.Our job is to be technical in the bedroom and practical on stage.If people walk away scratching their heads after a set then we haven't done our job.Sometimes its good to give the instrument a break,else that's when patterns begin to dominate your playing as opposed to music.Take a breather.
    In term's of how our preferences change that's a good thing,it shows we're alive and growing.So what we liked yesterday maybe soon in the dust bin.But it doesn't mean its not good ; )
    In terms of whether things were better yesterday than today well that argument is relative in my opinion.Why?Because the arts,music specifically is subjective.If you doubt that then why is it we all vary when it comes to a favorite song or film or book?Every generation has it's fair share of good and bad,period.One man's junk is another man's jewel(Paul Simon-One man's floor is another man's ceiling).

    Far as Holdsworth is concerned I spoke to his management not long ago and he does want to get off the road...but manly because he has been touring forever.Like other musicians who make sophisticated music he tours to pay the bills.He's my all time fave for sure.

    I think the "old timers," for lack of a better term,are still putting out the best music.Listen to the most recent stuff by Abercrombie,McLaughlin.Metheny,Vai,etc.Righteous~

  16. arewolfe
    Member

    Damn that must suck. I love pop, R&B, rock, metal, goth, jazz. If I had to pick 10 of my favorite records, I could pull one from every popular genre.

    If jazz and art music were the only genres that did anything for me, I think my life would suck! I think you should stop playing your instrument for a full year and see what happens.

    When I was 20 I knew guitar was going to be the most important thing in my life for the rest of my life. Then I stopped composing, practicing, and performing for the better part of 4 years. It was depressing at times. But at 27 I came back to it again with as much passion as ever. I'm 30 now and everything in my life is organized around my pursuit of music. I guess I am lucky to enjoy all the dumbed down types of music out there.

  17. Basile865
    Member

    I guess there is a type of music for every occasion - and a lot of it can be just for plain fun. Something to laugh with, something to be care free with. One of those bands for me for a little bit was the Darkness, if anybody remembers their short lived career. I actually have music I enjoy from every genre (almost) as well. But its rare that I'm in that mindset anymore - especially when I'm focused on growing my ear and vocabulary. Its common I'll have to switch gears when riding in the car with my girlfriend and have to listen through the carefree lense.
    I guess I've grown to become very analytical. The more common the harmonic concepts a piece of music uses the harder its going to be to catch my ear.

    I guess I need to focus more on the piano for a little while.

    If you guys want to hear something amazing check this out:
    Its a gospel organ player named Corey Henry - check out the reharmonization he's doing on the fly with the bass foot pedals. (that starts around 3:10)

    [+] Embed the video | Video DownloadGet the Video Player

  18. docbop
    Member

    You should quit and get a day gig and be true to your art. Very few musicians are lucky enough to make a living playing thier art and its always been that way. They are the exceptions to the rule, but they are very visible exceptions and many think they can do the the same thing, but only a few can.

    I remember in music school in a improv class the instructor talked about some of the best improvisors are "hobbyists", because they don't have to worry about people's reaction to what they play to pay the bills. As the years have gone by I how true that statement is. They have day gigs to pay the bills so they can be true to there musical selves when not at work. Now some their "day gigs" are musical playing the pop music, or teaching, other things like copiest and writing commercial music. Others like I do have regular job I work in IT and they know my love is music. I spend my lunch hour surfing jazz sites or writing lines to try when I get home. I'm the the happiest I've ever been and as I tell people... I have my day gig to support my Jazz habit.

    The hardest lesson for young musicians to learn is music is a business you have to choose going to do what the business wants, or be true to yourself and if lucky pay the bills with your art.

    Last comment... You have to believe in your art and stick to it. You hear about the "new" artist but dig and find they been around for ten years playing and polishing their music. So have to have faith in yourself and wait for the audience to come to you.

    Have a great weekend all.

  19. Basile865
    Member

    docbop - I love it. Thank you - and thanks to everyone who gave input. Its been something I've been struggling with quite seriously for the past 3 months - and its made me feel unbalanced as a person. Just going through changes I guess.

  20. anjroo.burg
    Member

    I've had this exact feeling from time to time, and it always happens when I'm not creating. I would go for days or weeks without composing or playing with people, and spending most of my free time listening to music and watching concerts on youtube--one after another after another. Very unhealthy. It's easy to get dis-enchanted with music these days because there is so much available to us 24-7. You can just go to the land of YouTube and watch 1000 hours of Holdsworth, then watch 20 different videos of Kurt playing Zhivago, then listen to 50 versions of a Mahler 9 by 50 different conductors without leaving your room. You're bound to get disenchanted with so much information, especially if you're not composing your own music, or getting out and playing.

    The whole point is to give of yourself and your own creative vision. There is nothing wrong with analyzing the music you hear, but you need to balance it with your own creative contributions.

    My advice would be to not take in so much information. When you do decide to study some music, choose something challenging and study it in depth. For example, learn every part of a symphony, read about the composer's life, when he wrote it, why he wrote it, what was going on in the world when he wrote it, what was he reading at the time...

    Write your own music. Something that has helped me is imagining a future concert I want to put on and get excited about it. I imagine a venue where I really want to play, and I imagine a perfect concert exactly how I want it to happen, playing music that I love for people I want to play for. I think of musicians I really love playing with and I start writing the music for the show. Continue until it happens. Oh, and don't expect to make a living at it from the start. Just focus on making the music you love, in the places you love, for people you love. Eventually, if you're spreading enough good vibes with your music, then the rest will take care of itself.

    Just ask yourself, "Am I composing my own music? Am I playing with people I like playing with? Am I working towards a goal? Am I studying music in depth? When's the last time I saw a live concert? Is my lifestyle healthily balanced?" You probably already know the answers to your problem, but you just need to take the appropriate actions, whatever they are, however difficult they may be, and with however much dedication they require.
    Just do it.

    Here's a response from Kurt in a previous post, to a question about how he got to where he is today:

    Kurt: "persistance, perspiration, belief in yourself, persistance, perspiration, thirst for knowledge, being your own teacher, making your own logical connections, listening, ear-training all the time, learning lessons in everything, meditating deeply upon your own conception of music, self-evaluation, listening, persistance, perspiration, obsession, open mindedness, desire to improve, belief in self..."

    Good luck!

    -A

  21. Basile865
    Member

    Anjroo thank you for that. I'm easily guilty of watching/listening to tons of music any given day. Maybe if we are analytical type people we're just bogging our engines down so to speak - so maybe its important that we cut down on the information we're taking in in order to digest it better.


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