February 7th, 2014
So now that Summer Skies has left the nest, what's next? My next project involves performing live. I've always felt that performing a solo act without accompaniment is a tricky thing. Truth is, when you play a melody instrument like the flute, there seems to be something lacking without the structure of harmony supporting it. So what I'm working on is creating electronic accompaniment tracks for the songs I play, so I can perform solo at small venues. I'm also working on expanding my set list so I can have a variety of programming (and can perform more often without it sounding like the same old show) At this point I'm playing a variety of genres: Jazz, Classic Rock, Pop, I think there's some folk in there too.
I used to play mostly classical music, but I discovered something over the years. I wasn't expressing myself. Don't get me wrong, I love classical music! I find it intellectually stimulating and delightfully complex. It's also necessary to study classical music if you want to develop certain skills as a musician. It's where the fundamentals of music theory began, and the nature of it requires you to push yourself to master the technique of your instrument.
For me however when I play classical music, I find that I am so concerned with accuracy and control that the pressure I put on myself to "get it right" is basically distracting. That challenge is part of the beauty of classical music as well, especially in the right player, but I'm trying so hard to express what the composer intended that I'm forgetting to express myself as well. Beethoven was obviously a better musician than I am, but on the other hand, his emotions and his experiences were very different than mine too.
There's something different about music from pop culture though. If you want to hear a John Mellencamp song, you can listen to a recording of him and know exactly how he intended it. When someone covers a song, they're taking what his song said to them, and then bringing that to their audience. They add a little bit of themselves to it, not just because they can, but they have to! Why else would you listen to them live when you could just put on a CD of a flawless recording. When I hear someone play their version of a song I know, I think "alright, where are you going with this?" I'm just thrilled to pieces when the artist makes me say "wow, I never would have imagined it that way" (within reason of course, I don't think The Beatles' Let it Be doesn't need to be set to death metal.... but I'd offer kudos for creativity.)
So that's where I am, and we'll soon find out where I'm going.