A friend on Facebook posted a Frank Zappa interview. It was just a short clip, with Frank talking about guitar solos: what he thought of recorded ones (not much), and how he did his own. He admitted to a good working knowledge of the guitar (maybe disputed by guitarists aspiring to his level!), and having an imagination, that allowed him to try something different every time, even though the solo was in a song he wrote that he may have played many times before. To perform the solo, he only needed the approximate length to fill, and to allow his imagination to fill in the void.
I don’t pretend to be at the level of Frank Zappa musically, but my method of composition is similar. I start with a title, press Record and invent. Often with my eyes shut (actually, most of the time). I’ve evolved this method as a way to try and break through some of my more mechanical limitations, to surprise my ears, and allow me to react to that surprise.
Imagination and time are among our greatest gifts as human beings, ones to use wisely and well.
In the spirit of the hope a New Year brings, here is a new series:
I’m working on a blues series right now, and reflecting on my aspirations in music and literature: what I love about both arts and what I work on to move my efforts from modest to memorable. Aspiration is the key word here!
I love reading and I love writing. Playing with word order. Mashing metaphors, obfuscating into multiple meanings. (If you look at the title of this blog post, you’ll find a musical term by combining the last and first words.)
Music is the art of sound in time. Our hearing allows most of us to recognize anomalies instantly, even if we can’t identify or name them. What was meant as melody becomes a series of disconnected sounds in a nano-instant. We recognize and respond to music before we can speak, and we respond to it even after we can no longer speak. (Even after my father’s dementia robbed him of meaningful verbal communication, he could sit at the piano in his care home and read and play music, and identify the mistakes musical therapists made when they came to visit!)
My creative musical journey began when I tried, as a young piano player, to conjure up the emotion inherent in blues, boogie and rock music out of the 88 black and white keys of my family’s old acoustic piano. I’m a journeyman blues artist still. I’ll never achieve perfection, but I’ll also never stop trying. Like the world of words, it is an obsession for me. In the most positive sense of that term. Life enhancing, emotionally satisfying, trance inducing, releasing, world of wonder.
The blues series:
And if you missed this one, a little series of whimsy:
There is a wonderful feeling of turning the page to a new year. Expectation. An unwritten book. A melody that has never been hummed.
Here is a new track in that spirit: