Blog #67: Some Thoughts on Identity and development
I've been practicing a lot of new music ideas and it's made me think a lot about the concept of a 'Musical Identity' along with growing and developing. Obviously, as we age we learn new music, we play with different people and we are exposed to different things but I think musicians can generally take three paths:
1) Musicians who keep the same style and play within the same context.
Most musicians(like most people) are uncomfortable with change. This category play generally the same style their whole career, and they do that style within the same format. They know what they do well and they stick to it. I'm not saying anything negative about this group, its quite an accomplishment to have one's own identifiable style at all.
2) Musicians who kept the same style, but played within different contexts.
These musicians always sound like 'themselves' but might put themselves within different groups(trying different instruments, or combinations). They play with different people but always sound like themselves.
3) Musicians who change styles.
This is by far the minority. Two that come to mind are Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Both changed dramatically during their careers AND both also played within different formats, different instruments, and different styles. These types play with different people and sound different doing it.
Breaking down musicians into these three categories really made think about what it is to change styles. Is changing one's style an active act?(thinking about what you want to do differently) or does changing one's style just mean getting closer to who we actually are. By this I mean, we are who we are and 'developing' is more a matter of getting closer to that honest musical version of ourselves. Does actively trying to incorporate new different ideas take us farther away from our true selves or closer?
Is our musical identity really changing or are we just moving towards 1 thing the entire time?
I guess this blog is kind of incomplete, because I don't have an answer. I don't really know. These are just things I think about.