Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blog 2nd Anniversary

Blog# 70: Blog's 2nd Anniversary

Whooops, I just realized I missed this blog's 2nd Anniversary!(Feb 9th) Been up and running for 2 years now. I did 39 entires my first year and 34 my second. Not bad. Hopefully everyone's enjoyed reading about my musical journey and my thoughts about music and the world which surrounds it.

If you haven't done so yet, please click the 'follow' button on the side. You won't get any emails from me or anything like that, it's just a great way to let me know someone is reading, and will encourage me to keep writing.

Please leave comments, love letters, hate mail. S'all good.

thanks for reading


Monday, February 14, 2011

Limits, Assumptions and Unanswered Questions

I've included a photo of the Pyramids because I believe them to be a triumph of human determination

Blog # 69: Limits: Questioning everything

I'm not sure if it comes across in this blog, but I'm actually a pretty shy person and I'm pretty private too. It might seem like a contradictory thing for a private person to blog, but it comes down to this: I have no problem sharing my thoughts, reactions, opinions on topics, but my feelings are what I usually keep to myself. But in this blog, I'd like to share a little more than usually of the type of things I think about.

Last week I was listening to an old podcast I'd heard before on NPR by Radiolab about 'Limits'. The topic discussed the limits of the body, mind and the limits of what it is possible to know. So I started thinking a lot about my limits. What am I capable of? how far can I be pushed? how hard can I work? How many hours can I write and practice? Am I working hard enough? I practice between 5-6 hours every day, and usually compose music for an hour...but can I do more?

This got me started really questioning some assumptions all artists make about themselves. We all assume we will succeed(however we define success), or we will be great someday(if we don't already think we're great now). I think all artists assume that they have 'what it takes', that they are special. And while every artist questions their work, I think at the end of the day, they all believe in themselves. If they didn't they wouldn't continue.

But how do you KNOW that you are great? That you are special? That you will succeed? That you aren't a quitter? That you have 'what it takes'? How do you know you're strong? After a lot of thinking, I came to the conclusion that you don't know. Its all just an assumption. You can't know unless you're tested. Frequently.

Are you a good person? Do you do the' right thing'? Prove it. Everyday. Are you treating the people around you well? Are you helping your fellow human beings? OR could you do more? Maybe its as simple as telling someone they did a good job, or that you value them. Or maybe its as simple as helping an old woman, by holding a door.

Are you a quitter? I'm sure everyone thinks 'no', but that's just an assumption. How do you know if you've never been tested? If you haven't been put in a really difficult situation?

This week, I had been thinking about all this stuff and I went to the gym to run on the treadmill. I go to the gym regularly and run, usually stick to around 3 miles(30 min). So I decided to test myself, by doubling it. I was going to run 6 miles(1 hour). It wasn't pleasant but I did it(and have the blisters on my feet to prove it). I don't think that this really proves anything though. I finished the hour run, my feet and knees hurt, but I wasn't dying on the floor. Maybe I realized I had a lot more inside than I thought, but I still wasn't any closer to finding a limit.

The point I'm getting at, is its very hard to know how far you can push yourself in any field unless you're constantly trying. You might push yourself beyond what you think you can do just to realize that you're capable of much more.

Are you capable of greatness?

Are you a good person and do you do the right thing even when its hard?

Do you have 'what it takes'?

Are you a quitter?

Prove it.

I don't know if I am any of those things, but I'd like to find out one way or the other.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Blog # 68: Jazz Song Titles

Jazz song titles are interesting to me. Titling a song with Lyrics is pretty easy. The lyrics usually tell a story or paint a picture, and the title is just a phrase from the song. Many jazz musicians seem to just title tunes with 'cool words' they like, that mostly have nothing to do with the music or occasionally just a girlfriend's name. And Jazz musicians rarely explain their titles to the other musicians or audience(my guess is because the titles are rarely anything deep, profound or anything specific at all). Some jazz musicians title songs after people as a tribute to them(their mentors or family members). The beauty of non-Lyric music is it can express more vague feelings than specific events. Sometimes expressing emotions without words can be even more profound than lyrical music.

The titles of my songs usually fall into two catagories. Some titles of mine are 'program music.'(songs that go along with stories). I had a song titled 'Icarus' on my first album that followed the greek myth (there was a section that was optimistic and hopefully, a section of concern and a section that had a descending figure to symbolize the 'falling' part of the story). The most famous example of 'Program Music' is Berlioz' symphony fantastique. The different movements each tell of different dreams(hallucinations) of a man who has lost his love.

Many of my titles are words or phrases to remind ME of things that I went through in my life around the time of the song(or feelings I had at a specific time). The cool part about this is when I flip through my music folder I remember all these feelings and times from the past and I am instantly transported back to that time. Some titles are like morales; life lessons that are messages to myself to remember things.

Just today I was pulling music out to bring to a rehearsal and I saw my tune 'Momentum' in the folder. I remember titling this tune this for both its slow pace tempo and to remind me of this idea: Its easy to succeed when the momentum of life is going your way, its very tough when things aren't going your way to turn it around and get back on track.

This felt very fitting today to read this, and it's almost like advice to myself, from myself.

If someone asked me what the meanings of all the titles of my songs were, I think i'd probably share them, but no one ever really asks, because we play non-lyrical music.