Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Music. What Is It Good For?


Writing pop songs that sell is just a tiny sliver of what it is possible to do with music.

Music can do so much more than aim for the sounds that are the most entertaining to the largest segment of the music buying populace. At the other end of the spectrum, music can express or release a charge for a single person and that person only. Music can touch and release a charge for all kinds people, in groups small or large, for practically any purpose imaginable. Making young people dance is only one of many things music can "make" people do. Music can also make people think, feel, laugh, work more cheerfully, recognize themselves, and focus their energy better, whether or not it is popular with the masses or with teenagers. Aiming to please has its rewards but its costs as well. And think of what music can do for the musician herself who's aiming at nothing but her own satisfaction. I'm not against aiming for commercial success, it that's what feels right to you. But that's not what I'm aiming for.

I like to ask first, "What will release a charge for me?" not, "What will release a charge for you?" Releasing my own charge, getting things off my chest, is essential to my health. In the long run, focusing on what will release a charge for you, rather than what will release a charge for me, is destabilizing, draining, disorienting and disturbing to my inner sense of wholeness. I lose track of what makes me feel the most alive, because my focus is on what makes you feel the most alive.

When I'm focused on my own release, I may not reach you, but I feel truer to myself and more grounded in my own sense of right and wrong. I feel more integrated and less conflicted, like the members of parliament in my head are starting to agree to fight fair.

It's not that I'm oblivious to what other people might like or appreciate, but it's not my first focus. If anything I do works, or "sells", it's because I happened to find something in me that's also in you. Most of the time, if I have to choose, I'd rather find something in me than in you. When I start with what feels most deeply right to me, then I find I'm naturally more aware of, and more interested in you. If I start with what feels right or would feel right for you, then I become more and more resentful and less and less interested in you. I find I want to pull away and take care of myself. So I skip all that and just start with taking care of myself first. If I happen to overlap into the "pop success" formula in some way, I assure you, it's an accident.

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