Friday, February 15, 2008
I haven't been able to keep up with my youtube subscribers (leaving a note to thank them for subscribing) but really, it doesn't matter. I'm glad they enjoy my videos, but youtube can't be my life, and neither can facebook or any other internet thing.
Second, I have some thoughts on music. We're with some good friends here in Texas and they are great musicians. One of their kids picked up the saxaphone two weeks ago and has absolutely blown me away with his playing. It's not even funny! He made 4th in a mandolin contest that is really the big competition (Winfield in Kansas). So anyhow, I've been thinking about music lately. Most of you probably know I used to play trumpet and still do ocasionally, but not as much as I used to. I really did enjoy playing but I just fell out of love with it as I started playing guitar more and more. Now that tendonitis (alternately spelled tendinitis, for those of you who are wondering) has payed me a visit, guitar practice has gone way down. I went from 20 hours a week to 1 or 2 :( It's very saddening in a way, but it's opened another door. It's opened the door for another less hand intensive instrument, such as trumpet.
But on to my point, life is the point. Serving God is the point. Living for Him is the point. Music is a language, but it's just an expression of feeling. Or at least that's what it is ideally in my mind. When you play a scale, you aren't just playing frequencies, you're conveying something. If you play a bunch of random notes that don't sound good, you may not be saying anything, or you may be saying something that's angry or confused. It's like speaking; two people who each speak a different language are THINKING the same thing in abstract thinking, but the way in which they express it are different. In music, life is what there is to convey. As far as lyrics go, people enjoy music that they can identify with. If you sing about feelings which no one has, chances are people won't identify with the music and they won't like it. Sometimes they DO feel the feelings you sing about but they don't realize it till you write it. Then you have brought a feeling in them which was formerly completely without description into clarity, and they identify with that.
Likewise, with instrumental music, you can conjure up feelings that people identify with. You can play a peaceful sounding song and they will identify with peace, and they may further identify it with images of what they consider peace, and this might include abstract or concrete thoughts about their lives. And this has nothing to do with new-agey imagery, it doesn't have to be images.
So the point is not technique, it isn't winning competitions (although that's nice, especially if there's a prize for winning!), it isn't playing a lot of notes, it isn't playing fast, it isn't playing slow, it's just conveying the message. It isn't even playing a particular instrument. I've been sticking with guitar because the point for me hasn't been saying something in the language of music, it's been playing guitar. I want to start to say something with music! Notes only have names because we've come up with a way to organize a perfectly organized system in our heads. It's already organized, it already has form. God created music that way. There's nothing left to do but jump in and explore and learn your way around.
Basically, I feel like I can go play anything and I'll be doing what I want to do. I will (and have) discovered that some instruments are more to my liking than others because it feels more comfortable to express myself on (I feel more comfortable on trumpet than bassoon) but there's no saying whether or not at some point in time bassoon will help me to better express what I want to say. You don't use a 4-wheeler to cross the country and you don't use a plane to visit your neighbor.
So praise God for his wonderful creation, and the way in which He's made us able to understand the little that we do about it. Next time you sit down (or stand) with your instrument, try something new. If you already don't play by ear, trying playing by heart and mind. Think of something and play how that situation feels. It doesn't matter how it sounds at first, you'll get more comfortable with expressing yourself as you go on. You can even take a picture and try to interpret it into music. I tried this with a quilt once and it was fun. I just went around with the different blocks (it was a sampler) and tried to play a musical interpretation of each block. Where there were small pieces I might play a bunch of quick, small notes, or where there was a bold pattern of light and dark squares I might play very softly and then very loudly. It wasn't a song, but it got me to actually play from feeling than by rote, or by reading notes.
We'll be in Alabama on Wednesday I think, then we've got about 2 weeks in Florida. Then in about 5 weeks from now we'll be home, I think. Hasta luego!