Authentic Music

Being Authentic Is A Challenge For musicians

Nobody needs to hear copies when we can go to the original source.  (Ok, so cover or Band for hire are fun, but they cater for a different entertainment niche).When you call someone you know on the telephone, they recognise your voice, so we are all original and authentic but it’s up to us to be able to let others see and hear that.

Being authentic can be challenging because it means you have to:

  • Allow people to see who you really are;
  • Be able to be present and in the moment;
  • Develop an ability to listen on a deep level;
  • Be unafraid and take risks;
  • Make meaningful statements;
  • Allow yourself creative freedom; and
  • Play music from a place of generosity and positiveness – a place of love.

In this series I want to detail, and give you exercises on, each of these aspects so you may be able to cultivate them in within yourself.

I will also use a few examples to help illustrate the points made.

Many of us live our everyday lives hiding what we really think or how we really feel from people.

This has become such a habit, we don’t even realise we are doing it but the question is, why do we do it?

Most of the time, the answer to that question is fear.

We are afraid of what people might think of us or afraid of hurting others’ feelings or afraid of being hurt by others.  Therefore, we are not truly honest in a lot of situations.

Something I have learned is that all our actions either stem from FEAR or LOVE.

This is an interesting concept to ponder and leads us to the first exercise.

Exercise 1

It is vital to know, when you are  playing music, whether you are being free with it or restricting it.  This stems directly from whether you are being freely yourself or not.

For one day observe yourself and your interactions with others and ask yourself.

  • Was I being totally honest in my interaction with that person?
  • Why?
  • Was this ultimately motivated by Fear or Love?

You don’t have to delve into this deeply but just think about it and try to answer the questions.

Now, let’s look at this concept in regard to music.

Making music often confronts us with our fears and I think just about all of you will have an experience of fear in relation to music.

But what does sounding good mean?

Does sounding “good” necessarily mean we will make good music?

What is good music?

How do we measure it? And,

Who decides what’s good?

Here are my answers to the questions I asked you to consider.  You don’t have to agree with me and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

What does sounding good mean?

It means different things to different people and is a matter of taste.  Something that  sounds good to you, won’t sound good to another person.  Therefore, you will never be able to please everyone with your sound.

Does sounding “good” necessarily mean we will make good music?

Sounding good really has nothing to do with whether music is engaging or not.  It seems to me that performance and honesty, or transparency, which these artists display, have a lot more to do with a quality end product than perfection or prettiness of sound.   They all simply sound like themselves.

What is good music?

Well, this is a hugely philosophical question which has no right or wrong answer.  Although, Duke Ellington did say there are only two types of music, “good music and bad music”.

How do we measure it?

I think any piece of art that evokes a strong emotional response, either negative or positive, is doing its job.  If music doesn’t move you in any way, I think we could say it’s not good.

Who decides what’s good?

You do.

These musicians accept their sound, who they are, and are not afraid to share it with us, even if it doesn’t conform to the notion of “beauty”, “good” or “right”.  That’s what I admire and strive for in my own music.

Exercise 2

In your next practice session, play a song in the “ugliest” way you possibly can.  Record it if possible and listen back.

You will be surprised at the results and you may even find the great inner musician lurking within!

The first step to creating authentic music is to learn to accept yourself and be that person.  However, before that can even happen you need to know when you are truly being you.

I hope these exercises help you to become a bit clearer on this point and in the next article we will look at what it means to be present and in the moment and what it means to listen.

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