1 Apr

I’m listening to this, reminds of someone who might be a friend.

I’ve got a little piece I made up, a sequence of melodies punctuated by a rhythm that’s not fully baked. I’m a white guy so the melody comes first then I add the rhythm. I played it this morning. It wasn’t bad. No fans, sometimes I get fans. Someone or other who’s been sitting quietly, listening. Sometimes there’s even applause. Fans are good, I like having fans.

But this morning no. And I didn’t deserve them. It wasn’t that I kept hitting the wrong note in the right key for evoking memories of mating cats. I didn’t, not too often anyway. It wasn’t that I forgot how to play it or anything, there was just something… missing. Something blocked. When I play well I forget myself, there’s no reflection. My mind is not on the task, it has surrendered to the task. There’s a flow that runs straight thru my heart out onto the keyboard and beyond. When I play that way, that’s when I get fans.

Does that make sense?

I don’t know how to play piano really. Haven’t done the work, not like with the guitar. I know hundreds of chords on the guitar, used to. I can transpose without much effort (not that transposition on the guitar requires much). But on the piano I’m proficient merely in the keys of Gm and C. And C’s, like, sooo hard on the piano, not. Still, composition’s a breeze on the piano. Select a melody. It’s not hard. Questions and answers. Dah-dah-dah; Dum. Dah-dah-dah; Dum. Dah-dah-dah; Dim. Dah-dah-dah; Dum. Dum-Dum-Dim; Dum. It’s stupid easy.

Turning it into something requires work tho’. Like coming up with a verse/chorus combo. Getting the lyrics right, striving for days to get the hook, the middle-8, the riff. Or maybe you start with the riff and it writes itself. I don’t know how it works. There’s a language but I don’t speak it like a native. I can’t just churn it out. I’ve only ever written one bit of music and it’s not arranged yet. I don’t have the gear.

But sometimes there’s a public piano where I play. Where I wrote it. There, some of the officials approve. It helps that Head of Security is a fan tho’ he keeps his distance. It hurts that my enemies are senior staff. What can I do? I don’t own a piano these days. And the time’s a little ways off when I’ll once again have a private place for music. It’s come as far as it can, it’s organized, memorized. Sometimes I play it.

And when I play it well I’m hooked unobstructed into the source. Something with a red-yellow glow. Something that’s not really there but actually very much is. Sounds like mystical hippie bullshit and it would be if I wanted to take it on a speaker’s tour: buy the book, buy the crystal pyramids, buy the magic dust and the moisturizer. Join the movement. No!

Fuck that! Anyone reading this, you have my permission to give me two twice in the back of the head I ever do something like that.

No. The source is my way of describing a feeling I hold to be important. And other musicians know what I’m talking about. When you’re in the groove. When you’re in the zone. Not just my music, anyone’s. In these moments you know the song you’re playing at the level of instinct. Like breathing.

This morning was not such a moment. Oh well, shit happens.


One Response to “THE SOURCE”

  1. Nic April 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Oh yes, That Moment…

    It’s not always there, because, like Breathing, you inhale…and then exhale. You inhale music, you exhale music…can’t do both at the same time. And if you try, you’ll inhale quick and exhale quick, doesn’t work.

    Try something next time, play as you breathe; if it’s slow, let it be slow, if it’s fast, fast it is.


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