I am not a musician
by, May-14-2012 at 4:15pm (4565 Views)
In many important ways you could accurately say I am not a musician. I play music, but I do not make music.
I put in significant time behind my mandolin, my fiddle, and even my tenor banjo. I play lots of different kinds of music, from old timey and bluegrass to fiddle tunes and contra dance music, tunes from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, to tango and classical. Some of it I do real well, some of it I do passably well, and some of it I really struggle with.
But here is what I donít do.
I donít compose. I donít write original tunes or songs. I suppose I could, but I donít have any really interesting musical ideas, nothing to compare with J. P. Fraley or Astor Piazzolla, or Johann Sebastian Bach, or Georg Phillip Telemann, or Hank Williams, or Ira Louvin, or that wack job of a composer Anon. And last I checked, I havenít played all the music they have already written. If and when I use up what is in front of me, I will take up a pencil and add some more, but until then...
I donít improvise. Well not much anyway. When taking a break I stick to decorating the melody. I love the music so much I donít think I can improve upon it. Certainly not spontaneously in real time in front of others.
I donít express myself. I donít express something inside me. I have looked inside, (and so have many doctors), and I can tell you there is nothing there of any interest. I have had a relatively normal life full of relatively normal experiences. I have had my share of loss and disorientation, sadness and suffering, whatever, but compared to others I have had a very blessed life. I donít have a catalog of unique experiences, I have not been to many exotic or noteworthy places except as a tourist. Heck I grew up in New Jersey.
I donít perform. I donít even entertain. I have been in a few bands, and more than a few open mike nights, and a recording project, but as a general rule I try to avoid it. If you want to hush up and listen while I play, that is great, you may even like it, but for the most part I would not be playing for you. I donít even care to know what you like or donít like, if truth be told .
What I do is play music. For me. I play the tunes and try very very hard to express what is in the tunes. I use my experiences, my imagination, my developed musicality such as it is, to bring out what is wonderful about the music I play. I judge my success by my own standards and the feedback of some hand picked individuals, and I pretty much donít concern myself with what you think of my playing. I play jam sessions, and parties, dances, with friends and alone, and I play a lot. Several hours a week, every week, if you were to combine it all.
It sounds a bit greedy, I suppose. I take but do not give. Well I donít have much to give, and what I do have, is given so much more abundantly and effectively by others. I respect those who actually make music too much to pretend I am one of them.
The tradition in which I participate is that of countless hard working men and women who come home from a day of work that is soul draining and synthetic, and play music as a way to reconnect with my own humanity. I seek the transcendence that comes from experiencing an old tune from the inside, an experience not unlike that of many many before me. There is a solace in being a tiny drop in a very large eternally moving river. Its not my river. It was here when I got here. I canít make it go, I canít make it stop. But what I can do, I can feel it and wonder at it and let it carry me.
Music affects me. It does. The world to me is that much brighter and more wonderful for my participation in music.
At the end of the day, however, the musical world is unchanged for my participation in it. I am changed. Music - not so much.