25/09/06 Why Oh Why?

Email correspondence with another songwriter of my acquaintance, discussing the effort put into gigging and publicising music that it often seems no-one wants to hear.

In common with most if not all artists, I believe my own "art" is special
and deserves attention.  But, I can’t find a space or an audience in a live
situation …

Many of us, I’m sure, live with the feeling that if we stopped producing music tomorrow nobody would notice and it wouldn’t be missed. Yet we don’t stop. Why is that?

Some threads that occured to me:

  • because music insists on being expressed (the Fripp answer)
  • because it seems to render us attractive in various ways
  • because it lets us identify with our heroes
  • because we enjoy the physical process of playing, recording, performing
  • because we have faith that a wider audience will one day love the music we make
  • because we are getting older and making music reconnects us with our youth
  • because it occupies and distracts us from unwelcome aspects of present reality
  • because the image we present to others is tied up with it. What are we to others if not a ‘musician’?
  • because life without doing it looks like being dead.

I’m sure they’re all in there for me, and for many of the people I know.  The reasons that aren’t in the list are conspicuous by their absence:

  • audiences demand new material from us
  • People examine our current work and eagerly wait to see how it will develop
  • People criticise our current work and challenge us to improve it

In whatever proportion, some of these motivators push us on, even though some seem ‘worthy’ and some don’t, to keep on doing it.

Many of the people who read this blog are in similar situations – does this chime with you?

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4 thoughts on “25/09/06 Why Oh Why?

  1. Those things chime with me, especially the “escaping present reality” one, and that life without doing music seems like being dead, empty and one-dimensional. I am also constantly spurred on by my primary school music teacher’s claim that I just wasn’t musical (and she threw me out the choir). I set out to prove her wrong!

  2. because music insists on being expressed (the Fripp answer)
    Yes, I think it’s in us and needs to come out!
    because it seems to render us attractive in various ways
    Sorry, I’ve seen videos of me performing – it’s not attractive!
    because it lets us identify with our heroes
    When I listen to the music of my heroes, I often feel like giving up…
    because we enjoy the physical process of playing, recording, performing
    I’d definitely agree with that one
    because we have faith that a wider audience will one day love the music we make
    I have no faith in this – even though it ought to happen because my music is so good(ha ha)
    because we are getting older and making music reconnects us with our youth
    I don’t think of myself as being old. The older you get the more you realise that being the age you are isn’t being as old as you always used to think you’d be when you got to the age in question
    because it occupies and distracts us from unwelcome aspects of present reality
    My present reality is just fine, all in all. One of the things I do within it, is to create music
    because the image we present to others is tied up with it. What are we to others if not a ‘musician’?
    I am a musician and artist whose work is subsidised by other, more lucrative, skills which I have honed over the years
    because life without doing it looks like being dead.
    Yes it would be a rather empty life without music – once or twice recently, I’ve thought about trying to go for a week without listening to music or doing anything involved with music. I don’t think I could do it. Perhaps if I was sponsored for charity?
    audiences demand new material from us
    People examine our current work and eagerly wait to see how it will develop
    People criticise our current work and challenge us to improve it
    The point about these is that, in our “position” as “artists” it is actually we ourselves who demand new material from ourselves, who examine our current work and eagerly wait to see how it will develop and who criticise our current work and challenge ourselves to improve it. Whether or not anyone else does these things is secondary, because, if you don’t do it yourself, then what’s the point?

  3. Hmmmmm…
    Certainly the attractiveness thing, but don’t ever spoil the illusion by seeing yourself on video.
    However, practising guitar in front of the mirror is fine and healthy thing to do (especially naked for full auto-erotic potential).
    Great site, hope you’re well norman – ivan

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