Right now, a lot of my energy is surrounding my new CD based on Latin rhythms and incorporating the hang. It is both exciting and terrifying at times, but the process always teaches me new things.
I recall the story of a college ceramics teacher who divided his class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio would be graded solely on the quantity of their work, all those on the right solely on its quality. In reality, what was being observed is the difference in innovation, creativity and substance between the two groups.
What was the result? You might have guessed it already – the ‘quantity’ group had the best pots.
I recalled this when I decided to do a song a day for 90 days at the first of the year. I also committed to use Latin rhythms as a base for these songs. Was this a stretch for me? Yes. But the results opened new possibilities for me.
These ninety – plus songs I call sketches, and they are not finished songs. Some are snippets – just 4 – 8 measures. Others are longer and more involved, or just one layer. The beauty of this process for me was that I was not concentrating on the end result, rather on the process of creating, exploring and innovation. My judging mind was not overly engaged, freeing me up to bump into unexpected possibilities.
These sketches are what I use as inspiration to create songs. A few of these sketches were obvious candidates for finished songs. Those are the ones I worked on first.
One of the exciting things is when I go back and listen to each ‘song a day’ sketch. I have a notebook that I use to make notes on the songs. Some are simple to notate – many have a NO written after their date. Some songs have notes like “this works; this section is really exciting; this song has a mysterious quality”, etc. Many sketches seem to call to me, as if they already have a life, and were peeking out saying ‘do more of this’. The songs seem to reveal where they want to go. My job is to listen to them and guide them through the process…and pray they don’t suck!
When I listen to songs of other artists, I wonder if they also put hours and hours into the work in order to produce a 4 – minute song. How many drafts and revisions were required before the artist said “It’s done.”? It is something I will probably never know. During this time of creating new music I feel appreciative and thankful for those unknown hours of commitment, persistence and dedication that others have made in order for me to hear and enjoy those 4 minutes.
I still have work to do to complete the CD. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.