Friday, March 12, 2010

Just Walking Around

Dan said, "Let's just spend a quick 10 minutes on this." And then, we were off...

I have been decompressing from my CD release and accompanying release concert the past couple of weeks. Just kind of walking around both literally and figuratively; stuck in a moderate rut. Coming down from these peak events can be so draining and it always takes some time to find my feet again, stand up, balance, and start moving on to the next thing.

Dan and I were setting up to begin working through a routine rehearsal session. We have both been more preoccupied with our other projects as of late but remain committed to writing and rehearsing as a duo in an effort to release another collection of music later this year. We were tuning, chatting, etc, and then I started to play a rather simple, lush, chord progression on my baritone guitar to warm up. Dan started playing along and the beginnings of a new piece of music were born.

By the end of the session, we had the framework, or at least a bulk of the main ideas for a complete piece. You never know when these moments will occur and it's funny how sublime ideas can emerge after some time away and extended periods of nothingness. This wasn't the intention of our rehearsal. What was on it's way to being  somewhat standard ended up being somewhat liberating.

Moments like these serve as a reminder of why I make music in the first place. It is so easy to get bogged down by the business, the criticism, the stalled progress, and the emptiness. But every so often, there is a light. Even a new sprinkle of a musical idea can serve as a fine elixir to ease the ailment of creative and professional stagnation. It is even bigger than. When one is so consumed  by their work, it can influence the overall perspective on life and existence. I am serious. Looking inward, mining the dark interior caverns, following an idea to it's ultimate apex, or ultimate demise. When you are fully consumed with this process, you forget everything else but the music. And, no matter how brief, said process is crucial to maintaining the mental and spiritual health of any musician. These are the only times when I feel that I am truly living in the present, completely centered.

So, 10 minutes and 1 hour later we had a new tune. I am still walking around. However, I definitely have a new spring in my step.


  1. "It's funny how sublime ideas can emerge after some time away and extended periods of nothingness."

    I like these words, Ben. This is...the power of the unconscious mind?! As David Richo says, "Bread takes the effort of kneading but also requires sitting quietly while the dough rises with a power all its own."

    It's a circular process. I find myself in this pattern all the time. I practice and practice, reach a point where all of my ideas feel inane, find myself falling away from the instrument for a while, focusing on other interests, only to come back and find a constellation of musical ideas emerge that has no conscious origin! The distillation of an unconscious process beyond my control. I find myself trusting it more and more.

    Thanks for the inspiration!


  2. Hey Tom. Thanks for reading and for your comments! Makes these efforts worthwhile. I too like that David Richo quote. BdW