Baring my stuff ups – and my soul – to the Universe

You know, I’ve often thought that writing music is a little like baring your soul to the Universe.

When I write a new work, I don’t know how it will be received. Maybe people will hate it. Worse yet, maybe it will be ignored. Feedback is often sketchy, and friends aren’t the greatest bellweather, as often they’re just a bit too…positive.

I’m a beginner composer. I suppose every composer has to begin somewhere, but I’ve chosen to make my beginnings public, and offer them up to the internet freely.

It’s a new way of doing things, and time will tell whether its a good way or not.

Enter the gurus

The traditional way for composers to begin, of course, is to be mentored by some great, already-recognised musical genius with all the connections and all the know-how.


Wouldn’t it be nice to have a super green Guru to teach you everything so you never make a mistake? Unfortunately, that’s movie-land, not reality.

The wonderful Yoda-like guru teaches his “padawan” learner the Ways Of The Force. And everyone in The Know smiles and welcomes the padawan to the Culture.

Acceptance is inevitable. Failure isn’t an option.

Or something like that.

The internet is my homeboy

I don’t have a mentor. Never have had one. That’s the way things are. Times are rough.

So here I am, mentor-less, guru-deprived, female (shock! horreur!), outside the Ivory Tower, learning as I go.

The internet is my homeboy instead.

It’s not a bad way to do things, but you have to have a rock-solid sense of self, and an utterly unshakeable love of what you do, regardless of how it might turn out.

OMG…did I really write that $%^$%^?

I’ve no idea whether I’m actually any “good” or not. Time will be the judge of that. And in the end, it doesn’t matter, because I love what I do. I’d write music even if none of it were ever performed.

Sometimes I look back on a piece, and cringe a bit. I see my faults, in glorious technicolour and full stereo, out there in the marketplace of the internet for everyone to see forever and ever.

Last century, composers could burn their rubbish. My trash is permanently on display for free download. Lucky me. The internet is a great tool, but not without a sting in its tail.

I can try to take down copies of music I’m unhappy with, but within days of being published the music has usually gone viral, with several copies posted (quite legally of course, as they’re creative commons) in various free music sites around the tracks. I’d be fighting a losing battle (and being a bit Orwellian in my attempt to change the past) to even try.

Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth…

Maybe the trash should stay anyway.

Maybe, in these days of image consultants and legal consultants and managers and social networking advisers, maybe its a breath of fresh air for someone like me to be out here, online, with the good stuff and the bad, the stuff ups and the better works, being honest and free.

Maybe we need more people to say, “Here I am. I write music because I love music, and if you don’t like my stuff, that’s just fine!”

So yes, here I am. I’s just me, only me. Baring my stuff ups – and my soul – to the Universe.

It’s a little scary. I feel like a baby bird, fluffing my tiny feathers and taking my first leap from the nest. The earth is a long way down, and home is a long way behind me.

But if I didn’t leap, I’d never know what it is to fly.

So here I am, learning to fly.

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6 thoughts on “Baring my stuff ups – and my soul – to the Universe

  1. Wowww ur post just felt like its my inner self speakin 2 me…
    I am really gonna read all ur stuff 4 sure !!!
    thinkin of Lyrics i think you should definitly check out John Mayer’s songs !!!

  2. People need role models. That’s what you become when all your “mistakes” are on permanent record. You become a real person whose talent is growing. Instead of a homogenised, pasturised, auto tuned product for consumption, you offer genuine creative art that will empower people to experiment with their own creations. And clearly they’re enjoying it too!

  3. Hi Leanne, interesting post. I often help my young composer friends wrestle with issues like these – it’s cool that you’re trying to work it out from the beginning.

    I’d say, do whatever makes sense at the stage in which you find yourself. That way you will always be in the position of the greatest artistic strength and fulfillment.

    All the best of fortune to you,
    Thomas Goss
    fellow NZ composer and transplanted California boy.

  4. Hi Krista – I think we all start in humble beginnings (well – most of us, except maybe Mozart who seems to have been a fricking genius from the day he was born!) – the question is how many of those beginnings are out there in public.

    I never really intended to be a “public composer in training” – it just worked out that way. I’m now figuring that I’m currently on the first year of my apprenticeship – anything before 2011 doesn’t count, as I had two babies and not enough time to spend on composition in any serious way. Maybe there’s a good reason why most composers are men 😉

    Anyway, give me a couple more years and I might figure that I know what I’m doing by then. For now, everything is a learning experience. Am currently learning how to write piano reductions (piano parts used in rehearsal to help singers learn their part) – tricky, when you’ve never learned an instrument!

    But yes, the music seems to be working. Maybe, even if you don’t have training and you don’t have an instrument behind you, and you never had any music lessons beyond primary school level, if you love to write music, in the end it will come out. That sounds like a good thing to me 🙂

  5. Hi Thomas – I guess, when you just start writing music because you want to, you have to start somewhere! I believe really strongly in sharing music and ideas (don’t even get me started on copyright laws, or I’ll bore you to death!), and that music, of all things, should be shared. So that’s what I’m doing. And people seem to like performing my music, so it seems to be working.

    I think the hardest step will be gaining acceptance from the “establishment”. Am I serious enough? Is my music “important” enough? Should they let a girlie with no training into the sanctum, or just keep her outside, knocking on the door? And if you let in one person like me, what happens next when 500 others come knocking? And what is “serious” or “original” or even “important” music anyway?

    There are so, so many wonderful musicians out there, and with the opening up of China, for example, we’re about to see talent unveiled on a level we’re never even imagined before. I’m looking forward to it, and to the changes we’re witnessing, and I think music will be better for it. I hope the music world does too!

    Thanks so much for stopping by – and thanks for your online series. I’ll be watching 🙂

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