September 22, 2018
Linda’s Lair, Monroe, Washington State
©2018 Singin String Publishing, ASCAP
Words are one of humanity’s most powerful tools. The way you choose them, use them, say and sing them, define how you are perceived by people. Musical instruments are one of humanity’s most powerful tools. It is amazing to travel the world speaking to all people in a “tongue” everybody knows! When one combines words with music, and present it in a way that is unique unto them, they have found a signature presence that is original and undeniable.
One of the best ways of learning an art is to copy the Masters. The bar is set so high it seems impossible to ever be on that level. So you begin trying. Little by little, inch by inch, it doesn’t take long to see progress. Small victories become fuel on the fire which, if one can sustain focus and enthusiasm, becomes a blaze. When a striving person catches fire, knowing that they can achieve the seeming impossible, a crystallization process begins where the Universe provides the roads to that artist’s heart’s desires. “The world is at your command,” like John Lennon said.
But how does one go about creating a unique direction in their art? The answer is very simple.
I remember hearing that the crux of British musicians that were making it big in the ’60’s were hugely influenced by American music, especially the blues. They held the early blues artists in the highest esteem, recognizing the indelible niche they had created, having evolved deeply felt music out of the pain of their existence, which, for a large part, was slavery and the heritage of a murderous, cruel past. While holding those people high in my respect, I chose to, instead of copying and being directly influenced by... pretending that I had gone through the same painful experience, and what would that feel like? How would I play music with that kind of horrendous past? And so evolved my personal style, one that required a very deep feeling, be it joy, anger, pain, or love.
The Great Triumvirate: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. Wow! When one looks at what they did with blues, it is recognized they took the foundation of a deeply felt song and created a version ingeniously imbued with art, the British sense of taste and humor, and dedicatedly-won technical skill. There is a thread of continuity of Spirit that runs from ancient Africa, through to the hands of these three, and many other players. That magical thread is what gives one goosebumps... that incredible feeling of both familiarity and empathy with something ineffable.
It’s a beautiful thing when one tells the significant other: “I’m going in my practice room now, don’t expect to see me for a few hours.” They shun their TV; phone; pets; exercise regimen; nap time, everything that could preclude them from taking the inspiration they’ve derived from an artist who once did the same, and evolve themselves artistically. Every artist, athlete, and otherwise accomplished person you’ve heard of have done this. Self-evolution can certainly be counted as a "raison d'être."
And no matter who you are, how old you are, what your health is, or how impoverished, it’s never too late to begin. The goal doesn’t need to include money, fame or power, it can simply be: “I want to prove to myself, I CAN DO THIS!” And the “THIS” can be something as simple as meditation. So you hold that vision. Your thoughts always steer to your direction. You gain an inch every day. There will be times you simply forget, and get caught up in the trials and busy-ness of life. But you remember and come back. Slowly, steadily, little-by-little, bit-by-bit. What a wonderful, fulfilling feeling...VICTORY!
But how does one go about creating a unique direction in their art? The answer is very simple. I chose to take a different direction than the Great Triumvirate. I chose something that was borne from my own feelings. I took “The Road Less Traveled.”
Try this: in practice, find things you’ve never heard before, especially sounds that are challenging. When you land on something, perfect it. Let it become a mantra that you repeat until it is permanently affixed in your playing. Find another and do the same. Keep this up awhile and you’ll find yourself not sounding like anyone else. There you have YOUR SIGNATURE.