"The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul." - J.S. Bach
Music is a curious phenomenon. If you think about it on a surface level, it's merely sound, vibrations that travel through the air that can be heard when they reach one's ear. It's organized sound, but it's sound nonetheless.
So why then does it make us feel? Why does the emotion of happiness come to mind when a C major chord is hammered out on a piano or the feeling of moroseness is communicated through a D minor chord strummed on a guitar? I don't have the answers to those questions right now but I'm sure they can be found somewhere. And honestly, I'm not interested in getting caught up in the how or why of it. I just know that music has the power to make one feel and I find that wonderful.
For about 2 years, I struggled with composition. I was under the impression that a piece of music wasn't "good" unless it met certain qualifications. Does it ever change key? Does it have any time signature changes? Is there any chromaticism in the melody? If the answer to any of these questions was "no" then the piece of music you have crafted has no value. It's simplistic, boring, and there is no intellect behind what you wrote. The impression I had of what it takes to create a "good" piece of music was wrong.
In 2012, I was studying music at a school in Miami, Florida and I had the opportunity to sit in on a clinic by bassist Victor Wooten (check him out if you've never heard of him). He ended his talk with a simple question, "If you could sum up music in one word, what would it be?" The crowd that was there shouted out numerous things: emotion, feeling, heart, soul, etc. He then pointed out that every time he has asked a crowd that question no one has ever said things like chords, notes, scales, or keys. These technical things are tools you use to craft music but not what the music hinges on, it hinges on the feeling, the emotion, the purpose behind the piece. Something in my head (and my heart) clicked and I began to compose in an entirely different way.
I dropped the mentality of trying to write technical and complex pieces. I started to write things that made me feel something. I thought of what I wanted the piece to communicate first and then use those technical tools to make that happen. After 3 years of on and off writing and recording, I came up with this album of 9 pieces of instrumental music:
Is the album good? Is it bad? That's not up to me to make that decision. I'll admit that it's not a collection of songs that one would consider to be "mainstream" or anything you can sing along to (lyrics have never been my forte). However, what I do think it succeeds at is its ability to communicate emotion. When I listen, it makes me feel hopeful, it makes me feel nostalgic, it makes me feel grateful for the gift of music. Now that might just be because I'm the composer and am therefor personally connected to these sounds. However, it's my hope that someone else, even just a single person, feels something similar. And if not, I'm glad to have just been granted the abilities to create something like this. When I started to learn about music when I was 13, I had no idea that one day I would be making music myself, let alone music that sounded like this!
Music is a gift, any form of creativity is. Drawing is a gift. Painting is a gift. Photography is a gift. Filmmaking is a gift. Writing is a gift. If you've been blessed with any one of them, do something about it. Compose a piece of music, take a photograph, write a story. Just do it to the best of your ability. Think about the emotions first and the technical aspects second.
And last but not least, take Bach's advice:
Glorify God, refresh the soul, create with a higher purpose. Your art will be better for it, trust me.
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