Wednesday, November 4, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY - Meeting Other Musicians - November 4, 2009

E. Fiedler asks:

When looking at artists I like and listen to most seem to tell of how they met their band-mates in school at some point and decided to form a bad. However it seems that everyone I meet has never picked up an instrument or has no interest in learning how to play one. Though I have not been playing for a long time, I would love to be able to sit down with some friends and just jam for a while.

I believe my question to be very straight forward and simple. What is the best means to find other musicians to play with in order to potentially start a band and start the musical journey? Also, if you have heard of any strange/unique circumstances under which bands have met and been formed I would love to hear of them.

Hartmann responds:

There is a classic joke about the hipster standing on the corner of Broadway and 59th Street in New York City right in front of Carnegie Hall. A shiny young musician asks him, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall." The hipster responds, "Practice, man, practice." This sentiment is echoed in the Malcolm Gladwell book, "Outliers" in which he professes that it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become good at anything. Novice musicians must remember these directives. There is no substitute for practice.

Talent is attracted to talent. And, only the talented are qualified to truly judge the talent of others. B.B. King is the best judge of just how talented Eric Clapton might be. B.B. knows what it takes to be a great guitar player and he knows one when he sees him. Young musicians seeking to develop their playing skills should seek out other players with whom they can practice.

There will always be someone less talented than you, and there will always be someone who is better. Seek the latter. The superior player has more to teach you than a fellow beginner. The best players push you to reach beyond your skill level and they force you to grow. Virtuosity is a technical achievement that, like any craft, improves with repetition. If you aren't in love with the feel of your instrument in your hand greatness will probably elude you.

The most talented musicians I have worked with rarely were far from their instruments. Neil Young and Stephen Stills are master guitar players. They are constantly picking, experimenting and exercising their "chops." The ability to translate the music they hear in their heads through their instruments into the audio spectrum is their essential talent. The integration of truthful lyrics into song is a demonstration of their artistic integrity.

For beginners the best place to start is in school where it is not difficult to focus in on the musicians among your peer group. Hairstyles, logos on t-shirts and guitar cases strapped to backs clearly identify who the musicians on campus might be. If you want to be noticed by them, carry your books around in a guitar case. You will find each other and a jam session will not be far behind. These early connections often lead to life long relationships and professional careers in music.

Look for virtuosity and develop your own performing skills. Watch documentary films on your musical heroes and emulate their actions. Most importantly try to find the talented song writers in your peer group. These are the people around whom bands are built. The cornerstone of the music industry is song writing and music publishing. The public is attracted to the lyrical content enthroned in the music and the resultant copyright provides the vehicle for long term earnings.

The music fan is subconsciously embraced by the the three "Ms" of songwriting: melody, meter and message. Melody is the cerebral tickling of the mental atmosphere. Meter inspires the involuntary physical participation demonstrated by the dance. The message is the essential truth embedded in the poetry of the lyrics. The skillful blending of these three phenomena creates the mathematical narcotic of music to which we are gloriously addicted.

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