Sydney to Shanghai. Shanghai to Paris. Paris to Gothenburg. I had left home tired and worn out by the weight of the busy lifestyle that comes with living in Sydney. We hit the landing strip hard in Gothenburg bouncing off the runway until we finally came to a halt. "We've made it!". After 34 hours in transit we finally made it. Flying such a long distance is much better when you have good company. We reached Gothenburg at around 9pm and were very happy to be in Sweden. For Jenny, this was a usual trip but for me, this was my first time experiencing the beauty that I'd only seen in pictures and videos.
Ideas which are inspired by some of Europe's most prestigious minimalist composers: Nils Frahm & Olafur Arnalds.
Through Transcription and Analysis, this research report seeks to identify aspects of Mulgrew Miller’s musical language in order to gain a greater understanding of the sophisticated musical concepts he employs focusing on the solo on his recording of “If I Were a Bell” by Frank Loesser from his 2004 Maxjazz Record, “Live at Yoshi’s, Vol.1”.
I've been recently musing about a time in my life where I'd finished university studies and was living in my hometown. I had good friends but always felt that I was never completely into what everyone else was into. I never really felt like it was my scene. My friends would go on surf trips, do the usual things that you do in your hometown to pass the time and I just knew inside that I wanted something more. I could never really get into whatever they were getting into.
I used to travel from Cronulla to Bondi and Surry Hills on my days off just to get a coffee. It's only an hour away and I just felt that doing that helped me to get out of the bubble that I felt so claustrophobic in. When I'd leave, I'd feel a sense of "possibility" in myself. I'd have this feeling that anything was possible because I had moved myself away physically from those that were happy to do whatever it is you'd regularly do.
I grew up in this area yet I never managed to fit in.
Looking back on this time, I realized that I was craving something more then I had currently experienced. I was craving new things. I was craving a new way of living. It was the beginning of my curiosity to learn and grow beyond my own perspective.
I don't think there's anything wrong with staying in your hometown and living that simple life. However many others that I've conversed with over the years have had this similar feeling and have been confused on how to go about changing your life in order to satisfy those desires.
Often at times it can feel like you are an alien and that you don't belong. Far from it. There are many others that feel isolated that are looking for that same thing that you are looking for.
When it comes to work, being great at your craft is SO IMPORTANT! It is what separates you from the rest of the population that may be going for the same job as you. It is what adds value to the work that you do and it is what helps inspire others to become good at their own craft. After releasing a rock/pop EP in 2010, I fell in love with the Piano and realised that I wanted to become a full-time working musician. The only problem was that I was good at what I did, but I wasn't great, especially for the kind of music that I wanted to play.
Here are a list of things that I keep tabs on when working on my craft.
The Fundamentals: There's nothing worse then not being able to play the music because of a lack of fundamental facility or theory. There's nothing worse then not being able to teach a concept to a masterclass because I lack the communication skills necessary to get the learning across. Our gaps in knowledge often become painfully obvious at the worst possible time ie at a Jam session or in front of a class. Lacking fundamental knowledge is just a big no!
The aspects that you love about your craft: These are the things that help you to stand out from the rest. You've got well rounded knowledge but being a specialist in an area can add tremendous value to a situation. It may be a style of playing or a method of teaching that works for you. These things help you to stand out from the crowd.
Your attitude: Apart from the practical aspects of your craft, your attitude plays a HUGE role. When things aren't looking so good and there's not much to salvage of a situation, remaining composed can be the best thing you can do. Often times I've worked with difficult people which have left me wanting to run for the door or to fly off the handle at them. Once you've lost it, you've shown to everyone that you're a potential bomb waiting to explode with some people. If you simply can't work with some people, remove yourself from the situation so that it never gets to that point. You'll keep your dignity and happiness. Attitude is key!
These are just a few points that can hopefully steer you in the right direction today as you work on becoming better at your own craft. Let me know what you think is important to know when working on your craft.
P.S. Some content that I create doesn't have any commercial outlet and I'll try and share more of that here.
Here's a transcription of d'Angelo's "Really Love" String Introduction. I'm using the Korg Kronos string sample library and have layered ensemble strings with a nice solo string patch which definitely works nicely in a live situation.
Once we notice something that until now has slipped past us, our minds are likely to develop a voracious appetite for more. We will not be satisfied with a morsel, but find ourselves urging our senses on to devour all the things out there that we have overlooked. And unlike so many urges to binge, this desire is healthy. Heightened awareness is one of the few mind-altering 'substances' which lends itself to excess without redress.
Recently I purchased a Turntable and Amplifier to listen to music at home in my bedroom. I purchased Nils Frahm’s record “Solo” (which is amazing I might add) turned the record player on, put the vinyl on and listened to the whole record. What happened to me in that moment is very different to what happens to me when I listen to music on the go.
I stopped, I was free from distractions, it took much longer to physically set up music to be played thus I was more aware of what was going on around me. This lead to a deeply moving experience of art. One that shatters you. One that breaks you and rebuilds you. It left me feeling like I was in the clouds. It left me feeling refreshed.
The difference was all in the attention I gave it.
When you stop to smell the roses that you are often too busy to notice, you often end up with something more infinitely beautiful than what you are often distracted by.
I would like to think....
I would like to think that poetic justice exists in the real world: That good triumphs over evil, that wrongs are made right. I would like to think that we lived in a fair world that champions virtues of community over sensationalist individualism. I would like to think that the person best suited for the job is the one that gets it. I would like to think there is a bigger plan to all of this.
Reality kicks in quite abruptly at times. Life is not always fair. Life does not always happen the way you would like it to happen. People often fail you without maliciousness and you often fail people in the same way. Reality often can be quite a difficult place to live in.
It is often difficult when you cannot make sense of things. It is often difficult to accept that things don't always to well in life. It is often difficult to believe that you can be hurt by someone you care about. It is often difficult to believe that you also have the capacity to hurt someone so deeply. It is often difficult to see others moving forward while you remain in the same circumstance. It is often easier to believe in superstitious things than to accept reality.
There are many ways which we deal with these ailments of the heart. Alcohol, sex, drugs, television etc. Often it does help in the short term.
To accept reality is often too hard to swallow. To accept reality is often something we would rather run from. Reality often shines a light on the insecurities of your own life. Reality often is the thing that we would like to run from the most.
Can we learn from it?
We most certainly can. Through reflecting on reality, we can find out what we value, what we love, what we hate and what we would like to change in the future. Through self-reflection, we can be better equipped to face reality and to grow and evolve. We can make progress in ourselves that hopefully manifest themselves into something far greater than the troubles we come across.
To accept reality is one of the most difficult and perhaps most helpful life lessons.
To not accept reality is to stop evolving.
So I'm in my third week of my Masters in Music at AIM and one thing I have definitely been challenged on is moving from being a session musician to a music artist; from playing in an un-thoughtful manner to a thoughtful one. It's not that I would say that I do not think when I play, but more so that often the music that I often get paid to do is for certain events where the music is not the centerpiece and I slip into not thinking it is of eternal importance that I prepare this to the best of my ability. Perhaps the music is for a wedding or a corporate event or perhaps it is another musician that takes center stage. I feel that this is where I have acquired this thoughtlessness.
Often in these kind of ensembles, you are playing the material of music together for the first time as you figure out which tunes you all know how to play. Often people come from different schools of music either being from a high standard of music education and proficiency to playing with musicians who were self taught and learned how to play music in bars and clubs. This leaves most musicians unsure of what the parameters are of the aims of playing the music.
This often has meant that when I have approached music, it hasn't been prepared or thought out as I would have liked it to have been thought out. Often people really like my playing, but I can honestly say that I have not taken care of all aspects of music.
What do I mean by that?
Say you're playing a jazz standard. You may know the melody and chord changes, but you have not carefully thought of what your introduction, what your ending or what the transitions will sound like from section to section. This is what I mean when I say that I have been playing in a thoughtless manner. I "know" the standard, but I have not focused on understanding and executing every single section which is what all great music requires.
Thoughtfulness in music is paramount in impacting people in an emotional way. Getting rid of gaps in musical knowledge helps that whole message remain strong throughout a performance. It is therefore of utmost importance that with every song you attempt that you don't simply glance over it, but you make a plan to nail the shit out of that tune!
Would I say I had a good year? Yes.
Best book I've read in 2015? Bon Iver - Marc Beaumont
Did 2015 meet my expectations? It exceeded them.
Did this year teach you anything? Keep your passions alive.
Do I expect anything from the new year? I expect only that I will grow as a person and a musician. Everything else is up for grabs.