Please use a discerning gaze when reading these claims, which deserve critical examination. This documentation represents a snapshot of my internal landscape at a certain point in time in my life during my collegiate career.
In This Moment:
I transform my intention in relation to music from a drive to perfect to one of sonic exploration.
I have a set of tools with which life and I may breathe symbiotically through.
What is the animating force that swells and pulses through dimensions of reality?
What is it’s intent? What is my intent and motivation? What is my inspiration?
Rhythm allows one to organize time.
The mind disengages and begins to subconsciously hear rhythms that repeat more than 4 times. (I’m not sure where I pulled this information from at the time. I think I remember reading it somewhere, but I can’t speak to the efficacy or truth of this claim.) One may shape practices around a concept and engage with practice in new ways by transforming rhythm.
Move slowly enough to feel the pulse of rhythm, yet quickly enough for continuity.
Listening to and feeling empty space helps to incorporate and experience new rhythms.
Sometimes, looking back on my own process is hard. Have you ever recorded yourself singing or playing music? Listening back is sometimes really uncomfortable, especially if you aren’t used to hearing yourself make sound. By placing ourselves into a new role, now the listener instead of the creator, we are given front row seats to our own performance. And the recording never lies. It shows us exactly where we are.
I’ve personally noticed a strange phenomenon in my own experience and relationship to singing, playing, recording, and listening back – sometimes the way that I feel when I am making sound disappears or changes when I’m listening to myself make sound.
Sometimes I feel like I am drenched in a feeling, expressing with pristine clarity, encoding a nebula of pure and raw emotion in sound and time. I know it rocks. I can feel it in my guts.
Then, when I listen back, it feels like I am drinking flat soda. I feel an aversion to the thing I just made. Its sound does N O T H I N G to reflect the feeling I had when creating it. In fact, it’s quite distasteful and I often don’t want to finish it.
A good friend of mine, Noah Martis explicitly shared this very insight with me once during a late night hang. We were listening to Noah Gundersen, Derrick Trucks, and Novo Amor*, and he told me “Sam, I like to listen back and make sure that what I am feeling when I am creating music is the same thing I feel when I’m listening to myself. If I can make myself feel the way that I do when I’m playing, but when I’m listening, I know I’ve got something. I start by making music for me, making music that I can feel.”
I’m deeply appreciative of Noah, his music, his process, and our friendship. He lights the fire under my ass and makes me want to do something, to dig in deeper, and to give it my everything.
And he is right. Ever since he told me that, I’ve been using that approach to check and see if what I play and sing feels as deeply real and tangible when I’m listening.
And it’s not always comfortable.
But it gets easier every time.
Sometimes it really sucks. Sometimes it’s not so bad. And sometimes it’s actually pretty damn cool.
If we can make the simple decision to document what we do, then take the time to look back at it, improving upon it starts to become the most natural response. We can sift through the junk, skim off the slime, and grab the best parts. And who knows what we will end up doing with the best parts of our artistic expression? Especially if they make us feel.
Are you still here?
We haven’t even really looked at the entry yet.
And you know what, I think that simply looking at the entry feeling something, even if it was an initial distaste lead us to explore some interesting waters, so thanks for joining me.