One man’s comfort zone

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It is only natural that musicians would want to make as much of a living as possible, doing the things they feel most comfortable with. In many cases, this has worked out extremely well for folks who happen to be in the right place at the right time. By this, I mean those who function within comfort zones that happen to dovetail neatly into the tastes of large numbers of listeners. For some of us, life isn’t as simple as that.

I remember talking about this issue to a composer who came to teach a class when I was a student. He claimed it was a thankless task, being a composer. He spoke of the amount of time and effort that went into creating new music and the fact that many musicians didn’t like the music he created. In my experience, the story isn’t as simple as that, yet again.

At least the composer I spoke to was functioning within a system that nurtured musicians who could read notated scores. He didn’t have to spend a lot of time teaching them how to play his pieces. All he had to do was explain what he had in mind with regard to mood and atmosphere. In my case, many musicians who have access to the feeling behind the notes are not musically literate, so the process of getting them to absorb what I’ve created requires more time and energy.

Would it have made a difference if I worked more in the improvised music genres? Maybe, but I have defined ideas about what I need to express. It is still time and energy consuming, finding the improvising musicians that share a similar sensibility to mine.

Perhaps this accounts for the relative comfort I feel when I work on my own, either in performing or recording my music. The sensibility doesn’t need to be explained to anyone else and I can just get on with letting the ideas flow. Watch this space for new developments

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