Revitalize Your Musical Passion

As a busy person I find that from time to time I have let my passion of listening and playing music go to the back burner.  Yes, I actually work harder than I need to and sacrifice my own desires to get “work” done.  Sound familiar?  If not that’s great!  If so, then here are a few techniques I use to get the juices flowing again.

  • Purchase new music – Go check to see if one of your favorite musicians has put out a new album.  I enjoy so many different groups and musicians that I constantly find new albums have come out that I have missed.  Get a few of those on CD, vinyl, iTunes or however you digest your music.  I sometimes decide to go track down and purchase every album an artist has done.  (I am working on filling out the Joe Satriani collection as I write this.
  • Lessons – If you are a musician yourself, go buy a new tab book, music lesson book, video lesson, online lessons or take face to face lessons and see what you can learn.  Sometimes you won’t make it through the book/video completely but it will fire up the engines enough to get you at least back “in the groove”.
  • New accessory – As a guitar player one of my favorites is to buy a new stomp pedal, effects box…whatever you want to call them.  Then I can play for days with that effect.  This has a bonus effect because I write new songs based on this sound or sounds I make in combination with other effects.  It simply gets things lubricated and creativity starts happening.  My wife is not as thrilled with this method because it costs more money.
  • New Instrument – A more radical approach / upgrade to the above method would be Steve Vai Jem 7WHto purchase a new instrument.  My wife really doesn’t like this one as it really amplifies the money.  She never complains though.  Realize this could be a new type of instrument you want to learn or just a shiny new guitar if that is what you play for example.  For me, less than a month ago it resulted in a Steve Vai – JEM 7WH by Ibanez.  I am still coming to grips with it.  But it got me back in playing again after months of near drought.
  • Record your music – I have a bedroom of my house dedicated to a home recording studio.  It is pretty complete actually.  To go with my new guitar above I got Cubase 7.5 and upgraded the computer so I was back up to date.  I had Cubase SX for years but I needed to upgrade the computer anyway, so might as well update the software at the same time.  I also added EZ Drummer to the mix (don’t mean for these to sound like puns it just keeps happening).  I have built this studio up over many years.  But you can take a laptop, a USB audio interface, some software & a pair of headphones and get to it.  It doesn’t have to be crazy like I do.  I have a fully portable rig that is built on the laptop, USB audio interface and Mixcraft 6.  It is easy to use and can go to the beach if that is what you want to do.
  • Decide – The things you do in life that are important, fun, worthwhile or whatever were the results of a decisions.  Maybe you carefully thought it out and executed your plan.  Maybe it was made in an instant.  But if you truly DECIDE that this is what you are going to do then DO IT!  Tell your friends, your spouse etc.  It makes it harder to back out.  Then just DO IT!  If you want to play music professionally that is your choice.  I made a DECISION years ago that I would make music a hobby instead of a career.  I thought that a yearly salary from an engineering job would work better for me than $14 per night and all the beer you could drink.  I guess this depends on how much beer you can drink. 🙂   YMMV

Everyone has to face reality.  I do.  You do.  I will not go into my personal hardships here.  I am sure many have more than I and many have less.  The point is I understand that you may have something that consumes all of your time out of responsibility.  Still, as my wife points out, as individuals we all do better when we dedicate *some* time to ourselves.  It keeps us from going crazy and often makes us perform better on the things that drive us that HAVE to be done.  The balance between the needs and the wants are something we all have to work on ourselves.  I would just encourage you to make SOME time for your music even if it is just listening to something you love for awhile.

It is hard for me to follow my own advice here, so I am not judging.  My realization that I NEED to stay revitalized led to the formation of the ideas above.  I hope this helps someone.  Do the best you can.

Let me know in the comments below methods that you use to keep your musical passion going.


Music Is About Choice

headphone-girl-smYes, music is about choice.  You get to decide.  No one else can tell you what you like.  Sure they can tell you what THEY like and that may influence you but no one can really tell you what to like.

Consequently there are a zillion types of music.  Yes that is a real statistic.  🙂  Honestly I doubt anyone can classify them all and I certainly won’t try.  But the beauty of it all is that everyone is different but we still like to hang out in groups.  I’m sure you have noticed in your life how you became part of a group of friends or knew others who all hung out together.

It turns out that social pressure will often cause people to pretend to like or maybe even believe they like a certain type of music just because their friends do.  Or perhaps somehow you decided a certain type of music was “cool” and played it even though you weren’t really sure yourself.

Sometimes even as professional musicians we play music that we don’t like because someone else in our “group” wrote it, liked it or so on.  For the most part any group I was in really did have similar tastes in music as I did.  They would find bands that played music I wasn’t familiar with but USUALLY I liked it, not because they did, rather because we had similar taste in music.

Not every band is so lucky and musical tastes and egos are very common reasons for breakups of bands.  Egos are probably a MUCH larger percentage of the problems.  Still, musical taste can be a big problem to some of the biggest of bands.

One famous example is the rock group Styx.  This will be an oversimplification, but original member Dennis DeYoung had significantly different musical taste in music compared to the other members of the band.  Dennis liked the rock opera style and the other members tended to want a harder rock.  Yet Dennis wrote and sang many of the hits that endure today even though Styx tours constantly without him.  Lots of stories revolve around this but it is my understanding that the Mr. Roboto tour pretty much had the rest of the guys in arms against him.  (me too!)

The point of this is that you need to listen to your own inner voice and pursue it.  It is YOU that you need to please or it won’t last.  You will find others who have similar taste in music as time goes one unless you are big into aardvark hoedown music. 🙂  Not much of a call for that.

Hopefully you are involved in music even further than just listening to it.  I hope you have found a musical instrument that is for you.  Or perhaps you like to sing.  Music can relieve your stress and take you to places you can’t imagine.

If you haven’t found that instrument for you I encourage you to try.  It is never too late to learn an instrument such as guitar or maybe learn piano.  Maybe you have another instrument in mind.  It doesn’t matter.

I hear people say all the time, “I wasn’t given the gift of musical talent.”  While there may be a shred of truth to that, I can tell you that PASSION fuels that musical talent much more than native skill.

If you want it bad enough you can do it.  I have watched kids go from zero to near guitar genius in 2 years.  WHY?  They didn’t do ANYTHING else.  Sure there is the occasional genius 8 year old concert pianist or violinist.  Guess what?  They don’t do anything else either.

So it is a matter of CHOICE.  If you DECIDE you are going to learn guitar and be the next Eddie Van Halen, and COMMIT to the hard work perhaps you can be as good as Eddie sans drugs and alcohol.

Music is about choice my friend.  Don’t let ANYONE tell you that you CAN’T be good at piano, guitar or anything.  But just “kinda” wanting to learn guitar won’t cut it.  You must decide you are going to learn.  Don’t change your mind.  It will happen.

I hope that you find the happiness in music I have.

As always, your honest comments are welcome.


I Like MUSIC But Not Some of That OTHER Stuff!

ElectricBassGuitarPlayerOK I’m old.  I admit it.  But I have been raised in a house of music my whole life.  While I tend to be drawn to classic rock, I listen to hard rock or metal, country rock, country, jazz, instrumentals of all types, orchestral music, pop and some alternative music.  Some of you are probably noticing a gap or three right there.  Yes that’s right.

I don’t want to sound like someones father (but I am) …. “I remember back in naught three when I had to walk 72 miles to school in the snow, but now you young hippies want a new Camaro with the big V8 to drive your lady friends to school in the 4th grade.  What’s this world coming to?”

Sorry, but I can’t handle but just a little hip hop. And rap while I agree is a talent form I liken it more to poetry than music.  Certainly it takes talent to come up with the stories and the rhymes, but that is about where it ends for me.  I can only watch a screaming 300 lb guy with pants around his knees with his underwear showing so long before I have to change the channel.

Musical thugs like Kanye West (could he be less relevant?), Chris Brown, and Eminem just don’t do much for me because I am about the MUSIC.  Not the lyrics as much.

And I certainly don’t want to hear a bunch of cop killin’, drug sellin’, bling, bling, booty shakin’ lyrics.  I prefer the much more refined lyrics of “She loves you yea, yea, yea.”  Or maybe America’s epic Horse with No Name “In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain”.  “Aint no one for to give you?”  REEEALLY? 🙂

OK it is pretty obvious I am a hypocrite.  There I said it.

So be warned that while I respect everyone’s right to like rap music (even though they are wrong) 🙂 I won’t be covering that here.  Sorry if you are fan.

Not much on the dance/trance craze music either.  Chung, chunga, chung, chunga, chung for just slightly less than 4 hours straight.  I like rhythms.  I like music LOUD.  So that is not the problem.  I guess I burned out on disco years ago and didn’t like it then.

Boy I am picky for a guy who claims to like music. Hehe…

With all that being said, what you will find here are miscellaneous ramblings about various forms of music, particular songs I either find fascinating or maybe offensive.  I will cover the recording scene to a degree and certain instruments such as guitars and the musicians that play them.

The beauty of music is that it is personal.  We each have types we like and types we don’t.  Nobody is right or wrong.  What speaks to YOU is right for YOU.  I feel sorry for you if the song is about “cop killers” or whatever, but wish you well.

I find music for me falls into 2 basic categories.  Uplifting/inspiring and depressing.  When I write music it tends to come from either extreme highs or lows.  I find myself inspired to write at either end of the emotional roller-coaster.  In that regard, I can say that probably relates to rap music also.

Perhaps MOST styles of music can relate to this.  Dance music is usually upbeat and happy.  The blues music is about…well…the blues, misery and sadness.  It is harder to interpret in the orchestral types of music but power, softness and emotions do come through quite easily.

The point being music is an expression of emotion like most art forms.  Whether it is a painting, a ballet, a sculpture, or whatever, you will find at its roots emotion.

We humans are emotional creatures.  We can’t help it.  We couldn’t change it if we tried.

So please, go listen to the music.  Let the emotions wash over you.  Enjoy it, even if you listen to some of that “other stuff”!

Live Mixer

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