The Shit Challenge: Dare To Be A Musician's Musician!
Dare to be the sort of musician, songwriter, or engineer whose commitment to their craft sticks out like a sore thumb.
Whether you're in a loud and snotty punk band that trashes its instruments with predictable regularity or are merely part of a textural synth duo exploring harmony and dissonance with self-imposed limitations (i.e., using only old school analog gear), there is something to be said for knowing your shit inside and out and taking a sculptor's care in all aspects of what it is that you do.
If you're a drummer, be the guy other drummers come to when they want to properly learn how to tune their drums. Know the full sonic spectrum of every cymbal, tom and snare in your growing arsenal. Own more than one snare or guitar because you are a painter with sound and the more colors you can reach for at any given moment, the better.
Ever watch someone who sculpts with clay turn a musky lump of "icky mud" into a statue so rich in detail that even a layman wonders how long it must have taken? Bring an equal sense of commitment and know-how to your instrument so as to inspire that same sense of awe from those who recognize and appreciate such nuances.
beware, though, that it will change the way you look at the world around you.
Suddenly, watching a baby band splash random colors around with so little care will no longer appeal to you where once you would have at least gotten off on the energy.
Energy is great, but color and nuance are where the big boys play.
If a drunk guy at a show where only five people showed up asks you to play Bowie's "Major Tom", what do you as a craftsman of your instrument do if the only wrong answer to this request is "No"?
Thankfully, you once played in a Bowie tribute band for the sole purpose of becoming well-versed in someone else's musical language. Who knew it would come in so handy?
What about you, Mr. or Miss Songwriter?
What are you doing to make sure that your next song isn't just a sad exercise in third-rate regurgitation of well-worn musical cliches? What if you tried writing about something that, to your knowledge, no other artist had ever written about? Say, nuts and bolts.
"Oh, that's silly!"
Maybe you'll never record the song, but the exercise of letting yourself think outside the box will begin to work and tone those musical muscles and the next time you write a song about breaking up with your gal or guy, you'll find an interesting way to turn the whole thing on its ear.
And no sabotaging your good stuff, Jeff Tweedy. If the only thing coming out of you are heart-wrenching pop songs with king-size hooks that cry out to be heard on radios all across this great land of ours, don't just stick them in a box to work on your new album of traditional Icelandic folk instrumentals.
I still remember as a wide-eyed young rocker talking to a well-known producer working with a band that was considered quite up & coming at the time. In the midst of describing other aspects of the recording process, he mentions that the band held back some of their best material from the sessions for their newly-released album because they knew they could build the next album around them,
Hold on a cotton-pickin' second, I thought to myself, what promise is there that you even get to make another album in this crazy business? Granted, this was back when getting dropped could literally ruin your career because the cost of record in studios and pressing up CD's, albums, and cassettes on your own was a deal-breaker for many a band.
Record every song as if its your last and consider each album a time capsule you won't be happy with until you fill it with as much greatness as possible so that future generations don't think you held anything back.
Superior St. Rehearsal Facility
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