Freestyle: Music Aphorisms 2


Like circus high wire artists missing one another’s fingertips by inches, your musical style is what transpires when your expectations are just out of reach of your capabilities and you go into freefall.

Retail stores are where most popular music retreats to live out its days under fluorescent lights on Sirius life support, having faded from relevance but still somewhat useful.

A musician’s improvising tells you about their thinking,
while their sight-reading tells you about their skills.
(One doesn’t really connect with the other.)

Musical instrument catalogs teach a lie:
that making music is about the gear.

A musician who overplays is waving a red flag on their own behalf.
(“Can you help me stop playing so much?!”)

Which are you:
The kind that remembers the words and their melodies,
or the gist of the rhythm section’s groove?

Acoustic musical instruments are honest because they faithfully transmit your touch.

MIDI reduced a musician’s touch to a number between 1 and 127, yet we adapted.
(Social media reduced us to sharing and liking,
muting our individuality, yet we are adapting.)

Adhering to the style of the idiom gets you through the door,
but it’s still not what makes good music.

Superior musicians make use not only of their whole body,
but also the entirety of their inescapable character.
(If such musicians’ music making sounds ugly, maybe that’s who they are.)

In one way or another, all music traffics in expectations
—real or imagined, met or frustrated.

The older you get, the less obvious it is why today’s popular music hit is a hit.

Music’s subliminal effects don’t get the attention they deserve.

Broad consensus is the enemy of musical innovation.

Composers left scores behind. What will DJs leave?

Musical style boundaries are porous:
even AC-DC can be dance music, if you’re at a New England wedding.



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