Making Music

Describe the creative process of making music.

Play the notes you hear in your mind's ear. As you hear them played physically, more notes will come to mind. Play those too.

Playing what you hear accurately may not be easy. It may even be the most difficult part of the process. Some call it ear training. But it is simply matching the notes produced by the instrument to the ones in your mind. Most people can do this, if you are willing to try. You'll need patience, persistence, and practice.

Sometimes, you may play something out of habit rather than what you hear. Fight this. Fight to reproduce the notes you hear in your mind. Fight for musical integrity. Whether the notes are coming from your soul, from god, from nature, from ghosts of dead musicians, from aliens, it doesn't matter. They are calling to you. Answer them.

The challenge of accurately producing what you hear becomes more difficult when it is complex. This means your "taste" is ahead of your skills. It's harder to reproduce 2 simultaneous notes than 1. Harder to do 4 than 2. Harder to play 2 melodies with different rhythms than chords. Mozart is said to be able to hear an entire orchestra in his head. Though he's not able to play every orchestral part simultaneously, he can write them into a score. For mere mortals, acquiring the skills to reproduce music that matches your taste is a difficult journey. Ira Glass calls this phenomenon "the Gap".

In the process of learning, you'll play the musical ideas of others. You will suppress the desire to play notes from your own mind for the ability to play them better in the future, when your skills improve. Choose to learn with music you like. It's more fun. Months or years later, when you play music that comes to you, you may find the ideas resemble those of your teachers. This is normal. You cannot learn without having your mind be changed in the process.

What if you don't hear any notes? Then don't play.

But you can listen.

May 25th 2024