[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index]

RE: That first note (or loop) . . .

>This reminds me of something Ted told me in Santa Cruz--that he likes
to listen to what others are doing (in this case, as separate acts in a
festival setting) and then do what no one else is doing.


[Ted, I am using your comment as a spring board here, rather than
attacking it....just so you know. I think I just drank too much Chai tea
for my own good. :)

Although I would argue that in an absolute sense, this (doing what no
one else is doing) is impossible. We are what we are because of what we
listen to.  I've never listened to an artist where I couldn't draw
comparisons or find similarities with prior artists....and often times
when you read up more about these artists, you find that they were
inspired by prior artists, unless they grew up learning music on a
deserted island without absolutely no ties to other music (unlikely).
The influence and appearance of threads of similarity may be conscious
or non-conscious (non-intentional).  Ted and I have had this
conversation before. We both love Terje Rypdal, and if you listen you
can hear threads of influence in our works....probably more in Ted
because he plays the electric, and me the acoustic.  I'm always elated
to hear folks draw comparisons between my works and John Abercrombie,
because he inspires more than any other artist...though I don't mimic
him directly, there is a certain "feel" that I like and employ in my

On occasion, I hear artists claim that they are doing their own thing
without any influences from others, or when someone asks who influenced
them, they shrug their shoulders and claim ignorance.  I find this
laughable, if not arrogant and pretentious, as if they think they can
compose in a vacuum outside the influence of human society...an artist
really has to be full of his/her own ego to be serious about this.  In
fact, my own personal opinion is that this is artistically dishonest and
disrespectful to other musicians and genres in the past. It's like
writing a paper and saying that the idea is completely and totally your
own without any influence of prior thinkers, and not giving anyone
credit in the references. Even the most radical thinkers who came up
with paradigm shifting theories gave credit to others who influenced
their thought. Kant was influenced by Hegel; Bertrand Russell by David
Hume and Pythagoras; the Logical Positivists by Ernst Mach and Hume;
Aristotle by Plato, and even Copernicus (with his heliocentric theory of
the solar system) gave credit to Aristarchis, who proposed that the Sun
was the center of the solar system a 1000 or so years before Copernicus.
Music is really no exception. 

However, relatively speaking (and in support of Ted's comment above),
relative to your locality, country, region, etc...it can sometimes be
easy to do what no one else is doing....especially here in Boise,
Idaho....it may be the third largest city now in the US Northwest, but
off the wall avant-garde music is hard to come by, unless it's from
non-locals flying or driving through. Ted and I can go to places like
Santa Cruz, and come back to our localities with spoils that may come
across as cutting edge.  


I once saw John Zorn play a rare gig in Southern California with his
band, Masada. The opening act was a very creative and LOUD local rock
When Zorn and Co. took the stage they all played acoustically and very 
quietly at first -- almost below the level of the ability of audience at

back of the room to even hear. Nothing had been said. But, the voices 
and clinking glasses all gradually hushed as everyone strained to hear.
Folks were leaning forward in their seats -- expectant. This went on 
for a minute or two -- 'til there was absolute silence except or the
Then WHAMMM!!! The players launched full-force into what they are 
known to do -- a sort of loud, scabrous, free-form, harmolodic mix of
squealing, ear-blistering free jazz and klezmer music that had the crown
stamping and cheering. That's about the best example of what 
I'm talking about I've ever seen or heard. It's impressed me ever since.

Like I said, I'm sick and twisted.

Best regards,

tEd R kiLLiAn