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Re: creative isolation

On one hand, you cannot free yourself completely from your
influences.  On the other hand, you aren't just a puppet being waved
by your record collection!  There is room for both influence AND
creativity.  Otherwise, where would new musical ideas come from?  

The question isn't whether influences or creativity control your
destiny.  The question is, how do you control THEM?  With influences,
you can either broaden your horizons by exposing yourself to new and
different arts (either music or otherwise... I believe my artistic
vision is affected as much by film, literature, philosophy, and other
arts as it is by music), or you can closely study one artist or genre,
learning its secrets in intimate detail (Brian Eno often listens to
only one album for weeks at a time.  I've read favorite books or seen
favorite movies dozens of times, each one a different experience).  

For creativity, you can try to do radical new things, or focus on
improving your existing skills.  Derek Bailey does not distinguish
between practice and performance.  Fripp has advised playing a single
open string, even intervals against a metronome, for four hours a day
for three months.  Some bands live together and play constantly.  The
Velvet Underground never practiced except to learn songs, and would
walk out on stage after not playing together for months (even more
extreme, Last Exit played for the first time in front of an audience
of 10,000, without ever practicing together as a unit).  

Many years ago, when I was first developing a working relationship
with electric guitar, I was playing lead in a band driven more by
creativity than skill.  The bass player once told me that he thought I
was bullshitting 90% of the time, but that the other 10% of the time I
was channelling music from another world.  He was right.  When I was
lucky, I was totally expressive, but most of the time, I was just
fighting my lack of technique.  

Technique is an expressive tool.  It is our only channel to release
creativity.  On the other hand, technique is a trap.  It is altogether
too easy to fall back on stock licks, and play from the hands instead
of the heart.  

This balance between technique and creativity is constantly shifting
throughout our musical lives.  Sometimes I'm more creative, sometimes
I'm more technique-driven.  Sometimes I set the guitar down in disgust
and won't play for weeks.  When I come back, I may be brilliant, or I
may be fighting to regain the lost muscle memory.  

Creativity and creation are, like all things, a balance. 


By "beauty," I mean that which seems complete.
Obversely, that the incomplete, or the mutilated, is the ugly. 
Venus De Milo.
To a child she is ugly.       /* dstagner@icarus.net */
   -Charles Fort