Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Inspiration and Sons

I had some interesting comments on my post below, "Bored -- No Extremes." They have caused me to think more about why I have found it difficult to sit and play the guitar or write music for quite some time now. There are many things that have pulled me away. They may be a product of getting older/more mature, or they may be something else.

The pull of job, family responsibilities, and other interests have probably been the greatest factor in dampening the allure of music to me. Perhaps the best description is that I've spread myself too thin. With the limited amount of time we have each day, we must prioritize our responsibilities and interests in the manner that best fits necessity first, and then desire. Music has fallen lower on the list of priorities than it once was. When I was younger and had dreams of performing professionally, or of selling a song, music was a higher priority. When it became purely recreation, the priority dropped. When I found other recreational pursuits to occupy my time, such as writing, it dropped even further.

Another issue, which is directly related to the factors listed above, is time. In order to not become bored with playing music, I need to spend time learning new songs. Otherwise, I become bored with playing the same old songs over and over again. In many ways, playing for myself -- even for escape -- has become stale.

Songwriting is a different endeavor entirely. It can be approached in one of two ways. First, it can be a disciplined effort during a time set aside for the sole purpose of writing -- just like blogging has become. This has never really been my approach. It probably should have been. I have been told numerous times by various people (some who should really know) that my talent in that area is above average and should be pursued. I've never had the "burn" for it though. Second, it can be the product of inspiration. Like most creative endeavors, such as painting, inspiration is crucial to the process. Even in a disciplined approach there must be inspiration to write on a particular subject. For me, it takes time for that inspiration to "cook." It takes about three days of relaxation/vacation/avoidance of work and other demands to reach a point of being ready to write music. That just doesn't seem to happen anymore.

Writing for this blog is both inspired and disciplined. Throughout my work day I often think about what I want to write about. I look for subjects in my workplace, in the areas that I travel, and in the people that I encounter throughout the day. Not always, but usually, I have a pretty good idea of the subject of my post long before I sit down to the computer. It is more difficult with songwriting. For me, I need my guitar in hand. That is because the melody usually comes with the words. They rarely come to me separately. Sometimes the subject of a song will "percolate" throughout the day, just like a subject for my blog entry, but the music that is in the environment often corrupts the melody that comes with the subject. That's when I need the time to relax and let it resurface in order to sit and compose.

Interestingly, my son inspired me to learn a new song today. He has not read my post and did not know of the struggle that I have had with my music lately. But, he came to me with a song that he wanted to learn last night and asked me to help him. His question to me was, "Dad, have you ever just listened to a song you want to learn and then learned it?" My response was that most of the music that I know was learned by writing down the words to songs that I heard on the radio or elsewhere and then working through the chords to them. He played the song for me and I started playing along with the CD. I think he was surprised. Today, I pulled the Tablature off of the Internet (something I didn't have when I was his age) and after work today, I sat down and played it for him. Then I gave him the Tabs and he showed me some "licks" that he had worked out on his own. He has a lot of talent. I hope that he never loses the inspiration to play and learn. Maybe he will inspire me to stay with it.

1 comment:

MotherPie said...

Yes, I find those tab things on my computer desk top all the time. I also can work around the house to the beat of my son's drums -- or I could when they were in the basement of our house in Atlanta. No room here in NYC for equipment like that.

I'm just sad that I can't sing along. I was not gifted with a voice that can carry a tune.

My husband's guitar playing inspired my son to pick up his interest in druumming and go back to his guitar.

We impact our children, we do.