Monday, February 09, 2009

Bernstein, Holst, Ives, Copeland.

One of the aspects of my musical education is that I don't have one. Or, rather, it's all street learning/ bar & church music, since I left school after two years (long story) and hit the road. So, yesterday morning I sat and listened to Bernstein's Mass for the first time all the way through after spending the last couple of weeks listening to his series of lectures at Harvard about 20th century music. This morning I downloaded the orchestral score to Holst's The Planets and listened to that all the way thought while trying to follow the score. (I had to back up and start over a number of times).

As a maker of popular music, this stuff just never crossed my path and I couldn't have understood it even if it had.

And it's orgasmic. I feel like I'm finally making up for a lot of lost time. I feel foolish that I don't know this stuff, being a professional musician and songwriter.

Part of the reason I'm doing this is because my own New World Waking got an orchestral treatment and now I want to expand my own musical vocabulary, awareness and skills. Though NWW is basically a set of pop songs elevated to a concert setting, it's still something. It was sung and recorded -- and I'm proud of it for what it is.

Also, as I mentioned, standing out on the deck looking at the glaciers and the bare rock of the Antarctic filled me with such awe that I had to write music about it. I've basically finished the first draft of two movements of what I'm pretentiously calling "The Antarctic Suite" and I feel hungry. I have a feeling that if I were enrolled in a college course on this stuff, I would be the least of the least of the students in the class, with everyone around me laughing at my simplistic musical vocabulary.

But I love what I've written so far. I called my friend, Ken, the other day and told him I feel a bit like a kid in Kindergarten whose just been given his first set of crayons. It doesn't mean I can't make a nice picture, but I'm also realizing how much I don't know.

Still, I'm not going to let it stop me. It matters not if I create great "art" or not -- and it doesn't mean I'm going to stop writing songs. What matters is that this music came out of me. Perhaps later, years down the road, I might look back on it and feel embarrassed, but what does it matter? It is what it is and, as my old 6th grade teacher used to say, "You can't learn any sooner."
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