Experiencing Music as a Musician

There is nothing quite like being a musician. It is an odd experience actually because when you’re a musician you experience music A LOT differently than a non musician.  A non musician hears a song and generally hears the song as a whole integrated piece of music.

A musician LISTENS to a song and hears multiple parts all happening at the same time and individually.  A musician can individualize pretty much any singular piece of the song – any melody, any instrument, and harmonies.

Musicians reading this will know exactly what I mean.  A musician experiences both the feeling of the music and the mathematics of the music.  After all, at its root, music is pure math.  What gives music the emotional connection is the musicians ability to push the music with his or her own touch as well as their ability to actually “arrange” the music.

A musician experiences music on such a different level in fact that it can trigger s reaction in them that causes a shiver or a chill at some particular part of a song.  Similar to the way you can taste food or see a landscape and it causes some effect in you, the right combination of notes or some crescendo somewhere can cause an overwhelming sensation in a musician.

The math behind music is actually pretty amazing.  The subtleties that underly why say a whole step from note A to note B causes one feeling in you while a half step causes a totally different feeling would take a whole study to figure out, but when a musician is playing live, the decision to play one note over another happens in a split second based on where the musician finds himself at that instant – tonight you play it one way and tomorrow night you play it completely different.

Music in a major scale generally evokes a “happy” feeling whereas music in a minor scale is more grim.  Even if you know nothing about Major and Minor, you surely now when one song feels happy or sad.   Add to this a 7th and your Major (happy) feeling becomes exaggerated and the 7th almost make it sound confident or bright.  The same goes for adding a 7th note to a Minor chord and your Minor (grim) feeling now becomes some form of cool, bluesy, or funky.

Music has a core and adding things like a 7th or a 9th are like adding spices to a recipe to make it “taste” one way or another.  This is very hard to explain unless you can experience it for yourself as a musician.

Just like you can think in a foreign language like Japanese or Italian, you can ‘think” in music.  I don’t think a musician is thinking about the math of music so much when he’s playing but more feeling where the music is at any given point.  I mean once in a while I might think about the theory while playing, but for the most part I just play and feel my way through a piece letting my ear and my fingers and my sense of direction determine where to go.

I like music that has 6 general characteristics.  Denseness, Pulsation (such as the subtle effect of a shockwave), Minimalism, Syncopation, Dissonance/Resolution, and Lushness.  There is no experience quite like a band playing together as a cohesive unit with multiple people playing different parts and pulling it all together into one piece of music.

If you are not a musician, what are you waiting for?  You can pick it up at any age.  The first year of learning an instrument is hard because you have to learn how to hold it, work it, and make it sing, but after you get past this, you start to perfect your signature sound.  Only YOU sounds like you.

Give 5 different chefs the same 5 tomatoes, salt, oil, oregano, and wine and you’ll get 5 different sauces in terms of flavor.   It’s the same for music.  Give 5 different guitar players the same guitar, amp and equipment, and you’ll have 5 different styles and signature sounds come out of those 5 people.  Santana always sounds like Santana regardless of what guitar is in his hands.  It’s the same for you too.

The ability to experience music as a musician is something that is within reach of almost anybody. Click on the video above and really LISTEN to the complexity that is going on in there – you’ll find spice (horns), syncopation (percussion), subtle details (guitar licks), dissonance (choice of notes in the voice), pulsation (guitar in the breakdown), and a lot more.


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