Monday, February 4, 2008

Test for Echo - Part II

Continuing where I left off in my last blog, I would like to give one example of a system to which I am very knowledgeable about, and show how it seems to "echo" greater truths about life itself.

I am a musician, playing 6 instruments, teaching as an adjunct professor and serving as a worship leader. I have recorded three albums (see

I have found that one can roughly classify musicians (as well as people) in two general categories:

1. Visceral
2. Analytical

The visceral musician is creative and intuitive by nature. They have to to even be a musician since they struggle with structure.
These musicians are most comfortable with "flying by the seat of your pants" spontaneity and improvisation. Visceral musicians aren't very detail oriented. They tend to be your McCartneys, Lennons, Cobains, etc....

Analytical musicians are thinking musicians. They love music theory, reading music and therefore the detail found in musical scores. These musicians have a greater ability to become very proficient on their musical instruments and more likely to become virtuosos, but do NOT ask them to write music!

I have found that the best musicians, those who are both great songwriters, creative and expressive, as well as being virtuosos, have become thus by successfully combining and balancing both of these categories.

Kurt Cobain, in interviews, used to freely use self-deprecation when it came to describing his guitar playing. He wasn't a very good player, but fortunately, he didn't have to be.

A similar thing was said by Elvis Presley:

"I don't know anything about music. In my line you don't have to."

Because today's commercial music generally doesn't promote great musicians, it will be harder for me to point to current musicians on the scene as examples of this visceral/analytical balance, but if you were go back and look at Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Neil Peart, Prince (he's still on the edge of the current scene), you'll start to see this balance emerge in their thinking.

But beyond simply being a good musician, I've found both as a music teacher, and as a band leader, that my bands will work best if I combine these two elements. I do so by giving them chord charts which provide them structure (analytical), but not giving them the anal-retentive detail provided in a music score that gives soooo much detail as to not give them any room for interpretation, creativity, spontaneity and improvisation (Visceral).

Now someone may object to my line of thinking and reference classical music as being tilted heavily towards the analytical details that a music score provides. But many of the great classical composers that these musicians try to exepmlify, were known for improvisation and spontaneity in their musical expressions. I firmly believe that this side of music is a huge key in their genius. To ignore it is to imitate, but never truly capture the spirit of these genius composers.

So how does this apply to life? I see life as a balance between the analytical and visceral, or better said a balance between the absolute and the relative.

As stated in another blog, at a higher level (closer to every day human experience), life seems to echo relativism and experience.
But at its base/foundational levels, life seems to echo absolute truth.

Both sides, while they can be seen to be opposites, cooperatively converge and balance each other out.

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