Monday, July 18, 2016

Someone's got to be the first.

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Every San Jose obon we have an early-morning discussion session between some members of SJT and the collegiate groups playing over the weekend.  One of the questions asked in my group was how to write a song that was different to the group's current style, in terms of mood/energy.

My answer was that someone has to "be the first" to do it.  Someone has to be the first to push the limits, stretch the boundaries, test the waters, etc.

If no one writes a song that goes a little outside what's "normal", then what happens to the repertoire of songs in 5, 10 years?  More and more and more of the same, to a point possibly where songs are hard for the audience to distinguish between.

If no one solos with different patterns than everyone else in the group, or with different motions than everyone in the group, then again, how will people in the audience distinguish between them all?

Stepping a little outside what's expected, what's "accepted" can cause friction or discomfort, sure.  But it can also cause growth, can also trigger new ideas.  You can learn what's off-limits in theory vs. in actuality.  Without trying, the boundaries are all hypothetical.

Going too far at first is not always a good idea, however.  You could actually turn people off to the idea because it's too extreme, reaching too far, etc.  It's like asking for a cookie before dinner vs. asking for an entire cake.  One is reasonable, the other is not.

You might find the group votes your idea down.  It's possible.  But it's up to you whether or not that ends your attempts, or you mark it up as experience.  Personally, I have done countless things that were remarked on, some that were actually explicitly forbidden later (amusing but don't do that again) and some were highlights of my solo history.  I've written things where people had to do something out of the norm, and some of those things became key points the song while others make me shake my head when I think back to.  Without trying those things, I wouldn't have the experience, creativity, or willingness to do some of the things I do now.  And I feel like there's still SO much more I haven't even thought about yet!

You don't have to be groundbreaking or revolutionary (I mean, it's not bad if you are), but you can be intentionally curious and exploratory if you want to be.  After all, someone's got to be the first...

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