If music plays and there is no one there to hear it ...
It's Sunday, I love Sundays... This morning I woke up thinking about writing music and the engagement of listening.
I can never really claim to own the music I write as much as anyone can claim to own the words they speak. Writing music feels like an ongoing commentary based on a response to the same vista that we all look upon through our own senses. The patterns I arrange feel right in the moment and are more usually the result of impulse rather than construction. Consequently, those patterns then go on to mean something to someone else which is a reminder that music enables a distinct form of communication. I have come to learn that honest communication with myself is the key to unlocking a connection with others. The main challenge is to get out of your own way and to not tear it all down when you yourself have moved on from that moment.
I know now that I need to write for myself, to poke at myself and find out what I really think or feel. Words can so often be used without thought and care. Sometimes I wonder if writing is a key to diving deeper; a safe place to discover yourself and find out how you see the world in that moment, with the added karmic notion that it will continue making connections far beyond the time you spent with it.
You may have heard musicians describe the relationship between the listener and themselves as a conversation. It is probably at its most tangible during a live performance. A shared space where the crowd can literally give back to the performer.
I like to imagine that a similar dynamic is woven within the essence of the act of listening itself. I have often wondered if the listener in some way completes the song. Just as an observer grants a painting a place to receive its form. To question whether we as observers and interpreters of the world actually change that world in our act of observation is a question posed by many fields of study and has conjured numerous quotes and riddles over time. See: Subjective Idealism, Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices, Hui-neng and Drishti-srishti-vada.
Song writing is a search for ways of expression. It is assembling the rhythms, melodies and lyrics that feel right in that moment for reasons and impulses known only to the writer. Once the song leaves the writer's hands it begins a transformation. From that point on it belongs to anyone who cares to catch it and embrace it.
You are the listener and what happens next is up to you. As listeners and lovers of music we define its destination; by engaging and connecting, you complete the song's journey.
Writing music is my therapist, my friend, my enemy and my mountain to climb; but it is only as a listener that we lead a song home.