Only now am I realizing that my early music came with a unique signature because I was too young to know what the rules of music were. In my garage band days, we were just having fun. It was our recreation. We played stuff because it sounded cool. We borrowed from other contemporaries who were only then discovering music too. Our harmonies jumped all over the place because I failed music theory in college.
Sweet Comfort Band started as a three piece with only two singers. We had a jazzy sound in a folksy world because a minor seven chord sounded more full to me than a straight major chord. And because I barely played an instrument, I could hold down one chord and sing multiple melodies. The drummer used a double kick drum; it filled up a lot of empty space on stage. What we didn’t have in finesse was overpowered by screaming volume.
I have reached a point in my own career now where I am starting to mock music that doesn’t sound the way I learned it. But if the rules of music didn’t change we’d all still be doing John Phillip Sousa marches.
Even at an early age I understood that if I copied the music that came before me, I would merely be a copy of something that had already been done better.
Even at an early age I understood that if I copied the music that came before me, I would merely be a copy of something that had already been done better. I heard a song from the 1920’s the other day and I noted that singers of that era used a vaudeville vocal twist in almost all of the songs of those days. It came to define the time. If I used that lick in exactly the same setting now, I would be branded as dated, more than likely. When I hear the old hymns too, I hear a time and a place from the past.
The Rock and Roll I grew up with is now found in the “oldies” category. We had a formula for making music, and we did it so well that we became successful… and it defined a time and place. But like the waves of the ocean, each peaking and breaking and flooding the sand, it must recede to make room for the next wave.
As musicians, we are all having to make decisions about how much we can incorporate from other ‘discoveries’ musically in our own sound. Our music has survived through disco, funk, punk, corporate rock, alternative, grunge, House music, and Hip Hop. And lets add worship music as a style. The key, I think, is to sound fresh without sounding copied. I don’t do music for recreation any more, but maybe I should. Or maybe the word is “Re-Creation”. I need to revisit my early feelings of love for what I’m doing.
In the long run it has been the passion of following Jesus and the struggles of a relationship with him that has fueled my desire to put my diary to music. It is humbling to accept that my formulas have been replaced and I need to learn some new recipes if I want to stay in the kitchen.
I’ve noted the music they’re using in TV productions lately: No drums, and sometimes not even bass. It’s just a rambling vocal melody from an unusually distinct voice, with hooks in all the “wrong” places. Usually done with the simplest piano riff, or a ukulele! Musically it’s disappointing. But I forget the primary reason for music. It is to describe the emotions we all have, regardless of what generation.
Personally, I’m not leaving the band at home. But if we are going to stay interesting we will have to throw out what “we’ve always done” if we expect a different result.