An Open Mind to New Music
5/22/2013 1:26:00 PM
Someone once said, “Music is life”. While that might seem as a very broad description to some rookie players, any veteran would probably nod his head in agreement. Every culture, every generation, every musician, has their own way of interpreting their life, feelings, emotions, pain, and happiness into their own music. By opening your mind and allowing yourself to listen, to really listen, to the many different styles of music that is available, you are allowing yourself to grow as a musician in ways that a narrower minded musician might never understand.
Whenever I meet a brand new guitarist for the first time I usually ask them who they are influenced by musically. What kind of music do they like to listen to? Who are their favorite bands and Guitarists? More often than not, I hear a very narrow list, and almost always it’s from the same musical genre. “I like Punk, Blink 182, and Green Day” or “I’m really into System of a Down, Soil, and Disturbed” or even "Dude, I like Slayer, 5 Finger Death Punch, and Korn".
Now, when I ask an accomplished guitarist this same question, more often than not, I will get an answer that covers a much wider range of musical influences. “I’ve been studying Luigi Boccherini lately, and listening to George Benson, Louis Armstrong, Corrosion of Conformity, and some Hendrix.”
(Flash back to 6 years old at the dinner table)
“How do you know you don’t like Peas if you never try them?” My mom said while waving her boney finger in my direction.
As much as I hate to admit it, momma Capone was right. How would I know?
By listening to other writers and musicians and their various approaches to creating their own unique style of music, you are opening your mind up to new ideas and possibilities that you might never have discovered on your own.
It’s a fact, we are all influenced by that which we are exposed to, and these influences will always manifest themselves in our music. It’s a good thing, even if the influences begin to border on obsessions, it’s all good.
Your grandmother has some old 1960's Tito Puente tunes on in the house and you think "Holy Hell, I don't want to hear crazy old latin music". Yet, you can hear Tito's influence all over Carlos Santana's amazing guitar work. Don't like hungarian gypsy tunes? I'm not surprised. They aren't exactly a big hit on iTunes these days. Yet that sound can be heard in many of Randy Rhodes guitar licks.
Sure, the past is a great place to go for inspiration and ideas, but don't forget the now. Rob Zombie and Wayne Static did a hell of a job incorporating techno and dance into their metal. These days we have rap in country, bluegrass in alternative rock, and thanks to new production software and unlimited libraries of samples.. well.. the sky is really the limit.
You are, what you eat.
Just remember, there is a whole huge world full of different sounds and styles, tones and tempos, grooves and guidelines, all combined in the most unusual and creative ways. Expose yourself to as much as you can, soak it all up, take a great big swallow and you will be rewarded handsomely, I promise.