With the various individuals, companies, and corporations involved with music, philosophies on what music is and what music is about have become frayed as time passes. This list contains philosophies to live by in relation to my musical enterprise, and as I will revisit these core belief to see if I follow them, you can hold me to these standards.
Music is omnipresent. It is used in advertising, in film, and on the radio: music is inescapable. Therefore, especially since music greatly affects mental state, an understanding of music beyond a superficial understanding is imperative. That is why this site is not just dedicated to one aspect of music, but rather several aspects from the production to the performance.
Music is an art, not a business
While there are a plethora of business aspects to the music industry, music itself is an art and should remain as such. As the music industry expands, it seems like the music is increasingly becoming a means to generate money; money has become the focus instead of the music. I attempt to conduct business differently, where all money is just a byproduct of excellent music and not vice versa.
Great music is not good enough
Everyone can improve, and the same goes for music. A satisfactory, or even spectacular, product does not justify complacency. Part of a musician’s and composer’s job is to try to consistently improve every day. With diligent effort and a focused mindset, even the world’s best musicians and composers can improve.
One thing done well is better than many things done not as well
When many different tasks can easily become overwhelming, the quality of any one drops. Therefore, I try to focus on one thing really well: music. While there are many different aspects to music which I enjoy (such as playing and composing) they all relate back to music. Even my programming life relates to music, particularly when it comes to this website. Through all of this focused effort, I not only hope to gain a greater understanding for the art, but also to help share my experiences with others.
Every detail matters
When a composer writes music, every note has a reason and a function (perhaps even several). Therefore, it is important that when writing, analysing, or playing music, considerable attention is given to each detail. Questions like “Is this in tune?”, “Is this the best articulation?”, or even “Is this the right phrasing?” are important to ask when performing, and similar questions need to be asked while writing to ensure that the highest quality of music is created.
Sounding good is not a replacement for being right
Many composers / songwriters nowadays write a piece / song because it “sounds good” or “sounds cool”. While sounding good is an important part about creating musical content, it alone does not decide the quality of a piece. The quality is determined by the technical content of a piece—not implying that a piece should be technically difficult, but written technically sound. There are various “rules” of writing music, and while not every piece follows each one exactly, the composers who write works of musical merit know why they break the rules whenever the break them; they can explain why the rule should be broken and why that is right.
Music can be more than entertaining
While entertaining music is—well—entertaining, there is so much more to music than entertainment. Music is written for many reasons, whether it be to tell a story or to celebrate, but music is not purely for entertainment. While entertaining music is not inherently bad, it is important to be able to understand and appreciate all other types of music, too.
If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right
While it is easy to do a job satisfactorily, it takes character and hard work to actually do the job correctly. This is the difference between doing something at a B level versus doing something at the highest level possible: better than an A+. Those who do the job right, such as Google and John Williams, always have higher success than others that do the same job at a level that just passes.
The Past Matters
One of my favorite quotes says this best: “It all just disappears, doesn’t it? Everything you are gone in a moment, like breath on a mirror… But, times change, and so must I… We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s okay, that’s good. You’ve gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.” While music inevitably progresses, it is imperative that we all keep in mind the greats of the past, such as Bach and Beethoven. The great composers and musicians of the past are who lead music to where it is today, and it would be selfish not to remember their greatness.
Progress and Innovation are Okay
Every discipline progresses. Each year, there are new mathematical discoveries, scientific innovations, and groundbreaking works of literature. And there is no reason why music should be any different. It has innovated for tens of thousands of years from simple drums and singings, to gregorian chants, to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Even in recent years, there have been innovators such as Stravinsky, Schoenberg, and John Cage. While the past should always be respected, it is not something that should hold back innovation because it never has.