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As I Descend Into the Depths of Musician Stupidity… January 18, 2011

Posted by craftlass in music.

I started recording again last week. Nothing huge, just a few singles to bridge the gap between my EP and my next big project, give me an outlet for some ideas I’ve had on a few favorite songs. Now that I’ve recorded a few times I’m noticing a pattern in myself that explains a mystery I’ve always noticed from the other side of the desk/console/etc.

Why are musicians so damn stupid?

Don’t take this the wrong way, almost unfailingly, musicians are highly intelligent creatures. It takes a big brain that works in a very special way to make music, especially if you compose it. Most musicians do compose to some extent, too, even if they never get a single writing credit, at least in rock and related genres, as each musician has their own spin on their part. If you have seen a lot of live music you probably have noticed this when a band member changes in an act you like and really know the music of. I’ve said it before and will repeat it until the mountains thunder it back to me: Music is a perfect blend of art and science and you have to have a working knowledge of both to create it well. This means that musicians (even ones who don’t realize this is what they are doing, since this can be quite instinctive) take some pretty advanced concepts and mix them up into something beautiful and warm.

I know, I know, I seem to be contradicting myself… Bear with me…

When I worked in the music business and did some audio engineering back in the day I was consistently shocked by the stupid things that would come out of musician’s mouths. I mean, here was this smart person I could have long talks with about all sorts of intellectual things, including the music we were about to work on, and then the studio or office door would close and BOOM, the stupid would close in. This bothered me (although it did explain a bit about how the music business got away with so much over the years!) and seemed inexplicable…

…until I started recording myself.

Now I’m the stupid one, and I feel it. I notice the drop the moment the mics are in place on the first day. It gets even worse, too, I’m just going about my life being stupid right now. The simple things seem harder, the complicated ones need to be put aside for the moment. It’s not actually stupidity, of course, it’s a matter of focus. All I can think about is the music. When all is silent in the room my brain is whirling through what we’ve done and making plans for what to do next. I’m having trouble typing this right now as a song is screaming in my head, trying to get me to stop writing for my blog and pay attention to it. I have little to add to any discussion, making schedules or plans is difficult at best and pointless at worst, and I make for a terrible friend right now. There’s just no room in my head for anything but these precious songs and what they need from me.

My songs are my children. They come to me unexpectedly, demand nourishment and constant care, have individual wants and needs, and eventually I hope they can stand on their own when they are let loose on the world at large. They even have “age groups” from the unformed embryos of ideas, to toddlers with their own personalities emerging, to going off to school by being performed for an audience, to the whiny adolescence of recording. Once recordings are released they are even like good children who leave home, we visit once in awhile but they are mostly doing their own thing. At that point, I am proud and pleased to hear from them, but my focus has to be on the younger children in my care.

So, if I disappear for a bit or say something that sounds incredibly unlike me, just remember where my head is right now. It will be back as soon as I hear that last final mix, or at least I hope so. I have a lot of work to do, and a lot of that work requires a functioning brain!



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