Music

The stresses of real life when combined with the more trivial components can add up to a feeling of general exhaustion that leaves you and your family without the time or motivation to express your creative sides. I have found that making time for music brings out my creative nature. I’m not just talking about creating music, though this may be a great time for members of your family to order a new instrument online and develop musical skills.

MusicIn this blog entry I am going to discuss three primary aspects of our creative natures and how to feed that desire. Creativity shouldn’t be something that you hope to squeeze in if you have the time but should be an important part of your schedule every day. Then on those rare but amazing days when you have nothing but time, you are ready to really open up and create.

There are so many outlets that allow us to tap into those forces inside of each of us that are seemingly always struggling to come out. Writing, painting, music, and the plethora of other creative arts can serve as an all-important catharsis to cleanse the pallet of our daily lives leaving us feeling fresh and renewed.

For the purposes of this article I won’t be able to speak to all of them but will focus on some of the potentially more familiar ways to explore this side we all have. I will look at how to explore, discover, and create so that we all have the pleasure of creative outlets.

Exploration

For myself, music has always been an integral facet of my life and since I first really remember listening to music as something other than background accompaniment to my life, it has been with me through everything and still serves as my primary tool for staying grounded. I was fortunate to grow up in a house where music was important and thanks to my father I grew up with a general love for music and an appreciation for important artists like Elvis, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan.

Over the course of my life, the practice of listening to music has changed considerably. I remember being 10 or so years old and listening to records on my suitcase record player in my bedroom. Music exploration was still at the early stages for me, and I had no idea why the warden threw that party in the county jail as that seemed to contradict what I’d seen about the penal system on TV and in movies, but I could sure dig that groove.

MusicMusical exploration for me went through a communal phase where my friends and I would shop for music together and then listen to it together. This changed a lot with the introduction of personal music players like the Sony Walkman and later with portable CD players and mp3 players. These more intimate interactions with music all share one thing in common, headphones.

I read an article online the other day about the lost art of “deep listening” and couldn’t agree more. My solo explorations of new albums with headphones and a lyric sheet are indelibly etched in my memory. The connections that I have to the music of my youth, seems to often be romanticised because of moments like this where I truly immersed myself into music unlike the random shuffle playing in iTunes while I’m doing research online.

Music

Listening like this to other amazing artists and musicians can reignite a fire under you to pick up a guitar again, or maybe to pick one up for the first time. Of course the key to this is a great headphone that is capable of accurately replicating the dynamic range and sound quality of the recording. There is also a more subjective measure that differs from person to person and is based on personal tastes in sound.

I would imagine, however, that the better the sound reproduction the more likely it is that an individual would prefer it over other headphones. Some prefer a bass heavy song, others might want a flat equalization, and others still prefer their music to have a brighter quality and all of these can be heavily influenced by the choice of headphones. The Sony WHXB700/B, for example, are marketed as “extra bass” headphones that will give you that body shaking thump so integral to hip hop or EDM. Flat response headphones like the beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO are generally called “Studio” headphones as they are used to mix and master music without the injected bass or treble of conventional headphones.

MusicSo slip on some headphones and listen to your favourites in a way that you may not have in the past and discover some amazing but subtle nuances in how they approach their respective instruments. Regardless of the headphones you choose for a deep listen, I suggest that you use them with the audio cord rather than wireless as Bluetooth further compresses what is already likely a compressed audio file and for a deep listen, this matters.

 

Discovery

I am going to approach the “discovery” section as one where you have discovered your desire to start playing an instrument, or perhaps to really focus on improving like you haven’t in the past. I know that I go through periods where I spend far too little time even picking up my instruments let alone playing or practicing in any meaningful way. So when I have a chance to re-invest myself, I make sure that I take it.

So if you find yourself sitting around the house one day with a clear calendar, take a step into news ways of thinking and either try something that you’ve always wanted to do or allow yourself to continue doing what you’ve unfortunately been neglecting.

The traditional way of learning an instrument is to sign up and pay for instruction with a person who has a certain level of proficiency on the instrument. You could always have purchased a “Learn to Play insert instrument here in just 2 Weeks” from a local music store but I have always believed that in-person tutoring with some personal accountability is the best way to learn and succeed. Now, that isn’t always possible. No teachers in your area, no transportation, or no funds make this impossible to do but thankfully modern technology is here to save the day. Blogger and guitarist Nikolai wrote about Fender Play and as you will read, it’s a very useful tool for everyone in the family to pick up a guitar and quickly learn how to play. Here’s his video review:

Online instruction runs the gamut of instruments and styles from streaming video instruction to personal one on one instruction over video chat. YouTube has cemented its position as the go to for anything that you quickly want to learn as someone somewhere has taken the time to make a video that will show you exactly what you need. From changing the starter on sweet 1908s Dodge Ram van to learning proper bow techniques for the violin, YouTube can be absolutely amazing.

If you aren’t/weren’t familiar with Lynda.com (which has been rebranded as LinkedIn Learning after its recent purchase), it is a comprehensive online learning platform for everything from computer coding to photography, video editing, graphic design, and video production. Even if you are familiar you may not now that you can likely access this veritable treasure trove of knowledge for free via your library. My library website has a link to digital learning materials and using my library card, I am able to log into the LinkedIn Learning website and access ALL of their content. There is so much available there that I would encourage everyone to check and see if they have access. It can be game changing for a content creator.

The bottom line is that there are now a multitude of diverse ways to learn how to play or learn how to master an instrument so if you have the desire and the time, discover what works best for you.

Creation

MusicI know that as soon as I could start making sounds that people could identify as “music” or at the least as somewhat “musical”, I wanted to record it. Even if not to share with others then at the least for myself to have a record of my achievement as well as something I could look back at later to measure my progress. This is easier than ever today with so many incredible products available to assist you in this endeavour.

IK Multimedia makes a wealth of gear whose sole purpose is to make it easier for you to record professional quality audio at a fraction of the cost to do that even a short decade ago. I have done several blogs and videos over the past few years highlighting these and I will include a few links here to help you get an understanding of how easy it can be to create and produce your own music in 2020.

There is a famous saying that is attributed to a handful of different people, none of whom likely ever said it, and I will paraphrase here: “A good artist imitates whereas a great artist steals.” Lawsuits over plagiarism aside, music has always moved forward by building on, and borrowing from, the music that came before it. It is with this in mind that I started mixing things up by recording my own original songs but ones that are “in the style of”.

I Musicpick an artist, or a genre, and then I try to write an original song that sounds as if it had been written by that artist or band. I still write and record my own music as well but I find that this “in the style of” gets me thinking about music in ways that I might not normally do. It gets me out of that box that my song writing seems stuck in and makes me think about things like the relationship between notes or scales in ways different from how I usually approach it. I’m not going to lie either, it is a whole lot of fun.

No offense to anyone reading this that loves country music, but I do not. At all. At least not mainstream country as I understand it. Yet the other day I asked some friends for a suggestion of a new “in the style of” song for me to tackle and knowing how I feel about it, one smirked and said “country”. I immediately dismissed it. Yet later that day I started to think about it and if the purpose of this thing for me is musical exploration, discovery, and creation, who am I to put limits on it?

I started to listen to different styles of country music, or labelled as such anyway and I did come across this one very cool band called Me and That Man. As it turns out, it is a “side-project” for a group of European extreme metal musicians which is maybe why it stood out for me but it did introduce me to some alt-country and outlaw country. I listened, I learned, and now I am trying to write a new country(ish) styled song “in the style of”.

I have a film maker friend who recently asked his friends on social media to shoot some video and send it to him because he wants to try and make a short film based on the crowd sourced footage. Again, something that could not have occurred all that long ago but with prosumer gear at affordable prices, hardware and software more accessible and even easier to use, and the technologies of storage and exchange making it easier to share and save the amazing opportunities to unleash the creative that is inside all of us. Apple even announced the other day that its music production platform, Logic Pro X, and its video production platform, Final Cut Pro X free for a period of 60 days so MAC users have no excuse to not dip their respective toes in the water and feed that creative itch, whatever form it takes.

https://www.apple.com/logic-pro/

https://www.apple.com/final-cut-pro/

So if you find yourself with some time on your hands and a creative voice inside of you yearning to get, I hope this helps to frame some of the ways that you can achieve just that.

BONUS ACTIVITY Have every member of your family learning a new instrument. Then pick a song and separate while you each learn your parts on your instruments. then get together, set up a video camera, press record and start to play. There is no practicing together before you record. Fight through it as best you can and then post it to YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media #BestBuyCreative. PLEASE remember to tag me (@fearkeysersoze) in it.

Remember that the only things you never learn are those things that you never even try. Browse the best buy Canada website, find an instrument or a camera or whatever sets your creativity in motion. Remember to explore, discover, and create because its never been this easy, and this fun, to do it.

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My day job is as an Assistant Professor in Media and Communication Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley. My primary teaching and research interests revolve around popular culture and technology. I am an adequate at best guitar player currently attempting to romanticize my inglorious youth in a Hair Metal cover band called "Glam Chowder”. When not working or watching TV, I am usually listening to music, recording music, playing music, or trying to figure out what gear I need to make all of that music sound even better.