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So how does THAT work?

Brian speaks:

So I’m coming down the home stretch for this semester at school, and wow, what a difference a few months can make. The stuff I’m learning is almost immediately applicable to the band. I have the least formal musical training of the three of us, and I could see right away that would be a hindrance. I got so tired of having the equivalent of baby talk as my only means to communicate the music in my head to Paul and Erin. They were patient as hell, but I’d rather they didn’t have to be, if you see what I mean. 

 I was having dinner with my Mom & Dad last night, and Dad asked if I could describe what differences, if any, there were in how we communicate as a band, now that I have some basic Music Theory under my belt. His timing was impeccable…we’d just had this amazing rehearsal, and I was thinking to myself the whole time that I was finally feeling like we were on even footing with each other. Then Dad asked me what the goal was, a year from now. He seemed a little surprised I was able to outline our plans for the next 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, and beyond. Then I told him that I had just finished a project for my Music Business class, doing that very same thing.

 I’ve learned a lot, and while there’s still a lot I need to pick up, I can see the shape of it. I think I actually know what I don’t know, what I need to know, and how to get there. How remarkable…

It’s a little hard to describe our process, sometimes. We can talk about the nuts and bolts of it, the musical language that Paul and Erin speak so fluently and that Brian is acquiring. (Good luck on your finals by the way, mate!) That language, the notes and the keys and the chords and the tempo, that’s all important stuff. But it’s not the only thing going on. Comedian George Carlin put it pretty well:

“I’ll tell you a little secret about the Blues: it’s not enough to know which notes to play, you have to know why they need to be played.”

That’s another part of it; the feel of the music. And we’re not talking about hippy-dippy head-trippy stuff. Music, for all that it’s very mathematical at its heart, is all about emotion. We use emotional language to describe what we’re hearing. Minor chords sound sad. Major 7th’s sound anxious, and need to resolve. Music is emotional math.

And then, there are the moments that are really hard to describe, the moments that could make one believe in magic. Working on a new piece of music, coming up with an idea on the fly, and right before we open our mouth to ask Brian to come in with a harmony at this moment, or Erin to switch the tune she’s playing like so, or to ask Paul to drop into a minor key here…they’re already there.  It’s like we’re all learning to hear the music the same way, to hear what should be where, and how, and we just…do.

Magic, I tell you.

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