Committing to the work
I’m constantly trying to find ways that I can be committing to the work. What is the work you might ask? I think for me it’s anything that’s firing the brain on a creative and artistic plane, helping me progress and gain knowledge so I might navigate my musical landscape with a little more ease and fluidity.
Today’s act of committing to the work comes in the form of a transcription. I’m about to launch a brand new transcription course at www.videobaslessons.tv next week, and I’ve been working not only on my business of music lessons, but on the work I’ve been doing for my playing since I first picked up an instrument. Committing to the work in this case not only has several meanings, but it’s a huge part of keeping what I do honest. Not only am I attempting to keep learning music interesting and inspiring, I’m also working up a sweat by furthering my own playing at the same time. It’s a means to several ends, and financial isn’t the one at the front of the line.
I think that committing to any kind of work shouldn’t be financially motivated. As soon as it is, you lose the “art” aspect of it, and you start heading for the lowest common denominator which is making money and surviving. When you start to aspire to be great (or at least better), and have an artistic goal in focus that inspires you and those around you, then what more do you need? If what you’re doing is that inspiring then people will more than likely stick around to check it out and maybe even part with some money in your direction at some point if they find true value and uniqueness in what you’re doing.
I’m not by any means claiming to have achieved that. I’m simply stating that I’m committing to the work to head in that direction. Failure is inevitable along the way. It’s our failures that lead us to discover what’s not safe, what hasn’t been done before.
So here’s why this transcription inspires me. It’s 7 choruses of Michael Brecker on his song “Delta City Blues”, live in London in July of 1998. The band features Joey Calderazzo (who’s solo you can also hear after Mike’s in the audio below), James Genus, and Ralph Peterson. My transcription course deals with all the great things you can glean from listening to other people, writing that information down, playing it over and over again, forgetting about it completely, and then letting it come out in your playing naturally at some point in the future. Not only can you do all that with any transcription, but it’s the imperfections and the failures in my process of writing this stuff down that leads to the greatest discoveries in the music. I write everything down by hand. Pencil and paper. Old school. For the online course I transfer all that information to Sibelius to create a nice clean digital version of the sheet music, and during that process I’m once again listening to the music and putting each note under the microscope. There are inevitably a ton of mistakes and as soon as I spot them I grab my bass and see what the “mistake” sounds like as opposed to what was actually played. Some very cool ideas have come out of those simple mistakes, and some of my favorite lines have been born that way.
I won’t go into too much detail about the course before it launches next week, but I will encourage you to check out the MP3 above of the solo featured in this course, and think about committing to the work yourself. It doesn’t have to be this solo, it could be any solo. It doesn’t have to be jazz, or music even. Whatever it is is known only by you. But if you’re inspired to do something then you know what work you have to commit to to make it happen.