Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Which Describes How You're Feeling

I've been playing musical instruments for quite a long time now, but I only really started getting into it in the last few years. If I'm in my room and I'm not eating or reading a book or playing video games - basically, if I'm not doing something that requires the use of my hands - I'm playing my guitar, whether that means my amp is cranked and I'm jumping around like a crazy person or I'm absentmindedly taping the strings while I check my e-mail.

In the days before I'm became an obsessive lunatic, I would hear people talk about how playing music gives them a means to express themselves, and I didn't really understand what that meant. Now that I'm a constant nuisance to all within audible distance, though, I get it. Writing your own music is a very expressive thing, obviously, but it's something I don't do much (though I wish I did it more).

Most of the time, I either idly improvise, plucking out whatever notes and chords my fingers choose, or freely jump around, playing the various songs I know, sometimes being a bit more active and looking up how to play specific songs, or trying to play them by ear. The point is, I either play in a way that's fully loose and subconscious, or I play real songs and play them over and over again, day after day.

It's this repetition that leads to my insight. I might pluck a simple, 2-minute song for an hour. Let's say I do that every day for a week. The logical conclusion would be that by the end of the week, you'd be able to play that song pretty well, but that's not always so. Today, I just couldn't get anything to sound good. Easy songs, songs I know, sound sloppy and weak, and my fingers fumble clumsily. I was particularly bad after returning from an incredibly numbing class. Not coincidentally, I haven't been able to focus very well on anything today. For instance, I should be doing homework, not even difficult homework, but it's tough to force myself. I tried taking a break, but books and video games weren't excused from my apathy. I'm pretty sick of blogging at the moment.

Of course, it's not hard to tell when you're in a mood like this. Like I said, though, the repetition is why I find this interesting. When something is subconsciously bugging me a I try to draw, I end up with a picture that may not be as good as it could've been otherwise, but I never draw the same thing the same way twice, so it's tough to gauge. On the other hand, I do play the same music perpetually. The slightest variation or struggle is strong clue that today is not that same as yesterday. I guess the next step is figuring out how to harness subtle shifts and feelings to work for me. I suspect it's the key to further expressiveness, song writing.

Also, the title of the last two days' posts have been They Might Be Giants references. This was not on purpose.

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