Clipped Wings

I have been achieving some level of success lately in organizing my life. This is a major achievement for me as I have been a master of behaviors that run counter to that; procrastination,  giving up and settling for less than a desired result.  I am hoping that this organization can somehow extend itself to that ultimate goal: creating and performing original music for myself, and hopefully others to enjoy.

What I find the most challenging about working on this very important part of me is defining what it is exactly I want to do and also trying to figure out what my musical identity might be.  While I don’t feel strongly that a musical identity is necessarily a legitimate thing, I have noticed that this is how a majority of people, brought up with the wonderfulness of modern mass-marketing, view and consume a musicians work.

I struggled with this question when I was younger and full of musical fire: am I a jazz musician? Even then, before looking at it and analyzing it to death it seemed a wrong, if not ridiculous, title to apply to myself. I felt then, and still do, that your musical identity should be created from all the music that you play and listen to and compose (or start and never finish composing). Modern “jazz” musicians are nowadays well-versed in many styles of music because of the jazz-in-the-universities phenomena that is churning out thousands of virtuosos a year.

My struggle since moving to Las Vegas has been to not let my creative side get crowded out because of so much of my day being consumed with money-making work (I’m not knocking it). I am glad for some of the skills I’ve acquired here, especially the improvements in woodwind doubling, but I know that if I were to look at the long term, I would need to get that creative side awakened and developed to the level that it should have been by this chapter of my career.

Well, since my 15 minutes are up and I am on a subject about which I could blather on without end, I will add a related side note  just to tie it up.

Last night I worked a job which required much improvising of a technical nature but within somewhat commercial constraints. It was during a 30-minute version of “I Will Survive” which consisted of about 15 minutes of saxophone solo that I thought about how much my improvisation has been damaged by gigs such as this. All those many, lonely hours of learning and practicing to try to be a state of the art improviser but never getting to play anything but the clipped wing version of musical expression has wrecked me. I only hope the effects are reversible.


2 responses to “Clipped Wings

  1. I just stumbled across this Miguel. All I can say is, “ditto”. It’s good to be playing, at least that’s what I keep telling myself. All things considered, we are very fortunate, but most of the time, my soul is empty musically. I’m proud of what I do, who I work with and how I do it, but it’s all the “clipped wing version”. Musicians cannot be fulfilled with “Wind Beneath my Wings” or “Puppy Love” and I am beginning to fear real musical situations that I used to live for. I have one night a week that means a lot to me, but lately, even that has been starting to feel formulaic. I know how fortunate I am and it makes me feel guilty.

    To busy chasing the dollar to find my muse. Good problem to have, I suppose.

    • Yes, I am very thankful for the financial stability. In fact, what makes it difficult for us to keep the creativity up is that we choose to have day jobs to better support our families, and that is noble.
      I am not blaming Vegas for my problems either; there are many here doing creative things and working full time, like Nathan. I just wish I had the self-motivation to do more. I am hoping by talking about it, I’ll shame myself into trying.

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