27 April 2008

Art (Music) and the Daily Grind

Are sublime listening experiences commonplace, or are they rare occurrences? Are these experiences lurking behind every corner just waiting to be discovered, or are they elusive, rare commodities that must sometimes be actively sought out rather than passively received?

The notion of "the best" is, by its very nature, highly exclusive. Everything cannot be "the best," or else there would be no "best." Whatever your preferences, these exalted moments are, by definition, rare.

If such moments are not commonplace, can we reasonably expect that our commonplace states of mind and commonplace daily routines are in any way well-suited towards either (1) identifying opportunities to have such experiences, or (2) receiving such experiences in the way that they demand we receive them? Such experiences defy the daily grind, both logistically and perceptually, and they demand that we defy it with them.


For the performing musician, is performance preparation inherently disruptive to or compatible with one's extramusical daily life? If artistic success requires great logistical contortions such as canceling all social and leisure activities for a period of time, has the artist truly succeeded?

Due to the physical nature of their craft, it is not unusual for instrumentalists to make special accommodations for a particularly important upcoming performance. These accommodations may include "clearing out" one's schedule in the days leading up to the event, sleeping more, eating better, drinking more water, etc. etc. But what does it say about that instrumentalist that their usual daily grind is not conducive to the artistry they aspire to? Either the daily grind ought to change, or they should.

Though exalted artworks are, by definition, rare, the artist must operate on the assumption that it is possible to succeed often in their attempts to create such works. This cannot be accomplished by making adjustments to one's routine when exaltation is demanded, but only by finding a healthy balance of work and play that is conducive to maximizing one's chances for success all of the time.

Great art by definition does not fit comfortably into everyday life, but rather than merely "making time" for artistic success, great artists are those for whom great art does indeed fit into their daily grind, and to whom it becomes commonplace.

1 comment:

Nick Zielinski said...

So are you saying I should not be eating mcDonald's every day? I think that's what you're saying... but I like McDonald's. Whattaya got against McDonald"s man?

quit being such a snob.