I was rummaging through my old sheet music last night in search of something simple enough for me to play on my guitar. While doing this I came to the conclusion that eight years ago I was a damn good saxophonist. Up until high school marching band killed my love of musical performance [a love that had already waned since becoming involved in organized ensembles in 6th grade] I was starting to play some Coltrane and learning the art of jazz improvisation. Then I up and quit. The upshot of this is that all of my sheet music is far too complicated for me to play on my guitar. For now at least. But something as mundane as this did get me thinking. [surprise!]
I am in a constantly struggling with my art. I have a well of creativity and imagination that I can’t quite ever fully tap into. I feel like I am standing in front of a leaking dike with a bowl and just catching dribbles until I have enough to take a drink. I figure this might be the typical state for many artists, and the periods of rapid productivity and genius are when the levee breaks. Since all art [except for writing*] is, by its nature, ineffable I think my difficulty lies in the basic connection between translating the ineffable into something. Which is a pretty damn big problem. A fundamental one in fact. A problem that says, perhaps I shouldn’t be doing art at all if I cannot translate.
My problem is that I’m not very good at any of the art forms I’ve been trying. I’ve avoided drawing and painting because I don’t know how to do them and I don’t think my mind is arranged properly to deal with that type of visual artistry. Filmmaking is the closest visual art to my mindset because it is siginificantly easier to make things look the way I want them to. My writing breaks down because I always end up writing about writing about things. I want to tell stories, not be a writer or filmmaker. I want to be a poet, not write poems.
So I’m thinking that perhaps music is an art I can be good at. With music I don’t need to describe the ineffable because I can make it myself. This strikes me as the reverse of what I have just talked about. Instead of interpreting that which cannot be fully interpreted, if I play good music I can lead myself and others to a place where things cannot and do not need to be interpreted. Because being there is enough.