It has been a while since I wrote a post. The main reason being burnout.
What’s this you say! Burnout! But I thought you always had passion for composing classical music?
Yes it is true. I have noticed a trend in my own approach to hobbies, especially music. It goes something like this:
- Start to get the urge to do something, like compose.
- Think about it for a while.
- Finally sit down to do it.
- Realize that I have been wasting so much time in my life, and that I should have been doing this for 25 hours a day for the last 10 years.
- Feel frustrated where I am at in my “journey” on this hobby.
- Resolve to change it.
- Go full steam ahead.
- Burnout, and wonder why I don’t want to do this anymore.
Burnout can be a real issue, and is something difficult to deal with. But there is something that I have also noticed with this. I almost always come back to a few different hobbies, and most of them have to do with music.
My Achilles Heel
I must say, that for some reason, I have just not been able to really get into counterpoint as much as I’d like. I think part of the problem was the move to California, as well as not having a great place to study on my own in silence. Another part of the problem was really beginning the study in depth after having been at this full force for over a year.
Have I Lost My Passion?
Hardly. Chances are, that if you really had the passion in the first place, you may just need a break. And I really have the passion for composing.
I have taken a few months off, while I have moved my family to California, started a new job and a new life outside of the Army, and taken up surfing again. And it has been really helpful to reset.
One of the things that I have noticed is that I am listening to a lot more jazz music. Jazz has been one of these passions, that I’ve floated in and out of burnout since I was about 13. Its one of those things, where you have to really put in some mentally difficult practice in order to get better.
So for the next few months, I imagine that I will be talking quite a bit about jazz composition. It is a pretty different style of composition than what I have talked about on this site in the past. But I think there is a lot of room for growth.
I am a big fan of Brad Mehldau and Joshua Redman. I have been listening to both of them since college, and probably together, along with Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins, make up the majority of my jazz listening. So when I found out they created an album together, I had to get it.
The album was very different that what I expected, but found it also very mentally stimulating. One of the things that struck me, was the attempt to take jazz out of the standard, “two runs of the head, a few solos, another run of the head, and a weird chord at the end,” style of composition.
Brad Mehldau treats this much more like a concept album, like something Pink Floyd would do, and builds off of motives, harmonies and almost a story line.
Where to Go with Jazz Composition
So this is the kind of direction that I want to take jazz composition. I am going to discuss some basic things, like standard chord progressions, ii-V-I’s, voicings, instruments and so on; But I am also going to try and bring in my experience with classical form, traditional harmony, and everything that I’ve learned about the process of composing. This is probably not going to be very easy, but it should be a great way to stir things up.
The Goal is to Be Played
Just like with any type of composition, the goal is to get your music played or listened to. This goal still stands, but I have one thing going for me… I play a bunch of instruments. I will be able to write for myself, and hopefully play and record at a level that people are at least willing to give it a listen.
I also want to try and write for a few players. Guys that I’ve met along the way, and that have taught me how to play and compose. You never know when you might get someone who really digs your piece, and would want to record it.
You Should Change it Up as Well
I have no way of knowing whether you’ve reached a point of burnout or you are just starting, but take it from me, it’s good to change things up every once in a while. It will keep you going. And don’t be afraid to take a break either. In the end, if you are truly passionate about something, you’ll do it.