This is so stupid... (but I have to share it with you)

I've been "not playing" now for three years. I think that's longer than some of you have been playing. I still digest music daily internally and I often get the attention of my brother firefighter/paramedics at work who notice the non-stop whistling or humming. Emilie (sp?) helped me learn this in her "Up Jumped Spring" post and I think it's going to help me out of my "hiatus" mode and start writing and playing again.… (thank you Emilie).

Consider these questions: Where does creativity live in musical expression? How does a person express brilliance in their music? What is writer's block and does it exist in improvising? Emilie helped me see the answers to these questions. The creative genius in music lives in the DEVELOPMENT of an idea - NOT the idea itself. "Ideas" are a dime a dozen. I have so many ideas that I tend to be stagnant because no single idea ever sticks out as being anything interesting or purposeful. The idea is only the tip of the iceberg. The idea is the LEAST important component of the process of creativity. How you develop any idea is where the genius comes in.

You could wake me up at 3 AM any morning and say "Piper, give me a musical idea" and I'd have more of them than you could shake a stick at but I'd discount them all because none of them are brilliant. However, now I know that an idea, on it's own can never be brilliant. It must be developed to become so! HOW you develop it is where you express yourself and your brilliance. This to me was a revelation!

This is everything but stupid!! John I love this post!! I was open mouth all the way!! That you haven't played for 3 years and that Emilie made you "unlock" that important door!

I'm so happy to read you again! I can't wait for the day you will play again... and that we can hear you again...

Take the time you need... We should still be there tomorrow! ;-)

- M

this is great news for us! all your solo vibes pieces i heard from you are really outstanding and i´m looking so much forward to hear some of that with your "new spirit"


This isn't really about me. This is a bigger story that I think might help others understand what they are trying to achieve. I feel that I've probaby said everything I have to say musically (but maybe not). I'm a small voice, just striving to be an artist like everyone else and it's very hard to do. The objectives are not defined so helping to define them is one of my goals.

that's a valuable lesson to pass on. i think we talk about that all the time here in other ways. don't we?

make a final product. isn't that developing an idea.

the TOTM is an idea to work on a tune. when you CATS work on the tune and post it, you've developed an idea.

am i on track john?

No, I don't think I explained it right because you missed my point completely and I don't know how to say it any differently but I'll try.

Just developing or learning a song from the beginning to the end and improvising on it is not developing an idea... at least it's not what I'm talking about. I can have the idea to play a song, learn all the parts, chords, and have a general idea of playing it and not be very smart or even coherent about the development of ideas within the tune. I might even neglect to have an idea in it. I MIGHT just be regurgitating general sounds of previous tunes, licks or players, or playing over chords as if it were the same as all the other songs... or like Bill Evans said, I might just be putting out a generalized overview of a concept and speeding past a simple statement of truth. Why? Because I might not be giving the proper amount of importance to the simple creative process of *developing* an idea. Writer's Block might just be caused by giving the original "idea" too much importance and spending too much time looking for that one GREAT idea when in reality; it's the development of the idea that makes a tune. It's the development of an idea that is the creative part of making music.

Take any tune and you'll see that the Motif is usually nothing great... but how it is developed is. Satin Doll, Up Jumped Spring, Autumn Leaves, Autumn In New York... and a billion other tunes. The Motif is simple but the development of it is where the art and creativity lives. So, I guess my point was a statement to myself and others like me not to dwell on having a brilliant idea but to accept any and then stick with it and focus more attention to the development of any idea to show your creative side.

Nothing more to say ... I totally agree with you, with this awareness of the development that I live at the same time as you, back my computer screen,without really know the person witch I'm addressing here...
What a great moment, beautiful emotion... I'm so happy to live it...
thanks profoundly to share all this with us !!! !!! !!!

develop the idea!

John, I couldn't agree more. A deep thought simply stated. Thanks for that.


Possibly one of the best examples of developing an idea is Charlie Parker's 1947 recording of "Embraceable You", of which I'll provide the link to youtube below. This take is not to be confused with a second take that is completely different. This particular solo idea is actually based on a jukebox tune called "A Table in the Corner" recorded by Artie Shaw and sung by (I think) Helen Forrest. The basic idea is laid out in Bar 1, but you'll see how he develops it over the next set of bars and then uses it as a springboard into a series of variations on different themes. There is nothing profound about the melodic idea, and actually the Shaw version would most likely be a forgotten one except that Bird used the motif as the basis of one of his most famous improvisations.

Thanks John. That's an excellent sample of brilliant development of a simple idea.

This is not related to music in particular I've gone through life with a myriad of experiences, the place I've come to at this time - through a lot of pain, loss and hope - has opened my eyes to this; focusing on the past or the hope of a better future have limited my experience in the present moment. Not to say that looking back or forward are bad, just limiting. It short circuits the experience in this "moment". Not to say I haven't learned from the past or I can't make plans for the future.

I can't do anything about the past, its already happened right? So, living here keeps me stuck on what might have been or I'm burdened by sorrow and guilt.

My problem with the future is that I am focused on an outcome. How often has something turned out EXACTLY like I thought or hoped. For me, maybe once or twice in my life. Mostly, I've been left with a feeling of "this is it?"

So, when I live in this present moment without any expectations, the possibilities of my experience are endless! Yes I can plan and do all kinds of things necessary to propel my life into the future, I just can't attach myself to outcomes because I'm mostly disappointed.

So, musically, I see it as yes I have this song as a guide, the rhythm and the melody. Improvising provides this place to express consciousness in this moment. To take the feeling, the idea and experience it as it happens, in the moment without expectation or attachment. Tto see where it goes, what it feels like, what its saying. Endless possibilities........does this make sense?

I don't think what you're saying is stupid at all, its very insightful. Thanks John for sharing it!

Tony Fontana