Many times I get asked how recording can benefit an artist, outside the usual monetary and recognitional properties that stem from producing a recorded work. In this blog posting I want to address the many subtle benefit that come from recording on regular basis.
As artists sometimes we become accustomed how we sound, how things feel, and how we expect things to come out. Through this, we develop a sense of how we think things should come out. In other words, we become conditioned by our own technical success. Ultimately, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. However, if we plan to progress in our art form we should consider techniques that will keep us unbiasly accountable. Recording ourselves offers this technique. By recording ourselves, we are able to hear ourselves void of conditioned hearing. We are not judging our sound, combined with the filters from out preconceived notions of what we should sound like. Therefore, our progression is dependent on us thereafter. How we view this recording is completely dependent on us. Ultimately, we should strive for constructive judgment. We should look at the recording as a light on our blemishes, an opening eye to things we may have not heard when initially recording.
The key to this viewing is by disconnecting yourself from the recording, taking a subjective look at your recording. Then, you will want to focus on how you can improve on the things you hear that you want to fix. At this point you should consider yourself a sculpter. This juncture is critical due to the displaced nature of the situation. You are able to hear what you did and literally sculpt your sounds. Be honest, easy on yourself, and detailed oriented. Keep in mind that the recording is such as a guru giving your a vast opportunity to change the course of your musical life.
In modern improvisation we find the alterations of key signatures, time signatures, and harmonic displacement. I will address more on these in Part IV. But for now, I would like to talk about the philosophical implications of these changes. When an improviser takes it upon himself to change, not just the notes but the feel of a composition, he implies that a great knowledge base is in place of that composition. Compositional knowledge is paramount before one can attempt to manipulate in any capacity. This vast understanding of a piece of music may take months, years, or decades. In some circles, it is believed that not one person can know all there is about one particular song. The only exception would be that the composer himself is the only one that knows his composition the very best. First, one must take the initiative with an explorative mind. You must set out to analyse and mentally notate everything that you come in contact with, while working on the piece. When you are doing this, keep in mind that even though you are participating in the producing of the sounds that make up the piece, that you are only that for which makes that sounds. Sound manipulation is at the very essence of what you are participating in when improvising. You are changing the vibrational qualities from what was originally placed by the original composer.
The message that you will transmit to your listener from this change in vibration will be dictated by how dense and dimensionally loaded your tone quality is. This, stimulates the implications of validity of practice and tone cultivation. One must spend time to closely analyse your tone quality. The musician should consider using a form of meditation in order to quiet their minds and inner vibrations. Experiment: Notice the next time that your inner mind is racing, and your biological vibrational energy is fluctuating how this effects your musical expression. All musicians and artists perform better[in quality]when they are quiet inside and focused.
Recently, I submitted a research project on the history of the song Hava Nagila to one of my very dedicated violin students. I am proud to present to you the following student report by Gretchen Almind:
Hava Nagila Recording:
-Thomas McGregor, Music Instructor & Lecturer