“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”
Genres are very helpful for music discovery. They bond fans and listeners and facilitate shared experiences. But as anything with a boundary or classification, it can eventually end up being manipulated, create division and a lot of unconscious choices.
Some artists stay true to a particular genre. It makes it a bit easier for them to establish a fanbase by targeting fans of other bands in the genre. There are bands that experiment in the spectrum of their genre – sometimes to the dismay of their hardcore fans. And finally, there are some artists that don’t fall into any particular niche perfectly.
Music and Artificial Intelligence
I recently tested a new music tagging app made with artificial intelligence. I tested the metal albums and it correctly tagged them rock and metal. I tested the ballads and it tagged them everything from pop, easy-listening, country, R&B and folk. It also tagged my music as mostly angry, I assume the AI tags all metal music that way, even though I don’t consider my music “angry metal”.
But, here is the issue. If future music discovery is going to be using artificial intelligence to tag music, artists who travel the spectrum of a genre or even hop through genres are going to have a bigger problem than they already have.
I thought I found a home in progressive rock and metal. I soon discovered that there are many sub-genres in prog like symphonic, crossover, folk-prog, neo-prog, hard prog, prog metal, post rock, eclectic prog, canterbury, jazz fusion, progressive electronic, psychedelic/space, zeuhl to name a few. And then there are the metal sub-genres like, avant-garde metal, black metal, celtic metal, death metal, doom metal, gothic metal, grindcore, hair metal, metalcore, nu-metal, power metal, progressive metal, thrash metal. I also realized that the fans in these sub-genres are pretty devoted to a particular sound.
The advice given by most music business experts and labels is to play to your niche and its fanbase.
YouTube seems to know how to read my mind, it appears (wink)?
The video features professor of comparative literature Dr. Ken Atchity (AB Georgetown/PhD Yale). He’s written quite a few books and produced over 30 stories for television and film. Dr. Atchity believes in the power of stories to change the world, to make a difference in the lives of others whether through entertainment or instruction.
It’s great when just the right information you need appears “by chance” or so it seems. Besides other great advice about being a creative and taking control of ones mind and thoughts, he mentions a personality “Type C”.
Type C’s are compelled to follow their visions but he cautions they need to take a lot more care of their heads and understand what is going on inside them. Which voices come from the dream and which what others would have you do. Especially since what a Type C pursues isn’t always easy to explain or part of the status quo.
He talks about the voices of the “Accountants” who command most of the space inside our heads. They are also external “Accountants” in parents, teachers and bosses, judging ones progress and potential. He explains how hard it is for the creative “Type C” to explain that this “dream” may be a lot more important to them than a car.
He mentions the modus operandi of a Type C is awareness. The priority isn’t so much to succeed in the eyes of the world but to gain an understanding of the battle within and to master their inner forces.
Well, there is a perfect one sentence “treatment” of a motivating factor in my work.
In a previous post, Composition, Mixing and Mastering: Finding Your Muse I used a lot of words to explain the same thing about my creative process in the studio:
“If you have a specific feeling inside you at that moment and you let it “play out” into your music – you can even find answers to many personal questions, either about your own psychology or the psychology of others.
If you let the emotion express itself while you are playing, you find as the music evolves on its own, the final solution musically has a feeling. The feedback from the composition then becomes a source of personal wisdom. As if the first music idea that comes out is the tip of a deeper iceberg of subconscious feelings which as the song progresses on its own “reveals itself”
So, for me, a song grows on its own, essentially because of this psychological process. I try to be passive in order to listen to what the song needs me to do at the moment. I listen to what layer the song needs as it is being created. Does it need drums, violin, guitar in order to be expressed?
Honestly, I don’t have a specific formula, it is the emotion that guides the process and I try to find the best instrumentation or vocals to express it.
And even more words in the description of the “Metallia” album:
This instrumental progressive metal album will reveal its intricacies and hidden depths over time. It will extract from your mind pure visions, to mend your mental pictures, preen presumptions and to elicit an element of the unexpected…. because that is what will transmute your subliminal mind map into a remarkable blueprint which will lead you from wherever you are now, to wherever you want to be.
Some thought I was being figurative, but awareness was literally what I was trying to accomplish with the album. Awareness of very “real” states of mind.
“Awareness” being part of the creative equation isn’t mentioned often. It’s comforting to know there is a “type” in the world that are “compelled” to want “awareness” over anything else.
Maybe the creation of a new genre of music called “Type C” might help us musicians of whatever genre find an audience of listeners more intent on experiences of their inner worlds and forces. Or possibly it may be wise to expose future machine-learning programs to a “Type C” data set. Either way I don’t feel so lonely anymore.
Below are some of the videos and a few takeaways from Dr. Atchity series on the Film Courage channel. Maybe they may help other Type C’s out there.
Being An Artist Is Lonely – Dr. Ken Atchity
“Pressure is what causes creativity to work best. Lack of pressure actually works against creativity. As a producer, I’d much rather have a low-budget film to deal with where every single thing you do has to be a solution to the fact that you don’t have enough money to do it. So it becomes more creative.”
“When an artist creates something, he is taking a bunch of little things and creating order out of them.”
“What is the worst question that you could be asked at a bar or cocktail party in LA?
“When are you going to go back to Arkansas and work at the post office again?”
One lady burst into tears and leaves the room.
Another question, “What have you been in big lately that I have seen?”
She answers, “the Pacific Ocean”.
“I always love that because here is a creative person who has figured out how to protect her mind from the inevitable things that are going to happen in the big world. People aren’t born with sensitivity.
They don’t walk out of the home on the way to a party going I’m going to be particularly sensitive today. And the first thing they say to an actress they meet is, “What have you been in big that I’ve seen?” It’s not because they are mean or nasty people. But, maybe they are. It’s probably because they aren’t being sensitive. And you having that answer instantly bonds you with them and makes them respect you for respecting yourself enough to not take their question seriously. You don’t need to answer every question someone gives you unless you feel like it.
“It is a lonely process that no one understands. No one is really interested anyway. That is what you are dealing with in the creative world. You are trying to articulate things to people who aren’t living creative lives. It’s a burden to bear. But it gets easier to bear the more lightly you take it. You have to learn to be with your own mind and figure out how to control it.”
Every Artist Has A Calling – Dr. Ken Atchity
“I think that you have to be willing to be yourself. The universe did create you. And if you are not doing the thing that you are dreaming of doing. Then you are not only failing yourself but the whole universe and the rest of us too. Like if you are a storyteller and you are not telling stories because you are afraid of this or that. Then you failed yourself, your dream and all of us to who your story might be life-saving or the funniest story they ever heard. And you failed the universe that created you to dream about telling stories.”
“The artist can’t think about if what you are doing is excellent or not. You have to strive for excellence. Because if you don’t strive for that you will never get anywhere near it. But you don’t judge yourself based on any of those criteria.” Cause that isn’t your job. You job is to do your art and do that as well as you can at the moment and let the world judge it or not judge it, who cares. Your joy and mission in life is to do the creative work. And that’s all you have to worry about. Let everyone else make up their minds. The strength to do that means you need a sufficiently healthy ego to truly not care what other people think.”
Live Out Your Dreams by Dr. Ken Atchity
“What stands in people’s way is fear. And their friends inflict it on them. So distinguish friends and friendly associates.”
“If you are afraid of images, then you shouldn’t be in the world of images. So how can I let images in my brain control my actions. You have to learn to overcome that. People have to clearly understand themselves and decide on who to listen to. If you truly are a friend you encourage them to fulfill their dreams.”
“There are millions who don’t even know I exist. You are one little tiny piece of a massive cosmos that is going about its massive mechanism on its own without any need for you to consult with it. For you to be worried about what some other person somewhere else thinks about you. Is a complete waste of your energy. Your job is to do what your dreams tell you to do. To do it with all your might the way the cosmos does.”
“Write from their heart about things that really matter to everyone. In ancient Greece, Homeric song held culture together. It was because of those stories that a person knew how to deal with himself in battle, or when facing an attacking boar or angry wife or pillagers trying to burn down his village. He would instantly think of the story of Heracles who did this and that or the story of Aegean who did this and that. They didn’t have books for learning. It was all passed along through the oral tradition.”
“And I think stories have never failed to play that role in human life. And when you think about it, “What’s your story?” is probably the most human response to any encounter. It’s absolutely amazing that there is an industry that plays millions of dollars for stories.”