When I was young, my Science teacher at school taught me that there’s no difference between a Star and a Person, that both are made exactly the same, that both share the same particles with no exception. Well, obviously he didn’t know anything about the music business, and mostly he didn’t know that in the future I would become a professional musician that would learn on the road that a “Person” and a “Star” are probably the most different concepts ever to imagine. I’m still recovering from the highly toxic stellar radiation emitted by another of the many music business activities that I paradoxically love to attend many times every year, and I think I have a couple more weeks to go so I can recover completely (smile).
The universe is fascinating, but is quite dangerous, as we all know. Stars everywhere… growing and intending to swallow their neighbors till they violently collapse and die… the already mentioned radiation… the comets and the asteroids that only know about speed, speed and more speed… well you know what I mean.
There are no ideal situations in life, and the trick is being able to see goodness, beauty and beneficial things everywhere, even where they are hard to find. Every music activity is always deeply related with business nowadays, so actually you see the brands cooperating with musicians and musicians cooperating with the brands. Brands make really enormous efforts to be able to show their products to their future customers. I really admire those courageous businessmen that try to sell musical instruments, amplifiers and every product related with music, considering that they will probably make more money selling fried potatoes, and I’m not kidding.
Getting into the musical business is an incredible adventure where those businessmen, who generally love music and have great respect for artists, have to deal with an enormous amount of variables. They are usually able to deal very effectively with all the commercial aspects, but at the same time they have to deal with a very special subject that is very abundant on this context, for whom they have to become experts in Astronomy and Quantum Physics, because many times they will have to make use of their enormous astronomic expertise and their skills to be able to “Deal with the Stars”.
What is “A Star” in this context and how do we define it?
In my humble opinion, “A Star” is a bipedal organism that is absolutely self-conscious, and at the same time “somehow knows” that the universe rotates around it, in fact most of the time the “Stars” don’t even realize that they see their very own existence this way, but always act accordingly to this precept.
Specifically, “Music Stars” “Somehow know” that they are really special; they think for example that you can’t compare them to a “normal” guy that works in a bank, or the guy at the gas station, or really anybody. They wouldn’t be able to “sacrifice” a little scratch on their fingers to help or collaborate with a friend that’s cutting some roses on the garden or fixing the roof at the house, because “that was not meant for them”, maybe an engineer, a doctor or a businessman can do that, but not them.
A Music Star talks “all the day” & “everyday” about music and usually (not always) knows nothing or little about the rest of the things in life, which by the way is the 99.9% of life.
In order to become a real artist, but I mean “A real artist” like Michelangelo for example, you can’t just focus on the very art you develop, you must be able to put it in “The Center” of everything you do, which is something absolutely different, and once you achieved placing it right there, acting as a point of gravity for all the activities of your life, then you have to nurture that Art, you have to feed it… How? Well… with the 99.9% that surrounds it. And if you don’t care about that 99.9%, what happens then?
Several years ago I wrote a short reflection regarding this matter that I’ll intend to translate effectively for you.
If life would be just about music, what are we going to sing, play and compose about?
Regarding comets and asteroids…
“Music Stars”, especially when it comes to instrumental, contemporary jazz and fusion music where they can choose whether to play fast or not, usually have the desperate tendency to mutate from the state of “Stars” to the state of comets or asteroids, that means allowing high speeds to become the most relevant issue for them, so relevant and important that, once again, they don’t even realize how this craziness destroys any beauty on their musical speech. When they play like that, many times without even noticing it, they are literally collapsing every aesthetic statement that humanity has been building for millenniums.
Not everything has to be fast…
Getting deeper about the “Speed” issue, here comes a nice paradox. Because I’ve been dedicating a big part of my musical studies and developments to create and develop a bass-finger technique so efficient that “Unintentionally” allows the musician to play at incredible speeds, but the most important aspect being that it requires no effort. It’s very important to add this comment on this context, because the guys that complain all day about those musicians that only know about playing fast are usually very handicapped themselves on that specific matter, so they just don’t become credible for anybody. We all know those guys, well, that’s not my case…
With this comment I’m not even getting close to proposing that I’m a good player, so please don’t misunderstand me, speed is a quantifiable variable. I said one time that the Vectorial Synthesis Technique is a finger pizzicato technique that allows me to move across the fingerboard in a solo situation playing clean sixteen notes at speeds close to 300 bpm. The reason you don’t see me showing this “achievements” on YouTube is exactly the one for writing this article. And I repeat, that doesn’t make me better than any other fellow musician; my statement is heading to a complete different direction over here (smile). In fact, if I would not take control of this variable (as I think I’ve done already) the overuse of that ability would have had the power to transform me into the worst bass player on the planet.
So when to play fast then?
Easy, when the situation requires it… and that’s not very often really. You have mainly two forms to increase the amount of energy on a musical statement, “Speed and Dynamics”… and your common sense. Musical criteria and aesthetical notion will define when and how much. By the way, studying a little bit about Aesthetics Theory won’t hurt you at all (smile).
I admit that sometimes I get into speed craziness depending on the solo and the situation, but it’s enough with just a couple of seconds of that orgasmic explosion and that’s it… What’s the need to keep playing like that for an entire concert? I can just say that when it comes to Aesthetics Theory, that’s a real good example for the concept of ugliness. I admit that sometimes I have had the temptation to respond to the zillion notes some colleagues throw on my face on many situations, but 90% of the times I avoid it, I just want to be a good artist, try that at home folks, is much healthier.
Having talked a little bit about comets and asteroids, let’s get back to the Stars!
I have to admit (and you can quote me on this), that “I feel absolutely uncomfortable even if I get a little bit close to a Star”, I start sweating and my muscles turn stiff immediately, it might be the radiation I think, but when they start talking, wooooww, that’s another thing, that’s the moment when my worst nightmares come true.
Generally Stars are absolute beings, to start “They are the bests”, and if for some miracle they think they’re too tired of being the best for so many years, they have the power to decide who the best is now. On my last tour I was introduced to the “10 best guitar players in the world”, “10 best bass players in the world”, and “10 best drummers in the world”, can that be possible?? If my little knowledge about logic doesn’t lie to me, this is an impossible statement…
There’s people in this world that enjoy behaving as “Stars”, they just love it and think that this is perfectly ok because they are so special that they just deserve so everything is fine and cool….
The only thing I can say regarding that, and is just my opinion, is that “Stars” are handicapped people that have lost any contact with reality, delirious beings; toxic organisms that feel they are bigger than the very art they dedicate their lives to, poisonous organisms that have the power to easily spread their venom, which consists on a radioactive toxin that make people start thinking and feeling as “Stars” too.
Keep at a healthy distance from them and focus on really important things… help a friend to cut the roses from his garden or fix his roof, and if the price for that is taking the risk of harming or twisting a finger, believe me it’s completely worth it because life is something you have to fully experiment with… all the goodness and the badness, so then you can have something to say and to express in your music! It’s not the first time I have said this, I know, but here I go again… “Before trying to be a great musician and a complete artist, start trying to become a complete and ethical person…”
See you on the next…