Music Teacher's Helper Blog

There are lots of myths and conversation surrounding what makes the first spark of creativity and inspiration, some say it’s a natural thing and others say it’s something you learn, however the truth is that there has never been a time when this was not an important subject.

The Mistery of Inspiration

muse inspiration

Human beings have been talking about this strange inspiration moment for centuries, and it goes as far as ancient greece were they talked about the muses. There were nine muses, each for one form of inspiration, but the most important in music was Euterpe.What’s interesting is that many of the muses shared musical instruments as symbols, meaning that music was very present in different forms of art, and display of emotions.

The word “Muse” is still used in that sense, as some unknown impulse that something or someone evokes in a person in order for them to create through different means.

Modern Muse

These days the inspiration musicians feel when they create something is still very misterious, and it’s very hard to get a grip on what makes it appear. It’s different for each musician, some may need a clear head and be calmed, others use anxiety and anger to fuel their music, and some believe there is something in common between every musician.

Jack White has some words for what inspiration is for him, and how it has changed since the beginning of his career. He believes that there is a side of inspiration that you must build through work and discipline.

Guy Garvey from Elbow said in an short interview with the guardian said:

The best advice I’ve ever had came about 20 years ago from Mano McLaughlin, one of Britain’s best songwriters. “The song is all,” he said, “Don’t worry about what the rest of the music sounds like: you have a responsibility to the song.” I found that really inspiring: it reminded me not to worry about whether a song sounds cool, or fits with everything we’ve done before – but just to let the song be what it is.

Usually bands have specific inspirations for each album but sometimes it’s just about letting the music be.

There are very interesting proposals in progressive rock for example, where inspiration took bands to extreme levels of performance and lyrics in order to express the feeling inspired by something in particular, for example: Supper’s Ready, which is a song from Genesis

The song was inspired by a night Peter Gabriel spent with his first wife, Jill, at her parents’ house. Gabriel believes Jill became possessed by a spirit, which gave him the starting point for a song about the battle between good and evil.

Gabriel said: “One of the first times that I felt as if I was really singing from my soul, almost like singing for my life.”

It’s very hard to understand when and how inspiration comes, and it’s certainly not something a few steps on the internet can get you, it’s something every musician has to live on his own. Maybe the best advice is to make music really be a part of your life by practicing, exploring new grounds and just look forward to playing everytime, eventually inspiration will come in different forms, when it does, it’s best to make the most of it.

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A musical film is not just a film with music accompanying the story, is a film where dialogues and story are intertwined with music and in many occasions dancing. There is a very theatrical feel about these movies, sometimes resembling operas and old plays but there was a big boom in Hollywood which started around the 1930s and 1950s which saw the birth of many classics and the genre as we know it.

The Jazz Singer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIaj7FNHnjQ
It’s interesting that this genre was responsible of making the leap from silent movies to the audiovisual greatness that it is today. “The Jazz Singer” a musical from the 1920s was the first to feature synchronized recorded music score and lip-synchronous singing and speech in isolated sequences. While there were some films with sound before The Jazz Singer, it was this film that really mastered the art of sound for the first time, and it was a purely musical film.

The Sound of Music

After the golden age of musical films, there was somewhat of a silver age, where films started to have a certain level of complexity, but musicals were still a success. Most musicals in the 60s such as the Sound of Music were adaptations from original stage musicals. In this case, The Sound of Music was a drama that occurred during the events of world war two and managed to be one of the best written American written musicals, being based on a true story and providing an incredible soundtrack to really make it shine.

Grease

The 70s was not the age of musicals anymore, cinema in general was starting to take a more realistic turn, films were taking an approach that most of the times didn’t welcome singing dancing people. However there were some amazing exceptions like Grease.

Footloose

Footlose from the 80s was mainly about dancing, and the soundtrack really makes that happen. The movie is based on the story of Hennepin, a small town in Oklahoma where dancing was prohibited for a while. It’s interesting to know that some scenes of the movie that were originally going to be fight scenes, ended up being dance scenes, which made the movie more musical and had a lighter tone. Musicals were hits and in a way they were coming back to their old glory days.

Aladdin

In the 90s Disney animated movies had already gained a lot of popularity and had experience with animated musicals and Aladdin was proof that after decades, Disney always found a way to make things better. Of course the main man, “The Genie” played by Robin Williams, had a lot to do with that success with amazing scenes.

8 Mile

As times changed, musicals changed, this opened the possibility to make different approaches to the way musicals tell their stories and break the usual content, which is the case with Eminem’s 8 Mile. This is a movie that some may not even consider to be a musical, but it is in many ways a musical drama. The strange thing about 8 Mile is obviously that Hip Hop is the main genre of this musical, and that is a big departure from the usual jazz, ballads or light hearted dancing songs.

La La Land

In 2016 La La Land came out, and it was a huge success due to its incredible repertoire of music and outstanding performances, however there are some interesting aspects of this movie that really stand out. First of all the movie is set in a fictional Los Angeles which sometimes seems like it’s set in the 50s and other times in modern day, as if it were timeless. This serves an interesting purpose which is to bring back what made musicals so great in Hollywood with Jazz and balladss and a story that revolves around a young actress and a musician both pursuing their dreams and falling in love. Today musical films are not as big as they once were, but there is no doubt that there is still room for more than just admiring the past.
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There are many ways to share music to the world, and while there are now digital connections that makes this a lot easier, there are still artists and musicians who enjoy the most simple experience of all, just go to the street and play.

While most of street performers receive some money for their talents, it’s clear that their main goal is not to make money, is to share their art freely, in this case, music. There is something nearly magical about the urban music surrounding a fast and very busy world that these musicians make possible and it’s bee like this for quite a while.

The term used for these performers was busking, which was first used around 1860. It comes from the Spanish word “buscar” this means “to seek”.

However there have been many forms of performers such as troubadours in medieval times and Japanese Chindonya.

Today street musicians are still very much active, but in a very different world.

A Loud Stage: The Street

Street

In an interview with Roselinde from Globonaut, street musician Stefano Rossa talks about his experience playing in a difficult stage.

Urban sounds obviously make it a bit harder for me to play. Silence or quietness are essential to the good result of the performance. The only sound that doesn’t annoy me at all is the laughter or clapping of a kid.

He also talks about things he has learned during his time playing on the streets.

I’ve always been very shy and even if music helped me a lot throughout all these years, I still feel that little feeling of awkwardness while I’m playing in front of someone else. Actually, I think it’s pretty much the same for every musician on Earth, but everyone lives this in his own way. Being a street musician taught me to be tougher but, on the other hand, also calmer. I simply think that I’m doing what I love the most and in my own way. What people think doesn’t have to affect me too much, especially if somebody thinks or acts negatively. I give a lot of respect to the people who chose to do what they love no matter what people say or who society doesn’t want you to be.
Stefano Rosa

In other words it can be a transformative experience in the sense that it’s a very easy and straightforward way to engage with an audience and it helps deal with external sound, focus and all sorts of opinions.

Freedom and Music

On the other side of things there is also Estas Tonne, who is another street/traveler musician but has gained a wider audience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gphiFVVtUI

In an interview for Turkish journalist Ilgaz Yalçin Fakio?lu he said:

For many years, I’ve traveled without agenda or a schedule exploring different countries and cultures, visiting those places I’ve been receiving an inner calling to go. Now it has changed for the organized concerts firstly and festivals. When an invitation comes, our team reviews it from all kinds of perspectives, though it is impossible to answer all of the calls. Besides, no matter how much I love to share this music, I cherish my solitude times and so-called creative madness when I can just be…observing each coming day…

There is a sort of freedom that these musicians share and it shows through their compositions and even through the instruments they choose, like Damat Drummer who says:

I play drums since i was 9 and i still do, but as i previously stated i believe that each object can produce its own sound and that’s why, from my point of view, every object is a musical instrument.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7fUVmfyFQ8

For some, it may be seen as if they are wasting their potential but the truth is that these are just different approaches to music and every single one of them is as valuable and artistic. Music Teacher’s Helper Tip: Did you know you can edit system email templates? Yes, the only restriction are the variables. Those cannot be changed in any way

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