I asked some musicians the same 3 questions.
Why do you make music?
How do you know when the music you make is good?
How are improvisation and repetition involved in your music?
This is what they said:
Fraser Burnett (FRU, pjorn72)
1. ego-stroking, attention-seeking emotional venting
2. i don’t, but if i LIKE it then that’ll do for me
3. i make something up, then play the same thing for ages
Drum Major Russell MacEwan (Black Sun)
1.I joined the Boys Brigade pipe band when I was ten years old and I was a big fan of Adam & The Ants – who had two drummers during the ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ chart success album. I remember playing gigs at that young age hitting me like a ton of bricks and I’ve never lost that excitement for writing, recording and playing. And I’m still a member of Adam & the Ants inside.
2. My first assessment is if I enjoy playing it. Sometimes you birth a monster which is an absolute fuck to play live but you’re stuck with it for the duration of the tour/record. After a while you judge the response of the audience matched to your continued enjoyment – or not – of playing it live. I mostly collaborate in music so the opinions of band members are equally as valid.
3. I use repetition as the basis for my drum patterns and allow time to pass while playing them in order to adapt and develop. I find it very freeing indeed. It allows me to fling in something off the wall now and then in terms of improvisation but in the main heavy rehearsal form the basis to my live shows so that they remain fun to play too.
John P Cromar (Noma)
1.I do not make music,music makes me….just a wee Mahler quote.I make music because it is the only real constant urge I have all the time.I want to make music that I want to hear and it makes me feel alive,in the moment etc..without music my life would be even more of an accident than it already is.
2.I think the process of making the music is when I feel good and the end result may not be that important.If I sit in the park with a new tune on my earphones and feel serene,relieved or disturbed then I guess that I like the music.I love most of my music BUT do not know if that makes it good.
3.Improvisation and repetition are used a lot in my music.ImproVisation and repitition are used a lot in my music.ImProVisatioN AND rePITition R used A LoT in mY music.A lot of improvisation+repitition can be found in my music.
Nick Herd (Red Death, Braw Gigs)
1. I’m under the belief that real musical expression is that of catharsis and necessity. If it isn’t compulsion then it isn’t worth doing – time to do something else.
2. I don’t think anyone could answer that question without sounding like a total dick. I think the trick is to definitely hone your musical knowledge and to immerse yourself into what you think sounds good, I suppose. And then just copy them, for lack of a better word – or the bits you like and just try to make it your own. I’m very wary of so called “experimental” musicians who aren’t obsessive music nuts themselves. Avoid those people like the plague.
3. I’ve never fully improvised, maybe about 30-40% of performances have improvised elements or i just fuck up and it sounds more improvised – but it’s mostly prepared. It’s getting less repetitive these days, due to my thimble sized attention span.
The improv word gets thrown around willy nilly these days anyhow. Ayler, Mikawa, Bailey – all great and authentic improvisers. The Scottish underground scene has very few full-on improvisers, in my honest opinion – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Don’t fear the rhythm!