Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pay Attention

I love to read the Psalms through every month. I don’t always get through them all, though. You have to read five a day to do it, and 119 throws me off every time, although it’s one of my favorites.  Taking in all that Biblical poetry at once really accentuates the fact that so many of them talk about music. I know, I have a knack for stating the obvious, don’t I? But it makes my heart sing, literally. And how blessed the music-makers are!  Like David, we make hearts sing.

I find that the reward of creativity is the creative act. Mailbox money and awards are nice, and seeing audiences respond with smiles, or tears, or singing along is great, but still nothing compares with the feeling of finishing a song that you feel good about. In that moment, you know you have somehow obeyed a higher order, persevered through the fear of the blank page and the voices of the invisible judges, and spoken the language of the soul, both your own and possibly that of humanity. And maybe just maybe you’ve tapped in on the heart of God, who must surely love music to have created it with such transformative, healing power.

God created music. Have you thought about that? It’s a new twist on the matter for me. I like to think that my songs are co-created with God, and if you think I’m arrogant and presumptuous, pray for me. But I’m considering another perspective. It came to me when I went to a show the other night, a monologue presented by my friend Craig Havighurst, and he talked about the science of music, sound waves, harmony, and all the crazy coincidental tricks of music theory, and musical physics. For example, 440, 220, and 880 are all A’s in different octave ranges. The number, or rate of the sounds waves, cuts in half or doubles at the octave, making the pitch higher or lower but the same. No one invented that reality. The math of music blows my mind. If you study the harmonics that happen when you strike the A, the tonality of all three notes of an A major chord will be present, A, C#, and E. In his show, String Theory, Craig said, “Do you know what this means? It means that harmony wasn’t invented, it was discovered!”

I guess this struck a chord with me, so to speak, because, first of all, it connected the God-dots, but also because I feel so much like I discover songs when I write or compose, and I see the same thing happen to my students and creative friends. It’s the “magic” part, the mystery that keeps you ever reminded that you are not in total control of the gift you are being given. Humbling, isn’t it? This is why one of my favorite songwriting mottos is “pay attention.” Those who have “eyes to see and ears to hear,” as Jesus was so fond of saying, will get the greatest rewards, creatively. And it all ties in to the language of the Spirit, like the wind blowing wherever it wants, or walking on water, or loaves and fishes multiplying.

So, be brave, baby. Maybe you’d rather have me tell you how to demo songs, or make connections, or collect royalties, but trust me, that information is easy to come by. I’d rather encourage you to travel to worlds unknown and bring back something very cool for the rest of us to see. To create is to discover. Let me know what you find!

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