The pain of music.

24 06 2013


“Sometimes, making music is painful.  Sometimes, that’s the point.”

I typed these words on Facebook just a few minutes ago, in response to my own status.  Piano time, it said; I had mentioned that kleenexes might be necessary for this go ’round with my 88-keyed lover.

Why is it painful to be a musician?  Why do so many of us carry the perpetual undercurrent of ennui?  We have a gift!  We’re blessed! Legions would love nothing more than to possess our talent!  Yes, we’ve all heard it, and we’ve learned to smile with gratitude and accept the compliment,  But inside, something gnaws at us.

To be a musician is to possess a different perspective of the world.  We have a heightened awareness of nuances, detail, layers.  Our emotions generally run at a fever pitch; some of us learn to contain the overflow, others, not so well.  At one point during my twenties, I likened my existence to “the hoards of commonplace on ecstasy.”  Yes, it is a beautiful thing that we do, for music is one of the few art forms that must be experienced in the passage of time, and cannot be contained in the realm of space.  To make music, to listen to music, is to feel, to live.  The act of performing opens oneself to criticism, to laud, to any and all range of reactions from people, from others who may or may not “get it.”  Thus, a musician must deliberately be vulnerable.

This is where the pain comes in.

Couple raised perception with necessary vulnerability, and more often than not, the immensely talented performer on your side of the stage has often been driven to near madness by the perpetual quest for self-acceptance, let alone perfection.  There will always, always be someone better than us, someone more proficient, someone with a more fluid technique, a higher range, faster fingers, better breath control.

This is true in every art, every sport,  many if not most jobs.  Yet one often does not find an accountant drinking himself into a stupor because numbers were not crunched quickly enough.  Nary a pharmacist weeps in the night because her coworker knows more about drug interaction than she.  So, why us?  Why the purveyors of exquisite sound?  Why are so many of us crippled with self-doubt?

Because music is meaningless without the passion of its creator.  And passion is born from pain.

Wind chimes are pretty.  Elevator dings and musical jewelry boxes are pleasing to the ear.  Do we sit around and listen to recordings of them?  No.  Do we attend recitals of whippoorwills and doorbells?   Nope.

There’s no PASSION in those things.

It’s simply not possible to be a great musician without being passionate.  Sure, a robot can recreate a dictated series of notes perfectly and without flaw, but there will always be an element missing.  Would any sane person buy a ticket to a performance of Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto performed by a player piano? Absolutely not.  Musicians…  we are consumed.  We’re insane, on a level.  We’re willing to open our hearts, to shine a light on own tightly-guarded inner worlds when we walk onto that stage, because we SEEK that pain.   The thrill of walking that precarious tightrope between the ultimate expression of passion and the prospect of utter failure and humiliation is our lifeblood.  It’s a drug.  Creating something of incredible beauty from a bunch of black dots on a page…  Making something new, that no one has ever heard nor will ever hear again…  Translating emotion into sound…  it is the most exquisite pain.  And we musicians are absolute junkies for it.

So why would I ever want to do this to myself?  Why would I deliberately place myself in a situation that was almost certain to induce tears?  Because pain doesn’t always remain pain.  With time, and care, and nurturing, pain heals.  And the best thing I can do for my pain is smother it with my voice, pound it out with my hands onto these 88 keys.  No one but me may ever hear my pain made into sound, but it cannot remain static.  It must go somewhere, do something, become something else.

It must transform into passion.

That is why I do it.


This one’s for the guys…

31 01 2008

Hey, hey, hey, zip your pants back up. I’m not that drunk yet.

Really, guys, I need your help. Well, more your input than your help. See, I’m one of those silly Romantic idealists who believes in the sanctity of marriage, and absolute monogamy, and prolonged celibacy between relationships, and all that sappy crap. My 31-year-old noggin’ still has dreams spinning around inside that show me getting married one day, to the most amazing guy who is as completely into me as I am into him, and pooping out a few kiddos, and sharing a gallon of bourbon-spiked prune juice as we motor on toward ancientdom.

Well, it DID have those dreams. Until recently.

(And let me interrupt myself to say that this is not one of those bullshit my-self-esteem’s-in-the-gutter-so-I’ll-whine-to-some-strangers-about-how-lonely-I-am posts. This is a serious ethical question I’m about to present. So, STFU and listen. )

My best friend and I were having a discussion the other day about heterosexual relationships, as we often do. The topic at hand was monogamy, and whether or not it was truly realistic to expect it of men. My initial reaction, of course, was, “DAMN STRAIGHT it is! If the guy I’m with feels the need to go poking around some other girl’s stinkhole, then obviously he has no idea what a gold mine he has in me and he can get his skanky ass right on out the door!” (Well, okay, maybe I didn’t use the word “stinkhole.”) But the more she spoke, the more I came to see that she might be right. Men, by nature, are wired to spread the seed, to fertilize vast and remote pastures, to, well, have unlimited spins at the “Wheel of Poon.” On a less biological and genetic diversity-driven level, most men would prefer to have multiple sexual partners as opposed to mating for life. On the conscious level, some would say that most men think with their other head. When posed with the question, “If it could be guaranteed that your significant other would never find out, would you be unfaithful?” the resounding answer is, “yes.” So, how realistic is it, my best friend pondered, to expect monogamy from men?

My inner Republican shrank away from this question, stunned and disheartened by the truth in what Mo had presented. But, but… most men get married, right?

Oh, and then there’s that.

I began to ask myself why it is that men propose marriage to the women they love? What do they want to get of the deal that’s worth stifling their internal need for “strange?” How realistic are they being with themselves when they promise to be faithful and true to one woman for the rest of their lives?

I know LOTS of men who have been unfaithful. I know plenty who make it a habit. Today I even heard one complain to his girlfriend that his fiancee was pissing him off with all the inane details of their wedding plans.

WTeverlovinF, y’all?

Don’t get me wrong, I know lots of women cheat, too. But when it comes down to it, most women genuinely WANT to spend the rest of their lives with one man. But, guys? Be honest. What drives you to pop the question? Is it pressure, or do you really, truly want that one woman, and only that one woman, to be with you till your time on this earth is done? When you say, “till death do us part,” do you MEAN it? And if so, what in God’s name would EVER make you think that it’s okay to go back on those words?

I’m starting to lose faith in the concept of marriage. I’m starting to think that not many men really, truly want to make a lifelong commitment to ANYONE, when the other option has so much biological pull. Let me hear from you, guys. I know lots of you are in amazing, beautiful marriages; you make me proud, guys. But I also know that many, many, many other guys aren’t so commitment minded.

So, let’s hear it. If it’s too personal, post anonymously. Your secrets are safe with me.

And of course, ladies, I want to hear from you, too.

I’ve been writing

20 01 2008

No, really writing. Not just spouting about random shit like I do in here, but really writing. Creating characters based on situations or circumstances I witness. I’ve been, *gulp*, writing FICTION.

So, my question for y’all is this: do I post it in here, with no ifs, ands, or buts, assuming that you’ll get the introduction of a new genre and roll with it, or do I start a fiction blog like some other friends of mine have?

Which would you rather?

‘Cause I have no opinion.


23 12 2007

What is beauty?

Why is the world driven by beauty?

How is it that I know I wouldn’t be single right now if I were out-of-this-world beautiful?

Men will do anything for a beautiful woman. This I’ve come to know.

Maybe I should date a blind guy.

On “Womanhood”

29 11 2007

I wouldn’t have believed it, if it hadn’t happened to me.

At the Italian Shitter yesterday, the host asked me to pick up table 403, because they asked for a “woman waitress.”

“A WOMAN WAITRESS?!?!” I responded, befuddled at this antiquated turn of phrase. A woman waitress. Sheesh.

They were a perfectly nice older couple who liked to chat and left a good tip. No problems. But I wondered why they specifically requested a “woman waitress.” I pushed with all my might to get the 60-something swingers set thoughts out of my head, and was left only with the common perception that women are the “gentler sex.”

Anyone who knows me is spitting their chosen imbibery onto the monitor at the thought of this axiom being applied to yours truly. This sweet little old couple had no way of knowing that behind the pixie cut lies a sick, perverse, warped mind whose blog username pokes fun at the mentally disabled. They had no knowledge of my many tattoos. They knew nothing of the arsenal of dead baby jokes that lies in wait in the dark recesses of my headspace. They just knew that I was a woman (and, of course, a — waitress *shudder*), and therefore I was more likely to be friendly, warm, and smiling than my male counterparts.


Or was it that their generation reserved positions of servitude for women, and thought it unfit for a man to retrieve things and take orders like a silly, chipper little dog?

Then I wondered this: my restaurant currently employs a transgendered server who lives life as a woman; what would my friendly little old couple have thought of Kamille?

What do we think, intelligent collective?