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If your music was only ever going to be heard by yourself, would you still make it?
Old 9th August 2017
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

If your music was only ever going to be heard by yourself, would you still make it?

I know this tree falling in a forest type thing has likely been asked before but I was humbled recently by a friend of mine who has autism. What really struck me during a conversation is how he makes music purely for the love of it, which led myself to ask: would I still make music even if I knew nobody else would ever hear it?

My friend, for various reasons, has never and could never gig and other people hearing his music is simply not his main objective. He does like it when people hear his music (we made a demo together once and I recall him saying that it would be nice that other people would know he was good at something) but, ultimately, he just loves sound and 'doing interesting things with it'.

Maybe it's his autism (aut is Greek for self) but I understand the condition and it's not as simple as saying that he, or others with autism, are self-absorbed and assigning this as the reason for his lack of concern of whether others hear his music or not.

Yes, as an autistic person he has long since got used to the fact that he doesn't fit in (he would actually be fine if it wasn't for the way the majority of people fear things they don't understand!) so, doing things purely for his own pleasure and entertainment have become a way of life for him, and many others like him (although please bear in mind that there can be no sweeping generalisations made as the condition effects people differently).

I myself spent the first half of my adult life in bands, doing gigs etc. and generally seeking/getting attention. What prompted the conversation with my friend was that, even though I no longer have the time and energy for the whole 'band' thing (the opportunity to join an old band that has recently had two retrospective albums released is there but I'm just not interested anymore), my love and enthusiasm for music is as full on as it ever was, probably more so.

I always played guitar but dabbled with electronics but now it's pretty much the other way around and I'm happy to home record and see what I can come up with. Don't get me wrong: part of me still harbours a longing to meet and play with like minded musicians, but the main part has too many work and family commitments (which is fine).

So, with all the above in mind, I found myself realising that the music I make will, in all likelihood, be for my own entertainment only, which has actually
been the case for some time now. This is fine but when you have spent a lifetime (I'm now 50) making, consciously or otherwise, some kind of 'commercial' considerations I honestly don't know whether I'm inspired or saddened by my friends, or my own, situation in general?!

So, by way of starting a discussion: if you thought that in all likelihood your music/playing was only ever going to be heard by yourself - would you still make it/play?

And just for the record, I know I will (because but I guess I have been) but I do occasionally find myself wondering if my creative energies would be best employed elsewhere and was curious to hear other people's thoughts, especially those of you at the 'older' end (simply because you might be able to relate to this more?)

Oh, and I'm not talking about picking the acoustic guitar for a quick strum now and then - I'm taking about the slutty, obsessive stuff that that robs us of most of our spare time and money! ;-)

Thanks.
Old 9th August 2017
  #2
Yes I would....

I guess it's what we all do,... because, really nobody gives a sh*t anyway.

For me it's like a meditation, I create my own meditations.
Old 9th August 2017
  #3
Same here.

The creative process is what makes it so much fun.
Old 9th August 2017
  #4
Lives for gear
 
GeminIAm's Avatar
Yeah course I would. I'm also kind of done with the band thing, but I still gig by myself. I just can't be bothered with the sh1t that comes with being in a band.

But having people listen to and enjoy my music is the best thing ever imo.
Old 9th August 2017
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Yes, I do it for the fun of exploration and the creative process. During my 25 years as a bedroom producer of electronic music around 5 people have actually heard any of my tracks. Ok by me.
Old 9th August 2017
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Agreed, it is absorbing/meditative - I just worry that I sometimes get too absorbed and put a lot of time, effort and money in with very little return (lately). Don't get me wrong, I know it's not necessarily about the more you put I'm the more you get out (although in some ways it is) but I guess I'm still more than a little haunted by the "I don't want to be married to you anymore, I don't want to be married to a musician..." bombshell that ended my marriage a few years ago...

Having said that I have tried to 'quit' in the past, on a couple of occasions...but I always end up coming back, and with a vengeance because it's not something you can just switch off. I guess balance is the key for those of us who don't make a living out of it (and some of the most talented/interesting musicians I've ever met don't make a living at it).

I would love to play and write with other people again, and yes, it really is a buzz when others enjoy your music, but I really don't have the stomach or tolerance for the whole band thing anymore and I guess I've been struggling coming to terms with the idea that those days are gone but am reminded of something Carl Jung once said:

“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.”

I'm really ooking forward to the next chapter to be honest (and have just got myself a nice little set up), whether it's on my own or with others, or whether anybody else ever hears it or not

P. S. sorry for rambling but I can't afford a counselor
Old 11th August 2017
  #7
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by MartieFuncum View Post
Maybe it's his autism (aut is Greek for self) but I understand the condition and it's not as simple as saying that he, or others with autism, are self-absorbed and assigning this as the reason for his lack of concern of whether others hear his music or not.
Not as simple because it's simply not true. Generally speaking, that is. Autism has nothing to do w/it. I feel the same as your friend; it'd be nice if others heard it and liked it but hardly mandatory and not the main driver by a very long shot. I do it for its own value and if I can sit back and say that's good, or at least respectable, mission accomplished. In fact, odds are no one will see/hear the vast majority of my stuff and of the stuff that is heard, probably by select friends and family. Nothing's going on soundcloud or youtube or whatever.
Old 11th August 2017
  #8
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

Music can open
a door to the Infinite.
Don't trip on the jamb...
Old 11th August 2017
  #9
Lives for gear
Dude, cosmic
Old 11th August 2017
  #10
Lives for gear
 
EvilRoy's Avatar
 

Playing guitar for 48 years. Never been on stage or in a band. Never recorded anything heard by more than a few friends. Life and kids got in the way. Never really cared until now. I wanna be heard, dammit! Dropping some major cash into studio gear and going for it.
Old 11th August 2017
  #11
I've written and recorded songs since high school, sharing with only a few other songwriting friends in college. Years later, with my college days (and songwriting friends) far behind me, I worked for years on my first album completely undecided if I would ever release it to anyone.

So I guess the answer is yes, I would still have done it if no one else was gonna hear it, mainly because I find it a really fun hobby obsessing over every damn little detail that goes into a song or album.

In the end I did release it because I finally got to the point where, to me, it sounded like 'an album' and not a set of demo tapes. But I still have, and will continue to record, lots of songs that will never be heard by anyone but me.

For me, releasing or not releasing is more about acheiving a certain sound I need to achieve to finally "let it go" because once it's out, it's out.

If I ever had a record label, it'd be called "Can't Undo Recordings"

..ant
Old 11th August 2017
  #12
Lives for gear
 
ben_allison's Avatar
My music is only heard by myself so, yeah!
Old 14th August 2017
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks for the responses, which I've been pondering. I don't mind admitting that I grew up surrounded by musicians whose idea of success was 'making it', which meant some kind of variation of becoming well known and making a living at it - not that there's inherently anything wrong with either of those.

I guess that has always stayed with me and I still know people in their 50s who are desperate to achieve 'rocognition', although, if I'm honest, it often seems less about their music being recognised and more about them 'recognised' when they walk down the street!

What's bugging me is its actually a difficult one to shake, even at the point when it's clearly become irrational but having even a little 'success'/recognition early on definitely leaves you feeling hungry for more.

But I really want to make music for no other reason than the love of it (and remember, the original meaning of the word 'amateur' was somebody who does something they love - or at least that's what I read somewhere!) and, of course, the irony being that those people are far more likely to produce something of quality than those who simply pursue the X-Factor! Despite the old cliché, the cream does not necessarily rise to the top, it's usually the 'thick', or those with the most 'ambition' (ok, that might have been a little cynical!)!

I still want people to 'like' the music I make and I've heard it said that art isn't art until it's being 'observed', but ultimately it doesn't matter if the observations are being made by one or a million. It's also the 'process' of creation, as somebody alluded to earlier when referring to music being their meditation, and, as somebody whose always been one for the hunt rather than the kill, I honestly don't know what I'd do if I was no longer involved in the process of learning about, making and, ultimately, enjoying music.
Old 14th August 2017
  #14
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foamboy's Avatar
No. My ego won't allow me to only do something for myself. I want/need for it to be heard and hopefully make me a little cash. I do some writing only for me, because I know that stylistically it is too demanding or strange. But at the end of the day, for me at least, the point of creating is getting it heard and played in front of as many people as I can get to listen. Sadly, it is a LOT less folks than I desire, but I keep plugging away.

As I get older, however, I am starting to appreciate the process more by reducing some of the pressure that I put on my songwriting.

fb
Old 14th August 2017
  #15
I like to hear criticism of my music and I enjoy the process of publishing and connecting with an audience; it improves my technique and ups my game. Even so my main priority is personal enjoyment.
Old 14th August 2017
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
I like to hear criticism of my music and I enjoy the process of publishing and connecting with an audience; it improves my technique and ups my game.
Very true, there's nothing quite like knowledgeable, constructive criticism to help those who care about what we're doing to improve. I'm kind of reminded of those who go on those TV talent shows (if not already seen, I can't recommend enough the film God Bless America!) who are utterly shocked when they receive criticism because they've only ever performed in front of their mirrors and grannies (ooh you've got a lovely voice, you should go on the X-Factor!) And I always remember my family telling me I was 'talented' simply because I could play the guitar (I'd been playing about a month!) and I rushed to get in bands etc. - not that I regret anything though as once you get 'out there' it really is sink or swim, which can really accelerate the learning process for those up for it.

I've also heard some truly awful music from people who've never received feedback etc., but, conversely, I've heard great stuff from people who don't seem to need it (the friend I mentioned in the original post springs to mind). And it's funny how the 'awful' stuff usually tends to be a bad interpretation of what is perceived to be 'popular' and the great stuff totally un-self conscious and not written for any other reason than for pleasure (usually referred to as 'crap' by fans of 'pop' music!) Glaring over-generalisations of course, but still worth a mention
Old 28th August 2017
  #17
I continue to produce and release music despite it getting lost in the sea of internet noise. As mentioned earlier, it's about the creative process mostly. I do, however, yearn to share my talents tho. In a perfect world, my music would inspire others just as others have inspired me to develop as a producer.
Old 28th August 2017
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilRoy View Post
Playing guitar for 48 years. Never been on stage or in a band. Never recorded anything heard by more than a few friends. Life and kids got in the way. Never really cared until now. I wanna be heard, dammit! Dropping some major cash into studio gear and going for it.
Hey Roy! Great to hear that you're breaking out of that long-held, familiar bubble.
Recording is a whole lot of fun, you'll love it.
Maybe go one better and start writing, then recording . .
Or even better still, find someone to get together with and jam, now that really is fun, plus you can write your own material, jam it together, then record it.
Oh, then you'll be ready to mix and master -
How long have you got?!
Old 30th August 2017
  #19
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EvilRoy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnS37 View Post
Hey Roy! Great to hear that you're breaking out of that long-held, familiar bubble.
Recording is a whole lot of fun, you'll love it.
Maybe go one better and start writing, then recording . .
Or even better still, find someone to get together with and jam, now that really is fun, plus you can write your own material, jam it together, then record it.
Oh, then you'll be ready to mix and master -
How long have you got?!
Haha, not going anywhere any time soon. And yeah... recording is a gas, been doing it since '84. Started with a Tascam M50 and an 80-8 (which I still have), moved to a mackie 32x8 and a DAW in the '90's (which I still have). This time it's a D&R Cinemix and 24 in/out of the DAW and surround sound.

More into improv guitar ala John McLaughlin but wanna do some collaborations with song writers.

Thanks for the encouragement.

:o)
Old 31st August 2017
  #20
Here for the gear
 

hell ya haha.but its always nice if more people will hear it to
Old 31st August 2017
  #21
Gear Guru
 
Muser's Avatar
if you're into hard core hermetic music creation as a stance against the status quo.
paradoxically the best place to hide all your creations, is probably online.
Old 5th September 2017
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

Great question. Personally, I see music as a highly-evolved form of communication. There is supposed to be somebody on the other end. Sure, the creative process involved can be immensely enjoyable in solitude, but isn't it all kind of a hollow exercise if you know that nobody else is ever going to hear it? I won't claim to speak for anyone else, but I suspect that many of the people who say "no, I do it 100% just for myself" have at least a vague notion that somebody, somehow might someday hear it and appreciate it. Then again, maybe it's just me.

Anyway, here's a thought-provoking article on the subject in Sound on Sound that may be of interest to some: https://www.soundonsound.com/people/...less-isolation
Old 5th September 2017
  #23
Lives for gear
Yes
Old 5th September 2017
  #24
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cavern's Avatar
 

I have always done it for me and my way. Still do. That's why I write guitar soloes wherever possible in my songs. Incorrigible.
Old 5th September 2017
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew732 View Post
Great question. Personally, I see music as a highly-evolved form of communication. There is supposed to be somebody on the other end. Sure, the creative process involved can be immensely enjoyable in solitude, but isn't it all kind of a hollow exercise if you know that nobody else is ever going to hear it? I won't claim to speak for anyone else, but I suspect that many of the people who say "no, I do it 100% just for myself" have at least a vague notion that somebody, somehow might someday hear it and appreciate it. Then again, maybe it's just me.

Anyway, here's a thought-provoking article on the subject in Sound on Sound that may be of interest to some: https://www.soundonsound.com/people/...less-isolation
Can't disagree with you, I was chatting with the person mentioned in the original post recently and they have a soundcloud page. Art's not art until it's being observed, and if a musician believes they create/play 100% purely for themselves, with no concern whatsoever as to whether or not they will be able to 'share' their creation with another then I'm not entirely sure they're being honest - and if they are I'm not entirely sure they are healthy

I was having a conversation with a non-musician the other day who commented that all people who join bands are narcissistic, and even though it's undeniable that narcissism is a common problem, it was clearly a massive overstatement. The reason I mention this, which was also my counter argument, is that people who have put in hours and hours of practice so that they can write and perform are absolutely bound to want to share their skills with others and that the next time he was being entertained by (or pondering) the music/performers that he loves (and that forms the soundtrack of our lives), just imagine if that music would never have been heard simply because the people who made it had no desire whatsoever to share it (were non-narcissists!), which would likely have reduced their incentive to practice and become as good as they did (etc. etc...) The word 'perform' is interesting in this context as it means to do something before others, usually for their entertainment.

Will have a look that article, looks really interesting
(I wonder if the author would have still written it had he thought nobody would ever read it?!! )

Edit: I just read the article you added...

https://www.soundonsound.com/people/...less-isolation

...which was brilliant, totally nailed it!

I remember in my days as a gigging musician there was nothing quite like the 'feedback loop' that was created between the performer/giver and the listener /receiver and I could think of a few analogies but in the spirit of keeping it clean I'll leave it there!
Old 5th September 2017
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Something else worth a quick mention...

Many years ago I was backstage with an East African guitar based band and they gave me a 'lesson'. I sat in the middle of them as they formed a circle around me (there were four guitars and a bass) and strummed through a rolling I, IV, V chord progression. Then the singer announced that they were going to add some 'sugar'. At that point they all started playing broken chords, arpeggios and were weaving in and out of each other with flowing precision. After several bars a 'tune' started to emerge that no individual was playing and which each was contributing their 'part' to. The longer they played the more hypnotic this 'chant' became - which was just incredible. Once they stopped playing the singer explained that in Africa they called that tune, which could not be created in isolation, the 'one-song'...an idea I thought was as beautiful as it sounded.

P.s. It's worth a quick mention that these guys were playing on the cheapest, most 'unplayable' guitars I've ever seen in my life!
Old 29th October 2017
  #27
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BarcelonaMusic's Avatar
 

I can`t help it, I do it anyways. Marketing it is just a side effect of that.
Old 29th October 2017
  #28
Lives for gear
I have tons of demos no one has heard yet, I enjoyed making them very much.
Old 29th October 2017
  #29
Lives for gear
 

I use to release music commercially on various record labels in the 80's and 90's.

Nowadays i prefer to not release any new material and just do music
for the sheer enjoyment.

I guess the modern age of releasing music just put me off.
I don't really like the idea of emailing a release,
also having the music taken and put onto web sites i have no
control over for Google / advertisers, uploaders etc to benefit.

I don't really need the hassle.. I just really like making the music in my spare time, it's enough for me.
Old 29th October 2017
  #30
Lives for gear
Yes!
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