Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Free Writing vs. Jazz Music

By Darvell Hunt

I’ve always been a fan of music. I also like good writing.

Just like my enjoyment of many different genres of writing, I enjoy many types of music, from Pop, to Country, to Hip-Hop, to Folk Music, Classical… and even Jazz.

Unfortunately, I’ve never really loved Jazz. It’s okay and I don’t hate it, but I think I finally figured out why it’s not on my list of favorite music types: much of the Jazz music you hear is a lot like a rough draft—it’s music that’s often created as it’s played, but never quite refined.

Like a rough draft that hits the paper as it’s created for the first time, Jazz often flows into your ears as the performer creates it. It’s not always written down and it may not go through additional revisions.

While I think there are some GREAT Jazz players out there who create “a wonderful musical first draft”, as a writer, this music form just doesn’t make much sense to me. Who wants to read my rough drafts? Probably nobody. I certainly don’t like sharing them with people.

Yet at the same time, there is great power in Jazz. It’s wonderful to hear something played at the moment of creation. It’s a bit like free writing. You can write what you want and you don’t have to worry about how it sounds later. Free writing can be great for conjuring up new ideas that you wouldn’t otherwise create.

Honestly, though, like some Jazz music, my free writing rarely goes into a second draft. That’s not the point; that’s not why I do it. It’s there to get me thinking—and writing—and becoming inspired—sometimes when I may not even feel like doing it at first.

In that regard, I consider Jazz to be a wondeful thing.

While on my mission, I once “jammed” with a companion who played a guitar. I knew how to hit a few notes on my harmonica and could even play a few memorized tunes. Neither of us was really very good with our instruments, but we still had fun playing them. What we did one day was like playing Jazz.

My companion played his guitar and “wrote” his music (in his head, anyway) as he played it. So did I. We played together and it sounded good—at least to our ears. It wasn’t great music, but it was a lesson in creativity—and it was fun.

There were four other missionaries as our audience that day and they enjoyed what we played, too. None of it was ever written down or recorded, and, to be truthful, it probably wasn’t good enough for a repeat performance—but, again, that’s not the point. It was good enough for what it was.

Writing is many things. It is art. It is self-expression. It is spirituality. It is a means to portray meaning. And it is power. It’s probably a bunch of other things, too.

And—here's the important part—I get to create it and enjoy it. If anybody else enjoys it, too, well that's just a bonus.

Being a writer means being a creator. I can't think of many things better than that.

1 comment:

L.T. Elliot said...

It is amazing how the soul seeks to create. I believe that nearly every expression of that creation is beautiful and reflects the very core of a person.
To me, it makes it even more beautiful to see that beauty refined over time--strengthened and shaped. =]