I saw a video recently of Dennis Chambers being interviewed by iDrum Magazine. He was talking about musicians of the past, just jamming, looking at each other for cues. One musician would lead and the others would follow that lead, down a new musical path, all the while staying fully connected as a band. These band members were playing the same song each night but not playing it the exact same way.
That is the way I grew up learning to play. Groups of musicians would get together and jam for hours, no preset agenda and not much time spent on learning other people’s music. Time was spent just being creative and experimenting with fresh ideas, while developing a bond that is so important to play as a cohesive group. We would never have original bands if it were not for these experimentations in music.
Fast-forward to today. It is increasingly hard to find people who can jam or that can play creative solos. I was once in a band that even frowned on someone doing a “solo”. The band members who frowned on the “solos” were blocking the ability of players to express their creativity as a musician. They would only learn and repeat someone else’s musical talent, missing the main point that makes playing so enjoyable.
Here is my recipe to cook up some creativity:
1) Spend some time with players and just JAM. (Jazz and Jazz Fusion players know how to do this well)
2) STICK your neck out and write something fresh. Creative original music is VERY rare these days!
3) If you are in a band that is full of cover tunes, put some of your own work out in front of an audience. Look for clues, as to success and failure, and then keep honing your skills as a creative musician.
Don’t get me wrong – working on the popular music of our time and presenting it to the public is important. Just stick your neck out once in a while, play or write something BOLD. It might just bring your musical experience to a higher level.
Clifford Marshall Van Buren