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How to be "original"

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randulo

randulo

Playing saxophone 21 months - 2.4% of my life
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play the piece they are given to the most accurate and recognized standard.
I've known many who did that and were also creative, had a sound, an original approach. A lot of gigs where you have to do that allow for imrpovised solos and the leader wants those to burn!
These days, I think that true originality tends to be facilitated by the tech advancements innovations
Once hip-hop+rap discovered triplets and major seventh chords, all that started to sound the same. In jazz, though, it's true that there are some great players who've been able to do new things. Meanwhile, there were musical winds that blew, through Return to Forever, Weather Report, Brecker Brothers, Yellow Jackets, etc. What technology does really well is free up anyone who can get a computer and a little software to create. Will it be original? Who knows.
 

Halfers

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Are we equating originality with acceptance, success, creativity, great achievement, being true to ourselves, being lauded as a great innovator, being recognised as 'original' by other people. liked and appreciated even? (rhetorical question, I guess).

What if being original is just as likely to get us laughed out of the room as it is welcomed with open arms? What if truly being original involved living a life of ridicule, poverty and 'failure'.
 

Pete Effamy

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Yes, we have our own things that we obsess about, and some of you are obsessed with having a recognisable voice amongst others. It has never bothered me, I have to say. The thing that I've always loved is playing a variety of music. In classical music, it's prescribed what you should sound like - but I like that, it's part of the challenge. West End/Broadway is different again, as is Pop and Jazz and well, all of them. Sometimes someone comes along and redefines a part of the genre, but invariably they don't change it, and I like to be part of it.

Like Clivey, I'm not a 'soloist' and I never set out to be one. Occasionally I have led a band, but the gigs and venues and audience type have always demanded a certain parameter, and I'm happy to fulfil their expectation.

Sonny Stitt was a terrific player, at times better than Parker but very much a Bebop '50's altoist (before moving to tenor). I don't like him any less just because Parker existed. Art Pepper, Phil Woods. It bothers some - not me though. Happy to have my musical fingers in lots of musical pies.
 

Targa

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Are we equating originality with acceptance, success, creativity, great achievement, being true to ourselves, being lauded as a great innovator, being recognised as 'original' by other people. liked and appreciated even? (rhetorical question, I guess).

What if being original is just as likely to get us laughed out of the room as it is welcomed with open arms? What if truly being original involved living a life of ridicule, poverty and 'failure'.
Then after you've died you get 'discovered', a film is made of your life and a famous actor, (choose the one you want now), in his Oscar award speech tells of how he feels a kindred spirit with you and has suffered for his art as you did.
Even more important and meaningful than that, someone digs out some unheard of piece of your music and posts it in the thread 'What are you listening to'.
 
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randulo

randulo

Playing saxophone 21 months - 2.4% of my life
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You can not care whether your peers think you're weird if you want to be "original". It doesn't necessarily involve being asocial, just the need to express yourself. I hope I am headed there in my own newbie way. My thing doesn't require a lot of facility on the instrument. Still a few important hurdles to jump, though. Whether I can find an audience for it is another question entirely. Right now, only family and friends are "exposed" to it.

As far as I have seen here, there are a few people who are trying to be themselves musically. I was never good at being any other way on the guitar. I haven't played covers since about 1970. When I did, there was pleasure there, but then I discovered the concept of playing your own stuff. That kind of includes being your own boss, too, and being a leader if you need a band. Then you have to find people who hear what you're trying to do. Now that is getting complicated.
 

Halfers

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Then after you've died you get 'discovered', a film is made of your life and a famous actor, (choose the one you want now), in his Oscar award speech tells of how he feels a kindred spirit with you and has suffered for his art as you did.
Even more important and meaningful than that, someone digs out some unheard of piece of your music and posts it in the thread 'What are you listening to'.
Given the woeful reception my playing usually receives, I'm odds on to be fully revered after my demise. If the bloke that plays Ian Beale off Eastenders is still around then, I'll put him down for the role.
 

StageFright

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"How to be original"? - at my point of development, I'm not really sure I want to be original as this implies being different to the norm or others.

But what I would certainly like to do is to improve and produce a sound or tonality somewhere near some of the saxophone players that I have been listening to ever since I got hooked on this instrument 10 years ago. I am under no illusion that I won't develop their technical ability in my lifetime but hopefully reaching a level of half decent quality sound could be possible. This opens up a much bigger question of how to measure sound and tonality, which I won't delve into suffice to say I trust my ears will recognise it when (or if) it comes along ;)
Amen brother!
 

MikeMorrell

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Just a passing thought: players who deliberately try to become 'original' probably won't get there . Players who just play freely just might get there.

Mike
 

Jazzaferri

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IMO music is just another language.

Some people have difficulty breaking out of the comfort zone of expressing others ideas and ways of expressing them. Clichés and commonly used phrases. No big deal, its who they are and not everyone can be a Dylan Thomas or a William Blake. Reading what others have written and listening to what others say in some will inspire new thoughts or disagreement...... in others mere agreement. Doesn't make either any better or any worse a person. You are who you are...get comfortable with it.....you're gonna spend the rest of your life with yourself.:p
 
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randulo

randulo

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It occurs to me that I could have said "creative" instead of original. I happened to hear about this last night on a podcast. I'm not recommending it, just mentioning that it's a book (supposedly) about being creative. Some might say, "If you need a book..."
But the title is what made me think of this discussion.

 
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randulo

randulo

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Ah, I'm definitely creative, but not original for sure. I'm like a dental tooth filling - an amalgam.
Pete, I think what I am reflecting about is how the musical elements fit together in your playing and where the "originality" or "creativity" comes from. We all would agree, I think, that it is often fed by what you've heard. Even if you don't listen to music at all, if you can hear sound, you are affected by it and it becomes something in your being, for lack of a better term. It could, at least in theory, also come from what you've seen, what you've lived.

I'd also like to bring lateral thinking in to this conversation. There are better definitions for this, but simply said (as Kenny Garrett might begin), one result of it is that even if you've solved a problem, you continue to think about it and look and consider for other solutions. If we make an overly simple musical analogy, you learn to play over blues changes. Most will start with a riff or two learned from somewhere. Most will also keep looking for more things to play. If it's just other riffs you've heard, that's only creative in the sense that you are stringing licks together in your own way. I'm not putting that down, just calling it what I see it for. On the other hand, if you find little things that no one has played over blues changes before, that's definitely original, creative.

I'm always bad at titles for reflective posts that aim to bring people out, to express how they see their musical journey. I have posted an instrumental called Mr Roulette recently, asking for people to submit versions. I understand that there may not be any takers (none yet). But I wanted to say that I can't really recall how this tune came to be written, yet it is definitely creative and original IMO. I think the Woody Woodpecker theme song has something to do with it.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PWcc3y_NlY


The A section melody or Mr Roulette:


View: https://soundcloud.com/randulo/a-melody/s-vblTY


It was also based on intervals I was studying at the time, like the minor second between the second and third notes. Anyway, that's a slighly closer definition of what I think may be original and how it came to be.
 
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randulo

randulo

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Question: If you are on a stage alone at a club or restaurant, can you play something out of nowhere (meaning not a song)? Can you play one note, then develop it into some kind of music? Can you do it at home, alone with no one listening? I think that also may be a part of the creative elements of music and performance. Another, might be writing it down.
 

Pete Effamy

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Question: If you are on a stage alone at a club or restaurant, can you play something out of nowhere (meaning not a song)? Can you play one note, then develop it into some kind of music? Can you do it at home, alone with no one listening? I think that also may be a part of the creative elements of music and performance. Another, might be writing it down.
I can do both of those things all day long, but I wouldn't call myself an original sounding player. It's in the delivery as well as what is delivered. I've always had musical idols whose level I've strived to attain. Right from the start, I listened to great players, so it took me a long time to feel as though I'd gotten anywhere really. I'm also super self-deprecating. One thing I am pretty good at though is playing different genres, not just styles. Not sure that it makes me original in any way but it does make me stand out a bit. As I've said before, I'm not a top player, but I'm one of the better all-rounders.
 
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randulo

randulo

Playing saxophone 21 months - 2.4% of my life
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A friend once said, "If you can't be an artist, be a craftsman." There's nothing wrong with being good at what you're doing, whether it's "original" or not. One does assume some personality rubs off on the playing, although there's the old studio producer meme:

"Who's W. Lee?"
"Get me W. Lee!"
"Get me someone who sounds like W. Lee"
"Who's W. Lee"

Hopefully, you all see the relation to creativity and personality there?
 

thomsax

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David "Woody" Woodford was fronting with telephone calls like "......if I wasDavid Woodford, the white King Curtis clone" or "the sax player that played like King Curtis"!!!! He was flattered.
 

Dibbs

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. But I wanted to say that I can't really recall how this tune came to be written, yet it is definitely creative and original IMO. I think the Woody Woodpecker theme song has something to do with it.
Philip Larkin claimed that Charlie Parker couldn't play four bars without quoting Woody Woodpecker. If that's so, you're in good company.
 
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