Musicians, What Happens When The Power Goes Out?

Musicians, what happens when the power goes out? Are you stuck? Can you still create your art? I don’t mean this as a practical question to prompt you to have a backup plan; I’m not telling you to buy a generator in case of a storm. I’m asking this question to prompt you to own your craft. 

There is an inherent respect for art made by hand. “Hand-made” is a novelty word. If something is hand-made, we automatically associate with it a higher degree of value. Music created independent of computer chips is art that everyone appreciates a bit more because it has the ability to move the soul to a greater degree. It’s the difference between synthesized pads in a recording studio and an organ in a cathedral—the latter being the more natural and more beautiful. I’m finding that “natural” and “beautiful” often go hand-in-hand when it comes to music. 

If used improperly, technology has the potential to make lazy musicians, especially when it is used to cover up shortcomings. Technology should be used by the artist only to accentuate a skill that already exists within them. It should never be used as a shortcut or cover up to compensate for what the artist lacks.  

Take guitarist James Duke for example. He’s a great musician without all the equipment; but he uses a variety of guitar pedals to enhance certain sounds he wants to create. He’s developed his skill and uses technology on top of that to enhance certain aspects of what he’s playing. He’s not covering up a lack of skill; he’s accentuating his skill (not to mention, there are also, simply, certain sounds that humans can’t create without certain aid). The key here is that Duke is, before anything, a great artist. He owns his craft.

Do you own your craft enough to make the same quality music when the power is off? 

If your answer is “no” because you’re not putting time and effort into becoming a better musician, and you still can't figure out why, even though you've tuned your guitar three times, it still sounds pretty terrible, I have little sympathy for you. 

Or maybe you’re an artist with a shortcoming or disability who’s fingers have bled from practicing so much, but you’re not getting any better. You can’t help but feel discouraged. Artist Phil Hansen gave an insightful TED Talk about embracing limitations. You should watch it here. Embracing limitations is different than covering them up. Limitations can bring forth new types of art when they are embraced. 

Use as little technology as possible when making your music. The more technology that is involved, the more degrees away from the artist the music becomes, making the music a less accurate reflection of the artist’s soul. What I mean by this is for every unit of technology used to make the music, that’s one aspect of the music that is not coming directly from the artist.