Words and music: what’s the difference?

Beth's Music Notes
W.A.Mozart once commented that “…music was the perfect language; it needed no translation.”  As a musician, lyricist and author, I have often been asked where does the inspiration come from for these different modes of expression?  My answer has always been—from the same place, that delicate balance between heart and mind.

To understand and delve into the Tradition of the medium in which you wish to express yourself will strengthen or educate you imagination.  The word ‘education’ comes from the Latin, ‘educare’ which means to ‘draw out’ of the individual what is already gifted prior to birth.  Some artists (I use the term pre-Picasso, for after his generation only painters have been acknowledged with the term), are what we call gifted, or naturals.  These rare individuals need very little discussion.  They are the Wunderkinds who play Bach at the age of six with the perceptions of an adult.  They are Arthur Rimbaud who had spent his energies by the time he was in his mid-twenties.  These flames burn brightly and occasionally run the full course but generally they burn out from understanding too quickly the fate of their creativity.

Let’s leave them alone and talk about you and I.

I started the guitar at seventeen.  A bit late I’ll grant you, but my drive and discipline made up for lost time. My personal dedication was all consuming.  I couldn’t spend a day without music during this period.  By the time I was twenty four years old I was living in Los Angeles and breaking into the jazz recording and performance scene.  I was anything but a natural or gifted musician.  I just had to succeed in my own way, by my own rules which followed the Tradition, but were not limited to the past.  The now was and always is on my mind.

I began to write poetry in 1979.  I was thirty-three.  After ten years of being a Hollywood musician, touring and recording with the stars, I needed something to balance out my imagination.  I discovered William Butler Yeats and his circle and influences and I took off again, now in my thirties, with the same drive that I experienced with the guitar at seventeen. Ten years later, my first book of poems was published in L.A.  It was after this two decade period of music and words that I discovered for myself the secret to kindling the flame for both of these areas of creative expression.  DON’T THINK—JUST DO! 

So much of our self-doubt system is conjured up by insecurity.  “I’m not good enough”, “I’ll never be as good as (pick your favorite artist), and so forth. These comparisons are dangerous.  You are you and that is all you can be and it is enough! 

I began the violin at the age of forty-nine!  Really stupid. But once again that same enthusiasm that I had at seventeen kicked in. I made up for lost time by dedication and discipline, all moving along with the capacity to imagine myself as a violinist.   Seven years later I was standing on stage with Mark O’Connor performing a two jazz violin concert.

No, I am not gifted.  I have been all of my life a curious person and this curiosity has led me through life.  If you love writing, composing and playing music then don’t put it down. 

Don’t think—just do.  

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